Any walk to Bleaberry Fell is going to involve some amount of boggy or marshy ground. Here we suggest perhaps the driest route to this fell which terminates the northern end of the central ridge. This high ground sandwiched between Thirlmere reservoir and Derwent Water to the west is at best wet, at worst it is unbearably swamp like. Little wonder it forms part of the United Utilities Thirlmere reservoir catchment area.
It is said that Lady's Rake, the only breach in the face of Walla Crag, was named after the Countess of Derwentwater who used the precarious gully to evade capture after the arrest of her husband for his actions in the Jacobite Uprising of 1715. These days the rake is not a recommended ascent or descent route!
This walk starts at the National Trust Great Wood car park on the road to Borrowdale. If keen you could walk out from Keswick along the shore of Derwent Water to make it a longer day. Climbing up beside Cat Gill on a wonderful terraced path you are accompanied by the sound of the falls and cascades deep in the gill, of which just occasional glimpses can be seen through the shrubs and trees lining the gill. Steep zigzags climb out of the gill and wonderful views framed by the trees give you a good excuse to stop for a breather. Above the Gill you follow a good grassy path through bracken to the excellent viewpoint of Walla Crag. There are so many fells to see across Derwent Water, as well as to Keswick, and Bassenthwaite Lake. From there the path deteriorates a bit whilst crossing the high moorland becoming wet in places. Higher up, approaching Bleaberry Fell, at a sheepfold a good track appears and along with a stone pitch path delivers you easily to the grand summit. The return retraces a few steps, but then bears left to traverse the fellside and a possible visit to the picturesque Ashness Bridge. Another traverse path meanders back towards the start point through summer bracken, blackberry brambles, and takes you below the impressive cliff of Falcon Crag. A small footbridge over Cat Gill helps drop you back to the car park.
Walk height profile
note that gradients are usually grossly exaggerated
At the far right hand end of the Great Wood car park take the rough path past the picnic area into the woodlands. Follow the path well above the Borrowdale road, and the exit road. Keep left at the Forestry barrier.
Approaching Cat Gill you will hear the cascades before you see any of them. Swing left and start to climb to be alongside the gill. Do not cross the footbridge - that will be on your return.
With the gill on your right, follow the path above, it is rough with the occasional rocky steps.
Go through the first gate and continue climbing, bear slightly left to go through a second, kissing, gate above you. Now follow the steep zigzags to climb out of the gill and to a third gate onto the open fell.
Bear left and continue climbing, a rocky step next to the wall is the last obstacle. Ignore the stile on the left, continue climbing on a grass path through the bracken with the wall over to your left. Keep left along the wall. Over to your right is the high moorland to Bleaberry Fell.
Just above another rocky step is a wooden step stile with dog gate, cross the wall here, then bear right and climb the last little bit to the summit of Walla Crag. Beware of precipitous drops the other side.
From the airy summit of Walla Crag, return to the step stile, cross, bear right and descend a little rocky step. Below is a small cairn and the path splits, take the left hand branch heading in the general direction of Bleaberry Fell to the south.
After 200m (220 yards) the path swings right a little and then another cairn marks a further bifurcation. Again take the minor left branch to start climbing the fellside. Crossing one small beck, you soon encounter another slightly deeper beck to cross. Continue on the clearer path the other side through moss, grass, and heather.
Reaching the sheepfold marked on the OS 25K map a clear, solid track appears as if by magic. Take the track and let it swing you left to the bottom of the stone pitched path climbing the last steep section to the summit. Continue up the pitching to reach a large cairn. Bear right and continue climbing to another cairn, continue past this false summit and on to the windshelter and nearby cairn of the real summit of Bleaberry Fell.
Return from the summit of Bleaberry Fell, back down the stone pitched path and swing right to the sheepfold. Continue descending, approx 400m (440 yards) below the sheepfold when the path splits bear left on to a narrow path which cuts off rather a large and oblique corner.
Reaching the path from Walla Crag just at the head of a beck, turn left to follow it as it climbs over and around a grassy shoulder above Falcon Crag and then descend towards Ashness Bridge.
Some way before reaching the wall coming down the fellside, keep watch for a path descending steeply down through the thick summer bracken. Take the path and drop down a few rocky steps, and a step stile, to just beside the gate in the wall.
Do not go through the gate but turn sharply right almost back on yourself. Now with Keswick ahead of you, follow the path northwards, it descends gradually through the luxurious and at times head height bracken. There are some rather fine blackberry brambles hidden amongst the greenery.
The path runs just below the face of Falcon Crag. Keep right, don't drop down left to the road. Having passed the crag the path turns right to climb a little alongside a wall. Then above a last little rocky step, turn left to cross the footbridge over Cat Gill.
Bear left and follow the path back towards the car park, keep right at the forest barrier and the parking appears soon after.
If you like this walk then why not try one of our other nearby walks:
|Walla Crag and the Great Wood||40m (44 yards) away|
|A Short Walk From Ashness Bridge to High Seat||1.9km (1.2 miles) away|
|Around Derwent Water||2.0km (1.2 miles) away|
|A short walk to Friar's Crag from the Moot Hall, Keswick||2.0km (1.3 miles) away|
|The National Trust Centenary Stone from Keswick||2.0km (1.3 miles) away|
|Castlehead Viewpoint from the Moot Hall, Keswick||2.0km (1.3 miles) away|
|A Short Stroll to Lodore Falls||2.0km (1.3 miles) away|
|Cumbria Way - Keswick to Caldbeck||2.0km (1.3 miles) away|
|The Old Keswick Railway Line and Latrigg||2.3km (1.4 miles) away|
|Catbells||2.6km (1.6 miles) away|
|Catbells, Maiden Moor, High Spy - A Half Newlands||2.6km (1.6 miles) away|
|Catbells and the Newlands valley||2.7km (1.7 miles) away|
|Castlerigg Stone Circle||2.9km (1.8 miles) away|
|Causey Pike and Scar Crag||3.9km (2.4 miles) away|
|Skiddaw Shepherd's Memorial||3.9km (2.4 miles) away|
|Misty Skiddaw||4.0km (2.5 miles) away|
|A longer walk over Bakestall and Skiddaw||4.0km (2.5 miles) away|
|Lonscale Fell via Burnt Horse Ridge||4.0km (2.5 miles) away|
|Latrigg: a short stroll||4.0km (2.5 miles) away|
|Raven Crag, Castle Crag and The Benn||4.3km (2.6 miles) away|
|Robinson, Hindscarth and Dale Head - A Half Newlands||4.5km (2.8 miles) away|
|Robinson and Hindscarth from Little Town||4.5km (2.8 miles) away|
|A Shorter Coledale Round||4.6km (2.8 miles) away|
|To Force Crag Mine - a Coledale Low Round||4.6km (2.8 miles) away|
|The Coledale Horseshoe||4.8km (3.0 miles) away|
|High Rigg, Naddle Fell, and Wren Crag||5.0km (3.1 miles) away|
|Great How||5.0km (3.1 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