The village of Braithwaite is the starting point for this splendid meander over the fells on the south-eastern side of Coledale. Sometimes they are part of a much more energetic Coledale Round, or Horseshoe, to include the fells of Hopegill Head and Grisedale Pike to the north.
Wainwright wrote in his book of the North Western Fells that Outerside and Stile End were much quieter than their tourist icon neighbours to the north. They still are with only rough narrow paths through the heather they have a relaxed, perhaps lonely feel to them. As the route continues over Sail and on to Crag Hill you pass over the narrow arête of The Scar which is certainly an atmospheric place in the mist! Dropping down to Coledale Hause and then into Coledale the views down the length of the valley to Braithwaite and Keswick are spectacular.
Some parking is available scattered around the village, and at the small informal parking area near the bottom of the Whinlatter road from where it is easy to walk into the centre of the village to the start of the walk.
If you need accommodation we have details of 92 properties offering rooms near the start of this walk. Here are some examples:
Walk height profile
note that gradients are usually grossly exaggerated
From the centre of Braithwaite, beside the bridge on the way to Newlands Pass. Walk along the road towards the pass, and in 100m (110 yards) from the bridge turn right onto the driveway to Braithwaite Lodge. It is signposted public bridleway.
In front of the lodge bear right following the "Path" directions, through two gates and the farm yard. Cross the field to the gate, go through onto the open fell. Initially bear left for a few metres and then at the stunted signpost turn right onto the path up along the north eastern ridge of Barrow.
The grass path is quite steep in places. The views really start to open out to the vale of Keswick, and across Coledale to Grisedale Pike.
There is a little bump on the ridge, a small drop in height, and then the ridge continues climbing. Heather gradually encroaches to the small rocky outcrop which is the summit of Barrow.
Continue over the summit area, then bear right on the rocky path down to the col of Barrow Door.
Bear right at the crossroads and climb the narrow zigzag path opposite. It is obviously not as well used as the path over Barrow, but it is clear enough.
The summit of Stile End is on the far right hand, north east, corner of a small grassy patch.
From the summit of Stile End turn left onto a narrow path through the heather heading for the obvious north east ridge of Outerside. Drop down to the boggy Low Moss and skirt the worst of the wet ground either left or right.
The onward path through the heather to the ridge was in May 2013 marked by a short white stick and red flag! It is unlikely to be there long but it should not be difficult to pick the path up anyway even in poor conditions. There are a few little rocky steps that appear in the heather just for interest.
The summit of Outerside is a small collection of stones on the rocky top.
Continue over the summit area and bear slightly right down the south west ridge. At the bottom turn left and cross marshy ground to the old mine track from Stonycroft.
Reaching the track, hopefully with dry feet, turn right. Keep on the track as it bears left along a delightful terraced ledge and on up to Sail pass.
Turn right at the confluence of paths. Ascend the raised path as it swings one and then the other as it heads for the rounded top of Sail. Curiously the path misses the summit of Sail which is hardly a stones throw away across a patch of grass. The small summit cairn often has its own moat.
From the small summit cairn of Sail return to the path and continue westerly. The ground narrows alarmingly and drops along a rocky ridge - this is called The Scar. Keep to the ridge top path, there are no tricky bits. It is just rough mountain path.
You soon reach the bottom of the drop and start climbing again. Clamber up the rocky steps and terraces. Only one presented a formidable appearance rearing out of the mist, but on closer inspection was easily assailable by tackling head on following the well worn hand and footholds of countless walkers before.
All too soon the ridge comes to an end on the vast plateau of Crag Hill. Follow the cairned trail to the trig point.
At the crossroads turn right. Descend on the rough path, a beck soon appears on your left. Continue down to the great col of Coledale Hause. As it comes into view up to your right is Eel Crag. The steep boulder scree and precipitous rocky steps make that descent rather difficult.
As you drop down to the Hause bear right on the path to drop down into the valley of Coledale.
There is a good view down into the valley. There is a short section of well engineered zigzags before it reverts to rough mountain path.
The old buildings of High Force mine can be seen high on the fellside from the path where the old track used to be - the path crosses a short flat area with a peat hag and boggy ground to the left just where the track went alongside. Further down the path Force Crag Mine itself comes into view with Force Crag and its waterfall towering above.
The path is easy to follow and eventually drops to a ford and stepping stones across Coledale Beck.
Cross the beck and continue on the track up to the mine road.
If you have time then turn left to go to visit the mine buildings - which are fascinating but largely rusting hulks. You cannot go in the buildings or mine workings as they are secured.
Then follow the mine road all the way back to the Whinlatter road. Turn right down the hill, and then right again just around the corner. This path drops to a small footbridge, cross the bridge and bear left into the back of Braithwaite. Bear left to the junction beside the church. Bear left and then right just before the bridge to return to the Newlands bridge beside the village shop.
If you like this walk then why not try one of our other nearby walks:
|To Force Crag Mine - a Coledale Low Round||22m (24 yards) away|
|The Coledale Horseshoe||223m (245 yards) away|
|Grisedale Pike and Hopegill Head||456m (502 yards) away|
|Force Crag Mine||460m (506 yards) away|
|Words In The Woods||1.3km (0.8 miles) away|
|Whinlatter Forest - Heavy Sides Walk||1.3km (0.8 miles) away|
|Causey Pike and Scar Crag||1.8km (1.1 miles) away|
|Catbells and the Newlands valley||2.8km (1.8 miles) away|
|Catbells||2.9km (1.8 miles) away|
|Catbells, Maiden Moor, High Spy - A Half Newlands||2.9km (1.8 miles) away|
|Whinlatter||2.9km (1.8 miles) away|
|Barf, Lord's Seat, Ullister Hill and Seat How||3.1km (1.9 miles) away|
|Cumbria Way - Keswick to Caldbeck||3.5km (2.2 miles) away|
|The National Trust Centenary Stone from Keswick||3.5km (2.2 miles) away|
|A short walk to Friar's Crag from the Moot Hall, Keswick||3.5km (2.2 miles) away|
|Castlehead Viewpoint from the Moot Hall, Keswick||3.5km (2.2 miles) away|
|Around Derwent Water||3.5km (2.2 miles) away|
|Robinson, Hindscarth and Dale Head - A Half Newlands||4.2km (2.6 miles) away|
|Robinson and Hindscarth from Little Town||4.2km (2.6 miles) away|
|Walla Crag and Bleaberry Fell from Great Wood||4.6km (2.8 miles) away|
|Walla Crag and the Great Wood||4.6km (2.8 miles) away|
|Skiddaw - Dodd||4.7km (2.9 miles) away|
|Ullock Pike, Longside Edge, Carl Side||4.7km (2.9 miles) away|
Unless otherwise stated the text in this walk is the copyright of Hug Solutions Ltd trading as The Hug and the photographs are the copyright of Elizabeth Oldham. Hill data is derived from Database of British and Irish hills which is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. Maps contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2011 and paths © OpenStreetMap Contributors,CC-BY-SA, 2011