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Ashness Bridge Walk
OF all the walks I have covered in this series few are more beautiful or more historic than this.
Although it is long in terms of the mileage covered, it is not strenuous and there are only a couple of gentle ascents.
It is, however, very much of a summer and early autumn walk because those who follow this well marked route do need to allow plenty of time.
The best starting point is by Derwentwater, using the lakeside car park at Kettlewell. This is on the eastern shore side of the lake.
There are plenty of places to picnic along the route and there are also cafes for taking refreshment breaks at both Watendlath and at Grange-in-Borrowdale.
*1 Turn right and stroll parallel to the lakeshore and follow the contour to reach the road close to the Ashness landing stage.
Some visitors prefer to arrive by ferry but this obviously adds time and the timetable needs to be carefully consulted.
Climb a set of steep steps and continue straight ahead and uphill. Follow an obvious sign indicating Ashness Bridge and Watendlath.
This old packhorse bridge is said to be one of the most photo-graphed spans in the whole of the Lake District.
This is not a surprise but in around half a mile along the delightful lane is the ‘Surprise View.’ This is just a ledge right on the side of the woodland and below is a steep drop.
From here there is a wonderful view over Derwentwater, Keswick and beyond to Bassenthwaite. The view is reached suddenly and hence its more dominated by a view of Skiddaw. The track then leads through the woodland which runs parallel to the narrow track.
*2 Climb a ladder-stile and turn right over Watendlath Beck. Follow the line of the beck through woodland and across lush meadows.
Bordered by crags, Watendlath is reached in just over a mile. The hamlet is set on the banks of a pretty tarn and an area which was the setting used by Sir Hugh Walpole in his Rogue Herries series of novels.
*3 Take time to explore the hamlet and then pass through a gate and bear right along the margin of the tarn. Follow the sign indicating Rosthwaite.
The path climbs steadily but gently, but time needs to be taken to look back and enjoy the views of Watendlath.
*4 The route then levels off and there is a gentle descent into Borrowdale.
Rosthwaite is another beautiful hamlet set amid green fields and with views of the fells.
The route continues to descend, but through trees and a more extensive woodland to reach a footpath signed Keswick and the Bowder Stone.
At a minor road turn right and after about a quarter of a mile find a gate and a stile.
Here is a National Trust sign indicating the Bowder Stone.
*5 A woodland path leads to the stone, which is a huge boulder carried by a glacier and a remnant of the last ice age. There is a ladder leading to the top of the stone, much loved by children of all ages.
*6 Rejoin the Borrowdale road and follow this while enjoying views of High Spy and Maiden View on the left.
*7 Turn left across the River Derwent and into Grange-in-Borrowdale. Pass through — but do take time to stop — and follow a lane for almost a mile.
*8 Pass through a gate and look for a footpath sign for Lodore. Here there is one of the Lake District’s most beautiful waterfalls. Turn and twist through Manesty Woods and in damp places cross boardwalks and across the foot of Derwentwater. Continue ahead to reach the Borrowdale Road.
*9 Turn left and return to the car park.
Distance: Eight miles.
Time: Allow at least two hours
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