Whatever you want from a Cumbrian walk then Hawkshead has it. There is a delightful little township with lots of pubs, restaurants and cafes plus an excellent information centre. There is a Wordsworth connection in the form of the grammar school he attended as a boarder and there is a large central pay and display car park.
At this time of year it’s good to enjoya stroll up to Latterbarrow.
How to get there: From the A592 between Kendal and Windermere follow the signs to Bowness and the ferry. Cross the car ferry and from Near and Far Sawrey follow the B585 to Hawkshead and the pay and display car park, which is well signed.
Distance: 4 miles
Map: OS OL7
Grid reference: 345983
1 From the car park turn right and bear left for a short distance. Cross the road and go left to reach a couple of Beatrix Potter gifted properties to the National Trust, which she supported so avidly. These are the evocatively named Black Beck Lodge and Cottage. Cross Black Beck itself via a pretty little footbridge and follow an obvious path to a gate. On the day of my visit I saw a young hare (a leveret) looking very lost and hiding in a tuft of grass. These sights should be ignored as the mother returns at intervals to feel the leveret which knows instinctively to keep still.
2 Turn right to follow Colthouse which takes this name because it was once an area where young horses were kept. Pass through a gate to a track and climb a fairly steep slope to find a stile with a marker on it. Follow the waymarkers keeping the fence on the right. This joins a narrow road to reach a T Junction. Turn left and look for a signpost and a gate on the right.
3 Follow an obvious ascending track and this is once of the few places remaining in England where you can expect to see the red squirrel. On the day of my visit I was not lucky enough to see a red squirrel but among the trees I had lots of interesting sightings, including a nuthatch and a tree creeper. Turn left at a three pronged signpost and then turn left towards Latterbarrow. The next section leads through a dense conifer plantation but the route is marked with white tipped posts. Here is yet another chance to sit patiently and wait to see red squirrel. Keep climbing and ascend a set of stone steps. The obvious path now sweeps right and left. There are wonderful views at this point. Follow Loanthwaite Lane.
4 As this lane sweeps away to the right a footpath leads sharply to the left. Take time to enjoy the view and then prepare for a steep descent to reach a minor road. Follow the signs to Hawkshead, cross the minor road and return to the starting point.
As the days get longer make a whole day out of it. Take the chance to explore the following fascinating places, including: Tarn Hows on the way to Coniston; Esthwaite Water with its lakeside walks and a trout farm; Hawkshead Grammar School and church, both well known to the young William Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter’s old home at Hilltop situated between Hawkshead and the ferry .
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