Threlkeld & St John's in the Vale
Threlkeld sits in a picturesque setting below the imposing face of Blencathra. Three rocky spurs draw your eyes skywards and the mountain appears symmetrical when viewed from the southeast. The village boasts two pubs and is popular with fell walkers. The village looks down to St John's in the Vale, a pretty valley with very little development and plenty of scenic walks.
Threlkeld village nestles under Blencathra mountain (or Saddleback as it used to be called) with south-facing views to St John's in the Vale and Helvellyn (accessed via Clough Head).
There are some fantastic walks in and around Threlkeld and St John's in the Vale. Why not nip up Blencathra before breakfast? If you're feeling brave, try the Sharp Edge route that involves a scramble near the top (not for the faint hearted).
If you prefer a more leisurely walk, there is one near the church at St John's in the Vale which takes in Bridge End cafe on the way back - one of my favourites!
The mining museum at Threlkeld Quarry has some fantastic big machines, gold panning and a steam railway.
Before the A66 there was the railway. The modern A66 follows much of the route of the old railway that operated between Penrith and Cockermouth. The railway operated for over 100 years until it’s closure in 1972.
The 4 mile section between Keswick and Threlkeld has been preserved as a much loved cycle path and footpath. Several other walks link up with the railway path - Latrigg, Glenderaterra and Castlerigg Stone Circle. Along the path you can see all kinds of bird wildlife and if you are lucky, the cute little red squirrels.
Castlerigg stone circle is something of a beautiful mystery. No one quite knows why it is there, or even how it got there. What little we do know is that it was built around 3200 BC, making it older than Stonehenge and one of the earliest stone circles in not only Britain but Europe too. It has been noted that the stones are directly aligned with the autumn equinox sunrise.
The site of Castlerigg is on top of a small hill between Keswick and Threlkeld. It is visually spectacular. The 360 degree view includes Helvellyn, Skiddaw and Blencathra.
You can easily walk or cycle to Castlerigg from St John’s in the Vale or Threlkeld, both making for a very pleasant couple of hours. Try and count how many stones make up the circle. It is said to vary from 38 to 42!
High Rigg, also known as Naddle Fell, is one of those rugged mini mountains with a great view and endless opportunities for adventure.
This diminutive, craggy little fell is not very high but it stretches through St John’s in the Vale, dominating the landscape. You can climb up on to the wide ridge with very little effort and then enjoy the glorious view of the Hellvelyn range, Blencathra and Thirlmere.
Nestled into the lower slopes of High Rigg is St John’s Church with its pretty little churchyard. Make sure you visit when the snowdrops are in bloom. The church marks a divide in the fell where a track crosses the high ground. This lower section is known as Low Rigg where the rugged character gives way to grass and a permissive path allows you to walk to Tewit Tarn. The tarn is slightly elevated and has a wonderful view of Blencathra.
The Threlkeld Quarry & Mining Museum is in a dramatic setting beneath the face of Clough Head fell, directly between Threlkeld and St John's in the Vale.
Run by enthusiastic staff and volunteers, there is something for all ages to enjoy. There is a mine tour suitable for all ages, and an interesting geology and mining museum. A narrow gauge locomotive hauls passenger trains on a daily basis during the summer months and at Christmas operates the Santa Special! The train ride travels up hill past the engine sheds and vintage machinery, right into the heart of the blasted out fell side.
The museum sits in the disused micro granite quarry in an area of the Lake District where copper, iron, lead, zinc, tungsten, graphite, barites and fluorite were mined. It contains a fascinating array of artefacts, plans and photographic records of explorations of many local mines. Walkers may find particular interest in the photographs featuring well-known fells and their changing faces after years of mining activity.
Threlkeld boasts two pubs conveniently situated across the road from each other – the Sally and the Horse and Farrier. The Sally has recently been refurbished and has a warm contemporary bar with the original beams and fireplace. You can also order takeaway pizza.
Over the road is the Horse and Farrier. It is a really atmospheric pub with a slate floor and original beams, just full of character. You can get an excellent pint of Jennings here and the Sunday lunch is so good, they are often booked up weeks in advance.
After a huge investment and building project, the village hall has been gutted and renovated to provide a home to a coffee shop which is opening soon.
Over in St John’s in the Vale there is a fabulous little tea garden at Low Bridge End Farm. The tea garden is quite often self service, this only adds to the lovely quaint feel to the garden and conservatory where you can enjoy homemade cake, hot drinks and a selection of chocolate bars.
Dale Head Hall is a grand 16th century country house on the shore of Thirlmere. The hotel takes bookings from non residents and has an AA rosette for its menu.
Click here to see all our Threlkeld cottages and those in St John's in the Vale.