The woods, open spaces and breathtaking views over Windermere contrast markedly with the bustle below.
Distance 3.5 miles (5.7km)
Minimum time 1hr 15min
Ascent/gradient 525ft (160m)
Level of difficulty Medium
Paths Pavement, road, stony tracks, grassy paths, 2 stiles
Landscape Town, mixed woodland, open fell, lake and fell views
Suggested map aqua3 OS Explorer OL 7 The English Lakes (SE)
Start/finish SD 398966
Dog friendliness Popular route for dogs; busy roads and sheep grazing, so must be under control
Parking Fee car park on Glebe Road above Windermere lake
Public toilets At car park and above information centre
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1 Take Glebe Road into Bowness town. Swing left and, opposite the steamer pier, go right over the main Windermere road and then turn left. Opposite the impressive Church of St Martin turn right to ascend the little street of St Martins Hill. Cross the Kendal road to climb Brantfell Road directly above. At the head of the road a little iron gate leads on to the Dales Way, a grassy and stony path which climbs directly up the hillside. Continue to a kissing gate by the wood, leading on to a lane.
2 Pass through the kissing gate and turn right, signposted 'Post Knott', to follow the stony lane. Continue on the lane rising through the woods until it crests a height near the flat circular top of Post Knott. Bear left and make the final short ascent to the summit. The view from here was once exceptional but is now mainly obscured by trees. Retrace a few steps back to the track then bear right to find a kissing gate leading out of the wood on to the open hillside.
3 Beyond the kissing gate take the grassy path, rising to a rocky shoulder. Cross the shoulder and first descend, then ascend to a ladder stile in the top corner of the field by some fir trees. Cross the stile then bear right to ascend directly up the open grassy flanks of Brant Fell to its rocky summit.
4 Go left (north) from the top of the fell, descending a grassy path, which intercepts a grassy track. Bear right along the track and follow it to a stone stile and gate, which lead on to the road. Turn left along the road and continue left at the junction, to pass the stone buildings and entrance drive to Matson Ground. Immediately beyond is a kissing gate on the left, waymarked for the Dales Way.
5 Go through the kissing gate and continue down the field to cross a track and pass through a kissing gate into another field. Keep along the grassy track, which runs beneath the trees, until the path swings left to emerge through a kissing gate on to a surfaced drive. Go right along the drive for 30yds (27m) until the path veers off left through the trees to follow the fence. An iron kissing gate leads into a field. Follow the grassy path, first descending and then rising to an iron gate in the corner of the field. Continue to join a grassy track and go through the kissing gate. Cross the surfaced drive of Brantfell Farm and keep straight on to another kissing gate leading into a field. Follow the path, parallel to the wall, descending the hill to intercept a track, via a kissing gate, and regain Point b. Retrace your steps back to Glebe Road.
Walking from the honeypot of Bowness-on-Windermere on a busy summer weekend, it is hard to imagine that just above the lakeside bustle there is a world of quiet solitude and space. Well there is, and this walk takes you there. With relatively little effort you can crest the heights of Brant Fell and enjoy a wonderful view out over Windermere to the Coniston fells and the central heights of the Lake District up to the mighty Fairfield.
Fed by the high rainfall of the Lake District fells, via the rivers Brathay, Rothay and Troutbeck, Windermere is England's largest natural lake. It stretches some 12 miles (19km) in length, is up to 1 mile (1.6km) wide in places, and reaches a depth of 220ft (67m). The Romans built their fort of Galava at Waterhead, on the northern tip of the lake.
Overlooked by this walk, the privately owned Belle Isle is said to have been used since Roman times. Today, this island is supplied by a little boat, which serves the 38 acre (15ha) estate. Belle Isle's interesting circular house, recently re-built after extensive fire damage, was originally built by Mr English in 1774. Apparently William Wordsworth accredited Mr English with the honour of being the first man to settle in the Lake District for the sake of the scenery. There have been many more since.
Providing the main gateway and access point to the lake, Bowness-on-Windermere is today the most popular holiday destination in the Lake District. Over 10,000 boats for recreation are registered on the lake. Once the Oxenholme and Kendal-to-Windermere railway line opened in 1847 the little town developed rapidly. The town of Windermere grew around the station from the nucleus of what was once a small village. Indeed it was the railway company that named the station Windermere to attract a trade, although it is sited some distance from the lake.
In the late 19th century many wealthy businessmen, principally from the industrial towns of Lancashire, built large and luxurious residences overlooking the lake. Many of these private houses have been converted into hotels, such as the Langdale Chase, whilst Brockhole has been the National Park Visitor Centre since the late 1960s.
The Belsfield Hotel overlooking Bowness Bay was bought in 1860 by Henry Schneider, the chairman of the prosperous Barrow Steelworks and Shipworks. Reputedly he left his luxurious home and boarded his steam yacht SL Esperance, where he breakfasted travelling across the lake to Lakeside. He then journeyed by steam train, he owned the railway and had his own private carriage, to the works in Barrow.
St Martin's Church, an impressive building surrounded by ancient yew trees, is the parish church of Bowness, built in 1483 and restored and enlarged in 1870. Undoubtedly the most interesting building in Bowness, amongst many worthy contenders, it is well worth taking a look inside. Behind the church is the oldest area of Bowness, known as Lowside, an intriguing web of narrow streets amongst buildings of dark slate.
Bowness-on-Windermere is inundated with cafés, inns, shops and restaurants. Conveniently located near the start and finish of the route, at the foot of Brantfell Road, are the Royal Oak and Santameras Bakery Café.
Quite apart from the natural beauty of the area there is plenty to do and see around Bowness. The Steamboat Museum has many working exhibits and provides a chance to chug across the lake on a genuine steam yacht. Henry Schneider's steamboat SL Esperance (PBackground to the Walk) is one of the exhibits. Across the lake at Lakeside, a short stretch of preserved steam railway allows visitors to take a nostalgic trip on the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway, recreating, in some part at least, Schneider's splendid daily commuting journey to his Barrow works.