Braithwaite to Keswick

The route to Keswick via Portinscale is well signposted. You come into the town up the main street, fol owing the traffic to the left and up to the lights at the Penrith Road. If not stopping in this delightful town, then go left down Station Street, turn right onto Brundholme Road, round in a loop and pick up the track heading east.

Sandwiched between Derwentwater, Blencathra and Skiddaw at the entrance to the mighty Borrowdale val ey, this market town is blessed with one of Britain’s most idyllic settings. It is ideal for cycling, walking, boating or just sightseeing, and is a favourite venue with cycle back-up teams; it is the most popular and best-equipped stop-off point on the route.

Keswick (‘Cese-Wic’ – the Cheese Town, literaly) became prosperous in the 17th century, during the reign of Elizabeth I, thanks to copper, lead, silver and iron mining.

There was so much work that engineers had to be imported from Germany. Despite a rocky start – at one stage, local xenophobia drove them to inhabit Derwent Island – they soon managed to integrate; evidence of this can be found in the phone book today, with its many Germanic surnames.

Keswick to Langwathby

Directions and route choices
There are two ways out of Keswick. The most popular – and by far the easier – is the one that follows the old Keswick-Penrith railway line and the river Greta as far as Threlkeld. It is a beautiful and leafy stretch. You get to it down Station Road and Brundholme Road, bearing left at the swimming pool and heading in front of the old station.

The alternative takes you up into the hills above the town, but is only for the fit.

Both routes assume the same start (unless you want to go out of Keswick along the old Penrith road).

Up hill and up dale
If you’re feeling energetic and (seriously) fit, try the Old Coach Road over the hills. It branches from the railway route, just before the track goes under the A66 viaduct, and goes up the steep slope to Castlerigg Stone Circle. Press on through St John’s in the Vale, Matterdale End and down to Greystoke via
Hutton John.
The Coach Road (what coach could possibly have tackled this?) is a seriously rough off-road alternative and very exposed. Check the weather before tackling it and don’t do it if you’re not certain of your capabilities.

There is accommodation where the route crosses the A5091 at Matterdale (see Troutbeck, and further along, just off the A66, Penruddock & Motherby) before the route rejoins the alternative at Greystoke.

The middle way

Start along the toughest route described above but after stopping to admire the Castlerigg circle, bear left down the hill and rejoin the more sedate option.

The main route

This takes you fairly effortlessly alongside the River Greta, all the way to Threlkeld.