This is usually the second section of the Cumbria Way. A relatively short and easy day with stunning views. It is generally sheep country rather than farmyards and cattle pastures found on much of the first section. A pleasant variety of fields, woods, lakes, waterfalls, and the anticipation of seeing the dramatic Langdale Pikes gives it a typical Lake District feel. Even a little bit road walking doesn't detract much.
Beware of some older maps showing the line of the Cumbria Way joining the road and crossing Skelwith Bridge. A recent diversion through the woods avoids this narrow and quite dangerous bit of road walking eliminating it entirely.
There are regular bus services from Coniston to Ambleside via Hawkshead, and Ambleside to Langdale, should an escape from the Way be necessary.
If you need accommodation we have details of 29 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 centre of Coniston village beside the bridge over Church Beck, take Tilburthwaite Avenue, the B5285, with the Yedwale Hotel on the corner, signposted to Hawkshead. Pass the Tourist Information centre and the village green with the Donald Campbell memorial on your right.
Just before the bridge at the bottom of the road turn left into Shepherds Bridge Lane. Go past the school playing field on your right, then turn right into a private driveway to a cottage. Cross the bridge over Yewdale Beck and before the gateway turn left into an overgrown narrow lane alongside a field fence. In a few metres turn right through a kissing gate into the field. Bear left along the path and swing right to follow the fence to a gothic kennel. Go through the gateway to the left and continue on the path behind the kennel.
Keep to the path climbing gently through gorse and trees, when the path splits keep ahead. Cross a field, bearing slightly left to go through a gate. Another field and into a gravelled lane where you turn left down to the bridge below Low Yewdale.
Just before the lane turns left over the bridge, go through the kissing gate on the right signposted "Tarn Hows".
Keep to the edge of the field and swing round to a gate at the south west corner of Tarn Hows Wood. Enter the woods through the kissing gate and follow the path alongside the beck on the left for only a few metres then bear right to climb through the woods more steeply.
Keep largely ahead through the woods ignoring a track off to your right. Reaching a wall bear right along it climbing up to Tarn Hows Cottage.
You can turn left through a gate into the grounds, keeping to the signed right of way to turn right along their driveway or continue along the gravelled pathway to a gate on to their driveway at a bend.
Follow the driveway through a field up to the minor road. Turn left and follow this road up to Tarn Hows.
Opposite the National Trust car park bear left onto the gravelled path to drop down to Tarn Hows.
Keep left around the tarn, descending to the gate at the water's edge, and follow the path around the left hand side. Keep to the gravelled path.
After 1.0km (0.6 miles) the path splits, take the left fork signposted "Arnside and Langdale". Initially gravelled the path deteriorates and narrows.
Continue to the end of the path and go through the kissing gate into the rough lane.
Bear left, the lane is very rough, meandering, and undulating it makes it way down to the busy A593 at High Cross.
Cross the road carefully and on the other side take the path to the right of the signpost immediately the other side of the wall along the road. Cross the little footbridge and go through the gate into the field. Follow the edge of the field below the road, it was obviously fenced off at one time but has seen little maintenance.
At the end of the fencing go through the kissing gate to the roadside. Bear left away from the road down a short track to a minor road junction. Go straight over the junction to the road signed to High Park.
Follow it with woods to the right, and left over the wall is some patches of marshy ground covered with Bog Myrtle.
Keep on the road all the way to High Park Farm. They have a tea room...
At High Park Farm, from their driveway, turn very sharp right through a gate onto a wide gravel pathway crossing a small field to a higher gate. Go through the gate and turn left along the edge of the field to go through another gate into High Park Coppice.
In the woods immediately turn left to visit Colwith Force. The path going ahead is also part of the official Way but misses the waterfalls. Drop down quite steeply at times on a meandering and rough but pleasant little path.
The sound of the force gradually gets louder as you approach. Explore the force with care as shear drops into water and onto rocks are sometimes hidden and unfenced. You come to the upper force first, then continue round to the lower force too. Bear right along the beck to exit the woods via a gate on the left onto the Little Langdale road.
Turn right along the road and in 50m (55 yards) turn left to go through a little pedestrian gate and stone stile.
