We all have our favourite time of the year. A time that we enjoy being outdoors even more. For some it is Summer, others Winter, some Spring, but for many, myself included, it has to be Autumn!
And where better to walk this Autumn than the beautiful Lake District!
The shorter days allow for the energetic outdoor lover to experience both stunning sunrises and spectacular sunsets in equal measure on the same walk. The wildlife that call this place home are awakened by the warming sun as it radiates throughout the valley, the morning dew glistening and illuminating the fells. The chirping birds and bleating sheep accompanying you on your hike. Interrupted only by the sound of the morning frost crunching underfoot. The warm air leaving your lungs meets the cold mountain air creating little clouds of breath. We all blow little smoke rings right? No? Anyway, moving on….
So where to visit in the Lake District i hear you ask?
You really are spoiled for choice, but I have selected 5 of my favourite walks to whet your appetite (and probably your boots too!)
Loughrigg Fell OS Grid Ref: NY 34703 05133
For a small fell, standing at 335 metres, Loughrigg commands big views. It overlooks Rydal water (pictured), Grasmere and the very quaint Loughrigg Tarn (the location of many a photographer on a misty morning). If you catch the weather right there is no better place to observe Autumns splendour, especially if there has been a dusting of snow on the surrounding high fells.
This is a great family walk where you can choose to ascend to the summit as this route does, or you might simply want to walk along the path the skirts both Grasmere and Rydal. Be sure to visit the old quarry caves whilst there. After building up an appetite on whichever route you decide on, you can then take this opportunity to visit Grasmere for some world famous gingerbread.
Lingmoor Fell & Blea Tarn OS Grid Ref: NY 29312 04462
If you use social media such as Instagram and you follow any accounts that showcase the Lake District (mine included), then chances are you will have come across an image of Blea Tarn and Lingmoor Fell?
These feature heavily on the accounts I follow and rightly so. I get a lot of inspirations and route ideas from images I see on there, and the first visit I paid to Blea Tarn myself was inspired by an image I had seen. A fantastic sight to see is the Langdale Pikes reflecting in the still waters of the tarn. On my visit in late Autumn the tarn was frozen solid as it was an early morning visit. I didn’t get to see the reflections, but the views were still beautiful. Also it was worth the trip just to witness my pet dog Rocky on his first encounter with ice! Think Bambi and you are not far wrong.
I have created a route for this walk that is relatively short, but again it is just a guide. You may find you want to stretch your day and route out when you get there? I decided to ascend Lingmoor Fell on my visit as it was such a beautiful day for it. If you follow this route then take care on Side Pike as a section of path is very narrow (the squeeze), and involves squeezing through a narrow crack in the rock face. At Side Pike where the footpath meets the road be sure to stop and take in the wonderful views down into Mickleden, and across to the Langdale Pikes. A truly impressive view. The short section of woodland walk to the West of Blea Tarn is like a scene from an enchanted fairytale, and will stay etched in your memory for years to come I am sure. I have visited this location on 3 or 4 occasions now at this time of year and never left disappointed.
Walla Crag & Ashness Bridge OS Grid Ref: NY 27181 21433
Perhaps the most strenuous of the walks here, I have included this one for the views it offers of Skiddaw and Derwent Water. The route starts from Great Wood pay and display car park and heads North east through the woods, rising gently as you go. As you clear the woodland the views of Skiddaw and Blencathra present themselves in all their glory. Again, if there has been a dusting of snow then you are in for a treat here. Using Bleaberry Fell as a target feature head South towards the summit of Walla Crag. Take care on the top as it a sharp drop that is camouflaged by trees on the crags face. The views from here over Derwent Water to Catbells and the NW fells are some of the best in all of lakeland. On a quiet day you can stand in silence and imagine the hustle and bustle below in the busy town of Keswick that sits in the shadows of Skiddaw. You may want to call here for refreshments post walk?
After taking in the views you then descend a rocky path on the flanks of Falcon Crag towards Ashness Bridge. The display of colours all around you as you walk this path are a joy to behold. The bridge is without doubt the most photographed man made feature in the area, so expect a few photographers to be there when you arrive. Barrow Beck meanders its way under the bridge as it navigates its way in to Derwent Water. Sit on the rocks beside the bridge, close your eyes and just take in the moment. Autumn here is a scene on many a calendar, and rightly so.
You have the option here to extend the route upto Surprise View which overlooks Derwent Water from a height. A worthy detour as the views here are great, unsurprisingly!
From the bridge or Surprise View simply follow the path North back towards Great Wood, with Derwent Water giving good views to your left.
Brothers Water OS Grid Ref: NY 40274 13387
The first time I visited Brothers Water was purely by chance! I was heading to Ambleside via the Kirkstone Pass as I often do. On this particular morning as I drove past Brothers Water something caught my eye! The sun was just beginning to rise and an eerie looking mist hung above the water. I stopped the car and armed with my camera headed down to the waters edge. The first thing that struck me (other than the branches by the water) was the silence that filled the air. I sat on a rock and looked out over the water. It was truly hypnotic and also therapeutic to just relax and take it all in. Time stood still and to this day I do not know how long I was there for? We need more moments like that in our busy lives!
I park at Cow bridge when I walk here and head South to walk alongside the water through the lovely Low Wood. The vibrant colour of the trees and the murmur of wildlife bring the woods to life. As you exit the woodland path the majestic fells of High Hartsop Dodd and Middle Dodd come into view, as does Harstop Dodd (which is actually higher than High Harstop Dodd?) on the other side of the pass. As shapely fells go, these are up there with the best. If you feel energetic enough High Harstop Dodd offers amazing views back over Brothers Water and across to Place Fell and Angletarn Pikes. If you do not fancy a steep ascent, you can retrace your steps back to the start.
Borrowdale OS Grid Ref: NY 25262 17497
Borrowdale Valley is officially the wettest part of England. However the benefit of this is the rich diversity of wildlife that thrives among the wetness. Visit here in Autumn and you will be enchanted by the woodland colours and the clear emerald green waters of the river Derwent.
Starting from the quaint village of Grange (which has an amazing tea shop), follow the woodland path through first Dalt Wood then Low Hows Wood as the path contours the River Derwent to the left. Keep an eye out for the caves that self styled `Professor of Adventure` Millican Dalton called home at OS Grid Ref: NY 25200 15985
The more adventurous may want to go on to the summit of Castle Crag, the smallest of the Wainwrights at 290 metres in height. The route then continues Southerly towards Rosthwaite, before heading Easterly to cross the B5289. From here the route rises to its steepest point of 215 metres before descending back down into woodland. A kilometre or so on you will come to the impressive Bowder Stone. This huge Lava boulder fell some 200 metres from Bowder Crag above and came to rest here. It has not moved in the 10 to 13 thousand years since!! A fascinating sight. From here marvel at more dense woodland as you head back to the wonderful tea shop back in Grange for a well earned pot of tea and a scone.