The Lune Valley at Kirkby Lonsdale

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  • A beautiful stretch of river
  • Old fashioned village at Whittington
  • Quiet and peaceful walk


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Being honest I knew very little about the River Lune aside from passing over it on the A65 and spending time admiring it from the butty van at Kirkby Lonsdale. The Lune Vallley though is lovely, at least near Kirkby Lonsdale. The river is wide and not fast flowing but it is peaceful and relaxing to walk beside. Unusually the banks, if not taken by fishermen, are easily accessible and safe. Being on the edge of the Dales the panorama is superb as the hills from Barbondale to Ingleborough are presented in a linear form, similar indeed to the Cairngorms when passing up the A9. However the jewel on the walk is the lovely, completely unspoilt, village of Whittington complete with spectacular  church, pub and quaint, quiet streets. The village is a splendid example of somewhere that is off any through road in an unspoilt but attractive rural area – almost going back in time. I like Kirkby Lonsdale as well, have a wander through its narrow streets after the walk.

Recommend: I would always recommend a weekend break in Kirkby Lonsdale – ignore the general blurb about being twixt Dales and Lakes and just enjoy the Lune valley for what it is.

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OS Map: O/S 1.25,000. OL2 Yorkshire Dales South & West. Buy Map
Start Point: SD 615782. Park at the Devil's Bridge and cross the park and then the A65 aiming for a gap in some houses opposite.
Height to Climb: 86ms (282 feet)
Terrain: There is a rotten 1/2 mile after Woodend Farm. Break right from the path/stream on to the field before Sellett Mill. Persevere - the walk gets better and better from here!
Eating & Drinking: Aside from the excellent butty van at Devil's Bridge there is a good choice of hostels in Kirkby Lonsdale. The Dragon's Head offers an opportunity to break the walk up in the attractive village of Whittington.
Similar Walks Nearby: Exploring Kirkby Lonsdale
Lovely Barbondale
Ingleton Waterfalls Walk
Barbon, Casteron & the River Lune
Places to Stay:  
  • Keswick Friar’s Crag view

    Friar’s Crag viewpoint

    The scenery of Derwentwater and this varied route present plenty to talk about. Park at the Theatre by the Lake and follow the tarmac to a stone track, straight to the viewpoint of Friar’s Crag or left at the fork to a buggy-friendly kissing gate. Then on to Strandshag Bay, and into a small wood by crossing a bridge. The route will take you onto a road for a short while but you can retrace steps back through Cockshott Wood and finish up at the Lakeside Tearooms or theatre café.

    Distance: 4 km or 2.4 miles
    Grid reference: NY 265229

  • Bowness to Cockshott

    Bowness to Cockshott Point
    Bowness to Cockshott Point
    Lovely lake views

    The bustle and buzz of Bowness-on-Windermere in the summer is great for familiesbut you can get away from it all with a short walk. Start at Glebe Road until it bears to the left and head through the gate into fields for wide-open spaces, some well-placed benches and a small shingle beach, perfect for feeding ducks. A buggy-friendly kissing gate brings you out south of Ferry Nab and to lots of boating activity. Retrace your steps and take refuge in the Fun Factory, where you'll find a café overlooking the lake or at a pub or café near the pier.

    Distance: 2 km or 1.2 miles
    Grid reference: SD 398966
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  • Windermere West

    Windermere West
    Windermere West
    Meadows and pebble beaches

    Most tourists find their way to the Eastern shore of Lake Windermerebut this tarmac and stone route on the opposite, quieter shore is scenic and serene. Cross the lake on the ferry to get there. The walk takes you through open meadows, down to pebble beaches, perfect for plopping stones in the shallow water – and toddlers will love the bumps over two cattle grids before entering Heald Wood. There are a couple of steep ascents and some off-road surfaces near the end so serious walkers should travel with a 4x4 buggy in order to see the route to the end.

    Distance: 4 km or 2.5 miles
    Grid reference: SD 391957

  • Rydal Water In Wordsworth's footst

    Rydal Water
    Rydal Water
    In Wordsworth's footsteps

    Rydal Water was the inspiration for much of Wordsworth’s poetryand its tranquil air will calm any toddler tantrums or help soothe a bundle in a baby carrier. It’s a pretty walk, mostly through shaded woodland close to the lakeshore. The paths are clearand there are two National Trust car parks off the road to the west of Rydal. For snack stops, there are two options. Cote How is a cute tea shop at the far end of the walk, and there is Badger Bar on the main road in Rydal for traditional pub grub.

