A Lake District Walk: Skelwith, Elter Water, Little Langdale

by | Destinations, England | 10 comments

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!

Reflection on Elter Water with view over Langdales

The Route

Skelwith Bridge

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!

Skelwith Force 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.

View of the Langdales from Elter Water on a Lake District Walk

A view of the Langdales from Elter Water


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.

Bridge in Elterwater on a walk in the Lake District

This is signposted to Coniston and marked as a “Challenging Option” for cyclists!

Signpost near Elterwater

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.

Jasper on the rocky trail near Elterwater

Jasper is always out in front, but waits patiently!

Little Langdale

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!

Slater Bridge

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.

Little Langdale Tarn

Little Langdale Tarn


Slater Bridge on a walk in the Lake District

Slater Bridge

Slater Bridge near Little Langdale


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!

High Park Tea Garden

High Park Tea Garden

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.

Colwith Force

Colwith Force


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.

The stile leading to Skelwith Bridge

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

Map of lake district walk

Click on map to go to Google Maps (This map is copyright Google, Map data 2020)


Fitbit map for walk to Little Langdale

And this one from my Fitbit!


Other posts about the Lake District which you might like: 

One Day in the Lake District

A Walk Around Crummock Water



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  1. I had to look up “higgledy-piggledy”, and it’s my favorite new word! I feel like this walk is definitely my speed, with all the stops for tea and cake 🙂 Beautiful photos, I love how still everything seems.

  2. Love the stonework on Slater Bridge. We are checking into Tiger Run on the first and are crushed that Peter and yourself will not be there, we were so looking forward to hanging out again.

    • We are absolutely gutted that we are not going to make it to TR this year. Will be skiing vicariously through you!

  3. This looks like a great Sunday walk. I love that there are little pubs and villages along the way to stop and enjoy. Plus there are some great natural features and bridges to admire as you wander.

  4. What stunning photos! I have never been lucky with weather when I have visited and attempted walks in the Lake District but it’s such a beautiful part of the UK. I left the UK many years ago but these are the kind of posts that make me nostalgically homesick.

  5. The Lake District is so beautiful! I love the photos of reflection in the lake… And that Slater Bridge looks straight out of a movie! The more I travel, the more I enjoy spending time in nature and hiking has become part of every trip, this is a perfect location for this!

  6. That first view of the mountains and reflections would certainly draw me out to walk in the Lake District. I love that rushing water view from the stop at Skelwith Bridge. And the calm waters under the bridge at Elterwater. Love that the path returns to where you started.

  7. This is just such a special place. I feel through your photos how serene and peaceful it would be. That stone bridge is my favourite. I would love to do some hiking through this area.

  8. Great post, Jane. I remember some of the location names you mention, even though I’m pretty sure we didn’t do that precise hike. Missing the Lake District. Since this morning we’re now in Tier 4 here in the Big Smoke.. not pleased. 🙂

    • It will still be here for you when you are able to return. Stay safe.


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Hello!  I’m Jane. I live in the Lake District in the north of England with my husband, Peter. We love to travel, but this is a great place to call home.

We gave up work in order to travel and do all the things we were not able to do in our careers. We know we are incredibly lucky to be able to do this.

We are quite active and love skiing, hiking, biking, exploring etc, but we also enjoy history, art, music, science…..and good food and wine! In this blog, you will find articles on all of these subjects as we discover them on our travels.

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