Dodd Wood, The Old Sawmill tea rooms and the Lake District Osprey Project. (With extension to Mire House and St Bega's Church)If all you want to do is to enjoy excellent tea and cake at the tea rooms and/or visit the Osprey Project then between April and August there is a regular Osprey Bus that leaves from the campsite in Braithwaite. This is not a circular walk, so if you are determined to stay on foot (and why not?!) then you'll be retracing your steps. Of course, there is the option to walk one way and bus the other.
Following prolonged rain, this walk is very wet. "Bog House" and "Bratithwaite Moss" have earned their names!
From 1 Bridge Cottage, cross the bridge and at the Royal Oak take the turning that leads past the Holiday Property Bond, St Herbert's Church and the school. Join the A66, and walk (left) along the verge for 50 yards before crossing the road and taking the footpath (left) after passing the Braithwaite Village Hall. Follow the path north east down the lane and over the field to Bog House. Cross the bridge and carry on in the same direction - don't get side tracked by the well trodden path to the left! After half a mile, the path joins the Allerdale ramble: turn left before you reach the River Derwent. This track leads to high Stock Bridge: cross, and then follow the lane to the A591. Turn left, cross the road and walk past Dancing Gate for half a mile (care - it's not a busy road but a fast one) before taking a permissive path through Dodd Wood. Look out for red squirrels! The path drops down to an old quarry before gently gaining height. After a mile on the path, you will pass the (old, as of 2008!) osprey view point.
The Lake District Osprey Project is a real success story for all the partners: the RSPB, Forestry Commission and the National Park Authority. In 2001, the partnership were able to encourage the first wild ospreys to breed in the Lake District for 150 years. If you are in the area between late Spring and Summer, take the opportunity to watch these wonderful wild creatures fly, fish and raise their chicks.
The photograph above shows Lake Bassenthwaite, the osprey nest (bottom left) and the male osprey (May 2008). In 2008, for some reason the pair decided to abandon the original nest and instead take over a previously constructed platform in Dodd Wood.
In 2012, the original male did not return - but one of his offspring from 2007, YV, did! The new pair moved to the other side of the A591, nesting in a tree at the head of the lake, and produced a chick, Luck 13. They returned in 2013, and one of the chicks from this season is currently enjoying sunshine in Africa. The higher viewpoint to view this new nest is about a quarter of a mile uphill from the old view point. During the "osprey season" both points are manned by volunteers who are very happy to discuss birds and help visitors get the best possible views; binoculars are also available for (free!) loan.
Past the lower viewpoint, at the path junction follow the path down to the Old Sawmill Tearoom
If time allows, historic Mirehouse is well worth a visit. Built by the Earl of Derby in 1666, the ground floor is open to visitors, and the house has a collection of manuscripts including letters from the Lake poets. The grounds stretch to the banks of Lake Bassenthwaite, and children are actively welcomed. Buy tickets at the tearoom, then cross the road to enter the grounds.
St Bega's Church is situated inthe grounds of Mirehouse, but you do not need to buy a ticket to visit. Cross the road, and follow the path past Mirehouse. The story of St Bega is told on my Keswick Saints' page: St Bega's is a haven of peace and sanctity, and one does not have to be Christian to appreciate the spirituality of the pretty church and the beauty of the surroundings.
So to return, either by bus or retracing steps. And not only have you gone some way to justifying the calorie intake from your visit to the tearoom, but by avoiding taking a car you've also helped preserve the environment!