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To a castle, a princesses gift, and a jumble of crags.

To a castle, a princesses gift, and a jumble of crags.

Postby trailmasher » Tue Jan 07, 2020 4:32 pm

Wainwrights included on this walk: Castle Crag, Grange Fell

Date walked: 31/12/2019

Time taken: 4.21

Distance: 11.72 km

Ascent: 704m

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Castle Crag-Grange Fell.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

It was the last day of the year and it dawned cold and bright, sunny with a few errant clouds trying to cause mischief, also frosty with a start temperature of minus 1°c that was later to rise to a respectable 4°c in the valley and then drop again to minus figures as the day went on and we gained height on these small fells with great views.

My local walking partner suggested that we do a gentle and steady walk to end the year in which we have had some great trips into the depths of the Lake District and it didn’t take me more than a few seconds to respond with a positive with E inviting herself along to keep her eye on us. A mostly clear road saw us arriving at the NT car park in Rosthwaite by 10am with only the one space left which I gratefully took, although by the number of cars parked at the various parking areas as we approached Blencathra and all the way to here told us that plenty of people were taking advantage of the weather on this the last day of the year with the suggestion that maybe we should have set off a little earlier on our journey to Borrowdale. Maybe a bit of a lame excuse but we didn’t expect so many people to be out on the 31st December.

We soon booted up and donned the down jackets as there was a cold breeze and plenty of frost on the ground despite the clear sun filled sky and once my body had realised it was cold it suddenly told me that I needed to go and visit the gents just a few metres back along the lane only to find that the conveniences were not at all convenient as they are only open Saturday and Sunday during the winter months. The NT mustn’t have realised yet that the fells are open all year round. So there it was, a man with his eyes steamed up mincing down the lane looking for a safe place to get some comfort.

From Rosthwaite it’s a glorious walk in with a view west towards High Scawdel and the face of High Spy sat either side of Tongue Gill and the old workings of Rigghead Quarries whilst to the north we could see King’s How and Grange Fell all resplendent in there sun soaked coats of bracken brown above the green of the lower pastures. Even the leafless trees had taken on a sort of dark silvery sheen.

ImageHigh Spy and Maiden Moor from Rosthwaite

Unless they’ve been replaced the old stepping stones across the River Derwent have held up well during the past floods that we have had in recent years...

ImageStepping stones across the River Derwent

And the once washed out lane now looks great with its relatively new layer of cobbles.

ImagePaved causeway to New Bridge over the River Derwent

It was cold and the ground was covered in a layer of white frost that seemed to enhance the beauty so much more than would seem possible in this most beautiful of dales. We walked on with our first two hills now showing clearly on the skyline.

ImageCastle Crag and King's How

We soon reached New Bridge where I took the advantage of the cover of the old quarry at Pennybridge Dub to have a comfort break whilst the other two made their way across to the gate and path leading up the fellside towards the old levels and High Hows Wood.

ImageClimbing up to High Hows Wood

The going is obvious and easy and we soon reached the 150 metre contour where we turned off the main track to head south for a few metres to pass this old shelter that we presumed must have been for the quarrymen for cover from the worst of the weather.

ImageOld shelter at the abandoned levels on the way to Castle Crag

Passing by that we came across the old mine entrance but as there was a fair depth of water and mud covering the walk in we gave up the chance of some exploring.

ImageA look into the old mine entrance

Just a few strides further on and we was stood on top of the spoil heap with a great view across Borrowdale the only downside to that was that the sun was shining directly into the camera lens causing a fair amount of pink flare showing on the images.

ImageA view over to Rosthwaite from the old levels

ImageGreat Crag behind Rosthwaite

We lingered here awhile enjoying the views before setting off to now use the paved section of path that runs up through High Hows Wood...

ImageClimbing through High How Wood

That made the going a bit easier than on the soft, greasy patches of grass made soft by the melting frost but all in all the going is easy enough along these relatively gentle slopes. A few more minutes climbing saw us at the open fell at the 210 metre contour from where we were faced with the two rocky buttresses of Robin Fold Edge and Lobstone Band Door. I wonder where they got these wonderful names from? Maybe they allude from the days of the old mining activities.

