View of Ennerdale and its forests copyright Charlie Hedley

Miles Without Stiles 24: Ennerdale Forest Road

Details

Route type: For some. A forest road in Ennerdale, the wildest and least inhabited valley in the Lake District - OS Explorer Map OL4. There are a few sections steeper than 1:8.

Distance: 18.5 km or 11.5 miles there and back but can be shortened at any point.

Start point: Bowness Knott car park - grid ref. NY 109153

Turning point: Black Sail Youth Hostel - grid ref. NY 195124

Facilities:  5 km back down the track, the village of Ennerdale Bridge has two pubs and the Gather Ennerdale community centre in with toilets and a cafĂ©.   

Getting there: No direct public transport. Car: A5086 from Cockermouth, left (grid ref. NY 073194) to Ennerdale Bridge. Follow signs to Ennerdale Water. From the south A595 and A5086 to right turn for Ennerdale Bridge (grid ref. NY 027145)

Route

Leave Bowness Knott car park and follow the forest road towards the lake and up the valley. You are close to the shoreline of Ennerdale Water for the first 2 km. Ennerdale is the most remote and westerly of the lakes, offering a great escape, even in the middle of summer. It is a deep glacial lake, 4 km long, 1 km wide and 50 metres deep.

The water is exceptionally clear and serves as a reservoir for West Cumbrian coastal towns. It is the only lake that doesn't have a public road running alongside it.

How far you want to walk is up to you. All the way to Black Sail Youth Hostel is a long but memorable experience. You will pass some of the most magnificent mountain scenery the Lake District has to offer, with the huge crag of Pillar Rock dominating the middle and end of the valley. Black Sail, a former shepherd's bothy, is England's most remote youth hostel.

A slightly shorter option would be to Middle Bridge (grid reference NY 165136), returning via Moss Dub, along the south side of the valley, a round trip of approximately 12 km. You will notice Galloway cattle and conifer plantations being felled - this is just one part of an ambitious project to return Ennerdale to its former wild and rugged splendour. Check out the Wild Ennerdale website www.wildennerdale.co.uk (opens in new window)

Map

Map - Ennerdale Forest Road route