Medium walks in Braithwaite, Lake District

Reading Time: 12 minutes

Up to 7 miles, some gradient

  1. Barrow Door. Go up to the Coledale Inn and follow the tarmac road up hill. You are soon on the fell, with a view of Barrow to the left, the knobbles of Causey Pike in the distance straight ahead, and Stile End slightly to the right. Follow the path up to the left of Stile End. Barrow Door is the point where you can see down into the next valley, with Causey Pike towering above straight ahead and a path going up Barrow to the left. At the Door you need to choose, depending on the time and effort you have left (and, of course, the weather):
    • Come straight back again – with marvellous views of Skiddaw, and the village below.
    • Fork right and up Stile End, and then back down the valley
    • Carry on round to the right at roughly the same level and, after about half a mile, turn back down left into the Stonycroft Gill valley to reach the tarmac road just above Stair. At the road (an ideal place to paddle in the beck on a warm day), turn left and take the first opportunity after Uzzicar Farm to cut up left onto the flank of Barrow (see easy walk 2). This path takes you right round Barrow to the village.
    • Fork back left and take the relatively flat sheep track across the flank of Barrow, thence back to the village
    • Fork left upwards to the top of Barrow, and then back to the village. This is an easier way to climb Barrow than the direct ascent from the village (see medium walk 2 below), and the views are probably better, since on the walk back you are also looking back straight at the Skiddaw massif.
    • Carry straight on down a faintly visible path onto the Stonycroft Gill track, where you can turn left to Stair. It is useful to know about this (steep) short-cut when returning to Braithwaite from, say, Causey Pike or Little Town and Stair; in Stonycroft Gill the path starts when you are right below the highest Causey Pike knobble and you are passing a solitary rowan tree between the Gill track and the beck. There are now cairns at both ends of the path.
  2. Barrow. Barrow is Braithwaite’s very own fell, so you have to climb it! It is only quite small, but it has the unfortunate characteristic of being quite steep in parts – and it has more than one false summit, so be warned! But the views, especially to the East, are marvellous. Go past the shop and up the drive to Braithwaite Lodge farm, through the farmyard and the field beyond, and up onto the fell. Don’t look east until you get to the first (false) summit; there, take a breather and just look around. And, as you climb, you will see more and more of Derwentwater, so things only get better. At the top, you carry straight on down to Barrow Door where, usually, you would turn right back down to the village (see medium walk 1 above). Some people prefer this walk in reverse, which certainly offers the advantage of a less steep ascent.
  3. Newlands Valley. Go through the camp site, then past Little Braithwaite farm. Turn left down to the bridge, where you turn right into the valley (see easy walk no. 3 above). Carry right on to the end of the path and turn right at the tarmac road into the village of Stair (or turn left for some refreshment at the Swinside Inn). At the little cross-roads in Stair, take the first left up to Skelgill Farm (another place to appear in Beatrix Potter’s stories), where you have some choices:
    • Come back to Stair, continue across the beck and take the signed footpath immediately on the right. Keep to the left across the fields until you reach Uzzicar Farm, whence you return to Braithwaite as in easy walk no. 3. This is about 5 miles.
    • Just before the main farm house, take the signed footpath through the gate to the right and across the fields to Little Town. There you can return along the tarmac road to Stair, where you bear left and then over the beck as before. This walk gives you arguably the best pastoral and fell-side views in the whole of England (!) and is also ideal when the fell-tops are in cloud. About 7 miles. Or, in Little Town, turn left and follow the tarmac road around the bottom of the valley past Rigg Beck and thence back onto the Buttermere road.
    • Pass the farm house, and move out through a gate onto the fell below Catbells. The tarmac road leads to the Hawes End car park, and thence back to the Swinside Inn and Braithwaite. However, for a view of Derwentwater, strike up the fell above the farm gate, where a path through the bracken soon takes you up onto the Catbells ridge. Return via Hawes End and the Swinside Inn, as above. About 5-6 miles. This, incidentally, has in my opinion the best Reward/Effort Ratio of any walk in the area: that is, you get great views and there’s no danger of exhausting yourself. And there’s a pub on the way back…
    • Pass the farm house, and move out through a gate onto the fell below Catbells. Turn up right, along a cart-track running along the length of Catbells. After about half a mile, branch left up the gently climbing grass track skirting round Catbells up to Hause Gate, then down the other side back to Hawes End, or back over the top of Catbells. 7-8 miles. Much the same marvellous views as above, and you get more exercise. This is probably my favourite mid-length walk – and the dogs love it, especially if we divert at Hawes End down to the lake for a swim.
