Local Area and Things to Do
The immediate surroundings of the valley of Eskdale, with its green fields and woodlands, is predominantly flat with a mixture of open fields, woods and pathways offer a multitude of walks for families with youngsters and those preferring a leisurely stroll.
Eskdale and the Lake District
Eskdale in the Lake District is one of it's loveliest valleys, remaining quiet and unspoiled, almost secretive. It offers a tremendous variety of landscapes, from the waterfalls, tarns, slopes and moors of mid-Eskdale, to the beaches and sand-dunes Ravenglass. The area is packed full of activities and things to see, from Eskdale to the surrounding areas of the Lake District, providing a vast choice activities to suit all ages and fitness levels:
From the King George
There are many routes right from the front door step, along lanes, by streams and rivers, through woods or over the nearby hills (just ask Jonnty). One of the best riverside walks in the area is from the King George up to Doctor Bridge. Also from the King George you can reach the village of Boot, St Catherines Church and Stanley Ghyll Force by following the River Esk upstream.
The newly opened Eskdale bicycle trail makes the valley easy to explore on bike, and the steam railway, La'al Ratty which winds its way seven miles up the valley, has bike carriers so you can plan a circular trip in the saddle (note: must be pre-booked).
The surrounding Eskdale Valley
The Eskdale Valley is a beautiful and tranquil base for exploring the western side of The Lake District. It's location ensures there is far less traffic than most areas of The Lake District, particularly the main tourist areas. The valley starts at Hardknott Pass (the steepest pass in England) and runs down to the coast at Ravenglass.
For those looking to spend some time here the valley provides a range of accommodation options from bed and breakfast to self catering and camping. The King George can provide the first two options and there is a large campsite approximately 300m away.
Once here there are a number of attractions that can be reached within the valley without using the car. Indeed many visitors say they only get back in the car when they are leaving.
St Catherine's Church
This very ancient church, dating back to the 12th century, is less than an hour's walk from the King George. It sits beside the River Esk under the mountains where the Christian God has been worshipped by generations of valley people and their visitors. See the the Holy Well and the Stepping Stones crossing the river and the stained glass windows. The setting is magnificent, with a backdrop of Scafell Pike.
The village of Boot and the Eskdale Corn Mill
Boot is a small hamlet, about 50 minutes walk away, with a traditional working flour mill, Eskdale Mill , one of the oldest water powered corn mills in England, and now the last remaining working mill in the lake District
The Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway terminates here at Dalegarth station with it's Dalegarth Visitor Centre which holds a large tea-shop, gift shop, children's play area, large car park, and the train turntable.
The Eskdale Trail
The Eskdale Trail is a 14km route from Dalegarth Visitor Centre (just outside the village of Boot) to Ravenglass via Muncaster Fell and Castle. It can be walked or cycled and cycles can be hired by the day or half day at Dalegarth. If you wish to visit Muncaster Castle then please note there is an entrance fee. There is a return route through the woods which line the Ravenglass & Eskdale railway or you can simply take the train (24hrs notice required for cycles).
Dalegarth Visitor Centre has other suggested cycling routes but other options would be by road to Santon Bridge, taking a right just before the bridge towards Wast Water and 'Britains Best View'. Or take a left at the T junction at The King George and head towards Ulpha Fell and Devoke Water. And for the budding Tour De France riders why not try an ascent of Hardknott Pass, stopping off at Hardknott Roman Fort if the going gets a bit too much.
Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway
See some fantastic Lake District scenery by Miniature stream train. This narrow gauge railway, known as La'al Ratty, runs from Dalegarth Visitor Centre, just outside Boot, to the seaside village of Ravenglass. Kids of all ages will love a ride on this train. As Ravenglass is also a main line station it is actually easier for visitors by train to reach Eskdale than many places in The Lake District.
The railway has a number of stops along the way, including Fisherground campsite and the village of Eskdale Green before entering the woods at the foot of Muncaster Fell. It then follows the Esk tidal estuary before reaching Ravenglass.
Ravenglass offers coastal walks, a Roman bath house boasting the tallest Roman remains in Britain and a woodland walk to Muncaster Castle.
Cyclists please note that it is not possible to board the train with your bike unless you have pre-booked.
Visit ‘Ravenglass Railway’ website - www.ravenglass-railway.co.uk
Stanley Ghyll Force
Stanley Ghyll Force is a 60ft waterfall situated in a narrow ravine on the southern side of the Eskdale valley. The waterfall can be reached from the King George by foot in about 1 hour via the woodland walk that follows the River Esk upstream. Alternatively you can park at Dalegarth Visitor Centre and walk from there.