ImageRobin Fold Edge and Lobstone Band Door

Soon after this we had climbed the stile and were met with a crowd of people wondering which way it was to get down and after they had told themselves different directions and were still unsure I asked them where they wanted to go to. Seatoller they replied so that was the route that I put them on, the Allerdale Ramble path running south behind Castle Crag. From the stile a short walk put us on the path that runs up through the massive spoil heap and looks much worse than it actually is and is quite firm and not as loose underfoot as one would think, nevertheless E played her refusal card today as she has been up a couple times before and she just felt like lingering in the warmth of the suntrap that is formed in that small sheltered spot behind the wall.

We were soon met by the remains of the old workings.

ImageOld quarry workings on Castle Crag

Another short climb, this time through the trees where the tree roots made for good steps on the badly eroded path, to the summit where I took the chance of shot through the trees towards Grange Fell...

ImageGrange Fell aka Brund Fell

and another one looking north.

ImageNorth towards Derwent Water and Skiddaw from Castle Crag

Although the skies were a brilliant blue there was quite a haze in the distance that softened up the background in the images.

The summit was packed and noisy and the most people that I have seen up here on previous visits have been barely two or three at its worst but today it was bedlam with more arriving every minute. The views are fantastic at any time of year and are to be enjoyed in relative peace and quiet not with all the shouting and running around that was going on today, and some of the adults/parents were worse than the children and with most of them not even acknowledging that it has a war memorial on its summit.

ImageCastle Crag War Memorial

ImageKing's How and Brund Fell

We left the bedlam behind only to meet hordes of people still arriving rushing and pushing their way to the top heedless of those who were trying to get down over the greasy tree roots but we were soon back at the old quarry workings.

ImageSame quarry different view

At the south end of the spoil heap there is a fantastic view over Borrowdale towards Great Crag, Eagle Crag, Sergeant Crag, Ullscarf etc, a most wonderful view. The fields had lost their coat of frost with the heat from the winter sun although up here in the sheltered spots it was still in evidence.


Arriving at the foot of the spoil heap again and looking back showed just how busy it was today.

ImageCastle Crag - a busy little hill today

As we were moving on to Grange next we set off down the path on the west side that would put us on to the Allerdale Ramble path but before we reached it we stopped at the John Hamer Memorial seat for a refuel from where we could watch likewise walkers doing their stuff as they passed by below us.

Break over we continued down to the track and headed off north for Grange.

ImageA narrow view of some northern fells from behind Castle Crag

A pleasant walk through Low How Woods and commenting on how low the water levels were in the River Derwent...

ImageA timid River Derwent

soon had us walking through Grange that was quite busy with the tea shop playing host to a number of customers.
Upon reaching the main road we turned to the right and walked along it for a short distance to then cross over and enter the fell via Cummacatta Wood and a steady walk through the open spaces as we made our way over to the start of the climb up to King’s How summit.

ImageAndersonband Crag on the walk in to King's How

The path is good and undulates up and down as it twists its way through the trees before finally descending to the start of the climb up through the trees on a well worn path that has seen better years. After a climb of a good few metres the path became more civilised as it was now paved with pitching stone of greatly irregular heights and with the wetness of the stones they proved to be a tad greasy. At the 225metre contour we paused for a breather and I managed a grab shot north.

ImageSkiddaw through the trees from above Brock Bield

Soon after leaving this spot we saw a small group of people from amongst the trees, off piste if you will, and as we met up on the path it could be seen that one of the ladies had a plastic bag in which she had some very small tree saplings. We said nothing but I can’t imagine anyone wanting to plant trees in an already established area of woodland.

Continuing on we soon arrived at Long Moss from where we could now see King’s How through the bare leaved trees.

ImageKing's How behind Long Moss

It wasn’t too bad for softness – I’ve known it much worse – as we followed the path to the dried up beck where we had a mild scramble up the rocks with the overhanging tree branches making it a bit awkward at the start. All in all the path is pretty decent all the way to the summit of this delightful little fell. We wandered on following the meandering route as it steadily climbed and we were soon at the memorial plaque that is set into the rock face just to the left of the path. Easily missed if toiling upwards with sweat stinging your eyes.

ImageThe King's How Memorial Stone

A short explanation as to why it is there plus the words follows.

When King Edward VII died in 1910, his sister Princess Louise, President of the National Trust, determined to purchase the view-point of Grange Fell in Borrowdale, and make it, through the National Trust, a gift to the public in memory of the late King.

Public subscription soon raised the necessary funds, and Grange Fell was purchased, an area which included Bowderstone Cottage, and the well known tourist attraction, The Bowder Stone.