  4. Lower Newlands. Walk past Braithwaite Church down to the A66, turn left and, after about 150 yards, turn right down past the Institute building. Follow the footpath sign across the fields to Bog House (!) by the wooden bridge, taking the path on the right to Portinscale. Cross the A66 into Portinscale where you can either follow the footpath sign to Ullock/Swinside and thence back to Braithwaite, or carry on through the village and down to the Nichol End marina, where you pick up the Derwentwater lakeside path. At Hawes End turn sharp right back to the Swinside Inn and Braithwaite via Newlands Beck.
  5. Mid Newlands. Take the path up Coledale to Barrow Door (see walk no. 1 above) and then drop straight down the other side to Stonycroft Gill. About half a mile further down the valley, pick up the flat path on the other side of the beck cutting around Rowling End. Where this path peters out at the tarmac road, carry on for about 100 yards to pick up the path on the left down to Newlands Beck – this is probably the most picturesque section of the whole beck, and a good place for a stop and exploration up and down the beckside. Then up the other side to “Ghyllbank”, which is a cottage on the Stair – Little Town road. There, go left on the road for about 50 yards and take the path on the right signed to Skelgill Farm, where you can consider all the options outlined in walk no. 3 above.
  6. Outerside. This is the fell to the right of, and beyond, Stile End. Climb up towards Barrow Door (see above) but, at the end of the cart track, strike off half-right up the right-hand flank of Stile End. As the path levels out, traverse a boggy area before taking the track to the right up the front of Outerside. At the top, where you have some great views up, down and across in all directions, choose whether to:
    • come down the same way
    • carry on down the other side, bearing right to meet the path from Coledale Hause down to Force Crag Mine and thence down along the mine track to the Whinlatter road
    • carry on down the other side, bearing left at any point to meet the path down Stonycroft Gill and branching off left to Barrow Door or Stile End, and back home. The dogs and I agree that this is the best “short-ish” walk around the village: the dogs like the bog, I like the views and we both enjoy the exercise.
  7. Catbells. For this walk – probably the most popular in the northern lakes – one normally drives to the Hawes End public parking area at the north end of Catbells. Hawes End is one of the Derwentwater launch’s stopping places, so you could combine this walk with a trip round the lake. From the car park (remember to apply the handbrake), cross the cattle grid and just follow the well marked trail up Catbells. The path is quite steep in parts, but you just have to keep in mind the view you are going to get of Derwentwater, preferably early on a sunny morning with the lake surface like a millpond – except for the track of the launch rippling out to both sides of the lake. As you start to climb the second half of Catbells, you also get a good view, down to the right, of the Newlands valley and Keskadale. Having reached the summit you drop down the further, southern side of Catbells to the Hause Gate “cross-roads”, where you are spoilt for choice:
    • carry straight on for the long Newlands Round walk over Maiden Moor (see long walk no. 4 below), or
    • turn left down to the path above the road back to the car park, or further down below the road to the path back to Hawes End through the lakeside woods, or
    • drop down right towards Little Town (which is very little indeed, but you can sometimes get a drink at the farm). To arrive more quickly back at the car you can cut back further right, above Little Town’s farm fields to Skelgill Farm and Hawes End.
  8. Little Dale. Drive to Little Town and park down by the beck. Walk over the bridge and through the gate on the left to Newlands Church, which is well worth a visit (and teas are on offer during the high season, on Sundays). Carry straight on up the road, past High Snab Farm and Low High Snab(!), and out on to the fell. Continue up the valley up to the little reservoir, and return down the side of Hindscarth using a path easily visible from Low High Snab. At the bottom of Hindscarth you pass through Low Snab Farm (teas and ice-creams usually available) and then down back to Newlands Church.
