‘The Greatest little river in the world’ is how Keith Richardson describes River Greta in his book ‘The Greta’. I think that many of us take our local rivers for granted and as I read through the book, I realised that I knew little of the River Greta, it’s bridges and the community that live nearby. The River is only 4 miles long and yet it has a unique beauty and history including 27 water-powered mills that sprang up on it’s banks in 19th century and was a base for smelting works in Elizabethan times.



From the mouth of River Greta, retrace your steps to Greta Bridge at High Hill and look out for some of the interesting buildings and features - the former Luca’s Ristorante was Keswick School of Industrial Arts from 1894 to 1984, Porch and Ruskin Cottages, from 1894 were the home of the Ruskin Linen Industry, Retting Steps and the drinking fountain erected by Samuel Ladyman in 1870s, Toll Bar Cottage, where road tolls were collected on the route from Kendal

to Riversmeet - Greta & Derwent

The River is well-known for the Greta Gorge Railway Footpath between Keswick and Threlkeld has been a popular walk for locals and visitors alike but in 2015, Storm Desmond ripped out some of the riverbank and damaged 3 bridges so that there is no longer a through route. We hope that in time, this footpath can be repaired and then reopened - in the meantime, diversions are in place.

On Wednesday 28th November, I set out to undertake a short walk of discovery to find the mouth of River Greta and view the location where it flows into the River Derwent and then visit some of the historical buildings nearby. Keith Richardson describes the location of the mouth of the river as ‘Cement Point’ which is not marked on OS maps. I started the walk at Portinscale and made my way to Keswick over the River Derwent suspension bridge on the footpath and then via Greta Bridge at High Hill to get to Crow Park Road via Booth’s Supermarket. The Keswick Rugby Club and the Camping Caravan sites are very close to ‘Cement Point’. There is no footpath to this location, so you will need to seek permission from one of the landowner’s staff to gain access – they were great to deal with and very helpful to me.


Walk along Crosthwaite Road, past Quaker Cottage on the right and carry on with River Greta also on your right, hidden by houses at first and then turn right at Crosthwaite Road Car Park to Fitz Park on the path and continue alongside the River to the new Knightsbridge, the important link between Keswick Town Centre and Fitz Park.

Buildings and features to look out for from this path – Mary Hewetson Hospital – in 1881, Henry Hewetson strongly supported the suggestion for a cottage hospital and offered to donate Monk Hall Farm and 14 acres of land he owned as a site. The

Cockermouth, Catholic Church of Our Lady and St. Charles [opened in 1928].

Explore and Discover with Stan Leigh

hospital was opened on 19th August 1892 – Mr. Hewetson wanted it to be a memorial to the beneficent nature and life of his sister, Mary. Keswick Museum and Art Gallery [built in 1897 and 1906 respectively] and beyond Knightsbridge on the right is Riverside Lodge, opened in 1989. It occupies the site of the Queen of the Lakes Pavilion built in 1894.

Catbells from near mouth of River Greta

Turn right at Knightsbridge, and look for Greta Hamlet, built in the style of the Garden City Movement. It is at a lovely location with tremendous views of Derwentwater and the North- West Fells. From here, you can also get a good view of Greta Hall, built about 1800. This house was the former home of Samuel Taylor Coleridge and then Robert Southey, poet laureate, who lived there for 40 years.

From Greta Hamlet, descend Stanger Street to Keswick Town Centre and enjoy the view of Catbells, Hindscarth and Robinson.

This linear walk is approximately 3 miles, just a few short climbs to negotiate but packed with history and excellent views. For this walk, I suggest OS Explorer Maps OL4 [The English Lakes, North West Area], Keith Richardson’s book ‘The Greta’ and the ‘Discover Keswick, Self-guided heritage trails’ booklet available from the Tourist information Centre at Moot Hall.

Over the next few months, I’ll be exploring further upstream towards Threlkeld Bridge, or New Bridge as it was known. It is at this point that River Glenderamackin and St. John’s Beck merge to become ‘the Greatest Little river in the World’.

21 DECEMBER 2017 ISSUE 421 PAGE 17 Stan

Greta Bridge

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