Walla Crag to High Seat from Nest Brow

3rd February 2024

Despite the winter storms, January has been a productive month in terms of fell walking when I look back to January 2023, when I only managed to walk once in Lakeland, the rest locally, mostly over Winter Hill. The wind still continues to dominate the highest peaks, with gusts reaching 50mph and pushing the windchill well into double figures. After six weeks apart, the trio is finally back together again, and by Wednesday last week, we were swapping emails on where to walk.

I threw in two suggestions: Cat Bells or Walla Crag, two summits that would keep us out of the high winds but still maintain medium-level height. Rod had walked Cat Bells at the beginning of January and came back with this route, or one very similar, as we changed it to include a quick visit to the Bob Graham Memorial Cairn just down from Ashness Bridge.

The original route climbed Bleaberry Fell after visiting Walla Crag, but with a strong westerly wind forecast, we headed for Ashness Bridge first, meaning we'd have the wind on our backs for the return leg as we crossed the sodden ground between High Seat and Bleaberry Fell.

Wainwright Guide Book Three
The Central Fells
Bleaberry Fell terminates the central ridge to the north in much like the same manner as Clough Head and Loadpot Hill terminates the parallel Helvellyn and High Street ridges on the eastern side of the district.

Ascent: 2,258 Feet - 688 Metres
Wainwrights: 3, Walla Crag - High Seat - Bleaberry Fell
Visiting: Dodd
Weather: A Bright Start Turning Overcast Brightness Returning By Midday, Windy Where Exposed. Highs of 8°C Lows of 8°C Feels Like -7°C
Parking: Nest Brow, A591 Keswick
Area: Central
Miles: 8.1
Walking With: David Hall & Rod Hepplewhite
Ordnance Survey: OL4
Time Taken: 5 Hours
Route: Nest Brow - Rake Foot - Walla Crag - Top of Cat Gill - Traverse Below Brown Knotts - Ashness Bridge - High Strutta - Ashness Gill - Dodd - High Seat - Threefooted Brandreth - Bleaberry Fell - Low Moss - Walla Crag - Rake Foot - Nest Brow

Parking Details and Map
Nearest Post Code: CA12 4TE
Grid Reference: NY 287 227


Map and Photo Gallery


Blencathra from Rakefoot 8°C 8:40am

I'd driven through fog and rain only to arrive at Nest Brow west of Keswick under the clearest of skies, albeit another windy morning. David was already there when I arrived, as I span my car around just so I was facing the right way later. It was great to see David after the time apart, and we began catching up instantly, mostly me explaining why I've had to buy another pair of boots after I sent my Meindl's off for repairs through the shop I'd purchased them from, who, in their infinite wisdom, thought it would be ok to ship my boots to Meindl in Germany whose repair times are back-logged until the end of March, had I been informed, I would have had them repaired locally.

Rod arrived next sporting a new Montane softshell jacket that he'd scored in the January sales, and soon the conversation turned to the wind, or lack of it, as it was quite calm at the top of Nest Brow, so we decided to 'test' the wind from today's first summit of Walla Crag, from where we'd make the decision on which direction the walk would take. With the cars locked, we crossed a deserted A591 and passed through the wooden style towards Rakefoot Farm. Despite the lack of rain, it was extremely muddy underfoot, and soon I'd christenend my new Scarpa's in Lakelands finest mud. The good news was that the sun was just about to breach the Clough Head to Helvellyn ridge to the south.

Sunrise over the top of Sticks Pass.
With the profiles of Great Dodd, Stybarrow Dodd, Raise, White Side, Helvellyn and Nethermost Pike.

A host of North Western fells including Cat Bells and Grisedale Pike from Rakefoot.
We hadn't been walking long at all when Rakefoot was reached by which time we didn't have to wait until Walla Crag was reached to decide how strong the wind was which was already causing noses to run and eyes to stream.

Walla Crag from Rakefoot Farm.
We flanked Rakefoot Farm to our left and Castlerigg Farm and campsite to our right where we were suprised to find quite a few tents pitched along with the usual motorhomes.

