Little Gems – Latrigg

Keswick, Derwent Water and Borrowdale from Latrigg

Latrigg is the Little Gem of Little Gems, an easy to ascend, grassy and gentle fell with views of such beauty that they are almost obscene in the reward they give for such little effort.
Latrigg is the cub of Skiddaw, a low, sprawling, rounded fell overlooking Keswick, a Sunday afternoon fell par excellence, free from risk or difficulty, and blessed with a car park at 1,200 feet that usually serves as a massive leg-up on the Tourist Route to Skiddaw itself, but which turns Latrigg into a veritable pussycat.
Leave Keswick on the main road north through the Village, but turn right at a mini-roundabout, following signposts for Carlisle. Go straight across the A66 at a major roundabout, and immediately turn right onto a side road signposted Underskiddaw and Latrigg. Follow this for a mile, before turning sharply back right, onto a narrow fell road leading uphill at a steep angle.
This is a route for cars with good suspension, although it may have been upgraded since I last passed this way (it needed it!). The road is narrow, and steep, uphill through trees, juddering and shaking and trying to avoid the worst of the potholes. It emerges from the woods into a narrow valley between the adjoining swells of Skiddaw and Latrigg.
The car park is at the head of the road, with room for about 15-20 cars, depending on the courtesy or selfishness with which they have been parked. If there is no room, turn round carefully and start back to find an off-road place where you can leave your car without blocking anyone’s passage.
There are two routes from here. The simplest and most direct is from the further end of the car park: leave via the gate, skirt some reedy and slightly soft ground in the bed of the depression, and bear towards the broad green path rising above the immediate skyline.
This route of approach has nothing to recommend it from a walking point of view. It is enclosed between two grassy convex slopes, and feels a touch claustrophobic as a consequence. There is nothing of interest on the way and the walk is nothing but a monotonous trudge, but the great appeal of this approach is that the stunning and expansive view from Latrigg’s miniature crest comes in the last couple of steps, as an enormous revelation, sudden and enthralling.
A much better walking alternative, longer but infinitely more entertaining, does show its hands over the view from a relatively early stage. At the bottom end of the car park, on the right as you arrive, a gate gives access to a broad path heading downhill and curving away quickly out of sight around the corner of Latrigg.
The path gently descends and it would be easy to develop a fast walking pace, but instead keep an eye open for a grassy ride descending from the left to join the path. Turn back upon yourself, gaining height in a series of gentle zig-zags on the side of Mallin Dodd, until the path levels out, turning south and contouring around the broad swell of the fell. Bassenthwaite Lake, below and behind, is already in view, and the vista is opening up towards the Newlands Valley, and as you progress, further east towards Derwent Water as well.
This high level terrace curves into and out of a sweep of land before rising to a small platform about 100′ below the, now-visible, crest of the fell. A park bench has been placed here, in the perfect position on the corner of the fell, where the view towards the lake and Borrowdale first opens out. It only accommodates two people, or three if they’re friendly, and most walkers, knowing how close they are to the summit, will not feel the urge to stop, but this route is for the leisurely at heart.
When ready, follow the path up the surprisingly steep edge to the crest for the fullest effect of the view.
After this, the direct route is a simple, easy, downhill march, back to the car.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.