If you enjoy mountain scenery from the low level of a lovely lake or a tarn then this is perfect. There is also the waterfall of Skelwith Force against the backdrop of the Langdale Pikes. Once again I was lucky with the weather and late May 2012 was a joy.

How to get there:

From Ambleside take the A593 and then along the narrow and winding B5343. Look for the sign for Elterwater and follow this into the village. The National Trust has provided a pay and display car park close to an attractive bridge.

Map: OS Explorer OL7

Grid reference: 327 048

Distance: 3.5 miles


1 Turn right at the car park. Follow the road to the right passing a bowling club. Follow an incline until you meet the B5343. Look to the left to enjoy views of the Langdale Pikes. Turn right along the road and ascend cross a cattle grid and then the road descends.

2 To the right is a stone house with the meaningful name of ‘guide post.’ Turn left here and continue up hill along a very minor road and ignore a side road leading off to the right.

3 At a road junction turn right and descend to reach Loughrigg Tarn on the left. This is one of my favourite tarns and when I visited it in January I photographed lots of wildfowl, including a splendid male goldeneye drake. At this point leave the road and climb a stile. Follow the sign leading over the fields and follow the bank of the tarn. Negotiate a ladder stile.

4 Still following the edge of tarn, do take your time and if you are one who enjoys a picnic there are few better places than this. Locate a gate and pass through the fence leading on to a track. Turn right along this track. Pass a camp site on the right.

5 Approach Tarn Foot Lodge, pass through a gate and continue straight ahead. Ignore the footpath to Ambleside, which leads off to the left. Descend gently to reach yet another minor road and turn left to reach a stream under the road. Turn left at a road junction and pass Oak Dean House on the left and Neaum Crag on the right.

6 Follow an S bend to reach a road junction close to the Skelwith Bridge Hotel. Follow the A593 for a short distance and pass the hotel. Turn right before the bridge and follow a sign indicating ‘public footpath to Elterwater.’ 7 Follow the track which leads off to the right to find a sign indicating ‘deliveries and footpath.’ Pass through the fascinating Kirkstone Quarries Slateworks.

8 This area leads into the woods beside the River Brathay. Do not miss spending time exploring the area around the bridges close to Skelwith Force waterfall. Pass the modern Woodburn Bridge, which crosses the river, but carry on straight ahead and do not cross the bridge.

9 Pass through a gate and through the woods into fields and follow the obvious track to reach Elterwater. The word Elterwater is Norse and means swan lake. This is accurate in winter when wild whooper swans seek the relative warmth of British waters from their more northerly breeding grounds.

10 Follow Great Langdale Beck to reach Elterwater village and return to the starting point.

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.