The Lake District Guide

Lake District Valley and Low-level Walks

Derwentwater walks

Walla Crag - 4.5 miles

This walk offers splendid high-level views over Derwentwater and by contrast falls to the lake shore by way of a forest trail. There is a climb at the beginning, but the path is not rough. Given reasonable footwear - that is with a good tread on the soles - anyone can manage the walk with ease.Borrowdale walks

The walk starts at Ashness Gate, at the foot of the road to Watendlath. Drive up the Borrowdale road for just over two miles and the Watendlath road leads off it to the left. Go a few yards up this road, and park on the car park on the left. Continue to walk up the Watendlath road. You are soon in sight of Ashness Bridge, the famous view point. If you have not previously visited this, walk up to the bridge and just up the beck bank beyond it to see the view over Derwentwater with the bridge in the foreground. However our path begins just before the bridge.

There is an old gateway and near it a path going up the fell side on the left. The path climbs through bracken, and as you gain height there is a fine view left. The path passes over grass and rock and bears left. There are views over Derwentwater and over to Bassenthwaite Lake. The path steepens under a bent ash tree and then the way is less distinct. The direction is forward and left and the path can be picked up as it gains height less steeply. Later it levels off and gains height gradually. There are some even more splendid views. However nearer the summit of the fell a shoulder of land obscures the immediate view over the lake.

Another track is joined, follow it left on a pleasant grassy track. The track narrows and curves round a cove. (Cat Gill.) The path widens and begins to leave the lake slightly and climb again. Cross a beck by stepping stones, and on to an open fell through heather patches.

When a wall is reached follow it up slightly and then go over a stile and along the path beyond. The summit gives a bird's-eye view of Keswick. Skiddaw is behind, and Blencathra on its right. Go to the cairn. There is an extensive view in all directions. If it is clear Scafell Pike and Great Gable can be seen well over to the left as you face the lake.

Pick up the path leading on from the cairn to the fence and follow the fence down taking care on slippery rock. Go over the stile, at the corner, and continue on to follow the wall. Start to descend and bear right towards broad grassy track. Follow the wall ahead. After undulations the broad path descends on steep grass which can be slippery. Join a hard track and bear left. Go over a stile. and continue down. Cross the footbridge and join the macadam road. A road joins from the right. (Rakefoot). Continue on.

If you look over the wall on the left you will soon see a little footbridge. This is reached through a gate on the left. Cross the footbridge and turn right, under hazelnut trees. When the path forks continue on the right hand one. Cross the stile. Cross another stile and at this point turn sharp left and head for the wood. Go over the stile into it and forward through the bracken.

Go down a narrow path between larch trees. The path widens and there is an iron ladder stile. Go over this or through the gate. Larches are soon broken by hazels and pines, and you are on a forest trail in Great Wood. This is a National Trust property. Eventually the path comes to a cross-roads. Go straight across. The path is poor at first but gets better further on. Go over a stile then left.

You are on a green track which comes to the Borrowdale road at an old gateway. Cross the road and go through the kissing-gate opposite. Turn left. Over in the lake there is the smaller island called Rampsholme; and beyond it the larger one of St. Herbert's island.

As you continue along the lake shore you reach a point where crags, steepen. Here there. are several paths and you should take your choice. If the lake is low it might be as well to walk by the lake edge. Take your time if you go by the crag and pick your route carefully. Watch for tree roots. You then reach a landing-stage. Leave the path here for the road. Cross it again with care, and you are again at Ashness Gate with the car park a little way up the Watendlath Road.

Lodore Fails and Ashness - 3 miles

Those who appreciate the Lake District landscape should not miss seeing the great classics. The view over Derwentwater with Ashness Bridge in the foreground is one of them. It is one of the most photographed views in Britain.

A second classic is "Surprise View"; the airy look over Derwentwater that hits the traveller when northbound from Watendlath. It is dramatic in the extreme. The cliff below one's feet is so steep that one has the sensation of flight; and through the gap in the ring of fell walls, is a view way over to Bassenthwaite Lake.

Of all the Lake District waterfalls, the falls of Lodore are the most famed. To combine all the above attractions into one walk, is superb. A round walk is easily achieved on good paths. The day must be clear otherwise the views are lost and they're the reason for the walk. Ideally it should be a clear day after heavy rain so that the falls can be seen at their dramatic best, but this might be too much to hope for. In any case the walk is worth doing. It is mainly through mixed woodland.

The walk starts at the public car park at Kettlewell Common. Take the Borrowdale road from Keswick. After two and a half miles there is a road junction left, then the road approaches close to the lakeshore. Watch then for the car park on the right in a partly-wooded promontory.

Having parked, leave the car park by the entrance and turn left along the road. After only forty yards there is a gap in the wall on the right by a National Trust footpath sign. Go through this gap and join the path, right, through the woods. Shortly after joining it the path bears left by a beck, then crosses a little footbridge over it. Go forward across a little beck. A waterfall may be heard on the left. This is a small and attractive steep fall but the approach to it is uninviting and slippery. Continue on through the wood. The path rises and goes by an old broken moss-covered wall before going closer to the road. On approaching a wall boundary of the Lodore Hotel land, the path goes inwards again, follows the wall for a distance, then heads for Lodore Falls which should be heard thundering away ahead.

