Walk date – 19th September 2022
Distance – 6.6 miles
Weather – dry, no breeze, sunny spells
The forecast for today suggested that those whose job it is to come up with one didn’t really know what the weather would be like so included a little bit of everything just to be on the safe side. Not really knowing what to make of it all we opted to drive over to Elterwater and just have a leisurely stroll along the Cumbria Way around Elter Water and then on into Little Langdale. The usual low gloomy cloud was above us in the east of the county as we started out on the drive to Elterwater but by the time we arrived things had brightened up a little. We had no trouble parking in Walthwaite Bottom just outside the village even though we had not started out especially early and we were soon kitted up and on our way to repeat a walk which we hadn’t done since 23rd August 2015 . We noticed a few minor changes here and there that have occurred along the way during the intervening seven years but nothing which detracts in any way from this very pleasant excursion through another area of Lakeland’s many little gems.
Elterwater village – Cumbria Way – Skelwith Force – Park Farm – Colwith Force – High Park – Stang End – Slater Bridge – Dale End – Elterwater village
I was going to start with a shot of The Britannia Inn back up the road but a couple of young lads leaning against the lamp-post showed no signs of moving so to begin with here’s a shot of Great Langdale Beck flowing beneath the bridge at the bottom of Elterwater village. From here we began following the Cumbria Way path.
One of the changes we noticed was that parts of the Cumbria Way path had been stone paved as can be seen here. Beyond the bridge is one of the stone paved sections, on our 2015 visit it had the same fine and compacted gravel surface that the section up to the bridge still retains.
A small sandy beach area further along offers a lovely view beyond Elter Water to the Langdale Pikes. This walk was very popular today and large numbers of people were walking along it in both directions. This obvious stopping point was full of folk sitting wherever there was a space to enjoy the view and the hazy sunshine.
Further along the path and Pike O’Blisco and Cold Pike pop up on the skyline.
Woodburn Bridge spanning the River Brathay just above Skelwith Force. Built by local architectural metalworker Chris Bramall and named after a local man, Trevor Woodburn, who suggested the original idea for the route in 1998. The bridge was opened in July 2007 so its just had its fifteenth anniversary.
Rather than cross the bridge immediately we followed the path a little further on which leads to the Skelwith Force viewing platform just below us.
We went down to the platform and scrambled across the surrounding rocks for this shot of Skelwith Force tumbling very loudly over the weir.
From Skelwith Force there was a section of woodland walking before we emerged out into the open again and arrived at Park Cottage. It was difficult to line up a good shot of the cottage because there were so many folk crossing the footpath in front of me if I stood back from it so this was the best that could be managed at the time.
Not too far along from Park cottage is Park Farm whose garden gate comes into view first of all. There used to be a sign attached to the wall of the house which stated ‘Tea Garden Open. Please ring the bell.’ The previous sign indicating where the garden is has been retained but the Tea Room sign is no more. The shrub in the wooden planter has grown quite considerably in the last seven years.
Park Farm is now rebranded as Elterwater Park Bed & Breakfast/Self-Catering/Tea Room. B & B guests are accommodated in the house, there are three self catering barns and the Tea Room, now named Muddy Boots Tea Room, is situated in the original cow byres on the ground floor of a traditional bank barn just across the yard from the house, although you can still take refreshments in the garden if you wish. The Tea Room is open as and when staffing allows. If anyone is thinking of calling in it would be wise to check beforehand just to avoid the disappointment of it being closed when you get there.
From Park Farm B & B the path meandered through open and quite sunny pastureland before eventually dropping down to a minor back road. At the road we turned right and walked the few yards to another set of steps leading eventually to the woodland area containing Colwith Force. It can be heard long before it can be seen. For the best view leave the path just before the next set of steps, and walk over to an open area over to the right from where you will get the above view of the falls. The leaves are beginning to fall so we have a more open view than would be possible at the height of summer. The falls are part of the outflow stream from Little Langdale Tarn.
