Saturday, 30 April 2016

Walla Crag to Ashness Bridge, Keswick

After watching the weather forecast all week we decided that Saturday would be the best day for a walk for the Bank Holiday weekend.  After our walk up Coniston Old Man a couple of weeks ago we have been itching to get back up to the lakes for another walk.  There were even a few strange yellow symbols on the weather map for Saturday!  The weather has been so wet, cold and windy just lately we are well overdue some warm weather.  So we decided to head up to Keswick and bag another Wainwright, this time Walla Crag.
Snow capped mountains up ahead

We'd planned an 8-mile circular walk starting from the Great Wood National Trust Car Park.  We're National Trust members so can park for free.

Setting off

From the car park we followed the path to Ashness Bridge.  Just after we'd set off the heavens opened and it absolutely threw it down.  So on went our waterproofs and undeterred we carried on.  After about 30 mins of walking the sun started to appear from behind the clouds and we soon warmed up.  So by the time we reached Ashness Bridge we had to strip off a couple of layers.

Ashness Bridge is a well known viewpoint across Borrowdale and towards Skiddaw and is very popular with photographers and artists. 

Ashness Bridge

The Bark House Mountain Base is next to the bridge.  There's a small plaque on the side with the date '1964'.  We went inside and got talking to a couple of National Trust volunteers who were setting up refreshments and National Trust leaflets.  There was a lovely roaring open fire there which would've been very welcoming if we were wet or cold.  They told us that there's no running water there or electricity and that the hut was used by the scouts in the 70s and 80s as a bunkhouse and had contained 12 bunks.

The Bark House Mountain Base

Welcoming sign

 Then we continued on our way.  The route via Ashness Bridge was a fairly gently climb up to Walla Crag, stopping to find a couple of caches along the way.

The views along the way were simply stunning.  The route was fairly easy going and it was a great feeling to reach the summit.

So that's our 5th Wainwright bagged and logged on the hill bagging site.

We spent quite some time admiring the view before finding a sheltered spot out of the wind to eat our cake - every walk should have cake!

Chocolate Guinness cake of course

Storm Desmond damaged this bridge in December 2015

Then it was down to Rakefoot to pick up the path that would take us down to Friar's crag.  Taking a short detour to the viewpoint at Castlehead on the way.

Any Star Wars fans would be interested to learn that a visual effects crew filmed background plates for the 7th Star Wars movie here in July 2014.  Interesting video showing the locations here:

Then we continued back down the path and on to Friar's Crag to do a couple of virtuals, George Hodgson and Mirror Image.

Herdwick Sheep

The Herdwick Sheep is native to Cumbria, the lambs are almost always born black and then lighten as they get older.

The walk along the shoreline back to the beginning was very picturesque.

After the walk we headed into Keswick for coffee and a mooch around the bookshop and then got a chippy tea to eat up at Ashness Bridge.

This has to be the best view EVER for a chippy tea!

After tea we drove up to the little hamlet of Watendlath, stopping off at Surprise View on the way.

'Surprise View'
Watendlath is now owned by the National Trust.  The Watendlath packhorse bridge is apparently the most photographed packhorse bridge in the country.  Unfortunately, it's closed at the moment due to damage caused by the storms in December 2015.
Watendlath Packhorse Bridge
Today was just an amazing day, I really didn't want it to end.......... hopefully be back again soon.

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