YHA hopping in The Lake District - YHA Patterdale to YHA Keswick

The YHA is a great institution and I guess most fell walkers have stayed at a hostel at some time in their lives. Funny how 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 8 Wainwrights, 2 lakes, 1 tarn and 1 pub

Technical sheet
No. 2965724
A Patterdale walk posted on 08/02/20 by El Sud. Update : 20/05/22
Calculated time Calculated time: 12h40[?]
Distance Distance : 30.28km
Vertical gain Vertical gain : 1408m
Vertical drop Vertical drop : 1471m
Highest point Highest point : 938m
Lowest point Lowest point : 87m
Difficult Difficulty : Difficult
Back to starting point Back to starting point : No
Walking Walking
Area Area : Lake District
Location Location : Patterdale
Starting point Starting point : N 54.532831° / W 2.930855°
Ending point Ending point : N 54.601973° / W 3.135022°
Download : -


(D) Leave YHA Patterdale, turning right along the main A592 road. Just past the bridge on the right that goes up to Rooking, there is a small post indicating the route to the left. However, a little further on, past a car park, there is another lane that meets the route further up. Alternatively, if you want to have a look at Patterdale and maybe pop into the Patterdale Village Store & Post Office, carry on until you get to the Patterdale Hotel and there is a clearly marked path around the back of the building. This option also takes you up to the main path towards Oxford Crag. At the point where these paths meet, take the south-westerly option that gently climbs towards Hag Beck. Ignore the path that leads down to the right to Home Farm, cross the beck and follow the path around the edge of the dry-stone wall and through the forest. Cross the style over another wall and shortly after, cross another style to head down to Grisedale Beck and the end of the tarmacked road. Turn right then left to cross the beck and head up on the other side to a corner of the wall to cross the style. Bear left, heading upwards almost due west. The climb is steady but not difficult and before too long you should reach Hole-in-the-wall.

(1) Ignore the path that descends to Red Tarn but keep climbing along Bleaberry Crag, passing Low Spying How and reaching High Spying How. This is the beginning of Striding Edge and time should be taken to assess whether to walk the top or play safe and use the path at the side. Once on the edge, have confidence and the good sense to use hands, knees and bottom to ensure a secure passage and safe arrival at the other end. Even if the weather is unpleasant, don't rush this section and enjoy the thrill of ridge walking. To reach the summit, there is something of a scramble up the rock face. Look out for shiny stones as that will be where others have trodden but avoid slippery surfaces. After passing a cairn and shelter you should reach the trig point that marks the summit of Helvellyn (Wainwright at 950m).

(2) From the top of Helvellyn, head north-west along the edge of Water Crag, bearing right (due north) to pass a couple of cairns. The path leads down a gully to a Pile of Stones, then bears left slightly to reach the cairn on the top of White Side (Wainwright at 863m). From here, head down north-east and up the other side to touch the cairn on Raise (Wainwright at 883m).

(3) The route now heads off north-west, descending to a cairn at Sticks Pass. Carry straight on (ignoring paths coming up both east and west) to reach the cairn on Stybarrow Dodd (Wainwright at 844m). Leaving the cairn, head north-west, pick up the path that crosses the saddle before climbing up to the cairn on Watson's Dodd (Wainwright at 789m). This time, head over to the saddle in a northeasterly direction to find the shelter and cairn at the top of Great Dodd (Wainwright at 857m). The route goes down in a westerly direction and then swings to the right to head north-west to reach the top of Calfhow Pike. Head north for the saddle and then climb up to the trig-point at Clough Head (Wainwright at 726m).

(4) The descent from Clough Head is simple at first, heading south-west until you meet a path coming from Calfhow Pike to the south. At this point, turn right and gradually make your way down Red Screes in a northeasterly diagonal line. Once at the bottom of the screes. bear left to Wanthwaite Bank and take the direct path down to the disused quarries at Hilltop. Follow the wall round to the north of the quarries and then west to pick up the track that goes down to Hill Top Farm. Make your way over the footbridges to the B5322 road that weaves through St. John's in the Vale. At the road, turn left then right at a Public Footpath sign through a metal gate and along a well defined track. This will take you past Howgate and over a footbridge that crosses St. John's Beck. Keep heading westerly past Bridge House and onto the local road that leads to St. John's Church.

(5) From St. John's Church, the route goes south up to High Rigg (Wainwright at 357m). The descent is a bit further west, joining the track near a memorial stone. Turn left and go along the track to head for a small wood next to Sykes Farm. Go straight through the wood and over footbridges to bear right up to a small gate that gives access to the main A591 road. Turn right here and then almost immediately right again along a path towards High Nest Farm (signed B&B). Bear left before reaching the farm. At the fork in the road bear right going past High Nest Farm to visit the Castlerigg Stone Circle. head north over Low Rigg to pass Tewet Tarn and some disused quarries. Go through a five-barred gate at the road, turn left and after a couple of bends you should arrive at a junction. Turn left again and bear left (sign-posted Castlerigg Stone Circle) to cross over Naddle Bridge, shortly after which there is a Public Footpath sign to the left. The path leads over fields to Goosewell Farm where you rejoin the road. Turn left and meet the path coming up from High Nest. After visiting the Castlerigg Stone Circle, take the path back to High Nest (better than Castle Lane) then bear right at the fork to gain the A591 at Nest Brow.

