Date completed: July 19th 2009 (with Clare)

Fells climbed: Walla Crag (1234′, no. 1)

Distance: 5 miles approx

Total ascent: 1071 feet

Weather conditions: Slightly overcast but very good for walking

Start and end points: Keswick town centre (Keswick has bus links to Workington, Carlisle, Windermere/Kendal and Penrith, all of which have rail stations)

A signpost pointing to Walla Crag

A signpost pointing to Walla Crag (at Rakefoot)

Pub at end: To tell the truth, I didn’t note which pub we ended up in at the end of this particular day, but as the walk ended in Keswick town centre there is no lack of choice should you follow in our footsteps. I do recommend the George Hotel (which is not far from the tourist information centre in the Moot Hall), mainly for its colossal bar meals which really have to be seen to be believed.

Route card: Follow this link to download a route card, which includes summary information, an elevation profile, waypoints and an overview map. Route card for walk 1: Walla Crag

Route: We were staying for the week in a cottage on Chestnut Hill so started the walk from there; this is quite a way from Keswick town centre, but the 555 buses go up that way. Or, walk past Fitz Park, past the leisure centre and the old railway station (see note below) and then out along the old train line as far as the bridge under the A591 at NY 278238 (what’s this?), then climb up Chestnut Hill. Finally, Ambleside Road then Manor Brow will take you out of Keswick in the right direction.

Turn right off Chestnut Hill onto the lane going to Castlerigg, which is a camping and caravan site. Follow the signs up past Rakefoot (see pic above) and then do bear right at the one prominent junction (which on page 3 of his chapter Wainwright says needs a signpost, and it still doesn’t have one). After that, just follow the wall and then pass through it to reach the summit.

Derwentwater viewed from the descent of Walla Crag

Derwentwater viewed from the descent of Walla Crag

The path down to the Borrowdale road was very obvious throughout: it’s a very steep descent, however, and I was glad we had come up the other way which had much gentler gradients. We emerged onto the road at point NY 271214, the first sight of it being a bus stop which appears to be plonked in the middle of the woods: at that point the road can simply be crossed and another path joined which leads along the Derwentwater shore and all the way back into Keswick, past the landing stages and then Crow Park.

First ‘diary’ entry written very much with hindsight: “July 19th. Is that the day the Ice Age ended?” (Dougal, in Father Ted)

This is the walk that Clare (my wife) and I did from our cottage on the day we arrived for our holiday. The Project – to walk all the 214 fells – was not a reality at this point, but this then became the first walk with hindsight. A good introduction nonetheless and I would recommend this to anyone staying in Keswick for the first time and wanting a good introduction to the area. Easy climb and a glorious view of the central Lake District: at the time the view seemed good because we were looking at fells that we might climb that week – of course later developed the notion that I would be climbing all of them.

Steep descent by the side of the crag down to the Borrowdale Road and a walk back to Keswick along the lake shore.  We did not have Joe with us (aged 6) – though I don’t see why he couldn’t have handled this walk.

Keswick was busy, but it manages not to be twee: feels like a real town where people live and work regardless of the tourists. The pub is a bit unfriendly, nothing special… can’t remember name as did not type these notes up until much later.

View across Crow Park, Keswick

View across Crow Park, Keswick, passed at the end of this walk (Skiddaw in background, in cloud)

And an incidental point, added much later on. One of the inspirations for doing the 214 by public transport was being quite impressed by the number and range of bus services available from Keswick. However, how much better still would it be if there had not been the short-sighted decision taken in the 1960s to close the Penrith-Keswick-Cockermouth-Workington train line. When one sees the queues of traffic trying to get into the Lakes (through Windermere, in particular) on summer weekends, or has to listen to the noise of the A66 dual carriageway out in otherwise placid countryside – how valuable would that rail link be now?

Look, I’m not an anti-car fanatic, but nor did I want to add to the traffic problems of this beautiful part of the world by doing this project. There are decent public transport links available and it is possible to do a day trip from where I live (Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire – a good 100 miles away), even to a part of the Lakes as far north as Keswick. It can be done. I hope this site at least raises awareness of the possibilities. Besides, it means I can enjoy a couple of pints before going home and then fall asleep on the train. Rather better than having to trug back down the M6 after a long walk… But why oh why did Dr Beeching think he knew best?

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2 Responses to “Walk 1: Walla Crag”

  1. […] July 19th 2014, marks five years to the day since walk 1 of my project to climb all the Wainwrights without using a car. I was going to mark this […]

  2. […] first Lake District walk of mine that I counted on this project — walk 1 (naturally) — took place on 19th July 2009, so more-or-less, yesterday was the ninth […]

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