Lower Duddon and Frith Hall

THE picturesque and peaceful Dunnerdale was one of Wordsworth’s favourite valleys, writes JOHN EDMONDSON. This walk goes from the Dunnerdale village of Ulpha (whose name derives from an early word for wolf) and visits a ruined 'romantic' hall that was once a venue for fireside weddings and a notorious hostelry for smugglers.

Park on the roadside southeast of Ulpha Bridge, grid reference SD 196 930, postcode LA20 6DT.


Distance: 6 miles with 800 feet of ascent

Time: 3 hours

Terrain: stony tracks and 1.8 miles of quiet roads

Maps: OS Explorer OL6


1 Cross the cattle grid and bridge then turn left around the white cottage and walk along Bobbin Mill Hill for half a mile. The mill used to make bobbins for the Lancashire cotton industry. It closed in 1910. The ivy-covered structure on its left used to be a chimney. Wood shavings from the process were taken away by the children to heat the school. (The school, which closed in 1999, was close to where this walk started). Opposite the bobbin mill turn left onto the footpath signed Beckfoot. Keep right at the junction after 150 yards. Go through a gate, over Bleabeck Bridge and up a stony track. In the 18th Century this track must have been an important route to and from the port of Whitehaven. Just before reaching a wall turn left at a metal gate to visit the remains of Frith Hall. The hall was built in the 17th Century as a deer hunting lodge for the gentlemen of the Hudleston family from Millom Castle. In the 18th Century it became an inn and in 1730, seventeen marriages were held beside the fireside. It was also a hostelry for packhorse teams and their drivers, some of whom would be smuggling brandy, rum, tea, tobacco, soap and other high duty goods illegally imported into Britain via the Isle of Man and Whitehaven. Their cheaply available strong drinks made Frith Hall a lively and at times violent place. A story is told that a man was murdered here and his ghost haunts the ruins. In the 19th Century the hall became a farm and its barn is still used.

2 Return to the track, turn left through the gate and walk to the conifer woods ahead. Go through a gate and alongside the wood to a roadside gate and turn left. The building on the left is called Walkmill Cottage, indicating that it was once a mill for cleansing and thickening wool. Cross Logan Beck Bridge and the cattle grid. Logan is an old Gaelic word meaning a little hollow. Turn left onto the road towards Broughton (past juniper bushes) to go down the hill, across a cattle grid and beside a gorge on the left. Before reaching the bottom of the hill turn left onto the No Through Road, which is a footpath to Beckfoot.

3 Pass the cottage with a large chimney and continue past the sawmill along a stony track. Old maps show that there has been a sawmill here since before 1900. Follow the track along the edge of Low Wood then through Middle Park and Forge Wood, where in the late 17th Century iron was forged using charcoal from the coppiced woodland. Exit the woods through a gate. The track bends left beside Holehouse Gill and goes around the edge of a wood to meet Bobbin Mill Road. Turn right and return to Ulpha Bridge along the road used earlier.

Next week: circuit of Haweswater

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.