Enjoy a walk around Ennerdale

First published in What's On

From the A5086 look for the signs for Ennerdale Bridge. From this little village look for signs to the lake at Croasdale. Ignore any turnings until you see a sign for Broadmoor and Bowness Knott car park, which is set on the lake.

Map: Explorer OL 4

Grid reference: 110 155

Length: eight miles which means that it should be a summer walk to allow plenty of time to enjoy the views and wild life.

1 From the car park follow a forest track and as I turned left along this I had one of my most exciting bird watch of 2012, so far. In a clearing I found a Peregrine falcon pulling a bird to pieces and enjoying its breakfast. I was speaking to another walker who had seen the Peregrine swoop down at high speed and actually catch its prey.
The route descends gently towards the lake. Look out to the opposite side of Ennerdale to see Anglers Crag and as I was lucky to walk on a clear day I could see Great Gable.

2 Continue to follow the track and find a signpost pointing left to Smithy Beck. Cross this beck and look to the right. I visited this are some years ago in the company of an industrial archaeologist and he pointed out some hollows in the ground which were one-time iron smelting areas. Continue to the end of the lane to reach the River Liza, which quietly tumbles down to the lake. Follow the track leading upstream.

3 Cross over a concrete bridge, go right and continue up the valley and pass a wooded area. This is a pleasant mix of species and this provides yet another opportunity to bird watch. I did not watch birds however, because I was disturbed by a pair of roe deer which sped away. Follow the very gentle climb and look for the river meandering its way to the right.

4 Approach Low Gillerthwaite Field Centre and pass a stile, then a youth hostel. This area dates back to the 14th Century. At these times the population was very small and sheep farming was beginning under the influence of the monks. These brethren were astute and tough businessmen and the Herdwick breed of sheep were also tough and are still found in this area.

5 Keep straight and ignore a track which leads off to the left. After moving straight on pass through a gate at Gillerthwaite. The word ‘gill’ means a stream in old Norse and thwaite means a flat area for a settlement.

6 Continue to follow the main track straight ahead and then look for a signpost indicating Pillar. This is one of the most beautiful areas in the whole of Cumbria. There is a bridge over the River Liza and here it drops down into a series of falls. These were at their best after rain and no wonder they looked and sounded so good in 2012.

7 Cross the bridge, turn right and follow the riverside path.

8 The route now leads downstream. Approach another stream called High Beck. This is bridge country and cross two more small spans at Low Beck. This is yet another strength of this longish walk where time needs to be taken. Here is evidence of an Iron Age settlement. It is hard to imagine this area at that time, when there were probably as many people then as there are now.

9 Turn right and descend towards a super lake tarn with an evocative name, which is Moss Dubb. Pass through a conifer wood where I watched a sparrowhawk hunting. This was a day for seeing birds of prey. Cross a grid and then another bridge.

10 At the T Junction turn right and cross a cattle grid. There is an area of stones marking a Bronze Age site which is even older than the Iron Age settlement. Cross the River Liza along another bridge. Turn left 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.

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