Walk: High Rigg and St John's in the Vale

Map Higg Rigg and St John's in the ValeThis walk takes us up High Rigg, the fell between the valley of St John's in the Vale and the main Ambleside-Keswick road. Wren Crag, at its southern end, looms over north-bound traffic at the end of Thirlmere, and the entire summit is a delight. The walk also takes us into St John's in the Vale, a most unusual Lakeland valley.

Ascent: 1,000ft
Length: 3.75 miles
Map: OL 5 Lake District North-East
Last Walked: April 2013

We start from a fairly sizable area of roadside parking just to the south of the road bridge over St John's Beck.

If coming from the north this is just after the end of the stretch of duel carriageway.

If coming from the south this is just after the side road leading into St John's in the Vale.

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Head north from the parking area. Just after the road bridge cross a stile on the right. This brings us onto a path that curves around the southern end Wren Crag. Just over the stile the path branches - Path below Wren Crag take the clearer left-hand branch (the right-hand branch drops down to the beck and then ends abruptly). After a short distance another path branches off to the left - The path up Wren Crag, High Rigg remember this path, which we will use towards the end of the war, but for the moment continue on along the level path.

This path continues to run around the base of the fell, curving to the left as it goes. Some parts of this path do run across a fairly steep slope, but it soon levels out.

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Blencathra from St John's in the ValeJust after Low Bridge End Farm the path splits in two - both head in the right direction, but I recommend the right-hand path, which brings us out into the valley bottom in St John's In the Vale. Follow this path as it runs close to St Johns' Beck. This brings us to Sosgill Bridge, where the path splits again. This time take the left-hand branch which runs diagonally across the field. Pass through a stone wall at the far side of the field and turn right onto a track that runs north along the base of the slope.
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Looking south in St John's in the ValeWe follow this track as it passes through a series of walls, ending with a curved enclosure. Soon after we leave this enclosure the track climbs up towards a craggy corner. Just before the top of this climb leave the track climb up the grassy slope to the left, following a faint path. Continue to climb until you reach the top of the ridge, ignoring a number of paths that branch off to the sides.
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View south-west on High RiggOur climb brings us onto the top of the fell just to the south of the main summit. A sizable network of paths cross this area, although with some larger and more obvious. For the moment take one of the obvious paths that heads north towards the summit.

After visiting the summit turn back south and head towards the secondary summit, about a third of the mile to the south. About half way between the two the main path splits in two, but it doesn't really matter which one you take - neither actually reaches the southern summit, so you'll have to leave the path to reach this viewpoint.

From the southern summit head east towards a stone wall. Turn right onto a path that runs close to this wall. This brings us to the foot of a small crag - head to the left of the crag and follow the path as it runs towards a corner between two walls.

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Stone Walls on High Rigg Cross the second wall on a tall stile. Just past this wall the path splits in two - take the left-hand branch which heads up towards a gap between two rocky outcroppings. This path then runs past a small tarn, and then continues north along an increasingly clear ridge.

Follow this path until we reach the end of this first ridge, which runs along the top of Long Band. The path then drops down quite steeply into a gap between Long Band and Wren Crag. Cross over the stone wall that runs across the base of this gap and climb up the opposite slope.

Thirlmere from High RiggThis brings us onto Wren Crag, and a delightful path that drops down the southern end of the fell, passing over a series of rocky terraces dotted with attractive trees. Follow the obvious and easy path down the southern slope until it rejoins the path we used near the start of the walk. Turn right onto this path and follow it back to the road.