On this circular walk you will be rewarded with a lovely ascent up the small but beautiful Ard Crags, followed by an undulating ridge to Knott Rigg. The descent from Knott Rigg keeps to the top of a second ridge with good views ahead. The last section takes in farmland paths and tracks before joining the road.
Calculated time is computed with the distance, the height difference, and an average speed of 2.2 mph. For an intermediate walker, this time includes small breaks.
(D/A) From the quarry take the path with Rigg Beck stream on your left; follow the path keeping straight ahead which ascends gently until the dry stone wall on your left makes a right angles turn and ascend the fell.
(1) Turn left and cross the stream, the faint path (sheep trod) now rises diagonally rightwards across the fell side to the ridge below Aikin Knott. (In the height of summer bracken might make the path harder to follow)
(2) At the junction go straight ahead taking the ridge.
(3) It is steep at first but the ascent is not long, it will soon pass through heather as you cross Aikin Knott and rises gently to the top of Ard Crags.
(4) Continue along the ridge, descending and then ascending again to Knott Rigg. From the top of Knott Rigg the continuation of the path to Newlands Hause is obvious. You will need to turn back on your tracks for a short way and look to your right.
You will see the top of the ridge leading down to Keskadale Farm. The path is hard to find at first so look out for some wooden posts which circle two small bogs. The path passes between the bogs so if you head of the fence posts you will pick it up. (The bogs will not trap humans but are fenced off to stop sheep straying into them and getting stuck; although there were sheep bones on the surface when we passed).
(5) Continue along a path which follows the lovely ridge down to Keskadale Farm. Just before the farm there is a stile to cross and a gate to go through.
After the gate turn right and walk to the road at the top of the Devil's Elbow; this is the name given to the steep chicane in the road which bends and descends past the farm.
From Keskadale Farm follow the road walking down the Devils' Elbow, cross the bridge and take a track on the right which descends with a stream on the right to a bridge over Keskadale Beck.
(6) Cross the bridge and follow the track diagonally rightwards across the field. It can be very boggy after a wet spell in which case head up to a tree and cross behind it back to the track. (You can see how our GPS track diverts from the marked path as it was very boggy when we walked this.)
Continue straight ahead across the field to a gate, pass through and the path follows a fence line (again this can be wet underfoot in places). Go through another gate and follow the path through some gnarled and stunted trees to another gate.
Pass through this and across a field to a third gate and then across two more fields to an obvious gate leading onto the road to High Snab farm. (Take care if there are livestock in these fields and keep dogs on leads.)
(7) Turn left and walk down the farm road to where it is joined by a rough farm track on the left.
(8) Turn left and follow the path, through a gate, and around the external boundary of a field, descending to cross a bridge over Keskadale Beck. The track ascends to pass through Gillbrow farm and up to the road.
(9) At the road turn right and walk in a single file (narrow road) down hill, passing Birkrigg and back to the parking at Rigg Beck. (D/A)
D/A : km 0 - alt. 179m - Rigg Beck - Quarry
1 : km 0.74 - alt. 226m - Aikin Knott
2 : km 1.23 - alt. 317m - Ridge
3 : km 2.48 - alt. 555m - Ard Crags
4 : km 3.8 - alt. 540m - Knott Rigg
5 : km 5.22 - alt. 241m - Keskadale Farm
6 : km 5.63 - alt. 208m - Bridge
7 : km 6.79 - alt. 197m - Farm road
8 : km 7 - alt. 178m - Keskadale Beck
9 : km 7.54 - alt. 218m - Birkrigg
D/A : km 8.36 - alt. 179m - Rigg Beck - Quarry
Parking in the Newlands Valley can be difficult. The road from Braithwaite to Buttermere is narrow and the use of passing places can be needed. Please do not park in passing places as you will make it hard for others to use the road.
The parking for this walk is in the small quarry on the bend at Rigg Beck, there is enough space for four well parked cars. If this is full take the road downhill to Little Town, pass over Chapel Bridge and there is further parking for eight cars on the right.
This is only a short walk but is excellent, despite it's brevity.
