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Magic sight of Ullswater
The autumn colouring of the beech trees along the shore of Ullswater is unbelievably beautiful. Year after year I try to catch this magic sight on a walk along the water’s edge and generally I am too early or too late. This year I made it – I hope you will too.
Park at the Information Centre in Glenridding, grid ref 387169, where the beech tree overhanging the beck is beautifully colourful.
1 Return from the parking area to the main road (A592) and turn left, north. Go past the garage and cross the road with care and carry on until you reach the deregulation traffic sign. Take the reinforced path right into the glorious woodland. Descend steps and carry on the good path just above the lakeshore. Head on along the way perhaps taking the path that goes off, right, to wind round a little promontory from where you have a delightful view of Ullswater’s great bend. Go on to rejoin your earlier path. On reaching a small stream in its shallow ravine, turn left to walk the narrow path to the road, cross the bridge and then turn right immediately back into the wood. Carry on along the path, which soon begins to climb to the road.
2 Walk with care along the walled road, with huge Stybarrow Crag towering upwards on the opposite side. Very soon the wall ends and there is a path leading into the trees. One of the paths soon leads you beside the lake or across small beaches depending how high is the lake. When you reach a left turn do not continue on the shore (where the path soon ends) but walk up the slope almost to the road. Turn right here on a good path with a fine view of the colourful trees. Carry on and look down the steepening slope to a boathouse and its jetty far below. The path continues up against a tall wall on the left and a considerable drop down to the shore. Keep beside the wall until you reach a gap on to the road, with the track you need to continue the walk on the opposite side.
3 Cross with care to the track. Ignore left and right side turns and continue with mossy covered walls on either side through the fine Glencoyne Wood. Follow the track as winds right and at the next seat pause to enjoy the extensive view up the lake. Continue on to the start of the cottages at Seldom Seen. Long ago these were built for quarrymen – far enough from the public houses of the village to deter them from getting drunk and not fit for work next day. Here the track ends and a stony path climbs through the riotously coloured wood. After rain the stones on the path can be slippery so pause to enjoy the views or to use your camera.
4 Continue to the stile at the edge of the woodland. Once over, turn right and go through the farm gate. Descend the small paved slope with care and then go on along and then down the wide grassy slope. After rain the downward slope can be slippery so pause to enjoy the spectacular views. As you near the valley, step over a small tributary of the Glencoyne Beck and look right to see the fronts of the Seldom Seen cottages. Pass in front of a separate cottage, lower that the row, now with the tributary flowing through alders, beside you, to join the main beck. The track is rather wet here after all the rain we have had. Take the left branch where the path divides and walk with care above a magnificent ravine through which flows the main beck.
5 Go through the small gate to the right of Glencoyne farmhouse, pass close to the front door with pink roses, still bloom, round it, and pass through a similar gate at the end of the house. Go ahead past barns and then walk the long wide access track to the A592. Turn right (no pavement) and walk facing the oncoming traffic. This stretch of road, where the water of the lake comes right up to the wall on the opposite side, is very short but needs great care. Just after 50 yards, cross and take a narrow path, at the end of the wall edging the lake, into woodland.
6 Stroll on the high level path with a tall wall between you and the traffic. Remain on this all the way through the woodland and with from where you have pleasing glimpses of the lake. Join the road at the little bridge and then walk a few steps along a continuing path to reach the A-road again at the point where you started. Cross with care, pass in front of the garage, and then bear right to return to the car park.
Distance: 4 miles
Time: 2-3 hours Terrain: after so much rain look out for slippery stones and grassy slopes. All the other paths and tracks are a delight.
Map: OS Explorer OL5
NB: Restrictions on space mean that this article provides a general summary of the route. It is advisable for anyone who plans to follow the walk to take a copy of the relevant Ordnance Survey map.
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