Bassenthwaite Lake and Latrigg Fell

A day in which I climb a mountain the hard way….
It was another lovely morning full of sunshine, blue sky and fluffy white clouds, with the nearby fells so clear they seemed to be within touching distance so I knew just what I was going to do with my day. Distance-wise, this time I was only driving the 11 miles to Keswick but making a photo stop on the way.
There aren’t many places on Bassenthwaite Lake where you can actually get to the water but the north west corner is one of them and it was on my route from the camp site to Keswick. Leaving the van in the first of two small parking areas set back off the lane I went down through the trees and walked along the lakeside until I could go no further without getting very wet feet. Heading south down the A66 a while later the views across the lake were so lovely that I pulled up briefly in a lay-by to get another couple of shots before continuing on to Keswick.
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A couple of days before the start of the holiday a suggestion had been made via email that if I wanted (quote) “a nice fell walk that doesn’t involve mountaineering  but gives stupendous views” I might like to consider Latrigg, so having checked it out on Google maps that’s where I was headed. Parking was on a residential road on the outskirts of Keswick where an unadopted lane ran for quite a distance, taking me over the A66 to the start of the footpath up the fell. An information board showed the various paths and bridleways around and up the fell and as the main path in front of me seemed to be quite steep and uneven I decided to take a level path through the woods instead.
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All went well for quite a distance and it was a very pleasant walk but then I hit a big problem – a huge area of woodland extending almost to the top of the hillside had been felled and ripped out by machinery and any semblance of a footpath had completely disappeared. With nothing but piles of dried out branches and vegetation and the remains of tree trunks sticking up everywhere it looked like the aftermath of the apocalypse. So I had two choices – retrace my steps to the main path or try to find a way up the hillside. I suppose I should really have turned back but dogged determination made me continue, using the machinery tracks as a path.
The first hundred yards or so weren’t too bad but then the machinery tracks went vertically up the extremely steep hillside. To make matters worse some of them held pools of stinky, muddy stagnant water and I often had to walk along the top of the banked up earth in the centre – negotiating tree stumps and dead vegetation and trying not to let myself or the dogs slip into muddy water was certainly a challenge. I should really have taken a photo to show just how steep the hillside was but concentrating on getting up to the top without doing myself a mischief meant I wasn’t really in the mood to use the camera.
The start of my epic climb
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Looking back
Looking along the fell – a quarter of the way up, still a long way to go
Just over halfway up and over to my right was a barbed wire fence and a wooden gate leading to a very pleasant looking grassy part of the hillside – if I could get to it the rest of the climb might be a bit easier. There was only one thing wrong – running down the hillside in a dip between me and the gate was a stream which needed to be crossed. Carefully picking my way down into the dip I found a very narrow bit of the stream where I could step across via a couple of flat stones then up the other side of the dip I finally reached the gate.
Unfortunately it was fastened shut but that was no problem, I just posted the dogs through the bottom of it then climbed over – and what a difference there was in the terrain. A narrow but smooth and level grassy track led through an area of russet coloured bracken, the few small trees dotted about sported their autumn berries and the views to the south and east were opening up in front of me – it all looked rather lovely. It wasn’t long though before I had to start climbing again; the hillside was just as steep as before but at least the grassy track made things a bit easier.
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Finally, just over an hour after I started my epic climb, I reached the top of the hillside and the gate which took me onto the ridge of the fell. It was a joy to see some reasonably flat land and after such a steep and strenuous climb I felt like I should have planted a flag there to celebrate conquering the mountain. My climb hadn’t been without incident though – several times I’d been attacked by bits of dried out tree lying on the ground and the back of my legs had sustained several scratches which still haven’t completely disappeared. 
I hadn’t been on top of the fell for long when four RAF jets came out of nowhere and flew at speed one after the other right over my head. They were very loud and very low, so low that they only just skimmed the top of the fell and the earsplitting noise terrified Snowy but fortunately they were gone in seconds, disappearing out of sight up Bassenthwaite Lake.
The summit of Latrigg looking east
Looking south east
View north west towards Bassenthwaite Lake
View over Keswick to Derwentwater and beyond
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After spending some time taking in the views and recovering from my climb I set off on the downward journey, this time on the path that I should really have gone up. It was a fairly easy-to-walk zig-zag route which gave me some more lovely views over other nearby fells, with the last few hundred yards of the path being the steep bit which I should have gone up at the start. Eventually I was back on the unadopted lane crossing over the A66 and my last shot of the day was taken just before I reached the road where I’d left the van.
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View along the Vale of Keswick to Bassenthwaite
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At 1,207ft Latrigg is one of the smaller fells – I’d climbed up it, walked down it, got some good photos in the process and the dogs had a good walk, now it was time to go back to the camp site and relax for the rest of the day. 
While writing this post I came across a photo on the internet which I’m including here. The screen capture from Google maps shows the hillside before the Forestry Commission got their machines on it – the blue line is where I walked through the woods, the yellow shows the area of trees which have been felled and the red is my route up the hillside. The photo shows the steepness of the hillside – although the bottom of the hill is obscured the red line shows part of my route to the top, with the white spot denoting the gate I climbed over.
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Photo credit – The Keswick Reminder
Would I go up Latrigg Fell again? At the moment the jury’s out on that one but I won’t deny that the views were certainly ‘stupendous’ so if I’m on another camping holiday in Cumbria and the weather is right then maybe – although if I do I’ll make sure I use the proper path to get there.

