The Lake District Guide

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Lake District Valley and Low-level Walks

Walks around Elterwater (continued)

Other walks around Elterwater here here here

A Walk Around Loughrigg Tarn and Skelwith Force

A walk full of interest with good views all the way. The route includes a section around a tranquil tarn and a visit to an impressive waterfall.

Distance: 7 km / 4.5 miles Ascent: 90m / 300 ft Time: 2 - 3hrs

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. The slopes beneath these trees are seen at their best in May when they are covered by a carpet of bluebells.

Just before reaching the far boundary of the woodlands be careful to locate the wide cart track on your left. This leads diagonally uphill to reach the BS343 road at a wooden gate. Hop over the low wall side and cross the road diagonally to your right to access, through a kissing gate, the footpath on the far side. The path-cum-watercourse winds to the top of the wooded brow ahead , veering right in the process. Use the stile to cross over the stone wall further to your right, then continue walking uphill eastwards along the path which heads towards the tree-fringed horizon. Another narrow track is bisected at right angles in getting there.

Pass over the craggy spur adjacent to a drystone wall on your right and descend towards Loughrigg Tarn, which shortly comes into view down below. (There are superb views along Great Langdale and towards Wetherlam from the rocky knoll off to your left as you pass over the spur.) Turn left and towards north to descend the wide track which crosses rolling fellsides. The route then connects with the entrance to a secluded stone cottage named "Crag Head". Use this gravel drive to reach the road below, passing by a second attractive cottage in getting there.

Turn left along the lane, but within less than 200 paces turn off right over the stile to access the signed public footpath which leads down across meadows and then around the north-eastern shore of Loughrigg Tarn. As you progress further south eastwards, around these tranquil waters there are the most superb views across the tarn towards the Langdale Pikes and Bow Fell. Often spectacular sunsets may be observed from here.

Climb up the grassy bank away from the water's edge to pass through a wooden gate in the railings above. Then turn right along the driveway and beyond another gate. Turn right again to pass by another residence named "Dillygarth". In quick succession turn left, right and left again through the maze of narrow lanes which converge here, to select the one which leads steeply downhill, most directly towards Skelwith Bridge. Cross with care over the A593 Ambleside - Coniston road below and walks past the Skelwith Bridge Hotel.

Turn right immediately past the hotel car park, then select the left-hand fork nearest to the River Brathay to continue along tile signed footpath leading west back towards Elterwater. The obvious return route conveniently leads to Kirkstone Galleries with its attractions, including tempting refreshment facilities.

From here, the path back leads between the quarry worksheds and then beneath trees to Skelwith Force, down below to your left. These impressive falls are well worth a closer inspection but do be careful, especially if there are youngsters with you, for this rocky area can be very slippery.

Afterwards, continue up the valley path where a kissing gate provides access to the attractive low-lying meadows which flank the meandering River Brathay. Beyond, the return route re-enters the woodlands bordering Elterwater; from here retrace your outward steps back through the village and to the Langdale Estate or the village car-park.

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