Sunday, 16 August 2015

A Circuit of Derwentwater

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Route: Stormwater Bridge, Keswick, Lakeside Theatre, Landing Stages, Friar's Crag, The Ings, Stable Hills, Calfclose Bay, Barrow Bay, Strutta Wood, Lodore Falls, Cannon Dub, Chinese Bridge, Manesty Park, Bradnelhow Bay, Brandelhow Park, Hawse End, Derwent Bay, Silver Hill, Fawe Park, Portinscale

Date: 16/08/2015
From: Portinscale

Parking: Old Portinscale Road
Start Point: Old Portinscale Road
Region: Northern / Central Fells

Route length: 9.1 miles (14.64 km)
Time taken: 04:10
Average speed: 2.2 mph
Ascent: 465m
Descent: 466m

Wainwrights on this walk:

Other Summits: None

Other points of interest: Friar's Crag, Centenary Stone, Lodore Falls, Chinese Bridge

This is a walk I've had in mind for a few months now, the ideal answer to an overcast and cloudy day in the Lake District - one that is a departure from my normal objective of high fells and trig pillars. This time we'd be walking around Derwentwater, the picturesque lake south of Keswick that forms the backdrop to many a professional photographers snaps and likely adorns many household walls.

We parked on the old Portinscale Road, now a dead end thanks to the construction of a footbridge over the River Derwent but which makes an ideal place to leave the car for a day without having to pay the dreaded parking fees of Keswick. It is the perfect spot as the walk has to pass along this road in order to complete the circuit. We joined the crowds in Keswick in order to reach the lakeside theatre and the footpath that hugs the shoreline, our route to Lodore Falls at the southern end.
Clouds swirl across Skiddaw
The Cumbria Way bound for Keswick
Keswick's picturesque Landing Stage
The path passes the landing stages where the Keswick Launch Company operate an annual ferry that makes a number of stops at several places along the shoreline, an option if you feel that the full circuit isn't quite for you. Beyond the landing stage is Friar's Crag, a prominent lookout that offers fine views towards Catbells on the opposite shoreline.
The Jaws of Borrowdale from Friar's Crag
View from Friar's Crag
Catbells - a magnificent fell
The path rounds The Ings, the marshy outfall of Brockle Beck whose origins are high up on Bleaberry Fell and rounds Stable Hills to Calfclose Bay, one of a number of small inlets that dot the shoreline. At Calfclose Bay you can find the National Trust Centenary Stone, a sculpture commissioned by the National Trust in 1995 to celebrate their founding 100 years earlier. The sculpture is a large boulder of the, sawn in half with each face then carved into series of fans and swirls.
Brockle Beck
National Trust centenary plaque
Walla Crag
The Centenary Stone
The Centenary Stone mono
Catbells over Calfclose Bay
Travelling further south the path truly hugs the shore as it passes beneath the lower slopes of Walla Crag and to the second landing stage at Barrow Bay. From Barrow Bay the route passes the Kettlewell car park and delves into the steamy Strutta Wood. From here, a well-laid track takes you to the impressive Lodore Falls.
Causey Pike, Outerside, Barrow and Grisedale Pike
Heading along the shoreline
You can either walk along the shore or the road - I know which I prefer
A shower lingers over Maiden Moor
Jetty at Barrow Bay
Falcon Crag
Panorama from Barrow Bay
Heading into Strutta Wood
Lodore Falls is an outlet from the picturesque Watendlath Tarn, high up in the hidden hanging valley of Watendlath above. They cascade 30m over a series of outcrops into the Borrowdale Valley and are particularly impressive after a spell of rain.
Bench overlooking the falls
Lodore Falls
Lodore Falls
Leaving the falls, the path passes through the car park of the Lodore Falls Hotel where we encountered a couple enjoying the hot tub, a bit odd having a public footpath run through the back of a hotel. Either way, it leads back to the road and the very southern end of Derwentwater at Great Bay. Here, the route crosses the Chinese Bridge so called because of the shallow arch of the span. The bridge was renovated in 2009 to widen it and uses a large amount of recycled plastic to form the deck.
Cannon Dub
The River Derwent with Skiddaw behind
The Chinese Bridge
River Derwent
At the other side of the bridge the route joins the Cumbria Way and follows it all the way back to Portinscale. I have to say that there isn't as much interest on the western side of the lake as the eastern side but it is still a fine place to stroll along as it passes Myrtle Bay, Abbot's Bay and Brandelhow Bay. There's an interesting sculpted tree trunk close to the bay, another nod towards the National Trust's Centenary.
Walla Crag
Castle Crag in the Jaws of Borrowdale
Walla Crag
One of the launches
The beginnings of Grange Fell
Abbot's Bay
The carved log at Brandelhow Bay
Heading up Silver Hill
The last leg of the walk passes without any real drama, through Brandelhow Park to the Hawse End Outdoor Centre and then along past Derwent Bay before a short climb up around Stub Hill to Lingholm, a 19th Century estate once used as a holiday residence by Beatrix Potter. The property is hidden from view but looks something like this:
The Lingholm Estate
A launch passes the Lodore Falls Hotel
The last short section passes the modest marina at Derwent Bank and wends through the streets of Portinscale to the southern end of the now disused road. The road used to be the main route between Keswick and Cockermouth with the road crossing the River Derwent on a medieval arch bridge. The old bridge was saved during the construction of the bypass in the 1910s though was the bridge was damaged beyond repair during flooding in 1954. A pedestrian footbridge was built as a replacement which carries foot traffic across the river today and provided our means of getting back to the car.
River Derwent
Carl Side
This is a very enjoyable walk though I think it would be equally fulfilling to walk the eastern shore to jetty at Brandelhow Bay and catch a launch back to Keswick, I didn't find the last third particularly interesting as much of it is in woodland. It seems most of the interest and the best of the views are found along the eastern shore but the real highlight for me is the magnificent Lodore Falls. These are well worth a visit.

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