The ideal time to take the tracks through the forest onto Whinlatter is during the winter months. Choose a day when the conditions have been cold and clear, and remain so. The ridge will found to be a delightful stroll rather than a tedious two-step avoiding the boggy patches. Skiddaw, Blencathra, and the Helvellyn range always look resplendent with a good sprinkling of snow.
The lower slopes of Whinlatter are clothed in forestry plantation largely of the usual monoculture. There are red squirrels around though; shy, and surprisingly well camouflaged by their colour on the trunks of the pines. Once out on the open fell the ridge is a mix of grass, heather and moss. Only the flank facing the pass has much rock and that mostly consisting of scree.
Those people with an eye for detail will notice on the map that the Wainwright top is at the far end of the ridge, called Brown How, which is slightly lower at 517m (569 yards) than Whinlatter Top in the middle at 525m (578 yards). All the more excuse to go and see the view from the former. It is rather fine.
This walk is a short and sweet, out and back from the Forestry Commission's visitor centre, which has a pay and display car park. A bus service also operates from Keswick. The parking place mentioned in Wainwright's North Western Fells book, including the Second Edition revised by Chris Jesty, has been blocked up. Double yellow lines discourage parking on the pass itself.
If you need accommodation we have details of 25 properties offering rooms near the start of this walk. Here are some examples:
Walk height profile
note that gradients are usually grossly exaggerated
The walk starts at the same place as the walking trails, this is behind the visitor centre. Take the track up from the car park to go across the front of the centre, to the left. Turn right and go through the tunnel between the toilets and shop. Bear left to the indicator board. Follow the path up to the right and across the play area. Bear left at the green marker post. Climb to the viewpoint and interpretation board.
Bear second left, a green marker post confirms you have the correct path. Climb through the dark plantation and at the junction with the forestry track turn left to Horsebox Crossroads in just 50m (55 yards).
Go directly across the crossroads. If this were a traffic island you would be taking the second exit. You leave the green marker posts behind at this point. The track climbs gently, a mountain bike trail soon joins in from the right, and at the end of the track is a turning area. Bear left to cross the stile on to the open fellside.
Turn right and follow the fence up to the top of the first rise. Leave the fence and bear left onto a path through heather onto the ridge. It is now largely a case of following this path to the far end of the undulating ridge. Just before Whinlatter Top, which has a cairn, is a sizeable boggy patch.
Continue over Whinlatter Top, and follow the path to the wall and through the gap. The path curves away left and then right to the windbreak on Whinlatter Brown How summit.
Return the same way. When passing back over Whinlatter Top again, don't mistakenly bear left, but bear right to the boggy patch and the fence line.
If you like this walk then why not try one of our other nearby walks:
|Whinlatter Forest - Heavy Sides Walk||1.9km (1.2 miles) away|
|Words In The Woods||1.9km (1.2 miles) away|
|Force Crag Mine||2.4km (1.5 miles) away|
|Grisedale Pike and Hopegill Head||2.4km (1.5 miles) away|
|Graystones, Broom Fell, and Lord's Seat||2.5km (1.6 miles) away|
|Barf, Lord's Seat, Ullister Hill and Seat How||2.6km (1.6 miles) away|
|The Coledale Horseshoe||2.7km (1.7 miles) away|
|A Shorter Coledale Round||2.9km (1.8 miles) away|
|To Force Crag Mine - a Coledale Low Round||2.9km (1.8 miles) away|
|A short walk to Spout Force||3.0km (1.8 miles) away|
|Causey Pike and Scar Crag||4.0km (2.5 miles) away|
|Ullock Pike, Longside Edge, Carl Side||4.8km (3.0 miles) away|
|Skiddaw - Dodd||4.8km (3.0 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