20081021_Elterwater – Little Langdale – Colwith Force – Skelwith Force Circular Walk – Post-1

20081021_Elterwater – Little Langdale – Colwith Force – Skelwith Force Circular Walk – Post-1
When :
21st October 2008
Who : Me and my sister Janet
Where : Lake District, Cumbria, England
Maps : 1:25000 Outdoor Leisure Map no.7, The English Lakes – South East
Start + End Point : 329,050
Approx Distance : 6 miles, 9.5 km
Heights : 875 ft (about 270m) up and down
Parking : Free at Waithwaite Bottom on B5343 a little way outside Elterwater Village [Other parking in Elterwater Village].
Public Transport : Yes, Elterwater is serviced by Bus, possibly a limited service

Summary : Waithwaite Bottom Car Park ; Elterwater (The Village) ; Little Langdale ; Slater Bridge ; Colwith Force ; Skelwith Bridge ; Skelwith Force ; River Brathay ; Elter Water (The Lake) ; Return to Elterwater (Village) and Waithwaite Bottom.

As we drove down to the car park at Waithwaite Bottom, all of a sudden the weather brightened up, with the claggy rain being pushed rapidly away with cold bright mostly sunny conditions coming in. It’s almost as if the Gods had decided to smile down on us, just for a change … and it made the time spent in the rain around Grasmere (hoping for it to clear up) all the more worthwhile.

Having said that, I couldn’t bring myself to trust the remaining clouds and I donned waterproof over-trousers and coat. It had certainly dropped several degrees in temperature, but I’ve always enjoyed walking in cold, crisp, clear air and I was really looking forward to doing this walk again. I’ve done this walk several times now, in various guises and really like the area. This is a low level walk with loads of interest throughout.

We set off with a little road walking, having immediately crossed the B5343 as we left the car park, and soon reached the charming village of Elterwater. This is a lovely place with traditional houses scattered almost haphazardly.

There’s a super pub (The Britannia Inn) positioned behind the little village green very close to a public car park. The village also has its own Youth Hostel, intuitively named Elterwater Youth Hostel within easy staggering distance of the pub! I’ve stayed in both the Pub and Hostel in the past and would certainly do so again. Maybe not as picturesque but very useful to know, there’s a public loo block in the village too.




Our route took us past the Pub, the loo’s, and after crossing the bridge over the river (Great Langdale Beck) we also passed the Youth Hostel and headed south on the road as it climbed away from the village.

After a few hundred yards (or meters if you prefer) we branched right onto a walled rough lane which climbs quite steadily up into some woods. Although not difficult walking the gradient certainly made us work a bit more and started to raise a sweat.

This is a super track with views off to the left, woods to the right. A tantalising glimpse of Elter Water (The lake) can just about be made out away in the valley left behind, teasing us with a promise of what wouldn’t be seen again until later in the afternoon.

I especially like the moss and lichens on the walls on both sides of us, almost a landscape in their own right.

As we climbed, a robin kept flitting just ahead of us, perching on the wall top, tree twigs, some barbed wire, etc., but he wouldn’t stay still long enough for his image to be captured on camera … it was almost like he was toying with us. Still robins always seem such happy little beings, and this seemed to match our mood also.

It had stayed dry since we’d left the car (almost half-an-hour since), and with only blue skies above, I decided to remove my waterproofs, aided by the fact I was getting quite warm after the rise up the lane. Janet decided to match my actions and we neatly packed our outer layers in our sacks. Within minutes of restarting up to the crest of the lane, a wintry squall promptly blew in, apparently from no-where. It wasn’t quite hail, but the rain was stingingly cold, so the waterproofs went straight back on again …. What a pain!!!

