• Start: Burneside
  • End: Burneside
  • Country: England
  • County: Cumbria
  • Type: Mountainous
  • Nearest pub: Pub in Burneside
  • Ordnance Survey: OS Explorer OL7 The English Lakes South-eastern area
  • Difficulty: NULL
Google Map


Keith Carter leads a walk through the countryside around Burneside in the South Lakes

The South Lakeland village of Burneside (pronounced Burnyside) gets its name from the Old English form Brunoluesheued meaning a headland or hill of a man called Brunwulf or Brunulf, so says my Dictionary of British Place Names and who am I to argue?

Wouldn’t it make better sense if you took it literally and assumed it came from ‘the side of a burn or beck’ but I suppose scholars of such matters would maintain that in that case it would be Burnside or Beckside neither of which are listed in my esteemed tome. I have seen it elsewhere as having derived from Byrneshead which seems more plausible. The origins of place names are a frequent source of speculation.

The river running through it is the Kent much controlled by weirs and providing a water source for the extensive James Cropper factory making a variety of coated papers including the paper from which Remembrance Day poppies are made. Croppers are the largest employer in the area and what puts Burneside on the map.

James Cropper (1823-1900) established his paper mill here in 1845 and was himself an early campaigner to preserve the Lakeland landscape, a curious paradox when you consider the impact of his successors’ factory buildings in the Lakeland landscape of today. The family motto was ‘love all men, fear no man’.

Burneside is on the Dales Way, the 78-mile route from Ilkley to Windermere, but merits only a brief mention in Colin Speakman’s invaluable guide to that excellent trail. Park in the village and cross the bridge over the Kent and head up hill on Hall Road passing the paper works on your left.

On leaving the village the road has a raised section of footpath leading to a stile on the left with a signpost that indicates Bowston. An enclosed path leads the walker round three sides of a square before delivering him into a field with the river below us to the left. Walk along the top of a bank then drop down to where a wall is crossed by a stile remarkable for having a hand rail.

Now beside the river, continue as far as the first bridge across the river but don’t cross it. Our way is to the right. You can continue along the riverside path all the way to Staveley, a walk I have described previously and which is best reserved for a fine spring or summer day when you are more likely to see birds such as the dipper and grey wagtail and even the kingfisher.

From Bowston bridge, walk on the road as far as the entrance to Laithwaite Farm where a signpost points us to the right on the access track leading to the farm. On approaching it look to the half left to a barn where a gate can be found to the right of the barn door and a narrow path leading through two gates into a field. Head up this field to the far top right hand corner where you will find a stile with a plank bridge in the latest stages of collapse. Assuming you can get across this, keep ahead across a cattle grid to meet a lane.

Turn left and walk along the lane past a two storey house and a bungalow until our way is stopped by a gate, from where there are several choices of footpath. Ours is to go through the gate and move right to follow a very old path at the foot of a high bank, probably used for generations to drive the cattle down to pasture.

Looking ahead and to the right a gate can be seen at the point where high tension cables bisect the wall. This is our way forward, through the gate and into a closely grazed field. Keep the same direction through this field to a step stile through the next wall and then keep to the side of a stream on the right hand side of the field with a slightly raised bank along it, presumably designed to avoid the stream flooding the field.

On reaching a lane, with stiles each side of it, cross these and we recognize the weir on the river ahead close to where we crossed the wall by the stile with a handrail. Keep to the right and return by the route taken on the way out.

The monument on the knoll close to the A591 is known as the Elba Monument. Erected by one John Bateman to commemorate the defeat of Napoleon, the original intention was rather scuppered by Napoleon escaping from Elba, hence the absence of an inscription. The law of unintended consequences seems to have intervened.

Our walk has been only an introduction to this secretive area of the South Lakes and further visits can explore further into the hinterland to the north of the village which seem to stretch away into infinity. Potter Fell is a walk for another day and I hope to come back at a later date. It goes onto to ‘must do’ list.

Compass points

Area of walk: Burneside near Kendal

Distance: 3 ½ miles

Time to allow: Two hours

Map: OS Explorer OL7 The English Lakes South-eastern area

Refreshments: Pub in Burneside

Not suitable for wheelchairs

Latest from the Lancashire Life