This is a circular walk of 2.5 miles and takes 3 hours to complete. St John's in the Vale is also accessible from all our Keswick cottages. The walk starts at St John’s in the Vale Church where you can park (ignore the sign that says ‘unsuitable for cars’ – it is bad after the church). Walk past the Diocesan Youth Centre and immediately turn left and follow the trod up to the kissing gate.
The next section is a steep climb up grass to the top. There are two or three paths up but the one with the steps in the grass is much easier!
Don’t miss the top. The path goes on across the saddle and there is a cluster of rocks on your left. Climb up here and you will be rewarded with a wonderful panorama of all the major peaks and also Tuffet tarn nestling in a fold of the hills behind you with Blencathra looming in the background and the central massif of Skiddaw with Bassenthwaite Lake in the far distance. Turn round and you will see Thirlmere and this is the direction you are heading for with the Hellvelyn range on your left.
The path descends and turns right and it continues as a gentle stroll among undulating hummocks until you come to a marshy area. Keep well over to the right before attempting to cross it. Don’t use the first set of stones across but follow the path around to the left (keeping the wall on your left) until you descend to a ladder stile.
Once over, take the right hand path. Ahead is a beautiful view of the manmade reservoir, Thirlmere.
Climb over the next small stile and continue along the ridge among the clumps of heather towards the scars of Hellvelyn.
Below is the tranquil vale of St John’s with its traditional Lake District cottages and carpets of fields with grazing sheep and cows. There is a little bit of a tricky descent and then up again through a gap in the wall. Then follows a lovely descent through aromatic pine/fir trees with the forbidding Castle Crag loved by the Lake District's climbers in front of you.
The path twists and turns almost to the road but at the big oak tree on your left turn left and you will be on the path which will take you eventually along the river up St John’s in the Vale back to the church.
The path descends towards the river. After about 0.75 miles you will find a warm welcome at Low Bridge End farm selling homemade cakes and soft drinks, a welcome pitstop no doubt! Dogs need to be on their leads though, a handsome turkey roams freely. The path then meanders beside the stone wall with the massif of Blencathra and Threlkeld nestling below always in front of you.
A slight incline brings you up to the road leading to the church where you turn left back to your car. The church has been there’re at least since 1554 and was once part of an important route from Matterdale to Wanthwaite and conveniently placed for people both sides of the fell.
There is a good Lake District pub in Threlkeld, The Horse and Farrier, 5 minutes drive away.
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