Cumbria is a large county in North West England and contains the Lake District and Lake District National Park. It is bounded to the north by the Scottish Borders, Dumfries and Galloway, to the west by the Irish Sea, to the south by Lancashire, to the south east by North Yorkshire, and to the east by County Durham and Northumberland. Cumbria is very mountainous containing every peak in England over 3,000ft above sea level with Scafell Pike being England’s highest mountain at 978 m (3,209ft). Cumbria is also one of England’s most outstanding areas of natural beauty attracting mountain climbers, hikers and walkers, cyclists, runners and tourists and holds a source of inspiration for artists, writers and musicians. Cumbria consists of six districts Eden, Carlisle, Allerdale, Copeland, South Lakeland and Barrow-in-Furness.
The Lake District is an area with stunning scenery located within in the County of Cumbria. Commonly known as The Lakes or Lakeland it was granted National Park status on 9th May 1951 less than a month after the first UK designated National Park, The Peak District. It is the largest of thirteen National Parks in England and Wales and the largest in the UK after the Cairngorms. The Lake District National Park itself covers an area of 885 square miles and stretches 30 miles from Ravenglass in the west to Shap in the east and 35 miles from Caldbeck in the north to Lindale in the south. Crammed with so much natural beauty the Lakes attract visitors, tourists and holiday makers from all over the world. As the name suggests there are many lakes each with their own uniqueness, amenities and activities such as lakeside walks, sailing, waterskiing, boat trips and ferries. All of the lakes except Bassenthwaite Lake are named by water, tarn or mere and are surrounded by stunning scenery and magnificent fells. There are some wonderful towns to explore such as Keswick, Windermere, Ambleside, Kendal, Hawkshead, Grasmere and Cockermouth all with a splendid mixture of shops, cafes, pubs, bars and restaurants. There are also many museums, theatres, historic homes, gardens and many easy walks for the not so energetic visitor wishing not to climb the fells. William Wordsworth the famous British poet was born in Cockermouth and later lived in Grasmere where he wrote some of his best works before moving to Rydal Mount near Ambleside for his last 37 years. Both places are open to visitors and so is Brantwood home to John Ruskin until his death. Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Robert Southey and Thomas de Quincey all followed Wordsworth to the Lake District. Arthur Ransome, author of Swallows and Amazons, also grew to love the lakes and settled in the Winster Valley near Windermere. The painters Thomas Gainsborough, JMW Turner and John Constable were early visitors to the lakes but it was John Ruskin who settled here at Brantwood on the shore of Coniston Water. Farming and especially sheep farming has been historically and still is the main industry of the Lake District. The tough Herdwick breed with their stocky build and distinctive grey coat are especially hardy for the Lakeland fells and its weather. Sheep farming has probably been here since Viking times and is an important factor both to the economy of the lakes as well as in preserving the stunning landscape which attracts visitors and hence income to the region. Walking is a big attraction in the Lake District whether strolling around the low lying lakes or climbing up into the mountainous fells whichever is undertaken the scenery is magnificent. Alfred Wainwright’s famous hand written book, The Pictorial Guide to the Lake District, published in 1955 is a collection of seven books each illustrated with his unique style and charm of the 214 fells inspiring many visitors and tourists from all over the world.
Braithwaite, only a few miles west of Keswick, is a small but quaint village in the northern part of the Lake District within the National Park. The village nestles below a fell called Barrow and is overlooked by Grisedale Pike. Coledale Beck which flows along the V shaped valley of Coledale passes through Braithwaite before it joins Newlands Beck east of the village. Newlands Beck coming from the Newlands Valleys then heads north towards Bassenthwaite Lake. For such a small village it houses three pubs, guest houses, B&B’s and a campsite with a caravan park. Not far from Braithwaite is Whinlatter Forest where there are many short and long walks to undertake. The Cockermouth, Keswick and Penrith Railway, now closed, called at a station in Braithwaite.
