Walking the Lowther Castle Loop

The Ullswater Way was set up in the wake of Storm Desmond and a beautiful route it is too. We walked it a couple of years ago and very much enjoyed our exploration. But apart from the main route around the lake there are now two loops, heading away from Ullswater itself, but which explore some grand countryside. We’ve walked the paths involved often but were inspired to walk the loops themselves by a new edition of the official guide to the Way.The Ullswater Way Official Guide Book

The loops – the Marmalade March around the environs of Dalemain, and the Lowther Castle Loop – are described in Mark Richards’ splendid Official Guide to the Ullswater Way. This publication – handsomely produced with text, maps and Mark’s beautiful drawings – is a snip at just £5 of which 50 pence goes to keeping the Ullswater Way in good repair. Every fellwalker’s bookshelf should have a copy. Worth getting even if you live miles from Lakeland, just to see how a good guidebook should be written and to enjoy the author’s sketches. Do make sure you get the 2019 edition which features the Lowther Loop.

We set out on a Monday morning, the countryside around Lowther Castle rich with the fullness of the Autumn colours. Walking our countryside at this time of the year has to be one of the great joys of living.

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Lowther Castle

Lowther Castle is now mostly a ruin, though the courtyard with a shop and cafe thrives. I find it fascinating that so many of these northern stately homes have their rights of way preserved. Landowners in many parts of Britain used to get rid of them. The pre-war Lord Lonsdale, the so-called “Yellow Earl” positively hated ramblers and fellwalkers, and fought to keep them off his fells. Yet apparently didn’t mind them walking the paths of his immediate policies.

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A Walk Through the Woods

A pleasant walk through autumnal woods brought us down to the River Lowther, which Mark tells us comes from the Old Norse ‘slathering’ meaning foaming waters. As you leave the Lowther deer park behind, the loop follows pastoral footpaths to the very pretty hamlet of Helton. The walk over Askham Fell and Moor Divock is a regular stroll for us, and the area well worth exploring for the rich archaeology. It’s here, close to the Roman road of High Street, that the loop links with the high-level route of the Ullswater Way itself.

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Below Lowther Deer Park

This is glorious walking country. In the far distance a cloud inversion filled the distant Eden Valley, the Pennine Summits rising above like islands above a white sea.

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River Lowther

We descended to Askham, as Mark says, one of the loveliest villages in Cumbria. A place to rest and relax. We visited the church on our way back across the River Lowther to take a steep woodland climb back to Lowther Castle.

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The Cop Stone

This Lowther Loop is a great addition to the Ullswater Way, taking you through a wonderful variety of countryside. Why not buy a copy of the Official Guide to the Ullswater Way and follow in our footsteps?

Text and pictures (c) J and A Bainbridge

Author: John Bainbridge

Rambler, hillwalker, stravaiger and trespasser, access campaigner. Novelist writing historical and period crime fiction.

15 thoughts on “Walking the Lowther Castle Loop”

  1. I like the Helton/Bampton area. I haven’t been out much recently apart from my local lanes as the weather has been too cold, wet and gloomy – I’ve been noticing the weather has always looked okay out your way though/further east in general. It’s also been better further north. I think the weather hates me!

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    1. There does seem to be a divide. Edem Valley is often fine when the Lakes have bad weather and vice versa, and we often have lovely days in Teesdale and the other side of Stainmore when its a washout here.

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  2. I’ve been looking longingly at the photos on blogs and facebook of blue sky walks in Lakeland, whilst I watch storm after storm and low weather front after low weather front dump biblical amounts of water on Devon. This Autumn has been a complete washout as far as walking here has gone

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  3. Ah, a castle walk, just as you promised! What an amazing one too, and you had such a beautiful day to enjoy it, and those lovely autumnal woods, of course. My idea of a perfect walk. Wonderful photos – I felt as though I was walking alongside you. And I never knew where the word ‘slathering’ came from, until now. I should have guessed it was Norse. Great stuff, John, thanks for sharing it all with us. 🙂

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