This circular walk near Keswick, takes you up to the top of Walla Crag, where you will have breathtaking views of Derwentwater and the surrounding fells. Then you descend, passed Ashness Bridge, before finishing along an adventurous hillside trail.
What I’m going to do in this guide, is tell you a bit about what to expect, full logistics, a map, and tips. Followed by a detailed walking route description with photos.
What to expect on the Walla Crag walk
The start of the walk takes you through the Great Wood, on a gradual uphill. Then you will exit the woods for your first views down to Keswick and Derwentwater. You will continue walking uphill through a bit more woods, then you will be fully out in the open, for the final steep ascent up to the top of Walla Crag.
For the last stretch of the walk up to the top of Walla Crag, it can be fairly boggy if it’s been raining, and a bit of manoeuvring will be in involved, to limit the wetness level of your feet.
Then once you reach the top, you will have some really breathtaking views all around. But this is not the last of the views….
After the top of Walla Crag, the majority of the rest of the walk is downhill, and on the way down you will get views of Derwentwater from a different perspective, as well as a gorgeous view of the hills ahead of you.
You will then loop back, passing over Ashness Bridge. Then for the last stretch, you will be on a narrow hillside dirt trail, with some rocky potentially slippy wet bits. This part of the trail is mostly downhill, with the occasional small up, and one slightly bigger up.
The main bridge on the walk is Ashness Bridge. It’s a small stone, quaint, packhorse bridge. Apparently it’s the most photographed bridge in the Lake District. You do pass over a few others, with the water cascading over rocks below you. Water sounds are a big feature on this walk.
Do I need a car to do the Walla Crag walk?
Although I started this walk from a car park, you could actually do it without a car. The start of the trail is very near Keswick. The number 78 Borrowdale Bus will get you there from Keswick. Get off at Calfclose Bay stop, then walk back along the main road a short distance.
Logistics for the Walla Crag circular walk
- Start/Finish: Great Wood car park, near Keswick
- How to get there: From Keswick, drive south along the east side of Derwentwater, and it will be on the left side of the road. It’s about 5min out. See my map below for exact location. Or the number 78 Borrowdale Bus from Keswick, getting off as Calfclose Bay.
- Distance: 5miles
- Options to shorten the walk: Yes. After you reach the top of Walla Crag, you can skip the next bit, and loop back down and around to walk back to the car park. I will show you in the guide description below.
- Time: 2h15min
- Elevation: Highest point in the walk is Walla Crag at 360m give or take.
- Difficulty: Moderate if you are new to hiking, easy if you are more experienced.
- Terrain: Dirt trail, tree roots, rocks, bog, water on the trail, a small bit of road.
- Time of year: I did this in autumn.
- Dog friendly: It looks like it. There were other people and their dogs running around. Two stiles, which can be skipped for a gate a bit further back on the trail. I only saw livestock in a small section of the walk, a while past Walla Crag. However, I’m actually going to recommend skipping this small bit, and taking an alternate route, which I will show you when I describe the walk below.
- Amenities: Nothing other than you and nature. However, you should find everything you need in Keswick nearby.
Tips for the Walla Crag walk
- Hiking boots or shoes definitely. Due to the terrain, you will be much more comfortable in them.
- If doing this in the colder months, wear layers. It can be hot and sweaty for the walk up Walla Crag, but in other sections, it can be quite cold.
- As mentioned earlier, there is a small section I would skip in my route. I will explain why and how in the guide below.
- Great Wood car park is National Trust. If you get a National Trust membership, you get free parking in NT car parks. The Lake District is full of National Trust car parks, and they can be quite expensive, so I bought my membership for the parking alone. It will also give you free entry to National Trust sites.
Map for the circular Walla Crag walk
You can find my more detailed Walla Crag route map on Alltrails.
More walking routes and guides for the Lake District will be at the end
A Guide To The Circular Walla Crag Walk
Starting from the Great Wood Car park, next to the pay and display is a trail signpost. Follow the direction for the Great Wood trail.
This first section will be under tree cover. The trail starts off narrow, then opens up to a wider trail. All the while going uphill. Keep to the main trail, for example, go straight in the junction in the photo below.
The first views
It’s fairly dark under the trees, but you will know the views are about to come when things start to get a bit lighter, as the trees get a bit less. Then you will have your first view to Derwentwater, the fells on the other side, and Keswick.
The trail will then take you around to the right, alongside a stone wall.
Then at the end, turn right. You will be walking with some woods to your left and a field to your right, and the sound of the river stream below. You might have to squint to see it though, hidden below the darkness of the woods.
Back into the woods
You will then go back into woodland for a bit, on an undulating dirt and tree root trail. After crossing over the stream on a wooden bridge, continue straight and up to the road, where you turn right.
It’s a short walk along the road, taking the right turning at the junction. There is a sign pointing which way to walk for Walla Crag if you are not sure. Then a short way along, there is another wooden bridge crossing, then up a rocky trail leading you to the open.
The big walk up Walla Crag
This is where the trail becomes steeper. I could see my first people further up, slowing walking up the hill. It’s a mix of grassy, rocks and dirt for this bit.
I thought the views from earlier were great, but discovered that up here, it all gets a lot better. I stopped a lot to look back at the views, and told myself this is why I was stopping, and not because I needed a break from the uphill.
When you think you have reached the top, this is not it. There is a still a bit to go, as the hill levels off before taking you up again.
This is where things became really muddy and boggy. Yesterday it was a full day of rain sheets, so the ground was nice and prepped for my arrival. If you are nimble on your feet, you can hop around on the little rocks to try and avoid the wet bits.
