The River Duddon flows through one of the most attractive Lakeland valleys, a quiet walkers valley for most of its length, accessed along a narrow and winding road and offering an unusual line of approach to the Coniston fells.
The River Duddon is familiar (if largely unrecognised) by thousands of nervous motorists, who drive alongside its upper reaches on the western side of Wrynose Pass. The river changes character twice on its way to the sea. We start with the mountain stream running alongside the busy road between Hardknott and Wrynose. When the motorist leaves the Duddon on their way up Hardknott, the river turns south and runs through pretty fields in the bottom of a lovely, and often very quiet valley. This stretch brings us past the isolated settlements at Seathwaite and Ulpha. The second change comes to the south of Ulpha, at Duddon Bridge, where the valley opens up and then merges into the Duddon Estuary, with its wide sands.
Like the Esk, the Duddon rises in the heart of the mountains and flows through scenic areas all the way to sea. The Duddon Estuary has Millom on one flank and Barrow-in-Furness on the other, but neither town really impinges on the view, with both sitting back from the river. On the Furness side the estuary is lined with nature reserves. To the north is the Duddon Mosses National Nature Reserve, an area of important wetland. Further south are the dunes of Sandscale Haws, with an important population of Natterjack Toads. Right at the river's mouth is the North Walney National Nature Reserve.
The Duddon is generally well served by footpaths, in its upper reaches and poorly further down. A path runs along the northern side of the river through Wrynose Bottom. When the river turns south, so does this track, while on the opposite bank there is a quiet road. A permissive path follows the course of the river from Froth Pot to Fickle Crag, where a right of way takes over. A similar mix of paths gets us all the way to Seathwaite. There is then quite a gap before we find a short stretch of riverside path at Ulpha.
For the driver the easiest places to stop are the car park at Froth Pot, in the heart of the upper valley, a small parking area on the south side of the river at Ulpha and another small parking area about a mile further south, a popular stopping picnic area.
The Duddon rises on the western side of Wrynose Pass.
The Duddon flows west to Wrynose Bottom. At the foot of Hardknott Pass it turns south, and then flows south/ south-west through the splendid Duddon valley, eventually flowing into the Irish Sea between Millom and Barrow-in-Furness.
Doe House Gill
Cockley Beck Gill
Dale Head Gill
Old Park Beck
Hollow Moss Beck
High Shaw Pool