Lorton Vale: Loweswater – Mosedale – Crummock Water round
Cumbria is a large county in North West England and contains the Lake District and Lake District National Park. It is bounded to the north by the Scottish Borders, Dumfries and Galloway, to the west by the Irish Sea, to the south by Lancashire, to the south east by North Yorkshire, and to the east by County Durham and Northumberland. Cumbria is very mountainous containing every peak in England over 3,000ft above sea level with Scafell Pike being England’s highest mountain at 978 m (3,209ft). Cumbria is also one of England’s most outstanding areas of natural beauty attracting mountain climbers, hikers and walkers, cyclists, runners and tourists and holds a source of inspiration for artists, writers and musicians. Cumbria consists of six districts Eden, Carlisle, Allerdale, Copeland, South Lakeland and Barrow-in-Furness.
The Lake District is an area with stunning scenery located within in the County of Cumbria. Commonly known as The Lakes or Lakeland it was granted National Park status on 9th May 1951 less than a month after the first UK designated National Park, The Peak District. It is the largest of thirteen National Parks in England and Wales and the largest in the UK after the Cairngorms. The Lake District National Park itself covers an area of 885 square miles and stretches 30 miles from Ravenglass in the west to Shap in the east and 35 miles from Caldbeck in the north to Lindale in the south. Crammed with so much natural beauty the Lakes attract visitors, tourists and holiday makers from all over the world. As the name suggests there are many lakes each with their own uniqueness, amenities and activities such as lakeside walks, sailing, waterskiing, boat trips and ferries. All of the lakes except Bassenthwaite Lake are named by water, tarn or mere and are surrounded by stunning scenery and magnificent fells. There are some wonderful towns to explore such as Keswick, Windermere, Ambleside, Kendal, Hawkshead, Grasmere and Cockermouth all with a splendid mixture of shops, cafes, pubs, bars and restaurants. There are also many museums, theatres, historic homes, gardens and many easy walks for the not so energetic visitor wishing not to climb the fells. William Wordsworth the famous British poet was born in Cockermouth and later lived in Grasmere where he wrote some of his best works before moving to Rydal Mount near Ambleside for his last 37 years. Both places are open to visitors and so is Brantwood home to John Ruskin until his death. Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Robert Southey and Thomas de Quincey all followed Wordsworth to the Lake District. Arthur Ransome, author of Swallows and Amazons, also grew to love the lakes and settled in the Winster Valley near Windermere. The painters Thomas Gainsborough, JMW Turner and John Constable were early visitors to the lakes but it was John Ruskin who settled here at Brantwood on the shore of Coniston Water. Farming and especially sheep farming has been historically and still is the main industry of the Lake District. The tough Herdwick breed with their stocky build and distinctive grey coat are especially hardy for the Lakeland fells and its weather. Sheep farming has probably been here since Viking times and is an important factor both to the economy of the lakes as well as in preserving the stunning landscape which attracts visitors and hence income to the region. Walking is a big attraction in the Lake District whether strolling around the low lying lakes or climbing up into the mountainous fells whichever is undertaken the scenery is magnificent. Alfred Wainwright’s famous hand written book, The Pictorial Guide to the Lake District, published in 1955 is a collection of seven books each illustrated with his unique style and charm of the 214 fells inspiring many visitors and tourists from all over the world.
Loweswater is a tiny village situated in the picturesque and tranquil Lorton Vale within the Lake District National Park. It houses the Church of St. Bartholomew built in 1827 and restored in 1884, and a pub the Kirkstile Inn. The village also lies at the foot of Loweswater Lake which is one of the Lake Districts smaller lakes, and is about 8 miles below the town of Cockermouth. To the south the lake and village are overlooked by the Loweswater Fells consisting of Mellbreak, Gavel Fell, Blake Fell, Hen Comb and Burnbank Fell and to the north-west by Fellbarrow and Loweswater Fell (Low Fell). Lorton Vale is a wide valley running from Cockermouth in the north to Crummock Water and Buttermere in the south. The vale is a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and unwind in its beautiful scenery with many activities such as sailing, canoeing, fishing and along with lakeside walks there are many footpaths to enjoy.
