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Offering a flavour of each of the main Lakeland valleys, and time to stop and wonder at their charms - a hidden waterfall in Eskdale, the morning mist over Buttermere, the tour described in Cicerones Guide to the Lake District leads quickly away from the busy tourist centres to the quiet pleasures of the fell country. Designed as a scenic tour of the Lake District, the route is primarily one of valleys and passes, rather than a tick-list of peaks attained. The shepherds and drovers chose their paths well, logical links from one valley to the next, and many of these ancient ways have been chosen for this walk. All footpaths and bridleways used are on established rights of way.
Windermere to Windermere
8 - 12 days
The walk starts at the railway terminus at Windermere town, quickly leaving the crowds behind to gain a little height and give a view over the ground to be covered in the next few days. The route continues onwards along a drove road to Ambleside, before heading over Loughrigg to the Langdale valley and the heart of the Lake District. It then passes through the beautifully wooded slate mining areas of Elterwater and Tilberthwaite to the lakeshore village of Coniston under the shadow of the Old Man, one of Lakeland's best-known peaks. From Coniston, another drove road leads over Walna Scar to peaceful Dunnerdale before dropping into Eskdale.
The route from Eskdale to Wasdale is a picturesque, easy day of woods, fields and country pubs. From here, now in the quiet and less visited western fells, the way leads to wild Ennerdale and Black Sail Youth Hostel, the most remote point on the walk. Then, it descends through Scarth Gap pass to dramatic views of the Buttermere valley and through the lakeside woods to Buttermere village. A day through the bracken-covered fellsides of Newlands valley leads to the market town of Keswick, and a welcome dose of civilisation after a few days in the wilds.
South from Keswick, the walk offers picture-postcard views of Derwentwater and then continues on through the lush scenery of Borrowdale before heading up into the high country to reach Grasmere. Leaving Wordsworth's home village, the route then heads over to Ullswater before returning back to Windermere via the Troutbeck valley.
Please see Cicerones Tour of the Lake District guide for more route details.