Elter Water

Elter Water

Elter Water

Length – 1.0km / Max Width – 0.4km

Elter Water, deriving its name for the Old Norse for "Lake of the Swans", is a small, yet picturesque body of water a few miles west of Ambleside, known for its beautiful waterfall and visiting swan population.

The village of Elterwater on the northwest shore of the lake is dominated by holiday cottages, so if you are looking for a self-catered property this is a good place to start. Elter Water can be accessed via the A593 from Ambleside and then onto the B5343.


There is a National Trust car park on the edge of the village of Elterwater at Grid Ref NY 328 048. Alternative parking is available at the southeastern side of the lake close to Skelwith Force waterfall at Grid Ref NY 341 037. Additional roadside parking may be found in the village of Elterwater but please ensure you do not block any access points.


There are public toilets at Elterwater, as well as a collection of pubs and cafés catering to the visiting tourists. At Skelwith Bridge village, which is around a half a mile southeast of the lake, you will find additional pubs and cafés.

Walking Trails

Elter Water is a brilliant place to visit if you are a family with young children or are a wheelchair user, thanks to its location on the Cumbria Way. This national trail will lead you from the National Trust car part at Elterwater (NY 328 048) along the northern shore of the lake and down to the breath-taking Skelwith Force waterfall at Grid Ref NY 340 034.

This route is just over a mile in total, 2.5 miles if you include the return journey and is a on a well-maintained path suitable for pushchairs and wheelchairs. Once you reach Skelwith Force, you can continue to walk around the lake, but as the southern side of the lake is privately owned with no public access points you will need to complete part of your route on a single track road, joining it from the Cumbria Way at NY 330 030.

This route will take you past a second waterfall, Colwith Force. The single-track road will lead you back to the village of Elterwater.