Ullswater Horseshoe Walk

Are you looking for a two day walk to challenge you whilst giving spectacular views in an area steeped in history? This walk starts at High Row on what is known as the “old coach road” although it is said it was never used by coaches. From here you head to Groove Beck and then strike off the well made track to make your first major climb of the day to the rounded summit of Great Dodd. This bare fell has a cairn to mark its summit and is the most northerly of the Dodds, the name given to the ridge of rounded fell tops you are about to traverse. From Great Dodd you follow the broad grass covered ridge over Watson’s and Stybarrow Dodd. To your left you are looking down ito the Ullswater Valley and over to the Pennines. To your right is the Thirlmere Valley and the peaks of the Central Lake District.

Great Dodd

You now descend to Sticks Pass where you cross the bridleway which was used by pack horses carrying lead ore from the Greenside mine in Glenridding to Keswick where it was smelted. The next peak to climb is Raise this is the site of the only purpose made ski area in the Lake District National Park. Look out for the ski tows and the small hut below you on your left. On a winter’s day when snow conditions are good this small slope will be busy with enthusiastic skiers who have made the walk up from Glenridding.

Raise Ski Area

Ahead is probably one of the most famous Lake District peaks, Helvellyn.  This is the last major uphill of the day as you climb the narrowing ridge to Lower Man and on to Helvellyn,whose summit is flat and featureless with just a trig point marking its top. To your left the mountain drops away down to Red Tarn which is hemmed in by the famous ridges of Striding and Swirral Edge. The traverse of these two ridges makes this a popular day out for those with a head for heights and looking for some adventure!

Striding Edge from Helvellyn

From here though your route continues on along the mountain chain over Nethermost and Dollywaggon Pikes before making the steep descent down to Grisedale Tarn. This slope has seen much repair work with the large rocks used  being flown in by helicopter as the area is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) due to the plant life found within the loose rocks nearby.

On reaching Grisedale Tarn, stop and enjoy the view. This tarn is said to contain the crown of King Dunmail, thrown there by his warriors when he was defeated in a battle in 945 on the pass of Dunmail (A591),  below you to the west. They are said to come back on certain days in the year, so do not linger too long!

Grisedale Valley

As you start to head down Grisedale Valley you may be able to find the Brothers’ Parting Stone, with a poem carved into one of the rocks on the right of the path. This was put here to commemorate the place where William Wordsworth said goodbye to his brother, John, who was returning to his ship the Master of Abergavenny.  The ship sank off Portland Bill soon after it set sail and John died.

The path now descends the valley past Ruthwaite Lodge, now a bothy for students at Outward Bound, but formerly a mine building. This valley looked very different in the 1800s when it was filled with woodland and a number of small mines. The day ends in the old mining village of Glenridding on the shores of Ullswater.


The village has a camp site and bunkhouse at Gillside as well as a number of B&Bs and hotels to cater for all your needs. There is also a village shop and a number of cafes and pubs for food and drink.

For a friendly welcome and comfortable stay we recommend Moss Crag Guest House. It offers a range of accommodation as well as doing breakfast, evening meals (by arrangement) and packed lunches. It is close to the shop and pubs and so is ideal as a base for the night.

Moss Crag Guest House

The second day starts with a flat walk across the valley to Side Farm. As you leave the village you will pass St Patrick’s Well. It is here that St Patrick is said to have baptised the local people of the valley. Side Farm offers camping as well as a cafe but resist spending too long here as the day ahead is another full day of walking.

You now climb the path to Boredale Hause where once stood a chapel. You are going to follow the route of the Coast to Coast walk past Angle Tarn and on to the Knott. To your left is the Nab and home to the ancient herd of Martindale red deer. You may be fortunate to spot them if you are really lucky. After you pass the Knott you follow the track  over Rampsgill Head. Keep your eyes open for the soaring Golden Eagle above you as his home is below you in Riggindale.

Looking down into Riggindale

The path ahead now follows the route of the old Roman Road of High Street (which went from Brougham (Brocavum) near Penrith to Ambleside (Galava) and then on to Ravenglass on the coast via Hardknott Pass!). You will walk along a broad moorland ridge over High Raise to Loadpot Hill. To your left are views of the Ullswater Valley and yesterday’s walk. To your right is the Lake District’s other reservoir of Haweswater, created by drowning the old village of Mardale in 1941.

From Loadpot Hill you descend down to Roehead and the amazing Bronze Age landscape of Moor Divock including the stone circle known as the Cockpit, which might have been used at a later date for cock fighting. This area has many shake holes and Bronze Age remains to explore if you still have some energy left.

The Cockpit

Why not enjoy this challenging walk with Eden Outdoor Adventures. We will drop you off back at the start of your walk and can even arrange to have your overnight luggage taken to your accommodation and then picked up. That way you can enjoy the walk with a small day pack and never get lost no matter what the weather.

About edenoutdooradventures

Outdoor Activity provider offering walking, climbing, canoeing, ghyll scrambling, first aid and other skills courses. Offering courses in the Lake District and Northern Pennines as well as around the UK and Alps, North Africa and Iceland.
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