A gentle circular walk along the banks of the Great Langdale Beck to Oak Howe and back along the track below the crags and quarries on the flank of Lingmoor Fell.
The name Elterwater comes from the Old Norse elptr vatn for swan lake - the nearby lake of Elter Water is popular with Whooper Swans that migrate from Scandinavia in winter. Apparently it is pretty shallow and is gradually silting up. One of its feeds, the Great Langdale Beck flows along the valley which is thought to have once been a lake but silted up many thousands of years ago. Another source, the River Brathay's name also has Norse origins meaning 'broad river'.
On the outskirts of the village of Elterwater, where the Langdale Hotel now stands, was the site of a gunpowder factory. Elterwater Gunpowder Works operated from 1824 to 1930. Power for the mills was provided by Great Langdale Beck, Stickle Tarn high above the valley was dammed to ensure continuity during dry spells. Local wood, mainly juniper, silver birch and alder, was burned in large retorts to make the charcoal with other ingredients of saltpetre and sulphur being imported. Later owned by ICI its closure was due to poor transport links, and the discovery and taming of more powerful explosives like dynamite.
Parking in Elterwater is limited. There is the National Trust pay and display car park beside the bridge at the bottom of the village. Alternatively there is the rough car park just to the north of the village on the opposite side of the Langdale road, at Walthwaite Bottom. We have seen water lapping at the fringes of the the NT car park so be aware in particularly wet weather if you are intent on this walk, or leaving a car there for long.
If you need accommodation we have details of 66 properties offering rooms near the start of this walk. Here are some examples:
Walk height profile
note that gradients are usually grossly exaggerated
From the Britannia Inn behind the big maple tree in the middle of the village green walk down towards the bridge and Great Langdale Beck. Cross the bridge and immediately turn right, signposted on the wall "Chapel Stile", and walk up the quarry road.
In 400m (440 yards), opposite one of the level entrances bear right down the track signposted "footpath". Drop down this rough track towards the beck where there are some pleasant cascades. The mottled green look to the river bed is from the slate like rock washed and well polished. It's a tuff: volcanic ash that has been metamorphosed by heat and pressure into rock.
Continue along the river bank and in 300m (330 yards) bear right to cross the footbridge to the road beside the Wainwrights' Inn.
From the Inn continue along the road towards Chapel Stile for a few metres and bear left onto a track signposted "Baysbrown campsite avoiding road". Follow this track round the back of the Langdale school and bear left to Thrang Farm. Bear right around the side of Thrang Garth into a narrow lane.
Reaching the road to Baysbrown campsite turn left to follow the road over the stone New Bridge and bear right along the banks of the Great Langdale Beck. Follow the track past the campsite and eventually round to the left to Oak Howe.
At Oak Howe bear left as directed to the path junction below the barn. Turn left onto the bridleway signposted to "Baysbrown 3/4 mile". Cross the stream and bear left again onto the track above the fields and into the woodland.
Follow this track all the way to Baysbrown farm where you continue straight ahead onto the tarmac road. Follow this to the junction above the Eltermere Hotel, and bear left along the road back into Elterwater.
If you like this walk then why not try one of our other nearby walks:
|Waterfalls and the Cathedral Cavern, from Elterwater||14m (15 yards) away|
|Loughrigg Fell from White Moss||2.6km (1.6 miles) away|
|Grasmere and Rydal Water||2.7km (1.7 miles) away|
|Stone Arthur, Great Rigg, Heron Pike and Nab Scar||2.8km (1.7 miles) away|
|A circuit of Grasmere||2.8km (1.7 miles) away|
|Alcock Tarn||2.8km (1.7 miles) away|
|Red Bank from White Moss near Ambleside||2.8km (1.8 miles) away|
|Helm Crag||2.9km (1.8 miles) away|
|Steel Fell, Calf Crag, Gibson Knott and Helm Crag||2.9km (1.8 miles) away|
|Silver How||3.0km (1.8 miles) away|
|Easedale Tarn||3.0km (1.9 miles) away|
|Allan Bank Woodland Walk||3.0km (1.9 miles) away|
|Easedale Tarn, Codale Tarn, and Tarn Crag||3.1km (1.9 miles) away|
|Blea Tarn above Langdale||3.2km (2.0 miles) away|
|The Langdale Pikes: Pavey Ark, Thunacar Knott, Pike of Stickle, Harrison Stickle||3.7km (2.3 miles) away|
|High Raise, Sergeant Man, and Blea Rigg from Langdale||3.7km (2.3 miles) away|
|Cumbria Way - Dungeon Ghyll to Keswick||3.7km (2.3 miles) away|
|A Journey from Dungeon Ghyll over the Fells to Ambleside||3.7km (2.3 miles) away|
|Loughrigg Fell from Rydal||3.9km (2.4 miles) away|
|Nab Scar and Alcock Tarn||4.0km (2.5 miles) away|
|Steel Edge and Wetherlam Edge, from Tilberthwaite||4.3km (2.7 miles) away|
|A visit to Cathedral Cavern from Tilberthwaite||4.3km (2.7 miles) away|
|Crinkle Crags||4.3km (2.7 miles) away|
|Lingmoor Fell and Side Pike||4.3km (2.7 miles) away|
|Rossett Pike, Angle Tarn, Esk Pike and Bowfell||4.4km (2.7 miles) away|
|Bowfell, via Worneyside Force, Hell Gill, and the Great Slab||4.4km (2.7 miles) away|
|Seat Sandal||4.5km (2.8 miles) away|
|The Fairfield Horseshoe||4.8km (3.0 miles) away|
|An Ambleside Waterfalls Wander - Stockghyll Force and Blue Hill Wood||4.9km (3.0 miles) away|
|Loughrigg Fell from Ambleside||4.9km (3.0 miles) away|
|Loughrigg Tarn||4.9km (3.0 miles) away|
|Wansfell, and Wansfell Pike||4.9km (3.0 miles) away|
|Stockghyll Force - Ambleside||4.9km (3.0 miles) away|
|High Sweden Bridge Circular||4.9km (3.0 miles) away|
|Red Screes and Middle Dodd from Ambleside||4.9km (3.1 miles) away|
|Wansfell Pike, Troutbeck, and Skelghyll Wood||4.9km (3.1 miles) away|
|Lily Tarn above Ambleside||5.0km (3.1 miles) away|
Unless otherwise stated the text in this walk is the copyright of Hug Solutions Ltd trading as The Hug and the photographs are the copyright of Elizabeth Oldham. Hill data is derived from Database of British and Irish hills which is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. Maps contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2011 and paths © OpenStreetMap Contributors,CC-BY-SA, 2011