This shorter walk takes us around Irton Park, a delightful area of woodland just to the south of Irton Pike at the entrance to Esk Dale. We visit an almost hidden tarn, and are rewarded with some fabulous views up Esk Dale.
Length: 3 miles
Map: The English Lakes - South Western Area (OS Explorer Map Active)SW
Last Walked: 13 February 2010
We start from the small car park built into a quarry on the road between Santon Bridge and Eskdale Bridge. If coming from Santon Bridge the car park is on the left, just after the road begins to drop down gently after the climb out of the village. If coming from Eskdale Bridge the car park is on the right, just past a sharp left-hand bend about a mile and a half from the centre of the village.
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Turn right out of the car park. After a few feet we reach a gate leading into the woods to the right. Pass through this gate then turn left and follow the minor footpath that runs through the trees, with the road just to the left. This brings us to a second gate. Cross over the stile to return to the road, and follow it through the rest of the woods, taking advantage of the verge on the opposite side of the road.
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At the edge of the trees turn left onto a footpath that runs along a track running along the right-hand side of the trees. This track runs straight south for a short distance, then turns left to run into the trees.
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Our path soon reaches a crossroads with a clearer forest track. Head straight across the cross-roads to follow the least clear of the tracks. This brings us past Parkgate Tarn
, visible through the trees to the left of the path.
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Just after passing the tarn our path merges with a track coming from the right. Continue on along the merged track for a short distance. This brings us into an area where the trees have been cleared. A short way into this area the very clear track curves off to the left while an indistinct track continues on straight ahead (in February 2010 this junction was marked by a large stack of timber). Take the track than runs straight ahead. This then curves around to the left, before eventually reaching a minor road.
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Turn left onto this road and follow it as it climbs up past Sleathwaite Farm. On a clear day the view down Esk Dale from this stretch of the walk is absolutely stunning!
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After following the road for just under half a mile turn left onto a track that is signposted as a footpath and as leading to Plumgarth Farm. Head straight through the farmyard (passing through a gate), then follow a muddy track as it curves around to the right. This brings us to a long bracken filled field - follow the path as it runs along the left-hand side of this field, following a stone-wall with the forest on the far side.
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At the end of this field we reach a bit of a blockage - a stone wall with no gate or stile, but fortunately there are plenty of broken down gaps in the wall, including one very easy one which the moss suggests has been like this for some time. In theory a footpath leads diagonally and to the left through the trees from here, although it isn't visible on the ground. To start with turn left and follow a faint path that runs alongside a stone wall within the forest. After a short distance head a little more to the right to climb up towards the top of a small hill hidden in the trees. From here it should be possible to see Irton Pike
through gaps between the trees - head towards a point just to the left of the Pike until you reach a forestry track. Turn right onto this track and follow it to the gates that lead into the forest. Here turn right onto the road and follow it back to the car park.