Ashness Bridge, wildlife and a surprise view!

Three cyclists riding over Ashness Bridge, Cumbria

Ashness Bridge is perhaps the most photographed packhorse bridge in the Lake District due to its location and stunning views. This extremely popular viewpoint looks out over Derwent Water with spectacular views over Bassenthwaite Lake and the River Derwent.

Just so you know...

This article was created before the coronavirus crisis, and may not reflect the current situation. Please check our homepage for the most up to date information about visiting.

Walk up to Ashness Bridge as part of the spectacular Walla Crag to Ashness Bridge downloadable trail or park in our car park which is just a stone's throw away (CA12 5UN). Whatever the season you are guaranteed a wonderful photo opportunity.

While you're there, why not head to nearby Surprise View where you can see how great ice sheets carved out this impressive landscape: you have an uninterrupted view across Derwent Water and onto the Solway and the distant shores of Scotland.

For the more adventurous, continue along the single track road to the hamlet of Watendlath, taking in the ancient Ash pollards along the way.  Watendlath nestles high up (263m) beside a tranquil tarn, with a farmhouse café, and a National Trust bothy. There are also public toilets here, and packhorse trails which climb gradually up the slopes.

Calm waters of the hidden hamlet of Watendlath
Boats and ducks on Watendlath Tarn, Lake District
Calm waters of the hidden hamlet of Watendlath

You can park at Surprise View (CA12 5UU) and Watendlath (CA12 5UW), if you buy a day ticket just transfer the ticket between our car parks until it expires. All tickets purchased help our conservation work in the valley and if you are a member of the National Trust you can park for free as a thank yu for your support. For your convenience, you can now pay by phone - no need to handle any cash. See all our local car parks here

Wood and wildlife wonders

The path that runs from Ashness Bridge back toward Keswick passes under Falcon Crag is probably one of the best places in the area if you want to spot migrant birds in early spring and summer.

Other birds often seen here include Buzzard, Peregrine Falcon, Sparrowhawk along with a host of other common woodland birds, so don’t forget your binoculars!

Atlantic oaks

The woodlands that cloak the surrounding fells are dominated by oak: these 'Atlantic Oakwoods' are an example of temperate rainforest and are designated as Special Areas of Conservation (SAC).

They are home to a wide range of bird species including Pied Flycatcher and Greater Spotted Woodpecker, and large mammals include red deer and roe deer.

Atlantic Oakwoods as seen from Surprise View
Atlantic Oakwoods seen from Surprise View, Borrowdale, Lake District
Atlantic Oakwoods as seen from Surprise View

One of the most iconic of UK mammals - the Red Squirrel - is still fairly common throughout these woodlands. Despite the arrival of its American cousin, the Grey, it survives thanks to an on-going programme of grey squirrel control.

Get in amongst this ancient landscape by following our moderate way-marked walk from our Great Wood car park (CA12 5UP), just 1.5 miles from Keswick town centre and also a great location from which to access Derwent Water at Calf Close Bay.