Without any doubt, to my way of thinking, Eskdale is the most beautiful valley in the Lake District. This view is corroborated by St. Alfred of Wainwright in his booklet ‘Walks from Ratty’ (7) where he says:
“Eskdale, one of the loveliest of Lakeland’s valleys, descends from the highest and wildest mountains in the district to the sands of Ravenglass in a swift transition from grandeur to beauty, from bleak and craggy ridges to verdant woodlands and pastures watered by a charming river. It is a place of many delights, the finest of all valleys for those whose special joy is to travel on foot and a paradise for artists. Unspoilt by commercial and industrial activity, it remains today little changed since the first settlers discovered and cultivated with loving care this perfect Arcadia in the hills.” (p.3)
I bow to the master. This, I believe, was written in 1978 and is still true today. My only quibble with the great man is that I find the upper reaches of Eskdale just as beautiful as the ‘verdant woodlands and pastures’ (see spots 96 & 97): the ridges may be ‘bleak and craggy’ but what about the waterfalls, the rivers, the Great Moss and the shapes of the mountain-tops which speak of beauty as well as grandeur?