Derwent Water, Cat Bells and the Grasmoor fells beyond from Walla Crag summit.
With Rakefoot Farm behind us, we joined the farm lane then crossed Brockle Beck via the familiar footbridge before the steep but short haul onto Walla Crag. To mix things up a little, we broke off left and ascended via the less steeper path, opting to descend the path alongside the stone wall later on our return. As you can see by the surface of Derwent Water, it was blowing a gale up here, where we confirmed we'd be heading for Ashness Bridge first via the high traverse path.

Derwent Water and Bassenthwaite Lake from the top of Cat Gill.
Possibly one of Lakeland's best views.

Across Derwent Water...
...Cat Bells, Maiden Moor and Robinson dappled in sunlight with Causey Pike, Crag Fell (Eel Crag) Ard Crags, Knott Rigg, Grasmoor, Hopegill Head, Grisedale Pike, Outerside and finally Barrow over on the right.

Cloud builds as we look south beyond Borrowdale.

Derwent Water dominates the view.
Seen here as we begin our descent towards Ashness Bridge.

The Bob Graham Memorial Cairn, Ashness Bridge.

In Memory of Robert Graham 1889 - 1966 of Keswick Who On The 13th - 14th June 1932 Traversed 42 Lakeland Peaks Within 24 Hours. A Record That Stood For 28 Years

Skiddaw from Ashness Bridge.
After visiting the Bob Graham Cairn, we backtracked uphill towards Ashness Bridge, by which time it had clouded over and with it came a drop in temperature.

Derwent Water from the ascent of Dodd.
The good news was we weren't left feeling cold for long after ascending the very steep Dodd with Ashness Gill seen over on the right.

Woo-hoo the sun's back out.
The steepness of the fellside meant we stopped a couple of times to get our breath back or as we like to call them, putting the world to rights breaks.

Skiddaw and Blencathra from Dodd.
I'm not gonna lie, that was one steep ascent!

We look back over the heather coated fellside towards Dodd.
The last time I walked this path was in the summer of 2018 during a dry spell. Back then, I didn't remember having to dodge a very unpleasant water-filled sink hole that was deep enough to swallow Rod's walking pole!

High Seat summit Trig Point.
Aside the sink-hole the path between Dodd and High Seat was relatively pleasant with only the odd bog to divert around.

Next, Bleaberry Fell.
Where there was no getting away from the bogs, on the plus side it looks like it's starting to brighten up again.

Lunch with a view.
We agreed it was as wet as to be expected but as David mentioned, we could have gotten away without wearing our gaiters which David removed as we sat in Bleaberry Fell's summit shelter while tucking into lunch.

Views beyond Dodd Crag and Pike towards Blencathra, High Rigg, Threlkeld Knotts and Clough Head.
We were joined by no less than about thirty girls who had ascended in small groups and we decided it was only gentlemen of us to let them have the shelter so we packed up and began our descent.

The North Western fells from the descent of Bleaberry Fell.
With lunch packed up we began our descent into a howling bitter wind the sunshine only just managing to take the edge off.

What a view.

Skiddaw beyond Walla Crag.
Skiddaw had been in cloud all day and with winds reaching around 35mph on High Seat and Bleaberry Fell we wondered how high the winds were at Skiddaw's summit, I would imagine very uncomfortable!

Blencathra beyond Rakefoot.

The large group of girls also began their descent, and although they were probably half a mile behind us, their voices carried over the top of the wind. The further we descended, the calmer it became, and for once we could feel the heat from the midday sunshine, more so as we passed the familiar sheepfold at Low Moss. The path continued to descend, where we passed couples and fell runners in ascent, peering over to Walla Crag's summit, which by now was busy with walkers and visitors leaving just standing room only.

We flanked the summit and began our descent via the stone wall, and instead of crossing the footbridge, we waded through Brockle Beck, where we swilled our boots, knowing it was futile as the fields surrounding Rakefoot were just as muddy. That said, the sun stayed out for the duration of the walk, illuminating the Helvellyn ridge from north to south in winter sunshine, while further north, Blencathra looked like a scene from a Lord of the Rings movie.


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