Remember: Press F11 for a full screen view of this page.

" Ashness and Barrow Cascades "


Date & start time: Saturday  25th October 2014, 11.45 am start.

Location of Start : Great Wood, Derwent Water, Cumbria, Uk ( NY 143 211 )

Places visited : Cat Gill, Walla Crag, Ashness Bridge, Barrow House Hostel and back

Walk details :  4.1 mls, 1170 feet of ascent, 3 hour 50 mins including refreshments.

Highest point : Walla Crag 1,243ft  - 379m.

Walked with : Jo, Ann and the dogs, Amber, Harry and Dylan.

Weather : Wet and windy but clearing with occasional sunny periods.


Click here or on the map for bigger version.

© Crown copyright. All rights reserved. License number PU 100034184.


A forecast for strong winds and heavy rain meant the high fells were no place to be. 

Consequently we met up with Jo at the Great Wood car park near Keswick and headed up Cat Gill,

aiming for Walla Crag, Ashness Bridge, then who knows where . . . ?

Welcome to Great Wood . . . well we know we're in the right place to meet Jo !

The National Trust have added a few nice signs since we were here last.

The plan was to walk up Cat Gill to Walla Crag and assess the situation.

The start of the walk therefore was through the woodland which has taken on a wonderful autumnal hue.

Cat Gill Falls, part of the lower cascades in the ravine.
The bridge to Falcon Crag and the low level path to Ashness.

Lovely colours, particularly on the beech leaves.

As we climbed Cat Gill, Causey Pike came into view.
Higher now and signs of rain over Catbells.

A steep climb up a pitched path brought us out above the waterfalls.

Our path to Ashness Bridge, should we take it, traverses above the valley on the other side.

Over the stile and the first ones to the top were . . . Dylan and Harry.

There's a lovely dry view across Keswick, Bassenthwaite Lake and Derwent Water.

Click here or on the photo above for a Loweswatercam 360 degree annotated panorama

However, looking behind us it seems that the weather isn't going to be kind after all.

We are being surrounded . . . the rain showers are now blowing their way up the Thirlmere Valley.

Wrapped up for the rain, fortunately it turned out top be far less than expected but we pass on Bleaberry Fell as there was still a strong breeze.

We headed out instead on our Plan B route to Ashness Bridge.

Looking back, the sunshine mixed with the showers has produced the faintest of rainbows.

You can just see it still on Ann's pictures of Harry as we walked the high level track above Falcon Crag.

Trying to catch that elusive rainbow now the sun is brighter . . . I'll take a picture of the islands instead.

A photo of the headlands and islands lined up together . . .
. . . then another within a minute or so as the sun came out !

Walla Crag in the sunshine . . . our route earlier climbed up alongside the wall.

Below, the Keswick Launch plies its trade . . .
. . . and a second leaves Lodore heading in the opposite direction.

Below us is the lovely old building known originally Barrow Cascades House, now Barrow House.

Owned in recent times by the YHA,Derwent Water Hostel is now privately owned but still run as a youth hostel . . . and still open to visitors. 

It has, reception, lounges, all the usual facilities and eleven big bedrooms (88 beds) ideal for individuals or larger groups.

We've never been there . . . but unexpectedly that was about to change.

Still I digress . . . the view down a little later on was of a very famous bridge and river crossing.

No . . . not the Chinese Bridge at the head of Derwent Water . . . think of another one.

Perhaps this closer view might give you a clue.

Our path dropped down to the iconic Ashness Bridge.

It is a classic stone pack-horse bridge with low walls across the top, which allowed heavily laden horses

carrying oversized pannier bags to cross over without their bags snagging on the stonework . . . hence a pack-horse bridge.

Over the years pictures of this bridge have adorned "chocolate boxes" and "Lakeland Biscuit" tins across the land.

Are you getting a craving for a bite of chocolate . . . or perhaps a shortbread biscuit or two ?

Above the bridge an old barn or cottage, used for many years as a bothy for a climbing club.

Little is known of the "Bark House Mountain Base 1964". A slate plaque adorns the end wall but there's no signs of recent activity.

[ I understand it now belongs to the National Trust and may open at some point as a visitor centre and ice cream shop (unconfirmed).]

A slightly different view of the bridge . . . dodging between the small group of other photographers above and below the bridge

all trying to get that perfect shot with no people in view.  I probably spoilt a couple of shots as I tried to get mine !


The Mountain Goat tour bus has just arrives and disgorged a dozen or two visitors, all keen to visit the landmark bridge.

You can just hear the tripods being packed away . . .

or is that the sound of thermos flasks being opened, to pass the time till the bridge is photographically quiet once more ?

We thought about walking back under Falcon Crag . . . but then a change of plan found us strolling down the road,

in order to complete our walk back to Great Wood via the lakeside.    On the way down a sign caught our eye !

Never one to miss out on a nice cup of tea, we diverted through the gate and braved the "slippery path with no handrail"

(nothing new there then) and set off down through the woods.  We did find something new however . . . a waterfall.

An artificial weir created a lovely water shoot and cascade.

