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The Langdale Valley

Thousands of acres of views and sheep grazing on farmland in the fells. Langdale Valley is everything The Lake District as it should be. It’s one of our guest relations manager’s favourite places to visit in The Lakes.

Words by Jess, our guest relations manager.

Langdale Valley with jess

The Langdale Valley is without a doubt my favourite place to spend a day.

This could be in part due to dear old nostalgia, after spending a glorious summer living just underneath those two famous pikes (see the two mounds between those dirty boots!) or perhaps it is because of the truly enchanting aura that this place beholds.

Either way, I can recommend a day in The Langdale Valley to anyone of any age and of any ability.

Today, we had a particularly lazy afternoon ‘exploring’ the well trodden path from Elterwater to Skelwith Bridge, finishing up with a drive to the bottom of a valley for a beer stop at The New Dungeon Ghyll before an epic walk around Cathedral Cave.

Langdale Valley with jess
Langdale Valley with jess
Langdale Valley with jess
Langdale Valley with jess

The drive to Langdale Valley is easiest from The Lake via Kirkstone Pass (give yourself around 50 minutes to get here), although be cautious if you are in a large vehicle as this is an unforgiving road winding high up through a rugged valley. The views are stunning, especially as you teeter on the summit where Lake Windermere will unveil itself to you for the first time. It’s one of those views that will take your breath away, rain or shine.

You pass through the bustling town of Ambleside and follow the road through lush woodland, roughly following the River Brathay until you reach the gateway to the valley – what a sight it is.

Pull up in the lay-by by the cattle grid and just take it in. The Langdale Pikes sit defiantly in the distance, brooding over the quaint villages of Chapel Stile and Elterwater. Fearless Herdwick sheep saunter across the road. Cars? They don’t care. You’re in their territory now.

The best thing about this place is that there are so many things to see and do. Park up in Elterwater (NY 327 047) and take a stroll along the River Brathay to Skelwith Bridge, where you can stop at Chester’s by the River for some of their first class veggie food and heavenly cakes. It’s around 3 miles there and back and is perfect for all ages and abilities. Kids will love the bridge over the river as well as Skelwith Force, an impressive small waterfall that makes for a perfect photo opportunity. If you’re looking for something a little more challenging then old favourite, Lingmoor Fell, may be a good walk for you. This is just over 2 miles walking well marked footpaths with gorgeous views over the valley as your reward when you reach the summit.

Langdale Valley with jess

If you love to drive then the road through the valley is not only beautiful but can be completely exhilarating. Head to Great Langdale passing The New Dungeon Ghyll (pictured) and Blea Tarn further on, coming back via Little Langdale where you can stop at Cathedral Cave for an action-packed walk round a disused quarry. Blea Tarn also makes a nice stop (parking at NY 295043) and a longer circular walk of around 3 miles can be done which also incorporates Side Pike, passing through the exciting ‘squeeze’ on the way.

A great walk to do from the New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel (NY 295064) is the Stickle Tarn Trail (Stickle Ghyll pictured). This is a short but somewhat challenging walk due to steep inclines along the way. The footpath is well marked however and your efforts are truly rewarded upon reaching Stickle Tarn, which is a beautiful place for a picnic on a sunny day. The trail is around 2 miles there are back.

A slightly longer and even more thrilling walk incorporating Stickle Tarn is Harrison Stickle coming back via the Stickle Tarn Trail. This is around 3 miles (3.5hrs) and is certainly not one for the faint hearted due to the level of exposure when passing the deep ravines of Dungeon Ghyll. The route starts at the NDG and climbs up to Pike Howe by Dungeon Ghyll Force. This path continues up to the summit plateau of The Langdale Pikes where you can experience stunning panoramic views over the Langdale Valley. Come back via Harrison Stickle and take the steep path back down to the south-western side of Stickle Tarn, then following the trail back to the NDG for a well deserved beer and some good food.

Langdale Valley with jess

A lovely way to drive back to The Lake from Langdale is going via the A591, past Grasmere and Thirlmere. From here you can either continue on to Keswick, maybe stopping for some food (Fellpack is a must for food-lovers) or a show at Theatre by the Lake. The alternative, quick route is to take the B5322 to St. John’s in the Vale, joining the A66 to Penrith.

About Jess

Jess was born in Penrith and lived in the area until leaving for New Zealand, where she stayed for a year and a half. Since returning, Jess has developed a fascination with The Lakes and loves to explore quirky places off the beaten track, getting to know the place that she’s from.

Now living in Penrith with two friends, as well as her two rabbits – Chickpea and Oreo. When she’s not working at Another Place, Jess can be found cycling/walking around the Lakes and enjoys anything to do with Naturopathy and natural health/food as well as a strange love of Cumbrian dialect and Cumbrian folklore.

Book now to explore Ullswater and stay at Another Place, The Lake.