Route type: For some. Undulating walk leading from Wray Castle through meadows and woodland to Low Loanthwaite - OS Explorer Map OL7. Large sections of the route would be suitable for wheelchair users but there are some steep hills and one section of track where the path has a grass strip in the middle.
Distance: 3.5 km / 2.25 miles one way, 7 km / 4.5 miles return
Start and end point: Top of Dower House lane, on the driveway up to Wray Castle Grid ref. NY 373009.
End point: Low Loanthwaite. Grid Ref: SD 354991
Facilities: Wray Castle (seasonal: check opening times on National Trust website) Café, shop and toilet accessible by wheelchair users.
Getting there: National Trust car-park at Wray Castle (Sat Nav postcode: LA22 0JA). Follow signs for Wray Castle from Ambleside or Hawkshead. .
The route is clearly signposted as part of the Hawkshead Trail with National Cycle Network number (6) symbols, so follow these and you can’t go wrong.
Heading down the driveway away from the castle take the path to the right just after the Dower House B&B sign. Follow this path downhill to reach a fantastic set of historic farm buildings on your right. Turn left and follow the Low Wray campsite road to its junction with the B5285. Cross the road and go through the gate onto the off-road path. After 200 metres turn left and follow the path across a meadow. This 300 metres section of path has a good stone surface but does have a grassy strip down the middle so may be a bit of a struggle for those in wheelchairs or small-wheeled buggies.
Go through a gate into some lovely woodland, from where you can catch glimpses of the local highpoint of Latterbarrow to the south. Keep going and cross over a bridge over Blelham Beck. At a junction, ignore the rocky bridleway known as Spika Lane and keep left. After another 50 metres you reach a grassy knoll which is a great spot to admire the view over Blelham Tarn. The tarn and the surrounding bog is a National Nature Reserve, and are very important for a number of rare invertebrates, including a rich population of rare caddis-flies. The tarn attracts waterfowl, and great crested grebe breeds, whilst whooper swan and golden-eye can often be seen during the winter.
After another 200 metres you’ll reach a steep hill where you may wish to turn round and return to Wray Castle. If you are able to manage the 250 metres up the hill , you’ll be rewarded with fine views of the fells beyond Ambleside. From here, turn right and keep following the main path. At a junction you can take the right hand path that leads to the hamlet of Outgate and its pub. It’s only 150 metres but be aware the path can be muddy and there is a tight kissing gate at the end.
However, our route turns left and across the meadow to reach a small patch of woodland. Passing through this, you emerge back out onto meadow again until you reach the minor road at Low Loanthwaite from where there are fine views over Hawkshead below. From here you can turn and re-trace the route back to Wray Castle.