Explore from Waterhead

Waterhead pier, Cumbria, LA22 0EU

Route details and mapDownload as a print friendly PDF
A very old tree swallowing a boulder © John Pring

A very old tree swallowing a boulder

Stagshaw gardens bloom into a riot of colour in springtime © National Trust Jenny Sutton

Stagshaw gardens bloom into a riot of colour in springtime

The views are loevly on a sunny day © John Pring

The views are loevly on a sunny day

A carpet of bluebells © John Pring

A carpet of bluebells

Looking up the length of the conifers make you realise how mighty they are! © John Pring

Looking up the length of the conifers make you realise how mighty they are!

Route overview

Do you like exploring?

If so, a short walk from Waterhead will bring you to Skelghyll Woods and Jenkins Field where you can explore ancient woodlands; walk amongst some of the tallest trees in Cumbria; visit a fantastic early summer garden; take in the views from Jenkins Crag or paddle in Windermere.

Route details

See this step-by-step route marked on a map

OS map for the explore from waterhead downloadable trail
  • Directions
  • Route
  • Bus stop
  • Parking
  • Toilet
  • Viewpoint

Start: Waterhead pier, grid ref. SY376031

  1. Head off from Waterhead along the main A591 road in the direction of Windermere for about 200 yards until you reach Waterhead Marine (looks like a garage) and take care crossing the road.

    Show/HideVeteran trees

    This old oak, located in the field along the wooded lane near Waterhead Marine, has survived by sending its roots down through the big rock outcrop on which it sits. Foxes have been spotted leaping from the tangled growth near its base so watch out.

    A very old tree swallowing a boulder © John Pring
  2. Walk up this wooded lane for 300 yards until you reach a tarmac lane and turn left up the hill towards a small car parking area at Stagshaw Gardens. During spring this is a great time to take a short detour around the gardens before heading on with the rest of the trail.

    Show/HideStagshaw Gardens

    An early season garden that opens from 16 March until the end of July (free to NT members) which has over 300 camellias and rhododendrons. When in full bloom it is a riot of colour and scent. A real hidden gem.

    Stagshaw gardens bloom into a riot of colour in springtime © National Trust Jenny Sutton
  3. Walk through a wooden gate and follow the steep track up through the wood which borders the fence of Stagshaw Gardens until you reach a triangle of very large Douglas fir trees. This is a good place for a breather.

  4. Take the right-hand track up by the river until you reach the bridge over Stencher beck. Take either of the two paths that lead uphill and continue until it flattens out and you reach a sign identifying Jenkins Crag. This is all the hard climbing work completed and you can now stop and take in the views.

    Show/HideJenkins Crag

    This was recently voted the most romantic spot in Cumbria and when you are sitting at the top it is easy to see why. The view has recently been restored to show Windermere lake with the lakeland mountains behind. Please be aware of steep unprotected drops off the front of the crag.

    The views are loevly on a sunny day © John Pring
  5. Retrace your steps back down to the conifers at the triangle and take a level track on the left through the woodland. Stop and admire the large conifers below the path.

  6. Carry on along this path and pass by some broken down walls where you leave the conifers behind and move into an area of oak woodland. Follow this path downhill and watch out for a couple of slippery outcrops. This is one of the best places for bluebells.

    Show/HideBluebells at Skelghyll Woods

    Skelghyll Woods can be awash with bluebells particularly in the oak woodland. Also areas of native daffodils, snowdrops and ramsons.

    A carpet of bluebells © John Pring
  7. At the foot of this footpath, turn right and walk back alongside a high drystone wall back to the car park at Stagshaw Gardens. Look out for the large conifers on the top side of the path, it is well worth a short detour to stand underneath them.

    Show/HideMighty conifers

    In the 1850s, specimens such as these had only just been discovered in America. The owners of Wansfell Holme (which is the large house you can see below the woods) imported and planted these over 150 years ago, when they were the fashionable. They are now amongst the tallest in Cumbria with one Grand Fir measuring 57 metres which is taller than Nelson`s column. You need to go right up to them to appreciate their full size.

    Looking up the length of the conifers make you realise how mighty they are! © John Pring
  8. Follow the road back down the hill and turn right to go down the wooded lane.

  9. Recross the road to Waterhead Marine and look for a stile in the low wall to the left which marks the entrance onto Jenkins Field.

  10. There is about 500 yards of lakeshore access with the best beach at the far end.

  11. Retrace your steps back to Waterhead Marine and follow the road back to Waterhead.

End: Waterhead pier, grid ref. SY376031

In partnership with

Cotswold Outdoor logo © Cotswold Outdoor
  • Trail: Walking
  • Grade: Easy
  • Distance: 1 to 3 miles (1.6 to 4.8km)
  • Time: 1 hour to 2 hours
  • OS Map: Explorer Map OL7 The English Lakes South-eastern area
  • Terrain:

    This walk comes with lots of options and therefore the distance can vary between 1 and 3 miles. The initial stretch of the route is on a narrow footpath near a busy road which has to be crossed. After that it is on quiet paths. The walk up to Jenkins Crag is steep and bumpy in places and the path can be slippery.

  • How to get here:

    By foot: 10 - 15 minute walk from Ambleside

    By bike: Sustrans have a proposed route from Windermere along the A591 to Ambleside and there are a few cycle lanes although much is still on the busy road itself

    By bus: Regular bus services from Windermere, Kendal, Keswick and Grasmere

    By train: Trains terminate at Windermere station and Waterhead is 4 miles (6.4km) further along the main A591 to Ambleside

    By car: Waterhead  is on the main A591 road which crosses the Lake District and there are two car parks

    By boat/ferry: The Windermere Steamers ferry from Bowness berths at Waterhead and is a really good way to visit this site


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