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A circuit which include the magnificently sited Castlerigg stone circle and the little church of St John’s in the Vale. The church is a Victorian (1845) rebuild of a much earlier church. There is a restored sundial in the churchyard.
Footpaths and a minor road provide easy walking. The two ascents are both at comparatively gentle gradients. The views, of Skiddaw, Blencathra, the northern end of the Helvellyn range and the North-Western group of fells, are exceptional.
Start point: Roadside lay-by close to the stone circle. From Braithwaite head east on A66. Leave A66 at the Windermere exit. Head towards Keswick. Turn left at junction signposted to Castlerigg stone circle, a short distance before the junction with A591. Parking in 3/4 mile.
The (infrequent) no 87 bus connects Keswick and the stone circle.
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From the car parking area carry on down the lane, bearing left to Goosewell Farm. Opposite the farm turn right at a ‘public footpath’ sign through a little gate, to follow a path diagonally across a meadow to a farm gate. Keep the same line across the next field, towards Naddle Bridge. Go through a farm gate and then over a ladder stile in 60 yards and continue to another farm gate.
Join the public road. Turn right, cross Naddle Bridge and follow the very quiet minor road. Turn right at a junction. Turn right again at the next junction, signposted ‘Shundraw and St. John’s in the Vale Diocesan Youth Centre’. The road rises gently from Naddle Bridge onwards. Less than 1/4 mile after the second junction, turn right at a farm gate with a ‘public footpath’ sign. A wide track angles across a pasture, rising quite steeply. Go through a wide gateway at the top. The track soon levels as it approaches Tewitt Tarn. Aim for a stile in the wall about 60 yards to the left of the tarn.
The track continues uphill at an easy gradient to a gate/stile, passing close to the highest point of Low Rigg before descending to a waymarked stile over the wall at the bottom, giving access to a surfaced road, close to the church and the Youth Centre. Turn right, go through a kissing gate and descend steeply, the road soon losing its surface.
At the bottom, go through a kissing gate opposite, Sykes Farm is to the right. The path descends over grass and slabs of rock, just distinguishable on the ground, to a kissing age. Continue past a waymarked post. Turn right towards ‘Keswick’ then follow the track worn across the field, with a signpost standing rather isolated to the left. Follow waymarks to cross the Naddle Beck on a gated wooden bridge then go straight across the next field to another bridge. Keep right, following a ‘Keswick’ signpost. Go through a farm gate, keep close to a wall, then a fence, on the right to reach a stile, rise across the next field and go over two more stiles to join the A591 main road.
Turn right, along the verge, for 40 yards then turn right at a farm access road (‘public footpath’ sign). At a waymarked cattle grid turn left over a waymarked stile to rise a little further along a grass path, soon bearing right to join a surfaced access road beside a cattle grid. Go straight through High Nest, passing close to the house, to a farm gate. Continue along the worn track, close to the wall on the right. At a muddy section, a diversion to the left might be advantageous. The path is easy to folllow, over small gates. After the last stile aim towards the left edge of the plantation in front, where a gate gives access to a minor road. Turn left to return to the car park.