Parsons Passage

Eskdale mini pilgrimage


Parsons Passage
1.5 miles
m ascent
Mostly good paths and roads, but rocky and uneven in places
1.5 hours

Parsons Passage

OS OS Map OL6 car park grid ref: NY173007 Post Code: CA19 1TF

A circular route down Parsons Passage to St. Catherine’s church and round back to Dalegarth station car park. This route may be unsuitable for some wheelchair or pushchair users as the path surface is rocky in places (see photographs and explanation below). There is a playground at Dalegarth Station and, of course, the ‘La’al Ratty’ Ravenglass and Eskdale steam railway.

Getting there: This walk is in Boot In Eskdale. Park at the Dalegarth Station Car park in Boot.

Public Transport: It is not possible to get public transport to this location.

Refreshments: There is a café at the station and a number of pubs nearby.

Public Conveniences: There are toilets available, including disabled facilities, available at the station.


Leave the Dalegarth station car park (fee payable) and turn right down the road (note there are no pavements so please be aware of oncoming traffic). When you reach the old school take the road opposite on the left – signposted ‘Eskdale Trail: Stanley Ghyll Waterfall’ a bit further along this road is a turning on the left signposted ‘St. Catherine’s Church’. Go through the latched gate entitled ‘Parsons Passage’ and follow the path as it meanders past fields and through another latched gate where you will see a glimpse of the church in the distance.

As you head around to the church there are a couple of slate ‘steps’ which have been put in place to stop stones washing down the path beyond which are some areas of large stones (see photographs). Meaning it may be unsuitable for some.

Where the path meets the road, turn right towards the church. You can go inside if you like as it should be open.

This latter part of the journey is on lanes and roads which are also used by vehicles. When you’ve had a look at the church turn back up the lane, but instead of following the path you came up (now on your left) continue straight on along the road where the signpost points to Eskdale Mill. Follow the lane around past some houses. This route leads back to the main road where you will need to turn left and head back to Dalegarth station.


It is thought that the first church built on the site where St. Catherine’s sits today was in 1125. If you go inside the church look at the images on the font, and the stained glass windows, some of which date from the 14th Century. There is also a Holy Well a ten minute walk from the church, and it is thought that a hermit may have lived in the area. There are the supposed remains of his hermitage up on one of the fells behind Dalegarth Station.


Make this walk to St. Catherine’s church following in the footsteps of parsons through the years. A pilgrim is someone who travels to a holy or sacred place, a journey for the soul.

Take your time, soak in the atmosphere of this beautiful valley. Be present in the moment, feel the sensations in your body as you travel along.

Wonder while you wander – what wonderous things do you see?

Pause and find something to look at close up that you might have missed if you’d carried on by.

Listen carefully to the sounds around you – what different sounds do you hear?

Place your hands on part of the stone wall (watching out for sharp bits), some moss or the bark of a tree. Close your eyes and really feel with your fingers – is it warm or cold to touch? Is it rough or smooth? Perhaps if you’re feeling brave take your shoes off and feel the grass or slate beneath your feet. Find a flower to smell or breathe in deeply – what can you smell? Feel connected to the environment around you.

Stop on the path where you first see the church and savour the view. The church is your destination, but what is more important to you – the destination or the journey?

When you reach the church, you may like to go inside, or you might prefer to stay outside and enjoy the view. Although church is a place Christians go to worship, we don’t believe that God lives there, God is everywhere – and is as much in the fells as in church.

As you return back to where your car is parked, think of one thing you will take with you from this experience of pilgrimage.


Detour to Holy Well – not suitable for wheelchairs or pushchairs.

It is possible to walk to the Holy Well from the church, it is about a ten minute walk but the path is uneven and uphill so not suitable for pushchairs or wheelchairs.

Walk towards the river from the church and follow the path around to the left by the river. You will come to a signpost that points left to ‘Doctor BR’, turn left here. Continue along this path until you see the sign pointing left to Hows Wood and St. Catherine’s Well. Follow the path as it zig zags up the hill, you will reach a post with a yellow arrow on it. Don’t follow the arrow (which leads to the woods) rather follow the faint path that curves around to the right (see photograph) about 15 metres from the post is the well, a stone surrounded ‘pool’ though you may not see any water in the well. Then retrace your steps back to the church and continue as above.

Walk from St Catherine’s church along the river



Signpost pointing up to the Holy Well


Hill up to the Holy Well


Path to the well 


The Holy Well


When you reach the church, you may like to go inside, or you might prefer to stay outside and enjoy the view. Although church is a place Christians go to worship, we don’t believe that God lives there, God is everywhere – and is as much in the fells as in church.