The lane now emerged from the wooded area as it leveled out (underneath Howe Banks, part of the lower slopes of Lingmoor Fell) to give a much more open aspect ahead. I liked the change in feel from being slightly enclosed by the overhanging trees, to the airiness ahead. The route leaves the Elterwater/Great Langdale valley behind here as the lane crests over into Little Langdale with super views to the south opening up to Wetherlam and Tilberthwaite Fells. There’s some super walking in those areas, but today we were content just to view from a distance. It was nice seeing the tops of the mountains which had been clouded-in for the previous two days.

As we left the wooded area, we stayed on the lane, ignoring the footpath branching off on the left, and continued ahead having to avoid some pretty large puddles as we dropped steadily past Dale End to reach the minor road running through Little Langdale. The views eastwards here are superb, looking at a large sweep of fells on both sides rising up to the Wrynose Pass and perfectly framing Little Langdale Tarn nearer to us.

The road can be quite busy as it winds its way up to Wrynose Pass and beyond to the Duddon Valley and the even more incredible Hardknott pass. The drive over both of these passes is quite fantastic, an exhilarating, stunning, even daunting road (1:3 gradient in places) and is justifiably famous, one I love, although I haven’t been over that way for some years now. If you don’t fancy the full climb over Wrynose; not far past Little Langdale Tarn is another road (Side Gates) that climbs up to pass Blea Tarn and then drops down into Great Langdale… a super little road.

Anyway, I’ve digressed a bit, as our route took us straight over the road to pick up a footpath alongside a wall where the grassy fields dropped gently towards the tarn. My OS. map shows no footpath down to the tarn, which is a pity because I’m sure the surrounding fells would make for some fantastic reflections in the waters. Instead the path continues in a generally southerly direction to drop down to meet the River Brathay soon after it flows out of the tarn. The tarn itself is not actually visible here due to a sweep in the river around a little area of slightly raised land with a stand of trees atop of it, blocking the view to the east. However, this doesn’t really matter as the focus is naturally drawn to a small but perfectly charming footbridge over the river … Slater Bridge.


The first span is a classic clapper bridge construction, a number of large flat stone slabs crossing to a rocky island in the river.

The onward span to the opposite bank is a shallow arch of stones, wedged together with bits of vegetation growing between the cracks.

The arch is so shallow it’s a wonder it can support itself let alone anybody crossing it. A lovely spot.

I think this is where cag’s were again taken off and packed away and after a good number of photo’s taken we headed off again, the path soon reaching another lane where we turned left to follow it eastwards, more or less running parallel to the river a little distance away. It’s really straightforward easy walking on the tarmac’d roadway. I don’t normally like walking on metalled roads, but this is so quiet and the views around are so good it really doesn’t matter here.

After a short while the road bends right into the corner of Moss Rigg Wood and then bends again to the left leaving the woods to pass Stang End.

Another couple of short sharp squalls and cag’s going on/off again during the morning led me to a decision … they were to stay on for the rest of the day … so ensuring no more rain was seen for the rest of the day … Typical ! 

As we progressed along the lane, the views northwards were lovely, the closer hill sides dotted with farms and homes such as Wilson Place, Greenbank, Iving Howe and Low Hacket, etc., giving a quite homely and settled feel to the valley, a complete contrast to the wilds of Far Easedale the day before. In the distance the high fells showed a dusting of white, where the wintry showers had left a sprinkling of snow over the tops, in particular up to Fairfield in the far distance.

After not too long, with the track skirting around the base of a craggy hill (Great How) we reached High Park, where we branched off the lane, picking up a bridle track on the left. Soon after entering some woods we took the permissive path option to the left, allowing the bridle track to go on ahead, whilst we dropped on a narrow path through the wooded hillside.

We soon rejoined the River Brathay, not seen at close quarters for some time now, at a bend in the stream … and soon after reached the next major highlight of the walk … Colwith Force Waterfall.



Colwith Force is where the Brathay drops impressively down a step in the terrain, and was a thundering torrent after the recent heavy rain. In fact the rain of this morning around Grasmere seemed an age ago, such had been the improvement during the day.

