The Lake District Guide

Lake District Valley and Low-level Walks

More Borrowdale Walks

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Watendlath from Rosthwaite - 3 Miles

Watendlath is a pretty hamlet at the head of a valley running parallel to Borrowdale. It is situated by an equally pretty tarn, bridged at its outlet by a picture-book arch-bridge.

This walk to Watendlath is a straight up and down one from Rosthwaite along the ancient pack-horse route from Rosthwaite. It is an excellent walk offering spectacular views. There is, however, a climb of over 800 feet and time should be allowed for this. Allow two hours for the walk, adding a bit for age, heat, snow, idleness - and for refreshments at the hamlet.

Rosthwaite is five and a half miles from Keswick along the Borrowdale road. The path starts as a short stretch of road going off left just before the village is entered. (Signposted.) There should be space on the verge to park here. Go up this short stretch of macadam road. A short way along it is a bridge over Stonethwaite Beck. The beck shines with multi-coloured stones. Just over the bridge turn left. (Signposted "Watendlath".) Go up the cobbly path. At the point where the footpath is subject to flooding, a higher walk level has been provided. Go through gate at the end of this and follow the footpath up to the right. Above this the path splits in several places. Impatient walkers have made various short-cuts. The old winding way, if you can find it, is usually the easiest route. As you gain height there are good views into the head of Borrowdale.

Pass through a wall gap and go forward through trees over a slate bridge. The path roughens after this. There is a little wooded dell on the right with a little beck in it. As you get higher the path becomes a green one. Looking back and to the left you can look into the highest mountains in England. The first and nearest fell is Rosthwaite fell at the end of the Glaramara range. Behind that is the great buttress of Great End in the Scafell range. Its gullies retain the winter snows longest and they are popular with climbers. Behind it, if the weather is clear, you should see a little point on the heavy lump of a summit. This is Scafell Pike, 3,206 feet and the highest point in England. To the right of this range, at the other side of the valley of Sty Head, is Great Gable, 2,949 feet, its right hand side chopped away into crags.

As the path summit is breasted, Watendlath Tarn appears on the right below. On the descent the view is enhanced by the larch grove which frames it. The approach to the hamlet is made over the pretty arched bridge.

The return is by the same route as you came. Allow a good margin of time for the return as the steepness is not easy, and take care on the loose stones. The downward views can be enjoyed more easily. Look for the great lump of Castle Crag in the middle of the Borrowdale valley on the right. Behind it are the harsh-looking Eel Crags.

Johnny's Wood from Seatoller (Borrowdale) 3 miles

We are not sure who Johnny was, but his wood is listed as an area of Special Scientific Interest and is in the care of the National Trust. This river-side walk, finishing on a low fell viewpoint, circles the wood. There are one or two wet patches, and footwear should be suitable for this.

Park on Seatoller Car Park. This is right at the head of Borrowdale where the road turns to go over Honister Pass. Seatoller is the hamlet at the foot of the pass and the car park is just by the "Honister" sign. Leave the car park at the farm side of the car park. Turn right and you are presently walking with a wall right and a hedge left. Go through gate and continue on alongside wall. Shortly there is a fork, the right hand path is the less distinct of the two and this should be followed. Ford a little beck, avoid the wet patch beyond, and go through the iron gate on the right. Follow the path round left. This is the fringe of Johnny's Wood and there are some fine oak trees. Ash, birch and holly are also seen among the oaks.

The path leaves the wood for a while by a broken wall, at the end of which bear left over the grass to pick up a grassy path. This goes parallel with a wall on the right. You move into the wood again. Go through gate.

You are crowded between a crag and a wall. Go through wicket gate and the riverside is reached. You have to walk over some rough craggy land and along a crack in the rock. The river pools here are a beautiful green. You walk in front of the Longthwaite Youth Hostel. Before reaching the gate however at the far end of the property, turn left across the grass to the wall corner. Follow the wall round to the right. You pick up a path which goes behind a farm by two patches of wild iris. Just by the farm gate here is an elderberry tree. These are very often found near habitations in the area. At one time they were extremely valued for their medicinal properties, a syrup made from the berries was taken warm for fevers and colds. Dried, the berries were also used as a substitute for currants. A medicinal tea was also made from the flowers.

The path becomes a stone track. Hazel trees can be seen growing well about here. These usually grown in clumps as they send up many shoots after being cut. Hazel nuts were once a valuable Lake District crop, and tons of them went to market. The trees were, however, devastated by the charcoal burners in the latter two centuries to feed the iron furnaces. The wood has always been valued for making baskets, shepherd crooks, walking sticks and broom handles.

The way begins to climb a little. Go over stile or through adjoining gate. Still climbing, the path crosses a little beck. Go through the gate and continue up the path away from the wood, a grassy path leaves the stony one. You rise on towards the next wood. You reach a tree-clad gully. Follow the green path which curves away. This climbs, and when you pause for a breather, look back. You are looking over the Borrowdale valley. Across it is the tree-clad slope of Grange Fell, and to its right you can see the path down to Rosthwaite from Watendlath. On the left, on your side of the valley, there is the rough steep hump of Castle Crag, scarred by old quarries. The path again follows the edge of the gully. You can hear a waterfall down to the right, but it can only be seen after leaf fall. A nearer approach down the steep is unsafe. The path levels off by a wall. As you reach the beck there is a wooden stile on the left, cross over this and go up a short section of steep bank opposite. Then the path bears right, forking shortly; keep to the right hand path which follows a more level way but becomes less distinct. Continue on. Presently there is a wall on the right by the beck-side. With your eye follow this up and you will see where it curves behind a knoll in front. Make for this point. The path should become more visible.

The path curves round with the wall and gives a view up to the head of Borrowdale. The jagged ridge of Glaramara is on the left, the hump of Seathwaite is in the middle, and to the right of that fell in the gap you see right up Grains Ghyll to the rough face of Great End on the end of the Scafell range - the roof of England. The energetic might like to climb the knoll on the left to get a better view. There is a faint path right up the ridge. From here you follow this right through some bracken to a broken wall. Follow this broken wall right to avoid a swamp just beyond it, then cross another broken wall and continue to climb up on to the rocky knoll. From here you have a fuller view of the Scafell range, and you can see Great Gable on its right. Looking the other way you can glimpse Derwentwater and Keswick beyond Castle Crag. Descend from this knoll the way you came up. Go back to the wall.

The path goes through a wall gap between the wall right and one coming in from the left. It goes through bracken. Keep to the left of the wet ground with care on slippery rock half-hidden in the bracken. You then make a steep descent to a stony track. The buildings of Seatoller can be seen below. There is a picturesque group of pines through the gate on the right, with a straight single larch. Turn left however to where the track forks at a gate. Go through the gate and on to a green track beyond which bends right. Descend through a gateway. Go through the gateway at the bottom, turn left through the village to the car park where you started.

Ullswater walks

Tarn Hows

Holme Fell

Wasdale walks

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