Walk the River Leven

Park in the ‘Fishermans’ car park on the A590, grid ref 315816 (where there are toilets), close to Barrow End Rocks on the OS Explorer OL 7 map. This lies at the north-bound end of the short dual carriageway; therefore approaching from Kendal is easy. From Ulverston you will need to wind round the south end of the dual carriageway – at Greenodd.
The River Leven is about eight miles long. It flows out of the southern end of Windermere and is fast flowing from Newby Bridge to Haverthwaite, where this racing water powered numerous industries in the Leven Valley. It then meanders on to Greenodd where it is joined by the River Crake before flowing out into the northern reaches of Morecambe Bay.

1 Leave by the car park entrance and locate the narrow path, with a wooden fence to the right and a flowery bank to the left, which will take you almost to where the River Crake adds its water to the Leven. Here, where the path splits, take the left branch up onto the pavement of the A-road. Walk on over the bridge across the Crake and then cross the splendid bridge spanning the wide Leven. Pause halfway to enjoy the fine view out into the bay.

2 Turn left at the end of the bridge along a reinforced path – the dismantled railway track - with young trees and the delightful estuary to your left. Continue on out into open pastures. Ignore the wide right turn and go on past a house, on the left, to reach a tall wide metal gate across the old bridge that carried the old railway over the Leven. Beyond, you soon reach a private gate across the track stopping your progress. Here, follow the signs directing you through a gate in the hedge, on the left, onto a path beside the river, with a barley field to the right. Dawdle along the side of the curving river to go through the next gate. Climb up onto the raised embankment to look down on the colourful scene.

3 Carry on the narrow but distinct way heading for the A-road. Climb up the steps onto onto the new protected path and turn right. Walk to the end of the barricade and look across to the other side of the road to see a red-topped post. Cross the busy highway with the ‘utmost care’ and turn down left along an stretch of the old road. As you near the river, the Rusland Pool, hurrying to pour its water into the Leven, take, now on your right, the small zinc gate to the left of the farm gate to join the wide grassy sward. A narrow path takes you, delightfully so, beside the pool all the way to Causeway Bridge. At present the lush grass is long and full of wild flowers. Follow the path where many others have walked before. This is a lovely way, rapidly moving away from the A590.

4 Climb the stile onto The Causeway, a quiet way, and walk right. Wind right at Causeway End and remain on it to reach the busy road once more. Cross again, with much care, and carry on up the road to Haverthwaite (no pavement at first). Join the grassy verge and arc round with the road, through the village, until the path runs out again. Carry on with care and wind right at the bend in the direction of Lowood, to walk ahead to cross the bridge over the River Leven. Turn right immediately, onto the Cumbria Coastal Way (CCW) and walk a short way along a narrow road. Leave it at a very easy-to-miss gate on the right that gives access to the side of the lovely river once more.

5 Stroll along the riverbank to pass through an open gate and continue ahead. Wind on around a graceful bend with the water surging fast beside you to the right. Go through the next kissing gate, still edging the water, and then another. Cross a footbridge and turn right onto a metalled way. Follow this through the now fenced wet mosses, ignore any side turns before passing through the trees of Roundsea Wood. Keep on the main reinforced track as it moves out of the trees. Where the track bends left to the farm, continue straight ahead to take a gated grassy way towards the traffic you can glimpse on the A-road.

6 From the last gate you can look down on a wet indistinct path that takes you straight ahead and onto the bridge. If this wet summer continues it is better to turn right and walk along the embankment to join your outward route, where you turn left to reach the bridge. After crossing, turn left and go over the Crake. Drop down to the footpath by the wooden fence and walk right to return to the car park.

Information
Distance: 7.25 miles
Time: 3-4 hours
Terrain: Mainly good paths and tracks
Map: OS Explorer OL 7

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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