The Lake District Guide

Lake District Valley and Low-level Walks

Ennerdale walks

Ennerdale - 7.5 miles

Ennerdale is the least visited of the major lakes, yet it is superb. The view up the lake to the rugged valley head on a clear day cannot be bettered. But Ennerdale is out on a limb away from the major roads and tourist routes.

The walk starts at the car park made by the Forestry Commission near Bowness Point. To reach this you need to get to Croasdale. Approaching from the west via Cleator Moor follow the signs for Ennerdale Bridge. From here you drive eastwards still (the sign at Ennerdale Bridge directs you to 'Crossdale').

Ignore the sign for Ennerdale Lake and you will reach the crossroads which is practically all there is at Croasdale. (The ring above the signpost here also spells it 'Crossdale'.) Take the sign for 'Roughton', going south-east towards the lake. The road is narrow and as you follow it on you cross a cattle-grid onto a Forestry Commission road. The car park is on the left before you get to the Commission's gate by a sign saying that the road is private.

Croasdale is reached from the Cockermouth direction from the Cockermouth to Cleator Moor road (A5086); take the sign for 'Lamplugh' and then 'Croasdale' (spelt correctly from this direction). Then follow the directions as in previous paragraph.

Between the car park and the lake is a knoll, Bowness Point. This is a public access area and is a good place to start the walk from. From the summit across the lake can be seen Anglers' Crag. To the right of that crag and to the right of where you stand the terrain is tamer. This is because at the foot of the lake the land is Skiddaw slate - a fairly hard slate hereabouts but the glacier that carved out the dale had less resistance from it and it was more easily swept away.

To the left of where you stand is the harder volcanic rock, granophyre, and well over to the left in the high valley head are the hard Borrowdale volcanics. Walk left and forward to the lake shore side and walk with the shore on one of the paths. That is, left, up the lake. After a while the way leads you onto the forestry road. Continue on.

As you near the head of the lake a beck crosses under the road and through a promontory. The beck is Smith Beck and as the name might suggest there was once an ancient rural industry here.

You reach the head of the lake, but carry on along the forest road. The river which feeds Ennerdale Water is the Liza, and it snakes along on its relatively flat gravel beds on the right. Pillar Fell dominates the forward view (2,927 feet). To its right is the peak of Steeple (2,687 feet) and then right again the rounded summit of Haycock (2,618 feet). Shortly a footbridge will be seen across the river below. This is just after the road rises. A steep track will be seen leading down to a gate near the bridge. Take this track, go over the stile alongside the gate and go over the footbridge. Bear left and go through the large gap in the wall, and follow the fence which is on your left.

The going is fairly easy here. You are walking on a bed of silt deposited by the Liza over the centuries. Looking over to your right to the fells on the northern side of the lake is Great Borne and Starling Dodd, a hump of fell just over 2,000 feet, which separates Ennerdale from Crummock. At the fence end follow the wall on. You come to a corner of a Forestry plantation. Go through the gate into the plantation. Go right on to where a branch path leaves on the right. This is the route. The path which you leave rises steeply beyond this junction, so if you find yourself climbing you have gone too far!

Having turned right go on through the gap between the trees. After about fifty yards there is a more open area. The path appears to go right on across wet ground, but there is a fainter path branching off on drier ground to the right. Take this. The path descends and the lake can be glimpsed ahead over the tree tops. At the end of this path a gate is reached : go through this and close the gate after you.

You must now walk on more difficult ground, with lumpy rocks and wet turf. Go through the wall gap and along the path which you can see faintly in the bracken. This path keeps to the left of a wet area and close to rising ground. Keep on this path and do not be tempted to the lake shore too soon. The going is rough, but eventually you come to a mountain ash tree, keep to the bracken below this and make for the lake shore path, going over the muddy sections as best you can on stepping stones. The going gets a little drier further on and the path more easily seen. Cross a beck, go through a wall gap, and keep to the left to avoid the worst of a wet patch straight ahead. Cross two more becks, and you are into a wood.

As you continue there are several little becks to cross. Eventually you reach a wall. Go through the wicket gate and continue on. Ford a beck. The way continues on very rough ground.

You eventually leave the wood, and you are among heather patches. You are now more than halfway on your walk. The ground steepens to the lake here and the path rises a little. Keep to the upper path and you eventually see a wall in front. There is a gap through it and if you are too low you will have to move up to the left towards it. Go on along the path beyond the gap. You are now more or less opposite Bowness Point, behind which your car is parked. Now a crag can be seen on the path ahead.. Before tackling it look back at the beautiful head of the lake. On the other side of the valley on the extreme right is the back of Red Pike and High Stile which wall in Buttermere.

The path climbs towards the crag (Anglers' Crag) to go over scree. It looks more difficult than it is! The path then falls to go below a spur of rock, then climbs again for a short section. It again descends and climbs to go over a rough step. The path then bends left between a boulder and the fellside, and you go down a rock step. The path then descends to the lake shore, and the worst is over.

Watch your feet, though, because the way continues rough. This eases after a while and there are only boulder patches. The beach here is very attractive if you need a rest. You reach a wall and cross it by a wooden ladder stile. A beck is crossed by a stone slab.

Go through a gate on the path, then through a second gate and over the bridge. The waterworks weir is to the right. Go through the gate at the other side of the bridge and over a wet section. Make your way to a stone causeway which has been built over a muddy section on your right. A reasonable path is picked up on the lake shore. There is another fine view up lake. If you look at the lake gravel here you will see that it is now largely composed of grey shale - Skiddaw slate. Boggy sections can be avoided by a wettish path to the left. You reach a gate. Go through it and continue by the lake shore on a green track.

A hard lane joins the track from the left and you approach a spare ground now used as a car park.

Continue on now on easier walking. Go through the gate. Continue on the lake shore pebbles if you have a mind to do so, but you will have to move back to the track at a wall farther on, for there is a gate here. Go through this gate and turn immediately right down the stony track back to the lake. Continue on the pleasant dry green path. Cross a footbridge then avoid the wetness by walking on the concrete wall. There is another footbridge.

A bridge is crossed. The track then reaches a broken wall which is the boundary of Bowness Point from which you started. A path starts off between stone walls on the left. But avoid the first wet section of it by going above it on the bank on the right. Take a last look at the lake which looks great from here if there is a colourful sunset. Rejoin the path further on and continue on to the car park.

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