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Enjoy the Lake District's Best Low-Level Walks with a Cicerone guidebook - Sample Route

Cover of Lake District: Low Level and Lake Walks
13 Jan 2017
17.2 x 11.6 x 1.1cm
1st Published
19 Sep 2014
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Lake District: Low Level and Lake Walks

by Vivienne Crow
Book published by Cicerone Press

This guidebook describes 30 of the best low-level walks in the Lake District. From delightful wooded glades and sparkling tarns, to waterfalls and glacier-carved valleys towered over by craggy mountains. The walks described aim to seek out the best walking that the lower areas of the Lake District have to offer.

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The Lake District offers some of the best walking in the British Isles, and contained within this book are 30 of the best low-level walks within the Lake District. This is an area that is justly famed for its magnificent scenery: from serene lakes and wooded valleys to spectacular hills and hidden tarns. But you don’t have to climb its highest mountains to appreciate this beauty; some of the region’s best walking can be enjoyed in the valleys and on the low fells.

Those who are new to walking in this much beloved corner of England will find gentle strolls, such as the circuit of Buttermere, as well as walks that provide a straight forward introduction to the low fells, such as High Rigg.

With her intimate knowledge of the National Park, Vivienne Crow knows just where to go to experience the best of the Lake District. In this book, she guides walkers to well-known beauty spots as well as some hidden gems – with background information on both the human and natural history adding to the experience.

  • 30 graded day walks grouped by area, from 7-17km in length
  • with information about facilities en route and public transport options for each route
  • several routes in the South, North, Eastern, Western and Central Lake District
  • Seasons
    All year - each season holds its own delights, but there's a chance of encountering snow from December to March
  • Centres
    Coniston, Hawkshead, Grange-over-Sands, Grasmere, Ambleside, Elterwater, Windermere, Boot, Buttermere, Loweswater, Keswick, Braithwaite, Glenridding, Patterdale, Pooley Bridge
  • Difficulty
    wide range of terrain from constructed trails to open fell; most of the walks easy to follow on the ground, although a few include short stretches of boggy moorland; no technical difficulties
  • Must See
    Borrowdale's ancient woodland; beauty spots such as Tarn Hows and Orrest Head; tranquil lakeshore walks beside Ullswater, Buttermere, Grasmere and Crummock Water; spectacular waterfalls including Aira Force; Hardknott Roman Fort and stone circles; breathtaking views from Wansfell Pike, Latterbarrow and Hallin Fell
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Wildlife and habitats
Where to stay
Getting around
Waymarking and access
Clothing, equipment and safety
Using this guide
South Lakes: Windermere, Coniston, Duddon and the south
Walk 1 Tarn Hows and the Monk Coniston estate
Walk 2 Kelly Hall Tarn and Coniston Water
Walk 3 Swinside Stone Circle
Walk 4 Claife Heights, Windermere and Latterbarrow
Walk 5 Hampsfell
Walk 6 Seathwaite Tarn
Central Lakes: Ambleside, Langdale, Grasmere and Thirlmere
Walk 7 Elterwater, Little Langdale and the waterfalls
Walk 8 Great Langdale
Walk 9 Circuit of Loughrigg Fell
Walk 10 Orrest Head and Wansfell Pike
Walk 11 Grasmere and Rydal Water
Walk 12 Easedale Tarn and Tarn Crag
Walk 13 Thirlmere circuit
Western Valleys: Eskdale, Wasdale and Buttermere area
Walk 14 Stanley Ghyll Force and River Esk
Walk 15 Upper Eskdale
Walk 16 Hardknott Fort and Harter Fell
Walk 17 Loweswater Corpse Road
Walk 18 Buttermere
Walk 19 Crummock Water and Rannerdale Knotts
North Lakes: Keswick, Borrowdale and Derwentwater
Walk 20 Walla Crag and Great Wood
Walk 21 Derwentwater circuit
Walk 22 A Borrowdale ramble
Walk 23 Castlerigg Stone Circle and High Rigg
Walk 24 Outerside and Barrow
Walk 25 Wythop’s Fells
Eastern Lakes: Ullswater and Patterdale
Walk 26 Grisedale and Lanty’s Tarn
Walk 27 Aira Force and Gowbarrow
Walk 28 Steel Knotts and Hallin Fell
Walk 29 Ullswater shore
Walk 30 Ullswater and The Cockpit
Appendix A Useful contacts

Sample Route

Elterwater, Little Langdale and the waterfalls
Start/finishNational Trust pay-and-display car park in Elterwater (NY 328 047)
Distance11.4km (7 miles)
Total ascent365m (1190ft)
Walking time3¼hrs
TerrainGood tracks; rough path along base of fells; quiet lanes; woodland trails
MapsOS Explorer OL7; or OS Landranger 90
RefreshmentsBritannia Inn, Elterwater
TransportBus 516

