Cumbria Way Langdale to Keswick

 

Difficulty : HardDuration : 7.5 HrsDistance : 17 Km

 

The Cumbria Way is one of Britain's most popular long distance footpaths. The seventy mile long distance route runs from Ulverston in south Cumbria to Carlisle in the north, passing through and over the heart of the Lake District, England's finest countryside. The way is usually walked from south to north making this the third stage of the route. This stage is one of the toughest as it is fairly long and involves one of the two high routes on the way. This walk starts in the awesome Langdale Valley and heads off behind the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel into the wide and untouched Mickledon Valley before heading uphill and over the wild Stake Pass route. After the high route of Stake Pass the way continues down into one of the Lakes hidden gems, the Langstrath Valley which on a sunny day will have you absolutely awe struck as it is one of the most spectacular views in the country. The way then passes through the secluded Langstrath Valley and out of its far end into the jaws of Borrowdale. The path then stays low level and after passing through the village of Rosthwaite follows the left side of Derwent Water to Keswick. This is no easy walk but is by far my favourite stage of the Cumbria Way.



Full route description for this walk

 

This stage of the Cumbria Way starts from the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel at the very far end of the Langdale Valley. The Old Dungeon Ghyll can be found on the main road through the valley just before it narrows and turns off left towards its ascent to Blea Tarn. Originally known as the Dale Head Inn, The Old Dungeon Ghyll has been serving customers for well over three hundred years now. It is a true classic in the outdoors world of public houses and also offers excellent accommodation, local ales and is always walker friendly with its excellent Hikers Bar. There are buses that terminate here too so public transport for the start of the walk is an option.

Stickle Barn Tavern

Stickle Barn Tavern

Gate to Mickledon

Gate to Mickledon

The path heads round the right hand side of the Hikers Bar and then heads left behind the hotel until it reaches a wooden gateway onto the Mickledon bridleway path. Once through the gate follow the bridleway as it heads deep into the Mickledon Valley. On your right are the steep slopes of Langdale Fell coming down from the Langdale Pikes and to your left is the ridge heading up to Bowfell known as The Band. In the bottom of the valley the Mickledon Beck snakes its way beautifully through the valley floor. Follow the bridleway until you get to the very far end of the valley at a point where there is a tiny wooden footbridge over Stake Gill tumbling down from Stake Pass.

At the foot of Stake Pass there is a small concrete and slate way marker marking the directions of Esk Hause and Stake Pass. Esk Hause is a famous mountain pass often used for ascents of Bowfell, Scafell Pike, Great End and more. Head uphill now following the left side of the Stake Gill up towards Stake Pass. This can be a difficult part of the route if you are wearing a heavy pack and is best taken slowly in that situation. You gain height very quickly and soon find yourself topping out at a point where the path now crosses to the other side of the Stake Gill. It is well worth taking some time here to look back down the Mickledon Valley flanked on either side buy magnificent mountains.

The Band & Mickledon Beck

The Band & Mickledon Beck

Foot of Stake Pass

Foot of Stake Pass

On a map Stake Pass may look like an up and down route but once you are at the level on top of the initial ascent you will see from the terrain ahead that the pass is actually about more than half a kilometres walking over a wild and rugged landscape before you reach the other side and the descent into Langstrath. The land up here is wild and rugged but the path is well trodden and also fairly easy going with not too many boggy sections. You eventually reach a huge pile of stones which is the cairn that marks the highest point on the Stake Pass. From here you now head downhill in a northerly direction.

Once above Langstrath at the other side of Stake Pass the path starts to ascend quite quickly into the valley below. The views from here are absolutely amazing and despite the massive size of this valley there is absolutely no sign of human life at all, this really is a secluded, wild and beautiful place. The path here zig zags down and is extremely rough in places. To your right you will see the cascading waters of Stake Beck and lower down there are some really impressive waterfalls. The path continues down to the bottom of the valley and crosses a wooden footbridge over Stake Beck.

Stake Pass & Bowfell

Stake Pass & Bowfell

Stake Pass summit

Stake Pass summit

There are two paths through the valley one on the west side of the valley and one on the east side of the valley. You should still be on the east side of the valley and to the right of the Langstrath Beck which snakes its way through the wide valley. Follow the path along the east side of the valley now avoiding the wooden bridge over the Langstrath Beck and keeping the beck on your left hand side. The path takes you past some amazing crags to the right including Blea Crag, Lamper Knott and Sergeants Crag. As you get closer to the bottom end of the valley the river bends like a snake and widens.

Once at the bottom end of the Langstrath Valley keep to the right side of the beck still and avoid the temptation to cross the river over the wooden footbridges. After the beck narrows on the left and tumbles down some waterfalls it joins up with Greenup Gill. Keep on the path until it reaches a footbridge over the Greenup Gill and cross it to a gate. After the gate head left up the bridleway. Follow the bridleway for about two kilometres as it stays on the right hand side of the river which has now become Stonethwaite Beck, the bridleway goes along the valley on the opposite side of the river to the village of Stonethwaite. After the bridleway passes a sudden bend in the river the views open up to the top of the Borrowdale valley. It is an odd feeling at this point if you know the Lakes well as you realise you have passed from south to north in a sense and to make the journey you have just made from Langdale to Borrowdale in a car and not by footpath probably takes longer as the central fells provide such a geographical boundary. The passing from the south lakes to the north in the way you just have is really inspiring.