I got to another section that seemed impassable. As I was figuring out how to cross it, a dog came along and pounded back and forth, splashing me, I think on purpose.
The owners then arrived and gave me a tip to cling on to the wall on the side to avoid the bog. That did the job, and made up for the dog.
Walk to the top of Walla Crag
After some more uphill, you will see a gate to your right. You can take this if you want, or continue straight. Both will lead you to the top. I stayed straight, and I think I made the right decision (I will explain in a moment).
If you stayed straight, a little further along, there will be a stile on the right. Go over it, and walk a short way up more rocks to reach the top of Walla Crag.
It’s all rock up here, with some of the best views I have seen for a while. I took this moment to have my snack break and take it all in.
I could see the trail for the alternate route through the gate from earlier. It looked exceptionally boggy and wet. I patted myself on the back for making the right call on this one.
Walk down off Walla Crag
Follow the trail down off Walla Crag, and walk towards the wall to reach a stile. If you have a dog that can’t do stiles, then you could walk back to the gate, and continue the walk from there.
Over the stile, you will see a few trails in the distance. You see the big one over the hill straight ahead. That’s the one you are taking…
You will be heading to the one to the right of it, that takes you around the side of the hill.
Option to shorten the Walla Crag Walk
Now, if you want to head back to the car park at this point, take the right trail over the stile. This will lead you down and around, back to the car park. There are still some great bits to come in the walk though, so if you have it in you, I would recommend continuing.
Walk around the side of the hill
Over the stile, head straight (towards the big hill ahead). This next bit can also get quite boggy and wet.
When you reach a trail split, take the one to the right, rather than the one that leads you up the big hill. The trail is fairly level, as you walk around the side of the hill. There will be more rocky bits and a stream crossing.
Some way along you will get some more lovely views of Derwentwater. I particularly liked the way the little islands were looking from here.
Walk downhill some more
After turning the main corner, the trail will become steeper as you continue to make your way down. This is the steepest downhill of the walk off Walla Crag
The view down the hill, and to the hills and fells ahead is stunning. I was filled with warm happy feelings as I saw it.
At the second gate on the walk down, you will have a decision to make. Do what I did, or do something else. I recommend something else….
I knew I wanted to include a walk over Ashness Bridge after Walla Crag. We had driven over it, and the quaint cuteness needs to be seen. The thing is, on my map, there were two Ashness Bridges marked. I didn’t know which one it was, so I picked the further away one, then if that wasn’t it, the real one would be on the walk back anyway. As you have probably gathered, I picked the wrong one.
So, at this gate, don’t go through it. Turn right instead, and this trail should lead you to the road and bridge (through another gate I think). I will meet you there soon…
My little detour took me through a farm. It was very different from the rest of the Walla Crag walk, and I felt a little like I was in a place I shouldn’t be. One field I entered was very large and seemingly empty which creeped me out a little. I had this feeling there must be some kind of livestock in here, but couldn’t see it. That’s what worried me. I didn’t know what was here, lurking.
I then got a fright when I suddenly saw what I thought was big dogs. They turned out to be sheep that looked like dogs.
I continued on and found the rest of the sheep at my exit. The next field was a one for chicken and geese. I have never walked in a chicken and geese field before, it’s always sheep or cows, so this was knew.
After leaving the farm, and walking down the road a little, I reached what was marked as Ashness Bridge on my map. It was a bit of a letdown. I wasn’t even sure what I was looking at.
After some more road walking, I finally reached the real Ashness Bridge
A surprise view
There is a little surprise view near here. Ollie and I first found it a year ago, and came back again yesterday for memories. Now, the views don’t compare to the ones up Walla Crag, but it’s special in that it feels like a little secret.
If you want to check it out, from Ashness Bridge, walk up the hill a little and enter the car park. On the other side, go up the hill and to the left. It’s very dirt rock, tree roots and mossy up there. Keep going up and up, until you reach a flat spot with a large opening to the view down to Derwentwater.
The final stretch of the Walla Crag Walk
To continue the walk, just past the bridge, there is a hidden trail off the road on the right. In my mind, I thought the walk was pretty much over. Just one short little walk back to the car park. I was very wrong indeed. I would almost say this is the hardest bit (a different kind of hard to the steep walk up Walla Crag).
This trail is very narrow, along a mix of dirt, tree roots, rocks and rock slabs. There are some bits that were trying to be a river, and one section had a steep drop just to the side of the trail. It is mostly downhill, with the occasional short up.
Someway further along the trail, there is a steeper, slightly longer up, walking with a stone wall to your left.
You then cross over a bridge, with more water crashing over rocks below. Over the bridge, continue downhill, keeping to the main trail. The path now becomes easier for the last little bit back to the car park.
More walking ideas in the Lake District National Park
If you like impressive views, then you must try the walk up the Old Man of Coniston. It’s more challenging and very rocky, but the views make it all worth it.
For something quite similar to the Walla Crag walk, you could try this one which takes you up Todd Crag. It’s located near Ambleside.
Do you like caves? Then you should check out Rydal Cave, which is part of the Rydal Water circular walk. It’s a relatively easy walk, on rugged terrain.
For a long walk with a bit of everything, then check out the Elterwater and Loughrigg Tarn walk. This one takes you up fells, with impressive views across there lakes. Through villages and along different types of terrain. There are easy bits, challenging bits, and everything in-between.
For more ideas of things to do in the Lake District, other than walking, then check out the Visit Lake District website.