Vale of Lorton - tucked away, yet so much to offer
The Vale of Lorton stretches from the Honister Pass though to Cockermouth. It contains the beautiful lakes Buttermere, Crummock Water, and Loweswater, and the River Cocker as it winds north from the lakes through Lorton valley. Staying here also gives easy access to the Solway coast, Whinlatter Forest, and the bustling Lakeland towns of Cockermouth and Keswick. Lorton Vale is not only one of the lushest and prettiest parts of the Northern Lakes, with so much within reach it also offers more variety of things to do than most central Lakeland valleys. So it's surprising and wonderful that it has remained so peaceful and relatively off the beaten track (keep the secret!!)
  • Explore the Lorton valley
  • 3 glorious lake shore paths
  • Bluebells on Rannerdale Knotts
  • Rowing & Fishing on the lakes
  • Honister mine tours, climbing & via ferrata
  • Windsurfing & kite buggying on the Solway
Explore the Lorton Valley
The Lorton valley has a beautiful open aspect with stunning views to the surrounding fells. The valley is a covered with a patchwork of fields and coppices, threaded through with footpaths and peaceful lanes that invite you to ramble. You can see possible walking circuits above, or you can simply wander down the High Swinside footpath to Scales and High Lorton, then on by lane to Low Lorton and see what you find!
Watch out for wildlife
Wildlife is abundant in the whole of Lorton Vale and adjacent Whinlatter Forest - with red squirrels frequently seen, ospreys feeding and nesting around Bassenthwaite Lake and Whinlatter Forest, and many smaller birds that are less frequently seen now in many parts of the UK.

A trip to the Visitors Centre in Whinlatter will allow you to watch the osprey nest by vidcam in the nesting season.

Not far from Lorton lie the RSPB reserves at St Bees Head to the west (CA27 0EU - 23 miles) and at Campfield Marsh on the Solway coast to the north (CA7 5AG - 35 miles).
Spot the 1000 year Lorton Yew
This ancient tree stands near Boon Beck in High Lorton across from the village hall (once the Jennings malthouse). Both John Wesley the Methodist, and George Fox who founded the Quakers, preached beneath this yew tree in their day - George Fox to a large crowd that included Cromwell’s soldiers. Wordsworth immortalized this yew in his poem ‘Yew Trees’ before it was damaged in a storm and its 27 foot girth was reduced to a mere 13 foot. The broken half was used to make the Chair for the mayor of Cockermouth. The tree still survives and is now at least 1000 years old.
Support the Lorton Village Shop!
Lorton village is made up of High and Low Lorton combined, and between the two you must stop at the now thriving Lorton Village Shop which, though only reopened in October 2015, is fast becoming the beating heart of the community.

It stocks delicious local produce and local handcrafts, and you can also have a cup of tea or a cold drink in the garden… See their very active Facebook page

High Lorton, CA13 9UL Phone: 01900 85102
Opening hours: Monday-Friday 9.00am-6.00pm
Saturdays & Sundays 9.00am -5.00pm (CLOSED TUESDAYS)
Visit St Cuthbert’s Church
St Cuthbert’s Church dates from 12th century but was rebuilt in the early 19th century. It is to be found between High and Low Lorton along footpaths from the two villages, or along ancient Crossgates Lane. It is simple and unpretentious, but contains some exceptional needlework designed and stitched by the ladies of Lorton valley. This includes twenty 14’ long kneelers which are well worth taking a detour to see... A service is held in the church most Sundays. For details see www.achurchnearyou.com/lorton-st-cuthbert/
Glimpse the Pele Tower at Lorton Hall...
Lorton Hall includes a 15th century Pele tower. 90 of these were built to resist Scottish invasion - small stone buildings with walls from 3-10 feet thick, unique to the north of England. This one at Lorton Hall is not open to the public, but can be glimpsed if you look over the surrounding wall.
Fancy a game of tennis?
Lorton has its own tennis club and all visitors are welcome. There are three well maintained courts, one with artificial grass which can also be floodlit for play on winter evenings. The other two are hard courts in excellent condition.