Cross the small field to a stile at the bottom of steps. Go up the steep steps, over a stile and across the field. Cross Low Park's driveway and go into the narrow pedestrian lane opposite. at the end go through the stone stile, cross the corner of the field towards Park Farm.
Entering Park Farm grounds snake left and then right past the farmhouse whilst watching out for (very) free-range hens and bemused window cleaners. Leave by the north east gate and in just less than 100m (110 yards) turn right at the signpost. Follow the path through fields into the back of Park House. Two metal kissing gates here are awkward if you've a sizeable rucksack. Exit through the gate onto the track through the field and in barely 100m (110 yards) bear left onto the path towards Skelwith Bridge.
Go through the kissing gate into the woodland following the path as it swings left.
Reaching a junction within the woods the old route used to go right to the road and over Skelwith Bridge - but this is very narrow and incredibly busy - not a place you really want to be walking. So at the junction keep left to swing further left continuing through the woodland. Skelwith Force can be heard tumbling down the cascades over to your right.
Turn right over the metal Woodburn Bridge. If you wish to visit Skelwith Force turn left once over the bridge and walk down the path, it'll soon come into view. From the bridge turn left and go up through the gate into the field.
Follow the gravel path around the edge of the field next to the river. You soon come to Elter Water, continue along the path into the woodland, and Great Langdale Beck into the village of Elterwater.
Reaching Elterwater at the road beside the bridge, turn left over the bridge, and then immediately right. Follow the quarry road up quite steeply with Langdale Beck to your right.
After 400m (440 yards) bear right off the road to drop down a path closer to the beck signposted Chapel Stile, follow this below slate spoil heaps to the footbridge across the beck. Turn right over the bridge and along the little passageway to the road.
Turn left passing Wainwrights' Inn and just around the right hand bend in the road, with Chapel Stile ahead, bear left onto the track. Follow this round the back of the school, and on to Thrang Farm. Keep right through the grounds to exit by a gate into a pedestrian lane.
Reaching the more open driveway, keep left, signposted Baysbrown Campsite, and cross New Bridge (built 1818!). Keep to the track around the right hand edge of the campsite grounds and fields. Keep with as it then swings left to Oak Howe below Lingmoor.
Keep left through Oak Howe. and turn right at the signpost just behind the buildings. The path soon narrows becoming less used. In 150m (165 yards) bear left. Follow the path through a gate, and along the rough fellside with a wall to your right through prolific summer bracken. The view to the Langdale Pikes gets ever more impressive. After a while you wonder when the path will drop down to cross the fields to Dungeon Ghyll. A stone wall coming down the fell looks without gap, stile, or gate.
Continue along the wall and finally reaching a small sheepfold a gate appears in the wall corner hidden from sight until the very last moment. Go through the gate and descend the stone pitched path to Side House Farm. Bear right through the gate beside the buildings and exit the yard down the farm driveway. Follow this road over the bridge to the Langdale road. Bear left crossing the road carefully go into the National Trust car park at New Dungeon Ghyll.
If you like this walk then why not try one of our other nearby walks:
|Coppermines Valley above Coniston||10m (11 yards) away|
|The Old Man of Coniston, from Coniston village||63m (69 yards) away|
|Wetherlam, via Lad Stones ridge and Black Sails||140m (154 yards) away|
|Tarn Hows from Coniston||191m (210 yards) away|
|The Old Man of Coniston||1.4km (0.9 miles) away|
|Dow Crag and Goats Water||1.4km (0.9 miles) away|
|The Old Man of Coniston, Brim Fell, Swirl How, Wetherlam||1.4km (0.9 miles) away|
|Walna Scar, White Maiden, White Pike, with a visit to Blind Tarn||1.4km (0.9 miles) away|
|Tarn Hows, Black Fell, Holme Fell||3.1km (1.9 miles) away|
|A stroll around Tarn Hows||3.2km (2.0 miles) away|
|A visit to Cathedral Cavern from Tilberthwaite||3.4km (2.1 miles) away|
|Steel Edge and Wetherlam Edge, from Tilberthwaite||3.4km (2.1 miles) away|
|Carron Crag||4.8km (3.0 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