This walk starts in Great Langdale but quickly crosses to the gorgeous neighbouring valley of Little Langdale, where it picks up a little-used path along the base of Lingmoor Fell. With several ups and downs and some rough ground underfoot, this is the only part of the whole route that could be classed as anything but ‘easy’. With stunning views across Little Langdale Tarn towards Wetherlam and Swirl How, the bit of extra effort is amply rewarded. Stony tracks and quiet lanes then lead east towards the woods surrounding Colwith Force and Skelwith Force, two impressive waterfalls. The easy stroll back into Elterwater, with its excellent views of the Langdale Pikes, is a perfect way to end a perfect day.

Leave the car park, turn left and walk along the road for about 300m. Then, as you draw level with the Eltermere Inn on the left, take the lane on the right – a cycle route to Coniston. Keep left at a fork – signposted Little Langdale.

The track rises gradually as it crosses into Little Langdale. Emerging from the trees and with the Coniston Fells providing a spectacular prospect ahead, you’ll pass a path to Wilson Place on the left. About 200m after this, go through a small gate next to a larger gate on the right – set back slightly from the track.

A trail heads uphill, passing through two small gates as it does so. A few strides beyond the second of these, the path swings right and begins climbing more steeply. Leave it here by taking the less well-walked trail on the left. This soon follows the intake wall, which is your companion for the next 1.1km.

Little Langdale in the autumn

The vista across Little Langdale Tarn with the craggy slopes of Wetherlam and Swirl How rising dramatically behind it is captivating. There are many ups and downs as the path skirts the base of Lingmoor Fell. The top of one such rise affords the first uninterrupted view of the head of this beautiful valley.

Almost 1.1km beyond the last gate, the path drops into a small, wooded ravine. Don’t be tempted by a faint path on the right; keep close to the wall. After negotiating a rock step, ford the small beck and go through the gate above. A narrow path runs beside the wall on the left for a while, but dissolves into the mire after about 200m. Now, simply keep to the high ground, staying reasonably close to the wall on the right and the way ahead will become clearer again.

Turn left when you reach the road and then go right at the T-junction. (A track on the right just before the junction cuts the corner.) About 300m after the junction, cross a bridge on your left and go through the gate to gain a track – signposted Tilberthwaite. After the cottage at Bridge End, the track climbs gently. Keep left at any forks and you’ll eventually pass through a gate to find yourself on a walled route close to the old quarries.

Watch for Slater Bridge, a popular beauty spot, down to the left after passing two sets of buildings. It is also possible to explore the disused quarry workings by crossing a stile beside a locked gate to the right of the main track about 150m beyond Slater Bridge. The stile provides access to a track that climbs to a short tunnel leading into the impressive cavern known as Cathedral Quarry.

Back on the main track, you reach a wooden footbridge across the River Brathay. Don’t cross it; instead, turn right and then keep left as the track splits. Pass some buildings at Stang End and then reach a whitewashed farmhouse at High Park. Immediately after this, go through the kissing-gate next to the cattle grid on the left. Walk down the track towards the farmhouse, but then go through another kissing-gate on the right to pick up a clear path across two fields.

On entering the woods, bear left at a fork. The path descends through the trees to the banks of the River Brathay. Two trails on the left provide views of Colwith Force: the first takes you to the top of the falls; the second, at the bottom of a pitched path, provides a more interesting perspective near the base of the white-water drop.

The River Brathay before it drops over Colwith Force

Beyond the falls, continue with the beck on your left. As you near a road bridge, descend a rocky section and cross the stile to reach a minor road. Turn right and, in about 100m, go through a tiny gated stile on the left – signposted Skelwith Bridge. Follow the clear path over a couple of stiles and up to some buildings. Cross the track here and continue on the path. At the next track, cross diagonally left to pass beside the guesthouse. Go through the large wooden gate to access a rough track between two walls. Follow this to the right at a fingerpost.

On nearing the next set of buildings, including Park Cottage and Tiplog, go through a pair of metal kissing-gates to join a track. About 130m beyond the cottages, take the surfaced path on the left. After entering the woods, ignore a path to Skelwith Bridge on the right and continue downhill to cross a bridge over the River Brathay. To visit the second waterfall on this route, Skelwith Force, turn right and continue along the beck for about 80m. The main route, however, goes left after the bridge.

A well-constructed path now heads across riverside meadows, alongside the lake – Elter Water – and in and out of woodland, with some great views of the distinctive Langdale Pikes. It eventually follows Great Langdale Beck back to the Elterwater car park.

Elter Water and Lingmoor Fell in winter

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