Walking & Transport

IMG_0746 The Lake District is a superb place for walking and cycling and The Larches is an excellent base. There is a public bus service from the road below the cottage, which you can use for getting to Keswick or Cockermouth and back; and there are lots of local walks which can done over a week without using a car at all. There are two parts of this section

The walks easily accessible from The Larches include climbs up Grisedale, the Coledale Horseshoe, Causey Pike, Lord’s Seat and Barf. Walks to Wythop, Mirehouse, the Osprey Viewing Platform, Portinscale, Catbells and even Skiddaw (via the Allerdale Ramble route across Derwent marshes – see photo opposite) can be undertaken easily and combined with public buses to return you to Thornthwaite.

There are many walks too round Keswick and in the Newlands Valley (beyond Braithwaite) and further south into Borrowdale.

There is a pleasant contour path to Braithwaite of about 25 minutes (behind Ladstocks and Hallgarth Farm), where there are pubs and a good restaurant at Middle Ruddings.

Current timetables for the bus services, are usually available at The Larches or can be found in Keswick at the Tourist Office or at Booths, the local supermarket. For a good comprehensive guide to services click here. (http://www.keswick.org/getting_about.asp)

There are reasonable bus services between Penrith, Keswick and Cockermouth, for use if you are travelling here by train or when you are here.

Full details of the X4 and X5 Bus Route can be found by clicking here for the period 1 November 2009 – April 2010. The bus stop at Thornthwaite is about 250 yards from The Larches. Go back past the Gallery and it’s on the bigger road beside the public telephone (See photo below). Buses run at the following times:

IMG_2016 Thornthwaite to Keswick Bus Station Monday-Saturday:
07.35, 10.00, 12.00, 14.00, 16.00. 18.00. 16.00. 19.56. 21.56. 22.56

Keswick BS to Thornthwaite Monday – Saturday:
7.58, 09.05, 09.05, 10.05, 11.05, 12.05, 13.05, 14.05, 15.05, 16.05, 17.05, 18.05, 19.05, 20.05, 21.06, 22.11, 23.26

Buses to Borrowdale and Buttermere from Keswick and return can be very good for getting you into these valleys without having to use a car. They are also useful for climbing Catbells, where parking restrictions have been recently introduced (April 2009).

The Outward timetable to Borrowdale and Buttermere, including Catbells is as follows:

The Return timetable to Borrowdale and Buttermere, including Catbells is as follows:

Part A – Local Walking

At the Larches there is a good supply of local maps and of books describing walks. There should be a leaflet too showing walks which can be taken from Keswick. There is a good website (www.catbells.co.uk) set up by an enthusiastic couple who have come here for their holidays for many years. This has walks all over the Lakes with pictures and details of height and distance.

For people with limited mobility there is an excellent scheme Miles without stiles, set up by the Lake District Planning Board, which provides details and grades of accessible walks beside lakes and fells. There are 13 walks (Routes 27-39) listed on the LDPB website, which are all within a short distance of The Larches. For more details see blog post Many miles without stiles.

In this section of the www.lakelandbelvedere.com website, we plan to concentrate on a few walks which are close by and do not need a long journey. In most cases they can be done without a car. They are generally not well known and you will not find detailed elsewhere. The first however is an exception, as it is known to many! Clicking on the name of the walk below will take you to the relevant details.

1. Classic Catbells circular
2. Circular through Derwent marshes (returning via Braithwaite path)
3. The Barrow Round – high tops and valley bottoms
4. Carl Side via Slade Beck
5. Back of Skiddaw Circular
6. Watendlath
7. Blencathra circular – Mungrisdale approach from the NE

1. Classic Catbells circular


Catbells (451m) doesn’t spoil however many times you climb it and there are a number of variations. The photo above, taken from the top shows Derwentwater, Skiddaw and Bassenthwaite beyond. It’s easily done in two hours, so can be fitted in if a window of good weather appears late on in the day; in the summer I’ve often been up there after a day’s work. It can however get very busy and a scheme has now been introduced to encourage people to park further away or get a bus there. You can approach Catbells by foot via Portinscale or Swinside and start from the north end.

Details of the Honister Rambler bus (77/77a) from Keswick can be found here [http://www.stagecoachbus.com/timetables/Service77_77Afrom05April2009.pdf]. This passes through Portinscale and stops at the north end of Catbells. Another option is to get the Keswick Launch, which stops nearby. The circular route shown on our map is a short one and can be extended to take in Little Town. This was the settlement used by Beatrix Potter as the base for her Tale of Mrs Tiggywinkle.

A map and set of pictures of the route are below. Photo No 4 looks west to Causey Pike on the left, Barrow on the right and Grisedale Pike in the distance.
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2. Circular through Derwent marshes (returning via Braithwaite path)

This is a lovely walk which takes in the Derwent marshes and provides a good vantage point above the War Memorial for viewing the western hills (Photo No 5). Starting at the cottage, take the footpath down beside Comb Beck. The gate for this is just behind Clarry’s Cottage opposite The Larches. At the road take a right turn and after a few yards there is a gate into the field which takes you down to Thornthwaite church. Follow the path across the fields and you will cross the A66 to get into the marshes area.

