A must-do walk from Keswick to Castlehead, Walla Crag, Ashness Bridge & Derwent Water

Castlehead viewpoint Derwent Water walk from keswick
What a view from the Castlehead viewpoint (near Keswick) looking over Derwent Water towards Borrowdale with Catbells to the right and Walla Crag just off to the left of the photo. This view has got to be one of my best in the whole of the Lake District

Walk overview:

Distance: 6 miles.
Time: 3.5-4 hours with stops
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate. The walk is fairly short and the only really toughish bits that will get you out of breath is the hike up hill to Walla crag. The route is ideal for beginners and children as long as you have the right footwear on, decent weather and are capable of map reading :-)

Map of the full walking route from Keswick to Walla Crag & Ashness Bridge, and back via Derwent Water to Friars Crag

This walk starts from Lakeside car park near Keswick's Theatre by the Lake, then heads to Castlehead viewpoint, then up to Walla Crag, down to Ashness Bridge, and then back via a low level leisurely walk besides Derwent Water

Elevation of the walking route

This walk isn't too strenous, which any walker with a little bit of fitness can tackle. The steepest parts being the short trek up to Castlehead around the 0.5mile mark - and then up towards Walla Crag just after. In terms of views - they are pretty special considering there isn't great deal up up hill walking.

Photos of the walk, starting from Keswick

Derwent Water Keswick walk boats
This walk starts at the Theatre by the Lake, which is just beside Lakeside Car Park and right near Keswick Town Centre. Here you can get a classic view of the landing stages & boats on Derwent Water with Catbells in the distance. If your in Keswick for a break then the ferries are a great way to explore Derwent Water and the surrounding fells.

Soon after the start we head into Cockshot wood, where there are a few paths, but they all lead to the same end point out of the wood.

One of the little wooden constructions that seem to be dotted around Cockshot wood

As you leave the wood you can clearly see Castlehead wood, which we will enter after crossing the road at the end of this path. At the little summit of Castlehead wood fantastic views (and a little rest :-) await

While it's a short walk up to the viewpoint in Castlehead, it's up a hill so the heart will start pumping - there's seats at the top though for a nice little beather.

Castlehead viewpoint Derwent Water walk from keswick
What a view eh! An ideal spot to take the first rest, soak it up and get the flask of tea out :-) This has got to be one of my favourite Lake District views looking over Derwent Water towards Borrowdale, with the popular Catbells to the right. Whilst a lot of beginner walkers and families staying in this area opt to walk up Catbells - In my opinion the views on this side of Derwent Water are much better and are of a similar moderate difficulty. If you only choose to do one walk in the area - choose this route, and if you are really pushed for time - just make the short walk up to Castlehead viewpoint - it's a must see for anyone visiting Keswick for the first time.

The views from Castlehead over Keswick and towards the peaks of Skiddaw & Briathwaite are also pretty special

At this point we leave Castlehead wood and walk towards the quiet Springs Road which we'll follow for a couple of hundred metres.

I've walked this route a few times and always think how great it must be to live on this street with such easy access to one of my favourite Lake district places. (I checked out the prices of the homes after this walk and your looking at nearly half a million quid - maybe if I win the lottery I'll buy a holiday home here :-)

Springs Road takes us up to Springs Wood, and if your feeling peckish then this farm shop just before we enter the wood will be a welcome stop.

Entering springs wood. One of the signs tells us that an old stone bridge in this wood has been completely wiped out by Storm Desmond (this walk was done in Summer 2016). Fortunately our route takes a different path.

When walking through Springs Wood - make sure you take the path that leads off to Walla Crag (signposted right in this photo) otherwise you will end up at the demolished bridge!

Here we see that Walla Crag is 1 mile away - so just keep on the path that heads that way :-)

A little glimpse of the beginnings of Walla Crag on the left and Derwent Water after leaving Springs Wood - this path is the one to Great Wood though and is not the one we need so carry on with Springs Wood to your left

Just keep following the path that has Springs Wood to your left.

A nice little footbridge we cross before leaving Springs Wood.

It's then a case of walking on this narrow lane for a couple of hundred metres towards Rakefoot Farm

As we get to Rakefoot Farm we cross the stream again where we will begin the up hill section to Walla Crag.

This is probably the steepest part of the walk - and as you can see it's not too bad - although you might want to take a couple of stops to "admire the views" 

It doesn't take long to gain some height and looking back there are some great views of Skiddaw to the left and Blencathra to the right.

