Stanley Ghyll

We are just home from a lovely long weekend in the Lake District. The original plan was to tick off a few more Wainwrights (my aim of completing them before I’m thirty is looking more wobbly by the week), but the weather had other ideas! Rather than the full day Wainwright bagging expeditions we’d had scheduled in, we ended up doing a few shorter walks, dodging showers and seeking a bit of shelter from the gale force winds. One of these walks was a short stroll down to the waterfall of Stanley Ghyll, a tumbling cascade in the beautiful valley of Eskdale, which I’d never heard of before but which is more than worth a visit.

Plan A for the day was to head to Wasdale and tackle Illgill Head and Whin Rigg. However, 40mph winds and fog made this half day walk significantly less appealing, so we came up with a Plan B for two separate hour long walks. In the morning, we nipped up Hard Knott to bag a Wainwright summit, and in the afternoon we opted for a nice easy low level walk to Stanley Ghyll.

We found this walk in our Pocket Mountains guide for the Lake District. These little guides are so handy and have a mix of low level walks as well as longer, more challenging hikes. The walk to Stanley Ghyll is a beautiful easy stroll of around 2km and took us just over an hour, including plenty of photo stops! A similar, slightly longer walk is available on the National Park website.

The walk is mostly easy going and requiring absolutely no effort until a steeper section when you climb to the top of the gorge. Up until this point in the walk, you walk along enclosed lanes and woodland paths alongside the river, with greenery bursting from everywhere you look, until you reach the falls. When we visited, the lower viewing platform was closed due to a landslip, but climb up through the trees to the top of the gorge and the upper viewing platform gives a fantastic view down over the falls and back along the gorge. The platform itself isn’t for the faint hearted: suspended over a 150m drop, with a grill base which lets you look directly below your feet into the abyss below! Adrenaline seekers will love it, people like me, less so…

We hadn’t really thought about the rest of the walk aside from the waterfall. We were therefore pleasantly surprised when we left the upper viewing platform and were faced with a fantastic landscape of rugged fells, which stays in view for almost the entire walk back to where you park your car. Parking for this walk is free in the National Park car park at Trough House Bridge car park which is a little tricky to find: signs at the end of the lane make it look like a private road entering Dalegarth Campsite, but a short way further along you’ll find the car park.

Dog friendly rating – 4/5. This is one of those rare Lakeland walks where there’s a decent opportunity to let your dog have a good run around off the lead. The first half of the walk is along an enclosed lane and then through woodland beside a gentle river – an ideal dog walking location if ever there was one. Perfect for zooming and paddling! At the top of the gorge, leads are required due to the steep drops, and we then kept ours on the lead coming back across the open hillside. Other points in favour of this walk are that there are no stiles and no road walking – so maybe this rating should even be a 4.5 star rating!

Where we stayed

Normally when we visit the Lake District we just head over for the day and then drive home at the end of the walk, or at a push, we’ll stay overnight in a pub or B&B. This time though we decided to treat ourselves and booked a stay at Bitt Cottage, a converted chapel in the valley of Eskdale, just on the outskirts of Santon Bridge.

The cottage sleeps four people and is a great base for exploring the Western Lakes. It’s probably one of the roomiest cottages we’ve stayed in, which is always lovely when you have a labrador who doubles as a wrecking ball! Bitt Cottage had everything we needed for a relaxing weekend away, including an open fire and well equipped kitchen. The garden is enormous and enclosed (Coal proof but not Merry proof, so if you have an escape artist, you may want to inspect the walls on arrival to see if you think your dog could jump over).

Dog friendly rating – 4.5/5. I’ve just taken half a point off as we couldn’t let Merry off in the garden, although I think we’d need to stay somewhere with deer proof fencing to be able to do that! The cottage is spacious enough to easily accommodate two larger dogs without it becoming a squeeze, and the laminate flooring in the living room removes the worry of muddy paws. The hall area is carpeted completely with a door mat type material which is ideal for after a muddy walk. There are plenty of little touches around the cottage which make it clear that dogs are very welcome which I loved!

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