I spent a wonderful week in half term in the Lake District with William, my 3 year old. I’ve been coming to the lakes for many years, and although when he was very tiny we didn’t come up now he’s a bit older we’ve come back a few times and each time both him and me are more adventurous on our walks as he gains stamina!
I stumbled across the village of Chapel Stile one evening as I was driving back to our holiday cottage from Hawskhead. I was looking for something to do for the following day and so as the sun was starting to set I turned off the main road and ventured towards the Langdales just to sneak a peak and plan an adventure for the following day.
As soon as I saw a beautiful shimmer of water, a river and a small church at the foot of a mountain I thought that this looked like a great spot so we came back the following morning, very early, on what turned out to be the sunniest day of the week. We took the A593 out of Ambleside and turned right just before Skelwith Bridge.
As expected in these small villages, there’s not much parking, but as you just enter the village, just after the road sign which says Chapel Stile there is a small lay-by on the right and having arrived for 9am we easily parked there and remained there for the day. Walk along the road for a bit with the river on your left, and you will see a pub called Wainrights Inn. Just before this is a footpath and a gate, go along here and after going over the bridge (Look at the beauty of the river on your left) turn left and head towards Elterwater.
This little spot is glorious and typifies what the Lakes mean to me in so many ways. I’ve always had an affinity to water (I am a water sign after all), and there is nothing more calming, that a crystal clear river, reflecting the brilliance of the trees above it on a sky blue day. It couldn’t have been a better day. The water was just incredible – I don’t think I’ve seen such clear water anywhere in the okay apart from some parts of Cornwall in the summer months. There was a little shallow section here as well and a bench, so we paused and William enjoyed throwing stones into the water wand having a paddle, while I soaked up the tranquillity of this little oasis.
Follow the path towards Elterwater and keep the river on your left. Eventually you begin to climb and the land drops away leaving a stunning view of the river and its twists and turns and the dramatic crashing over rocks.
You eventually come to a driveway, which leads to the Burlington Slate Quarry. this is out of bounds so adhere to the signs and turn left which takes you down the hill toward Elterwater. You can hear the boom of the explosions in the quarry.
There’s quite a few sheep along this stretch and watch out for cars and quarry lorries coming up the road.
At the bottom you reach a junction with a bridge and the village to your left. Cross over the bridge and turn immediately right by the car park and this leads you down a footpath with the river now on your right.
I often find myself in the Lake District uttering wow at every turn – with William I am constantly pointing things out and saying ‘Wow look William a mountain…a river…some cows…some sheep…the waterfalls’…you see the pattern. But at every turn in the lakes I find a wow moment. I read a really interesting article recently about finding a wow moment every day, and how as children we are constantly amazed by everything around us, but as we get older people sometimes lose sight of the wow factor in the everyday world around us.
For me, the wow’s of everyday life are so vital for exploring, learning and enjoying life and what’s around us. We are so incredibly lucky to live in the UK and even more lucky to have such incredible landscapes to enjoy. Even though I’ve now been to the lakes ten times, on every visit I find something new; new walks, new views, new mountains, new cosy pubs with open fires, new rivers – you could spend a lifetime in the Lakeland and never see everything.
The water runs so clear here, and the autumnal colours were reflected in the water – picture perfect. There’s a pebble beach like section which you can go on which is a great little spot for skimming stones or just throwing stones into the river, and a nice spot for doggies to have a paddle too. I find something very calming about the sound of running water, and if you need to just take a moment away from the stresses and strains of our fast paced lives, then this is one of the places to do it.
This path continues for some time. You do leave the river as it shifts off to the right and you find yourself in the cooling shades of the woods. The smell of dampness and moss reminds me of many autumnal walks as a child and in particular the ones we used to do at my first school, The Grove near Hindhead, Surrey (Its long gone). My Year 1 teacher always used to take us on nature walks at lunchtime with the Red Setter through the woods which surrounded the school and point out trees and plants and animals – I loved this and had fond memories of these walks. There are plenty of muddy puddles for children and at the end you go through a wooden gate and you reach the shores of Elterwater. There is an incredible view here across the lake and a bench and some rocks which is a perfect spot for a picnic.
We stopped here for a while. Tried to skim stones, chatted to the ducks, chatted to other families and doggies and just, in silence admired the view. William happily sat munching on his sausage sandwich looking out over the water. He never sits still for any period of time, so this was such a wonderful moment of peace and calm.
You can continue along the path towards Skelwith Bridge which I had intended on doing but sensing that William might get there and then not make it back the 3 miles or so to the car I decided to return back. But the walk to Skelwith is beautiful and well worth it.
On the way back we stopped at the Brittania Inn in the village of Elterwater. There is a lovely outside seating area by the green, which on the nice sunny is perfect. They have a good varied pub menu, service is great and fast and the food is fab and much needed after a big ramble.
For me, this walk had a definite wow factor and will now go on my list of regulars. It was a simple walk, n high mountains to climb, no scrambles just beautiful peaceful countryside and the babble of water. It’s a great walk for those with young children as it is pretty much all on the flat, and with decent paths.
Its about ¾ mile from Chapel Stile to Elterwater and I would say about the same to Elterwater. As we weren’t in a rush we took our time and pondered, splashing in puddles, finding sticks and enjoying the sunshine and just being outside. So we spent about 4 hours on this walk.
When we got back to Chapel Stile we had a little walk around the village – the village cop op is well stocked with food and gifts books and magazines and is worth a visit if you need to gather some resources! We didn’t make it to the church, but that’s on the list for our next trip.
William fell asleep as soon as we reached the car and I set off in search of The Langdales and the National Trust Sticklebarn tavern.