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In this gentle circuit, woodland walking along the lower slopes of Ullock Pike is combined with paths across the elds beside Bassenthwaite, the district’s only true ‘lake’.
The lonely old church of St. Bega is included, the route also passes close to Mirehouse, a small stately home.
Despite extensive renovation in 1874, St Bega’s church still has a great deal of interest to see inside, not least a chancel arch claimed to be pre-Norman.
Dodd Wood is provided with numerous colour-coded trails, including one leading to the osprey viewpoint. The modest ascent is almost entirely at the start of the walk. There are no dif culties underfoot, where the path is not well de ned, short cropped grass is excellent. Refreshments: Old Sawmill tea shop/cafe at the car park.
Start Point – Pay and display carpark with public conveniences at Dodd Wood.
From Braithwaite drive along A66 to the large roundabout close to Keswick. Turn left on A591 towards Carlisle. The car park is on the right, opposite the entrance to Mirehouse, in a little more than 3 miles. The 555, X4 and 73/73A (Saturdays and high season Sundays and Bank Holidays) bus services connect Keswick with Mirehouse.
From the Old Sawmill tea room, bear right to the footbridge over Skill Beck, noting the broken dam above which created a pool to provide headwater for the waterwheel which powered the saws in the mill. (signpost ‘all trails’). Turn sharp left after the bridge, towards the road. There are blue, yellow, green and red waymarks on a post. The path bears right, uphill to join a surfaced roadway.
Turn right then, in 10 yards, turn sharp left to rise steadily along a broad track through the woodland, with Ullock Pike above. There are occasional glimpses of the lake. Join another track by a rock face at the top of the rise (yellow waymark), bear left, now level but soon rising again. The path narrows and begins to descend before crossing Sandbeds Gill. Continue downhill, now on a broad track. Keep left at a fork go straight on at a second fork. As the road is approached keep right at another fork, taking the lesser of the two tracks, heading for the Ravenstone Hotel.
Join the road, close to two redundant stiles. Turn right, along the roadside, through hotel forecourt – off road footpath sign, passing the hotel, cross the road and then pass Ravenstone Lodge. Turn left immediately after the Lodge, along a path. There is a ‘St Bega’s 1 mile’ signpost. After a gate/stile pass some huge conifers and cross a meadow to a kissing gate. Lord’s Seat and Broom Fell are the hills straight in front, on the opposite side of the lake. There is a stepped land form in the next eld. Walk along the top of the step towards a group of trees, bearing left to a tiny stream and stile over a fence. Continue along a clear path among well- spaced oak trees. Go through more kissing gates, pass an electricity sub station, and reach a minor surfaced road.
Cross the road to a gate/stile, with a ‘St Bega’s church’ sign. Follow the farm track. The conical hill above the wood is Dodd. The large farm to the left is Sand Hill. reach a farm gate, with a waymarked kissing gate a few yards to the right. Carry on along a good track descending gently by the edge of High eld Wood to St Bega’s church, beautifully sited close to the lake shore.
Retrace for 50 yards then turn right, before the stream, to take an initially rather faint path by a line of great oaks, heading for Mirehouse. Go through metal gates and keep to the designated footpath through the grounds. Turn right by the outbuildings to follow a surfaced drive. On approaching the public road, go over grass, to the right of a roadside house, for 30 yards. Go through a gate, join the road, and turn left for 40 yards to the entrance to the car park.
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