Watendlath and Upper Lodore.
Route. Rosthwaite - Hazel Bank - Puddingstone Bank - Watendlath - Moss Mire - Mossmire Coppice - Upper Lodore - Shepherds Crag - High Lodore - Borrowdale Hotel - Grange - Low Hows Wood - High Hows Wood - New Bridge - Rosthwaite.
Notes. Watendlath and Upper Lodore, remove the Upper and that's where I was supposed to be, just plain old Lodore. A tourist attraction since Victorian times, god knows why because unless we've had heavy rain it's just a little trickle running through a boulder strewn ravine. I think it's the fact some poet (Robert Southey) wrote a ruddy long poem about it that draws the crowds. We've had the heavy rain, forty eight hours of it, Lodore Falls should impress. And here's where we encounter a problem, one of several today, on way-marked paths yours truly went the wrong way, I knew I'd done it, my brain was screaming turn right but the sign promised Lodore was to the left, the map stayed in the bag and I carried on regardless.
I regress lets start at the beginning, Rosthwaite on a wet and windy Lake District day. I left the village heading east, a good track under foot after a finger-post promising passage to Watendlath. This is an old route, part of a high road across the fells, responsible for guiding pack horse trains, traders, shepherds and local people across the spine of the central fells, probably made redundant after the coming of Manchester City Waterworks in 1889, the valley was flooded to create Thirlmere Reservoir drowning the two hamlets the track serviced, Wyhburn and Armboth. After ascending Puddingstone Bank the path ushered me across the high moors depositing me at the mountain hamlet of Watendlath. At the head of a classic hanging valley, 850ft above sea level, a real oasis with a car park, a couple of farms, fishing lake and National Trust tea room.
Watendlath Beck feeds Lodore Falls, with an impressive amount of water racing down the valley the falls should be a bit more than a little trickle. The path runs down the left hand bank of Watendlath Beck, it guided me under impressive cliffs through stunning scenery. After crossing Moss Mire a concrete slab placed in the path at a junction invited me to Keswick or Lodore, I knew I wanted to be on the right hand bank of the beck, but the sign over ruled common sense, the sign told me if I wanted Lodore then go left, take it's advice, which I did, all the while ignoring the obvious, I'd done this once before with the same result.
This might have been the wrong way but it was a stunning route through ancient oak and birch woods into a world of white water and thunder, Upper Lodore and it was bloody impressive. Once I'd had my fill of the magnificence of the upper falls I continued descending to a high coll. To the right of the coll the rocky eyrie of Shepherds Crag, I ascended it to enjoy stunning views over Borrowdale and Derwent Water. From my perch I could see my route across the valley was impassable, unless I had a boat, I hadn't, a new plan was formulated.
After re-tracing my steps to the coll I descended to the valley road, another path exists just passed the Borrowdale Hotel, I know this because I was forced to use it once before. After entering the field I found this route was also under deep water, disappointed I continued along the valley road utilizing Grange Bridge to cross the river, it may have been tarmac but at least it was dry.
Next to Grange Cafe a tarmac lane leads to Hollows Far, a finger-post invited me to Castle Crag, this I followed leaving it at another finger-post promising passage to Castle Crag and Rosthwaite. Castle Crag's a lovely little hill well worth the effort it takes to get up there, but as the weather was closing in I opted to follow the path to Rosthwaite. River side rambling through stunning scenery all the way to New Bridge, after crossing said bridge it was a short stroll back to Rosthwaite.
view route map.
Routes of old, the track to Watendlath.
Viewing Castle Crag backed by the cliffs of Goat Crag.
Seen from the ascent of Puddingstone Bank, the head of Borrowdale.
A polished gem in a mountain setting, Watendlath Tarn.
The pack horse bridge at Watendlath.
A raging torrent today, Watendlath Beck.
Wonderful walking country, following the waters of Watendlath Beck with Reecastle Crag rising out of shot to the right.
Reecastle Crag seen from under the cliffs of Ether Knott.
Taking a breather looking to a distant Ullscarf.
About to enter the oak woods of Moss Mire.
So dear reader if you come this way and you want to visit Lodore Falls, turn right, cross the bridge, the path enters Mossmire Coppice just out of shot, a faint path then joins it, follow that, or you could follow me to Upper Lodore, the choice is yours.
The boiling cataracts of Upper Lodore, powerful after heavy weather.
Just before an easy scramble to the summit of Shepherds Crag a stunning view to sylvan Castle Crag.
Derwent Water as seen from Shepherds Crag.
A shot from the valley road, Skiddaw under dappled light.
My attempt to traverse the valley ended here....
....so it was a road walk to Grange, looking back to Shepherds Crag with Walla Crag to the left.
Rising high above the tree tops, the Skiddaw massif, from left to right Carl Side, Skiddaw and Little Man.
The River Derwent at twin arched Grange Bridge, yes there's two the other's out of shot to the right.
Viewing Low Scawdel over Lingy Bank from near New Bridge.
Looking back over a path just walked, across the skyline Grange Fell.
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