Head to the Mountains and Fells
It dominates your view as you drive from Penrith to Keswick along the A66 – you can see why the Victorians called it Saddleback.
Threlkeld nestles at the foot of the craggy ridges which fall steeply from the skyline. To the north of the summit grassy slopes stretch gently away.
If you have some scrambling experience Sharp Edge or Halls Fell Ridge will be the main draw – but do choose a dry day without too much wind for the rock gets notoriously slippery when wet; but for those who enjoy a fell walk with superb views there are good paths over grassy slopes to the summit too – try Scales Fell from the White Horse Inn at Scales
At 978m or 3208ft if you prefer, Scafell Pike is the highest mountain in England. Though the summit isn’t visible from Keswick one of the best routes up starts from Seathwaite Farm at the head of the Borrowdale Valley (please see below re parking).
Although only about 9 miles don’t expect an easy days walk. The way is rocky and boulder-strewn and even experienced hikers often take 8hours for the round trip. This is a hike into wild country, unforgiving if the weather turns so consult the weather forecast before you set out. In poor weather it is easy to stray onto dangerous ground and you’ll need accurate use of map and compass. If in doubt why not join an organised group or hire a guide for the day. Your rewards for the climb on a clear day are fantastic with all of the Lake District peaks spread out before you. Perhaps you’ll be able to pick out a rock climber on the cliffs of Scafell – at 964m only 14m below you as you stand atop Scafell Pike; see Keswick and Skiddaw far away to the north; try and decide which peak is Helvellyn and which Fairfield. Closer there is Great Gable in one direction and Bowfell in the other. Far away there is Morecome Bay, Isle of Man and South West Scotland.
*The roadside at Seathwaite is a really popular place to park if you plan to visit the central fells including Scafell Pike and Great Gable. Unfortunately, at busy times, this can cause access problems for people who live locally, including farmers and potentially emergency vehicles. If you turn up and find that you can’t easily park at Seathwaite without being confident a fire engine or tractor and trailer could easily pass, please consider one of these three alternatives. The National Trust, Cumbria Highways and the Lake District National Park Authority are working together to find a long term solution for those of you who like to park at Seathwaite, but it will take time.
Helvellyn is very accessible for walkers and climbers staying the Keswick area. If you want to tackle the rocky ridges of Striding and Swirral Edges it is an easy half hour drive from Keswick to Glenridding. Alternatively why not tackle it from the Thirlmere side where you can incorporate parts of the backbone of the eastern fells such as Dollywaggon Pike and Raise in addition to Helvellyn giving you superb views into the rocky eastern coves and their neighbouring sharp ridges whilst you enjoy a mainly grassy hike! A regular bus service from Keswick along the A591 makes such a traverse route quite straightforward.
The summit of Helvellyn is a wonderful vantage point with views across to the north and north western fells such as Skiddaw and Grisedale Pike which you will recognise if you are staying in Keswick; south westerly to the Scafells (perhaps with a cap of cloud even if Helvellyn is clear!) and Great Gable; south to Windermere twinkling in the sunshine as well as east across to High Street and down to Ullswater
One of Wainwright’s favourite mountains the rocky outcrops on its summit ridge provide many a quiet corner for meditation with a wonderful view and Haystacks will be remembered by many as his chosen final resting place. At just under 600m Haystacks is quite lowly compared to its lofty neighbours but provides fabulous views of these higher peaks such as Great Gable and Pillar as well as a superb vista down Buttermere.
The easiest route is from Honister Pass either descending to the Buttermere Valley via Scarth Gap or perhaps returning to Honister via Brandreth and Grey Knotts. Alternatively Haystacks can be combined with Fleetwith Pike to give an excellent circuit from Buttermere or linked with others of the Buttermere Fells for a long days hike.
During the summer Buttermere may be reached from Keswick by bus which also provides the opportunity for a linear walk