On reaching the falls turn right towards the hotel to reach the best viewpoint for the lower part of them. There are other good viewpoints from the beck sides higher, but if you seek them out take very great care over wet rock.

Return to the footpath where you left it and go upwards with the beck on your right. Very shortly you will see a zig-zag start off to the left. Take this. The 'zig' ends at a rock face, then there is a 'zag' right. When this path reaches a fallen oak tree, look right for a pleasant view over Derwentwater with Skiddaw in the background. The path reaches the upper part of the falls, and. there is a natural platform where you can view them. The woodland below was mainly broadleaf trees, but as you climb higher there are some European larch. The crags to the left above you are very awesome, but attractively clothed in green moss, and ferns, and foxgloves, and wood sage, and honeysuckle, and ivy, and bilberry, and heather. The path reaches some rock steps which some people may find a little awkward.

The path climbs steadily and easily all the way. Ignore the lesser paths which branch off it to the right towards the beck. Eventually you will reach a gap in a broken wall. Continue on along more level ground through the wood. The path curves left. A Y-junction is eventually reached. The path on the left apparently goes towards the edge of a crag. The right one is to be taken. This is better defined and rises slightly, with the beck still running to its right. Another junction is reached. Turn left along the path which is built up; it runs at a sharp angle and there is a small holly tree at its foot. It presently bends sharply right, eventually running less distinctly through bracken, but immediately afterwards joining a hard very well defined footpath. Turn left, and keep on this hard path. It bears right to join a macadam road. Turn left to follow this road, on a course parallel to it.

Soon this road makes a closer approach to the crags on the left. You are approaching "Surprise View". There is a surfaced clearing on the right, and just after this the view is a few steps to the left. Do not venture too near the edge! The view is magnificent. Derwentwater, with Keswick at the foot of Skiddaw to the right. Bassenthwaite is on to the left. Directly opposite is the fell of Catbells, and to the left of that is Maiden Moor. It may be possible to see the top of Great Gable in the distance to the left. Grisedale Pike is behind and to the right of Catbells. The Grasmoor range is behind to the left. Where the river Derwent flows into the lake you can see large gravel beds. For some time after the last ice age, which made the lakes, Derwentwater and Bassenthwaite Lake must have been one large single lake.

Follow the road down and forward again, joining it to go through a gateway. The road crosses; a bridge and a cattle grid. When you then pass through another gateway, a barn will be seen on the right, and just below this is Ashness Bridge. For the best viewpoint over Derwentwater, cross the bridge then turn right up the beck side before looking back.

The way down is by public roads and is not too pleasant if there is traffic in abundance, particularly on the main Borrowdale road at the bottom. All, or nearly all, of this can be happily avoided on permissive footpaths. Turn back up the road the way you have come. Pass the barn again and the gateway, and a clearing is seen on the right. Walk into this and on the right again is a stile over a fence. Cross the stile, and follow the footpath downwards through the plantation. This reaches another stile at the foot, by the beck side. Cross this stile, then bear left on the footpath away from the beck. There is a portion of the path which is not too clear, but as you descend it is more easily seen, as it crosses under holly trees. Just after the hollies ignore the path to the right, but descend left. The path zig-zags under more holly trees. Do not worry if the paths are indistinct. The object is to lose height without wandering over the fence-line which comes down on the right.

Soon the roadside wall is approached, and a path should be seen running parallel to the road, turn left along it. This soon ends up at a narrow gateway. Go through it with care onto the road, cross the road, and follow it on to the left and you are soon back at the car park where you started.

Manesty Shore 3 miles

This is a good walk for strollers, loafers, and folk who like to throw stones in water. There are some very fine views. Its disadvantage is that the return journey follows the same route, but then one can see the scene both ways. Its advantage is that the walk is almost completely level.

Park in Kettlewell car park (see above). Leave the car park and walk carefully left for a short distance until you see a gap in the wall on your right. Go through this and join the path to the right. Go on through the trees and cross a footbridge. Follow the path on through this mossy wood until the way is close to the road. A wall is then reached, the wall of the grounds belonging to the Lodore Hotel. Turn right here and join the main road again through a gate. Go carefully left along the road until the pavement is reached on the other side of the road. Walk along here until you come to a stile just after a gate. There should be a sign "Footpath to Manesty." Go onto this path and across a bridge and along the green path beyond. This leads onto wooden plank-walks over the wet ground. Go left round some oak trees to join another plankwalk. Left from here is a good view up the tree-cloaked jaws of Borrowdale.

You then reach the end of Great Bay on Derwentwater, with fine views over the lake. Follow the bay round until you come to a pine-crowned promontory. There is a splendid view from here. The woods are very fine, and are cared for by the National Trust. There are pines and larch and oak, and a population of red squirrels. You may not see these shy creatures but you may find fir cones that have been chewed down to the core, for the animals eat the seeds. All the shore here is public access land and you may stay as long as you care to.

On the return journey the crag facing you is Shepherd's Crag which is very popular with climbers. The most prominent limb is the one on the left. Here is Brown Slabs where the novices learn the sport, and with a pair of binoculars you can have an entertaining time watching them. Continue the walk back by the outward route.

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