10th October 2015

Walla Crag and Bleaberry Fell and a flying machine

Time 11:45am to 4:45pm
Duration 5 hr
Distance 10.5 mile
Ascent 2100 ft
Walking with On my own
Briar Rigg - Keswick - Springs Road - Springs Wood - Castlerigg - Rakefoot - Walla Crag - Bleaberry Fell - Casterigg Fell (near Dodd Crag) - Low Moss - Cat Gill - Derwent Water - Keswick - Briar Rigg
Fells visited
Directory places visited

Starting Point Information Centre -

Roadside, Spooney Green Lane, Keswick

I'm sure the people in the houses on the opposite side of the road get fed up with so many people parking here, but the fact is that we all have a car and we all need to park it somewhere.

The obvious fell to walk to from here is Latrigg, but the more adventurous could easily carry on and head onto the Skiddaw fells.


Route Map


You may have noticed from this picture that Keswick was packed today. Lots of people buying lots of things from lots of shops and, even though we're well into October, some people were wearing outfits that show lots of flesh. Ankles and elbows mainly, with hardly a goose pimple in sight. I slowly but surely make my way through the town, stopping briefly to admire the sausage rolls on the 'pie stall' but, with the lofty heights of Walla Crag on my mind a little voice in my head tells me to wipe the slaver from my mouth and start walking again.

The hustle and bustle of Keswick is left behind and before I have time to say "I wish I'd bought a sausage roll off the market" I find myself walking along Springs Road. I'm also wishing I was showing off my ankles by wearing a pair of shorts instead of long pants (if you're posh you probably call them trousers).


Springs Wood junction.
I've just came along the one on the right, I'm continuing along the one off to the left and behind me is another path that takes you up to the road at Castlerigg.


Once out in the open I take a photo looking across Derwent Water to the north western fells.

"I think you need your hair cut"
"Yeah your right. Jennifer was gonna cut it last night but I couldn't be bothered sitting still for a full 15 minutes"


It's all looking nice and colourful now that autumn is getting into top gear.


Very busy on Walla Crag this afternoon.

It was here I decided to have a walk onto Bleaberry Fell instead of heading straight back down. This would mean walking along the path you can see over there. It's not the fact that you can see the path that bothers be because it doesn't. What I fail to understand is why someone in an office somewhere signed the purchase order for x number of tones of 'small' stones to construct a path through a place with a reputation for being so soft, wet and boggy underfoot.

The fact is, this place has always been extremely wet and boggy. The type of place where if you sit still for long enough the bog would eventually swallow you up. If the decision makers think this stuff will have any 'long term' chance of holding back nature then they're sadly mistaken. Particularly if you bring erosion caused by us lot walking across here into the equation.
I'm not moaning for the sake of it, I'm moaning because I care about the place and unfortunately there's nothing I can do about it.
I mean for God sake look what they've used! Absolutely ridiculous.

You can see here how far the pole just slid in with hardly any effort at all from me, , , , I rest my case !!

Here I stop to look back to Walla Crag.

Higher up I stop again to look down to Derwent Water and the fells beyond.

The rocky summit shelter on Bleaberry Fell certainly makes a comfortable resting place to admire the view across 4 miles or more of wide open space to the northern fells. Today, there was no need at all to crouch behind the stones while the wind whistled over your head. Quite the opposite, it was roasting hot up here, there wasn't a breath of wind and, I suspect most other places were the same today.

I assumed all these folk were together and it was perhaps the dogs that suggested they sit well away from each other in case the humans started fighting.


"Are you here to see the Vulcan Bomber" the couple standing at the summit asked me. "Err, no, but I had heard about it, I just didn't realise it was today". With enthusiasm written all over his face, out came the guys map, and he set about showing me a detailed account of the flight path. "So, it comes from the Penrith direction, right over High Rigg and then continues over Thirlmere". "What time is it due" I asked. "about 20 past 2 over Thirlmere".
OK, I'm not really into this type of thing but I had no plans and I was in no rush so I thought it might be worth hanging around for a look. However, rather than waiting here, I said I'd have a walk down to somewhere near the red flag to get a better view.
Farewell was bid, thanks were offered and away I went with quie a bit of time to spare.

