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A wonderful walk through one of the wildest parts of the Lake District.

Photo: Nicola Little_iStock

Ennerdale Water – Why Go?

Ennerdale is the westernmost lake in the Lake District and is often a quiet place to escape from the busier tourist spots. The lake itself is crystal clear, perfect for spotting some of the many fish that live in the waters, and it is one of the only lakes here that doesn’t have a road running along its full length. 

Following this path around Ennerdale lake, you’ll be able to enjoy the serene calm of the waters and witness the landscape change. As you stroll around the water, you’ll enjoy views of the big mountains in the surrounding Ennerdale valley, some of the Lake District’s most impressive. We're not sure why Ennerdale can be so quiet, but we do know it offers some of the best Lake District walking routes

Ennerdale Valley also plays host to some wonderful rare plants and animals. Red squirrels scamper around the branches of the trees, cattle graze near the Ennerdale bridge, and a project is in place to introduce pine martens to this area of Cumbria. This is the Wild Ennerdale project, which begins just above Bowness Knott. It aims to celebrate the natural beauty of the Lake District, with hiking paths woven through this lesser-known beauty spot. 

Ennerdale Water – What to Expect

If you choose to walk Ennerdale Water, you can expect low-level footpaths winding through forests and over some uneven, rocky terrain. There are no waymarkers on this trail, but follow the lake and the route should be fairly clear. A small deal of scrambling may be required when walking around the southern side of the lake, where the ground can be both rocky and wet. 

The climb over Anglers Crag at the foot of Crag Fell also demands scrambling, although it is just a short distance. The ground here is very steep and has a significant drop into the lake, so make sure you’re wearing some good walking boots. A waterproof jacket might be needed for this walk too; it takes a few hours to complete this lakeside circuit and you don't want to get caught unprepared if the weather changes. 

Ennerdale Water – The Route, Part 1

10.5km / 3 - 4 hours

Start at the Bleach Green car park to the north of Ennerdale Water and follow the weir to reach the lake shore. Heading right and walking anticlockwise around the lake will take you to Anglers Crag first, where the exposed scramble will reward you with some spectacular views across the water. 

Continue along this path as it takes you around the water, passing The Side on your right. This was a medieval deer park, estimated to have been established somewhere between the 12th and 14th centuries. Today, it is a stunning oak forest, a protected habitat. Listen carefully here in the spring and you might hear a cuckoo call. 

As you reach the end of the lake, look over the wall to catch a glimpse of the lovely free-roaming Galloway cattle. The herds of cattle are allowed to roam throughout this area of Ennerdale because they are important for conservation. As well as keeping the vegetation in check, the cows churn up the ground, providing ample opportunity for rare flora and fauna to grow. 

Ennerdale Water – The Route, Part 2

After a game of ‘spot the cows’ (they can be notoriously difficult to see in their 360-acre land), cross the bridge to continue your hike. You’ll pass through Latterbrow woods, an oak-birch woodland that is another important site of conservation because of the rare moss that thrives here. 

Strolling along the western shore of Ennerdale Water in the summer months, you may catch glimpses of the beautiful peacock butterfly. The marsh fritillary butterfly can be found here too after the conservation efforts of the Wild Ennerdale project have worked to create its ideal habitat. 

Along the final stretch of your walk, as you head back to the Bleach Green car park, you can see the site where the Angler's Inn once stood. It was demolished in the 1970s when plans were put in place to raise the level of the lake. Local opposition stopped the rising of the lake, but the Angler’s Inn was not saved. From this point, you can enjoy stunning views of Howside Hill, before enjoying a gentle walk back to the Bleach Green car park. 

Want more? Take a look at our full rundown of the best walks in the Lake District for even more great routes. 

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