Lake District walk - Gummer's How
PUBLISHED: 00:00 23 March 2016
Stewart Smith Photography
This walk around Gummer's How takes in some of the finest views in the south Lakes
This route around the higher ground between Windermere and the Winster Valley almost encapsulates the Lake District in miniature. You can expect woodland, quiet lanes, delightfully appointed farms and cottages, serene tarns, craggy fellsides, and easy paths. Blessed with the advantage of an elevated starting point, it offers excellent views throughout that only get better as the walk progresses.
Deer and woodpecker may be encountered, however the most obvious beastly sightings will be the Luing cattle that roam Gummer’s How as part of an environmental stewardship scheme designed to encourage the re-growth of important vegetation.
1. Take the path into the forest at the rear of the car park, signposted Sow How Lane. After 100m the path forks at a gate onto the road - take the right hand option veering uphill through the trees, and then out into a felled area. Continue on the path until you reach a gate and turn right onto Sow How Lane.
2. Head downhill, through Sow How farm buildings, through a gate and into the field beyond. After 30m the track forks – bear left down through the field past the solitary beech tree and through a gate. Ahead and to your left is pretty little Sow How Tarn and its boathouse. Stay on the track, crossing the stone bridge over the tarn outflow stream, and then through a gate into the adjacent field. Ignore the immediate path to the left, and instead continue straight on for 200m through a gate into the forest.
3. Follow the path through this short wooded section, then through a gate into the field. Hug the wall to your right, then curve sharply right then left downhill past what at first glance appears to be another old stone barn, but is in fact Heights Cottage, which until the 1920s was used as a Quaker meeting house. Ignore the gap through the wall on your right and head straight on through a gate onto the open fellside of Raven’s Barrow, the uppermost area of Cartmel Fell. The faint path curves slightly uphill and round to the left and a splendid panoramic view over the Winster Valley opens up, with Whitbarrow Scar and the Howgills beyond, and the craggier Kentmere fells further north. Descend downhill, the path becoming a more distinct track once more, and head through a gate before joining another track at a bridleway signpost.
4. Turn left uphill here, ignoring a fork off to the left as the incline levels out. Continue on the track through a gate and then an opening through a wall, past a footpath sign and then alongside another wall to your left. Eventually the track turns to tarmac as you pass Lightwood Cottage. Go through a gate and turn left on to the road.
5. After 80m another lane goes off to the right, and here you’ll see a gate ahead with a footpath sign. Go through this into the field and head uphill with the wall to your right until you are close to top - the highest little outcrop to your left is Whinny Knott. Be alert for an easy to miss small stone stile up ahead into the forest. Head over this, before shortly joining a path junction just past a collapsed stone shed. Bear right, following this path over a short boardwalk section and uphill until you reach a stile over a fence and crumbling wall.
6. Don’t cross this, instead turn left uphill alongside the wall through a (depending on the season) fairly overgrown section. The exact mapped path isn’t well trodden here, but being enclosed in a channel between the wall to your right, and the forest to your left, you can’t stray too far off track. Continue up until you reach the top of the hill and a stile over a fence, where all eyes will be drawn north to the view that opens up over the length of Windermere, flanked at its head by the distinctive rugged outline of the Langdale Pikes and the higher fells of the Fairfield Horseshoe to the right.
7. Continue along the path which becomes more defined, over another fence, and then downhill. The Coniston fells now adorn your view ahead over Windermere. Cross a broken wall, a boggy section and join another path. Bear left on this, aiming for the highest point ahead which is the summit of Gummer’s How, marked by a trig point. This dominant position at the foot of Windermere gives commanding views over most of the south and central Lakes.
8. Continue on the same trajectory off the summit on the worn path, which descends rockily downhill and then levels out before you reach a gate onto the road 50m uphill from the car park starting point and the end of the walk.
What to expect: Mostly well defined low fell and forest paths, one overgrown section.
Distance/time: 8.2 km/5.1 miles. Allow 2 1/2 - 3hours
Start: Forestry Commission’s Gummer’s How car park near the top of Fell Foot Brow
Grid Ref: SD 389 876
Ordnance Survey Map: OL 7 The English Lakes South-eastern area. Windermere, Kendal and Silverdale
After the walk: Mason’s Arms, Strawberry Bank