Walla Crag

Walk date – 22nd March 2024

Distance – 5 miles

Weather – sunny spells, abundant broken cloud, very strong and gusty  wind


Based on today’s forecast for a sunny morning and high winds plus the possibility of rain/sleet showers during the afternoon we opted for a morning walk over Walla Crag, which we haven’t set foot on since 2018. The visibility was supposed to be good but we didn’t find that to be the case as the surrounding fells appeared to be wrapped in haze and lacking in definition. The sunny spells came and went with the high cloud being blown along rapidly by the gusty west wind, so gusty that both of us were blown off balance several times. Definitely not the best day to be out on the high fells in such a strong wind, an opinion shared it seemed by the many other walkers we met during today’s walk.


Ashness Bridge car park – High Strutta – Brown Knotts – Falcon Crag – Low Moss – Walla Crag – Rakefoot – Brockle Beck – Great Wood – Ashness Bridge car park

Opposite the car park at Ashness Bridge is this mountain hut alongside which is the High Strutta path. Following the path all the way up eventually leads walkers more or less alongside Ashness Gill over to a minor peak known simply as Dodd. From Dodd the path leads over to High Seat. Further details in AW’s Book 3, The Central Fells.

However we are only on the High Strutta path for a short distance before we turn off to our left and take the path over to this footbridge across Barrow Beck to begin making our way over Brown Knotts on the lower slopes of Bleaberry Fell.

Once across the bridge the path begins to rise gradually and the views around Derwentwater soon begin to appear. Here’s a view across Strutta Wood towards Maiden Moor which we walked over on 26th February this year. What the conditions were like up there today we could only imagine as the wind was already beginning to make its presence felt even at this lowly height. Zooming in reveals the presence of cars in the woodland parking area.

Sunshine on Catbells across Derwentwater with the prominent and shaded peak of Causey Pike immediately behind it. Keep an eye on the surface of the water in the following photos for an indication of the gusty nature of the wind.

Further along the still rising path we have a longer view of Derwentwater where Keswick’s various amenities are clustered along its shores. You can just about see Bass Lake in the distance.

Over to the right Robinson is beginning to appear behind Maiden Moor. Below us, in the green fields, are the buildings of Barrow House which closed as an independent hostel on 3rd March this year. It was originally a private dwelling, then a hotel, and later owned by the YHA who put it up for sale in 2011. It was bought by a local business man who set up a charitable organisation to keep the house running as an independent hostel. However the buildings now need some significant improvements which the charity could not afford to make and thus it has ceased operating as a hostel. The house itself will probably put up for sale this year or next according to the trustees of the charity.

A brief patch of sunlight lands on Catbells, but the wind is still roughing up Derwentwater and the north western fells are plunged into deep shadow as the billowing cloud scuds across them.

A distant Great Gable appears behind the Maiden Moor/High Spy ridge. Castle Crag, set amongst the green fields at the entrance to Borrowdale, looks miniscule in comparison.

We’ve reached Falcon Crag so we made the short diversion to take a look at the views from there. Above is Keswick and the Skiddaw group of fells …..

….. and here’s another look along Derwentwater towards Bass Lake and its accompanying fells …..

….. followed by a look over Cat Gill for a view of Walla Crag. J’s stabilisation routine was needed for all three photos from Falcon Crag.

From Falcon Crag we made our way back to the path and carried on towards Walla Crag. The wind carried across the voices of the walkers who were carefully descending Cat Gill via the path between the trees over on the right of the shot. We’ll be crossing the footbridge at the bottom of Cat Gill on our return leg as we emerge from the path through Great Wood.

Walla Crag from the path above the Cat Gill area, parts of the path were exceedingly wet and muddy.

A sunny view of Falcon Crag and the surrounding fells as we carried on over towards Walla Crag. Derwentwater is still being roughed up.

A lovely view from the section of path between Falcon Crag and Walla Crag. As you can imagine all exposed spots such as this one were given the full in the face treatment by the wind

The view towards Walla Crag as we walked across the very wet section of Low Moss …..

….. with its numerous narrow becks whose waters tumbled down towards Derwentwater along a series of mini waterfalls. At the end of the wide green path on the other side of the beck is a cairn marking the junction of this path and the one leading over to Bleaberry Fell.

A burst of sunlight lands on the path leading over to Bleaberry Fell on the left. I almost gave up trying to take the shot as each time I had it lined up bits of cloud came scudding over plunging the whole view into little more than a dark silhouette but I got lucky eventually. The cairn marking the junction is right behind me …..

….. and so is J, waiting patiently for me to join him so we can carry on up to Walla Crag.

A lovely sunlit panorama of the fells forming the Coledale Horseshoe. Starting on the right with Grisedale Pike, then Hopegill Head, across the col from there leads up to Crag Hill, then down to Sail, across to Scar Crags and finally Causey Pike with its distinctive knuckled summit.

The view of Maiden Moor, Robinson and Catbells as we squelch our way over to the Walla Crag wall …..

….. plus another look back towards Brown Knotts and the path to Bleaberry Fell.

Blencathra in the background from the soggy approach to the stile in the wall. The stile was surrounded by a deep puddle so we kept to the grassy left hand side and climbed over the little piece of fencing instead.

