Helton to Whale – circular walk

Circular walk minus the kids

When we were staying in Helton, nr Penrith, Rich and I had an hour spare so we decided to have a walk. We headed out on a short circular walk to the local hamlet of Whale, a round walk of 3.1 miles.



Helton to whale

The little village of Helton is where I grew up so it was wonderful to be back – even if I did get ill.  It was great to see the village, which hasn’t changed a huge amount, and visit all the houses that used to belong to friends of ours.

The village isn’t very big and it’s impossible to get lost, so walking to the penultimate house of the village (It might be called seckford cottage), you take the track to the left crossing the main road of Wideworth farm road and onto the signed track.  Most of this walk, as it borders the River Lowther and because it rains a lot, can be quite muddy so you’ll need a pair of strong, waterproof boots.

Helton to Whale

The start of the muddy path

Helton to Whale

The middle of the muddy path is quite narrow in winter


The walk is very quiet and we didn’t meet another soul on it. We were surrounded by nature, mountains, trees, the sound of running water and quite a few sheep.

You will cross three small streams that are not featured on the map, each possibly not existing in the summer months when it is drier.

Helton to Whale

One of the streams that borders the walk

Helton to Whale

The view to the south of the muddy lane


There are four bridges on the walk although two are little more than a quick foot-step over the passing water.

Walking to the end of the muddy path you take a left, almost veering back on yourself to cross a small wooden bridge, just wide enough for one person to get through.  Below you can almost see the larger wooden bridge to the right of the photo. It is a little smudged by a rain drop.  You have to allow for rain drops in Cumbria!

Helton to Whale

Head left over the small stile bridge

Helton to Whale

It is just wide enough for one person

Walking parallel to the river lowther

Keeping the River Lowther on your right hand side, you pass through incredibly muddy fields (in the winter) with sheep and horses. The horses were quite friendly and allowed us to pet them but sadly the sheep were more inclined to run away.

The river was high and already showing signs of encroaching over the banks. The area is prone to flooding but for now it kept a respectful distance.  I loved the contrasting colours with the greens of the grass and the reds of the berries.

Helton to Whale

River Lowther running high

Helton to Whale

The view back over to Helton from the river

A one sided bridge

Eventually you will cross a stretch of water so small it isn’t featured on the map above (although it does appear on Google’s maps). This little one sided bridge leads to the road and the Lowther Bridge which you will cross. Have no fear of falling off or in as the water is only about 30cm deep at the most and this was full.

This bridge marks the half way point of the walk.

Helton to Whale

One sided bridge

Crossing the lowther bridge

The Lowther Bridge is a large, stone built bridge that became famous for the horse fell trials that used to take place in the summer. Although the Lowther Horse Trials still continue, I am unsure if they still use the fells up-above Helton or drive the horses and their traps through the river here.  The trials used to be a favourite of the Royal Family and we once met Prince Philip in his Range Rover!!

In the summer the river runs much lower and at times has run dry. The horses and traps run from the road down and through the river bed.

Helton to Whale

Panoramic of the river and Lowther bridge

Helton to Whale

River Lowther

Helton to Whale

River Lowther

Up towards the woods

After the bridge, take a left and walk up towards the woods. They were a fantastic autumnal colour when we visited and very mesmerising.

From here you will get a great view of Helton with the mountains in the background.

Helton to Whale

The track up to the woods

Helton to Whale

The view of th river Lowther, the Lowther Bridge and Helton

Over towards Whale

Heading right towards the hamlet of Whale will take on a wide path that circumnavigates both the woods and the fields. I am presuming that these are crop fields as they were full of large Canadian Geese which decided to fly away as we approached. The noise their wings made was eery!

After crossing the fields and a steep stone stile in the corner, you will approach the hamlet of Whale which comprises of approximately ten houses.

Helton to Whale

Lane that cuts through the woods and fields

Helton to Whale

Views over the snowy mountains

Entering Whale

It looks as if you’ll enter somebody’s garden but luckily you bypass this and walk down a lane into the hamlet. You will need to turn right through the Hamlet on the concrete road, meeting the main road and crossing into a field to meet the river again.

Helton to Whale

Not somebody’s garden but a lane behind it

Helton to Whale

The first house in Whale.

Leaving Whale

Meeting Whale Beck (which runs into the River Lowther) on your left hand side you will walk towards the large wooden bridge you saw to the right, as you first started the walk.

The beck here was very high and in danger of spilling onto the path. Of course in the summer months it is much lower.

Helton to Whale

Whale beck

Over the big bridge

The large wooden bridge leads you back to the field in which you started and signifies almost the end of the walk.

We stopped here for a while to take in the gushing river and the beauty of the snow capped mountains which contrast so vibrantly with the orange leaves in the trees.

Helton to Whale

The bridge crossing the river Lowther

Helton to Whale

The view from the bridge over the fells

Helton to Whale

Rich basking in the winter sun

Helton to Whale

I didn’t get tired of the view

Helton to Whale

Those mountains

Back to the little stream

Walking back up that little muddy, single lane path you will meet the stream and then the main road of Wideworth Farm Road. Now you’re back in Helton and hopefully feeling refreshed after such a glorious walk.

Helton to Whale

Stream running through the fields


We found this short walk of 3 miles very therapeutic and calming; the sound of the water, the crispness of the air, the raindrops (on my camera!!) and the utter calmness of the day left us feeling refreshed. I hope you enjoy it too.


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