A new pipe set off sideways from the new spout

which turned out to be the water supply for a water turbine.


Click here or on the photo above for a Loweswatercam

large-print version . . . to save you getting the magnifying glass out !

This is the Ashness Bridge stream we saw earlier, which now cascades down the fell side in dramatic fashion.

Two new waterfalls for us, the upper . . .
. . . and lower Barrow Cascades.

Jo and I add scale to the waterfalls . . . they were very impressive.

As were the autumnal colours on the beech trees . . .
. . . and the wicker sculptures of forest animals.

Onward and downward . . . to the back of the old house.

We called in to reception and spoke to the manager Cathy . . . who duly obliged with tea and cakes for three.

Thanking her for the offer of chairs inside, we decided to brave the cool weather and make use of the picnic tables,

much less complicated with damp dogs and also no carpet to spill crumbs on.

If you're passing we can heartily recommend tea and a slice of cake from Barrow House

As planned we walked down to the lake.
Mallard duck on Derwent Water.

The "new" supporting wall for the Borrowdale Road is now complete.

It is a very impressive structure that should blend in well though that top fence is a bit over-the-top in terms of scale.

Estimate its height from the people below.   Click here to see the road works last March (pictures toward the end of the report).

Down on the Ashness Gate landing stage . . . with sunshine on the distant slopes of Skiddaw.

With the recent rain . . . the tide is high and the end of the boat landing is nearly under water.

No problem with shallow water at any of the landing stages around the lake today, I imagine.

Full of hope we set off along the lakeside path.

With the high water the path seems non-existent at times . . .

With the water filling the spot between the rock and the hard place, it was time to climb up the bank.

A more elevated view of the next launch as it passes.

Onward and upward to the road.

The home straight . . . presumably had the lake been lower we could have walked next to the water's edge all the way.

Time to turn into the car park . . . .
. . . Oh dear . . . but then we're walking aren't we !

Back to the main car park in Great Wood at the end of the day.

What more can we say . . .

- - - o o o - - -


Hi Roger, Hi Ann,

It's been a while, hope you are both well + Harry & Dylan,

As a kid I used to go to Watendlath with Dad, he was with the MMB at the time and used to visit many Dairy farms around Cumberland. When possible I'd go with him to "work".

Often met an old chap on the road up to Ashness bridge,never knew his name, always surrounded by chaffinches, robins, tits etc that fed from his hand even with strangers around. Takes some doing to get that kind of trust from birds, with strangers.

Last couple of days I've been sorting boxes and cases of family stuff that's not been touched for years. What should turn up but a photo postcard of the old guy called Vivian Fisher! I'm sure he'll have no
connection with George Fisher but he does get mention in Wainwrights.

So I thought I'd post it to you for your Lake District scrapbook, he was a Star!

All Best Both and keep those photo walks coming!

Paul & Suzi

I've found out more from the Wainwright Society and Westmorland Gazette

Your postcard dates from the mid 1950's.  Thanks Paul . . . RmH.


A search of the Wainwright Forum found this ...

Vivian Fisher's gate (aka Low Strutta Gate) is marked on the map on High Seat (page 3). It refers to a gate across the road which led up to Ashness Bridge. Wainwright told the complete story of Vivian Fisher in his last book 'Wainwright in the Valleys of Lakeland,' on page 202. In case you do not have a copy of the book I have reproduced the story here.

'Older readers may remember the benign figure of Vivian Fisher who presided at the first gate across the road above the junction for many years after the war. Rosy cheeked, happy and smiling, he had a friendly greeting for all who came along as he opened the gate for them to pass through in anticipation of a reward, and with true business sense closed it immediately after them although others were approaching. He had a ready conversation and would recite poems or sing songs if requested, and sometimes if not. He was a man attuned to nature, sharing his sandwiches with the many chaffinches who hovered around him and never failing to extol the beauties of Lakeland. Yet I was to discover from Keswick folk that he had a dual personality: off duty he was surly, unsmiling and unfriendly, and on a few occasions when I passed him in the streets of the town he was grim faced and scowling with no hint of recognition although I was one of his regular customers. He was a rare character and the Ashness gate always seems forlorn after his death.'

Hi Roger,and Ann,

There used to be a toll gate prior to Ashness Bridge and Vivian used to man it.  He always had birds around and used to teach us the old Cumberland Dialect.   He was a very broad speaker and wrote poetry. I don't know if my memory serves me correctly but I think the toll was 1 penny for cars and a half penny for walkers. 

By gum they where the days.      Steve, from Dawlish

- - - o o o - - -


Technical note: Pictures taken with either Ann's Canon Sureshot SX220, or my Nikon P520 digital camera.

Resized in Photoshop, and built up on a Dreamweaver web builder.

This site best viewed with . . . a new place found for a great cup of tea.

Go to Top . . . © RmH . . . Email me here

Previous walk - 6th October 2014 - Low Fell Backwards with Finlay

Previous photos - 13th - 18th October 2014 - Our Beadnell Holiday

A previous time up here - 8th January 2010 Snowy Walla Crag for sunset

Next walk - 6th November 2014 - Three Days in a Week