~Castle Crag and Friends~
10th November 2013
Phileas Fogg circumnavigated the globe in 80 days. In the 80 days since my last visit to Lakeland, I have done nothing so grand and I've become increasingly frustrated by the absence of Cumbrian stone beneath my walking boots. Interstingly (?), by coincidence, the return saw me ascend the same two fells as last time, plus one very special additional summit.
Skiddaw from Castle Crag
Scroll down for photos and a description of the walk....
Starting at 08:20hrs from the car park at Watendlath, I crossed the bridge (above) and started the ascent of Grange Fell. It's 15 years since I last took a car to Watendlath; it's a great destination in itself for a walk from Rosthwaite or Grange, so leave the car elsewhere if you get the chance.
The sun's not up yet and the water surface is absolutely still.
to Brund Fell
The route to Brund Fell (the highest point on Grange Fell) is "straightforward, dull and damp in places, with an interesting finish."
Not long before the summit of Brund Fell comes into view.
High Seat looks fine from here, on the other side of Watendlath Beck.
South-West from Brund Fell, 1363ft asl
The view from Grange Fell is very fine indeed - on a day like today, unlike last time I was here. I'm heading for Castle Crag (above, right) next and expect it to be rather busier than it appears just now. Time does not allow for a trip to the other noted summit on Grange Fell, Kings' How. Instead, it's a shortcut along the aptly named Long Moss.
Goat Crag (l), Nitting Haws (c) and Blea Crag (r)
After the steep and slippy descent down the steps through the dense woodland, the view across to the crags of Maiden Moor / High Spy come into view and the trees of Cummacatta Wood lie directly ahead of me. I cross the bridge into the village of Grange.
River Derwent and Castle Crag
Today, as has become custom, there will be a Service of Remembrance on Castle Crag. Originally to honour the men of Borrowdale who lost their lives in the World Wars, the purpose has broadened to remember all who have lost their lives in the defence of our nation and its values. What better place? Castle Crag was once home to a British Fort and commands an enviable defensive position in the "Jaws of Borrowdale".
Across The Paddles
A short walk along the river and then the gently sloping path up to the steep ascent of Castle Crag. I am hoping to meet up with a few fellwalking friends on the top of the fell.
Remembrance Gathering on Castle Crag
Numbers swelled by the fine weather, I reckon there were more than 200 folk up here. The soldiers from the Duke of Lancaster's Regiment were remembering comrades lost in recent conflicts. A prayer, a short service, two buglers and then we stood in silence for two minutes at 11am. Would I be right to think that Remembrance Sunday offers us the best opportunity of the year to show our Britishness?
King's How, Grange Fell
Apart from a couple of couples, everyone else has met via t'internet through the Online Fellwalking Club. OFC predated the behemoth known as Facebook and remains an informal group, with no charges and no qualifying criteria. It helps if you like mountains. One branch of the OFC is particularly concerned with the study of rucksacs; Roger and Neil examine a red one and have emptied some of its contents.
On the left, Peter, Jo and Roger stand on the summit (985ft asl, ish); Rosthwaite and the green fields on upper Borrowdale are further south.
The view from Lingy Bank across the fields to the wooded slopes of "Wainwright" fell: Great Crag is a good one. We cross the wall at an awkward stile - dog already there. Just out of shot to the left is a gate for those not wishing to practice their gymnastics.
Soup and Sandwiches at The Flock Inn, Rosthwaite
Light refreshments at the excellent "Flock Inn". Everyone else had finished their walks; dogs and rucksacs were loaded into the boots and "Cheerios" were said. Ah well, just a short hop over to Watendlath for me, including the 1,000ft of stepped, steep ascent!!
The following climb up the steps, through the woods is one of the steepest such ascents in the Lake District. I came down this way last time and wanted to remind myself what it was all about.
Out of The Woods
One of Lakeland's hidden gems. Better in the cooler months, unless you really like flies.
Great Crag Summit, 1500ft asl (approx)
The Boggy Bit
Tired legs made it to the top of Great Crag, then it's down to a gated entrance into the boggy area. A preferred route around the worst of the bog is waymarked and leads to Watendlath.
Maybe the cafe will be open?
The cafe was not open. One thing we will never know is that if I had been offered a lift from Rosthwaite to Watendlath, would I have accepted it?? So, there is much to commend a walk in the heart of Borrowdale visiting Castle Crag and its near friends and neighbours: Grange Fell, Dock Tarn and Great Crag.
Walkers: Just me, apart from the Castle Crag to Rosthwaite bit.
Time taken: 7hrs 15mins over a distance of about 9.5 miles; 3,100ft of ascent.
Route: Watendlath, Brund Fell, Long Moss, Cummacatta Wood, Grange, Castle Crag, Lingy Bank, Rosthwaite, Stonethwaite Beck, The Steep Bit, Dock Tarn, Great Crag, Watendlath.
Weather and Conditions: Sunny, warm, fantastic! Last time up here it was: "Dull, dull, slightly duller, less dull and dull to finish."
Greetings Count: All quiet on Grange Fell and Great Crag, never saw a soul on these two. A fine assembly on Castle Crag.
Refreshments: Soup or sandwiches at The Flock Inn, Rosthwaite. Speedy service despite a sudden influx of hungry walkers. Plenty of seats inside and out.
All photos copyright Richard Ratcliffe 2013 ©
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