Seasons change, but none more beautiful than that from summer
to winter, namely autumn! It is now when the temperatures drop, and the morning
mists appear that the lush summer leaves begin to change from green to amber
and red, like nature's own traffic lights (but less frustrating). The shorter
days allow for the enthusiastic adventurer to witness both stunning sunrises
and spectacular sunsets in equal measure. The wildlife that call this place
home are awakened by the warming sun as it radiates throughout the valleys, and
the morning dew glistens on the fells.
If you are looking for new routes in the area or simply fancy
trying something new, then read on….Mountain Leader Scott McAlister shares his favourite routes.
1: Loughrigg Fell
Grid Ref: NY 34703 05133
For a small fell, standing at 335 metres Loughrigg commands big views. It overlooks Rydal water, Grasmere and the very quaint Loughrigg Tarn (the location of many a photographer on a misty morning). If you catch the weather right there is no better place to observe autumn's splendour, especially if there has been a dusting of snow on the surrounding high fells.
This is a great family walk where you can choose to ascend to the summit as this route does, or you might simply want to walk along the path the skirts both Grasmere and Rydal. Be sure to visit the old quarry caves whilst there. There is ample parking in the area, including the pay and display car park at Pelter Bridge at the start of the route
After building up an appetite on whichever route you decide on, you can then take this opportunity to visit Grasmere for some world-famous gingerbread.
2: Lingmoor Fell & Blea Tarn
Grid Ref: NY 29312 04462
If you use social media such as Instagram and you follow any accounts that showcase the Lake District, then chances are you will have come across an image of Blea Tarn and Lingmoor Fell.
These feature heavily on the accounts I follow and rightly so. I get a lot of inspirations and route ideas from images I see on there, and the first visit I paid to Blea Tarn myself was inspired by an image I had seen. A fantastic sight to see is the Langdale Pikes reflecting in the still waters of the tarn. On my visit in late autumn the tarn was frozen solid as it was an early morning visit. I didn't get to see the reflections, but the views were still beautiful. Also it was worth the trip just to witness my pet dog on his first encounter with ice! Think Bambi and you are not far wrong.
Unfortunately, like so many hidden gems in the lakes, this
location is not straightforward to get to. Depending on the direction you are
coming from you will most likely arrive via Wynrose Pass as it sits high above
Langdale (an adventure in itself!). Don't let the journey put you off though,
as once there you`ll find it was worth it. I have created a route for this walk
that is relatively short, but again it is just a guide. You may find you want
to stretch your day and route out when you get there? I decided to ascend
Lingmoor Fell on my visit as it was such a beautiful day for it. If you follow
this route then take care on Side Pike as a section of path is very narrow (the
squeeze), and involves squeezing through a narrow crack in the rock face. At
Side Pike where the footpath meets the road be sure to stop and take in the
wonderful views down into Mickleden, and across to the Langdale Pikes. A truly
The short section of woodland walk to the West of Blea Tarn is
like a scene from an enchanted fairytale, and will stay etched in your memory
for years to come I am sure. I have visited this location on 3 or 4 occasions
now at this time of year and never left disappointed.
3: Walla Crag & Ashness Bridge
Grid Ref: NY 27181 21433
Perhaps the most strenuous of the walks here, I have included this one for the views it offers of Skiddaw and Derwent Water. The route starts from Great Wood pay and display car park and heads North east through the woods, rising gently as you go. As you clear the woodland the views of Skiddaw and Blencathra present themselves in all their glory. Again, if there has been a dusting of snow then you are in for a treat here. Using Bleaberry Fell as a target feature head South towards the summit of Walla Crag. Take care on the top as it a sharp drop that is camouflaged by trees on the crags face. The views from here over Derwent Water to Catbells and the NW fells are some of the best in all of lakeland. On a quiet day you can stand in silence and imagine the hustle and bustle below in the busy town of Keswick that sits in the shadows of Skiddaw. You may want to call here for refreshments post walk...
After taking in the views, you then descend a rocky path on
the flanks of Falcon Crag towards Ashness Bridge. The display of colours all around you as you
walk this path are a joy to behold. The bridge is without doubt the most
photographed man-made feature in the area, so expect a few photographers to be
there when you arrive. Barrow Beck
meanders its way under the bridge as it navigates its way into Derwent Water.
Sit on the rocks beside the bridge, close your eyes and just take in the
moment. Autumn here is a scene on many a calendar, and rightly so.
You have the option here to extend the route up to Surprise
View which overlooks Derwent Water from a height. A worthy detour as the views
here are great, unsurprisingly!
From the bridge or Surprise View simply follow the path North
back towards Great Wood, with Derwent Water giving good views to your left.
4: Brothers Water & Ullswater
Grid Ref: NY 40274 13387
The first time I visited Brothers Water was purely by chance! I was heading to Ambleside via the Kirkstone Pass as I often do. On this particular morning as I drove past Brothers Water something caught my eye! The sun was just beginning to rise and an eerie looking mist hung above the water. I stopped the car and armed with my camera headed down to the waters edge. The first thing that struck me (other than the branches by the water) was the silence that filled the air. I sat on a rock and looked out over the water. It was truly hypnotic and also therapeutic to just relax and take it all in. Time stood still and to this day I do not know how long I was there for? We need more moments like that in our busy lives!
I park at Cow Bridge when I walk here and head south to walk alongside the water through the
lovely Low Wood. The vibrant colour of the trees and the murmur of wildlife
bring the woods to life. As you exit the woodland path the majestic fells of
High Hartsop Dodd and Middle Dodd come into view, as does Harstop Dodd (which
is actually higher than High Harstop Dodd?) on the other side of the pass. As
shapely fells go, these are up there with the best. If you feel energetic
enough High Harstop Dodd offers amazing views back over Brothers Water and
across to Place Fell and Angletarn Pikes. If you do not fancy a steep ascent,
you can retrace your steps back to the start.
I have included Ullswater in this purely based on the new
Ullswater Way national trail the follows the lakes shoreline. I have only
walked a short section of this myself to date, but I imagine it to be a
beautiful autumn walk.
5: Borrowdale Valley
Grid Ref: NY 25262 17497
Borrowdale Valley is officially the wettest part of England. However the benefit of this is the rich diversity of wildlife that thrives there. Visit here in autumn and you will be enchanted by the woodland colours and the clear emerald green waters of the river Derwent.
Starting from the quaint village of Grange (which has an amazing tea shop), follow the woodland path through first Dalt Wood then Low Hows Wood as the path contours the river Derwent to the left. Keep an eye out for the caves that self-styled 'Professor of Adventure' Millican Dalton called home.
The more adventurous may want to go on to the summit of Castle Crag, the smallest of the Wainwrights at 290 metres in height. The route then continues Southerly towards Rosthwaite, before heading east to cross the B5289. From here the route rises to its steepest point of 215 metres before descending back down into woodland. A kilometre or so on you will come to the impressive Bowder Stone. This huge Lava boulder fell some 200 metres from Bowder Crag above and came to rest here. It has not moved in the 10 to 13 thousand years since!! A fascinating sight. From here marvel at more dense woodland as you head back to the wonderful tea shop back in Grange for a well earned pot of tea and a scone.
The Lake District in autumn is something every outdoor lover should experience. The lakes are a great place to visit at any time of year but there's something special about autumn. If you need a paper map for your Lake District autumn walk try these:
OS Explorer: The English Lakes: North-eastern area OL5
OS Explorer: The English Lakes: South-eastern area OL7
OS Explorer: The English Lakes: North-western area OL4
OS Explorer: The English Lakes: South-western area OL6