Ennerdale Water is probably the least well known lake in the Lake District National Park. Although we live in the Lake District, we had not visited Ennerdale Water until recently, mainly because it is way out west and quite remote. However, we were on our way to the seaside on the west coast of Cumbria and Ennerdale was just a short detour so we decided to check it out. I am so pleased we did! In fact, this whole area is beautiful and well worth exploring.
Where is Ennerdale Water?
Ennerdale Water is the most westerly lake in the Lake District National Park. It is a glacial lake set in the valley of Ennerdale with the small village of Ennerdale Bridge at the west end of the lake. The lake is currently managed by National Utilities and operated as a reservoir, although this is set to change in the next year or so, I understand.
We visited Ennerdale Water on our way to the west coast of Cumbria and as we were in our motor home, we were a little concerned about parking. In fact, there was a great car park there with plenty of space (this was on a week day, however).
The Hike around Ennerdale Water
It is possible to hike the whole way round Ennerdale Water and this is exactly what we did. We went anti-clockwise around the lake from the carpark at Bleach Green (see red pin in the map above).
The hike is about 6 miles in length and it took us over 3 and a half hours, including a stop for a picnic. In other words: it was quite slow going. This is mainly because the trail along south side of the lake was quite hard underfoot and very rocky. Although the route is largely flat, there are a few inclines and a bit of scrambling in places. We had set out in hiking shoes, but both agreed that in future we would have full hiking boots for this hike.
The trail follows the lake shore and the views are fabulous.
It was very quiet when we completed the hike round Ennerdale and certainly on this rugged south side we only encountered one fisherman, one other couple and a family.
At the end of the lake, the trail continues over a couple of fields along a permissive path and then crosses a bridge over the river Liza.
On the other side of the bridge, there is a forestry road running up the side of the lake. This was much easier walking than the other side.
Eventually this road becomes a tarmac road, but just before this, one can cut off down to a path which runs next to the shore. Initially, this is a little more challenging, but then it becomes very easy on a specially built path.
It was also a little busier along this section and I suspect that many people just walk along this section to appreciate the lake. There are several seats and picnic benches along the final stretch around the lake.
This was the first time we had visited Ennerdale and we shall definitely be returning and hiking the trail again.
West coast of Cumbria
The main reason for our trip, however, was to explore the west coast of Cumbria a little. Post Covid lockdown, I wanted to visit the seaside! We visited several places on the coast and really enjoyed exploring the area.
And so to Silloth, a Victorian seaside resort on the west coast of Cumbria. This was another first for us. Silloth is at the very north of Cumbria and outside the National Park. It sits on the Solway Firth facing Galloway in Scotland. Silloth is a port as well as a seaside resort.
We stayed at the Rowanbank Caravan Park at Beckfoot a little south of Silloth. The campsite was clean and tidy, mainly for static holiday homes (of which there are many in the area) but with a few spaces for touring caravans and motor homes. The owner was really friendly and we swapped stories of working as Red Coats at Butlins in our youth! We did not use the washrooms as there were still Covid restrictions in place, but I imagine they were as clean as the rest of the site. Rowanbank is really well located in that it is very close to the beach. It was a great beach for dogs and Jasper loved it.
Beckfoot is a few miles from Silloth itself so the following day we took out the Doggy Hut (the tag-along bike trailer for canine friends) and the bikes. There is a great cycle path along much of this stretch of the coast. It does not go the whole way to Silloth, but the road was really quiet for cycling
We enjoyed wandering around Silloth both on foot and by bike. It had a lovely, laid-back vibe and lots of character. The fact that Silloth was a Victorian seaside resort is still very much in evidence.
The houses and hotels along the front are colourful and well kept, but go behind the scenes a little, and there is a feeling of faded grandeur. The green in the middle of the town is lovely and lots of families were out enjoying the great weather we had. The RAF has a long history in this area and this was also apparent.
There is also an extensive promenade which is great for cycling.
Next stop on our tour was St Bees, another seaside resort on the west coast of Cumbria. St Bees itself is a small, quaint village, most famous for St Bees School which was founded in the 16th Century. St Bees Head is the most westerly point in Cumbria
We stayed at the Seacote Park in St Bees. This park is a huge complex with hundreds of static caravans as well as some spaces for tourers. I cannot say it was pretty as it was just row upon row of holiday homes and we were tucked away round the back in an area where the utility vehicles were stored, as well as the odd skip and a few piled up mattresses. On the other hand it was well located for the beach, the promenade and the English Coast Path.
We enjoyed playing on the beach at St Bees with Jasper, our border collie, but best of all was walking the coast path along the cliffs up towards Whitehaven. The views over the sea and of the red sandstone cliffs were wonderful, especially as we were blessed by great weather.
We turned the walk into a large loop, leaving the coast path on the outskirts of Whitehaven and heading inland. We took a path which meandered over fields and through woodland back to St Bees. The whole loop took about five hours, including a picnic.
Silecroft was my favourite place on this trip to the west coast of Cumbria. This tiny village is just in the Lake District National Park, nestling in the shadow of Black Combe Fell. Silecroft is a few miles further south from St Bees and we spent several hours there on our way home. Although the village itself is quite small, the beach at Silecroft is enormous when the tide is out – a large expanse of sand which stretches for miles. There are views across to the Isle of Man ( – on a clear day!).
There is a large carpark just off the beach and we were easily able to park the motorhome there. We took the bikes out and because there were no roads close by, we were able to allow Jasper to run on the beach with the bikes. He loved it! We went 3 miles down the beach towards Haverigg and 3 miles back. He ran all the way. We had one very tired pup at the end of the day!
The area around Ennerdale Water and the West Coast of Cumbria is much quieter than other parts of the National Park. It is, however, a beautiful area with so much to enjoy. We shall definitely be returning to explore further.
Other posts in the Lake District series
Additional posts about the Lake District can also be found in the Lake District Series.