Shy side of Wasdale
Visitors to Wasdale are invariably bent on reaching the lake to admire the wild screes and the famous dalehead circle of fells, however the wooded lower pastures up from Gosforth and Santon Bridge provide the perfect lead into the high fells and are a delight to explore. The rugged façade of Buckbarrow, an obvious climb, followed by a great leg-stretching march over Nether Wasdale Common onto Seatallan then turning back over Middle Fell makes a natural fell circuit. In haste most fellwalkers actually choose to start from the open road at Greendale rather than Nether Wasdale, oblivious of the virtues of the longer approach.
The latter part of the walk enjoys superb perspectives towards the magnificent screes of Illgill Head and Whin Rigg peering above stately oakwoods – the middle section of this latter stage belongs to Woodhow Farm, currently on the market for £1.1 million, rough grazing, it seems, has a value well above agricultural returns in this majestic setting.
An eagle's eye view of the walk
Nether Wasdale is exemplary as a community, whilst forfeiting nothing to its setting it serves the needs of the visitor with two hotels, a pub with B&B, a sensitively cared for camping ground and there is even a beautifully positioned camping barn at Murt Farm. It is not surprising that it has been a national finalist in the Pride of Britain Award, a regular winner of Cumbria in Bloom and the Best Kept Small Village, it is delightful - full of understated charm. Before you start walking take a few moments to look inside the little church of St Michael and All Angels, note its recently exposed plasterwork with Latin text, breathe in its aura of calm that will set you in the right frame to enjoy the outdoors, at peace with a calamitous world.
Follow the footpath signed ‘Gill and Buckbarrow’ this leads via the farmhouse and sheep-handling pens at Church Stile Farm. During my recent visit the hefted Herdwicks were having a welfare check having recently been separated from their latest crop of lambs - the distinctive black lambs seen a little later on, busily fattening up on the late flush of grass caused by this particularly mild season.
The track leads on by the farm’s attractively laid out farm holiday park (for camping and touring motor homes - permanent caravans only). The site, well merits the Gold Conservation Award posted at the entrance: a great deal of thought has gone into the details of environmental impact, this is no municipal park. The woodland habitat surrounding the site encourages birds, bats and insects; a serpentine woodland walk, separate from the right-ofway, allows site visitors to gain an intimate view of this treasured place leading to a bench with a lovely view up the valley.
The waymarked footpath bears right onto a green track leading beside an oakwood to a ladder stile. A more confined path rises through gorse to reach a further ladder stile and duckboards, the pasture footpath heads on via gates with Buckbarrow a striking feature ahead. Enter an outgang lane at a gate, this leads via a ford and footbridge, passing Gill Farm it becomes a gravelled farm access lane. Rising by a cottage, cross the cattle grid then bear right joining the open road.
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© Mark Richards 2006