Langstrath Valley

Langstrath Valley

Langstrath Beck

Langstrath Beck

A few hundred metres after the bend in the river, the bridleway comes to Rosthwaite village. Cross the stone road bridge left over to the village and to the main road. Cross the main road and take the first right into the village. Refreshments can be found in the village although you must be warned that you will need to take out a mortgage for a cake and a cup of tea as the prices the last time I used the shop and tea room here were ridiculously overpriced. The Cumbria Way leaves the village on the right just before the tea rooms. The path goes along a track road and heads towards the River Derwent, with the view in front of the unusually small mountain of Castle Crag. Once the path reaches the River Derwent don't take the first bridge across the river but the second one, an old stone pack horse bridge known as New Bridge. Once on the other side of the River Derwent follow the path right along the left bank of the river. Avoid the path that heads uphill to the ascent of Castle Crag and instead follow the lower path following the route of the River Derwent. The path now rounds the bottom of Castle Crag and passes through the gorgeous woodland areas of High Hows Wood then Low Hows Wood keeping the River Derwent just in view at most times on the right.

Castle Crag

Castle Crag

New Bridge

New Bridge

Once around Castle Crag the path meets up with the many paths coming down off the crag at Gowder Dub. There is a crossing point over Gowder Dub just before it goes into the River Derwent. Cross the Gowder Dub here and still keeping the River Derwent on your right follow the paths to the right heading north towards the village of Grange. After a few hundred metres the track meets a road. The route here can be taken either left or right but personally I think it is worth heading right down the road and taking in the quaint little village of Grange. Follow the road into the village and the once in the village at the junction turn left. On your right you will pass the church in Grange made mostly of local slate, it is a great feature of the village and well worth looking at.

Follow the road out of the village heading west first and then turning sharp to the right. Follow the road for just under a kilometre passing the Borrowdale Gates Hotel on the right and then a few hundred metres down the road passing another set of buildings on the right, almost immediately after these the path which is marked heads off right along the left side of the tiny Ellers Beck. The path can be quite boggy around this area. The path is now heading towards Derwent Water but firstly passes over some notoriously boggy marshes. The marshes here have become so bad over the last few years that a new wooden over walk has been erected over the worst parts and works really well.

River Derwent

River Derwent

Grange Church

Grange Church

After crossing the wooden walkways over the boggy marshland the path skirts round to the shores of Derwent Water. The path heads through woodland at Manesty Park and then comes down to the lake side at Brandlehow Bay. Just round the corner from Brandlehow Bay you will find the Brandlehow Pier and the landing stage of the many summer water boats that take hundreds of visitors round Derwent Water. If you don't think you can handle the final stages of the walk then you could always cheat at this point and take a boat if they are running.

From Brandlehow the path is fairly straight forward and well marked. It is basically a case of keeping to the path and enjoying the walks though the trees and the fantastic views across Derwent Water. The views across Derwent Water are fantastic to Walla Crag, Blencathra and as you move further north the view opens up to the mighty Skiddaw over Keswick. You will also find some unusual wooden sculptures around here including some large wooden hands and a wooden bench made from a huge tree trunk. Once you have passed through Brandlehow Park and come out to the next pier and landing stage at Old Brandlehow ignore the footpath heading along the shoreline now and head inland following a track through a gate towards the outdoor activities centre at Hawes End.

Wooden Hands

Wooden Hands

Skiddaw above Derwent Water

Skiddaw & Derwent Water

Once you reach Hawes end go through the metal gate on to the road and head right down the road. After you have past Hawes End there is a junction point where the several paths and tracks meet. Here the Cumbria Way goes off to the right through I think a small gate and then heads down a bush lined path heading towards the woodlands. You come to a large opening in the woodlands where the path crosses the opening and then reenters the woodland again on the other side. The path crosses a track and then heads north for a kilometre or so through quiet woodland areas before coming downhill onto a tarmac road. Follow the road right here and it will take you to the centre of Portinscale Village. In Portinscale when you reach the road junction go right following the coast to coast sign posts and passing a large hotel on the right. At the end of this road you will reach the cantilever bridge over the River Derwent that will take you to the bridleway on the other side that heads of right over the fields to the busy little town of Keswick where there are endless accommodation options, plenty of places to eat and drink and of course an abundance of outdoor gear shops!

Maps available for this walk

 
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Accomodation near this walk

 
Camping and Caravanning Club
 

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Keswick Mountain Rescue Team
 

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Photos taken on this walk

 
Images from March 4th 2008.

Stickle Barn Tavern Myself on Langdale Valley road with Bowfell behind Gate to Mickledon above Old Dungeon Ghyll Mickledon Beck with Green Tongue above The start of Stake Pass at the head of Mickledon Looking back down Mickledon from the Stake Pass Stake Pass with a stunning Bowfell to the left Pike of Stickle and Langdale Fell above Mickledon Pike of Blisco from Stake Gill Myself at the summit of Stake Pass Nicky pulling stupid face Skiddaw in distance from Stake Pass Approaching the awesome Langstrath Valley Myself sat above the awesome Langstrath Nicky sat above the awesome Langstrath Looking over Stake Beck to the top end of Langstrath Cumbria Way and Langstrath Beck Castle Crag River Derwent after Rosthwaite River Derwent near Grange The slate church at Grange Nicky and the hands in Brandelhow Park by Derwent Water Skiddaw above Derwent Water from Otterbield Day Skiddaw above Derwent Water Woodland and paths before Portinscale River Derwent bridge with Skiddaw behind



Videos taken on this walk

 

Images from March 4th 2008.




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