50 Walks in the Lake District

Brant Fell above Bowness-on-Windermere

Try this sample walk from the latest edition of 50 Walks in the Lake District.

About 50 Walks in the Lake District

Walking is one of Britain's favourite leisure activities, and this guide to the Lake District features 50 mapped walks from 2 to 10 miles, to suit all abilities.

The book features all the practical detail you need, including:

  • fascinating background reading on the history and wildlife of the area,
  • clear OS-based mapping for ease of use,
  • every route has been colour coded according to difficulty,
  • annotations for local points of interest and places to stop for refreshments,
  • summary of distance, time, gradient, level of difficulty, type of surface and access, landscape, dog friendliness, parking and public toilets.

Buy 50 Walks in the Lake District from the AA Amazon Shop.

50 Walks in the Lake District

Sample walk: Brant Fell above Bowness-on-Windermere

  • Distance: 3.5 miles (5.7km)
  • Minimum Time: 1hr 15min
  • Ascent: 525 feet (160m)
  • Gradient: 2
  • Difficulty: 2
  • Paths: Pavement, road, stony tracks, grassy paths, several stiles
  • Landscape: Town, mixed woodland, open fell, lake and fell views
  • Suggested Map: AA Walker's Map 2 Central Lake District
  • Start Grid Reference: SD398966
  • 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 Toilet: Near information centre at  end of Glebe Road
Background reading

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. With relatively little effort, however, you can crest the heights of Brant Fell and enjoy a wonderful, lonely view out over Windermere to the Coniston fells, the Langdale Pikes and the mighty Fairfield.Bowness-on-WindermereFed by the high rainfall of the Lake District fells, via the rivers Brathay, Rothay and Troutbeck, Windermere is England's largest natural lake, stretching some 10.5 miles (16.9km) from Waterhead to Lakeside. It is up to 0.9 miles (1.45km) wide in places, and reaches a depth of 220ft (67m), so its ice-scoured bed is well below sea level. 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, restored after extensive fire damage in 1996, was originally erected by Mr English in 1774. Apparently William Wordsworth credited 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.The main gateway and access point to the lake, Bowness-on-Windermere, is the most popular holiday destination in the Lake District. More than 10,000 boats are registered on the lake. Once the Oxenholme–Kendal–Windermere railway opened in 1847 the town developed rapidly. Windermere town grew around the station from what was once a small village called Birthwaite. The railway company named the station Windermere to attract trade, although it is some distance from the lake. (And since the lake was named first, and since 'mere' means 'lake' anyway, there is no need to call it 'Lake Windermere'.)In the late 19th century wealthy businessmen, principally from industrial towns in Lancashire, built luxurious residences overlooking the lake. Many of these are now hotels, while Brockhole is now the National Park Visitor Centre and Blackwell is owned by the Lakeland Arts Trust and open for visitors. 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 home each morning and boarded his steam yacht Esperance, taking breakfast whilst travelling down 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.

  1. Take Glebe Road into Bowness town. Swing left to follow the main Windermere road, crossing opposite the steamer pier. Opposite the impressive St Martin's Church, 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 onto 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 short ascent to the summit. The view from here was once exceptional but is now obscured by trees. Retrace a few steps towards the track, bearing left to find a kissing gate leading out of the wood onto the open hillside.
  3. Beyond the kissing gate take the wide path to a bench on a rocky shoulder. Bear left, and first descend, then ascend to a gate in the corner below a gap in the 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 from the summit, then look for a line of cairns. Follow these down to a kissing gate. Descend through a plantation to a second gate and a track. Turn right and follow the track to a stile. Turn left down to a road, then left along it. Keep left at the next junction. Immediately beyond Matson Ground house and farm is a kissing gate on the left, waymarked for the Dales Way.
  5. Go through the kissing gate and continue down the path to cross a track via two kissing gates. Keep along the path beneath trees and beside a pond, until the path swings left to emerge through a kissing gate onto 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 gate leads into a field. Follow the grassy path, first descending and then rising to an iron kissing gate in the corner of the field. Continue to another gate leading into a walled track. Cross the surfaced drive of Brantfell Farm and keep straight on to a gate leading into a field. Follow the path alongside the wall, descending the hill to intercept a track, via a kissing gate, coming again to Point 2. Retrace your steps back to Glebe Road.
While you're there

Quite apart from the natural beauty of the area, there is plenty to do and see around Bowness. The Steamboat Museum is currently undergoing a major rebuild, and should have reopened by the time this book is published. Above Bowness, just off the B5360, stands Blackwell, a truly beautiful house from the early 20th century. Blackwell embodies the principles of the Arts and Crafts Movement, a reaction against the advance of industrialisation and mechanisation. There's an excellent cafe and gift shop too.

Where to eat and drink

Bowness-on-Windermere is inundated with cafes, inns, shops and restaurants. Conveniently located near the start and finish of the route, at the foot of Brantfell Road, is the Royal Oak. In the town centre, Monties café bar is an established favourite.

What to look out for

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, albeit among 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 among buildings of dark slate.

Buy 50 Walks in the Lake District from the AA Amazon Shop.