Interesting walk over 6 north central Wainwrights on the high ground between Derwent Water & Thirlmere. We parked at Keswick, taking the no 78 bus down the B5289 to Grange. From here it’s an L shape linear route back to Keswick with a refreshing Watendlath tea break thrown in. A modest start over modest hills gradually improving to save the best till last with a grandstand view of surrounding mountains. Forget busy boggy Haystacks, surprisingly I found these less busy boggy fells more fun. You can even finish with a pint at the Dog & Gunn.
- Distance = 12 miles (19.3 km)
- Duration = 5 – 9 hrs , (start 11.15am, finish 7.30pm, many stops)
- Total Ascent = 2,825ft (861 m), max height High Seat 1,995 ft
- Start/Finish = Keswick to Grange by bus & walk back to Keswick
- Date = Sunday 29th June 2014, weather good slightly hazy, improving
- Click on my Social Hiking Route Map below to zoom in/out
Park anywhere in Keswick and catch the no 78 Seatoller bus from the main bus station or along the route. The buses are a bit seasonal so best check times here.
Route Summary – in 3 stages (including lot’s of stops on tops)
- Grange to Watendlath; (1 hour 20 mins)
- Watendlath to High Seat via Armboth Fell; (2hr 20 mins)
- High Seat to central Keswick; (2hr 55 mins)
Route Detail & Pics from Sunday 29th June 2014
Stage 1 – Keswick via Grange to Watendlath; (1 hr 20 mins from Grange) – We parked in the maize of little east Keswick streets full of B&Bs and popular names. Then a quick dash through the centre to the bus station on Crow Park Rd. Been a while since I’ve hopped on a bus so relatively exciting. Those more used to public transport maybe just thankful it all went to plan. Left Keswick at 10.50am arrived at Grange bus shelter at 11.08am (approx).
From the bus stop it’s a short road walk south to a wooden gate on the left. Then east through trees and ferns out into the open before ascending rocky steps through trees.
Turning south the objective is Kings How, not a Wainwright but a very pleasing easily accessible viewpoint to start the day.
We sat around the top for a while enjoying the views. Always fun seeing familiar fells from a quite different vantage point, then playing name that Wainwright. I’m crap at this.
From Kings How it’s a descent south eastish (new word) through the bracken.
We nearly walked past a cut-off path going east so thought it best to point this spot out to anyone interested. Please take note as unfortunately Alan can’t stay in this pose indefinitely, (not in those shorts anyway).
Soon we arrived at a jumble of rocky bumps which marked the first Wainwright of the day, Grange/Brund Fell. Not totally sure which one was the actual top but one did seem the highest and it had a path so hopefully we got the right one. Thought Kings How was easily the better top. It’s then a matter of finding a route down to the obvious path heading east. We are heading for the hills over the dip in the photo below. But first that dip hides the hamlet of Watendlath and the chance of a nice cuppa tea. Hardcore hiking this!
If you haven’t visited Watendlath before (and I hadn’t) then you’re in for a pleasant surprise. For once we were in no rush so stopped at the Farm Tea Shop for a good while, watching the birdies searching for cake crumbs. A few families and other walkers were scattered around the village, a few fisherman dotted around the Tarn. Very pleasant.
Couldn’t see anywhere to sit inside so perhaps a different experience in poor weather. Some info on Watendlath from invaluable Wikipedia;- the hamlet is 863ft above sea level and is owned by the National Trust, the name is Old Norse for “Water End Barn”.
Not sure how but the times on my photos showed we were in Watendlath nearly 2 hours. This is what happens when you sit down for a cuppa in your fifties! Right we’d better get moving then!
Stage 2 – Watendlath to High Seat via Armboth Fell; (2 hrs 20 mins) – After a brief wander around the buildings we found a path by the car park which makes a steady ascent eastwards to regain lost height.
Once over the shoulder it’s time for the grass section of the walk and a section renowned for it’s boggyness. Firstly we headed for High Tove and Wainwright no 2.
Expecting to be here alone it was a little surprising to find a group of girl campers ensconced on top. Managed to somehow exclude them from the picture below which looks out south east to the next target Armboth Fell. Expecting Armboth Fell to be obvious it was a little surprising to find it not very erm obvious. There wasn’t a dominant high point just a few scattered bumps in an oasis of greenness.
Two distant figures were spotted sat on one rocky bump so we figured that’d be it. Looked like we had to cross a watershed but a feint track was picked up which we soon crossed across to the rocky bump. We had been very lucky after a spell of dry weather we didn’t encounter any boggy problems. This is not typical.
One could be forgiven for wondering why Alfred listed this particular spot in his guidebooks. However it struck me sat up here that the remoteness in the middle of a grassy boggy plateau was actually quite nice. Wainwright wasn’t a people person and in an increasingly popular Lakeland he wouldn’t have met many people up here. He would also certainly have been alarmed at the sight below.
From Armbroth the next destination is High Seat however we chose to retrace our satisfyingly dry route back to High Tove rather than try a straighter route over the unknown grassy tussocky moorland. We were soon back on High Tove then turned north following another potentially damp grassy track up to High Seat. Again we were very lucky finding firm ground, one peaty section even reminded me of the Cheviots.
Stage 3 – High Seat to Keswick; (a slow 2 hrs 55 mins) – Reaching High Seat brought environmental improvements with firm ground and the best views of the day so far.
The highest point of the route at 1,995ft and another place to linger with inviting views particularly northwards. Good to see Thirlmere at last and south down to now familiar Steel Fell where we’d walked from Grasmere two months earlier. Soon time to carry on north descending slightly on a green track winding across and up to penultimate Wainwright Bleaberry Fell.
Thought the scenery up here was particularly nice, a granstand view over higher fells which were distant enough not to make you feel boxed in. The angles are different from the usual, in fact the whole walk is a little different from the usual. This was the best bit.
The path meets a fence which is crossed via a gate which takes you through to another wonderful viewpoint up on the final Wainwright 1,243 ft Walla Crag. Extremely fine scenery looking down on Keswick and beyond. It was late and the midges were out but apart from them this would make a fine evening walk from Keswick.
The descent seems pretty obvious, but we managed to bugger this up slightly by detouring too far north east and missing a gate which would have brought us down to Keswick earlier. Alan’s memory of this walk was a little confused here so I blame him 🙂
We ended up thinking we could nip over to see Castlerigg Stone Circle but this was much further east so we retreated and swung round to Keswick. Probably lost 15 mins.
No time for that pint in the Dog & Gunn, we were hungry, so were quickly into the car and driving east on the A69. First visit to the Horse & Farrier at Threkeld. Well run quality pub, very friendly and decent food, seemed a bit expensive for us.
So a different day in the Lakes, lowly fells with spacious views finishing in grand style. Definitely one to do from south to north for the ever improving views over the northern fells. Good to have no schedules and time limits on this one taking advantage of the long daylight hours. It’s tempted me to risk trying another bus ride too. Thanks for reading.