This linear walk in the Western Lake District offers some wonderful views and should be completed at a leisurely pace. The route uses the Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway to the return to the start.
Calculated time is computed with the distance, the height difference, and an average speed of 2.2 mph. For an intermediate walker, this time includes small breaks.
(D)Starting from Irton Road Station on the Ratty line, cross the bridge over the track and head south past Hollowstones. Go through the gate after Forest How and just before the next gate, take the path to your right leading up towards the fell. This reaches a kissing- gate, after which stick to the path near to the wall on your right. This will take you to just below the top of Silver Knott at 174m. On the way up, there's a great view straight up Eskdale towards Hardknott Pass. This little hill was avoided by W&W, which is a pity because it's a great view-point and my first spot on Muncaster Fell. There are two tops to choose from. Mine had the views described in the "during the walk" section below.
(1)Come down from Silver Knott in the direction of the rest of Muncaster Fell, i.e. south-west. You soon join the public footpath recommended by W&W. This now passes through a 'depression' (Wainwright) or 'flat ground' (Welsh). In fact, it contains a bog, conveniently ignored by W&W, but negotiable by treading on tussocks. Then the ground rises to a wall which you follow to a gap at the end of a wall that comes in from the left. Through the gap you come to a choice point. The W&W path heads off to the left at about 45 degrees but is not very clear. A more obvious path goes straight ahead and this is the one I suggest you take. It means you will miss out on 'Ross's Camp', a stone table erected by shooters in 1883, which had no appeal for me, and instead you embark upon a much more interesting path between the highest crags of Muncaster Fell - the W&W path skirts to the south of them but does afford views into Lower Eskdale, already seen from Silver Knott.
(2)The higher path passes a somewhat incongruous 'Christmas tree' (sporting a few baubles in September 2014) and meanders through patches of beautiful pink and yellow scrub on its way to the base of Hooker Crag, the highest point of Muncaster Fell at 231m. There is a short but steep climb to the top, where you may well be assaulted by very irritating flies that seem to congregate on the tops of crags. Once you have dowsed yourself with insect-repellent, the terrific views described in the "during the walk" section below present themselves.
(3)You can descend from the summit to the south-west and join the W&W path which then passes a plantation on the right to reach a gate. Beyond the gate, the trail goes down fairly rapidly, passing a pretty tarn to join a long lane that meets the A595 after 1k. From the lane you can just see the Esk Estuary over the shrubbery on the right.
(4)Then you have some choices: at the entrance to Muncaster Castle, you can turn right inside the gate on a track that descends about 1k to a Roman Bath House; or you can follow the A road, and then a B road, into Ravenglass, about 1.5k; or you can turn left off the A road at a right-curving bend a bit further on to follow a footpath through a wood and then over fields to the Esk Estuary, which is the option I chose. On the way, you get a closer view of the estuary and, in particular, are granted a spectacular entrance through trees into the estuary itself. Then the whole estuary is laid out before you south, west and north.
(A)By turning right, you come out seawards of Ravenglass and can enter its main street from the beach, perhaps to enjoy some refreshment at a pub by the shore before catching Ratty at the nearby station. As Wainwright concluded, "This is a walk to remember" - even more memorable with my modifications, I hope.
D : km 0 - alt. km 0 - Irton Road Station
1 : km 1.48 - alt. km 1.48 - Silver Knott
2 : km 3.74 - alt. km 3.74 - Hooker Crag
3 : km 4.33 - alt. km 4.33 - Join the W&W path
4 : km 5.89 - alt. km 5.89 - Follow lane to A595
A : km 7.96 - alt. km 7.96 - Ravenglass
This is one of the walks lovingly prepared and discussed by Nigel Armistead in his wonderful website http://www.trailslesstrodden.uk. Nigel notes that he often finds "a particular spot which evokes in me a sense of wonder and appreciation of nature, a spot that really does 'hit the spot'". You can read more of his views on his website but this walk has two of these 'spots' which are described in detail below.
W&W (Alfred Wainwright and Mary Welsh) both recommend walking across Muncaster Fell from the coast inland "in order to have the finest views ahead" (Wainwright). I did it in the other direction because I wanted to spend time around Ravenglass before catching Ratty back to my hotel. I don't know about you but when I'm fell-walking, my eyes are down on the path. When I want to admire the view, I stop. In this case, I also had to turn around. Big deal. Because W&W both describe the trail in the opposite direction, I shall have to give you more directions than usual as some parts are tricky to follow.
