A Loweswater loop

Discovering Lakeland's finest balcony in a peaceful and little-trodden corner of the northwestern fells.

NEAREST LOCATION

Loweswater

RECOMMENDED BY
DISTANCE

5.5 miles (8.8kms)

ASCENT
774ft (236m)
TIME
3hrs 15mins
GRADIENT
DIFFICULTY
Medium
STARTING POINT
NY134210

About the walk

Loweswater is one of Lakeland's finest yet least talked about lakes – perhaps because it's a bit remote from the more popular parts of Lakeland. Beyond Buttermere and Crummock Water, most people never quite get around to visiting it; possibly they're just awed by the beauty of the other lakes. The fellwalker judges Lakeland by the height of the fells, and the fells here are low - one's even called Low Fell. But somehow, standing on the lakeshore, it doesn't matter.

Loweswater's a bit of a thief: it steals the best views of Crummock Water's fells. Grasmoor and Whiteside never looked more fair than they do from Carling Knott's balcony path, and little Mellbreak bursts into the sky like a volcano.

Following the Corpse Road

Loweswater village is little more than the Kirkstile Inn, the church and the village hall, with a scattering of whitewashed farm buildings in the lush green fields and alongside the narrow country lanes. The walk starts on the outskirts of the village by Maggie's Bridge, and uses an old corpse road to get to the fellsides. The corpses would have been parishioners from Loweswater, for the church didn't have its own burial ground – they would be strapped onto horses' backs before being carried all the way to St Bees on the coast. After the climb up the high sides of Carling Knott, the mourners might not have appreciated that this is one of the most splendid balcony paths in Cumbria – green, flat and true, and with wonderful views across the lake to Darling Fell.

To farmland and lake

The old track descends to farm pastures. The names of the farmhouses – Iredale Place, Jenkinson Place and Hudson Place – are all derived from the original owners' names. Beyond the latter, the route drops to the lake. Loweswater is celebrated among anglers for its trout and its perch. Both fish are hunted down by the predatory pike, a huge streamlined fish present here in large numbers. The path continues into the National Trust's Holme Wood. Oak predominates near the lake, although the trees at the top of the wood largely consist of pine, larch and Sitka spruce. The wood is one of the last strongholds of the red squirrel. You're very likely to see pied and spotted flycatchers here, and maybe, if you're lucky, a green woodpecker. The path leaves the lake behind, comes out of the woods and crosses the fields of Watergate, back to Maggie's Bridge. Mellbreak still towers above the trees, tauntingly, tantalisingly showing off its scree paths to the summit – perhaps a walk for another day.

Walk directions

Just opposite the car park entrance go through the gate to High Nook Farm and follow the track through the fields. After passing through the farmyard bear left along a stony track that climbs towards the comb of Highnook Beck and the craggy sides of Carling Knott.

After a gate, take the right fork each time the path divides. This will bring you down to Highnook Beck. If the bridge, swept away by floodwaters, hasn't yet been replaced, you'll have to ford the stream. When the water level is high, head upstream to step across a narrow part of the channel. Once across, the route continues as a fine grassy track that doubles back right, raking across the hillside to the top of the Holme Wood plantations. The track follows the top edge of the woods before traversing the breast of Burnbank Fell.

The track swings left and climbs to a ladder stile and a gate to the north of the fell. Go over the stile and descend gradually northwest across high pastureland.

A couple of hundred paces short of the road, at Fangs Brow, turn right over a ladder stile and then continue along a track above Iredale Place farm. At the junction near the house, bear right to join a tarmac lane.

At Jenkinson Place, the tarmac lane ends. Continue ahead and through a gate. Swing slightly left, down a faint, grassy track leading to a gate in the wall on the other side of the field. Go through this and follow the line of trees. Beyond the next gate, aim for the buildings of Hudson Place. Just before reaching them, a gate on the left leads on to a faint path beside a wall and fence on the right. This meets a lane from Waterend farm. Turn right and follow the lane, which becomes a track near the shores of Loweswater before entering Holme Wood.

A wide track now heads through the woods, but by taking a clear gravel path to the left you can get nearer the shoreline. This second path rejoins the original track just beyond a stone-built bunkhouse. At Watergate Farm, turn left to follow a wide gravel road back to the car park at Maggie's Bridge.

Additional information

Well-defined paths and tracks, all stiles have adjacent gates

Hillside, farm pastures, forest and lakes

On lead, except for Holme Wood

OS Explorer OL4 The English Lakes (NW)

Maggie's Bridge car park, Loweswater (get there early)

Nearest in Buttermere

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Walking in safety

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About the area

Discover Cumbria

Cumbria's rugged yet beautiful landscape is best known for the Lake District National Park that sits within its boundaries. It’s famous for Lake Windermere, England’s largest lake, and Derwent Water, ‘Queen of the English Lakes'. This beautiful countryside once inspired William Wordsworth and his home, Dove Cottage, in Grasmere is a popular museum. Another place of literary pilgrimage is Hill Top, home of Beatrix Potter, located near Windermere. Tom Kitten, Samuel Whiskers and Jemima Puddleduck were all created here.

Much of Cumbria is often overlooked in favour of the Lake Distirct. In the south, the Lune Valley remains as lovely as it was when Turner painted it. The coast is also a secret gem. With its wide cobbled streets, spacious green and views of the Solway Firth, Silloth is a fine Victorian seaside resort. Other towns along this coastline include Whitehaven, Workington and Maryport. Carlisle is well worth a look – once a Roman camp, its red-brick cathedral dates back to the early 12th century and its 11th-century castle was built by William Rufus.