Keep safe!

Keep safe!
You are responsible for your own safety and that of your dog. The walks listed in this blog are not detailed guides. Plan your route! Click the landrover image for safety advice from Bowland Pennine MRT.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Elterwater to Skelwith Bridge (Cumbria)

My first trip to the Lake District was in the blisteringly hot summer of 1976. I thought it was perfectly normal to swim in lake Windermere, Stickle Tarn and the Upper Esk. I was proud that on one of the two less sunny days I remember that year we walked up in to the clouds high above Thirlmere and climbed Helvellyn. I'm pretty sure that "Helvellyn" was my first rucksack badge, proudly displayed as a reward for climbing in what at the time I thought were terrible weather conditions. Of course I've come to realise that cloud and rain on the lakeland peaks is perfectly normal...the innocence of youth!

I suspect most people not born in the Lakes remember their first days in the mountains. For me, one of the most special moments was walking in the evening from Elterwater Youth Hostel to the road leading to Chapel Stile. From there, we looked towards the seemingly distant Langdale Pikes and I was filled with awe when dad told me that we were to climb them the next day. The Pikes were my first lakeland peaks and I remember well the disappointment as we reached false summits, the excitement when the peak came clearly in to view and the feeling of triumph as I stood on top of the world.

Elterwater and the Langdale Pikes

For that reason and more, Elterwater holds special memories and will always be one of the most treasured places I visit. Happily, visits can be enjoyed without scaling the peaks. The walk from Elterwater to Skelwith Bridge is a gem and was as always the perfect day out with my visiting mum last Monday.

We began at the free NT car park in Elterwater and walked through the village to Great Langdale Beck. From here, the clearly signposted bridleway led us along the riverside and to the shores of Elterwater where we admired the stunning view over the lake towards the Pikes. Continuing over the meadows we soon heard the roar of Skelwith Force and again stood a while to watch the water crashing through the narrow gorge. A little further and the dog friendly terrace cafe at Chesters provided some light refreshment before returning on the opposite side of the river to the bridge above the Force and back to Elterwater.

Dogs welcome at Chesters by the River

Much of the route is well surfaced although the autumn floods last year have taken their toll on stretches. It's easy walking though and most people should find this an easy but very rewarding short trip. At this time of year the route is busy with people and bikes so it was a dog on on-lead route for much of the way. The river did though provide him with some good opportunities for paddling and swimming and he was suitably shattered (and wet) when we arrived back at the car.

Elterwater on a Winters Day

Elterwater is a place we'll return to time and time again. It's a little piece of heaven. If you visit, please leave it as you find it.

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