The fee can be paid at the Wheatsheaf pub in Lorton (01900 85199). (Please use the booking sheet on the club house notice board to check availability before paying).

Fees: Adult – £4 per person (per hour)
Under 18 – £1.50 per person (per hour)
http://lortontennis.org/
Call in at the Wheatsheaf Inn
You surely can’t return to High Swinside with out calling in at the award winning Wheatsheaf pub in Low Lorton – for a glass of Jennings by a roaring fire or in the safely enclosed garden beside the River Cocker!

The Wheatsheaf welcomes children and dogs, and offers an excellent menu - including Fresh Fish nights on Thursday and Fridays.

Low Lorton, CA13 9UW Phone: 01900 85199
www.wheatsheafinnlorton.co.uk/
Loweswater circuit & Kirkstile Inn
Nestled in a wooded valley Loweswater is a beautiful peaceful lake with a lovely 4 mile circuit path running mostly close to the shore – look out for red squirrels! (see Walking pages above for details). Unique within the Lake District, Loweswater drains towards the centre of Lakeland - to Crummock Water which it once formed part of.

On your way back to High Swinside you might stop at the Kirkstile Inn between Loweswater and Crummock Water for a glass of Loweswater Gold brewed by one of Lakelands micro breweries.
Loweswater, Kirkstile Inn: CA13 0RU Phone: 01900 85219
http://kirkstile.com/
Crummock Water & bluebells
The wonderful walk around Crummock Water is 11.8 miles long and lies mostly close to the lake. It can be extended by a detour to Scale Force – a dramatic waterfall. Alternatively you can walk over Melbreak and return along the Crummock Water shore - a higher but shorter walk.

For a delightful stroll, the bluebells in Rannerdale are simply spectacular in May and you don’t have to venture far from the car park at Rannerdale Bridge to find them. You can also do a stunning walk over Rannerdale Knotts which is more of an effort but gives superb views over Crummock Water and Buttermere and finishes through the bluebells when in flower. (See the Walking pages above for all these walks).
Buttermere - a stunning lake circuit
The 5 mile circuit of Buttermere is one of the most beautiful in the Lakes with dramatic views as you progress towards the head of the valley.

The section from Buttermere village along the far lake shore to the road at Gatesgarth Farm is wholly without stiles.

Many higher walks around Buttermere can start or finish with a section of this beautiful lake shore. (see Walking pages above for more details).
Boating on the three lakes
Fishing & Boating permits for Buttermere, Crummock Water and Loweswater are available from the National Trust.

There are no launching facilities, but you can launch your own non-motorised boats. On the two larger lakes the number of boats is limited to 10 per party (including canoes or windsurfers), while on Loweswater craft should be under 4m with a limit of 4 craft on the lake at any one time.

Day permits can be purchased from the car park machine at the National Trust car park in Buttermere (sat nav CA13 9UZ). Please note this machine only takes coins. For annual permit please call the National Trust office on 017687 74649.
Lake or river fishing
There is the opportunity for brown trout fishing, pike and perch on Loweswater (with a bag limit of 3 for the brown trout). On Buttermere & Crummock Water there is trout, char, pike and perch fishing - with a bag limit of 20 char.

The use of lead weights for fishing is banned on all National Trust waters.

All anglers need to hold an Environmental Agency Rod Licence; these can be obtained from any Post Office or online. (www.gov.uk/fishing-licences).
Honister mine tours & shop
Honister Pass is at the very head of Lorton Vale - and marks the watershed between Buttermere and Borrowdale. The Honister Mine is located at the pass and has a shop selling beautiful slate products. In addition it also offers mine tours, and even adrenalin adventures both inside and outside the mine (see next photos). Please visit Honister.com for more information.
Honister mine: CA12 5XN Phone: 017687 77230
www.honister.com/
Climbing at the Honister Pass
There are climbing routes for all levels of ability to be found in the Buttermere to Honister area. In addition you can Clime the mine inside a Lakeland mountain – the only one of its kind in England. The route follows the original underground mine workings with vertical climbs and rope bridge crossings, exploring hidden passages and caverns, then climbing into the roof of the mine before emerging onto the summit of Fleetwith Pike for a spectacular view…