25 thoughts on “Bassenthwaite Lake and Latrigg Fell

  1. That is a beautiful lake and your hike was amazing. I like the flag idea! I would probably think of doing that also. The planes too is just crazy! Nice hike!!

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  2. Bassenthwaite is the most northerly of all the lakes in the Lake District and the only one with ‘lake’ in its name, all the others are ‘meres’, ‘waters’ or ‘tarns’. It’s a lovely lake which provides some really good photos. I wouldn’t want to repeat the climb up the fell but the stunning views made up for it. The planes were so low that I instinctively ducked as they flew over my head 🙂

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  3. You know I still feel responsible for this, seeing as I ‘fess up to probably being the “email suggestion” which caused this problem (although you may well have had the same suggestion from Jules or another friend).

    Your account of the walk is excellent, and I completely sympathise seeing as I’ve battled both up and down recently felled areas in the past and I know how foul and difficult it is. And also how loud it is when a plane comes over so low, poor Snowy (and yes, I’ve ducked too when they have come over the house ).

    Your last two photos make me realise it is months & months & months since I stopped in Keswick – I did not know this tree murder had taken place. Must pop over sometime. Hope your legs eventually heal completely. xxx

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  4. Yes, the suggestion was yours although I wasn’t going to name you as the ‘culprit’ 🙂 No need to feel responsible at all, I chose to go that way when I could have gone back to the proper path. If I should blame anyone for my climb it’s the Forestry Commission for not closing off that path as there was nowhere else to go other than up or back. Your suggestion was a good one really as I wouldn’t previously have thought about Latrigg and I did get some good photos 🙂

    I don’t know exactly when the tree murder took place but it seems to have been fairly recent – the Keswick Reminder article which included the bottom photo was dated June 26th this year and says work to restore the site would begin this summer and all paths and tracks would be restored and upgraded. Well there was no sign of any work happening when I went up there, the hillside looked like a desert wasteland 😦

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    1. Guilty as charged and not afraid to own up!

      Path remediation always takes months and months . . .

      I hope it does not put you off going back up Latrigg, if you have nothing better to do (😝 ha ha ha 🤪) you could have a search and see that Daisy and I used to go up there fairly often. It is where she had the courage to have her first ever outdoor drink (Red Letter Day May 2013) and also where I got concussion!

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      1. To be honest, writing this post and editing my photos for it has made me think that I probably will go back up Latrigg in the future. It was really lovely up at the top and the views were certainly worth the effort of getting there. I should have spent more time up there really so I’d like to go back just to explore the far side on a different route.