This should be a good spot.


The flying machine is due to come from that direction so with loads of time in hand I decide to admire the view while I wait. Yes, yes, it's all very nice, very peaceful and very relaxing but I actually have quite a short attention span and I soon find myself thinking about other things. First of all I contemplate the meaning of life but to be honest that's too complicated a subject; particularly because, in my opinion, life is too short. So, I rather than waste precious time working it all out for myself, I seek the answers by talking my way through a scene from Monty Python's film "The Meaning of Life". Some of you might remember the bit near the start of the film with the protestant man and his wife (Mr & Mrs Blackitt) sitting in their front room watching the catholic family on the opposite side of the street. If you're curious I'm sure Google will find the script for you:
Anyway: all this has nothing to do with fell walking or even those magnificent men in their flying machines.

OK, the guy said 20 past 2 and it's almost that now.
I find a flat(ish) stone to perch on and as my mind continues to wander from subject to subject I wait for the big event to begin. The camera is ready, I'm looking in the correct direction and any moment now I'm expecting to see, , , well, I'm not actually sure what I'm expecting to see, but I continue to wait nonetheless. The appointed time passes with no sign of anything approaching around the side of Blencathra and I begin to get fidgety. Time was dragging on and I was starting to think I'd been the victim of a cruel prank and the Vulcan Bomber fly past was in fact, all a big joke.
I put the camera down, give a big sigh and convince myself that eating an apple would be a good way to make time pass more quickly. After what seemed like an eternity I look at the watch again and, I tell myself that despite it's reluctance to move the hands, it hasn't actually stopped.

Then, a full 15 minutes later than expected, I see a plume of smoke moving slowly towards Clough Head.

Above Great Dodd.

In front of Helvellyn & Helvellyn Lower Man.

and away it goes.

Apparently today and tomorrow (I think) are the last days the Vulcan Bomber will ever fly so I suppose, along with thousands of other people, I've just witnessed a little bit of history. Now I need to get back on track (so to speak). I had a few options to choose from but walking straight across towards Walla Crag seemed the most straightforward of them all so off I go, heading initially for the old sheep pens and ruin.
I've been across here a couple of times in the past when the place had been turned into a sponge by weeks of rain so I told myself this would be an easy crossing, , , , , best foot forward and all that.

I arrive at the ruin with dry feet but legs that felt more tired than they should after walking such a short distance.

And here you have a picture showing 40 minutes of very hard walking from the flag to these stones. Tussocks, heather and holes !!

I didn't revisit the top of Walla Crag. Instead, I walk over to the top of Cat Gill and began the steep descent down to valley level. Here I'm looking back up the steep bit. The view is quite good from the top of the steps but you may want to stand still to admire it. Trip up at the top and you'll end up in a crumpled heap down here where I'm standing.
I may not be here to catch you!

The view, taken while I stand still.

Great Wood footpath.

If we all walked at the same speed then this might be a good idea. As it is, we all cover ground at different rates so, in my humble opinion, telling people who might never have done anything like this how long it will take them to get from A to B is a recipe for disaster.
Ok, I'm going that way so lets test it, , , ,

, , , , walking at my normal speed, 4 minutes 30 seconds after leaving the sign, I arrive at Derwent Water.

A very calm Derwent Water.



Well, when I left home today I hadn't expected to be walking this exact route and I certainly didn't expect to see so many 'things' along the way. Husky dogs, daft signs, a rubbish path and the last of its kind flying machine. Despite really enjoying the walk, it had been unseasonably warm so I still wished I'd worn shorts, and as for the sausage roll off the market, thankfully all wasn't lost because I managed to purchase the last one as I walked back through the town.

David Hall -
Lake District Walks