Crummock Water, situated between the lakes of Loweswater and Buttermere, is owned by the National Trust. It is about 2½ miles long by ¾ of a mile wide and 140 feet deep, has six small islands and is dominated by the hill of Mellbreak which runs the full length of the lake on its western side. Scale Force the highest waterfall in the Lake District with a drop of 170 feet feeds Crummock Water and the River Cocker flows northwards from the lake into the Lorton Vale. There is a lakeside footpath around Crummock Water and also around Buttermere which can be combined as one walk. Buttermere the lake from which Buttermere village takes its name is about 1¼ miles long by about ¼ of a mile wide and 75 feet deep. It lies at the head of the valley of the River Cocker and Buttermere village is situated between the two lakes.
Mellbreak is surrounded on three sides by a moat of deep marshy land and to the east it slopes steeply down to the shore of Crummock Water. Although it stands on its own it is surrounded by the more dominant hills of the Loweswater Fells, the High Stile Ridge and the Grasmoor Group. Mellbreak has two summits of 509 metres to the north and 512 metres to the south and dips in the middle to 447 metres. Both summits have cairns the northern top being rocky and situated on top of the crags that make up the very steep almost vertical north face the southern top slopes steeply but more gently down to Scale Beck. Mellbreak’s isolation offers superb views from both summits. The north top looks out to the Solway Firth, Loweswater Fell and Fellbarrow, the south top across Crummock Water to Rannerdale Knotts and Grasmoor and beyond on a clear day a glimpse of the Helvellyn Range, southwards to Red Pike, High Stile, Hay Stacks and Fleetwith Pike. Mosedale is a very pretty but marshy valley below Mellbreak’s western side. Its beck flows north to Loweswater village and on the other side of the valley is the parallel ridge of Hen Comb.
From the telephone box we walk down the little road signposted Kirkstile Inn. At the inn we turn left and immediate right signposted no-through road to cross over the bridge. We pass to the left of a farm and the lane soon becomes a stony track. When we come to a gate we go through and turn right following the wall on our right. We follow the track with Mosedale Beck down below on our right for about a mile to a cairn. We then bear left at the cairn slightly uphill following the path. We pass an iron isolated gate and keep heading forwards towards Red Pike in the distance. When the path splits we keep heading forwards downhill over the marshy land, there are a few faint paths, towards the beck at the bottom. When we reach the fence we go over the stile and head forwards downhill to a track with a gate on the right, we turn left here. We soon pick up the side of Scale Beck and follow the path with the beck on our right. We pass two footbridges and then bear left and head to the shore of Crummock Water. We now keep following the path at the side of the lake for just over a mile. We then take a path on the left going uphill to a wall corner. At the corner we head forwards following the path with the wall on our right. The path bears right between some buildings and we follow the track to the small road. We bear right over the bridge then left at the T-junction to the Kirkstile Inn and then turn right back to the telephone box and our car.
This is an easy walk on good tracks and paths although there is one boggy patch at the end of Mosedale.
Elevation: Approx lowest point 98.60m (323.49ft) approx highest point 291.60m (956.69ft)
Distance and Start Point
Approx 6 miles allow 2½ to 3 hours using OS Explorer Map OL4, The English Lakes North Western area.
Start Point: telephone box on the top road that bypasses Loweswater village.
Loweswater village, Lorton Vale in the Lake District, Cumbria.
Directions and Parking
From the A66 turn off at Braithwaite onto the B5292 and follow the road along the Whinlatter Pass. At the main t-junction turn left onto the B5289. Follow this road, passing through Low Lorton for just over 2½ miles and take the right turn for Loweswater. Continue for about 1½ mile to the parking area at the telephone box on the left.
Parking: car parking areas next to the telephone box on the top road that bypasses Loweswater village and just over bridge past the kirkstile Inn in Loweswater. There is also a car park at Lanthwaite Wood and at nearby Maggie’s Bridge near Loweswater lake, allow extra mileage and time from these car parks.
Toilets and Refreshments
There are no public toilets the nearest ones are at Buttermere in the car park. For refreshments there is a pub the Kirkstile Inn in Loweswater village and at Buttermere there are two cafes selling local produce and two pubs The Bridge Hotel and The Fish Inn. The next nearest public toilets, shops, cafes, take-away, pubs and restaurants are in Keswick and Cockermouth.