The Lake District Guide

Lake District Valley and Low-level Walks

Walks around Elterwater

Other walks around Elterwater here here here

A series of walks specially commissioned by the Langdale Estate, written by Tom Lawton.

The walks are divided equally between undemanding, leisurely strolls along the valley floors, to more adventurous explorations into the flanking fells. They all start and finish at the Langdale Estate.

The routes should be suitable for anyone who is reasonably fit. However, even experienced walkers call get into trouble when the weather turns nasty. Please take the following precautions when walking, especially when heading for the high fells, and take detailed maps of the area with you. Ordnance Survey Outdoor Leisure Series Maps numbers 6 and
7 cover all the walks listed.

  • Have a reliable compass with you.
  • Take adequate food and drink.
  • Wear comfortable boots and carry waterproofs and warm clothing in your rucksack.
  • Take a basic first aid kit, a torch and whistle in case of emergency.
  • Always obtain a weather forecast (available at Langdale Estate Reception) before you venture high up onto the fells and be prepared to curtail your route if really bad weather looks likely to set ill.
  • In cold and windy weather take warm headgear and gloves.
  • Always leave a note of your planned route and your estimated time of arrival with the Reception desk. If for any reason your return is going to be significantly delayed try to get a message back to Reception.

Langdale Valley and Elterwater Village

The perfect introduction to walking around Langdale: a short route which will introduce you to some of the wonderful scenery of the valley, including the Langdale Pikes.

Distance: 7 km / 4.5 miles
Ascent: 60 m / 200 ft
Time : 2 - 3hrs

Leave Langdale Estate by the south-eastern exit and walk into Elterwater Village. Turn right and cross over Great Langdale Beck, then turn immediately right again along the surfaced road which leads north west, uphill towards the slate quarry. Turn right along a signed footpath (part of the Cumbria Way) and follow this downhill and along the stream to reach a sturdy footbridge spanning the beck. Cross the stream, turn left and make your way to Wainwright's Inn.

Just beyond the inn, turn left along the path and follow this as it winds up the valley, passing around the rear of the school and by Thrang Farm. The way bends sharply left to cross the river again, on this occasion by the arched pack-horse bridge which provides access to the campsite at Baysbrown Farm. Then turn right to continue along the valley, following the path which hugs the bank of the stream. There are superb views from here towards the famed Langdale Pikes - with the peak of Harrison Stickle dominating the horizon.

An obvious way Ieads through gates and over stiles to reach Oak Howe, the westerly extremity of the route. Just beyond the farm buildings be careful to keep left where the paths divide in order to cross over the valley floor, walking south west over rough stony ground (which olds surface water in wet weather conditions). Follow the path around to the left to enter the deciduous woodlands (Hag Wood and Baysbrown Wood) which line the southern flank of the valley. From here a clear, wide path leads south-east through Baysbrown Farm and then along the edge of Sawrey's Wood to connect with the bridleway linking Elterwater with Little Langdale. Turn left here to pass by the entrance to Elterwater Hall and then veer left along the minor road to return to Elterwater Village.

The attractive village is well worth looking around before you return to Langdale.

Walk 3: Skelwith Force, Colwith Force and Slater Bridge

A longer valley walk with great views and many attractions along the way, including two contrasting waterfalls and a venerable bridge constructed from slate slabs.

Distance: 10 km/6 miles
Ascent: 170m1560ft
Time: 3-4hrs

Start in Elterwater. Walk through the car park to access the Cumbria Way footpath, then follow this southeastwards down the valley. Initially the path tracks the river, but just over 0.5km further on it kinks to the left and then enters a strip of mixed deciduous woodland which lines the northern shore of Elterwater. Continue down the valley, crossing meadowland to reach Skelwith Force.

After all inspection of the impressive falls, continue between the slate workshops to reach the Kirkstone Galleries, where you can get delicious refreshments.

Afterwards, walk the short distance down to the A593 Ambleside to Coniston road and turn right to use Skelwith Bridge to cross above the River Brathay. Follow the road around to the right - taking care to look for approaching traffic on the dangerous bend - and then bear right along the second footpath. This is signed to Colwith Force.