(6) Turn right at the road then left opposite Castle Lane. Go through the kissing gate past the oak tree and over the fields to Castlerigg Farm camping and caravan site. At the road, turn left, then almost immediately right over a footbridge that crosses Brockle Beck. Follow the beck down through the woods, past the Lake District Emporium & Annie's Pantry, then go along Springs Road crossing over the beck as the road enters a housing estate leading, eventually, to Ambleside Road with a Give Way sign. Turn left along this road going through part of Keswick, passing St. John's Church as the road becomes St. John's Street. Follow this street past the school and into the shopping area. At The Royal Oak Pub, swing right following the main flow of traffic as it becomes Station Street and at the junction go straight across to Station Road. Just before the bridge over the River Greta, look for the YHA sign indicating the steps down to YHA Keswick.(A)

Waypoints :
D : km 0 - alt. 156m - YHA Patterdale
1 : km 5.04 - alt. 697m - Hole in the wall
2 : km 7.11 - alt. 938m - Helvellyn
3 : km 9.85 - alt. 871m - Raise
4 : km 16.51 - alt. 719m - Clough Head
5 : km 20.92 - alt. 222m - St. John's Church
6 : km 26.93 - alt. 209m - A591 Nest Brow
A : km 30.28 - alt. 88m - YHA Keswick

Useful Information

Always check the weather before setting off in the morning and have alternative plans if the mist comes down. Take gloves and warm hats to make life more comfortable on the high fells. There should be streams and springs along the way to refill your bottle. Make sure you have sturdy boots that protect the ankles as the descent on Red Screes requires adequate footwear.

Visorando and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.

During the walk or to do/see around

This is a long route but should be enjoyed all the same. Not a route to be tackled when the days are short or the weather is bad. If it's summer and the visability is good, don't rush it, there is time enough and there are some fantastic views to be appreciated. Look around and take in the beauty that is The Lake District. Take care of yourself and look out for wildlife along the way. Just enjoy the journey and make the most of the moment.

Other walks in the area

Organisation / Walking Club / Mountain guide
distance 16.68km Vertical gain +892m Vertical drop -957m Durée 7h20 Difficult Difficult
Starting point Starting point in Patterdale - Cumbria

Here's a collection of routes starting or finishing at a YHA in The Lakes. Along the way are 3 Wainwrights, 1 tarn and 1 pub

Lanty's Tarn
distance 5.62km Vertical gain +174m Vertical drop -168m Durée 2h05 Moderate Moderate
Starting point Starting point in Patterdale - Cumbria

This is a short, low level walk that can fill a couple of hours. Good if you are short on time or if it has been raining most of the day and has cleared up in the late afternoon. Nice views over the lake and interesting scenery.

distance 14.41km Vertical gain +702m Vertical drop -702m Durée 6h05 Moderate Moderate
Starting point Starting point in Patterdale - Cumbria

This is a companion route to Birks, St. Sunday, Cofa Pike, Fairfield, Hart Crag & return via Dovedale as it offers a safe way off the mountain should you need a plan B or if you want a walk with less ascent. It is still a great walk in its own right and the descent of Grisedale is a nice contrast to the ascent of St Sunday Crag.

Angletarn Pikes, The Knott, High Street and Threshwaite Cove; Circular
distance 18.15km Vertical gain +811m Vertical drop -811m Durée 7h30 Moderate Moderate
Starting point Starting point in Patterdale - Cumbria

A circular walk from Patterdale which ascends gradually to take in the great views from Angletarn Pikes and The Knott before passing over the Straits of Riggingdale to High Street and The Beacon at Thornwaite Crag. It then descends Threshwaite Cove to Hartsop and a return to Patterdale.

Birks, St. Sunday, Cofa Pike, Fairfield, Hart Crag & return via Dovedale.
distance 16.32km Vertical gain +925m Vertical drop -917m Durée 7h20 Moderate Moderate
Starting point Starting point in Patterdale - Cumbria

This is a great circular walk, taking in some of the higher tops and with a descent via the tranquil and less frequented Dovedale.

distance 17.79km Vertical gain +931m Vertical drop -926m Durée 7h45 Difficult Difficult
Starting point Starting point in Patterdale - Cumbria

A Lake District walk starting from Patterdale that includes Place Fell, Howtown, and Beda Fell in a circuit of Boredale. The scenic content of this route is excellent with Ullswater providing a contrast to the rugged fells all around you.

distance 14.87km Vertical gain +912m Vertical drop -910m Durée 6h50 Difficult Difficult
Starting point Starting point in Patterdale - Cumbria

A good climb up to Fairfield for all round views and a stretch for the legs

distance 7.48km Vertical gain +522m Vertical drop -520m Durée 3h40 Difficult Difficult
Starting point Starting point in Patterdale - Cumbria

This Lakeland walk includes two Wainwrights and although the distance walked is relatively short there is a steady steep climb up to the col between Glenridding Dodd and Sheffield Pike. The views are excellent throughout and route finding is generally good with clear paths for most of the route. Choose a fine day to enjoy the views across Ullswater and to the Helvellyn ridge.

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The GPS track and description are the property of the author.