Castle Crag, Borrowdale, in the Lake District, Cumbria. At only 290 metres (950 feet) in height, it is a perfect example of a wonderful little climb that has so much to offer in the way of views, nature and history.
You do not have to take my word for it. Even Alfred Wainwright gave it credence. In all his pictorial guide to the Lake District only 1 fell was included that was less than 1000 feet, and that was Castle Crag.
The hill that made him fall in love with the lake district area, Orrest Head, didn’t even make it, but Castle Crag did. And if you have ever walked up Castle Crag you will know why.
This summit may not be real high, but, there are so so many reasons wander up there. It has the ruggedness and feel of a mini mountain so for those with young children it would make a superb introduction to climbing in the lakes for them.
Driving into Borrowdale from Keswick the drive is special, and as you head to the end of Derwentwater you notice that a conical craggy hill size feature seems to be blocking the valley. That is Castle Crag.
Looking at it from afar it still looks unique. A jugged pointed peak rising from the valley floor and covered in trees.
For the quicker climb up and down, I choose to park in the village of Rosthwaite.
There is a small National Trust car park (fees for non trust members) and next to it is the Borrowdale Institute car park with a honesty box system.
The postcode is CA12 5XB
The Walk And Climb
From Rosthwaite the walk up is just around 1 mile, so there is no excuse not to take your time and enjoy every step.
Being so short yet so spectacular this walk is also perfect if you are short on time. I often head up here when passing by Borrowdale with an hour or so to spare.
So, to start off, head out of the car park and turn right onto the stone paved Yew Tree Lane. This will lead to Yew Tree Farm.
There are two ways here that head onto and up Castle Crag, take the right and you get to walk along the River Derwent. Then cross the stone bridge, turn right and across the fields to start to climb the slopes proper.
As you walk up the quarry road you come to the shoulder of the hill and you start to get a glimpse of the spectacular views. Skiddaw appears from behind Castle Crag’s rocky side. Framed perfectly.
Turning right you have the final push to the top and through the remains of the old quarries. The iconic shape of Castle Crag was in part made by slate mining. Whole sections sliced off when mining was in its peak.
Stones upon slabs upon stones. The path is a zig zag through it all so watch your ankles for support. A flat part arrives and a bizarre sight of hundreds of standing stones appears, all scattered randomly on their edges. Look at some of them closely you see the graffitied names of their erectors.
These standing stones have been stood up over time by walkers just like you, taking the time stand one up. Maybe you can create your own when you are there?
From here, just a couple more zig zags and there you are, the views hit you at the top. And let me tell you it is a summit that you need to spend time at. Take it all in, and let it all sink in. The climb may not have been strenuous but it is enjoyable.
Behind and Southwards you have the beauty of Borrowdale. Scafell Pike Range smack in the centre with the green fields below. A green landscape that brings all the beauty and reasons to climb up into perspective.
Looking North you get Derwentwater below you, looking down Borrowdale to Keswick and standing tall and proud behind, On the left, Cat Bells, then in the centre of the scene, Skiddaw. Plus Blencathra shows itself further to the right. Magnificent.
It was certainly time to relax. It was time to chill. It was time to admire. It was time to reflect. Happy moments. Unforgettable moment and view.
Until the next time Castle Crag, back soon.
Oh, and if you are in the area and want to check out some more special places in Borrowdale then I advise you see: