Recommendations: Five Superb Spring Walks in Cumbria

20/02/17

By Beth Pipe



So long as you’re well prepared – and I mean prepared for anything – any time is a great time for a walk in Cumbria; we’ve enjoyed a baking hot picnic in T-shirts and shorts on top of Yewbarrow in early March, followed by snow on the top of Scafell Pike in June. I’m particularly fond of spring because it’s so colourful; with the bluebells and garlic rife in the woods, and the wild garlic leaves make an excellent addition to your packed lunch. Here are five of my favourite spring walks:


Dorothy Farers Spring Woods



A short detour from the Westmorland Way walk will bring you to Staveley, just north of Kendal.  These woods are tucked away a little – just to the east of the village – but they are spectacular in spring. They are managed by the Cumbria Wildlife Trust (CWT) and there’s a signed route around them with plenty of information boards along the way.

The woods are split into two sections and sit on a rather steep slope, but there are waterfalls to enjoy, old charcoal kilns to discover and a lovely detour from the top of the path into Mike’s Wood, where there’s a perfect picnic bench for you to catch your breath and enjoy your lunch.

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As you can see from the photo, in spring the woods are absolutely covered in wild garlic and bluebells, meaning a walk around them may take some time as you continually pause to admire the views.


Rannerdale Bluebells



The Cumberland Way route passes right through Buttermere and, trust me on this, you’re going to want to walk it sometime around early May. Bluebell woods are an iconic part of British woodland walks, but what makes Rannerdale so special is that there are no woodlands – just an immense open hillside swathed in bluebells.

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I’ll be honest, it gets pretty busy when the bluebells are out, especially on a warm, sunny spring day, but get there early – or towards sunset – and you could have the place to yourself. There are several paths leading through the bluebells and I would strongly suggest you stick to them; over recent years people have been forging new paths, perhaps to get a different view, but trampling the bluebells in the process.

In amongst the beautiful bluebells you can usually find a good number of Herdwick lambs. “Herdies” (as they’re usually known) lamb later than other breeds, and the jet black lambs are one of the most adorable sights on the Lakeland Fells.


Arnside



I’ve suggested a walk in Arnside in the past as it’s a great spot for bird watching, but it’s also a great place to visit during the spring to see the tidal bore. It’s not as big or as well-known as the Severn Bore, but it’s definitely worth a look – plus it has the added benefit of a perfectly placed pub to watch it from.

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To see the bore you’ll need to check the tide tables – look for a good spring tide (anything over 9.5m) and head for the prom around 2 hours before high tide (it’s not an exact science). The bore is only around half a metre high, but it stretches right across the estuary and you can watch the tide come in in one big wave.

There are usually canoeists around the viaduct who catch the wave and ride it as it races through the narrow piers, so although the pub is awfully tempting, the end of the pier is the best place to be to see all the action.


Bowness-on-Solway



Bowness-on-Solway marks the end of the Hadrian’s Wall Path and it’s worth spending a day or so exploring the area around the village. During spring the morning light is usually particularly pretty and the views from the shoreline are immense – stretching across the Solway to the Scottish mountains beyond.

There’s a short walk down to Drumburgh Moss, another CWT reserve, which is particularly pretty in the spring. There’s a short, signed route through to a beautiful viewing platform, with spectacular views of the fells away to the south.

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If you like a bit of history, then take a look at the church in the village; it was built from stones robbed from Hadrian’s Wall, which explains why you can’t find much of the actual wall nearby.  There also used to be a mile-long bridge across the Solway to Anan which transported coal, iron ore and passengers through until the early 1900s – the headland where it started is still clearly visible from the village car park.


Eskmeals Dunes



As you make your way to the start of the Coast to Coast Walk at St Bees Head, take a small detour and stop off at Eskmeals Dunes, just before you get to Ravenglass. During the spring they’re a great place for an early splash of colour and a top spot for bird watching – it’s a particularly good place for seeing terns. (NB Do check before you visit as the site is MOD property – it’s usually fine over the weekend but if you arrive during the week and the red flag is flying, DO NOT venture onto the dunes.)

From the top of the dunes you can see the Isle of Man in one direction and the high fells in the other – usually still snow-capped in spring. Look for the very pretty wild pansies beneath your feet, which bring a welcome splash of colour, especially after a long winter.

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If you have the time, it’s also worth stopping off at Ravenglass for a trip along the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway – or La’al Ratty as it’s known locally. The 40-minute train ride will take you deep into the Eskdale Valley, where you can stretch your legs with a short walk or simply enjoy a coffee and a cake at the cafe.