Starting Point: Glenridding, Howtown or Pooley Bridge ‘Steamer’ Piers
Parking: At Glenridding Pier, in Glenridding village or in Pooley Bridge village. Poor parking facilities at Howtown
Distance: 7 miles / 11 km
‘Steamer’ Options: Walk to Howtown and catch the ‘Steamer’ back to Glenridding OR cruise from Pooley Bridge to Glenridding, walk to Howtown then catch boat back to Pooley Bridge
Difficulty: Moderate – Easy
Terrain: Undulating path with up and down hill stretches and some slightly rocky parts
Duration: 3 to 4 hours average, depends on your pace and whether or not you stop for a picnic! Footwear: Boots/sturdy shoes
Clothing: Waterproofs during wet weather
Toilets/Refreshments: Glenridding or Pooley Bridge Pier Houses or villages, on the ‘Steamers’ or in the Howtown Hotel Public Bar & Beer Garden (open March to October). Also the Lowther Barn Tea room, halfway from Glenridding to Howtown. Always check the weather forecast and boat times before your walk. Take plenty of water, especially on hot days!
1. Walk to the Glenridding Pier car park entrance and through the gate on the left, signposted Patterdale and Howtown Walk. Follow the lakeshore path until you reach the gate to the road. From here EITHER turn left and walk along the road OR cross straight over and take the off-road path towards Patterdale. After ½ a mile or so you’ll reach St Patrick’s Church and the road bears right. (If you need any supplies for your walk this is your last chance to continue along into Patterdale to get them.) After this bend you should cross over and take a left turn signposted to Side Farm (just before the George Starkey Hut). Follow the farm track all the way to Side Farm itself, walk through the farmyard and turn left. The wide wooden gate takes you on to the lakeshore path.
2. You can stay on this path for quite a distance, initially with a dry stonewall on your left before the path rises at Silver Point and then descends around Silver Bay. There are some great picnic spots around here – both at the point and, if you carefully divert from the path down to the lakeshore, on the beach at Silver Bay. Looking back from the higher stretches of path, you get great views across towards Helvellyn and also down towards the lake’s 4 islands and Silver Bay. Although it undulates reasonably gently, there is a steep side to the following section of path, so be careful. There are also good views over to Gowbarrow Fell, which is very imposing on the opposite side of the lake. You could also look out for Lyulph’s Tower, a Sixteenth Century castellated building nestled towards the bottom of the fell.
3. The path continues to have short stretches of uphill and downhill as it follows the lakeshore directly along towards Howtown. As you walk down and around Long Crag, you’ll cross a small wooden bridge and pass an old barn – remember to look out for Scalehow Force waterfall up to your right, this marks a geological fault line between soft and hard rock that runs across the lake and through Aira Force – a larger waterfall which is hidden behind the left side of Gowbarrow Fell. Follow the path, great views of Hallin Fell and Martindale stretching out in front of you. With a dry stonewall on your left the path takes you to the small village of Sandwick. When you reach the tarmac road turn left and walk down the slope. If you need refreshment visit the Lowther Barn Tearoom.
4. From here, bear right and follow the sign set into the wall Footpath to Howtown. Go through the gate, across the bridge and take the path to the left marked Footpath After 30 metres follow signpost Public Footpath up to the right. Skirt the wall (notice the great views across the lake) and pass through several gates, always keeping the lake on your left and following the signs for Howtown. The path gets a bit rocky as you pass through Hallinhag Wood (look out for Red Squirrels here!) but you’ll soon reach easier ground after approx. 1km as the path rises up and around into Howtown bay. You’ll pass a bench on your right and there are stunning views up the lake towards Pooley Bridge from this area – Dunmallard Hill at the tip of the lake, the Pennines in the distance and the Sharrow Bay Hotel prominent on the right-hand lakeshore about a mile away. Follow the path all the way until you reach a swing gate on your left taking you down some steps to another gate and out onto a tarmac road***.
5. ***OPTION: If you are early for the ‘Steamer’ then bear right along the road here and head up to the Howtown Hotel Public Bar for a drink or snack. The hotel is just a few hundred metres from the pier. Open March to October
6. In about 30 metres you will reach a swing gate accessing the short stretch of lakeshore path that leads up to Howtown ‘Steamer’ Pier. Cross the wooden bridge, turn left and you are on the pier. There is a ‘Steamer’ timetable in the pier hut.