Equipment supplied, no previous experience needed. Visit Honister.com for all the details
Honister Pass, CA12 5XN Phone: 017687 77230
Now Via Ferrata at Honister Pass!
Honister.com has also created a guided via ferrata route up the precipitous outer incline of Fleetwith Pike. This route follows the track the original miners took but uses continuous cable, steel rungs, and supports to make climbing this magnificent mountain achievable for non-climbers (wearing a harness for safety - all equipment supplied by Honister.com)...

Visit Honister.com for all the details.
Honister Pass, CA12 5XN Phone: 017687 77230
Golf - 18 hole course near Cockermouth
At the other end of the Vale and very easily accessible from Lorton valley, there is an 18 hole golf course near Cockermouth and visitors are welcome. The Club-house enjoys a beautiful view of the Lorton Fells, and offers the usual facilities including a full-size snooker table.

Nr A66, Cockermouth Golf Club CA13 9SG
Phone: 017687 76223 or 017687 76941
www.cockermouthgolf.co.uk
Windsurfing & Kite buggying
If you want a complete change of scene, it’s under 20 miles from High Swinside to the Solway coast. Allonby’s large crescent bay offers good windsurfing at high tide for intermediates or experienced windsurfers. At low tide its sand and shingle beach becomes a vast expanse of sand that’s great for dog walking (dog friendly), kite flying, or watching people kite-buggy. The sands are backed by dunes which are a nice place from which to enjoy the views across the Solway Firth to Scotland. There is a car park by the beach, toilets, and shops. Allonby: CA15 6PE

Tide times for next 7 days are given free on:
www.tidetimes.org.uk
A day on the beach at St Bees
Alternatively, on the coast to the southwest of Loweswater, St Bees has a mile-long sandy and pebble beach with tidal rock pools and rock formations at the foot of St Bees Head. The sand here is exposed at most states of tide except for a couple of hours either side of high tide. St Bees: CA27 0ET

There is a RSPB nature reserve on St Bees Head which is home to a range of seabirds including guillemots, kittiwakes, fulmars and razorbills. You can also spot peregrines and ravens above the red sandstone cliffs. www.rspb.org.uk

Explore the Lorton Valley
The Lorton valley has a beautiful open aspect with stunning views to the surrounding fells. The valley is a covered with a patchwork of fields and coppices, threaded through with footpaths and peaceful lanes that invite you to ramble. You can see possible walking circuits above, or you can simply wander down the High Swinside footpath to Scales and High Lorton, then on by lane to Low Lorton and see what you find!

Watch out for wildlife
Wildlife is abundant in the whole of Lorton Vale and adjacent Whinlatter Forest - with red squirrels frequently seen, ospreys feeding and nesting around Bassenthwaite Lake and Whinlatter Forest, and many smaller birds that are less frequently seen now in many parts of the UK.

A trip to the Visitors Centre in Whinlatter will allow you to watch the osprey nest by vidcam in the nesting season.

Not far from Lorton lie the RSPB reserves at St Bees Head to the west (CA27 0EU - 23 miles) and at Campfield Marsh on the Solway coast to the north (CA7 5AG - 35 miles).

Spot the 1000 year Lorton Yew
This ancient tree stands near Boon Beck in High Lorton across from the village hall (once the Jennings malthouse). Both John Wesley the Methodist, and George Fox who founded the Quakers, preached beneath this yew tree in their day - George Fox to a large crowd that included Cromwell’s soldiers. Wordsworth immortalized this yew in his poem ‘Yew Trees’ before it was damaged in a storm and its 27 foot girth was reduced to a mere 13 foot. The broken half was used to make the Chair for the mayor of Cockermouth. The tree still survives and is now at least 1000 years old.

