Lakes of the Lakes : Elter Water

Lakes of the Lakes : Elter Water

ROUTE STATS (including map)

The Pretzel: Part 3

No jumping ahead… if you’ve not read parts 1 and 2 of “The Pretzel” yet, head over to Rydal Water and start from the beginning.

All caught up? Good. Let’s carry on…

Leaving Grasmere behind, you climb up the lower slopes of Loughrigg Fell to reach the Red Bank road. After a quick burst of energy up the slope, I eased the pace towards the Langdale YHA. I forget how well-situated some of these Youth Hostels are and this one is no exception. Just as you round the grounds of the hostel, the valley opens up with views of the Langdale Pikes. I felt giddy as these quintessential Lakeland mountains stood proud in front of me; the early morning mist now lifted to reveal this iconic vista in all its glory.

The road is draped across the hill side and drops to the village of Elterwater, with corners cut via short off-road sections. You need to watch your feet, as you’ll find it hard to avert your gaze from the incredible views. So engrossed I was, that I almost missed a buzzard right in front of my nose. It took off as I approached, having held its nerve for as long as possible. If only it knew I was completely oblivious to its presence!

I arrived in Elterwater village excited about the final lake of the day, knowing there were still exciting miles ahead of me. I was in the heart of the District now, with some of the most iconic fells within touching distance. And to top it off, the rain had now stopped.

Elter Water is an interesting proposition as a circuit. The smallest lake on my list, much of the shoreline is inaccessible, as it falls on private land. This is a huge shame, but a quiet road fortunately runs along the western edge, which entices you with tantalising peeks of the water through the trees. This adds a certain charm to proceedings, as you never quite see the whole offering. A beguiling striptease, if you like, where the lake never reveals too much flesh.

The road passes the Eltermere Inn, which was unfortunately closed for refurbishment when I visited. I am told the hotel has cracking views of the lake: the perfect excuse to return for a cup of tea and a scone.

The road soon takes you a way south of the lake, with short stretches of adjacent footpath through the delightful Fletcher’s Wood. Just after the road marking the start of the Hardknott and Wrynose Passes, you’ll take a footpath to the left along the Cumbria Way. The field on the left was a hive of activity, with scores of television lorries lined up in anticipation of some filming presumably about to take place. With no Hollywood celebrities in sight, the prospect of getting back to the walk was more exciting and I continued on my way.

The Cumbria Way is a pleasant path, with expansive views across the fields to the surrounding fells. The track eventually brings you to a wood, where you can avoid the main road into Skelwith Bridge and turn to where the magical part of this walk begins.

The stretch along the River Brathay from Skelwith Bridge to Elterwater has to be one of the finest low level paths in the District. It’s only downfall is its popularity, so even on this cold Winter’s day, I  had to share it with others. As I neared the edge of the wood, the sound of cascading water crescendoed as Skelwith Falls came into view. The sound building as you approach belies this waterfall’s diminutive size and some careful scrambling allows you to get up close and personal with this cacophony of sound.

Ears ringing with white noise, I left the falls behind and entered a beautiful meadow, where the volume was instantly put on mute. The twisting river in the foreground led my gaze through lush greenery towards the Langdale Pikes in the background. I instantly felt emotional at the beauty of it all. This is why I come to the Lake District. No other place evokes such emotion in me and eliminates any nagging worries. Such is the power of the mountains.

I savoured every moment as I continued along this gem of a path. At the midway point, a perfectly located bench on the shores of the main body of Elter Water tempted me to stop for lunch. Swans glided effortlessly across the water with the jagged peaks as a backdrop. What a view!

It took some effort to drag myself away from that bench; I could have stayed for hours. But, continue I must and I increased the pace a little as the temperature started to drop.

Arriving back in Elterwater (the village), I turned with sadness as I climbed the quiet back roads towards Grasmere. Having eyes on the back of your head here would be beneficial, as I stopped every few paces to drink in that view one last time. Thoughts turned to how I would break the news to my wife of the new love in my life: Elterwater had me smitten.

It felt appropriate to enjoy my gingerbread overlooking Grasmere, so I had one last pitstop on the Loughrigg Terrace path before descending to the junction where I left the Rydal Water trail earlier in the day.

You can take a final bite of The Pretzel by clicking here.


Highs and Lowdown (1)

Elterwater

Rating

Start / Finish: Elterwater village

Distance: 3.75 miles (6 km)

Navigation: Easy

Terrain: Good paths throughout

Facilities: Elterwater and Skelwith Bridge have a few options

CLICK FOR ROUTE MAP

*These routes and descriptions are only ever intended to be a personal record of my adventures, which may inspire your own. Hillwalking involves a degree of risk, so please make sure you are properly equipped and prepared if you choose to follow them.


Highs and Lowdown (2)

The Pretzel: Rydal Water, Grasmere and Elterwater

Rating

Start / Finish: Roadside parking near Rydal Mount

Distance: 13 miles (21 km)

Navigation: Straightforward

Terrain: Good paths throughout

Facilities: Elterwater and Skelwith Bridge have a few options but Grasmere is your best bet – a visit to Sarah Nelson’s Gingerbread shop is compulsory!

CLICK FOR ROUTE MAP

*These routes and descriptions are only ever intended to be a personal record of my adventures, which may inspire your own. Hillwalking involves a degree of risk, so please make sure you are properly equipped and prepared if you choose to follow them.

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