The walk can be wet so boots are recommended in wet weather. It makes a good walk if the cloud base is low and if it is a fine day as there are great views. There is a short walk beside the A66 to take you into Braithwaite, where there are three pubs for a snack and drink.

The walk then returns on the ‘contour path’ from Hope Memorial Hut at the foot of the Whinlatter pass, passing an old barn (Photo No 6) and the back of Ladstocks. It is about 7 kilometres long.

For a description of doing part of this walk on a magical summer evening  see blog post, Son et lumière on the marshes – where you can also add any comments of your own about the walk.

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3. The Barrow Round – high tops and valley bottoms



A good walk of about two and a half hours but worth every minute of the climb to the top of this 455 metre summit which overlooks the Derwent Valley. From the top you can see Binsey north of Skiddaw – and can just about make out Scotland on a good clear day. To the south you have a view right down to Dalehead and Hindscarth and to the east the horizon is the whole Hellvellyn range from Clough Head (south of the A66) to Fairfield above Grasmere. We call this walk ‘Keswick’s best kept secret’.

From The Larches walk along the contour path to Braithwaite (See Route No 2 above) and then up past the Coledale Inn. The road bears right and you head in a south western direction past Coledale Cottage to the fellside gate. Continue in this direction past the derilict High Coledale farm and onto the open moor. The track leads up to Barrow Door leaving High Stile on your right with Causey Pike across the valley and directly in your line. A sharp left at the saddle takes you to the summit of Barrow in about 10 minutes.

IMG_2336All the way there are fantastic views including those to the east overlooking CatBells (a few metres lower) and the valley farmland at the bottom. The path leads down directly in a NE direction to Little Braithwaite. Follow the track through the farm and back to Braithwaite for a well earned drink and snack in the Coledale Inn or the Royal Oak. The distance to this point from The Larches is 7 kilometres, with a further 2 kilometres back to the cottage. Getting the bus to and from Braithwaite will shorten this walk by about 4 kilometres.

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4. Carl Side via Slade Beck

This is a great way of getting some good exercise with a bit of a challenge. Start at Millbeck and make sure you keep straight on in a NE direction to pick up this little visited route to the top. The climb up the valley is steep (627m) and rather shaley in the last section, but the beck is a wild child and pretty with shimmering pools and moist mosses; and there is a great view back over little visited Carsleddam to Derwentwater. The descent route is steep but easy to follow.

The climb can easily be extended to take in the top of Skiddaw, by climbing NE up the shale path to the plateau. The walk can be done by walking across the Derwent marshes from The Larches to Millbeck and combining this with the local Osprey bus back.

A map and set of pictures of the route are below. Photo No 6, taken in the late evening light, shows shapely Carsleddam in the centre with Carlside to the left and Skiddaw Little Man to the right.

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5. Back of Skiddaw Circular

dash_fallsV This 15 kilometres route is not the quickest climb to the top but must certainly rank as one of the finest circular walks in the Lake District. Successful completion depends on good weather, unless you’re happy walking in cloud. Several years ago I eventually reconnoitred it for a club walk after waiting for months for the right conditions, only to have to abort the top section with the group when thunder, rain and lightning struck as we ascended Ullock Pike. This should not put you off – just wait for the right conditions!

The walk can be started from different points. If you travel by car, there is a good lay-by a short way from the Bassenthwaite road above High Side (Grid Reference NY 235310). However the route can be undertaken using the Osprey Bus from Thornthwaite, which stops only a short distance from the lay-by.

The map indicates the route which is best done in an anti-clockwise direction. The walk starts in open country but soon reaches the start of the ridge which forms Ullock Pike. Views to the west and over Bassenthwaite are great and you can see Thornthwaite (Photo No 4) and The Larches with binoculars.(Let us know when you do in the Comments section of the blog). Swinging round Longside Edge, you reach Carlside and then climb the obvious path to the plateau and the Skiddaw summit.

From the top there is no clear path but it is easy enough in good weather to find a route first north and then NE to pick up the track and find Dash Falls (Photo above). The route is straightforward after this through some unfrequented and lovely big open country. The photos below were all taken on the reconnoitre in wintry conditions.

skiddaw_map 4skiddaw-north 10ullock40c 8bassen3 12skiddaw-top 16dash-valley

6. Watendlath

The hamlet and farm at Watendlath (263 metres) is owned by the National Trust and is a popular place in busy periods. It was given to the Trust by Queen Victoria’s daughter. Off season it is usually pretty quiet and well worth the 8 mile journey to get there. There are several walks you can do, including a popular one due south to Dock Tarn. This can be extended to a circular which drops down to Stonethwaite Beck and returns via Rosthwaite.

There is also a fine walk less commonly used, which heads almost due east from the farm to High Stove (515 metres). This provides great views over the fells to the north and west and can be combined with an extension over to Thirlmere but you need to work out the transport back if you do this. The turning to Watendlath is 1½ miles from the roundabout beyond the Theatre by The Lake in Keswick and from there it is a further 2.8 miles on  a narrow track.

The photos below are from a late evening winter walk up this route and provided us with dramatic changes in light. Photo No 4 is of the tarn at Watendlath. The last two photos are of Derwentwater which is visible from near Ashness Bridge on the way down from Watendlath.

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7. Blencathra circular – Mungrisdale approach from the NE
See blog posting 11 April 2011

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