Recommendations: Best Blooming Walks in Cumbria

23/04/18

After such a long, cold and soggy winter, don’t the spring colours look amazing this year? The sight of the glorious yellow daffodils waving away in the sunshine is enough to turn anyone into a budding Wordsworth! We are so lucky in Cumbria to have so much open space and so many places we can go to enjoy all the blooms at their finest; but with so many to choose from, where should we head first? Well, here are my 5 favourite blooming places in the county.





Rannerdale Bluebells



Possibly the most famous bluebells in Cumbria and certainly amongst the most visited; these bluebells produce a stunning display on the hillside above Crummock Water. They’re swathed in local history and folklore and are said to have sprung from the blood spilled from defeated Norman soldiers – wherever they came from originally, they will definitely take your breath away when you see them.


There are lots of footpaths criss-crossing the area, but my favourite circular route is up and along Rannerdale Knotts for stunning views of Buttermere and Crummock Water, then back along Squat Beck for a flask of tea and a sarnie with the bluebells. If you do visit, however, please stick to the footpaths through the bluebells. Over recent years folks have wandered through the flowers themselves and a lot of damage has been done.


Ties in perfectly with: The Lakeland Round Walk







Sloe Blooms



I know people complain that Christmas starts earlier each year but, for me, a little snooping in April and May sets me up nicely for my festive sloe gin making. Blackthorn bushes flower beautifully and their bright white flowers give away the location of the best sloe bushes for later in the year. These are usually a closely guarded secret but, come close, and I’ll tell you where the best blooms are, then ready myself to fight you for the finest sloes come September.


Head over to Dufton, a stunning little village in the far east of the county and the starting point for the glorious High Cup Nick walk (well signposted from the village). On the way back, take a stroll along the little lane from Dufton to Murton and you’ll find a wall of beautiful blooms – and if you visit in September, be sure you have plenty of extra space in your rucksack for all the fruit!


Ties in perfectly with: The Pennine Way Trail







Damsons



Cumbria is famous for its damsons and the best place to go and see them is along the Lyth Valley in the south of the county. The roads, tracks and trails are full of damson trees in bloom and were once such a popular spectacle that people would travel for miles to take charabanc tours around the roads. The locals make good use of the damsons, with jams, preserves and of course liqueurs found in most local farm shops.


From Brigsteer, there are a number of local trails to explore and the route up onto Scout Scar will provide you with breathtaking views across to the Lake District fells, plus the chance to see one of Cumbria’s other finest plants close up – the juniper. Although not known for its blooms, juniper an essential part of the local ecology and supports a myriad of native flora and fauna. It’s also an essential ingredient in gin, and there are a number of excellent local distilleries making good use of the berries.


Ties in perfectly with: The Furness Way







Garlic



To be honest, it would be difficult for me to describe a walk in Cumbria which doesn’t include garlic, but it’s so often overlooked when it appears next to its woodland flowering mate, the bluebell. Bluebells may be very pretty, but you can eat garlic, and the smell of a walk through garlic-laden woodland always has me ready for a roast dinner at the end.


Eggerslack Woods down in Grange-over-Sands is chock full of garlic throughout April and May; it’s a fascinating woodland to explore and up on top of nearby Hampsfell there are spectacular views out across Morecambe Bay. As I make my way up I usually pick a few garlic leaves to add to my sandwiches – if you plan on doing the same, do make sure they’re clean first.


Ties in perfectly with: The Furness Way







Daffodils



Of course I couldn’t mention blooming walks in Cumbria without mentioning our infamous daffodils. The exact spot of THE daffodils is hard to pin down precisely, but we do know it’s along the banks of Ullswater. Dorothy and William Wordsworth had been out in Gowbarrow Park and were walking home along the banks of the lake when they spied the inspirational blooms. Our best guess is that they were somewhere near Glencoyne Bay, and there’s a small headland there which bursts into gold each year.


There’s no easy walk which incorporates them, but the newly completed Ullswater Way passes nearby and is a beautiful way to explore the lake. If you don’t fancy a complete lap, take the boat from Glenridding to the new pier at Aira Force and walk back from there.


Ties in perfectly with: The Cumberland Way