I have recently had correspondence with the Countryside Access Adviser at LDNPA who has thrown a bit more light on the reason problems at Low Moor How. This is what he told me:
Unfortunately you have come across a long standing issue that we have been trying to resolve for some years, albeit unfruitfully.
The situation at Moor How is rather complicated – although nothing is actually legally wrong, it is just confusing and, to a lay walker, illogical – which is why we are trying to sort something out with the various landowners in the area.
The attached map shows the legal line of the footpaths in the vicinity. It also shows the extent of the public road (U5252), which are the brown squares along the road running to the north-east.
You can see that there is no legal link between the two (footpath and public road). This does, at first sight, seem totally illogical – because you would think that the footpath must have led from the road end through the farm yard. But there is an explanation. And that is that the footpath was there first - it was claimed in the early 1950s when the definitive map was first drawn up, and at that time the road to Moor Howe had no public status at all, it was merely a private farm track. It was then improved under the Agricultural Improvement Acts from 1955 onwards. Basically, these Acts were to improve agricultural efficiency after the war by improving access to farms for things like milk tankers and other heavy plant. The deal was that the County Council would substantially contribute to the road being tarmacked, but on the condition that it then became public. The other side of the coin was that the landowner contributed at the time, but then had future maintenance done by the County.
So – the road was improved just to the farm because that was what was needed for access – with no link made to join the public footpath to it.
He goes on to say that they have tried several times to get a link established and are still working on it.
We would suggest therefore that until this is resolved one of the alternative routes is used instead.
I walked the original route for the Windermere Way during the winter of 2000 and it's a while since I revisited some parts of the walk. The lovely spring sunshine tempted me out this week. As I live in Windermere the far side of the lake beckoned and in bright sunshine I boarded the Windermere Ferry. The LDSPB has been busy installing new signs to direct tourists to Beatrix Potter's former house at Hill Top. This little chap was hoping for an early lunch.
At the top I left and turned down the road to Cunsey, rejoining the lakeshore path a little further on. There were a few folk on the path but very little activity on the lake itself, until I neared Rawlinson Nab when a farmers shotgun startled a large flock of Canada Geese who honked noisily across the lake before settling a flurry of spray.
Further south, and across the road the day really warmed up and the views back up the lake from Stott Park Heights were really clear. Moving on I swiftly arrived at High Dam which despite the sunshine was completely frozen over.
Not having time to continue the last mile as I had an urgent appointment, I dropped down to the road and returned back to the ferry. Unfortunately I failed to heed my own advice. The ferry was there but it was full. I had to wait 20 minutes for it to return and was late back. Still the day was too good miss.
I've had a few emails asking my advice about doing the walk in December. Well last week was rather wet and the lake level high, which would lead to difficulties in one or two places. This week however has been cold and frosty with an inversion over the lake most mornings.
December therefore is a bit of a mixed bag but if you're looking for peace and quiet it' certainly a good time to walk. Just make sure you check Ferry and steamer times if you're planning to use them. If you've emailed me recently and not had a reply, sorry but one or two emails didn't have a proper return address. Anyone wanting more info just use our contact form.
A recently built footbridge at Skelwith Bridge offers Windermere Way walkers an alternative crossing point. The bridge is about 300 metres upstream of the road bridge, just above the impressive Skelwith Force. A new footpath has been constructed through the woods that also has links to Little Langdale and Elterwater.
However, I think the most amazing thing about this bridge is it's contemporary design. Usually in places like this the Planning Board insist on local stone and timber construction. Here they have been brave and allowed an outstanding design which beautifully compliments it's surroundings.
The paths that link the bridge to the roads are gently graded and suitable for wheelchairs users. It's well worth a visit if you're in the area.
We've been out and about adding waymarking to the route of the Windermere Way.
To get the ball rolling, the first waymarks have been added around the southern end of the walk and from Bowness up to Robin Lane on Wansfell. Our objective is to mark where the path leaves or joins a road first then later on add more waymarks at suitable points along the route.
I've been out and about recently and noticed one or two things that will affect the overall route description. Over the next few weeks, I'll revisit as much of the route as I can and update the site with fresh information.