Because of the way the river bends and drops quickly within the surrounding trees, it wasn’t easy to get a close view; especially with the pathways strewn with wet leaves and exposed and extremely slippery tree roots. However, this didn’t stop us carefully doing a little exploring and we were rewarded with some brightness penetrating the branches to light up the roaring cascades.

Continued on Post-2


20081021_Elterwater – Little Langdale – Colwith Force – Skelwith Force Circular Walk – Post-2

20081021_Elterwater – Little Langdale – Colwith Force – Skelwith Force Circular Walk – Post-2
When :
21st October 2008
Who : Me and my sister Janet
Where : Lake District, Cumbria, England
Maps : 1:25000 Outdoor Leisure Map no.7, The English Lakes – South East
Start + End Point : 329,050
Approx Distance : 6 miles, 9.5 km
Heights : 875 ft (about 270m) up and down
Parking : Free at Waithwaite Bottom on B5343 a little way outside Elterwater Village.
                         [Other parking in Elterwater Village]
Public Transport : Yes, Elterwater is serviced by Bus, possibly a limited service

Summary : Waithwaite Bottom Car Park ; Elterwater (The Village) ; Little Langdale ; Slater Bridge ; Colwith Force ; Skelwith Bridge ; Skelwith Force ; River Brathay ; Elter Water (The Lake) ; Return to Elterwater (Village) and Waithwaite Bottom.

Continued from Post-1.


Reluctantly, we pulled ourselves away from the spectacle of Colwith Force waterfalls to follow the river downstream through the woods to meet a minor road. (Turning left here and then right at a fork in the road would give a short route back to Elterwater Village, but that wasn’t for us). We turned right for a short distance, before crossing the road to enter a small field and then into some more trees where it leaves the river to climb to Low Park and Park Farms.

Even more views opened up again, as the path dropped steadily before entering some more woods as we approached the A593 road.

There was a parting of paths in the woods … left or right branches, which to take? … Just as I started to peruse my map a passing walker queried where we were heading. Upon mentioning Skelwith Bridge, he kindly pointed to the left hand route (where he’d just come from) … We promptly took his directions, as he headed off up the path we’d come from. I should have trusted my own skills! As within a hundred yards or so, I realised we were swinging round in the wrong direction and had to double back to the dividing of the paths again to pick the right hand option which soon brought us out onto the A593.

A short bit of road walking brought us to the main road bridge over the river and soon after into the village of Skelwith Bridge and headed straight for the Chesters café attached to the slate-works gift shop.

We were now well over half way round the walk and a posh cup of coffee on the café terrace above the river was a welcome touch of civilisation, alfresco style despite the slight chill in the air.



After a brief look around the gift shop (didn’t buy anything) we set off again to find the path which takes you through the slate works itself. It’s not often a country walk takes you through an industrial landscape, and this adds another bit of interest for a very short while. 


The path continues westwards now effectively sandwiched between the river and the B5343 road. Within minutes of heading upstream we reached the next highlight … Skelwith Force … another plunging cascade.


As waterfalls go, the drop isn’t very far, but the water is channeled between large stone outcrops on both banks and the volume of water pushed through the gap makes an impressive sight.


A couple of little metal bridges and some steps in amongst the craggy rocks allows you to get quite close up, albeit a little wet and slippery from the ‘falls spray.

Leaving the noisy torrent behind, we soon reached a very modern footbridge crossing the river to a path heading off downstream on the opposite bank …. In hindsight I think this may have been the bridge we were directed to by the gentleman at the parting paths in the woods … maybe he’d assumed we wanted “The Bridge by Skelwith Force”, Not “Skelwith Bridge” village itself.

We ignored the crossing, to continue onwards on the northern bank-side, soon emerging from the lightly wooded area into an open field.


