With a limited time window on today’s walk I am joined by my son Owen & our dog Holly on what turned out to be a little longer walk than we had initially set out to do. To mix things up a little we started our walk under a whirl of drizzle at Stormwater Bridge close to Portinscale where we picked up the Cumbrian Way before passing through a sleeping Keswick, I often walk alone but I would trade that to have my lad walk with me on any given day, today I shared that privilege.
This walk wasn’t just about Walla Crag, it was about school options, girls, mates, the latest Xbox games & who’s in the charts.
This is Walla Crag from Keswick.
ASCENT: 1,170 Feet – 357 Meters
WAINWRIGHTS: Walla Crag
WEATHER: Some Light Rain With Sunny Spells, Highs Of 18°C Lows Of 14°C
PARKING: Road Side Parking, Portinscale
WALKING WITH: Owen Sharkey & Holly Dog
ORDNANCE SURVEY: OL4
TIME TAKEN: 4 Hours 15 Minutes
ROUTE: Portinscale – Keswick – Springs Wood – Rakefoot – Walla Crag – Cat Gill – Ashness Bridge – Ashness Jetty – Great Wood – Derwent Water – Keswick – Portinscale
Wainwright Guide Book Four
The Central Fells
The pleasant Vale of Keswick, surely one of earths sweetest landscapes, is surrounded by mountains of noble proportions with an inner circle of lesser fells which deserve more than the name of foothills, each having strong individual characteristics, a definite and distinctive appearance, and a natural beauty all on its own. Among these is Walla Crag.
Cat Bells & Maiden Moor seen shortly after leaving Stormwater Bridge 08:40 am 14°C
The forecasters hadn’t got it wrong as we arrived in Portinscale under morning showers, however we did have the advantage of being able to see hints of blue sky which were drifting in from the west. We managed to park quite quickly in amongst the many Campervans famed for using the road for overnight stays.
So between two Campervans with blinds drawn we kitted up swapping shoes for boots, Owen & indeed myself felt the morning chill almost instantly, Holly did her best bless, to tie us up with her lead growling, barking & raring to go.
With the car locked we all set off picking up the Cumbrian Way footpath almost instantly that will lead us all the way in Keswick not before crossing the bridge that ran over the River Greta.
Cat Bells, Maiden Moor & Hindscarth from the Cumbrian Way footpath.
Crossing the River Greta as we enter Keswick.
After making a right over the River Greta we headed towards Keswick town centre which by the looks of things felt as if it was having an extra hour in bed this morning with the only exceptions of the odd shopkeeper opening up, it was only myself, Owen & Holly who seemed to be about this morning.
Market Traders start the morning against the back drop of Moot Hall.
It was still quite early as we passed the market stalls setting up for the day most of who seemed to be selling winter clothing & gifts which was quite apt given the whips of rain about the air & the dull skies over our heads.
After passing Moot Hall we take a left turn where we would pick up the road towards Manor Brow, navigation from here is pretty straight forward as all we have to do is keep heading straight forward past numerous quest houses whose smell of cooked breakfast sure warmed an appetite.
Where’s Holly? she’s behind you!
Springs Road leading to Springs Wood.
After a mile or so of the smell of Bacon we reached the bottom of Manor Brow when it was time to take a right at Springs Road, it was our first clear sighting of Walla Crag since leaving Portinscale a little under a hour ago.
Springs Road is the kind of place you dream about living with very affluent housing with views over Keswick & Derwent Water, I could only dream whilst walking past the large detatched houses each one as individual as the next, all adopting names like Castle Crag, Green Gable & so on.
After a mile or so the tarmac road is left behind after reaching Springs Farm Quest House, here Brockle Beck is crossed by means of a small wooden footbridge which lead up to a gate & Springs Wood.
Smile for the camera Holly!
Heading for Rakefoot.
With Brockle Beck to our left flank it was now time to leave Springs Wood behind after a short climb over a narrow wooded path where we were treated to open fell side views over Derwent Water & the north western fells.
Cat Bells & Maiden Moor seen over Derwent Water.
Time spent in Springs Woods was coming to an end as we crossed a wooden footbridge once again over Brockle Beck, Rakefoot now was just a short walk away via a narrow overgrown track that leads out onto Rakefoot Farm.
Crossing the ford at Brockle Beck/Rakefoot Farm
Here, looking back on Blencathra over Rakefoot from the start of the climb.
