Everyone has heard of the famous high fells of the Lake District; peaks like Scafell Pike, Coniston Old Man or Helvellyn. But some of the best views in the area can actually be found on their more diminutive neighbours, which act as great viewing platforms for the surrounding landscape.
One such fell is Loughrigg, which stands at only 335m, but with commanding views across both Grasmere and Windermere, as well as the Langdale Pikes and the Helvellyn massif. This walk (which is also a good energetic 11km loop for a morning run) takes in the summit of Loughrigg via Elterwater. The route follows good trails, paths and roads but there are a couple of rough sections with one particularly steep pull to the top of Loughrigg itself.
The Three Shires Inn to Elterwater
With the Three Shires Inn behind you, turn left and go down the road until you come to Wilson Place Farm. Here you will see a public footpath signpost to Elterwater pointing the way to the left. Walk past the farm and follow the path until you come to a gate where it emerges onto tussocky ground with nice views back into Little Langdale and across to your eventual destination of Loughrigg.
Continue following the path to a gate that opens onto a gravel track. Follow the track slightly downhill to another gate into the woods. Follow the right-hand fork of the path downhill through the trees. This is quite rocky and rough, so watch your step. The track eventually emerges onto the tarmac road passing through the centre of the village of Elterwater.
Elterwater to Loughrigg
Turn left and follow the road, passing the Britannia Inn on your left. You will reach a crossroads with the main road into Great Langdale (with the Langdale resort and trees on your left). Cross over, walk past a car park and continue following the minor road as it climbs steeply up the hillside in front of you. When you hit a little crossroads turn right and continue heading uphill on the road. As you head uphill there are various options to follow footpaths to cut the corners between the tarmac.
The road crests the hill and then passes the High Close YHA before descending slightly. Pick up a footpath through a gate with a National Trust sign saying High Close Estate and Deerbolts Woods. There is also a wooden fingerpost to Loughrigg Terrace. Walk through the woods for a short distance before reaching the beautiful Loughrigg Terrace.
The terrace has a spectacular outlook over Grasmere and the fells around Dunmail Raise and is well worth a photo stop. However, do not miss a stone path on the right, with steps, which climbs up towards the summit of Loughrigg. Follow this path, which is very steep to start, but then flattens out slightly before climbing again to the top of the fell and its trigpoint.
Loughrigg to Elterwater
Stop and catch your breath and enjoy the fine view from the top of Loughrigg. Follow the path down from the summit and then follow another path which descends quite steeply beside a little beck with views of Eltermere in the distance.
This path meets another track at the bottom of the hill. Turn right and go through woods for a short distance before the track drops down to the road. Turn left and follow the road in the direction of Loughrigg Tarn. Do not take the path which goes directly past the tarn, but keep following the road to a crossroads and turn right (in the opposite direction to a road sign to Grasmere and Ambleside).
Keep following the road (ignoring a turn-off on the left) until it emerges onto the main road to Elterwater and Great Langdale. Follow the main road towards Elterwater for a short distance, passing through a gate next to a cattle grid, and then pick up the road that heads back into the centre of the village.
Elterwater to the Three Shires Inn
In the centre of the village turn left, crossing the bridge, and keep following the road past the Eltermere Inn. Stay on the road until you come to a wooden gate and fingerpost pointing through the woods.
Go through the gate and follow the track through the woods until it emerges into a field and then hits a driveway passing by houses. Where the drive heads up towards a white house the footpath goes left, crossing a wall.
Follow the path to a point where you can head downhill next to a wall by a post with yellow arrows. Keep on following this path downhill and past a house until it hits the road heading into Little Langdale.
Here it is just a matter of turning right and walking back into Little Langdale towards the Three Shires Inn.