  9. Whinlatter Forest, and Lord’s Seat and Barf. Take the car up to the Whinlatter Forest Visitors’ Centre, and ask them for a trail map (which is great except for the area close to the Centre, on which you should ask them for guidance). The map identifies the numerous tracks through the forest, and a circular walk along them to both fells. Barf, however, is a very steep climb if attempted from the Thornthwaite valley – the story goes of a certain bishop, some 250 years ago, who bet his companions staying at the Swan Inn in Thornthwaite that he could ride his horse up Barf; he died, of course, when the horse fell back on him, hence the white “Bishop’s Stone” where it all happened. From the Swan Inn you can try the same track, without your horse, or the slightly less precipitous climb through the woods up the beck to the left of the Bishop’s Stone.
  10. Haystacks. You need to drive to the car park at Gatesgarth, at the eastern end of Buttermere. You can go up the right side of Fleetwith Pike and down over Haystacks and through Scarth Gap, or vice versa. It is quite easy to get lost on the top of Haystacks, so be warned! You will of course try not to tread on Wainwright’s ashes, which were scattered on the edge of Innominate Tarn on Haystacks…
  11. Rannerdale Knotts. You start in Buttermere, taking the path up through the woods opposite the Bridge hotel. The path takes you out of the woods at a gate, and you climb up the fell following the main track to Whiteless Pike. At an obvious fork, branch left over to Rannerdale Knotts, admire the views over Crummock Water and return roughly the same way. If you are feeling bold, you can descend the western side of the Knotts, but be warned that the path is both steep and unpredictable, being covered with shale and scree. If you do take this route, you can turn right at the bottom and take the path round the edge of the Knotts back up to the main Whiteless Pike-Buttermere path, and thence down to Buttermere.
  12. Derwentwater (east). Park in Great Wood, about 1.5 miles out of Keswick along the Borrowdale Road, and take the path on the right of the car park towards Ashness. Follow this out onto the fell under Falcon Crag (there really are falcons nesting there) all the way to Ashness Bridge, where you can enjoy the world-famous views of Skiddaw beyond the bridge. Continue up the little road past Ashness Farm out onto the Surprise View cliff-top for yet more great views. Then you can choose. Either:
    • carry on through the woods, eventually down a cart-track and (steeply) down right to the Lodore Falls. Just before the Lodore Hotel on the Borrowdale road, turn right and take the path through the woods to the Kettlewell car park. There you can cross the road and walk for some distance along the lake-shore back to the northern edge of Great Wood, where you have only a few hundred yards back to the car park. About 6 miles. Or:
    • walk back down past Ashness Bridge and onto the Borrowdale road, where you drop down to the lake-shore, turning right for a stroll along the lake back to the northern edge of Great Wood and back to the car. About 3 miles.
  13. Walla Crag. From the centre of Keswick, walk along Springs Road past the farm and into the wood. Branch right up the path to Rakefoot, and keep right onto the tops of Walla Crag. Where the path splits after the stile, decide whether to keep left, which takes you on to the top of Falcon Crag and thence to Ashness Bridge, where you return at a lower level under Falcon Crag to Great Wood; or keep right, when you soon descend sharply down Cat Ghyll into Great Wood, where you meet up with the path from Ashness Bridge. From Great Wood you can take the path along the lake side of Borrowdale Road into Keswick, or the more scenic lakeside path back into Keswick. About 5 miles, or 7 via Ashness Bridge.
  14. Latrigg and Brundholme Wood. Park in Keswick in Brundholme Road, at the start of the “Cumbria Way”, where you follow Spooney Way over the A66, ignoring various branches left. Take any of the right turns up Latrigg. At the top admire one of the best views in Lakeland, then continue north-east on a gradual descent. After about a mile branch sharp left off the main track towards and through Brundholme Wood. In the middle of the Wood – or indeed before you branch off into the woods – you can drop down to the track going along the Greta river or, on the other side of the river, to the track along the disused Keswick-Penrith railway, which finishes up in the middle of Keswick. Or carry straight through the woods along the higher path back to the path over the A66.
  15. Latrigg and Castlerigg Stone Circle. As in the previous walk, park in Keswick in Brundholme Road, at the start of the “Cumbria Way”, where you follow Spooney Way over the A66, ignoring various branches left. Take one of the three right turns up Latrigg. At the top admire one of the best views in Lakeland, then continue north-east on a gradual descent. After about a mile as the path curves right, turn left through a gate onto a little road and then right down past a farm onto the old railway track. Turn left over a railway bridge and then immediately right, up to the A66 and directly over to reach the old A66, where you turn left and, after a few hundred yards, right to the Stone Circle. Return to Keswick via the metalled road.
