Winster Valley

A walk which starts along the valley bottom, but later climbs the fell to give good views. The full walk will take about 4 hours (9 miles) but there are several shorter options.

Each returns by way of the Mason's Arms where the local speciality of damson beer may be tasted.

Park on the verge near the telephone kiosk at Bowland Bridge. (Grid ref. 418896). Go past the shop (your only chance to buy sweets etc on this walk) and over the bridge.

[This bridge had to he rebuilt recently and the local authority proposed to flatten the hump, but local protest won the day on the grounds that it was a valuable traffic calming feature as well as an attractive part of the local scene.]

Take the footpath signed Hollins Farm and head across the field looking for a yellow arrow on a post. In the wood, bear left and uphill to a kissing gate. Cross the next field, keeping well to the left of the electricity pole. Another arrow on a post directs you to a stile with a wicket gate in front. In the next field keep the wood to your left and look for a stile next to the gate; follow the line of the hedge and where it changes to a wall, follow the white arrows up the steps and through a wicket gate onto a short tarmac path. Another wicket gate leads to the Hollins drive - turn right and look for the cheese press just past the house.

A bridleway passing through a gate between the farm buildings now takes you towards Hartbarrow. Follow the track through a gate and over a tiny beck. Keeping the wall to your left, continue to another gate and a larger beck, bear slightly left to the next gate across the field and follow the farm track to a gate into a minor road just below the farm.

(For a quick return to base, turn left here and up the steep hill. Follow the road back to Bowland Bridge, keeping left at all road junctions. Total walk time 1 hour approx.)



[Great Hartbarrow is a very old farm. The date on the present building is 1684, but parts of the house are older and the first mention of "Hertbergh" is in 1332. In medieval times it had its own water powered "fulling" mill where woollen cloth was washed and beaten in water to thicken and felt it.]

To continue, turn right, and after a few minutes take the bridlepath on the left signed to Wood Farm. After a short section of woodland continue along the valley across three fields, heading towards the farm buildings. Bear right when you reach the green lane and go round the end of the barn. Turn right down the track and left at the minor road. Continue to the ford and cross by the footbridge.

[The ford gives opportunities for water play and the spectator sport of watching adventurous drivers taking the risk of going through the water.]

(For a 2 hour walk, bear left up the road and return to Bowland Bridge following the signs at first to Cartmel Fell).

To continue, adding another ¾ hour, take the footpath on the right. Continue through the kissing gate and follow the track across one field and through a gateway. Where the track begins to rise, turn off right and cross the field parallel to the river. There is a lime kiln in the bank to your left. You will see stiles in the next two broken down walls. After crossing a small beck bear slightly left and head uphill to a gate in the corner.

[In spring the hillside here is covered in wild daffodils].

Follow the path and turn left where it joins a tarmac drive at Winster House - the large square Georgian style building on the left. Follow the tarmac drive to the left round the end of the renovated barn. (Ignore a footpath to the right). Continue straight uphill, through a gate and past a row of beech and walnut trees. Through the gate at the top of the hill, turn left on a track and find a vantage point to admire the views of the fells. Continue on the track which leads down to a cattle grid and then changes to an unfenced tarmac road which passes a small tarn - Podnet Moss.

[Quite recently, Podnet Moss contained a sizeable population of medicinal leeches - which may discourage you from taking a dip!]

Continue through a deer proof gate and on to another cattle grid, turn left at the road and follow it to the cross-roads. Bear left and follow the sign to Cartmel Fell.

[The next house on the left was the home of the author, Arthur Ransome, from 1925-35 and several of his children's books were written here, including "Swallows & Amazons".]

Continue for 5 minutes to a big U bend in the road.

Now you have another choice - either return to Bowland Bridge directly by staying on this road or take the footpath on the right signed Birks Rd which will add about 1½ hours to your walk, but gives some wonderful views.

Taking the footpath? Follow the track for about 100 yards past the second gate and look for a yellow arrow on a post directing you to the right across the middle of the field. Look for a gate and stile to the left and then head uphill towards farm buildings at Low Moor How. After two small gates follow the yellow arrows over a lawn using the stepping stones provided and then follow the signs round the outside of the garden of High Moor How.

Cross the field, heading for a gateway and ignoring a footpath to the right, then aim for ladder stile in the distance. After the stile, follow the track, pausing to admire the views of Windermere. The path continues, with occasional yellow arrows where the route is not obvious, for over 5 minutes, then passes into woodland over a wooden stile. Meandering downhill through the wood, the path can be picked out quite easily until a T junction is reached. (8 minutes). Turn left here at the sign for Cartmel Fell and start climbing up. You will eventually be rewarded with panoramic views of the eastern and northern fells as the path levels and bears right and the trees thin out. Occasional yellow arrows on posts confirm that you are still on the right path as you head in a southerly direction and then start to drop down again, crossing two small becks in a wooded ravine and then over a wooden stile. The next section is marshy even in a dry summer but you will soon be on firm ground and approaching a high deer fence with a tall stile. Look for a huge spreading chestnut tree with branches resting on the ground. Turn sharp left at the yellow arrow and pass in front of a ruined building once named Birch Fell Cottage.

[Did a child living here plant a precious conker and nurture it as it grew into that huge tree?]

Over a stone stile, bear slightly left and cross the field to the wall on the left. Follow the wall and as you descend the other side of the hill you will see a gate near the buildings of Lightwood so veer right towards it and emerge onto the road. Turn right and immediately left to follow the road downhill to Bowland Bridge for a cup of tea at the shop or something stronger at the Hare & Hounds.

If you missed out the section which included Podnet Moss, it is worth coming back to do this another day. Park at the ford and follow the instructions above but at the cross roads, instead of following road signs to Cartmel Fell, take the left turn signed "Ford".