Walla crag view keswick walk
As we get a little higher Keswick comes into view and you can make out the full walk so far. If you imagine a horizontal line in the middle of the picture - we've basically walked from the point where that line touches the lake - right through a few woods, past the phone antenna to the far right of the photo.

The last little bit up to Walla Crag - we are warmed up now from the little hike up hill to get to here so that last little bit is a doddle. 

At this point I like to come off the main path and head over the style into the wooded area where you will get some brilliant views along every step of the way.

Walla crag view keswick walk lake district
The first great views along Walla Crag, whilst not at it's highest point - you will want to stop at quite a few points to take it all in.

Looking down over Great Wood and Derwent Water and onto Catbells and the distant fells. This path gets pretty close to some steep drops - but nothing dangerous as long as you don't get to close to the edge

Walla crag view keswick walk lake district
One of the many rocky outcrops on Walla Crag where you can take a pit stop and admire the views.

This cairn marks the highest point on Walla Crag, which is a little offset from the edge where there are the best views. Around here is where many walkers will stop and grab a bite to eat/drink. 

Walla crag view keswick walk lake district
One of the many walkers up here admiring the spectacular views north towards Keswick and Bassenthwaite Lake. The view south towards Borrowdale is a little obscured by wooded areas at this point - but those epic views will soon come into view

Heading south towards Ashiness Bridge and Borrowdale.

Quite a few walkers head up to Blueberry Fell after Walla Crag (which you may like to add into this route to make it longer) - but this isn't where this route goes today.

At this point of the walk (called Lady's Rake) we head towards Falcon Crag where there will be nice views of Borrowdale.

Crossing Cat Gill

The views from the path along Falcon Crag to Borrowdale are pretty immense

Walla crag view Borrowdale keswick walk lake district
It's all pretty much downhill from here towards Ashness Bridge - so just soak up the scenery knowing there are no more uphill sections :-)

When coming down this path - you will come to a wall with a style which can take you over Barrow Beck - but we don't want to cross that style - so at this point take a sharp right and head down the hill to Ashness Bridge.

Ashness Bridge keswick walk derwent water
The popular Ashness Bridge with Skiddaw peaking up just in the distance. This is an ideal place to stop and eat the last of the food :-) 

After Ashness Bridge we'll take a low level walk back and avoid roads as much as possible. So maybe follow the lane for 20m or so after Ashness Bridge where we'll come to this juncture. The path on the right will take you back up to Falcon Crag - so stick to the path on the left which is sign-posted Great Wood - a much easier return route

At this point we leave the main footpath as that will take you into Great Wood - and head down to the waterside

The path comes out at the road which shadows Derwent Water and we follow this for 200m or so

At the earliest opportunity on your left we will leave the road and take the path that will lead to the shore of Derwent Water

Eventually you will get to Calfcose Bay - one of my favourite spots on Derwent Water. While offering similar amazing views to Friars Crag which is a bit closer to Keswick, it's much quieter around here and is bliss on a sunny summers day. If I had the time I'd have went for a swim!

As we follow the path back towards the start it gets much busier with people out on a leisurely stroll.

Friars crag view Keswick walk Derwent Water
And finally - the last place for a pit stop - the ever popular Friars Crag - a classic Lake District View and one that John Ruskin said was one of the finest in Europe. I can't disagree with him as it's one of mine too!

After finishing this walk which takes around 3.5-4 hours with plenty of stops - you might want to head into Keswick for something to eat & drink as the Lakeside car park is a short distance from Keswick town centre.

And that wraps this walk up. As ever I hope you have enjoyed that little write up and photos and it inspires you to want to visit the area and give the route a go.  If you have any questions about this route - just post a comment and I'll try and answer. 

Post by Stuart Hodgson 
'The Hiking Photographer'

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  1. Loved your post, so detailed with all the places, thank you for taking the time to share it. I did a walk from Portinscale via Cat Bells round Derwent and up to Ahness Bridge at the weekend but was too busy talking we forgot to take the turn for Walla Crag. Hoping to do a sponsored walk in May for a friend who has, very sadly, recently passed ad was thinking about incorporating this route into it. Going to go from Derwent shore at the weekend to give it a go in reverse. Thank you so much for sharing, your pics are amazing. Just hope we get the weather for it too. Got quite a lot of snow this morning :0)

    1. Hi - thanks for your comment - it's a really nice part of the Lake District - sorry to hear about your friend - and hope this blog post really helps with your sponsored walk :)


Thanks for taking an interest in my blog, all comments and questions are welcome! Best, Stuart

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