The view ahead dominated by the brilliantly shapely and instantly recognisable Langdale Pikes in the distance. I’ve heard these are the single most photographed place in the Lake District, and you can see why :-

They’re perfectly photogenic and probably aided by their central location and that they can been seen from many different places and angles around the national park. Today they looked absolutely stunning, highlighted by the afternoon sun.

I felt I could almost reach out and touch them even though they were some miles away.

A glimpse of Stickle Ghyll waterfalls descending from the pikes, reminded me of the first “proper” lake-land walk I did with my Dad in the late 1970’s during a family holiday; the “tourist route” climb to Stickle Tarn from Great Langdale and back again; little more than a couple of miles, but a good climb on a hot summer’s day. Little did I know where that first walk would lead … not really to a single view point or a cool tarn to paddle in (though both superb here), but rather to a life-long love of walking, high fells and mountains (especially The Lakes), moors and dales and more views and experiences than you could shake a stick at (a walking stick that is!!!).

I’ve digressed again, the walk continued on a made up path through the meadow ahead, staying quite close to the river, now almost serene and benign in total contrast to the waterfall left behind.

A closer look showed just how fast flowing it really was, swelled almost to the point of breaking its banks.



The route was now a pleasant stroll to where the Brathay flows out of Elter Water (the lake not the village) and a swan decided to glide over to join us as we stopped for the latest photo’ opportunity. It was obviously looking to share some of our lunch, but it shouldn’t have banked on cajoling some tit-bits from a Hadden … It had no chance! My lunch is for ME! … (you can call me mean if you want, but I don’t care!).

From what I’ve read in various places “Elter Water” actually means “Swan Lake” in old Norse language … The swan joining us sort of added a touch of romance to this useless but fascinating little play on words.

It’s surprising, but for such a large body of water, you don’t actually get to see much of the lake at-all, as it is split into almost three separate sections, divided and hidden from view by reed beds, thickets of trees, etc. The path only touches the shore line briefly where spindly trees had their feet flooded forming a kind of mini mangrove preventing full view across the waters. They did give some super little reflections though.


The final stretch alongside Great Langdale Beck felt almost anti-climatic, as the path is a wide shingled track, only remarkable by the repair works going on with JCB’s and the like where the surface had been washed into the adjoining field, obviously from where the stream had burst it’s banks to flood the area. We soon arrived back in Elterwater (The village) and then back to Waithwaite Bottom and the waiting car.

Yet another cracking Lake District walk … spoilt by only one thing … it had ended! and we had to come home. Still, a good short break.

Now that Christmas and The New Year are well and truly behind us, it’s probably time to get planning the next one, which 2nd sister wants to join us on … 3 siblings, all now middle aged (sorry Julie but it’s true!) and all able to get on together, in our bustling busy worlds … I like that … very much!

I hope you enjoyed my scribblings ….


Next walk = **************

20081019-21_Lake District – 3 Day Break

20081019-21 : Lake District – 3 Day break
When : 19th to 21st October 2008
Who : Me and Janet
Where : The Lake District – England


Twice in 4-months – To do some walking – Excellent.


This post gives an introduction to another short break in what I think is probably my favourite place to walk in England, this time with my sister Janet. She had been in the Ambleside/Rydal area for a short time earlier in the year with her family and had done a little bit of walking with them. She’d done a walk from Bob Allen’s book “Short Walks In The Lake District” that I had leant her for her trip.

The walk she’d done was “Lily Tarn on Loughrigg Fell from Rydal”. This 3½ miler had given her a hankering to do some more walking up there and a little more strenuous to boot.

We found ourselves organising a trip together, basically Janet leaving it to me to sort out some routes and accommodation, but with the request that at some point we’d include Grasmere and Rydal Water Lakes.

She had just touched on the outflow from Rydal water when there earlier in the year and wanted to explore further. She had seen another walk, this time in my copy of Bob Allen’s “On Lower Lakeland Fells” book, entitled “Grasmere and Rydal”. In the past, I’ve done several variations of walks, taking in these two charming mid-sized lakes, and had no problem in revisiting the area again.