  16. Blencathra. This magnificent fell has so many ways up and down that Wainwright took 36 pages to describe them all! It is difficult to imagine a better way to spend a strenuous half day, with a little scrambling thrown in, than to drive to Threlkeld and then ascend via Hall’s Fell ridge and descend by Doddick Fell. Or, if you have a good head for heights, try Sharp Edge round the east side of Scales Fell – but not in the rain or high winds. Or, as a variation, go up Doddick Fell and down by Gategill Fell.
  17. High Rigg. Quite a contrast from Blencathra – a gentle stroll! You start from the Diocesan Youth Centre at the northern end of St John’s-in-the-Vale, climb straight up High Rigg, and then wander across the top of the fell to the southern end, where you drop down to return via the path along St John’s-in-the-Vale.
  18. Dock Tarn from Rosthwaite. Park in Rosthwaite and take the path up towards Watendlath (as in Linear walk no. 5 below). At the top of the climb just after a five-bar gate, turn right through another five-bar gate and across the open fell to another smaller gate. Take the path to the left, and branch right at the sign to “Dock Tarn”. Climb up and past the Tarn, and down the other side into the woods above Stonethwaite, where a steep descent leaves you with a walk back along the beck to Rosthwaite.
  19. Great Cockup. Which really is the name of one of the Uldale fells to the north of Skiddaw. You start on the Uldale Road, off the A591, parking just before Orthwaite and taking the bridleway along the western flank of Great Cockup. Climb onto the ridge as soon as possible to make the most of the views and, after reaching the summit, drop down into Trusmadoor, a little ravine which enthusiasts will cross in order to ascend the other side, which is Meal Fell. Back down in Trusmadoor, take the path down beside Burntod Gill out onto the fellside and then back to the start point.
  20. Bleaberry Fell and High Seat. Start from Ashness Bridge, climbing straight up the gill. Keep on the right hand side of the beck, bearing right near the top of the steep climb and following the path across boggy moorland onto the top of High Seat. Turn left for the track to Bleaberry Fell, where you drop down north-west towards the top of Falcon Crag. Branch left to take the track from Walla Crag back to Ashness. About 7 miles, boggy in places – but great views, especially of our north-western fells.
  21. Bowscale Fell. There are two versions of this walk: the longer one, about 6 miles, and the short one, about 4 miles. The first starts at the BT phone box in Mungrisdale, whence you take the path by the side of the cottage and along the beck. Keep right at the fork, in order to climb up the side of The Tongue onto the top of Bannerdale Crags. As the path levels out, strike up right to the Pile of Stones and then across to the edge of the escarpment down which you need to descend, picking up the path down to Bowscale Tarn. There you take the path around the northern edge of the tarn, which takes you down Mosedale to the hamlet of Bowscale, and thence along the little road back to Mungrisdale. The short walk, which is an entirely suitable accompaniment to lunch at the Mill Inn at Mungrisdale, starts and finishes at Bowscale, the target being the Tarn.
  22. High Spy from Grange. You can do this walk, which is about 7 miles, either clockwise or anti-clockwise. Choosing the former, leave the village on the little road, which forms part of the Allerdale Ramble, to Hollows Farm campsite, drop down to the Derwent, and fork right to climb up past Castle Crag. Just after the wooden bridge, turn sharp right up Tongue Gill, through the disused Rigghead Quarries, to the plateau below High Spy. Cross the plateau, which can be quite boggy in places, to meet the track between High Spy and Dale Head Tarn, turning up right to High Spy and Maiden Moor. Follow the main path down to Hause Gate and then sharply down to Manesty, where you can take the path behind the cottages back to Grange.
  23. Threlkeld Common. The best thing about this walk is that you get a grandstand view of Blencathra throughout. You start at the Threlkeld Quarry cottages (stop in at the Mining Museum if you have the time), and take the path along the Glenderamackin up to Guardhouse and then across to Wallthwaite. Bear right to pick up the path across the disused railway past Highgate and Lobbs Farm, across a wide expanse of Moss (i.e., bog) up to the Old Coach Road. This takes you back in front of Clough Head and down again to the Quarry.

By Peter Rigg for

Photo by Richard Webb, CC BY-SA 2.0,

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