    Distance: 3 miles circuit
    Grid reference: NY349065

  • Loughrigg Tarn Stunning views

    Loughrigg Tarn
    Loughrigg Tarn
    Stunning views

    A quick route to spectacular scenery, Loughrigg Tarn is nestled in a bowl beneath the steep slopes of Loughrigg Fell. Take the bridleway up through the houses at Tarn Foot, bear right until you reach the gate where you fork left. The path around and above the tarn leads to a tarmac road, back to the start. Children taking a break from their chariot can run or roll down the grassy slopes to the edge of the tarn but it’s very boggy, so roll with them! Note that the closest facilities are at Skelwith Bridge, 0.5km away.

    Distance: 2.75 km or 1.7 miles circuit
    Grid reference: NY 346040

  • Staveley

    A Riverside walk

    The lovely green canope for half of the walk makes it cosy on a wet day or shady in the summer. Park at Staveley Mill Yard, pass the glass- fronted Hawkeshead Brewery, slip through a gap in the yard wall and turn left over the Millenium footbridge. It’s level all the way and takes you past a 19th-century weir, along the river to Barley Bridge. Turn left and once past the church, follow Back Lane into the yard. Wilf’s Café has a microwave for warming baby milk, kids’ play picnic table, baby changing, high chairs and a children’s menu.

    Distance: 1.25 km or 0.8 miles
    Grid reference: SD 472983

 The popular villages of Grasmere & Ambleside lie on the central spine of the Lake District between the towns of Keswick & Windermere/Bowness. Both villages (and neighbouring Rydal) have supreme access to many of the best walks in the area and have a famous history based on the life and works of William Wordsworth. The problem though is that they can become impossibly busy, Grasmere particularly becoming a bottleneck where being stuck in a queue is the normality rather than a rarity. It is a shame because it is lovely, as is Rydal whereas Ambleside is, to me, a little over commercialised and much less attractive. However for those venturing outside the villages and away from the main road the area is lovely – the real Lake District that Wordsworth and his fellow poets wrote about.


Easedale Tarn, Elterwater and Loughrigg Fell are pockets of real delight whilst any visit to the Lake District is not complete without a visit to Langdale, and in particular Great Langdale. A drink in the Dungeon Ghyll hotel, a walk up to Stickle Tarn under the famous Langdale Pikes or a simple  climb of Lingmoor Fell from the top of the pass – all should be included in any Lakeland visit based at Ambleside or Grasmere. Parking is always the issue that rears its head in this area of the Lakes but there is usually sufficient up Langdale if a trifle expensive.

Grasmere is a very pretty village made famous by the poet William Wordsworth who lived in Dove Cottage for 10 years 200 years ago. Even without a visit to Dove Cottage (which I have never actually been in although I did spend every holiday in the excellent bookshop!) there is much is to do here. The graveyard at St Oswald’s Church is always busy as visitors scan the Wordsworth family graves, the ducks on the river are probably the most photographed ducks in the country, gingerbread was possibly invented here and there is a fine art gallery featuringa  local family of artists Heaton Cooper. There is much else to enjoy in Grasmere, it is a very pretty village, but it is the walks that are most appealing whether up Easedale and the Lion & the Lamb to the north or Grasmere Lake and Loughrigg Fell to the south.

Ambleside is on the northern shore of Lake Windermere and is a real tourist centre which is very popular for much of the year. There is an excellent array of walking related shops – competition driving the prices to a more reasonable level than elsewhere. Plenty of places to eat and drink, a rather good museum of football with access to and facilities to enjoy on Windermere really sum up Ambleside.  Access to the fells is good, in particular the Fairfield Horseshoe but really Ambleside marks the southern end of the hills, south of it the land flattens out and farmland starts to become dominant.

Between Grasmere and Ambleside lies the lovely area of Rydal Water and a beautiful stretch of the River Brathay. Rydal itself is small and almost impossible to stay in but a visit to another of the Wordsworth homes, Rydal Mount, is a very popular trip.

Away from the busy A591 there are two exceptionally pretty villages, Elterwater and Chapel Stile in Langdale. These are stunningly located within easy walking of some of the best scenery in the Lake District, each has at least one excellent pub and I cannot recommend either of them more for a perfect place to stay in the Lake District.


These are a few of my favourite walks in the Grasmere/Ambleside area, click on the link for further details.

