Lake District valleys
Above the Coniston Limestone beds, the Stockdale Shale’s are also relatively soft and easily eroded so that a major topographic break occurs at the junction of the Borrowdale Volcanic Series and the Silurian rocks. Valleys like Kentmere and Long Sled dale , which run through both types of rock, show contrasting scenery in their different sections.luxury themed boutique hotels in the lake district Whereas their lower parts have a soft landscape with relatively smooth green slopes and only occasional bare rock outcrops, the upper portions are a wilderness of crags, rocky buttresses and massive screes.
The geological boundary is equally distinct on the west side of Coniston Water, near Coniston itself .
Towering above the town are the slopes culminating in the Old Man, all formed of volcanic beds. Closer at hand, by the side of Yew dale Beck, long ribs oflava run down the hill¬side and rocky buttresses like Long Crag leave no doubt of the presence of the Borrowdale Volcanic Series. The vale of Yew dale Beck and the softer outlines of the country to the east come as an abrupt change once the Silurian strata is reached. The same discontinuity in landscape types is apparent to the southwest of Coniston along the approximate line of the prehistoric Walna Scar Road by the side of Mealy Beck.
To the south and east of this boundary, the Silurian country stretches away in a series of plateau at different heights. A prominent surface occurs at about 800 ft and shows up well to the east of Coniston Water. Elsewhere, at a lower level, a more broken and hummocky topography has developed. Where hard grit bands occur they often give rise to a series of rocky knolls, many of which have been smoothed by the passage of ice. In between are small walled fields interspersed with rough pasture in the more ill drained hollows. This is the type of landscape which is well seen on either side of the main road between Staveley and Windermere and also in the area around Under barrow, where even the contours of the Ordnance Survey map bring out the broken character of the countryside.
In the Under barrow area it is the Kirkby Moor Flags, the uppermost beds of the Silurian succession, which are largely responsible. These same beds also outcrop to the east of Kendal where they form Hay Fell, crowned by the crags of Benson Knott . Another bed of wide¬spread occurrence is the Bannisdale Slates which forms much of the area around Windermere. This formation is over five thousand feet thick and is characterized by alternating bands of sandy mudstone and hard grit, giving it a stepped appear¬ance which is readily recognizable in the field.
Good views are lacking in the area largely because many parts are now covered with conifer plantations. On the steep edges of the hills deciduous woodland is more common as along the eastern shores of Coniston Water. This is one of the unspoilt parts of the Lake District, and in spring, when the shafts of sunlight penetrate the trees and when gaps allow occasional glimpses of Coniston Old Man across the lake, the drive through the woods is unsurpassed.
Adrian vultur writes for luxury themed boutique hotels in the lake district