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Buttermere to Keswick

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  • Crummock Water
    Crummock Water
    Photo: Iain Grant, Macs Adventure
m 700 600 500 400 300 200 100 -100 25 20 15 10 5 km
A pleasant lakeside walk, followed by a gradual rocky scramble up to a ridge, before a long and steady descent to villages and farmland, eventually arriving in Keswick.
Distance 25.9 km
6:30 h
589 m
619 m
625 m
74 m
A short walk from Buttermere brings you to the western shore of Crummock Water which you follow to the end. Climbing up into the narrow ravine of Gasdale the landscape becomes wilder and more remote, before emerging onto a ridge with fine views of the neighbouring valley and lofty crags. A gradual descent brings you past the disused Force Crag Mine, before a leisurely meander through the villages of Braithwaite and Portinscale and into the urban environs of Keswick.

Author’s recommendation

A tranquil start along side Crummock Water offers iconic Lakeland views. Contrast this with the remote and desolate walk up Gasdale, rewarded with fine views over the Derwent Valley & Keswick beyond.
Profile picture of Iain Grant
Iain Grant
Update: August 16, 2022
Highest point
625 m
Lowest point
74 m
Best time of year

Track types

Asphalt 0.52%Dirt road 3.11%Forested/wild trail 1.34%Path 6.58%Road 1.54%Unknown 86.89%
0.1 km
Dirt road
0.8 km
Forested/wild trail
0.3 km
1.7 km
0.4 km
22.5 km
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Safety information

The path in Gasdale is narrow with lots of loose rock which could be slippery if wet. Erosion will necessitate some minor scrambling in places on the way up to the ridge. Care is also needed on the road into Braithwaite and crossing the A66 which can be busy at peak times.

Tips and hints

There are no opportunities for refreshments en-route until Braithwaite, so you will need to carry food and drink. There is a cafe in Buttermere and the pubs will offer packed lunches if ordered in advance.

Braithwaite has shops and pubs as well as a restaurant and bistro, while the larger town of Keswick has a full range of amenities available.

Points of Interest.

Crummock Water & Buttermere.

Once a large post glacial lake, but since the last Ice Age erosion from the fells above, depositing loose material below has split it into the two lakes we see today. Home to the rare Arctic Char and migratory Sea Trout and Salmon. Red Squirrels are also rare inhabitants of the area.

Force Crag Mine

 For 200 years mining has taken place here for lead, zinc and barites. The mine closed in 1990 due to shaft collapse. The National Trust are undertaking a conservation project to protect the unique collection of mining machinery.



River bridge in Buttermere. (115 m)
OS Grid
NY 17466 16950
54.541064, -3.277208
54°32'27.8"N 3°16'37.9"W
30U 482065 6043758
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Moot Hall & Tourist Information Centre, Keswick.

Turn-by-turn directions

0.00km - Standing at the bridge in front of the hotel and facing the red post box in the wall, TURN RIGHT past the bus stop and the pub. Go through the gate onto the gravel path and BEAR LEFT at the corner.

0.27km - At the next corner, TURN RIGHT through the gate signed to Scale Bridge and go STRAIGHT ON.

0.90km - Cross the bridge and TURN RIGHT along the path towards the lake.

2.30km - At a small path junction BEAR LEFT uphill and cross the footbridge. BEAR RIGHT through a gate and cross a second footbridge.

2.80km - TURN RIGHT on the path back down towards the lake. Or if you prefer TURN LEFT upstream to Scale Force Waterfall -1km, and retrace your steps back to the footbridge.

3.10km - Arriving at the lower path and footbridge, TURN LEFT and carry STRAIGHT ON following the well defined path by the lake for it's entire length,approximately 3.5kms.

6.70km - At the head of the lake BEAR RIGHT over the footbridges by the fish ladder and carry STRAIGHT ON along the lakeside path, now on the opposite bank.

7.20km - Just before the boathouse, where the path forks, BEAR LEFT uphill through the trees, then BEAR RIGHT through the gate and across the fields to a road by a farm.

7.90km - Cross the road and go STRAIGHT ON in the direction of the footpath sign.

8.20km - At the footbridge, cross over and TURN RIGHT up the valley, keeping the stream on your right. Follow this all the way up through Gasdale to the summit stone marker. Take care along Gasdale as the path is rough and narrow in places due to erosion and there is lots of loose rock.

11.50km - At the pile of stones, (cairn) BEAR LEFT and descend steeply on the gravel path snaking into the valley below. Cross the stream and go STRAIGHT ON as the abandoned mine workings come into view.

13.50km - Cross the stream by the stepping stones and BEAR LEFT up onto the mine track, continuing STRAIGHT ON for some distance (approximately 3.5kms).

16.90km - At Force Mine car park, TURN RIGHT downhill onto the tarmac road. Take care here as it can be busy. Go past the bridge and pub to the end of the road.

17.40km - At the junction TURN RIGHT then BEAR LEFT before the bridge down the road. Almost immediately  BEAR RIGHT at the signpost for Little Braithwaite and follow the path around the camp site.

18.10km - Cross the wooden footbridge and carry STRAIGHT ON with the river now on your left.

18.50km - Go through the gate by the farm and TURN LEFT onto the tarmac road. Cross the stone bridge and TURN LEFT at the footpath signposted A66.

19.20km - At the main road BEAR LEFT through the underpass and go STRAIGHT ON across the field.

19.40km - At the road, TURN LEFT then immediately TURN RIGHT. At the footpath sign, BEAR RIGHT through the gate keeping to the right edge of the field. Go through the gate and down the lane to the main road.

20.00km - Cross the busy road with care and BEAR RIGHT down the road signed Portinscale, past the village hall and the pub. 

20.60km - At the corner, TURN LEFT down the No Through Road signposted footpath to Keswick and cross the suspension bridge.

21.00km - Emerging onto the tarmac lane BEAR RIGHT onto the footpath signposted Keswick and go STRAIGHT ON.

22.00km - At the main road TURN RIGHT over the bridge and continue STRAIGHT ON into the centre of Keswick. Go up the cobbled pedestrian area heading for the Clock Tower.

22.50km - You have arrived at the Moot Hall and Tourist Information Centre, the end of your walk.




all notes on protected areas


OS Grid
NY 17466 16950
54.541064, -3.277208
54°32'27.8"N 3°16'37.9"W
30U 482065 6043758
Arrival by train, car, foot or bike


Some of the paths are rocky and wet underfoot so boots are essential. There is some scrambling over loose rock, so walking poles may be preferred. Waterproofs and extra layers should be carried due to changeable weather conditions and the exposed nature of the ridge line.

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25.9 km
6:30 h
589 m
619 m
Highest point
625 m
Lowest point
74 m
Scenic Refreshment stops available Linear route Geological highlights


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