Eskdale in the western Lake District is tucked out of the way in a remote region defined by its winding rivers, tall mountains and tranquil valley.
A popular location for walking, it’s one of the few regions of the Lake District with no lakes to its name. But don’t dismiss it because of that: the amazing valley is lush with forests, fields, rivers, tarns and waterfalls!
These walks around Eskdale will help you discover all the wonderful sights and attractions of the valley. And, with five pubs, you have plenty of options for post-walk refreshments too.
Stanley Force waterfall walk
Eskdale’s best waterfall walk
Distance: 1.5 miles / 2.5km
One of the must-do activities in Eskdale is this waterfall walk to mighty Stanley Ghyll. It’s perfect if you want to stay low down in the valley while still enjoying the unique charms of the region.
Park up at St Catherine's Church (or wander over from the nearby Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway), from where you’ll cross the River Esk via a series of large stepping stones. Turn right to follow the river trail through Stanley Ghyll Woods, a beautiful mixed woodland that feels like a tropical rainforest.
Criss-cross the river over a series of wooden bridges before you reach the foot of the waterfall. Take care on the path as you get closer to the main falls, as it can be slippery when wet. But your care will be well rewarded once you come to admire the 60-foot drop!
Take lots of photos before continuing upstream to a wonderful walkway at the top of the falls. This is the viewpoint from which our Victorian ancestors used to admire Stanley Ghyll.
Retrace your footsteps to return to St Catherine's Church at the start.
Best for escaping modern life
Distance: 9 miles / 14.5km
This walk from Boot - a charming hamlet in Eskdale - takes you into the remote wilderness of the mountains, so make sure you’re well prepared! Follow the road through the village until it reaches the fells and forks right just beyond Eskdale Mill.
The path gradually climbs upwards, following Whillan Beck until you reach Burnmoor Tarn. The starkness of your surroundings is striking, and the only indication of human habitation is a mysterious building on one side of the tarn. This is actually an old hunting lodge that is now a private bunkhouse.
After enjoying some sandwiches, follow the path left, keeping Burnmoor Tarn on your right. You’ll gradually drop into the narrow valley of Miterdale and along the river until you reach a fork in the track. Go left, then left again down Smithybrow Lane and to the wonderfully named Giggle Alley in Eskdale Green. You’re now on the main Eskdale road and can follow it all the way back to Boot, or hop on a miniature steam train to complete your journey.
Ravenglass to Eskdale walk via Muncaster Fell
Explore the best of Eskdale and Ravenglass
Distance: 5 miles / 8km
The walk from Ravenglass to Eskdale is a brilliant one that takes in natural wonders and iconic historic buildings. Use the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway to close the loop on this linear walk.
Start at the old Roman bath house in Ravenglass. From here, the footpath winds into the grounds of Muncaster Castle, which covers 77 acres and includes spectacular gardens. If you’re just passing through on this footpath, there’s no entrance fee to pay. Cross the road from the main gates, through the car park and onto the lane that zig zags and takes you past Muncaster Tarn onto the open stretch of Muncaster Fell.
The views up here are truly spectacular: look out for the ‘pepperpot’ tower across the valley, Ross’s Camp stone table and the sea to the west. Finish your journey on a downward slope into the village of Eskdale Green. There’s a train station here, so you can catch a miniature steam engine back to your starting point.
Best for varied landscapes
Distance: 7 miles / 12.5km
Devoke Water is an ethereal spot where you can easily imagine ghouls and goblins wandering the hills. It makes for an excellent hike if you love to get away from all traces of modernity. There’s a single ruined boathouse on its shores, but otherwise, it’s only natural landscape that stretches as far as the eye can see.
Make a start from Dalegarth Station in Boot (where you’ll find pay-and-display parking). Walking right along the road, you’ll find a left turn that eventually becomes a lane, skirts south through Low Wood and roughly follows Stanley Ghyll out onto a rough track. This is a very simple path to follow upwards until you get to the Birker Fell road, where you’ll cross and continue onwards towards Devoke Water.
Enjoy a loop of the tarn before heading back the way you came. It’s likely to be muddy up here, so be sure to bring your wellies and waterproofs.
Hardknott Roman Fort
Best for history buffs
Distance: 1.5 miles / 2.5km
Hardknott Pass is one of the most famous Lake District mountain passes: known for its hairpin bends and alarmingly steep ascent. Fortunately, you don’t have to drive over the pass for this hike, which starts at the car park at the bottom of the road, by Jubilee Bridge.
A footpath follows the river briefly before veering right, past some farm buildings and then right again. The path to Hardknott Fort is steep but reasonably short and the remains make for an impressive sight. Now managed by English Heritage, the 2nd-century fort is in a dramatic position and is significant for the clarity of its remains.
Best for a challenge with incredible views
Distance: 3.5 miles / 6km
Between two notorious mountain passes (Hardknott and Wrynose), Harter Fell is a reasonably short but rather challenging hike. The path is not always obvious, is boggy in places, and the way up is steep. However, from the top, you’ll be treated to spectacular views across the pretty valleys of Eskdale and Duddon. So pop on your waterproof boots and give it a go!
Park by Jubilee Bridge at the bottom of Hardknott Pass and head south-west along the base of Birker Fell. Ford the river at Dodknott Gill (take care - this may not be safe after heavy rain). You’ll eventually reach Spothow Gill and follow this for a short while before ascending the somewhat rocky side of Harter Fell.
The way back down is slightly gentler (though still steep) and follows a path south-west from the summit. You’ll rejoin the original path shortly before the ford, and continue back to the car park.
Walks in Eskdale
The valley has plenty of options for keen hikers, and you can wander around winding trails for your whole visit, discovering something new and wonderful around every corner. For the best base for your walking holiday in Eskdale, browse our wonderful holiday cottages.
Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing,
please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.