Now on the Walla Crag side of the stile with a view of Clough Head and Great Dodd. Not much chance of any shelter from the wind up there today. Behind me should be the pathway over to the top of Walla Crag but it was nothing more than an ankle deep muddy morass today. A detour using the ragged heathery areas ensued.

From the top of Walla Crag the view of Keswick and the Skiddaw group …..

….. the north western fells again …..

….. together with a shot of some of Derwentwater’s little islands. Very, very strong wind up here so we didn’t hang around any longer.

Another view of Clough Head and the Dodds beyond Low Moss as we made our way back to the stile.

Looking back towards the stile area as we began our descent towards Rakefoot using the diagonal path coming over from the wall to avoid the wet soggy depression towards the bottom of the shot.

A dappled view of Blencathra from the much drier path down to Rakefoot. We’ve just exchanged greetings with a solo walker who was wearing a long (long as in down to the ankles) and flowing skirt, a long loose top and carrying a variety of bags, one of which was a large, round and flattish shape, a bit like a large tambour type drum. Not the sort of walking gear you usually see on the fells, so it was rather unusual. I wouldn’t be able to walk very far in a long flowing skirt before it started to annoy me, especially on such a windy day, but she seemed quite comfortable in it. To each his own I suppose.

I managed to poke the camera through the wire fencing atop the wall for another more or less sunny view of Keswick and the Skiddaw group …..

….. followed by a look to the left of Skiddaw towards Bass Lake and its neighbouring fells.

The farm buildings at Rakefoot are coming into view on the left, on the right is the northern end of Bleaberry Fell which is known simply as Pike.

On the way down J takes to the grass rather than deal with the rough loose path.

When we crossed the bridge over Brockle Beck we turned left and walked down the lane for a short distance …..

….. until we reached the signpost indicating the route to Great Wood and Ashness Bridge. It also had a notice about tea, coffee etc being available a little further down the lane but in the opposite direction to where we were going so we passed on the invitation to call in.

The path leads down to this bridge so we re-crossed Brockle Beck and walked the narrow path above the beck.

A sunny view of the beck as we began climbing away from it. The path continued on high above the beck for a short distance eventually leading us to a signposted junction. We had been trying to remember if we had seen any benches through Great Wood on previous walks as we were thinking of taking a coffee break when, at the junction, what did we see but a brand new memorial bench? The biker, remembered as ‘a bonny lad’ and to whom the bench had been dedicated, had died only this year and reading the inscription brought back memories of my brother, whose Geordie wife often called him ‘a bonny lad’ too. Odd isn’t it how such a little thing brings back so many memories?

We had a short coffee break at the bench and then made our way down the path and over to the section of the route leading us through Great Wood. On the way is this very open view of the fells across Derwentwater.

Walking through Great Wood where we had some much longed for respite from the wind.

Neither of us could remember seeing this on our last visit so it must have been the result of one of the many gales we’ve had during the past six years. The tree trunk has not only been split into several sections but the gales have also twisted it in different directions, so much so that it now resembles something more akin to a piece of modern sculpture than a broken tree trunk. How strong the gale must have been to have resulted in such a distortion.

We’ve just come down the path in the shot and at the junction we head off in the direction of Ashness Bridge.

On hearing the water rushing down Cat Gill some distance back along the path we knew that the footbridge was quite close, but even without that sound the number of walkers we met who had just come down the Cat Gill path would have indicated the very same thing.

Just after the footbridge we left Great Wood and walked the much more open path below Falcon Crag. Mounds of dead bracken and grey skies rarely result in a pretty picture but spring hasn’t really got going yet so everything still looks a little bleak. However we did notice that quite a number of trees back in Great Wood were sprouting the tiniest of green buds so we’ll just have to be patient a little longer.

The clouds are beginning to join forces but now and again a splash of sunlight gets through, in this case lighting up the trunks and branches of the silver birches below us.

In the bottom right corner of the shot a Keswick launch is making its way towards one of the landing stages dotted around the water. We had also seen another one earlier on and the pair of them could be seen chugging to and from the various landing stages whenever we had a view of Derwentwater.

A look back at Falcon Crags as we passed below them.

We’re almost back at Ashness Bridge now so a look back at the path we’ve been following alongside Derwentwater before the view is lost.

This signpost always makes me smile with its precise descriptions and timings, none of which take into consideration anyone’s individual abilities. Do you give yourself a pat on the back and a gold star if you complete one of the journeys in less time than indicated, or do you consider yourself a complete and utter failure if you take longer than suggested?

The path just across the road from the bridge is where today’s walk comes to an end and despite having plenty of photos of the bridge another one always finds its way onto the camera card somehow. There was the usual cluster of people around and vehicles slowly crossing the narrow bridge so I had to wait a few minutes until there was a gap. With the photo taken we turn around and walk the last few paces up to the car park. We finished off the coffee and sat for a couple of minutes watching the various comings and goings before setting off for the drive home. We stopped off at Booth’s supermarket in Keswick for a few bits and pieces and when we were clear of Keswick on the A66 we were back under blue skies and sunshine. At home in the Eden Valley it remained sunny for the rest of the afternoon so we were left wondering what had happened to the forecasted rain showers. They turned up overnight and this morning we woke up to raindrops on the windows, dull grey skies and even stronger winds.