This is a must do walk which breaks you in gently with a good surfaced path from the car park, to the weir and across the bridge around the northern edge of the lake for the first mile or so. Along the way you will find some fantastic view points with reflections of the surrounding fells on still days; you'll also find some good rest and picnic places amongst the trees as you pass the various farm fields. There are also some small stony beaches good for skimming stones.
Beyond Mireside Farm you will find the path becomes narrower and starts to undulate. Next you will join the forest track as the fells rise sharply from the lakeside, planted with conifers the woods are now managed to encourage a mosaic of habitats with native broadleaves in places and large grazing animals free-roaming elsewhere. Again you will find stunning views across the lake onto Scoat Fell, Steeple and Anglers Crag on the opposite shore; here too are two picnic benches in wonderful settings. At the first bay along the forest track you can see my favourite wild flower - the bog bean - and if you leave the path there are one or two secluded sandy beaches to be enjoyed.
There is also a nice alternative route here which starts on the left-hand side of the track, known as 'Smithy Beck Trail' it leaves the lakeshore to run parallel via streams and waterfalls before rejoining the track again. By the lakeshore you will cross a bridge beside which is the remains of an ancient smelting site with a tree growing from it.
The next bay you come to is full of forestry debris and offers a refuge for young fish near the mouth of the river Liza, here you can often spot a pair of Merganzers. Leaving the lake behind follow the forest track until you reach a bridge across the river; cross the river and follow the track across the fields (both rich in archeology) towards the forest in-front of you, where you may spot the Belted Galloway cattle roaming. As you reach the trees look to the right and go through the gate into the field. This path leads you back around the lake and now the path becomes rough as well as narrow with puddles and large rocks. This path is part of Wainwright's coast-to-coast walk and passes through side wood, full of native trees which scratch a living in this cold, shady, nutrient poor environment. You may be lucky enough to see red squirrels here.
Eventually the wood gives way to open fell-side where Crag Fell plunges sharply into the lake. Ahead is Anglers Crag, where you can either go over it for more fine views, or around it where the path becomes a bit of a scramble before leveling out again. Directly above Anglers Crag are the 'pinnacles', three great pillars of stone below Crag Fell's craggy ridge. Here you're likely to encounter the locals - Herdwick sheep that is - and a fine flush of heather and bilberry.
The end soon comes into sight as you reach the weir that you departed from and back to the car park.
Whitehaven and Ennerdale Ranger.
The best thing about my job is how different my two work places are, from mountain top to rocky shores the people inbetween are so helpful.
I work on the north western edge of the Lake District National Park and my role is very varied,from finance spreadsheets to hedgelaying and events. I manage the Whitehaven coast project, part of a larger partnership project called the colourful coast, see our website www.colourfulcoast.org.uk here our aim is to engage the community in the conservation of natural and built heritage.
In Ennerdale I represent the NT to our tenants and neighbours as well as the usual countryside tasks, here too is a partnership project called Wild Ennerdale, see the website at www.wildennerdale.co.uk