The way leads uphill, winding through deciduous woodlands, before reaching more open countryside. Bear right at the junction of paths and continue westwards along the valley, using part of the well-signed Cumbria Way to pass through Park Farm. Stiles and gates have to be negotiated before the narrowing path descends steeply through trees to the valley floor. Exercise caution during wet weather as the route becomes slippery. The route then leads to the lane connecting Elterwater with the main Ambleside to Coniston road. Turn right along the road but within about 100 paces leave it by the narrow public footpath on your left. Then turn sharp right to follow path signed to Colwith Force - a very impressive cascade.

After visiting the waterfalls, continue up the steep, in places slippery, path being ever mindful of the steep fall-away to your right. The way then tracks south-west beneath trees to bring you to a bridleway along which you veer right to progress further down Little Langdale Valley.

Walk down to High Park Farm and leave this along the tarmac lane to then pass by Stang End, avoiding all side paths to both left and right. Walk downhill to cross over a small beck by means of a bridge, then turn sharp right to follow a grassy path that threads around the grassy hillock ahead. This leads to a wider track.

Avoid the first footbridge and continue along the left bank of the stream, passing by quarry spoils, until you reach a kissing gate on your right which you pass through to reach and cross Slater Bridge. The crossing, constructed of slabs of slate, is particularly photogenic.

On the far side of the bridge the route continues uphill over an outcrop of rocks to reach the higher ground of Birk Howe Farm. Turn left and use the approach track to the farm to arrive at the minor road through Little Langdale. Cross diagonally to your left and then turn right along the side lane signed "Unsuitable for vehicles".

The return leg of the way then passes by Dale End Far and from here a rough, wide track leads north-east back into Elterwater. Before reaching the village, this track connects with a surfaced lane which will guide you down to the Coniston road.

Turn left along this and follow it into the village, passing by the Youth Hostel on your left.

Walk 4: Silver Howe and Grasmere

An energetic climb out of Great Langdale is rewarded by the most magnificent panoramic views from the top of Silver How. After a leisurely descent into Wordsworth's Grasmere, there is a significantly less demanding return by way of Hunting Stile.

Distance: 8km/5miles Ascent: 450m/ 1480 ft Time: 3-4hrs

Walk along the B5343 road, walking towards the Wainwright's Inn from the Langdale Estate. Turn right up the signed public footpath just beyond the bungalow named "Beckfoot".

Follow the path by veering left beside the stream to reach the minor lane above Chapel Stile. Turn left along the lane, but within 100 yards turn abruptly right by the side of a stone boundary wall to commence a steep climb up the craggy fellside. The rough path, somewhat obscure in places, zigzags through boulders and bracken gaining height very rapidly - climb this demanding section at a pace which is comfortable for you as the main objective of the walk is enjoyment!

Higher up, as you track around and above the boundary wall on your right, the path bcomes better defined as it leads above a steep gully on the right to reach the watercourse of Meg's Gill ahead. Cross the rocky bed of the stream by veering around tot he left, away from the severe drop on the right. On the far side of the gill be vigilant to treat carefully along the narrow fairly exposed path which tracks to the right as it leads further up the fellside on a more comfortable gradient.

The way continues up a grassy bank to reach, in quick succession, two cairns: the second of these is quite large and marks an important intersection of ways.

Continue straight ahead past the second cairn and then veer left (north-north-west) to follow the stone path up a rock chute to reach another prominent marker cairn positioned above. From here, continue north along the undulating, grassy way to reach the summit of Silver How, a short distance further on. The all-round panoramic views from this lofty viewing platform are quite superb in fine weather.

The descent into Grasmere is initially to the north, then veers northeast along a path defined by cairns. There is one relatively tricky section crossing the craggy gully of Wray Gill, down to your left, before the way threads through juniper thickets to lead you steeply downhill and along an enclosed section of boulders and stones to reach two delightfully situated cottages.

From here, obvious surfaced tracks and lanes lead you further downhill, around the woodlands of Allen Bank and into the village of Grasmere, conveniently passing several cafes.

Exit the village along the road over Red Bank signed to Langdale and Coniston and follow this uphill until you reach Lea Cottage (red postbox in wall). Fork right opposite this cottage along the drive signed to "Huntignstile" which is also a public footpath leading to Loughrigg Terrace and Great Langdale.

Continue climbing up the lane which deteriorates into a rough, enclosed track that narrows appreciably. Higher up, keep right following the path signed to "Elterwater and Langdale" but then be careful to use the gate on the left to continue along the correct route.

The way then passes over a low hause to reach the final descent back into Elterwater Village.

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