Cumbria’s Eskdale Valley is a haven for adventure and nature lovers alike. From hiking and biking through to more vigorous activities such as climbing, quad biking and kayaking - if you love the outdoors, then you’ll love this gorgeous part of the Lake District.
Whether you are planning a stay in a Lake District holiday cottage, or have visited before but didn't get too far or did not know where to go, here's a guide to the delights of 'Glorious Eskdale':
1. WALK ALONG THE WHILLAN BECK
Two rivers run down the scenic valley of Eskdale. The Whillan Beck, which comes off the flanks of Scafell across a vast expanse of moorland around Burnmoor Tarn right beneath Scafell, cascades down through the waterfall near the packhorse bridge. Warmer days are perfect for walks along the Beck, where the only sounds you will hear are the water and the local wildlife.
Relax and unwind for a while by the bridge over the Whillan Beck.
2. UNWIND BESIDE THE WHILLAN BECK
The Whillan Beck provides the perfect place to make special memories with the family or your loved one. If you are on a cottage holiday with the family, you can enjoy a yummy picnic. Board games are also a great, inexpensive way for families to spend quality time together. If you are visiting the Lake District on a romantic holiday, you can unwind by the Whillan Beck with your loved one, and indulge in an evening glass of wine.
Enjoy a riverside picnic or a glass of wine beside the Whillan Beck.
2. TAKE A DIP IN THE RIVER ESK
The main River Esk rises high on the fells between the mountains of Esk Pike and Great End. It flows like a stream to the enormous plateau like Great Moss with many of the highest peaks in the Lake District rising above it. From there it cascades down past the lovely Lingcove Beck bridge where there are some superb natural swimming pools, perfect for an afternoon swim and cooling off from the heat in summer months.
Slip into the plunge pool in the delightful village of Boot.
3. HAVE FUN ON THE STEPPING STONES WITH THE FAMILY
From Upper Eskdale, the River Esk, crisscrosses and snakes down the valley past Doctor Bridge, which is another enjoyable and easily accessible walk from the village of Boot. It goes past the stepping stones, which provide great fun for the family, and are located beside St Catherine's Church. Going on downstream, the River Esk runs beneath Trough House Bridge beside Stanley House. The woodlands here are a place of tranquility, where you can see the bluebells looking their best, and find mushrooms and toadstools in autumn.
Have fun with the family on the stepping stones over the River Esk.
4. DISCOVER GORGEOUS WATERFALLS
Eventually, the Esk passes the stunning Muncaster Castle which is an excellent day out arriving at the sea in Ravenglass. Here it joins the River Mite and River Irt in a three river estuary. This was used by the Romans as a port to keep the fort on Hardknott and settlement at Ambleside stocked with wine and other luxuries from Italy! The picturesque Stanley Ghyll waterfall with its stunning reflections (see photo below), is also nearby.
Admire the beauty of the Stanley Ghyll waterfall.
5. VISIT HARDKNOTT PASS, WRYNOSE PASS AND THE ROMAN FORT
Hardknott Pass, 'one of Britain's most challenging roads', and Wrynose Pass are a thrilling drive for guests who like a motoring challenge. Fit or foolhardy cyclists can sometimes be seen sweating and puffing up or down the 1 in 3 hills. If you are in the area, The Roman Fort a third of the way up Hardknott Pass is definitely worth a visit. It is so interesting and atmospheric with stunning views.
Alternatively, there is, of course, the much easier Eskdale Cycleway which follows the River Esk on the valley floor. Hardknott Roman Fort, in the Upper Esk, must have been amongst the most dramatically positioned in the entire Roman Empire. Some of the stone circles on the fell above Boot are apparently, according to the National Park Archaeologists, some 5000 years old, which makes them the same age as Stonehenge!
Enjoy stunning views when you visit The Roman Fort.
6. SAMPLE SOME HEARTY GASTROPUB-GRUB AND DELICIOUS CUMBRIAN ALES
As well as the peaceful valley, rivers, and challenging routes, there are five great pubs in Eskdale. The two pubs located in Boot are 'The Boot Inn' and 'The Brook House'. Here you can sample some popular Cumbrian specials such as Jennings, Hawkshead Bitter, Barngates, and Yates. And if ale isn’t enough to tempt you there, they also serve over 150 malt whiskeys!! Both pubs are also just a five-minute walk down the road from the Ravenglass and Eskdale steam railway, one of England's prettiest train journeys.
Lace up your boots and discover the challenging routes before treating yourself to some hearty gastropub-grub.
So there you have it, a guide to the glorious Eskdale Valley, one of the most beautiful and unspoilt areas in the Lake District National Park. Do explore more of 'Glorious Eskdale' sometime soon!
All words and images by Greg Poole of Bridge End Farm Cottages, seven 400-year-old, Grade II listed cottages in Cumbria.
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