The walk through the ravine provides spectacular scenery as you criss-cross the stream using a number of wooden bridges, all the while the sides of the ravine becoming higher and higher. Stanley Ghyll Force sits at the very top of the track but you will pass a number of smaller waterfalls on the way.
For those wanting a view from the top you can take the track that doubles back from the main track just before one of the bridges. This takes you up to a small rock plateau with vertical drops to the ravine floor. This plateau is dangerous and not suitable for children.
Bridge jumps into the River Esk
The eskdale area abounds with natural pools and tarns for plunges or dips during the summer months, with Trough House and Forge bridges for jumping off into the deep river pools.
The river esk runs through the valley to the estuary at Ravenglass, this is a popular canoe journey, providing a perfect environment to learn. The journey begins in a mountain environment and descends a number of small easily navigable safe weirs; it then evolves into a tidal river as it meanders towards the Ravenglass Estuary, and ending with the outgoing tide for a couple of miles into Ravenglass.
For more information visit West Lakes Adventure website at www.westlakesadventure.co.uk
Eskdale Golf Course
Less than 15 minutes by car heading south-west towards Ravenglass is Eskdale's very own 18 Hole Par 69 parkland course that reaches 5,494 yards in length.
Visit website: www.eskdalegolf.co.uk
Hiking and Mountain Climbing in Eskdale
For a good easy stroll and low in altitude are Mancaster Fell, Eskdale Fell (Great How) and Irton Pike. Hard Knott and Border End provide some relaxing walks too.
On the south side of Eskdale Harter Fell rises up prominently providing some excellent views of the fells to the north and east and the sea to the west. It is well worth the climb.
Scafell Pike - England's highest mountain
Serious hikers can set off across Sca Fell to climb Scafell Pike. (less than three hours walk)
Wastwater - England's deepest lake
Less than three hours walk away is the awe-inspiring Wastwater. 3 miles long, half a mile wide and 260 feet deep, surrounded by mountains, Red Pike, Kirk Fell, Great Gable and Scafell Pike.
For more suggestions of where to walk visit Where2Walk
Hardknott Roman Fort, Hardknott Pass, Eskdale
Hardknott Roman fort was built in the 2nd century AD and is situated part way up Hardknott Pass on the Eskdale side. It can be reached from a small car parking area on the road running up the pass.
The fort is one of the best preserved Roman remains in the Lake District providing an insight to the layout of Roman forts of the time. Hardknott fort will have had bath-houses, granaries, commanders quarters and been 'home' to around 500 cavalry protecting the route from Ambleside to Ravenglass.
This is an ideal stop off if you are venturing over Hardknott and Wrynose Passes to spend the day in some of the better know Lakeland towns such as Hawkshead, Ambleside and Windermere which are a short drive from the other side of the passes.
Muncaster Castle sits on the main A595 coast road and can be reached by car (in less than 15 minutes), train, bike or even on foot (in 1 hour 30 minutes) from Eskdale. The castle is said to sit on Roman foundations dating as far back as 79AD and is still lived in by the same family that took possession around 1208.
The castle has extensive gardens and woodland walks containing many rare plants and trees and one of the largest collections of rhododendrons in Europe. Next to the castle is the World Owl Centre containing around 40 species of owl. Visitors have a chance to 'meet' the owls up close on the castle lawns at 2.30pm each day and perhaps see them flying. You can also watch feeding of the wild herons at 4.30pm.
The castle has a cafe and gift shop and can easily fill a day out.
Visit ‘Muncaster Castle and Gardens’ website - www.muncaster.co.uk
St Bees beach
Less than an hour away by car is the lovely beach of St Bees, with views toward the Isle of Man from St Bees Head.
Horse riding and pony trekking
A gentle trek over fells and tracks, beach rides on the Irish Sea coast, or mountaineering on horse-back, the Lake District area has many Equestrian Centres to choose from. The nearest ones to us are:
Cumbrian Heavy Horses, Whicham Valley (30 mins by car via the A595) - www.cumbrianheavyhorses.com
Bradley's Riding Centre, Kinniside (30 mins by car via the A595) - www.walk-rest-ride.co.uk
Other Local Activities:
We are more than happy to recommend a day-out or discuss some of the Lake District's attractions and sights.
Things to do in Eskdale, see www.sallyscottages.co.uk