south lakes

South Distinctive Area

Key updates & news

Take a look at what's going in and around the South Lake District

Claife Community Bridlepath

Date: May 2018

Empty field before work begins.

Photo shows empty field before work begins.

Photo shows LDNP Rangers working on a new bridlepath.

Photo shows Lake District National Park Rangers working on the bridlepath.

Claife Parish Council has had a long-term aim to get a safe off road route between Near Sawrey and Hawkshead for a number of years, and this was identified as an action in their Community Plan six years ago.

We have been working closely with Claife Parish Council to develop a new bridlepath. This new route will create a safe off road bridlepath between Near Sawrey and Hawkshead, and will also provide a link to the Hawkshead to Wray path that we developed a few years ago.

The route is being developed in phases, because not all the landowners have currently agreed to granting permission for their section of the route. Phase 1 of the route involves land owned by Claife Parish Council and the National Trust.

The project is a great example of us working with our partners. We have been supporting and advising the Parish Council about how to develop this project, and provided advice on the specification for the path, and suitable contractors that could quote for the work. We have worked closely with the National Trust as they are one of the main landowners on the route, who have also been keen to get a safe route to their property at Hill Top. We have been able to develop the Phase 1 of the project due to funding from:

  • National Trust
  • SLDC 
  • Parish Council 
  • Lake District National Park Authority

The new path is surfaced, and fenced from the adjoining fields and promoted with fingerposts and three interpretation panels.

The path was formally opened for members of the public to use on 27 April 2018.

Working in the woods

Date: August 2017

We have been working with some of the south Park Management volunteers and Rusland Horizon apprentices to do some woodland management work on one of our properties in the Rusland Valley at Glass Knott. They have been involved with coppicing a coupe with hazel trees in. They have felled and processed the trees, and stacked the brash in neat piles called windrows. The thicker timber has been sold to the Bobbin Mill at Finsthwaite for them to make into bobbins.

Rusland Horizons and the Greenwood Trails

Date: August 2017


We are currently improving access as part of the first year of the three year Rusland Horizons Heritage Lottery project.

The Greenwood Trails project aims to improve sustainable access in the Rusland Valley, through six self guided trails. We are currently improving the condition of the rights of way in the Bouth and Haverthwaite Heights area. The practical rights of way improvement works are being completed by the Rusland Horizons apprentices, our Field Team and volunteers. We have also been working with the local community to proself-guided trails leaflets to promote the routes, and the two local schools have been involved with designing the waymarker that will be used to promote the Greenwood Trails.

community working group

Community working group developing the interpretation for one of the trails

High Dam, Finsthwaite

Date: June 2017

high dam

We have been improving access at one of our popular properties in the south. It is a long term aim to improve access to and around the site, and we are doing this through a phased approach. Last year we were able to replace three bridges on the site through sponsorship

High Dam Path before

Section of path that’s been regraded

high dam

Over the last couple of months we have been working with our Field Team and a local contractor to improve the condition of the main path around the tarn. This has involved getting stone onto the site, regrading the sections of the path and surfacing approximately 1 km of the route.

View more updates

About the South Distinctive Area

The South Distinctive Area stretches from the West of Windermere over towards Coniston Water, the Old Man of Coniston and its range of fells. The eastern part of the area consists of heavily wooded low fells and valleys, which to the south move into low fell fringe, coastal margins, estuary and marsh around the Leven and Duddon estuaries.

The Lake District National Park Authority owns small areas of land in the Southern area. These are Rusland Moss National Nature Reserve, Rusland Woods which include the areas of Border Moss, Yewbarrow, Hall Brow, Stoney Hazel and Thwaite Head, Rusland Tannery and High Dam

The other large landowners in the area are the Forestry Commission which own Grizedale Forest. The National Trust also own large areas of land and attractions in the Southern including Wray Castle, Hill Top (home of Beatrix Potter) and Claife Heights. The Southern area also includes Consiton Water and the historic house of Brantwood.

The following attractions can be visited in the area:

  • Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway
  • Lakeside Aquarium
  • The Bobbin Mill
  • Old Hall Farm
  • Graythwaite Gardens
  • Grizedale Forest
  • Brantwood
  • Coniston Boating Centre
  • Ruskin Museum

Map of the South Distinctive Area

sarah spicer

Your Area Ranger Sara Spicer

Sara is the Area Ranger for the Southern Lake District. Please get in touch with Sara if you have any queries or enquiries about our work in the South or community fund applications.

Contact details

Tel: 01539 792719

Mobile: 07788 658566



We are working closely with three community projects in the Southern area that have been given Heritage Lottery Fund grants. These include:


£48,972 has been awarded in grants to this area from the Lake District Communities Fund.

See full list of all grants awarded