From Colwith Force there is a longer section of woodland walking which rises steadily although it doesn’t present any difficulties and we eventually emerge from the mugginess of the woods out into the open again just in front of High Park. The white building over on the right is a tea room plus a garden and we noticed that it was open today. This shot was our refreshment break view at the time. We had perched ourselves on a convenient outcrop to enjoy the view of Lingmoor Fell and after about five minutes a larger group of six came by, perched themselves on an even higher outcrop off to the left and proceeded to do likewise. Walkers came along the path from both directions all the time we were there.
Following our break at High Park we made our way over to Stang End and walked down the narrow lane from there and made our way over to Slater Bridge. As the photo shows there was plenty of cloud around but despite that we enjoyed plenty of sunny spells. The view ahead is of Pike O’Blisco, on the left, rising up behind Blake Rigg, we can just about see the Langdale Pikes over on the right, and between the two is just a smidge of Bowfell.
We’ve just passed what appears to be a new stile crossing the right hand fence and a footpath sign. We don’t remember them being there when we came along here in 2015 and there didn’t seem to be an obvious footpath from the stile so perhaps it is a brand new route. The sign seemed to be pointing towards the Three Shire Inn down there in the valley so maybe its something to remember should you feel the need for a reviving pint on a hot summer day in future.
Very busy as usual at Slater Bridge so we sat down and waited it out. A bunch of folk had just crossed over, there was a large queue just out of shot on the other side so while they all sorted themselves out I took the opportunity of an empty bridge for a quick shot. There wasn’t enough time to faff about deciding about best shot angles and all the rest of it so it was a quick point and shoot and hope for the best. Its not perfect but simply the best that was available at the time.
After a few minutes at the bridge we made our way up the hill to begin making our way back to Elterwater village. Across the skyline is Pike O’Blisco with Blake Rigg just below it in the centre. To the left of the sunny spot behind Little Langdale Tarn is a largish rock outcrop known as Castle Howe. This is thought to have been the site of an ancient hill fort from the Iron Age, or even earlier. It is located at the beginning of the Wrynose Pass, which eventually leads over to Cumbria’s coastal plain, so the ancient occupants of the hill fort would have been able to keep an eye on anyone, or anything, moving along the pass. Although not visible in the shot, situated just in front of Castle Howe, and right behind Fell Foot Farm, is Ting Mound, said to be an ancient meeting place where local matters could be discussed and grievances given an airing. No doubt such meetings would have been as heated then as they are today with many different points of view being given an airing. Wonder if folks got de-platformed for having the ‘wrong’ opinion then?
Another sunny spell came along just before we lost the view and as it illuminated everything very nicely I decided to include this shot even though it looks more or less the same as the previous one. On the left skyline is Wetherlam the slopes of which drop down to the top of Wrynose Pass, on the other side of Wrynose is Pike O’Blisco with Blake Rigg just below it. Castle Howe is clearly visible on the sunlit grassy mound in the centre.
Dale Head Farm at the end of the tarmac lane we followed after visiting Slater Bridge. Beyond Dale Head the path back down to the village is stony and uneven although it is downhill all the way. Home made cake and drinks plus honesty box were set out on a table just around the corner where an elderly gent was seated on one of the chairs provided. He was already tucking into his piece of cake while his wife was negotiating the payment tin. He did exchange greetings with us as we passed and added another comment, something about how much he liked cake I think but I really couldn’t be sure. J hadn’t been able to understand what had been said either so neither of us had a clue what he had said. A mouthful of cake and a very strong and unfamiliar accent proved too difficult for us to communicate any further so we smiled and nodded and went on our way.
Back at The Britannia Inn in Elterwater village where we had a cup of coffee in the cafe just out of shot to the right. Both pub and cafe were busy with plenty of customers so its possible that we will have met quite a few of them on today’s walk. Walkers and non-walkers were definitely out in force today and keen to enjoy the weather, the unexpected public holiday and the lovely Little Langdale valley. We certainly did.