After leaving Rakefoot behind we began the gentle climb by the stone wall, it was here I pointed out Blencathra & Skiddaw to Owen who hadn’t forgotten about our wild camp at Scales Tarn back in 2008.
Following the stone wall over the shoulder of Walla Crag.
Once the first ascent was out of the way all the hard work was done as all we had to do now was reach the point where the single tree stands, from there we would pass through a wooden gate.
With views over Derwent Water, Cat Bells, Causey Pike Ard Crags, Robinson & finally Grisedale Pike which is under cloud to the right of the photo.
It wasn’t too long until we were to reach the summit with grand views averting the eyes from today’s solo summit.
Derwent Water with a distant Bassenthwaite Lake.
Within no time we were at the summit & even managed to have the place to ourselves before finding a quiet spot out of the wind where we could each brunch, yes you’ve guessed it, too late for breakfast too early for lunch.
Although Holly had her own packed lunch we still received that sad look which meant that myself & Owen had to share our lunches with Holly!
We weren’t alone for long after being joined by four other walkers two of which asked me to take summit shots of them at the summit, one guy I particularly remember said whilst looking at Skiddaw under a low bank of cloud said he was glad he hadn’t climbed that one today…
I didn’t quite know where he was going so I ended the conversation by a pause followed by a mmm, yeah, its erm…
We shoulder kit & press on towards Cat Gill.
Bleaberry Fell under an aurora of heather.
It’s September which can only mean one thing, the heather is out in all its glory, but be quick it won’t last much longer before it starts to fade away for winter.
A distant Borrowdale seen shortly after leaving Walla Crag summit.
Derwent Water & a distant Bassenthwaite Lake from the top of Cat Gill.
I know that I am not alone when I say that this has to be one of the most outstanding views in the whole of Lakeland.
Here, looking back over Cat Gill towards Walla Crag.
We had just experienced a heavy rain shower, so much so the hoods were quickly lifted for the first time in a long time, our would be descent can be seen via Cat Gill by the stone wall in the far left of the photo, however due to the downpour & Owen’s inexperience with wet rock we gave Cat Gill a miss owing to its steepness as I talked Owen into descending into Ashness Bridge instead.
Here looking towards Borrowdale from our descent.
The two lesser fells of Castle Crag and Kings How were doing a great job of dominating our descent route, all the while Maiden Moor & the High Spy ridge can be seen over in the right of the photo.
We were soon down after passing many walkers all enjoining a day out on the fells, it was at this point I glanced down over my legs then Owen’s & said, why are my trousers full of mud & yours are still nice & clean?
I don’t get it!
Despite Ashness Bridge being one of the most photographed bridges in the whole of Lakeland we still managed to spend a few moments here without seeing anyone, then they all came at once which was our cue to leave.
We took in the sometimes steep descent from the Watendlath Road towards Ashness jetty where day trippers had started to queue for the next Launch to arrive, here I snuck past for a cheeky shot from one of my favourite jetty’s.
The Millennium Stones, Derwent Water.
After leaving Ashness Jetty we took on the Borrowdale Road via the narrow footpath until for less than a mile before reaching a left turn through Great Wood where the path eventually came out at the waters edge in Calfclose Bay, here lots of families had chosen areas to eat or throw sticks into the water for their dogs to Holly’s delight who doesn’t like water at all.
We take a well earned break on a large tree whose routes had been washed away over time from a battering from countless storms now only leave the roots of the tree exposed leaving them looking quite eerie, yet comfy to rest ones bones.
Ahead at the edge of the bay lay the Millennium Stones, or the Hundred Year Stones left by the national trust in the year 2000 to commemorate 100 years of the National Trust, although I have been here many times, this was the first time I had actually seen them upfront & close to the waters edge.
Cat Bells & Rowling End seen over Derwent Water from The Ings.
The view up the lake towards Borrowdale from Friars Crag.
Derwent Landing Stages.
Despite the lack of people in this photo the landing stages were actually quite busy, so much so we spotted a young keen girl in her swimming costume having a dip.
Eating cones of hot chips which plenty of salt & vinegar!
The queue for the cash machine was well worth the wait after treating ourselves to two cones of chips & cans of pop at the Keswickian Restaurant.
With chips in one hand & a dog in the other we lead ourselves through the busy market blowing on hot chips before putting them in our mouths, from twenty yards I spot a bench with mine & Owen’s name on it, it was there our walk was at an almost end as one mucky trousered dad looked on & asked his son, yer enjoyed today?
These chips are good Owen replied.