Is Ashness Bridge the most photographed place in the Lake District? If not, it must come a close second or third. This photogenic bridge spans Barrow Beck on the narrow, dead-end lane leading from the main Borrowdale road up to the isolated hamlet of Watendlath. It’s a lovely, old-fashioned humpback bridge, built of stone, but it’s really the backdrop that makes it such a popular spot… Stand upstream of the bridge and point your camera to take in Derwentwater with Skiddaw behind it. Perfection!
There is a small National Trust car park on the lane to Watendlath, just after Ashness Bridge, but the road and the bridge itself are very narrow, so visitors might be better off approaching this beauty spot on foot. Consider parking at the bottom of the lane and walking up – or catch the bus or boat from Keswick to the Ashness Gate jetty. Alternatively, a visit to Ashness Bridge could be incorporated into a walk on to Walla Crag, an excellent viewpoint to the north.
Keep your camera out because about half-a-mile further up the Watendlath road from Ashness Bridge is another charming spot that’s well worth visiting… Surprise View does exactly what it says on the tin… One minute you’re on a road heading uphill through the woods; step off the asphalt though and, almost immediately, the trees disappear and the ground drops away to reveal a panorama that takes in Cat Bells, Skiddaw, Derwentwater and Bassenthwaite Lake.
Beyond Surprise View, the lane continues for almost two miles, finally ending at Watendlath, a picturesque collection of cottages and farmhouses sitting beside a little tarn at about 850ft above sea level.