There is no place to shelter and the tops of the fells have no large cairns or walls to shelter behind. Take all you need with you and it is a good idea to have a windproof top and to wear suitable footwear. I would recommend boots, particularly when the ground is wet underfoot.
Accommodation and Alternative Start
There is good self catering holiday cottage rental available at Birk Rigg http://birkriggcottages.co.uk/ on the road just beyond the quarry parking. This is a great place to base yourself for walks in the Newlands Valley and there is resident only parking opposite the cottages.
In addition, although not marked on OS maps, it is possible to follow the farm track behind Birk Rigg. This track curves around the fell and up onto the ridge (Birk Rigg) crossing through a metal gate and onto the ridge track up to Aikin Knott.
A note on driving.
When driving along narrow roads that have passing places it is best to keep three of four car lengths from the vehicle in front and to take note of passing places as you drive past them. In this way, if the car in front should come to a halt with a vehicle coming towards it, there will be room for either car to manoeuvre with only one or the other reversing.
Too often we see three of four cars driving bonnet to bumper when means that when faced with a vehicle or vehicles coming in the opposite direction there is much reversing done by all.
Visorando and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.
The bend in the road pas the quarry parking is relatively new. The old road is still there as a track which descends to below the house at Birk Rigg where it fords the stream (footbridge for walkers). Originally the Mill Dam Inn was sited beside the ford and below the new house. This unique architect designed house, lies on the site of the former 'purple house' that burned down in 2008. It is worth looking at on your return to the car.
As you walk over Ard Crags to Knott Rigg look to your right. On the ridge from Crag Hill to Wandope the edge traverses Addacome Hole, this symmetrical hanging valley is the vent from an ancient volcano that was carved in half by the glacier which created the Sail Beck valley.
The geology in this area is interesting when you stand on the summit of Knott Rigg the water of Sail Beck to the north descends in a South Westerly direction while the water in Keskadale Beck to the south descends in a North Easterly direction.
The slopes below Ard Crags and above Keskadale Farm are home to a old plantation of stunted oaks. More of these lie on the slopes Causey Pike and can be seen on the ascent of Ard Crags. These are the remans of the vegetation which covered the valley before the low lying land was cleared for farming.
An interesting low level walk with the opportunity to explore old mine workings as an option. The walk takes in farmland paths and tracks and ventures above the fell wall to the dam and reservoir built by the miners. Even if you choose not to venture into the mine tunnels finding the entrances is mini adventure. Newlands Church is lovely and adds further interest to the walk.
A rewarding Lake District walk of the highest calibre. The Horseshoe route takes in all the peaks on either side of the Newlands Valley and offers some wonderful walking and superb views throughout.
This is a circular walk around High Spy, Maiden Moor and Cat Bells. The scenery is good and the walk is made interesting by the old mine workings, both on the way up and also at Goldscope Mine. The return leg, through the woods above Derwent Water, is a nice contrast to the first half of the walk.
It is a useful walk when the tops are in mist and walking the ridge would give you no views or when the tops are covered in snow and you don't have ice axe and crampons to hand.
A short and fairly easy, circular walk up the ever popular Cat Bells. Starting from parking on the roadside just outside the village of Grange, this walk ascends Cat Bells from the South and descends north to join paths through the parkland and woods above and beside Derwent Water.
A short Lake District ridge walk that includes two Wainwrights. Surrounded by higher fells, the ridge between Ard Crags and Knott Rigg offers some wonderful Lakeland scenery.
A linear Lake District walk that follows the shore of Derwentwater south from Keswick to Lodore landing stage. The return to Keswick uses the seasonal launces on Derwentwater.
A circular walk starting from Whinlatter Forest Visitor Centre ascending via forest trails to Seat Howe which offers good views over Keswick and Derwent Water before descending via well defined forest trails back to start.
The YHA is a great institution and I guess most fell walkers have stayed at a hostel at some time in their lives. They were created "to help all, especially young people of limited means, to a greater knowledge, love and care of the countryside, particularly by providing hostels or other simple accommodation for them on their travels". Here's a collection of routes starting or finishing at a YHA in The Lakes. Along the way are 9 Wainwrights, 2 tarns, and 1 pub.
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The GPS track and description are the property of the author.