We booked a few days off work last weekend and went away, Friday to Monday to a wee cosy cottage in Ennerdale. Ennerdale is an area neither of us know very well and we were super excited to explore this new 'wild' place.
We booked with Sally's Cottages, a local Cumbrian business. We have booked with them before and have been impressed. I adore getting their catalogue or browsing the website gazing at all the beautiful Lakeland cottages.
Our cottage was teeny tiny, just room for two, so perfect for a valentine's weekend away. It is located up a farm track just out of Ennerdale Bridge village.
You come straight into the living room, which was very cosy and warm once Mark got the stove going. He doesn't 'do' cottages without a real log burner or fire! Mark likes fire a LOT and I don't like it at all, so we are a good team! haha.
The bedroom is actually on a mezzanine floor, so obviously the original cottage was just the one room and floor. There is an extended bit out the back with the kitchen and bathroom too.
We loved the very old timber beams above the bed, we managed successfully not to knock ourselves out on them!
The cottage was super well equipped, we literally did not need to bring anything, all bedding, towels, cooking utensils etc etc were all provided. The owners also left us a lovely bunch of flowers and a bottle of wine on arrival, I love a little added touch like this.
We arrived on Friday afternoon, unpacked, explored the cottage and then explored the local area. An early tea in the village pub (yum!) and then a cosy night in front of the fire with a film.
Saturday morning we got up early, the weather was not perfect, but we never let that bother us. We planned two full days of outside exploring and that is exactly what we were going to do. You don't expect perfect weather if you head to the Lakes in February, well you don't expect it here at any time of year really, so you cannot let the weather stop the fun.
We headed out on our bikes, yeah! Following the little windy country roads down into Ennerdale Bridge village and then along the road a few miles to the main Ennerdale Water car parks at Bowness Knott.
From the car park we headed straight along the edge of the lake (left hand side looking at it car park behind you). A fire road runs all the way up the valley. It was a lovely, relatively easy, flat ride.
As you can clearly see the scenery all around us was stunning! This part of the Lakes is marketed as 'wild' Ennerdale' and you can certainly see why. It is not nearly as developed as other lakes and there are no visitor centres, no tea rooms, just simple car parks. There are some signposted walks but not many. It is a lot quieter and less touristy and you really feel like you have the place to yourself.
The fire road quickly leaves the top of the lake and carries on up the valley all the way to the end. The valley ends with Great Gable in the distance and then beyond that Scafell Pike. I guess you could attempt to ride your bike up there, if you are slightly mad!
We were keen to get to the end of the road to check out Black Sail YHA. It is one of the most remote youth hostels in the country (if not the most) and it's fab! When we got there there was a chap sitting outside, he greeted us with a warm 'hello' so we stopped to chat to him. he had booked out the whole place for him and his group of 16 mates (we joked that we would love even one or two mates who would camp up here with us, sigh....) His mates were plodding on up Great Gable but he didn't fancy it so stayed behind to keep the youth hostel warm.
He was kind enough to let us have a little peek inside too. It has recently been refurbished and is super cute! It would make a fantastic party venue for a stag or hen (if that's your kind of thing) imagine waking up here.... just wow!
The youth hostel has two dorms, so you don't need to book the whole place, just turn up and bunk. Then a communal area and kitchen in the middle. You cannot reach it by car, the road gets pretty bad the further up the valley you get, but you can reach it on foot or bike! Makes it all the more fun!
Looking back on Black Sail as we rode off, look at it, LOOK at it, SO cool, what a location!
Our bike ride did a bit of a loop at the end of the valley. The road meets a ford and continues on the other side of the river. At the top of the lake the road bends round to meet the road we biked up on the other side. You can't continue round on this side on bike, it is just a footpath this side of the lake.
Our bike ride was about 25 miles cottage door to door. It took us about 4 hours but we took it slowly and had stops for photos, chatting to the guy at the YHA and lunch obviously!
So of course not wanting to leave the area without fully exploring the next day we set out on the other side of the lake on foot....
We did the blue walk here, so as you can see it is a 4 hour walk, just over 6 miles.
The walk literally hugs the lake all the way round.
Standard start of the walk selfies!
This time we drove down the road and parked at the Bleach Green car park. We could have walked the few miles down but it was just along the same road we rode back on the day before and, well, we are lazy!
We walked round the opposite side this time, heading to the right. I was keen to do it this way round because right at the beginning there is a little tricky section under Angler's Crag. The internet suggested it was a bit of a hands and knees scramble and I don't love this type of walk, especially on sheer drops behind me to my death! So getting this bit over and done with first was the best plan.
Angler's Crag was a scramble and I was indeed on my hands and knees and bottom most of the way. I didn't love this section, I won't lie, but I did it, it was short and if I can do it anyone can! I'm a massive wuss, so to most people this is nothing at all. This is me posing for a congratulatory selfie after my Angler's Crag accomplishment, hehe.
The rest of the right hand side of the lake was pretty flat. But there is no proper path, it is all very rocky and rooty so certainly no good for wheelchairs or pushchairs. But it makes for an interesting walk.
We spotted some Herdwick pals hiding behind trees...
The path had lots of little streams and stepping stones, I love a stepping stone!
At the top of the lake, you follow the path through a field to meet the road on the other side. I adored this field and the views from here. We could not see another person, an animal, any buildings or vehicles. Just us in the middle of nowhere with stunning views all around.
We stopped for lunch just at the top of the lake by a little bridge.
We were surprised to see the yellow Goarse bushes out in full bloom!
The walk was just under 4 hours and it was completely worth it, I would LOVE to do it all over again today right now.
Have you been to the Ennerdale area? What were your thoughts? If you have never ventured into this part of the Lakes then I highly recommend as somewhere a bit different to try.