I received some very interesting and useful feedback today from Paul who has just completed the walk. He had a little difficulty in Blakeholme plantation. The route is potentially confusing in there. I plan to visit that section again shortly and see if we can’t improve the route somewhat.
Here’s Pauls account.
Back in April I ordered a copy of the Windermere Way map from your website and set about planning a weekend for myself and a few work colleagues. Having recently returned I thought a bit of feedback would be deserving.
Our plan was to complete all four linked walks over the course of three days (16th-18th July) starting at Windermere and walking anti-clockwise replete with all camping and cooking equipment, your guide and an OS map.
Our first day covered the section from Windermere, Ambleside, Loughrigg Fell, Skelwith Bridge and then onto the National Trust campsite at Low Wray. The weather was pretty poor but fortunately cleared up beautifully by the time we got to the summit of Loughrigg Fell. This part of the 'Way' although quite circuitous was well worth it - the view from the summit south across Windermere and north across Grasmere were breathtaking. In hindsight I think this section was the highlight of the entire route. In fact as a short walk from Ambleside to the pub/hotel and Skelwith Bridge, pause for a beer or a cuppa and then back to Ambleside by bus would have to rate as one of the nicest walks in the area. Even the gentle decent past Loughrigg tarn was extremely peaceful and picturesque.
The second day saw us walk from Low Wray to Lakeside. Our aim was to get the ferry over to Fell Foot and then camp in Fell Foot Wood - a strange campsite-come-timber yard. Still, it provided all the necessities.
Weather-wise, this day followed the same pattern as the previous - rain to start with and then cleared up to become a quite beautiful afternoon and evening. Fortunately the tree canopy on the shoreline part of this walk afforded additional shelter. However, it was on this section where we made our first mistake. Leaving Rawlinson Nab we missed the turning that would've led to the lake's edge. Instead we stayed on the minor road passing Graythwaite Hall. Perhaps for the best as it was still raining quite heavily and there was some suggestion that the correct path could get water logged.
Fortunately we rejoined the prescribed route via the gate opposite the YMCA. Not a particularly well sign posted gate I have to say. I'm glad we found it though as the summit of Scott Park Heights was a real gem - again, as with the previous day the weather cleared up to afford us some fabulous views.
As planned we made the small ferry across to Fell Foot and that evening a detour to Newby Bridge and the Huntsmen's Inn (i think) provided some much deserved R&R.
The following day our luck ran our weather-wise. We woke to rain and it didn't stop until we finished our walk in Windermere. We left Fell Foot Wood, back-tracked down the road slightly and took the minor road up the hill to the car park for Gummers How.
We made the summit in good time but unfortunately the low cloud reduced visibility to a few hundred feet. There were several paths descending from the summit and partially by luck and partially by the paths marked on the OS map we took the correct route. However, we did miss the stile into the woods and had to back track to pick this up. At this point i think we were guilty of being in head down, trudging in the rain mode and, in part, this contributed to our second and quite major mistake.
We successfully navigated our way round the reservoir and picked up the very clear path through the woods which, as stated in your guide, came to abrupt end. We continued along the obvious path through the woods and it was some time after this point where it all started to go wrong.
Soon after we came to a crossroads. Ahead was a path carrying on up through the woods. Running left-right was what can only be described as a gully - left was downhill and right was uphill (I can't recall the compass bearing). We carried on straight over for a few hundred yards and then very quickly the path petered out to nothing. We back tracked to the crossroads. Within the dense forest it was difficult to get any sort of reference point and with the path winding and turning quite frequently taking a compass bearing was of little use.
After some debate we chose to go down the gully. This is where I think we chose incorrectly. After a short time this gully came to a T-junction. A post with an yellow arrow signified what we assumed was a major thoroughfare. We turned left, shortly passing another path to the right which led to a stone wall and derelict stone building. We ignored this and carried on finally reaching some duck boards over a very marshy area.
At this point I was convinced we had gone wrong. We continued and some time after the realisation of our error was clear for all to see...or hear...as the sound of the traffic on the A592 filtered through the trees.
Realising that we were well off the path we elected to continue along the A592. In hindsight we could've rejoined the path by following Birks Road or turned at Ghyll Head and took the path at Rosthwaite Heights but a pressing engagement with a train at Windermere led us to continue along the A592. Bad choice and not to be recommended as I'm sure you know - fast traffic, no pavement and not particularly picturesque.
I'd love to know where we went wrong!
Finally the A592 gave way to Bowness. What a fantastic town. In different circumstances and weather conditions it would've been the ideal place to stop for lunch a few beers leaving us the the last mile to Windermere to complete at a leisurely pace. As it was we were soaked through and so carried on to Windermere where we could change into a dry set of clothes. A real disappointment not to spend any time in Bowness.
All in all though a great few days and a great route, thank you.
By way of a postscript I was surprised how few pubs, tea houses and 'corner shops' there were along the route - especially the western side. Clearly not something under your control but just thought I'd mention it!
Thanks again though for being the source of inspiration and providing the guide that allowed us to walk around England's largest lake!