MOST people are familiar with the commercialised hotel-lined stretch of the east bank of Lake Windermere that runs along the main road between Bowness and Ambleside. Less familiar, is the west side of the lake, which has been largely left unspoilt for walkers and cyclists to explore.

This linear walk makes for a great day out, a walk linking the piers at Waterhead and Bowness and involving the lovely little Hawkshead ferry crossing which for pedestrians costs the princely sum of 50 pence one way!

If returning to Ambleside, you will also need transport from Bowness back to Waterhead and there is a very frequent bus service. Walking around the head of Windermere and exploring its north western wooded shoreline below Claife Heights is a delight from start to finish.

This walk takes in the site of Ambleside’s Roman fort, Galava, then follows roadside paths around to Wray Castle (cafe here), where Beatrix Potter came on family holidays and was first introduced to the Lakes.

Approaching the Hawkshead ferry crossing you can explore the restored 18th century Claife Viewing Station (cafe here) where Lakeland’s first Georgian tourists came to admire the panoramic view of the Lake.

If you want to make a real adventure of this walk you could even return to Waterhead via pleasure cruiser from Bowness.

1. Start at the bustling little pier and jetties at Waterhead. Follow the pavement with the shoreline on the left past the Wateredge Inn. On the far side of Borrans Park on the left an access gate leads to the site of Galava, the Roman fort, where there is an information board.

Continue straight ahead along the pavement past the rugby club on the left. Then turn left along the road signed for Coniston and Hawkshead.

Turn left at the bend to cross the River Rothay over a bridge that has been provided for walkers and cyclists next to the road bridge. Continue straight ahead along the pavement to the roadside hamlet of Clappersgate.

2. Turn left at the next junction, following the B5286 road signed for Hawkshead. Cross the road bridge over the River Brathay and follow the lane with care past Brathay Hall on the left. At the next lane junction join the roadside path on the right signed with blue cycleway signs for Wray Castle. The roadside path is now followed for the next few miles all the way to the entrance to Wray Castle.

There are sections where you need to cross over the road or follow the road itself. There is also one bridleway section where you leave the road behind at Pull Woods. The cycleway eventually brings you out on the lane at the entrance to Low Wray campsite.

3. Ignore the lane leading down to the campsite but walk ahead a bit further to reach the entrance lodge to Wray Castle. Turn left here and walk down the access drive though you might want to explore the little estate church on the right.

The drive leads down to Wray Castle, now opened by the National Trust. The gardens offer great views across the lake to Ambleside. To continue the walk follow the path between the car park behind the castle and the woods. Go through a gate and drop downhill to join the lake shore path past the boat houses.

4. Simply follow the lakeshore bridleway now for the next 4 miles along the edge of Claife Heights all the way to the Hawkshead Ferry. Before turning left for the ferry (which runs back and forth all day) don’t forget to climb the hill behind the little courtyard cafe for a look at the restored viewing station.

5. Cross the ferry and on the Bowness side walk up the lane for a very short distance then pick up the signed path on the left at the entrance to Cockshott Point. Follow the lakeside path to reach a lane and walk straight ahead to join the broad promenade of Bowness.