The Duddon valley is one of the quietest in the Lake District for most of its length, but it is crossed by two surprisingly busy minor roads - the Birker Fell road which runs from West Cumbria to Ulpha and then out towards Furness and the M6 and the dramatic route over Hardknott and Wrynose Passes. Our walk starts in the heart of the quieter part of the valley, between Harter Fell and Grey Friar, and follows the route of the Duddon up to the passes road before returning back down the other side of the river.
Length: 3.75 miles
Map: Lake District South-West
Last Walked: Autumn 2013
We start from the Forestry Commission parking area at Froth Pot, on the River Duddon.
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A footpath leaves the northern tip of the car park (face the river then turn to the right), leading up to the road. Follow this road north all the way to Cockley Beck, where it joins the road over Hardknott and Wrynose Passes (ignore the section of footpath close to the river near the car park - that was unpleasantly muddy on our visit).
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At Cockley Beck turn left onto the passes road. This crosses a bridge over the Duddon then begins a fairly gentle climb up towards Hardknott Pass. Be careful on this section - in good weather there can be a fair amount of traffic.
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Follow the road for about half a mile. This brings us to the start of the first really steep bit of Hardknott Pass, where the road turns right and climbs up to cross Hardknott Gill (on our visit this bit of the road was very badly eroded). Just before the turn and steep climb look for a grassy track that branches off to the left, with Hardknott Gill running in a steep sided valley to its right. Turn onto this track. This brings us to a splendid viewpoint for the Duddon valley, and a path that runs down to Black Hall farm.
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The path runs straight through the farmyard (from above the path on the far side is clearly seen in the field on the far side). On our visit there were several noisy but quite friendly farm dogs here, so be aware of that possibility. On the far side of the farm the path runs diagonally across the next field to reach the Duddon, then runs alongside the river all the way back to a forestry bridge that leads to the Froth Pot car park. It was fairly dry for most of this distance apart from a rather wet patch just opposite the car park, but that was easily negotiated.