Lake District Pop Up Trip 2016

Ron Williamson’s Lake District “pop up’  Trip 2016

“Are you having a laugh”  I asked Ron Williamson when he told me about the week in a barn in the Lake District and how cheap it would be.

Well, it turns out that Ron and Ken his brother have been going to Borrowdale near Keswick for years (Ron fondly talks about when he met Beatrix Potter)  They stay in a camping barn and they know the area extremely well and are excellent guides.

The Barn is close to Castlerigg Stone Circle apparently  one of the most visually impressive prehistoric monuments in Britain, and before you ask, no we didn't take our clothes off and dance around it.  The accommodation is very comfortable with double bunks but pruning of numbers ensured that each of us had a double bunk to ourself.  Downstairs is a fully fitted kitchen and in Ken we had a fully fitted chef as well.

The weather contrary to the forecast the week previous was mainly dry and sunny with a particularly hot day when feverish farmer activity to cut, dry and bale up the hay went on to after 10pm. The next day we were hit by a servere thunder storm which cut off power and affected the mobile base station (a main cable was hit which affected 500 residences including farms but fortunately the electricity company installed a generator to our farm the following evening.  After the storm passed through so did the neighbours (see the photograph).

Evidence of a far more serious and long lasting outage, the winter flooding, was very much apparent with new wooden bridges, damaged stone bridges, a vital road and river crossing still not replaced (by vital I mean that it used to be a coffee stop but the venue can’t get supplies through to continue service) and the most graphic example; a bridge which held against the flood and debris - upstream of the bridge is completely blocked with boulders stones and tree parts with the river diverting round the blockage (see the photograph).

Every day we had a coffee/tea stop (or two), they differed in quality but the outstanding one was Lancrigg a country house associated with William Wordsworth. For obvious reasons the owners allow use of permissive footpaths to gain access to Helm Cragg which means walkers pass the door.  A stop here is recommended but do mind the step if using the toilet falling into it is very embarrassing - ask the author.

Now for the walks’ statistics of our walks for lovers of walks’ statistics

Saturday 16th July evening

Barn - Low Rigg - Stone Circle - Barn

Distance 5.0 miles

Maximum height 830 ft

Height ascended 750 ft 

Sunday 17th July 

Barn - Walla Crag - Falcon Crag - Ashness Bridge - Surprise View - Lodore Falls - Shepherds Crag Cafe - Kings How - Brund Fell - Watendlath Tarn - Watendlath valley - Lodore Falls - Shepherds Crag Cafe

Distance 12.5 miles

Maximum height 1363 ft

Height ascended 3502 ft

Monday 18th July 


Barn - High Rigg - Low Bridge End Farm - Bridge End Farm - Shoulthwaite Farm - Barn

Distance 8.5 miles

Maximum height 1163 ft

Height ascended 1760 ft


Barn - Stone Circle - Barn

Distance 2.5 miles

Height ascended 170 ft

Tuesday 19th July


Woodend Brow Car Park - Kings Wood -Hogg Park -Lothwaite Side - Sale Fell N. To S.-Lothwaite Side - C2C Cycle Way - Woodend Brow Car Park

Distance 7.5 miles

Maximum height 1170 ft

Height ascended 1852 ft


Keswick - Springs Wood - Barn

Distance 3.0 miles

Height ascended 350 ft

Wednesday 20th July

Portinscale - Lingholm - Derwent shore - Shepherds Crag Cafe - Grange - Castle Grag - Seaitoller

Distance 11.0 miles

Maximum height 985 ft

Height ascended 2121ft

Thursday 21st July

Ravenstone Hotel - Ullock Pike  - Longside  - Carlside - Skiddaw - Sale How - Skiddaw House - Glenderaterra valley - Threlkeld

Distance 10.5 miles

Maximum height 3053 ft

Height ascended 3504 ft

Friday 22nd July

Grassmere - Helm Crag (The Lion & The Lamb) - Grassmere - Coffin path to Rydal -Ambleside

Distance 8.5 miles

Maximum height 1299 ft

Height ascended 2677 ft

The sum total of our week-long effort totals 69 miles and 16,686 ft height ascended

No report of walking in the Lake District will be complete without mentioning Alfred Wainwright and the Wainwrights of which there are 214.  Ranking in terms of height we climbed 10:

Walla Crag     204

Grange Fell    199

High Rigg       209

Sale Fell         208

Ullock Pike       75

Longside          70

Carlside           66

Skiddaw            4

Castle Crag   214

Helm Crag     201

Wainwright describes 759 different routes to the fell tops.   It is far harder to complete all routes than visit all summits, as this will prevent any ridge walking such as on Thursday when 4 Wainwrights were claimed but only one route.  He could be disparaging about some routes e.g. he referred to the route from Keswick to the summit of Skiddaw as the tourists route (but referred to the route we took as excellent).  But he could be very humorous and supportive of others, he referred to Castle Cragg as unashamedly unapologetic about its lack of inches. I realised what he meant when we climbed it.

And that is our Lake District pop up story but for you dear readers (or at least one of you) it would not be complete without reference to a Wetherspoons.  We visited The Chief Justice of the Common Pleas in Keswick for fish and chips on the last night which unbelievably it was included in the weekly budget.

The pub used to be a former magistrates’ court and police station which were built in 1901–2, remaining in use until 2000, built on the site of a ‘workhouse’, founded in the will (dated 1642) of the eminent lawyer and judge Sir John Bankes. Born in 1589, he was called to the bar, elected as an MP and knighted in 1631. 

Three years later, he was appointed Attorney-General and, in 1640, became Chief Justice of the Common Pleas – one of the highest judicial officials in England – until his death, in 1644.

The conversion to a Wetherspoons public house was carried out whilst retaining the original features of the building including the court house and cells.

So after an excellent and cheap week of walking we were "called to the bar" and still having a laugh! 

Report by Keith Lane 

Walk statistics by Ron Williamson & Keith Lane

Photos by Keith Lane