We started at the NT car park just above the beautiful Hobbit-like Birk’s Bridge and headed into the forestry land, marked on the OS map as Dunnerdale Forest and by the Forestry Signs as Hardknott Forest. Much of the wood that was described by Wainwright as “young plantations” has now been cleared and neatly stacked up making for a rather beautiful, if working, landscape. The Commission is now replanting the forest as a mixed deciduous rather than the stark fir crop to reflect the changing purposes of these fells.
We used the level forestry roads rather than the narrower public footpaths as they are lovely for chatting whilst walking. Good progress was made across the forest to Grassguards Farm with its little concreted ford. Here we picked up the Grassguards Gill bridleway down into the beautiful gnarled trees and river walks around Wallowbarrow. Here, we took the opportunity to lob some rather large stones in the river before retiring to the Newfield for half pints of CatNap and something-and-chips.
The walk took one hour 40 minutes and we were helped by another member of the family was waiting to provide a lift to retrieve cars rather than having to walk back after a rather heavy meal!