Walks: Keswick

Map of walk.
Map of walk.

Start: Smaithwaite Lane end on A591 a mile north of Legburthwaite. GR NY311201. This road is served by a regular bus service 555

Distance: 7 miles 11k

Time: 3– 4hours

Summary: An undulating route with some short but strenuous ascents and one very steep descent

Maps: OS OL 4 & 5 The English Lakes North western and north eastern areas

From the lane end cross the start (or end) of the dual carriage way to a wooden gate.

This leads onto a grassy track that heads northwards gradually climbing to an upland shelf below the main ridge.

Bear to the right and then drop to a ladder stile close to a junction of walls. Cross this and with a wall to the right continue gently climbing.

After the wall ends at a corner keep ahead on an obvious track now aiming for the summit before you. The views reward all the effort of getting there. From the top continue northwards following a broad grassy track that soon drops steeply to the road end close to the church in St John’s in the Vale.

The church and its yard to the right of the youth centre are well worth a browse.

However, turn left onto the lane end and continue through a wooden gate on a farm road for 400 yards to the point where it bends to the left.

Here drop down to a kissing gate and take a footpath leading west towards the A591.

After crossing a patch of rough pasture the path levels and then, after a footbridge over Naddle Beck, bears right (following the direction of a signpost) and continues to reach the A591.

Cross the road and turn right. Keep on the road for 350yds then turn left through a wooden gate in the direction of Walla Crag.

The track climbs gently with the field boundary on the right.

After a gate the way levels out and then after passing through a gate in a wall turns right on a track edging round Rakefoot Farm to the left. The track leads down to a lane. Turn left.

After 150 yards turn right over a wooden footbridge and commence the climb to the top of Walla Crag. Keep to the wall on the right.

As the path begins to level out go through a kissing gate on the right which leads into an area of rock and heather, taking you on a narrow but exhilarating path along the edge of Wall Crag with fabulous views towards Keswick and the Skiddaw Massif behind. The path leads up to a wide platform with more fabulous views. Wainwright calls this “a delectable place for a picnic”. We cannot contradict him.

From the top re-join the path descending to the wall. After crossing a stile, continue a gentle descent with the wall to the right.

Keep right and soon the way becomes steeper as you enter Cat Gill.

After a gate, keep going downhill on a well-made path close to the stream.

Another kissing gate leads into the woodland on the right and the steep descent continues.

Gradually the way becomes less steep and then on a broader track reaches a wooden barrier.

Here turn left and continue on a path through trees to reach the Borrowdale Road.

Cross this to a stone stile leading onto the shore of Derwent Water. Turn right.

The shoreline path is easy to follow and, from this point, all ways northwards will lead to Keswick.

If you want to climb up Friar’s Crag – a lovely wooded viewpoint over the lake – turn left through a wooden gate a short distance after passing a National Trust cottage. Keep on this track over Friar’s Crag and all the way to Keswick.