Support the Lorton Village Shop!
Lorton village is made up of High and Low Lorton combined, and between the two you must stop at the now thriving Lorton Village Shop which, though only reopened in October 2015, is fast becoming the beating heart of the community.

It stocks delicious local produce and local handcrafts, and you can also have a cup of tea or a cold drink in the garden… See their very active Facebook page

High Lorton, CA13 9UL Phone: 01900 85102
Opening hours: Monday-Friday 9.00am-6.00pm
Saturdays & Sundays 9.00am -5.00pm (CLOSED TUESDAYS)

Visit St Cuthbert’s Church
St Cuthbert’s Church dates from 12th century but was rebuilt in the early 19th century. It is to be found between High and Low Lorton along footpaths from the two villages, or along ancient Crossgates Lane. It is simple and unpretentious, but contains some exceptional needlework designed and stitched by the ladies of Lorton valley. This includes twenty 14’ long kneelers which are well worth taking a detour to see... A service is held in the church most Sundays. For details see www.achurchnearyou.com/lorton-st-cuthbert/

Glimpse the Pele Tower at Lorton Hall...
Lorton Hall includes a 15th century Pele tower. 90 of these were built to resist Scottish invasion - small stone buildings with walls from 3-10 feet thick, unique to the north of England. This one at Lorton Hall is not open to the public, but can be glimpsed if you look over the surrounding wall.

Fancy a game of tennis?
Lorton has its own tennis club and all visitors are welcome. There are three well maintained courts, one with artificial grass which can also be floodlit for play on winter evenings. The other two are hard courts in excellent condition.

The fee can be paid at the Wheatsheaf pub in Lorton (01900 85199). (Please use the booking sheet on the club house notice board to check availability before paying).

Fees: Adult – £4 per person (per hour)
Under 18 – £1.50 per person (per hour)
http://lortontennis.org/

Call in at the Wheatsheaf Inn
You surely can’t return to High Swinside with out calling in at the award winning Wheatsheaf pub in Low Lorton – for a glass of Jennings by a roaring fire or in the safely enclosed garden beside the River Cocker!

The Wheatsheaf welcomes children and dogs, and offers an excellent menu - including Fresh Fish nights on Thursday and Fridays.

Low Lorton, CA13 9UW Phone: 01900 85199
www.wheatsheafinnlorton.co.uk/

Loweswater circuit & Kirkstile Inn
Nestled in a wooded valley Loweswater is a beautiful peaceful lake with a lovely 4 mile circuit path running mostly close to the shore – look out for red squirrels! (see Walking pages above for details). Unique within the Lake District, Loweswater drains towards the centre of Lakeland - to Crummock Water which it once formed part of.

On your way back to High Swinside you might stop at the Kirkstile Inn between Loweswater and Crummock Water for a glass of Loweswater Gold brewed by one of Lakelands micro breweries.
Loweswater, Kirkstile Inn: CA13 0RU Phone: 01900 85219
http://kirkstile.com/

Crummock Water & bluebells
The wonderful walk around Crummock Water is 11.8 miles long and lies mostly close to the lake. It can be extended by a detour to Scale Force – a dramatic waterfall. Alternatively you can walk over Melbreak and return along the Crummock Water shore - a higher but shorter walk.

For a delightful stroll, the bluebells in Rannerdale are simply spectacular in May and you don’t have to venture far from the car park at Rannerdale Bridge to find them. You can also do a stunning walk over Rannerdale Knotts which is more of an effort but gives superb views over Crummock Water and Buttermere and finishes through the bluebells when in flower. (See the Walking pages above for all these walks).

Buttermere - a stunning lake circuit
The 5 mile circuit of Buttermere is one of the most beautiful in the Lakes with dramatic views as you progress towards the head of the valley.

The section from Buttermere village along the far lake shore to the road at Gatesgarth Farm is wholly without stiles.

Many higher walks around Buttermere can start or finish with a section of this beautiful lake shore. (see Walking pages above for more details).

