GLW1711 : Where's Walla?

Thursday 2nd November 2017

A beautiful day and a surprise mid-week opportunity for us to travel north to the Keswick area.  Mind you, we nearly didn't get there.  The traffic queue started at Windermere and crawled its way north.  We contemplated several options to turn off and tackle something different but decided to stay on route as far as Ambleside. It transpired that is where the problem was- at Waterhead.  I am not sure what was happening but three-way traffic lights were installed around some sort of road works.  Had they waited, we wondered, until after the schools had gone back from half-term?  If so, they got their information wrong.  Cumbria has gone back.  Lancashire hasn't.  There are still lots of folk with children on holiday.

Fortunately, from Waterhead onwards it was a clear drive past Rydal Water, Grasmere, Thirlmere, down the hill to Keswick (Bassenthwaite shimmering in the distance) then alongside Derwent Water to reach the Walla Crag Car park.

I had the National Trust's description of the walk but it flummoxed us from the outset.  "Take the small path that passes the picnic table out of the top-left corner of the parking area."  The trouble was that the only picnic table to be seen was at the top-right corner of the parking area and a path did pass it.  However, we followed our instincts and ignored the picnic table.  We were now on the correct path.  It was a bit frustrating climbing through the woods as it was shaded and therefore cold yet through the trees we could glimpse glorious sunlit fells.

Eventually we came out of the woods and into, well- a coffee stop!  Now we had a superb view over Keswick to Skiddaw, marred only by a mobile phone mast.  It was here that we made a new friend.  

A sprightly looking man with his arm in a sling came by and we got chatting. He led us on the best way to Walla Crag to avoid an unnecessary up and down.  

His injuries had been rather more extensive than they looked. He had been an alpinist.  In the late 1980s he had climbed the Matterhorn from the Swiss side and four days later was due to climb it again, this time from the Italian side.  

Unfortunately, before the second ascent, he was involved in an accident which left him severely injured.  

He was still suffering.  Today was his first time out after an operation three weeks ago.  He has another to undergo before long.  It didn't seem to have dampened his enthusiasm for getting out on the fells.

Good luck to you, Len.  It was a pleasure to meet you.

Walla Crag is probably as good a view point as you will find in the Lake District.  I will let the pictures do the talking, except to say that they won't talk as loudly as they should have done as the battery ran out in my camera so these had to be taken on my phone.

The view was nearly as good from Falcon Crag, the only problem was that photographing the Jaws of Borrowdale meant shooting directly into the sun so the results were not wonderful.

Yes, it has been modified somewhat to bring out the detail!

Our descent was to the south, down to Ashness Bridge.  In contrast to Walla Crag this, the second most photographed bridge in England, was rather a disappointment.  It is a nice, small, stone structure over a pleasantly tumbling stream but so are many in the Lake District.  The view, Skiddaw in sunshine, was nowhere near as good as from Walla Crag and it seemed to be far less impressive than what I remember from my youth or on the Keswick pencil boxes.  I think the problem may be that the trees have grown and restricted the outlook somewhat. To be fair, it was in the shade but the experience was underwhelming.

The return to the car was along a pleasant undulating traverse offering fine views and a few slightly tricky sections.  The return home was back along England's most scenic A road, this time without any serious hold-ups.

Don, Thursday 2nd November 2017


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