Newby Bridge, High Dam and Yewbarrow Dale

EXPLORE historic woodlands near the southern tip of Windermere, enjoy open views over the lake and of the beautiful Rusland Valley and walk up a haunted lane called Fearing Brow.

Park on the roadside between Newby Bridge railway halt and the weir, grid reference SD 368 864, near postcode LA12 8NB.


Distance: 7.5 miles with 1,700 feet of ascent

Time: 4 hours

Terrain: grass and woodland paths, quiet roads.

Maps: OS Explorer OL7


1 Walk past the weir towards the Swan Hotel and turn left at the junction. Cross the railway bridge and turn immediately left onto the track signed Waterside Knott then right onto the path signed Finsthwaite up a stepped path through woods. Turn sharp right at a path junction by a tree. For best views over the River Leven and south towards the estuary, fork right to a craggy top. Rejoin the main path to Finsthwaite Tower built in the early 1800s to commemorate Britain’s naval victories. The tower and wood are currently being repaired and renovated. Pass right of the tower and descend through Great Wood along a track heading north. These woodlands used to provide timber for producing iron, gunpowder, bobbins and oak bark for leather tanning. Turn left at a yellow waymarker with a red arrow. Near the bottom of the wood, turn sharp left and cross a field to Finsthwaite Church.

2 At the church keep left and turn right at the junction. A cottage on the right sells ice cream, cakes and drinks. Turn left onto the path signed High Dam. The path leads up to a field then follows a wall on the left. Go through a gate and follow waymarkers into High Dam Woods. Turn left to walk uphill and keep left at a junction. Turn left to cross a footbridge by a ford and follow the track to High Dam reservoir. Turn left onto the waterside path. After the second footbridge go through a wall gap and turn left. Follow the path alongside a wall then over boardwalks to reach a gate, after which turn sharp left on the path signed Rusland Heights. Follow the path marked by white-topped posts. After crossing a wall stile, turn right at a path junction signed Skowbarow Lane. Descend to the bottom of Hall Brow Wood, go through a gate and turn left onto the path signed Great Ellerside.

3 The ascending grassy track offers great views to the right over Rusland valley and Rusland Cross. Follow the path between a wall and fence then through a gate with woodcarvings. Follow yellow-topped posts through the wood to meet a road. The permissive path continues above the road but is in poor condition so turn left along the road and left at the first junction to ascend a road called Fearing Brow. This road was once renowned as being haunted by the Ealinghearth Dobby: a spirit dressed in white who made a 'strange waffling sound' and hitched lifts on passing carts. Where the road bends right near the top go straight ahead onto the footpath signed Town End. Turn left onto the road and after 250 yards right onto the path signed Newby Bridge. After passing through a gate turn left to walk uphill beside a wall. Go through a gate and turn right along a stony track. Stay on the main track and descend to the road. Turn left, cross the railway bridge and descend to where the walk began.

Next week: Bowscale Tarn and Fell

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.