One of the best things about the Lakes is that its a landscape for all seasons, just as beautiful and magical in the depths of winter as it is at high summer. Although summer might be coming to an end and autumn is just a sniff of damp leaves away, the best place to be in the Lakes is still outdoors.
This walk, pictured here on a dull but atmospheric summer’s day, has great autumnal potential and also benefits from beginning and ending in Hawkshead village, which boasts an abundance of cosy pubs and teashops, perfect for warming your fingers around a cup of hot chocolate (or something stronger) at the end of a brisk walk in the colder months.
This walk takes a route out of the village through the church yard and past the school which was attended by William Wordsworth in his boyhood years and there is a small exhibition relating to his time there within the building. The path then follows a route through the fields to the small collection of houses at Roger Ground, then meets the road and continues uphill towards Grizedale forest, where you can look back over views of rolling countryside and distant fells.
About a mile at the road the route turns left onto a footpath towards High Barn and Esthwaite Water and cuts across boggy ground with the forest to the left. In the long grasses to either side of the path can be seen the flattened patches where deer have made their beds.
Wooden walkways take you off to the right over the boggy ground and towards the edge of the forest, signposted towards The Fox. Passing through a tall deer gate, the forest proper begins.
After cutting through the trees, the path meets wide dirt tracks which take you towards ‘The Fox’, one of the many sculptures which can be spotted in Grizedale forest.
Down the track from the fox a number of tiny hidden pools lie off to the right, nestled in the greenery, fresh after a recent rainfall.
The track leads you eventually to the Grizedale visitors centre. Its worth lingering here for a while to explore all there is on offer. Visit the website here to see what’s on during your visit.
Beyond the visitor’s centre, the red, green and yellow path markers take you back uphill and further on the red and green markers take you onto a public bridleway and join a wide dirt path which takes you across Grizedale Moor and eventually onto the public bridleway, joined near a small tarn with another Grizedale sculpture – The Pinnacles – which stick up out of the water.
The track soon joins the cycle path which takes you onto Hawkshead Moor. As you begin to descend, Hawkshead village comes into view below, and Lake Windemere can be seen beyond in the distance.
The bridle path joins a narrow tarmac lane which takes you back into the village for a well earned cake!
A variation of this walk can be found in the book Good Walk, Good Pub – South Lakes by Meg Brady, a really fantastic book to own if you like to take a more leisurely attitude towards exploring the Lakes.