As fells go, Latrigg isn't a lot to write home about. In fact it isn't so much a fell as a grassy knoll compared to the big bruisers which flank it to the north of Keswick - Skiddaw to the west, Blencathra to the east.

But knoll or not, it was to provide the warm-up walk for the following day's planned tougher outing and be the testing ground for my dodgy hip. If the crumbling old joint could withstand a Latrigg five-miler, then fortified with a couple of painkillers it might well be up to the considerably more challenging outing up to the rocky outcrops of Haystacks - the same distance, but much steeper and higher and over rugged terrain.

That was the theory anyway, as we left Keswick via Fitz Park and briefly joined the road running along its northern edge before striking off up Spooney Green Lane, a broad bridleway which crossed the Keswick bypass then climbed up the side of a plantation.

Skiddaw watched, broodingly, as we plodded upwards on the good track, being overtaken by a middle-aged pair on mountain bikes whose calf muscles bulged with the strain of powering them upwards.

As we climbed above the tree line we could see walkers high up to the right, heading for the top of Latrigg. By an information board on our left, at a point where a climbing path joined from the same direction, we had a decision to take.

By rights, and according to the map, we should have continued up the track for a while with a conifer plantation now on our left until we spotted a green path to the right zigzagging its way up to Mallen Dodd before continuing in a straight and level line to the top of Latrigg.

However, just across the track from the information board a straight, steep, wide, grassy path offered a short cut as well as a challenge for the hip and our middle-aged heart and lungs.

Up we went, Maureen at a cracking pace with me taking it rather more cautiously and pausing from time to time to admire the ever-expanding view behind us.

At the top we joined the broad, semi-paved track to the crest of the hill and then turned back to stroll up to the summit before continuing past it and beginning the gentle descent.

Skiddaw with its tedious track climbing steadily towards it grim summit was now behind us and Blencathra ahead. The clear, green path carried us steadily down to dogleg on to another path and to a gate where an elderly man was sitting on the adjacent stile, getting his breath back.

Through the gate we joined a lane which, with a right turn, took us easily through leafy Brundholme Wood above the sound of the River Greta and back to Keswick, happily emerging just across the road from the Twa Dogs Inn.

Studying the map we realised that if we'd turned left in the lane rather than right by the stile with the man, and then quickly gone right, we would have come down the narrow road to a gate with a sign pointing the way to the disused railway line and an even more picturesque route back to town.

With the hip holding up nicely, we decided to venture that very afternoon along that railway line (now claimed for walkers and riders as part of the National Cycle Network).

We walked back into Keswick to join it near where the station used to be, and strolled easily eastwards, first behind the gardens of houses, then under the award-winning concrete bridge carrying the A66 above the River Greta.

Wooden walkways and adapted iron bridges over the fast-flowing river helped us on our way. We passed the remains of the platform beside what was once a bobbin mill but is now a mobile-home site. We watched a heron standing stock-still on a rock, waiting for the river to deliver its dinner. And for five glorious minutes we enjoyed a display of acrobatics by a red squirrel in the trees alongside the track before it scampered off into the distance, high among the branches.

Passing the point where we would have joined the railway had we turned left at the gate/stile rather than right, we crossed another bridge over the river and saw a sign pointing right towards Castlerigg Stone Circle.

That was on our itinerary for our Keswick break, so we decided to include it on this outing. It wasn't far, following fields paths and then quiet lanes to arrive at the plateau where, thousands of years ago and for no clear reason, the inhabitants of that area planted large, upended boulders in the soil in an ampitheatre overlooked by high, cloud-topped hills.

Filled with the wonder and mystery of it, we took the steep lane back down into town. And there had been barely a twinge from the hip. Was it ready for the Haystacks challenge.?

Step by Step


  1. From end of Penrith Road, Keswick, cross new footbridge into Fitz Park and turn left. Walk under road bridge to end of park then turn right and follow path, soon forking left up to road. Turn right and walk along to leave road by bridleway (Spooney Green Lane) on left.
  2. Walk up this lane, crossing by-pass and then continuing up side of wood to emerge above tree-line eventually. With Gale Ghyll Wood information board on left and another wood ahead on same side, go right up steep grassy path to join broad, well-walked track at top and turn right to seat and viewpoint.
  3. Turn left and walk past Latrigg summit and continue to stile. Keep ahead on slowly descending grassy path along ridge, going left just before a line of trees then right again on another track.
  4. Descending to gate with stile beside it, go over stile then either turn right and follow road back to Keswick (or go briefly left and then right in road to descend to where a sign by a gate points way across a narrow field to disused railway. Join railway, turn right and return to Keswick).


  1. Walk up Station Road and round back of Keswick Hotel to join railway line and head east. After a couple of miles pass a shelter on right with information boards inside and cross a footbridge.
  2. Turn right, following Castlerigg Stone Circle sign, forking right halfway up field on permitted footpath to pass beneath busy A66 then head left-ish up to corner of field to stile into quiet lane. Turn left, then take first right and then next right to arrive before long at stone circle.
  3. Enjoy, wonder, then continue down lane back to main road, crossing it just below junction and rejoining disused railway for return to Keswick.
Fact File

  • Start for both waks: Fitz Park, Keswick
  • Time for walks: 2 hours for Latrigg, five miles, 1 hours for Castlerigg, three miles
  • Going: Relatively easy for the first, very easy for the second
  • Map: OS Outdoors Leisure 4, English Lakes North Western, plus Keswick street plan to get you started
  • Toilets & refreshments: Both in Keswick, neither along either route