The Lake District Guide

Lake District Valley and Low-level Walks

Keswick Railway Track and Castlerigg Stone Circle

The Cockermouth, Keswick and Penrith railway line was last used by trains in 1972. The trackbed crosses and recrosses the lovely meandering River Greta, using bowstring steel bridges – some are upright and some are underslung. In the 1980s the Lake District National Park Authority (LNPA) created the footpath and have maintained it well since then.


Start/finish The old station yard at Keswick, grid ref 270238. If approaching from the south east on the A591, turn acute right just before you reach the main shopping centre, at a major junction signposted for the museum, swimming pool and Keswick Hotel. Follow the road past the museum, and where it winds round the hotel, and continue on round to a mini-roundabout. Turn left and left again, just before the rear of the swimming pool, to make use of the parking bays at the end of the old railway track.
Distance 4.1/2 miles/7.4km
Time 3 hours
Height gain 130ft/40m
Terrain The old railway track is level and in good condition. Some quiet road walking.
Refreshments: Good choice in Keswick
Toilets Keswick
Map OS Explorer OL4

The Walk

1 From the parking area, return to the trackbed and walk on to cross the long bridge over the River Greta, which here flows through a fine wide gorge. The bridge is an inverted bowstring constructed of steel girders. Thomas Bouch designed them in this way to span the many gorges on the Greta - he also designed the ill-fated Tay bridge! Go on to pass under a road bridge and then on past the historic settlement of Brigham, which lies in a tree-girt hollow. The fast-flowing Greta was ideal for powering the mills established here from the 14th century onwards.
2 Above the hamlet stretches the white-stilted viaduct carrying the A66. Go on past a sculptured signpost to come to a gate below the modern-day bridge. Another gate gives access to a well graded descending wooden walkway, one of the LDNPs innovations. It passes high over a picturesque stretch of the river. Continue on the pleasing way to go past Low Briery Holiday Village. Read the interesting information board about the history of the area including its bobbin mill, which closed in 1961. Stroll on, crossing more bridges to reach a refurbished hut, on the right, once used by the navvies (navigators), the builders of the track. There is more information here about the railway line, and seats both inside and out.
3 Cross the next bridge and at its end turn right onto a signposted path that gently climbs through trees to a kissing gate. Beyond, go on to half-way up the field above to a signpost that directs you, right, along it. Pass through another kissing gate and then on through the refurbished underpass below the busy A66. Once through, take the next signed kissing gate and slant up the slope to another road - the old route to Keswick from Penrith. Turn left and then, after quarter-of-a-mile, bear right. A short way along turn right again and walk for half-a-mile to the entrance to the Castlerigg stone circle, where you will want to wander around the great stones. They form an oval shape but this circle is unique in having extra stones forming an oblong on one side. The circle stands on a flat area in a large pasture surrounded at a distance by some of the Lake District’s most dramatic fells. The circle is believed to have been put in place during the Stone Age, between BC 2,500 and 1,300. It may have been used as a meeting place for bartering livestock, exchanging partners or celebrating tribal festivals. It may also have been used to calculate the cycle of seasons vital for farmers.
4 After enjoying this wonderful atmospheric site return to the road and continue on along it for two-thirds of a mile (no pavement) to join the A591 coming in on your right, which you cross and walk on for a few steps. Wind on round right for a few more steps, towards the town, and then descend right before the Travis Perkins Works to drop down steps to the railway track once more. Turn right, go under the road bridge and continue to cross the wide high bridge over the River Greta. A short way on along the track brings you back to the parking area.

Bridge beyond hut, where you turn right 4469
Blease Fell from the stone circle 4351
Castlerigg Stone circle and a couple kissing! 4352

Keswick walks - Dowthwaitehead and Thirlmere

Tarn Hows walk

Buttermere walks

Ullswater walks

Borrowdale and Seatoller, Watendlath and Rosthwaite walks

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