After the energetic hiking over the central fells the day before, we opted for a gentle walk to the Castlerigg Stone Circle via the old railway line that once connected Keswick to Penrith.
The starting point for the day was the old Keswick train station situated behind the swimming pool. The tracks have now been replaced with freshly laid tarmac, making it ideal for cyclists and easy walking.
The path leads to Threlkeld following the River Greta, using the old Victorian bridges; the last remanence of the railway line. (Up until 2015) Just going to Threlkeld and back is a pleasant walk, however we will be leaving this path to head to Castlerigg.
We managed to get 750 metres down the path when we passed the Twa Dogs Inn. Still having the gorgeous weather we thought it would be rude not to have a cheeky drink.
We grabbed a table to the front of the pub and watched the world go by along the main road leading into Keswick.
We returned to the track and continued our journey. I last walked this route in 2014, however the following year, the old bridges were destroyed during Storm Desmond, making the route inaccessible.
Cockermouth was one of the most devastated villages in the area due to the severe flooding that followed in the wake of the storm. Keswick didn’t escape unscathed, most notably along the River Greta.
The whole route had to be rebuilt to reconnect Keswick back to Threlkeld; it was reopened in 2020 at the cost of £8 million. The path used to go under the flyover that was created so the A66 would bypass the town.
In the building of the flyover, the Bobbin Mill Tunnel was filled in and buried to ensure the foundations were solid enough to support the this engineering feat. This was excavated as part of the reconstruction, now forming a feature on the route.
The cool air inside was a welcome relief from the now hot midday sun. You could still see the soot stains on the roof of the old brickwork from countless of steam trains that once travelled this line.
Emerging on the otherside you are presented with lofty views of the river where you are able to see the entrance to a disused Victorian graphite mine. Graphite was mined here primarily for military moulds, but also pencils; hence the pencil museum in Keswick.
It was nestled in the bank down stream and you had to duck down to see through the branches of the trees that overhung the banks, to spy it.
We pressed on following the river, crossing the recently rebuilt bridges that were swept away by Storm Desmond. Still six years later, you can see the evidence of the devastation caused by the flooding.
The river banks are lined with huge dead trees and the exposed earth from landslides, are a constant reminder.
We left the river briefly as we crossed farmland that also didn’t escape from Desmond. The path has been diverted to skirt round the old route.
Eventually we met the river again for the last time on this route, as we veered off the path to head towards the crossing point of the A66.
This was just after a small train stop that is now used as a resting area for weary walkers. We crossed a couple of fields in the shadow of Blencathra to reach the underpass.
After wading through the muddy and damp underpass to reach Burns lane. Turning left; views of Clough Head dominated the landscape. Continuing along the road following the signs for the climbing centre and the stone circle, the scenery changed again.
This time we had views of the Wainwrights we conquered the day before. Passing the climbing centre on our right, we came upon a glorious sight. An ice cream van! The prospect of a 99 flake was too much to pass.
After buying a round, we sat in the surrounds of the Castlerigg Stone Circle, to feast on our quickly melting treat. We were not the only visitors to the attraction; plenty of people meandered around the formations, enjoying the moment.
Now with sticky hands from the ice cream melt, we left behind the stone circle making our way back into Keswick. We rejoined the disused railway line to complete our walk where we began, at the old train station.
Being very peckish at this point, we strolled into town to find somewhere to eat. Luck was on our side as we found an empty table at the Pack Horse Inn.