Lake District Chronicles: 8

Fearing a torrential downpour, we decided not to do the full route pictured on the map and find our own way back to Keswick – which in hindsight was not very wise.

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Skimming Stones in the rain: Keswick to Walla Crag

It was about this time last year, I had finished my final exam of third year at university – and it was all over! So, we decided to celebrate with a trip to the Lake District. I had picked up a map on directions from Keswick to Walla Crag the previous summer, and was yet to try it. Therefore, we set off on a fairly cold May day to Keswick.

Walla Crag Route Map
Walla Crag Route Map

After stopping to buy some lunch at the local Booths, we wandered through the centre of town to reach Keswick’s Town Hall and Tourist Information Centre – the start of our walk. Following the same route to the Castlerigg Stone Circle, we were soon in open countryside with Derwent Water far below us. Climbing through trees and fields, we spent a lot of time stopping to take photographs despite the overcast sky.

Woodland on our path to Walla CragHowever, we soon came to a dilemma. I had been so busy enjoying the walk, I had unwittingly led us the route of Castlerigg Stone Circle and we needed to fall back on ourselves to reach the correct path. Not exactly as planned, but the slight detour was worth it for the fantastic views across Derwent Water and towards Blencathra and Skiddaw.

Looking towards Blencathra
Looking towards Blencathra

Upon reaching the ascent of Walla Crag, we realised that we had misjudged the gradient and, for an easy walk, it was pretty steep! We followed the path around to Surprise View, which gives an amazing panoramic view across the whole of Keswick and Derwent Water. But now the rain was creeping in as the clouds darkened and spots of rain formed on my glasses.

View from Surprise View
Surprise View

Fearing a torrential downpour, we decided not to do the full route pictured on the map and find our own way back to Keswick – which in hindsight was not very wise.

We followed a less traversed path along the side of one of many stone walls that section the Lake District’s landscape, before reaching an even steeper descent. With the sound of a waterfall nearby, we attempted to navigate the ill-formed path, jarring knees on too high steps and slipping on loose gravel as the rain began to fall more heavily. Reaching the cover of some trees, we sought a quick break to recharge the batteries and nurse an injured ankle. Mosquitos had found us, however, and came in droves, driving us to keep moving as we continued our descent.

Descent from Walla Crag
Descent from Walla Crag

Making our way through the Great Wood, we found ourselves at the edge of Derwent Water. The rain was coming down thick and fast by this point – perfect weather for skimming stones of course! It became the mission to find the best stone to skim as we dodged along the banks using the trees as cover.

Looking out across Derwent Water
Looking out across Derwent Water

Eventually, we gave in to the inevitable and enjoyed the rain, seeing how far we could throw our rocks and collecting the best as we went. All too soon we were making our way back into Keswick, where we found a café for a hot drink to warm us up as the rain still fell.

Returning to Keswick
Returning to Keswick

It was the weekend of Keswick Midsummer Festival, so we sat for a while in the shelter listening to the acts and watching those stood in the rain getting drenched – but really, what did they expect in Cumbria? Some of the acts where pretty good and we would have liked to stay longer, but were restricted by the bus timetable.

We returned to Lancaster looking like drowned rats but perfectly happy with our little adventure.

Nature Poetry: Skimming Stones

I’m posting this poem as I think it quite fits with my next (and last) Lake District Chronicles post, which will be live next Sunday. Another of my poems written whilst at university, this was inspired by how the simple act of skimming a stone can drastically change the appearance of the water. Let me know your interpretations!

Skimming stones

A pool lays secluded

beneath the weeping willow

whose tendrils tickle the surface.

The silent kingfisher perches,

cleaning his feathers, as minnows

begin their calm procession.

Where the water is shallow

you can see the glint of gold

in their scales. A lost time

when the world was serene.

 

Then you started skimming stones.

 

The smack as the perfect flat stone skips across the surface,

small explosions as it crosses the standing water.

Ripples spreading out, battling to reach their widest scope,

rolling over one another until the large rings merge –

fade to the tranquil mirror

 

but the stone still rests at the bottom.

Lake District Chronicles: 6

Castlerigg Stone Circle, Keswick

Image of Lake District Chronicles: 6 Castlerigg Stone Circle
Woodland at the beginning of the walk

I’d wanted to go to Keswick for weeks, but just kept getting drawn elsewhere… plus, it is 3 hours on the bus! But I finally made it! It began as a beautiful, warm September day – perfect for walking.

My first stop was the Tourist Information centre in Keswick, where I bought a couple of maps: one being the route to Castlerigg Stone circle.

The route begins conveniently at the Tourist information centre and wanders through the centre of town before turning off past a row of houses to suddenly find yourself in woodland.

Image of Lake District Chronicles: 6 Castlerigg Stone Circle
View across to Catbells

You soon come across a farmhouse, where there is a Tea room – which I have never tried but if you have, let me know!

Then you begin to climb through the trees, alongside the river. As you climb there are flashes of the gorgeous view down to Keswick and Derwent Water.

Image of Lake District Chronicles: 6 Castlerigg Stone Circle
View across Derwent Water

After crossing a bridge and a road, you suddenly find yourself in open countryside. Walking across the fields, you get fantastic views of Blencathra and Skiddaw to the left and the beginning of the Helvellyn range on your right.

Image of Lake District Chronicles: 6 Castlerigg Stone Circle
View across Derwent Water towards Catbells
Image of Lake District Chronicles: 6 Castlerigg Stone Circle
The beginning of the Helvellyn range
Image of Lake District Chronicles: 6 Castlerigg Stone Circle
View towards Skiddaw
Image of Lake District Chronicles: 6 Castlerigg Stone Circle
View towards Blencathra

Turning left when reaching the gate; it was a boggy walk in the gorgeous sunshine until reaching the road, which you need to cross to get onto the final stretch.

Image of Lake District Chronicles: 6 Castlerigg Stone Circle
Castlerigg Stone Circle, view towards Helvellyn range
Image of Lake District Chronicles: 6 Castlerigg Stone Circle
Castlerigg Stone Circle, view towards Blencathra

Once you reach the stone circle, there is this incredible feeling of calm. I just sat on the grass looking at it for hours, taking it all in. Then I went for a little wander around and a closer look at the stones. There was something romantic about the place and I could easily have stayed longer, but clouds were starting to draw in so I decided to head back.

I took a different route back into Keswick – and naturally got a little lost almost ending up in Penrith… Thankfully a couple of walkers pointed me in the right direction!

Image of Lake District Chronicles: 6 Castlerigg Stone Circle
Walking back along the railway line

The walk back along the railway line was lovely and I got to the bus station just in time.