The River Brathay, it’s name comes from Old Norse and means “broad river”, is located in north west England. It rises to 393 metres above sea level near the Three Shire Stone, which is a boundary stone which marks the location at which the historic counties of Lancashire, Cumberland and Westmorland meet, at the highest point of Wrynose Pass in the Lake District, Cumbria.
The catchment area for this river includes the northern flanks of Wetherlam, Great Carrs and others of the Furness Fells together with a substantial area of the Langdale Fells. The small stream on top of Wrynose Pass gathers pace quickly, as it drops 283 metres in a distance of approximately 3.2 km. Before flowing into the Little Langdale Tarn it incorporates the outflow from Blea Tarn.
The River Brathay drains Little Langdale Tarn at it’s eastern side and continues in an easterly direction over Colwith Force, where it falls approximately 12 metres, before it turns north and flows into the tarn of Elterwater, at an elevation of approximately 57 metres above sea level.
The River Brathay then drains Elterwater and flows for approximately half a mile in a south easterly direction to Skelwith Force, where it drops approximately 4.6 metres, and passes under the A593 road at Skelwith Bridge continuing in an easterly direction towards the hamlet of Clappersgate.
Approximately 500 metres further on it joins the River Rothay near to Croft Lodge south west of Ambleside before it flows into the northern end of Lake Windermere. Sections of the River Brathay around Clappersgate and Skelwith Force are very popular with canoeists.