A Circuit of Derwent Water.
Route. Keswick (Moot Hall) - Lake Road - Theatre by the Lake - Friar's Crag - Strandshag Bay - Stable Hill - Calfclose Bay - Barrow Bay - Kettlewell - Screes Coppice - Lodore Falls - Lodore Hotel - Borrowdale Hotel - Fitts Turnhole - River Derwent - Chinese Bridge - Park Nab - Manesty Park - Brandelhow Bay - Withesike Bay - Brandelhow Park - Hawes End - The Park - Silver Hill - Fawe Park - Portinscale - Portinscale Bridge - Keswick.
Notes. This is a wonderful scenic twelve mile walk through ancient woodland and precious wetlands accompanied by stunning views over island studded Derwent Water, and if you feel the need for sustenance, a number of cafés, restaurants and inns dot the route, all willing to accommodate clientele with muddy boots and their canine companions. Come take a wander with me, through what I'd call a landscape of moods, atmosphere and emotion.
Wherever you park make your way to the Moot Hall, currently home to the Keswick Tourist Information Centre. From the south corner of the market square Lake Road cuts between independent shops and inns to access the Theatre by the Lake and the Derwent Water lake shore path. I wandered passed the theatre and landing stages to gain access to Friar's Crag with it's stunning vistas over Derwent Water the length of Borrowdale. From Friar's Crag I strolled along the edge of Strandshag Bay, passed Stable Hills and on to Calfclose Bay. By this point it had occurred to me the path cutting across the head of the lake may be submerged, there was an awful lot of water lapping at the path edges.
For the sake of dry feet the walk to the jetty at Ashness Gate was on the road, at the jetty I ventured back to the lake shore. The route along the edge of Barrow Bay was, well lets say a little problematic to say the least, rock hopping and root balancing got me to the car park at Kettlewell with dry feet, I crossed the road to join the path to Lodore. I'd have normally been happy to ignore Lodore Falls, to my mind it's vastly overrated, our Victorian forefathers may have flocked there in their hundreds but I've always been disappointed. I was half a mile away and could here the roar of falling water, today I'd grace the falls with my presence.
Noise and spray, the sound of thunder as a mix of rain water and snow melt plunged a hundred feet over massive boulders, I hung around ages amongst moss coated rocks and tree roots, this made up for all the disappointments. Unfortunately two years ago the bridge to the rear of the Lodore Hotel succumb to flood waters, it's not yet been replaced, forcing walkers to re-trace their steps to the main valley road then wander passed the front of the hotel, here we encountered another problem.
The finger-post invited me to Manesty on the opposite side of the valley, the path offered me a cold swim, I watched two runners wade waist deep through the flood water, laugh it off then take a couple of selfies before advising me not to go that way. Up the road I wandered to the Borrowdale Hotel and the start of another foot-path, this one clings to the high ground next to the River Derwent. I followed said path to what locals christened the Chinese Bridge, because of it's low arch spanning the river. I crossed to access a board walk path cutting across the vast tract of marsh land guarding the head of Derwent Water. Above the water table I wandered, when the path turned right I turned with it.
I was now wandering north a good path under foot, round Great Bay and Abbot's Bay and Brandelhow Bay I strolled, through the woodland of Manesty Park and Brandelhow Park to Hawes End, through yet more woodland on a path signed Portinscale. Passed Silver Hill and Lingholm I walked joining tarmac at Nichol End, a short walk over the grey stuff allowed access to Portinscale, as I wandered into the village the weather overtook me, heavy rain for the short walk back to Keswick.
After passing The Chalet Tearoom and Restaurant the road swung sharp left, I turned right down a side road, a discreet arrow pointed the way. This path guided me across the Portinscale Suspension Bridge to access field paths leading back across the flood plane of the River Greta to Keswick.
view route map.
Moot Hall, Keswick, the current building dates back to 1813, over the years it's had the pleasure to serve as a prison, museum, town hall and not to forget a butter and fruit market, currently home to the Keswick Tourist Information Centre.
Piercing the western sky Grisedale Pike.
Seen across Derwent Water Causey Pike with Barrow in sunlight and shade to the right.
From Strandshag Bay wonderful views to the Jaws of Borrowdale.
Rising from the western shore, a family favourite, Cat Bells.
Maiden Moor across Derwent Water.
The jetty at Ashness Gate looking to the Skiddaw massif, bathed in dappled sunlight topped by cloud.
Across Barrow Bay Walla Crag and Falcon Crag.
Seen over Derwent Water, in dappled light Cat Bells with Skelgill Bank bathed in sunlight.
A 100ft of noise and spray, Lodore Falls fueled by two days of rain and snow melt.
Anyone for a paddle, not me, there's another path a short walk along the road....
...and this is it, the view, Shepherds Crag from near Fitts Turnhole.
The beautiful River Derwent south of Derwent Water.
The Chinese Bridge backed by the rock, scree and woodland of Walla Crag.
Great Bay Derwent Water with magical views to the Skiddaw massif.
Skirting the shore of Derwent Water looking to Walla Crag.
The view from Great Bay near Park Nab, Ashness Fell leading to Bleaberry Fell.
Walla Crag backed by the sun kissed slopes of Blease Fell.
The Jaws of Borrowdale, pass through the narrow passage between Grange Fell and Castle Crag and you enter what old Wainwright described as "the loveliest square mile in the district", that's a hell of a statement to make in a place like the English Lake District.
From Abbot's Bay the bulk of the Skiddaw massif, to the right Blencathra.
Brundelhow Bay with views over Brundlelhow Point to Bleaberry Fell and Ashness Fell.
Viewing the western shore of Derwent Water dominated by Skiddaw Little Man.
Wandering through a heavy Lakeland shower, Portinscale Bridge gateway to field paths leading back to Keswick.
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