Fairfield Horseshoe. A classic 10 mile round from Rydal or Ambleside taking in a number of high fells.

A Walk Round Grasmere. Follow the footsteps of William Wordsworth around one of the prettiest lakes in the Lake District.

Loughrigg Fell. The head of Grasmere lake features a beautiful little fell of exceptional character.

Easedale Tarn from Grasmere. A lovely tarn surrounded by some of the less popular fells of central Lakeland.

Lion & the Lamb. Iconic fell which is a firm favourite of young and old with a classic scramble to the summit

Ridges over Grasmere. A 10 mile walk over the undulating ridges enclosing Easedale Tarn and Grasmere

Langdale Pikes. Pass Stickle Tarn before climbing steeply on to the 3 famous Langdale Pikes.

Crinkle Crags & Bowfell. An undulating ridge is a fine walk and takes in the famous Climber’s Traverse.

Pike O Blisco. A rocky, steep fell dominating the view at the head of the Langdale road.

Loughrigg Tarn & Rydal Water A circuit of Loughrigg Fell includes Loughrigg Tarn, Grasmere & Rydal

Lands above Ambleside  Easy to get to, Lily Tarn is supremely set in some typical Lakes scenery

Wansfell Pike & Windermere. A steep climb up Wansfell before a gradual descent and great views across Windermere

Exploring Elterwater. A very popular walk of 4 miles starting in the lovely village of Elterwater.

Lingmoor Fell. A personal favourite hill in Langdale with a long rocky ridge and an excellent panorama.

Other Things to do near Grasmere & Ambleside

Dove Cottage, Grasmere. William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy lived at the house for 10 years at the start of the 19th century.

Rydal Mount. Wordsworth was most content here and the house and gardens have plenty of memorabilia to enjoy.

Wray Castle. A gothic castle near Ambleside with entertainment for children inside and outside within the grounds

Allan Bank. Grasmere. A more traditional country estate with excellent grounds for children to explore and play

Gingerbread Shop. A pleasure to visit the shop where gingerbread of all descriptions and tastes can be tried (or bought). Grasmere.

Heaton Cooper Studio. The family have produced iconic watercolours throughout the 20th century of classic views of Lakeland. Grasmere.

Home of Football, Ambleside. Anywhere that shows a picture of Liam O’Brien’s classic free kick against Sunderland is worth a visit!

Cruises on Windermere. Many visitors to Ambleside will want to take a steamer down Lake Windermere.

Grasmere Sports. Features those politically incorrect sports of wrestling, fell running and bating for hounds this popular

  • Elterwater to Skelwith Bridge

    Elterwater to Skelwith Bridge
    Elterwater to Skelwith Bridge
    Meadows and a waterfall

    Start at the Britannia Inn at Elterwater or finish at Chesters by the River. The stone path starts through the gate at the back of the National Trust car park and follows lakeside meadows, goes past a bridge that no toddler can resist stomping over, and heads through woodland, past a spectacular roaring waterfall – Skelwith Force. It’s possible to see the start of the fall from the path but the steps to see the full spectacle aren’t set up for buggies. There are public toilets at Elterwater.

    Distance: 4km or 2.4 miles
    Grid reference: NY 328048

  • Tarn Hows A mountain river

    Tarn Hows
    Tarn Hows
    A mountain river

    This circular walk around a man-made tarn is perfect for little legs or wheels. It has plenty of picnic spots and hideaways for chilly days or wide-open spaces for basking in the sunshine. The scenery, which almost feels a bit Canadian because of the pines, takes in the Langdale Pikes and the Coniston Hills, and the tarn is surrounded by woodland and a fairly smooth path – ideal for babes in pushchair. There are baby-changing facilities and an icecream van, and sometimes a high-class burger van selling Belted Galloway Beef.

    Distance: 3km or 1.8 miles circular
    Grid reference: SD 326996

  • Coniston to Torver Along the shore

    Coniston to Torver
    Coniston to Torver
    Along the shore

    Walk along the shore of Coniston Water, with the option of returning on the Coniston Launches from Torver jetty at the end. The Bluebird café on the shore near the Boating Centre is a great reward for the walk – and toddlers can feed the ducks or paddle with them. The walk starts on a stone footpath from Lake Road to the small footbridge and then a good track takes you through fields and to Coniston Hall Farm. Its peacocks and huge chimneys will give you plenty to look at.

    Distance: 7km or 4.3 miles there and back
    Grid reference: SD 305973