Keswick is a market town now mainly tourist orientated due to the many thousands of tourists visiting every year and the majority of side streets are abundant with B&B’s. Derwent Water is about 3 miles long by 1 mile wide and sits on the south edge of Keswick town and is fed and drained by the River Derwent. The river also connects Derwent Water to Bassenthwaite Lake which is north of Keswick. There are several islands in Derwent Water the largest being Derwent Island on which stands the inhabited 18th century Derwent Island House. The house is a tenanted National Trust property open to the public on five days each year. Lords Island was also home to a grand looking house and a drawbridge but in the late 18th century the house fell into disrepair and only the foundations remain now. The stone from the house was used to build Moot Hall in 1813. Moot Hall in the centre of Keswick was once the town hall but is now a tourist information centre and it is here in the square where the market is held every Saturday. During the 16th century Keswick was home to copper and lead mining on a small scale and the town was also the source of the world’s first graphite pencils. The pencil industry continued in the town until 2008 when it then moved to Workington. The Cumberland Pencil Museum and the Mining Museum are both close to the centre and are excellent places to visit on rainy days.
Barrow at 455 metres (1494 feet) is situated in the quiet and very pretty Newlands Valley. Although it is one of the Lake District’s lower fells it provides a wonderful all round view taking in the surrounding higher North Western Fells, the Helvellyn Range across Derwent Water, Skiddaw rising above Keswick and Blencathra beyond. The southern edge of Bassenthwaite Lake can also be seen and to the south-west of the summit are the higher fells of Causey Pike, Sail, and Crag Hill and to the north-west is Grisdale Pike. The summit is a small cairn on grass surrounded by heather. Barrow is a slender ridge climbing south west from Braithwaite with the valley of Newlands Beck on its east side and the valley of Coledale on its north-west side. In the past Barrow, along with many of the fells in the Newlands Valley, was extensively mined for lead the spoil heaps are extensive and sweep down to the road at the eastern foot of the fell. Barrow mine first opened in the 17th century and closed in 1888.
Outerside at 568 metres (1863 feet) is a smaller fell of the Coledale group of fells. Its summit is marked by a cairn and like Barrow the views extend to the Helvellyn Range and the Skiddaw Group. To the west and south the higher Coledale fells of Grisdale Pike, Crag Hill and Sail and to the south-east Causey Pike. The view directly down into the Coledale Valley with Force Crag Mine at its head is wonderful. The small ridge that runs north east from Outerside crosses Low Moss to reach the subsidiary top of Stile End at 447 metres (1466 feet).
We walk past the school towards the village and at the t-junction we turn right across the front of the pub then turn immediate left. We head forwards crossing over the bridge and past the little shop on our right. After a short way we turn right onto the track going slightly uphill. At Braithwaite Lodge we bear right between the buildings. We go through a second gate, turn immediate left and follow the path as it bears right leading up to the summit of Barrow. From the summit we head forwards downhill and after a short way the path splits we take the left path. (There is a path going off to the right to Stile End omitting Outerside for a shorter walk.) We keep heading forwards to pick up the distinctive path we can see in front of us. We eventually come to a small cairn and turn right to the summit of Outerside. At the top we keep heading forwards downhill, steep in places, into the dip then back uphill to the summit of Stile End. We keep heading forwards following the path steeply downhill. The path levels out and we continue to follow the path back to Braithwaite.
This is a moderate to hard walk on well trod paths and tracks with a short stretch of quiet road. There are steep inclines and declines.
Elevation: approx lowest point 85.7m (281.2ft) approx highest point 564.48m (1852ft) approx ascent 1015.4m (3331.4ft).
Distance and Start Point
Approx 5 miles allow 3 to 3½ hours using OS Explorer Map OL4, The English Lakes, North Western area. This walk is done clockwise.
Start point: at the side of the road near the school.
Braithwaite is west of Keswick just off the A66 in the Lake District, Cumbria.
Directions and Parking
Travelling on the A66 take the B5292 and Braithwaite is situated just off the A66.
Parking: Free roadside parking around the village. The village school also provides parking at weekends and in the school holidays only.
Toilets and Refreshments
There are no public toilets the nearest ones are at Keswick. For refreshments there are two pubs in Braithwaite the Royal Oak and the Coledale Inn and a small shop. There is also the Middle Ruddings Hotel close to Braithwaite on the A66.