As well as encouraging our guests to explore the farm, which is an interesting walk in itself, we want to share some of our favourite walks that can be done directly from Fornside. They are all run-able if you’re keen to pick up the pace, and the route alongside Thirlmere offers a quiet (and unusually flat!) road-biking option.
The Coffin Track
This walk can be as long or as short as you please. From Fornside you can either access the Coffin Track from behind Low Bridge End Farm, on the west side of the Vale, or walking a very short way along the road and crossing Soskill Bridge. You can read about track’s history in the acclaimed ‘Corpse Roads of Cumbria’ book and yes, it was the route for local people to carry their loved ones to burial. The Coffin Track offers stunning vistas of Blencathra and the Glenderraterra Valley to the North as well as towards Great Dodd, behind Fornside, and the range towards Helvellyn. You are likely to see a crane or two and possibly a buzzard circling. If you make it all the way to St John’s Church, it’s worth a the few extra yards along the road there to enjoy breath-taking views of the North Western Fells.
The ridge which Fornside gazes across the Vale towards is a must for many of our visitors and a route we love to repeat. Cross to the farm opposite and turn left; after a while the path gradually climbs above the river and then a sharp turn right brings you to the main climb up to the ridgeline. It really is a super walk, about 8km long, lots of interest and a bit of a challenge. The views of all the surrounding fells and three lakes are spectacular. We’ve walked the route with all ages (from two to 72!) and occasionally even manage to run it. Taking in Low Rigg, Tewet Tarn and Castlerigg Stone Circle are worthwhile extensions.
Calfhow Pike (and beyond if you like)
Directly behind the farm, by the woods, there is a gate in the fell wall which takes you, rather steeply, up to Calfhow Pike. You could push hard and attain the Pike in about 45 minutes but we recommend taking a little more time to frequenlty stop, turn around and admire the landscape unfolding below you (also known as catching your breath!). Once you’ve scaled the tor-like rocks that are Calfhow Pike you could consider continuing northwards to Clough Head, scaling Great Dodd which is now a just short walk to summit, or continuing south along the range towards Helvellyn. There are plenty of Wainwrights to bag up here! One of our favourite descents is from Sticks Pass to Legburthwaite where you might be tempted by a well-earned beverage or the ice-creams on offer at the Lodge in the Vale.
Either cut along the road and the bridleway at The Green, or to proceed off-road, take the the footpath turning left behind Low Bridge End farm. Cross directly over the main road and pass High Bridge End Farm; the road is open to pedestrians and cyclists. Once over the damn, you’ll have to keep an eye out for vehicles but it is very quiet and flat – ideal for cycling. If you’re on foot, we highly recommend the path along the water which is peaceful, beautiful and offers a few stone-skimming opportunities. You will probably see red squirrels and other wildlife. A favourite extension is to climb the short ascent from Dobsgill car park to enchanting Harrop’s Tarn.
This walk also offers stunning views and plenty of interest along the route. Go through the fell gate by our woods up behind the cottages and immediately turn right, following a path (of sorts) just above the fell wall. Continue past the end of Fornside Farm and alongside some woods. You’ll come to an enchanting waterfall which you may want to stop and admire for a while, but then retrace a few of your steps and walk eastwards, up the path on this side of the waterfall. After a short steep climb, you’ll be rewarded by more pretty waterfalls. Cross the stream where it goes into a gully and walk south a little way to cross the next stream by some fences. It’s an easier approach to the summit if you continue slightly further south. Hold onto small children who might run ahead at the top and find a safe place to sit and gaze over St. John’s-in-the-Vale, Thirlmere and well beyond. To make it a circular route, descend by looping clockwise around Castle Rock. The path soon becomes very clear and you may see rock climbers enjoying the challenge of the west faces before you reach the road back to Fornside. A word of warning: this walk is extra challenging in the summer when the bracken is in fully grown and obscuring parts of the path.