Another post in the English Lake District series! This time we go on a favourite Lake District walk. The route from Skelwith Bridge to Elter Water and Little Langdale takes in some iconic Lake District views and, I think, is one of the best low level walks in the National Park. The walk is a loop and takes about two and a half hours (depending on photo stops and picnics!). There are a couple of steep, rocky bits, but for the most part it is a fairly flat, easy walk. Going through a couple of small villages, there are also opportunities to call by for a pint in the pub! What’s not to like!
Our starting point is at Skelwith Bridge, just a short drive from Ambleside. There is some parking available, but it is limited. The trail winds its way towards the village of Elterwater along the river and passes Skelwith Force. This is quite spectacular, especially after it has rained – and rain is a frequent occurrence in the Lake District!
The trail from Skelwith Bridge to the small village of Elterwater runs along the river and past the lake, Elter Water. It is very easy. The path has been prepared so that it is suitable for strollers and wheelchairs. There are some wonderful views of the Langdales and it is very picturesque.
The trail comes out at the carpark in Elterwater. It would be possible to park here as an alternative to Skelwith Bridge and have a different starting point to the walk. There is a pub in the village, the Britannia Inn, which is popular with hikers. In Elterwater, we go left over the bridge and up the road for a few hundred metres before taking the drive off to the right.
This is signposted to Coniston and marked as a “Challenging Option” for cyclists!
The drive soon becomes a track. This is indeed rather more challenging and certainly not suitable for wheelchairs. It is relatively steep and very rocky underfoot. When it has rained, the track turns into a bit of a river in places.
At the top of this track there is a trail off to the left which leads to the tiny hamlet of Little Langdale. This trail crosses a couple of fields and brings the walker to the village. Tiny or not, it does have a pub, The Three Shires. Another possible lunch and libations stop!
Alternatively, rather than taking this trail and heading to the village (and the pub), one can carry straight on towards Little Langdale Tarn and turn down to towards Slater Bridge. Again there are some wonderful views across the tarn to Wrynose Pass. Slater Bridge is a very cute, higgledy-piggledy old pack-horse bridge. It is definitely worth seeing.
Our route takes us over Slater Bridge and then left along the trail. There are wonderful views across the valley back to Little Langdale and over the fells.
(If the decision is to go to the village – and the pub – it is still possible to take a detour up to Slater Bridge from the village. A little way out of the village the trail for Slater Bridge is signposted off to the right.)
The Cumbria Way and Colwith Force
Eventually, this trail joins with the Cumbria Way at one of my favourite tea gardens: High Park Tea Garden. There are fabulous views over the Langdales from the garden and I can vouch for the home baking! Wish we had waited to call there on our last visit, but it was December, we were not long out of lockdown and we were not sure whether it would be open. It was. However, we had already stopped on the trail up from Slater Bridge for a cup of tea and Christmas cake, which we had brought with us. Actually, it was hot water and cake….Peter had forgotten the teabags!
Leaving the tea garden, the track then heads back down the hill. The trail off to the left, the Cumbria Way, is slightly more challenging than the main path, but it goes by Colwith Force so is definitely worth taking.
And back to Skelwith Bridge
At the bottom of the hill, our route takes us to the right and along the narrow road for a few yards. Then there is a stile and a trail back towards Skelwith Bridge. This scenic trail wends its way across various fields and woodlands.
Eventually, the trail comes out at Skelwith Force, back to where we started. It is just then a matter of crossing the bridge and heading back to the car. A fabulous Lake District walk!
Maps for this Lake District Walk
Other posts about the Lake District which you might like:
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