By Rachael Parkin
Perhaps the glorious sunshine in which you are basking at 1 pm is due to turn to torrential downpours at 2 pm. Perhaps you have an hour to fill to work up an appetite before dinner or fancy a short stroll to walk off a particularly large lunch. Perhaps you have little or tired legs within your party and 60 minutes walking is plenty. Or perhaps you simply want to enjoy stunning scenery and fresh, Cumbrian air without the excursion required for a long day’s hiking.
We have compiled a list of some of the most rewarding short walks that can be done in around 1 hour, for when you’re short of time but don’t want to miss out on the incredible scenery the Lake District has to offer.
1.Rydal Caves from White Moss
This walk really does have it all; woods, lake shores, fell sides, stunning views and a fascinating cavern to explore, all condensed into a 2.6-mile round route.
The walk beings at the White Moss Car Park on the A591 between Ambleside and Grasmere.
The path from the car park meanders through woodland alongside the River Rothay and crosses the river via a bridge. Cross the bridge and follow the path signposted “Woodland Walk To Viewpoints On Loughrigg Terrace.” As you come out of the woods you meet the main path from Rydal to Grasmere. Turn left and follow this path along the shores of Rydal. Just before the path reaches a gate, take the fork signposted to Rydal Caves. Follow the rocky path up the hillside to the cave. After you have finished exploring the cave re-join the path, this time turning left and following the higher path above the lake until it drops back down to the gate leading into the woodland. From here retrace your steps back to the car park.
2.Elterwater to Skelwith Bridge
This stunning, push-chair accessible 2.4 mile walk in the Langdale Valley has spectacular mountain views, a roaring waterfall and, if you’re in the mood for coffee and cake (and who isn’t), the bonus of half-way refreshments at “Chester’s by the River“ (but please do remember to allow extra time for the consumption of any baked goods).
The walk begins at the National Trust car park in Elterwater, close to our Little Fell Cottage and Herdwick Place. From the car park follow the level path along the River Brathay. The path winds its way through woods and meadows and provides outstanding views of the surrounding fells along the way before arriving at Skelwith Falls. After admiring the thundering cascades, stay on the path past the waterfalls if you wish to investigate the treats on offer at Chester’s. Once suitably refreshed simply retrace your steps from the café back to the car park at Elterwater.
3.Beacon Tarn from Water Yeat
Located close to Middlefield Cottage and Bee Bole House in the Crake Valley at the southern shores of Coniston Water, this pleasant short walk up to the scenic Beacon Tarn offers peace, tranquillity and unspoilt views of Coniston Old Man and the surrounding fells.
The walk starts at the lane leading from Water Yeat Village Hall where there is layby parking for several cars. Follow the quiet lane until it ends at Greenholm Farm then continue along the footpath which gently climbs through the bracken, eventually leading onto open fell side. Stay on the track as it rises through the heather before Beacon Tarn appears, nestled amongst the surrounding fells. Beacon Tarn makes for near perfection as a picnic spot so be sure to pack some tasty treats should time allow. The tarn is also ideal for those who like to indulge in a spot of wild swimming so adventurous types be sure to bring your bathing suits along. Once you’ve finished admiring the view/eating/swimming/wishing that you never had to leave, simply retrace your steps back down the fell-side and into the valley to Water Yeat.
4.Coppermines Valley from Coniston
Ok, so we may be a little bit biased, but the walk up to the spectacular Coppermines Valley from Coniston village really isn’t one to miss. With magnificent mountain views and centuries of history in evidence all around you, there is no better way to fill a spare hour of your holiday. What’s more, after you’ve finished your walk, there are ample opportunities to replenish lost sustenance at the various pubs and cafes the village has to offer.
From the centre of Coniston take the road which runs in between The Black Bull and the village Co-Op (there is also free parking on the roadside a little further along if you have arrived by car). The road quickly turns into a gravelled track. Follow the track as it gently climbs up the valley, taking a little over a mile to arrive at the Coppermines Mountain Cottages, nestled contentedly in their majestic mountain position. After admiring the view and exploring the ruins of long-gone mining buildings you can then follow the track back down the valley and if you wish, choose to the cross the stone bridge half way down to enter the village from the other side of the beck.
5.Stanley Ghyll Force from Dalegarth, Eskdale
This short but unique walk is perfect for anyone who has ridden on the L’aal Ratty from Ravenglass to Eskdale and wishes to explore the area before the return journey or for those who want maximum return for minimum effort. The walk features exceptional scenery which is almost astonishing beyond belief.
Starting at Dalegarth Station turn right and follow the road for a short distance until you meet the narrow lane on the left. Take the turning past the memorial and follow the lane until it turns into a track a little way along. Following the sign to “Stanley Ghyll, Birker Moor and Waterfall” go through a gate where the path bends left. Go through a gate into the woods at Stanley Ghyll and turn right to follow the path up into the gorge. As you progress up the gorge the scenery and the vegetation begin to change, becoming something more akin to a tropical rain forest than a typical Lake District scene! 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 gazing you can retrace your steps back down the gorge. The path can be slippery however so sensible footwear is a must!