By Rachael Parkin
Whether they’re done on short legs or long, young legs or slightly older, wearing size 1 wellies or size 12 boots, get on your feet and stretch your legs on one of these fantastic family walks. These short, easily achievable walks allow the whole family to get out and about, enjoying the fresh air and stunning surroundings of the Lakes together.
The walks all offer something extra as a point of interest, to encourage even the most reluctant walkers in the family onwards and upwards; be it the lure of a cave to explore or the simple bribery of a promised cake en route, and can each be completed in 2 hours or less, during which the entire family can create wonderful memories to last a lifetime.
Hampsfell and Grange Hospice - 3.3 miles - Approx. 2 hours
The summit of this relatively low fell features Hampsfell Hospice. Built in 1846 by the vicar of Cartmel, the hospice is a small square building designed to provide shelter for travellers. Stone steps allow the hospice to be climbed and from the top you’ll be able to enjoy outstanding views which take in the Old Man of Coniston, Helvelyn, the Langdales and Morecambe Bay. There is also a handy viewfinder on top of the hospice, a large dial showing you just what it is you are looking at.
The walk begins from a layby on the outskirts of Grange-over-Sands (grid ref SD 41174 78554). At the end of the layby a wooden signpost points the way through the stile in the stone wall and on to the footpath through Eggerslack Wood. Stay on path heading uphill through the woods and, at the sheep dip, path the path forking to the left. The path eventually ends at another stone wall and the stile over it leads to open fellside. Hampsfell is littered with extensive limestone pavement which makes for a fun and interesting natural playground for the younger (or young at heart) members of your walking party. Follow the obvious path uphill to another stile in a dry stone wall after which turn right to follow the path up to the Hospice.
After admiring (and, with the help of the viewfinder, mentally labelling) the views from the summit, take the path leading down from the opposite side to which you approached. At the fork take the path on the left heading down towards Grange. The path bears left again to bring you to a gate onto Spring Bank Road. Turn left, then bear right to follow the lane down to the farm. From the farm take the signposted path across the short field and onto a narrow path which shortly brings you onto Ashmount Road. Turn right and after a short distance a gap in the houses on the left gives access to steps down towards the centre of Grange. Keep on heading downhill. You’ll eventually come out on Main Street, at which point turn left and follow the main road through the centre of Grange, stopping at as many cafés as deemed necessary (our favourite is The Hazelmere). At the roundabout by the car sales garage, take the first turning to lead you back to your starting point.
Swinside Stone Circle Walk Distance - Less than 2 miles - Approx. 1 hour
The walk starts just off the A595 between Broughton-in-Furness and Millom on a quiet lane signposted to Broadgate. There are several small laybys on which to park including the one we have used for this walk description (GRID REF: SD 18117 87196) which is located a short distance past Broadgate House. Continue up the quiet lane on foot and at the fork in the road take the rough lane to the left. The lane gently gains height and after around 20 minutes you’ll arrive at Swinside Stone Circle which stands prominently in a field on your right. The circle consists of 55 standing stones and is just as impressive as the far more frequented Castlerigg Stone Circle, allowing you to enjoy this beautiful and uniquely atmospheric spot in peace and tranquillity - you may however receive curious glances from the resident Herdwicks, who themselves couldn’t care less about the significance of this ancient landmark.
Rydal Caves & Loughrigg Terrace from White Moss - 3 miles - 2 hours
This walk has everything; ancient woodlands to wander through, open fell-side with a stunning mountain vista, beautiful lake views and even a large cavern to explore mid-way through; an excellent incentive to encourage reluctant young walkers along the short stretch of uphill.
From the White Moss car park located off the A591 in-between Ambleside and Hawkshead leave the car park via the south-west corner. Cross the bridge and take the footpath marked “Woodland walk to view points on Loughrigg Terrace and path around Rydal Water”. Continue through the woods until the path reaches a gate in a stone wall leading to open fellside beyond. Turn left and follow the low path along the shore of Rydal. As you reach the end of the lake and immediately before you reach a gate, a sharp right turn leads uphill. Follow the path uphill to Rydal Cave. After exploring the cave turn left to follow the lake again – this time from the higher path along Loughrigg Terrace. Follow the terrace along, eventually leaving Rydal Water behind before taking a path on the right which descends towards the southern tip of its neighbouring lake, Grasmere.
(From the slightly further along the terrace there is the also the option of turning left to take the pitched stone path up to the Wainwright summit of Loughrigg, from where your efforts will be rewarded by spectacular 360 degree views of Rydal, Grasmere, the Coniston Fells and Fairfield to name but a few.)
The downward path will lead you right down on to the pebbled beach of Grasmere. After adequate time spent skimming stones and admiring the resident waterfowl, cross the bridge to your right to re-enter the woods on the far side of the two lakes. Once over the bridge turn right to join the footpath running through Penny Rock Wood and follow the path, with the river on your right, back to the car park.
Side Fell and Blea Tarn - 2.4 miles (or less) - 1.5 hours (or less).
This walk offers simply incredible views for relatively very little effort. The beauty of this walk, aside from the jaw-droppingly gorgeous scenery, is that, as it is linier, you can chose to go as far (or as near) as everyone in your walking party feels comfortable, without missing out on the views. From the car park, cross the lane and go through the gate signposted to Blea Tarn. Follow the path as it runs alongside the tarn and admire the staggering backdrop of the Langdale Pikes beyond. The path leaves the tarn behind to head towards the Langdale Valley, eventually coming out at the road linking Little Langdale with Great Landgale. From here you can either head back in the direction from which you came or cross the road to take the footpath immediately opposite sign-posted to Side Fell. This small fells offers big views throughout its ascent. There is some very minor scrambling involved so you can opt to either continue on to the summit (and revel in your amazing achievement) or stop at one of the various viewpoints along the way - where several members of your walking party may well feel compelled to take numerous selfies – and enjoy the breath-taking views across Great Langdale to the Pikes beyond.
Eskdale Green to Dalegarth via Stanley Ghyll waterfall - with option to return by La’al Ratty - 3 miles - approx. 2 hours (based on return via train)
This is a very pleasant, relatively level walk through the beautiful Eskdale Valley, which takes in the impressive Stanley Ghyll waterfall. The extra incentive for this walk, should you need one, is the return journey via the historic, narrow gauge steam railway known as the La’al Ratty.
The walk begins from a large layby on a road just across the bridge over the River Esk to the south of Eskdale Green and the King George IV pub. Take the footpath on the opposite side of the river which roughly follows the river all the way to Dalegarth. Stick to the main path as it weaves its way across open fields and ancient woodland. You’ll eventually come to a gate with a path going straight ahead through an enclosure or a path sign-posted to the waterfalls heading off to your right. Take the right-hand path which soon joins the main path heading up the gorge towards the falls.
As you progress deeper up the gorge the scenery and the vegetation begin to change, becoming denser, greener and lusher. The path can be slippery so be sure to take extra care and keep a close eye on young children and pets. Several wooden bridges zig-zag their way across the river until the path stops at a viewpoint close to the impressive Force. Once you’ve finished taking in the sights and sounds of the spectacular falls you can retrace your steps back down the gorge. This time continue on the path signposted to Dalegarth Station. You’ll reach a lane, cross a bridge (which may, or may not have people jumping off of – depending on the temperature). At a war memorial turn right to join the road leading to Dalegarth where there are ample refreshments available. From here you can either retrace your steps (this time omitting the detour to the waterfall) or hop on to the next train back to Eskdale Green Station – from where it is a short walk down the road back to the layby and your awaiting car.