The Lake District Series – Ennerdale Water

with No Comments

Ennerdale water is a remote glacial lake that is tucked away in the north west of the national park surrounded by mountains and mature conifers. I knew very little about this stunning lake, with the neighbouring village of Ennerdale bridge set back from the lake, giving this lake even more remoteness. The location of the lake is also further for anyone travelling from most of England; I wish I knew about it sooner.

Tranquil Ennerdale Water In The English Lake District, Cumbria | © Travels and Wandering
Tranquil Ennerdale Water In The English Lake District, Cumbria | © Travels and Wandering

Facts About Ennerdale Water

  • Most of the area is owned by the Forestry Commission or the National Trust
  • It is home to one of the largest forests in cumbria and supplies vast amounts of timber
  • It was the filming location for the closing scenes of the movie 28 Days Later (2002).
  • It is the only lake in the Lake District National Park that doesn’t have a road running alongside or around it (although it is accesible by car, this is done carefully.
  • It is relatively small compared to some of the more well known lakes. With a length of just 2.5 miles and a width 0.75 mile. The depth of this lake is about 148 deep.

Getting To Ennerdale Water

We were coming from the north of the national park on this particular visit to the lakes. Although I live in Lancashire on the coast, I was staying with my best friend who lives in Bolton low houses a tiny village in the north between Wigton and the park. We followed the A595 that wraps around the peninsula and linked up with croasdale to get to the parking at Bowness knott car park.

If you are coming from the south, you will most likely meet the bleach green car park first.

Bowness Knott Car Park At Ennerdale Water | © Travels and Wandering
Bowness Knott Car Park At Ennerdale Water | © Travels and Wandering

There Are Only These Two Car Parks By Ennerdale Water

  • Bowness Knott Car Park – Easiest access for the forest trails.
  • Bleach green car park – Best for those wanting to get access to the water with their paddleboards, kayaks and canoes.

Walking and Hiking Around Ennerdale Water

One of the great things about ennerdale is the wonderful walking trail that wraps around the entire lake and only deviates shortly on the east side. It is mostly flat all the way round other and is great for all abilities. We followed the lake round for about 8km then decided to head back to the car as it was roasting (typical english complain when its cold and cimplain when its hot… but really it was a toasty day, with lots of sunburn despite factor 50).

  • The Ennerdale valley and classic route follows the continuing along the main path instead of following the lake across the bridge. It then loops back and you will end up crossing the bridge and lakeshore to head back the way you came. This is about 12.9km.
  • To do the full lake route you can cut across the bridge, then continue all the way around which is about the same distance (just follow the shoreline).

The combination of the ennerdale forrest to the north of the lake and the backdrop of the peaks to west just make this lake have a magical feel. You will see other people when walking and I would reccomend arriving early to park with ease but you certainely wont be met by the crowds of other lakes in this national park.

Considerations: We wore trail shoes, you can get away with trainers if they are durable but there are areas as you continue round the lake that are uneven and have lose shale. Walking boats are a must in the shoulder seasons and if you want to head of to the fells or forest.

Don’t forget there are no facilities here to go to the toilet or buy food etc. My advice is to go before you leave or stop at Ennerdale Bridge village.

The Peaks of Ennerdale

When you are walking around ennerdale you will see the stunning peaks to the east side of the lake. The peaks stand quite dramatically next to the sudden flat farmland and they are unspoilt by commercialism, buildings or tourist facilities which is a welcome change.

Pillar and Scoat Fell

These two peaks sit side by side to the east of the lake and slightly south. Looking out from Scoat fell you you can see some of the more notorious peaks of the lake district for avid hikers such as great gable, kirk fell and on a clear day scafell pike. The village of wasdale head sits low in the valley between these fells and is usually the access point to scafell. I haven’t done this hike in over 13 years but I will aim to do this again and provide some information and pictures on this wonderful day hike.

The Lake District Series - Ennerdale Water
Ennerdale Water From The View Point Next to Bowness Knott Car Park Looking at The Pillar (left higher point) and joining Scoat Fell | © Travels and Wandering

High Stile

High stile sits to the east and the north of lake and behind the forest. You will get glimpses of this when you head around to the south side of the lake and look east but it is also tucked behind the trees. Most people would access this walk from buttermere. Again another hike I’ve done many years ago and views a small lake in the distance but not quite been curious enough at the time to head over there.

Getting On The Lake

You can take a kayaks, paddleboards, canoes and row boats on the lake without a permit. You don’t need a permit unless you are running a commercial group. It is a tranquil place to paddle and I would definitely reccomend this area. The only noise we heard were our voices, the russling of trees and birdsong. To launch the best and most convenient location is near Ennerdale bridge the what three words is: TINKLE.HILLSIDE.BOLT


  • Powered Boats are not permitted
  • Sail Boats are not permitted
  • You are also not permitted to swim in Ennerdale lake.
  • Fly fishing is the only type allowed. You will find salmon, trout, brook lamprey, eel, stickle back and it is the only location you will find Arctic charr in the U.K.

Pin For Later

Also don’t forget our other articles in the Lake District Series:

Discover Ennerdale water in the Lake district
Follow Nicole:

Owner of Travels and Wandering | Lecturer by Day, Nomad at Heart Adventure Travel Tester | Outdoor Instructor | Mountaineering and Outdoors Researcher | Strength and Conditioning Coach | Yoga Instructor | Personal Trainer | Fitness Pro | Endo Warrior, Pelvic Congestion Syndrome, Spoonie

Leave a Reply