Boating on the three lakes
Fishing & Boating permits for Buttermere, Crummock Water and Loweswater are available from the National Trust.

There are no launching facilities, but you can launch your own non-motorised boats. On the two larger lakes the number of boats is limited to 10 per party (including canoes or windsurfers), while on Loweswater craft should be under 4m with a limit of 4 craft on the lake at any one time.

Day permits can be purchased from the car park machine at the National Trust car park in Buttermere (sat nav CA13 9UZ). Please note this machine only takes coins. For annual permit please call the National Trust office on 017687 74649.

Lake or river fishing
There is the opportunity for brown trout fishing, pike and perch on Loweswater (with a bag limit of 3 for the brown trout). On Buttermere & Crummock Water there is trout, char, pike and perch fishing - with a bag limit of 20 char.

The use of lead weights for fishing is banned on all National Trust waters.

All anglers need to hold an Environmental Agency Rod Licence; these can be obtained from any Post Office or online. (www.gov.uk/fishing-licences).

Honister mine tours & shop
Honister Pass is at the very head of Lorton Vale - and marks the watershed between Buttermere and Borrowdale. The Honister Mine is located at the pass and has a shop selling beautiful slate products. In addition it also offers mine tours, and even adrenalin adventures both inside and outside the mine (see next photos). Please visit Honister.com for more information.
Honister mine: CA12 5XN Phone: 017687 77230
www.honister.com/

Climbing at the Honister Pass
There are climbing routes for all levels of ability to be found in the Buttermere to Honister area. In addition you can Clime the mine inside a Lakeland mountain – the only one of its kind in England. The route follows the original underground mine workings with vertical climbs and rope bridge crossings, exploring hidden passages and caverns, then climbing into the roof of the mine before emerging onto the summit of Fleetwith Pike for a spectacular view…

Equipment supplied, no previous experience needed. Visit Honister.com for all the details
Honister Pass, CA12 5XN Phone: 017687 77230

Now Via Ferrata at Honister Pass!
Honister.com has also created a guided via ferrata route up the precipitous outer incline of Fleetwith Pike. This route follows the track the original miners took but uses continuous cable, steel rungs, and supports to make climbing this magnificent mountain achievable for non-climbers (wearing a harness for safety - all equipment supplied by Honister.com)...

Visit Honister.com for all the details.
Honister Pass, CA12 5XN Phone: 017687 77230

Golf - 18 hole course near Cockermouth
At the other end of the Vale and very easily accessible from Lorton valley, there is an 18 hole golf course near Cockermouth and visitors are welcome. The Club-house enjoys a beautiful view of the Lorton Fells, and offers the usual facilities including a full-size snooker table.

Nr A66, Cockermouth Golf Club CA13 9SG
Phone: 017687 76223 or 017687 76941
www.cockermouthgolf.co.uk

Windsurfing & Kite buggying
If you want a complete change of scene, it’s under 20 miles from High Swinside to the Solway coast. Allonby’s large crescent bay offers good windsurfing at high tide for intermediates or experienced windsurfers. At low tide its sand and shingle beach becomes a vast expanse of sand that’s great for dog walking (dog friendly), kite flying, or watching people kite-buggy. The sands are backed by dunes which are a nice place from which to enjoy the views across the Solway Firth to Scotland. There is a car park by the beach, toilets, and shops. Allonby: CA15 6PE

Tide times for next 7 days are given free on:
www.tidetimes.org.uk

A day on the beach at St Bees
Alternatively, on the coast to the southwest of Loweswater, St Bees has a mile-long sandy and pebble beach with tidal rock pools and rock formations at the foot of St Bees Head. The sand here is exposed at most states of tide except for a couple of hours either side of high tide. St Bees: CA27 0ET

There is a RSPB nature reserve on St Bees Head which is home to a range of seabirds including guillemots, kittiwakes, fulmars and razorbills. You can also spot peregrines and ravens above the red sandstone cliffs. www.rspb.org.uk