Castle Crag

Length 6 Kilometres | Highest point 290 metres

Castle Crag, 290m, 951ft, GR 249159


The ‘Jaws of Borrowdale’ have lost a few feet in height since Wainwright listed Castle Crag as the 214th and last of his Lakeland Fells. The OS maps of the time showed this miniature hill to be the imperial equivalent of exactly 300m. Despite more recent surveys lowering the height, Castle Crag is characteristic of the intimacy and beauty which define the attraction of the Lake District to walkers. It is a true Lakeland Fell combining all the elements of its taller neighbours in one perfect, miniature mountain. In AW’s own words, ‘the loveliest square mile in Lakeland’.

Castle Crag from the valley
Castle Crag from the valley

Rosthwaite, in the heart of Borrowdale, makes an ideal starting point for this exploration. There is a car park down the side road opposite the shop. Walk further down this road, past the village hall and turn right at the farm to reach the river. Cross this by the bridge 200 metres to the right. Follow the river bank right via a stile until in 200 metres the path veers left over a small slab bridge. 100 metres further, another stile gives access to a path which climbs the hillside through trees to the ridge. From a further stile, the path makes a further climb through piled quarry waste to the summit just beyond the disused quarry (2km, 200m, 1hr).

Skiddaw from Castle Crag
Skiddaw from Castle Crag

The top is an ancient fort which commands superb views of Derwentwater and Skiddaw. A stone plaque commemorates the men of Borrowdale killed in the First World War.

Castle Crag summit
Castle Crag summit

To descend, retrace your steps through the quarry waste to the stile over the wall. Here, go right and descend the path over more waste slate to reach the old road at the bottom. Follow this down right towards Grange until you reach the river again. Here the old road continues ahead to Grange but to return to Rosthwaite turn right and follow the path alongside the river. This delightful path amidst Borrowdale’s magnificent oak trees leads back to the starting point (5.5km, 2hr). A detour away from the river avoids an awkward river-side outcrop. Just beyond a wall, at the highest point on the path, there is a junction of tracks. The one to the left leads to Rosthwaite but a short diversion to the right leads to the two caves inhabited during the summers between the two World Wars by Millican Dalton the self-styled ‘Professor of Adventure’ who offered a guiding service to visitors.

Rosthwaite from Castle Crag
Rosthwaite from Castle Crag