Located towards the southern edge of the Lake District you may not have heard of Whitbarrow Scar. With so many famous hills luring walkers further into the heart of the Lakes, the outlying hills are often overlooked but having a 100-hectare nature reserve and being a Site of Scientific Special Interest, a trip to Whitbarrow should certainly be on your to-do list.
Tip: Take a walk up in the evening and it’s not unusual to meet only a handful of fellow walkers, even when the weather is good.
There’s lots of places to start your walk up Whitbarrow, which is easily accessible from several points. If you’re staying in the central Lakes, then a great place to start is Lyth Valley Country Inn. Not only is the drive down the Lyth valley from Bowness-on-Windermere beautiful but the pub itself is rather good for a post-walk drink and some quality food. The accent up this side of the scar is also much more gentle.
The foot of the scar is clad with ancient woodland, parts of which also hold the SSSI status for the unique habitat they provide to plants and wildlife, including Brimstone & Pearl Bordered Fritillary butterflies. The woodland is managed to maintain its health by the Cumbria Wildlife Trust.
Once you emerge from the woodlands around the bottom of the scar the scenery takes on a dramatically different look. A wild landscape with a beautifully weathered appearance. There are still trees but these are much more sparse and mainly consist of mountain ash, birch and juniper in-between screes and pavements of limestone.
The scar has a rich diversity of wild flowers including orchids, rock rose and cowslips in Spring and in Summer birdsfoot trefoil, lesser meadow rue, limestone bedstraw and thyme plus wild strawberries in abundance in late June / July!
As you approach the top of the scar and the huge stone Cairn comes in to view, you can start to enjoy the panorama on offer. Looking North the views are particularly exceptional with the Old Man of Coniston, Scarfell Pike and our stunning Langdale Pikes all laid out before you. To the West (and in front if you have set off from the Lyth Valley Pub) the hills give way to sands as Morecambe bay stretches out from Grange to Arnside and beyond. Look to the East and you’ll see the Howgills, marking out the edge of Cumbria and the start of the Yorkshire Dales.
The landscape on the upper scar is shaped by its environment and winters up here are undoubtedly harsh being so exposed to the elements. The few Juniper tree’s that have managed to grow, have a dramatic wind swept look that add to wild feel of the place.
The Canon Hervey memorial cairn at the top is a beautiful place to sit on a sunny evening, watching the clouds roll in over the summit of Scarfell or the light reflecting of the bay is something special.
During your walk back down keep an eye (and ear) out for some of the local fauna. We saw skylarks, meadow pipits and a kestrel hunting on the tops and a green woodpecker back down at the treeline. As well as the numerous butterflies, roe deer, great spotted woodpecker and redstart are also regularly seen. You will also most likely encounter the Luing cattle that graze the reserve and help maintain the unique landscape.
It’s an easy decent back down the Lyth Valley side of the scar and most paths will take you down to the Crossthwaite/Whitbarrow by-way, you can follow this all the way back down to a small hamlet of houses named ‘ The Row’ just a few hundred meters south of the Lyth Valley Pub in where you started. Then it’s time for a well-earned drink or two, also try the Wheatsheaf Inn in the nearby village of Brigsteer, it’s also worth a visit if you are in the area!
Distance from Langdale -
Approx. 18 miles
Approx. 40 minutes drive
Book Your Room at Langdale