Visorando and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.
North-East - down a heathery ridge and up green Miterdale to the Scafell Range on the horizon; Miterdale Forest is dark green on the left and Eskdale veers off, mostly unseen, to the right; the ridge of mountains around Upper Eskdale continues eastwards from Scafell (this ridge will become very familiar to you as you explore Eskdale)
East - down the same ridge towards Harter Fell on the horizon; to the right, the green fields of mid-Eskdale from Muncaster Head Farm to around Beckfoot
South-East - over more green fields around Linbeck to the hills around Ulpha Fell, namely Water Crag, Yoadcastle, StaintonPike and Whitfell <br>South - over Lower Eskdale and along the West Cumbria Plain towards Waberthwaite and Bootle; Birkby Fell and Corney Fell rise gradually towards the hills around Ulpha Fell; the sea appears in the distance, as does Black Combe
South-West - along Muncaster Fell towards Hooker Crag, which obscures the sea and the Esk Estuary
West - the sea also appears to the west of Muncaster Fell behind Drigg and Sellafield Power Station; Wainwright always complained that Sellafield spoils the view but where did he think his electricity came from? And anyway, it could be seen as quite attractive, like pieces of a huge chess set placed on the coast
North-West - along the West Cumbrian Plain, a patchwork of light and dark green, towards Gosforth; a few foothills rise towards Ponsonby Fell; Lower Miterdale crosses in the foreground <br>North - Irton Pike stands out above Miterdale, beginning a ridge that climbs all the way to Whin Rigg and Illgill Head above Wast Water, hidden behind them
Disconcertingly, on the way up to Silver Knott, I met a couple coming down who complained, "There's no point in going up there, there's nothing to see". How wrong could they be? The view takes in the whole of Miterdale except for its estuary at Ravenglass and most of the route of the Ratty line, whose engine steam you may be able to see. Much of Eskdale is on view, too, but not its estuary nor its upper reaches, hidden behind the hills on its northern side. However, for 174m, it's a varied and wide-ranging view over the dale you are about to explore.
North-East - along the ridge of Muncaster Fell that you have just walked to the horseshoe of mountains around the rim of Upper Eskdale; on the left is Miterdale Forest and Miterdale itself; on the right is the green swathe of mid-Eskdale
East - down the southern slope of Muncaster Fell to mid-Eskdale and the hills behind: Harter Fell, Green Crag, Great Worm Crag and the pyramid of Caw on the far side of Dunnerdale
South-East to South - in the foreground, the trig. pillar of Hooker Crag and the green humps around it; over a dark belt of forest to the green fields of Lower Eskdale, the coastal fells and the coastal plain
South-West - along the rest of Muncaster Fell to the sea; the sands of the Esk Estuary can now be seen but not Muncaster Castle or Ravenglass; also visible are the mud-flats of the Mite Estuary
West - down the northern slope of Muncaster Fell to a patchwork of green fields and the estuary of the River Irt; a long line of dunes stretches from Drigg Point to the village of Drigg 4k to the north; beyond that, the sea
North-West - over a shoulder of Hooker Crag to the greenery of the coastal plain; Sellafield Power Station is conspicuous on the coast, which then fades into the horizon
North - over the same shoulder to the more forested area around the lower reaches of the Rivers Bleng and Irt, backed by the fells between Ennerdale Water and Wast Water
Apart from the flies, this is a wonderful spot. The view is more all-encompassing than that from Silver Knott but I actually preferred Silver Knott because it has better views of mid- and Upper Eskdale - from Hooker Crag, these views are obscured by the length of Muncaster Fell. For many, that deficiency will be outweighed by the better views of the coast - you are 2k nearer to the sea at Hooker Crag.
Global average : 5/5
Number of opinions : 1
Description quality : 5/5
Routemap quality : 5/5
Walk interest : 5/5
Global average : 5 / 5
Date of walk
Description quality : Very good
Routemap quality : Very good
Walk interest : Very good
Lovely walk with tremendous views. We we're very lucky that we managed to do this walk in brilliant sunshine. The rain started when we got to the station. Good train journey back to Irton Road. Would love to do this walk again.
Day 4 of a circular route walking through the Lake District.
Day 5 of a circular route walking through the Lake District.
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There are a few small parking spaces near Cockley Beck heading west towards Hardknott Pass. Please park sensibly so other walkers and climbers and get in too.
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The GPS track and description are the property of the author.