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The great peaks of Wetherlam, Crinkle Crags, Bowfell and the Langdale Pikes rise up like a fortress wall and fill the skyline with dark craggy crests. Ancient tracks and paths and recent lanes and bridleways flit from one quiet corner to the next and after a nights rest in the Queens Hotel in Ambleside it's time to explore starting with an ascent of Loughrigg Fell. The River Brathay leads through the valley to the delights of lunch and a pint of Jennings at the Three Shires Inn! After lunch the mood changes amongst the more rugged fells. Explore the area around Blea Tarn before dropping down to Great Langdale, a few more miles on easy gradients before a big dinner at the Langdale Hotel! On the way to Hobson's Bar stop and admire the water wheel and spy the alternative flower in the garden!
Before setting off please make sure you plot the suggested route on OS maps and pack a compass. They are essential for a safe, enjoyable day in the hills!
Ambleside - Elterwater
8 - 9 hours
1. First the Queens Hotel; head through the double doors (look right - the glass cabinet has lots of gifts!) and past the friendly receptionist to the bar. In front of you is the "local corner"! Take a seat, look out of the window to the right and weigh up the merits of the outside drinking area over a pint of Jennings Bitter, the original beer of the famous Cockermouth brewery and 'Champion beer of the North West 2009'!
2. Head to Rothay Park, follow the path to cross the river and join the minor road at Under Loughrigg. Turn right then left to follow the bridleway towards Brow Head. Continue for 1.5km past Miller Brow to a junction of paths at a beck.
3. Follow the path beside the beck towards Black Mire. Head past some small tarns to the summit of Loughrigg Fell.
4. South of the summit a path descends beside a beck. Follow this to a bridleway overlooking Loughrigg Tarn and to a minor road by the cottage at Tarn Foot. Turn right then left to the A593 at Skelwith Bridge.
5. Cross the bridge, follow the A593 round the bend for about 100m to a path on the right; the Cumbria Way a long distance path devised by local Ramblers in the 1970s. Go past Park House and Farm to join a road at Low Colwith. Cross the road, take either branch, the right follows the river and visits Colwith Force.
6. Join a narrow lane at High Park; follow it to a junction at Stang End and continue straight on, through trees to cross a footbridge. Follow the lane uphill to the valley road; turn right to the Three Shires Inn for lunch and a well earned pint of Jennings.
7. Retrace your steps but don't turn off to the footbridge, continue for 200m to a path on the left. Follow it to Slater Bridge, a much photographed packhorse bridge. Over the bridge, at a junction with a rough track turn right and skirt the lower slopes of Wetherlam past Little Langdale Tarn. Cross Greenburn Beck, turn north to Wrynose Pass; part of a roman road connecting the port at Ravenglass with the roman fort at Ambleside (Galava).
8. Turn left; follow the road for 1km to a path on the right. You'll pass Ting Mound, an open air meeting place or 'Moot'. The path through the trees is enclosed; a short detour on the permissive path gives a clear view of the Langdale Pikes reflected in the waters of Blea Tarn, a viewpoint featured in Wordsworth's 'Excursion'. Back on the path follow it through the trees to the road below Side Pike.
9. Cross the top of the pass and join a path on the right at the first sharp bend, follow it to the campsite in Great Langdale. Cross the stile, rejoin the road and follow it to the bend. In front of you is Raven Crag. Turn right, follow the main road for 1km to join a track on the right, follow it to Side House, then Oak How, head left for a short distance, then right to follow Great Langdale Beck to cross New Bridge.
10. Before you reach the road turn left to the valley road beside Wainwright's Inn. The Langdale Hotel lies 300m east down the road (which can be busy). Walk down the steps from the car park to Hobson's Bar.
11. Enter the cool, contemporary bar and find the key to unlock the mirror inspired by Kurt Shwitters an influential artist of the 20th century. Take a seat by the cosy fire or outside to breathe in the fresh Lakeland air. Today's journey is complete so sample a pint of full flavoured Jennings Cumberland Ale, page through the photo albums and step back in time to when The Langdale Estate was a working gunpowder factory!