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  5. You certainly are determined Eunice but as you say the views are fantastic and worth all your effort. Poor Snowy being frightened by the planes that was just like Tilly being so frightened when the air ambulance landed right where we’d been standing and we had to run to get out of it’s way. I hope your scratched legs heal soon, do try some Germolene I find that is very good for all sorts of grazes, bites and burns etcetera, handy to keep a tube with you on your adventures.

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    1. Determined or mad?? 🙂 The views were definitely worth it though, once I’d got my breath back. My scratches have actually healed, I’ve just got some of the scabs left now. Your point about taking some Germolene with me is a good one – I actually use Savlon here at home so I suppose a small tube would tuck into my bum bag in case it’s needed.

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    1. I could have done with some of your equipment BC – a couple of very long ropes attached to the fence at the top would have really helped 🙂 I’ve no complaints about the weather or the views though, they were excellent.

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    1. I did briefly think about giving up when I was halfway up the hill but it was so steep I would have risked an accident or injury if I’d tried to go back down so I had to keep going – and the views were certainly worth the effort 🙂

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  6. I’m glad you like the photos – the views were so good that it would be almost impossible to take a bad shot. As for going back when I got to the tree felling area, I’d already walked for half an hour through the forest so if I’d gone back to the main path that part of the walk would have been pointless – anyway, sometimes I like a challenge! 🙂 🙂

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  7. Thoroughly enjoyed our jaunt out together, Eunice. I was thinking at the start that a short steep beginning is sometimes preferable to a longer slow one, but you got there in the end without serious injury. I was so intent on the path, or lack of, that I forgot the dogs till you posted them through the fence. Did you have them on a lead? The photos are glorious and it’s such a beautiful part of the world. Makes you forget all those rainy days, doesn’t it? Have a good week!

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    1. Yes, the dogs were on leads, they always are wherever I go, and at least it helped to keep them out of those stinky muddy pools in the tracks. Poppie is used to being posted through various gates or fences but that was Snowy’s first time – she went through quite happily though 🙂 I’m really pleased that the photos came out so well, the views really were lovely so worth the effort 🙂

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  8. It’s the quiet of Bassenthwaite that makes it so attractive.
    What a lovely walk you enjoyed, and on such a beautiful day. There are some stunning views from Latrigg, both at the summit and on the ascent.
    It has also been lovely to see where I previously walked from your photographs 🙂 X

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    1. I didn’t think of it being a lovely walk when I was climbing up that hill Jules! 🙂 Worth it for the views though, but if I ever do it again I’ll go up the ‘proper’ way 🙂

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  9. What stunning views, and so glad you were determined – but wow, what are the forestry commission doing? Is this part of their plan to return the land to original/native plants?

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    1. The views were certainly stunning and weather-wise I couldn’t have wished for a better day.

      Apparently most of the trees were mature spruce which have been sent to a number of mills and biomass plants in northern England and southern Scotland. There was also a small amount of larch removed at the same time as it had a fungal disease which is widespread across Cumbria. The site will be now be replanted with mainly Sitka spruce and some Douglas fir to produce another timber crop and some native shrubs and trees will be planted on the upper margin and along the stream. The work to restore the site and pathways was supposed to start this summer but there was no evidence of it when I went up there.

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  10. Oh no! I know how that feels, we’ve been caught by the dilemma of … do we press on through the now forestry waste land or do we go back…. then going with the former and finding it as awkward as you did!
    Well done for persisting and making it to the top!

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  11. I admire your determination, I would have probably turned back and given up, but it was so worth all that effort for those gorgeous views. I sympathise with Snowy, those jets frighten me to death, they’re so loud, and it’s such a shock when they come out of nowhere. I dread to think of the noise when they’re flying so low. It’s such a shame that all those trees have been cut down, and it looks like they’ve left a mess behind too.

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  12. Even ear plugs wouldn’t have cut out the noise those jets made, it was horrendous and it really did upset Snowy. The aftermath of the tree felling is certainly a mess, with piles of dead stuff everywhere which I had to pick my way through. Reports say that work to clear and restore the site should have started this summer but obviously it hasn’t done. At least my expedition up there was rewarded with good views 🙂

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