I took the opportunity to start playing with my new “Memory Map” programme (1:50000 scale mapping) I had just bought, [http://www.memory-map.co.uk/]  and with reference to my OS 1:25000 scale maps,  I sorted out several routes as the basis for the 3 days, but with the proviso learnt over the years of “weather permitting”, especially as this was the end of October!


I booked us into one of the two Youth Hostels in Grasmere village, Butharlyp How. http://www.yha.org.uk/find-accommodation/the-lake-district/hostels/Grasmere-Butharlyp-Howe/index.aspx

We were supposedly booked into separate Male-Female dorm’s, but on arrival found they had in fact placed us in the same room together, just for ourselves. We glanced at each other deciding whether to object, but decided what the hell, we’d cope. I suppose we’ve reached the age where we’re not overtly shy, but we reckoned it was probably about 35 years ago since we’d last shared a bed-room (probably when our Gran’ had stayed over for Christmas when we were kids and I had to vacate my bedroom for her to have my bed). Anyway, all it meant was strategically turning our heads at the right times!

Despite the potential for embarrassment a few goods things came out of the arrangement.

  • As it was just the two of us in a room to sleep four, we had a bit of extra space to spread out a bit.
  • Again, as there were just two of us, we could both have a bottom bunk and not have to climb steps to the top bunks.
  • We could lock the door to the room and not worry about the security of our “stuff”. In a shared room I guess there’s always a higher risk of things going missing, although in approx nearly 30 years of hostelling I don’t think I’ve ever had anything stolen from a dorm’ (from a drying room yes, but a dorm’ no).


Sunday 19th Oct : A Grasmere Circular Walk, including :
Grasmere Village ; West/South shore of Grasmere Lake ; Loughrigg Terrace ; Rydal Caves ; Rydal Water ; Rydal Village ; White Moss Common ; Alcock Tarn ; Greenhead Gill ; Return to Grasmere Village.


Monday 20th Oct : A Grasmere Circular Walk, including :
Grasmere Village ; Lower part of Easdale ; Helm Crag ; Gibson Knott ; Moment Crag ; Calf Crag ; Far Easdale and waterfalls ; Easdale Tarn ; Sourmilk Gill and waterfalls ; Easdale ; Return to Grasmere Village.


Tuesday 21st Oct : An Elterwater Circular Walk, including :
Waithwaite Bottom Car Park ; Elterwater Village ; Little Langdale ; Slater Bridge ; Colwith Force ; Skelwith Bridge ; Skelwith Force ; Elter Water Lake ; Return to Elterwater Village and Waithwaite Bottom Car Park.


I can’t remember the last time I’d spent 3-days on the trot with Janet, probably on a scouting event when we were in our teens (‘struth what a long time ago!), but we’ve always got on very well and this trip was no exception and it was good being able to chat about anything and everything, important and trivial … My other sis’ Julie now wants in on the next trip we organise … Hey, ANOTHER trip, that sounds good …. Ermmmm, we’ll have to start planning where and when.

Anyway, preamble over, that’s probably more than enough background to the trip, the more interesting stuff will follow on separate pages (ie. the walks themselves). I’ll be publishing diary posts for each of the walks, when I get around to writing them up and editing which photo’s I want to add.

I’ve added another post just for Janet’s panorama photo’s, as she had just learnt how her camera could do this, so I think I’ll make a special post just for these.

Some direct links to my walks diaries follow below, otherwise have a look in the “Lake district Category listing for some more stuff …..





One last comment; a few days after we’d been there, the 2008 OMM event (Original Mountain Marathon) was held just a little further north in the Borrowdale/Buttermere area and the story became national headline stuff. I’ve made a little comment post which you can access via my Lake District Category, or direct using the following link : https://tothehills.wordpress.com/2008/11/05/20081019-21_lake-district-omm-comment/

I hope you enjoyed my scribblings ….