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Lake District Walks: Langdale No.1

Written by Alex Smith on

When discussing Lake District walks the most common topics tend to be the high fells, lakeside ambles or possibly ‘bagging’ all the Wainwrights.
Over the next few months we hope to give you a few options accessible for walkers at all levels taking in stunning views, local landmarks and a pub or two along the way.

Walk one – The mouth of The Langdales
As this walk is circular it can be started form many points along the route depending where you are staying. Because we are based in Elterwater village we are starting there heading out  on a clockwise walk. This is a walk which can be done over and over giving very different views heading in the other direction and a different times of day
Take the footpath from the National Trust car park in the village centre and follow the river downstream towards Skelwith Bridge. Langdale Beck keeps you company for the first 1.2 mile before the path veers though Rob Rash wood (as I write this the wood is carpeted in bluebells). At 1 mile you reach a gate leading into the fields by Elterwater itself, open views across the lake to Lingmoor Fell, Wetherlam, Black Fell and the Langdale Pikes (see top photo). The path though the fields has been widened & resurfaced recently to allow room for mountain bikers and disabled access.
Through the gate beyond the fields our walk turns right over the steel span footbridge (photo below) and follows the path bearing first left over the bridge and then around to the right & uphill through woodland leading to Colwith. It’s worth pausing before crossing the bridge and walking on 50yds to enjoy the magnificent sight of Skelwith Force, where the water leaving Elterwater is channeled into a narrow gap and short waterfall. You can also call for tea and cake at the nearby Chesters Tea-room.
  
Returning to our walk over the bridge and up the hill the path heads towards Colwith whilst offering superb elevated views of Elterwater, Great Langdale Valley and Loughrigg Fell. This section is part of the ‘Cumbrian Way’. Morning walks have the benefit of the sun shinning directly down Great Langdale lighting up the fells whilst in the evening the sun cast long shadows across the valley and silhouettes The Pikes from behind. The path roughly follows the line of the Ambleside to Coniston road (although it stays a very civilised distance away at all times). The path meanders onwards through several gates before arriving at Elterwater Park B&B, here you’ll need to pass through their grounds  (not turning right up their access road which is marked Private) following the way-markers to a stile with a dog gate. The next (very short) section of path is quite rough so take care with your footing in wet weather. this section quickly leads to a stone stile with no dog gate, the steps are wide and all but the very elderly or shortest legged dogs should manage it ok. Carry on through two more swing gates before the path begins to drop back to the valley floor, views here include Lingmoor, Wetherlam, Oxen Fell and Colwith. Passing over the next stile (with dog-gate (DG)) walk down a narrow path with a steep drop on the right, steps have been cut into the hill to enable smoother passage. Another stile (with DG) greats you at the bottom before short walk towards the road and stone steps in the wall to pass over. From here you may choose to follow the road back to Elterwater with 3.5 miles your total distance covered.
If you choose to carry on – Turn right along the road for about 30 yards before heading through a gate on your left. There are two options here, you may choose to go straight ahead up a steep section of hill on a fairly smooth path or you may turn right to view ‘Colwith Force’ (see picture below) along a much rougher but a little more picturesque path Both paths meet at the top of the hill so this is up to you, on either path if in doubt head up-hill.

Arriving at the top of the hill go through the gate and into a field, follow the path leading through another gate to your right and on to a group of farm buildings. From here join the single lane road and follow it downhill past Stang End Farm to Little Langdale Beck. There is a bridge leading over the river and the road fords the river at this point also. Ignore the bridge and take the lane to the left (as you face the river) About 300yds down this lane there is a stile in the wall on your right leading to Slaters Bridge (you may also wish to look out for signs to Cathedral Cave (pictured below) along this lane which is only a short ‘there and back again’ detour).

Cross Slaters Bridge (taking the obligatory photo (below) on the way :-)) and follow the path uphill to Birk Howe Farm, there are tremendous views from here up Little Langdale Valley towards Wrynose Pass, Wetherlam and Wrynose Fell. The path leads past Birk Howe farm (along their driveway) to the main road. Almost directly opposite the entry to the farm is another single lane road signposted ‘bridleway to Elterwater’ follow this lane for about 1.5 miles along the foot of Lingmoor Fell and through two gates returning to Elterwater via Dale End Farm on the old ‘Coffin Trail’. Enter Elterwater passing the Eltermere Inn & Elterwater Youth Hostel, cross the bridge and you are back to the NT car park where we started.

Alex Smith

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