The inscription on the monument reads:

In loving memory of
King Edward VII
Grange Fell is dedicated by his sister
as a sanctuary of rest and peace.
Here may all beings gather strength
Find in scenes of beautiful nature a cause
For gratitude and love to God giving them
Courage and vigour to carry on his will

The monument can be reached by a public footpath. There is a magnificent view of Grange and Derwetwater from the top.

Eight years earlier Princess Louise had performed the opening ceremony at Brandlehow Wood, the National Trust’s first acquisition in the Lake District.

After a few moments of trying to read the inscription we continued on to the summit that was cloaked in glorious sunlight as were the surrounding fells. There was quite a strong and cold breeze by now and after a few photos were taken we didn’t linger as Brund Fell was beckoning us on towards its ridge of rocky up thrusts.

The only thing that causes these fantastic views to change is the weather, but as long as there isn’t very low cloud cover you’ll get your moneys worth.

ImageNorth from the summit of King's How

ImageBrund Fell with Jopplety How just to the left

Fells and mountains in all areas of the LD can be seen from this view point, the skyline is just glorious, especially today with the cold air and the sun shining, fells too many to mention here. The way to Brund Fell is clear to see from this summit so we wended our way down the path to the south from where we paid a visit to the top of Bowder Crag from where the path continues downwards to Red Brow and the B5289 road to Borrowdale.. But we only came here for the view and soon turned back to our original route for Brund Fell.

We decided to have a break at the first of the old sheep folds/bields with the sunlight beginning to look a little more golden as the sun was getting lower in the sky...

ImageKing's How

the small craggy east face with its terraces of small trees and heather watching over us as we did so.

As we climbed along the easy slopes of Brund Fell I looked back and was amazed to see how golden red the landscape now appeared. It was truly remarkable and a sight that was really pleased to see.

ImageLate afternoon sunlight on King's How

A few minutes later we were on the top of this great grey lumpy mass of crags from where we could see that the haze was drawing in and a few clouds starting to muster over some of the lower fells, it was also a lot colder with the breeze now a wind. E didn’t want to linger so a quick flirt on to the highest spot, a couple of photos...

ImageBrund Fell summit with some of the Central Fells behind

ImageSoutheast from Brund Fell

ImageSouth towards High Raise and the Langdales

ImageEast towards the Helvellyn Range

ImageThe view to Ullscarf and beyond

ImageAnother eastern view from Brund Fell

and then we were off to descend to Puddingstone Bank and Rosthwaite.

ImageDescending to Puddingstone Bank

It’s an easy stroll down to the track at Puddingstone Bank although the path from Brund Fell was very wet and boggy until we got to the wall stile but once over that and following the wall it was good enough. The sun was dropping fast by now as we wandered down the track after a good but steady last day of the year outing with Borrowdale opening up before us.

ImageWest towards the Western Fells

ImageA hazy but beautiful view across Borrowdale

A truly great 31st December walk in what was near perfect winter conditions, a white covering of frost with some patches of ice higher up the fells more than made up for the lack of snow that’s sometimes hard work to get through. As we got back to the car we saw that we were the last ones still there and as we got changed the light had all but gone. The drive back was very slow indeed as the traffic was backed up along the road nearly back to the Lodore Hotel due to the amount of traffic in Keswick and also leaving the other various car parks that are on the way there with one of the worst being the one from the Keswick Theatre car park where no one seemed to want to give way to other drivers. We let three in and if only some of the other drivers had consideration for others stuck in traffic it may allow it to move a little faster. From Rosthwaite to Penrith, 2 hours, it was New Years Eve and I was spitting fluff.

Happy New Year to all.
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Re: To a castle, a princesses gift, and a jumble of crags.

Postby arjh » Fri Jan 10, 2020 11:07 pm

Great stuff. New Year's Eve was a lovely day, I was over on Harter Fell. As you say great conditions for slightly lower tops from which you can appreciate the big peaks even more.
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Re: To a castle, a princesses gift, and a jumble of crags.

Postby trailmasher » Sat Jan 11, 2020 12:45 pm

arjh wrote:Great stuff. New Year's Eve was a lovely day, I was over on Harter Fell. As you say great conditions for slightly lower tops from which you can appreciate the big peaks even more.

Thanks very much for your comments arjh :D and it was indeed a great day to be out on the fells 8) You was also on a great hill with fantastic views all around 8)
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