1.RAVEN CRAG, CASTLE CRAG (SHOULTHWAITE) & THE BENN
2. CASTLE ROCK from SMAITHWAITE BRIDGE

 


Summary

Date - 14th September 2013 Distance - (1) 2.1miles. (2) 1.4 miles
Ascent -
(1) 1250ft. (2) 600ft
Map - OL4 & OL5 Start point - (1) Lay-by opposite ascent path (NY 3071 1908). (2) Smaithwaite Bridge (NY 3158 1947)

 

Summits Achieved

Name Height (ft) Height (m) Grid Ref
Raven Crag 1512 461 NY 3034 1875
Castle Crag (Shoulthwaite) 1381 421 NY 2999 1886
The Benn 1463 446 NY 3022 1930
Castle Rock 1112 339 NY 3216 1966

 

Preface

All was well with the world, steaming mugs of tea were in paw, and we had pieces of scrumptious cherry and coconut slice on our plates.

Taking a bite and closing his eyes in ecstasy, Allen said, "this cake is absolutely delicious Grizzly. We really do appreciate you doing all this baking."

"Well", he replied, "I truly do enjoy baking. I find it relaxing and it is good for the soul. Of course too, I must thank Little Eric, who now lends a paw to help me."

"I like doing it too, and at least if I have helped, the rest of you cannot complain when perhaps have a little more than my fair share", added Little Eric, helping himself to another slice.

"With Dad and Uncle Brian back from Kent, we can look forward to getting out walking again", mused Shaun. "Scooter told me that he and his pals had a great day on the Bluebell Railway."

"Scooter said they were all very excited travelling for the first time through Imberhorne Cutting and into East Grinstead", added Tetley. "Dad has done the story of the adventure, but he told me that it was quite a difficult one to write and took some days to complete."

Meanwhile Allen had been looking at the iPad. "The weather forecast for the weekend is OK for Saturday, but rain and wind on Sunday. Fortunately it is Dad's Saturday off from the Lifeboats, so we should be able to get out."

"So it is just a case of where to go. Any ideas, pals?, said Grizzly.

Little Eric piped up, "I know it is in the same area as the last walk, but I would love to climb Castle Rock."

"Great idea", enthused Allen. "It is lovely little climb, and if the day is clear there will be some super views, that will make up for those you did not see from High Rigg."

"The distance is short, but I remember when we did it before, that first we went up Raven Crag and then took in two more Birkett tops. You have not done those either, so in all that would be one more Wainwright and four Birkett summits."

"My Tetley, your memory never ceases to amaze me", replied Little Eric in wonder. "The whole idea sounds great, so let's hope that Dad is agreeable."

"I'll go and ask", called out Allen, draining his mug.

"I'll refill it for when you get back, as I know what a tea belly you are", said Shaun.

"Thanks pal", he cried, as he dashed out of the room.

It was not many minutes before he returned, a wide smile on this face, and accepting the steaming mug of tea, he then said, "Dad is more than happy to do these fells again. He says there will be good views, especially that of Thirlmere from Raven Crag. Also he said that it will give him an excuse to to perhaps get to see Kim at the Wordsworth Hotel."

Southey who was sitting nearby, said, "if Dad is going to Grasmere, I wonder if I can come along, as I would love to see Kim."

Shaun said, "I am sure you can come along, and hey, if Dad can find space, how about coming on the walk too?"

"Ooh I would love that", cried Southey. "I know it will not be a regular thing, but to have experienced just a little of what you have all done, would be magical."

The Walk

Raven Crag, Castle Crag (Shoulthwaite) & The Benn

Making sure he was up early, Southey said, "I'll lend a paw getting the picnic ready, if you like."

"Thanks pal", replied Grizzly, "that will be nice."

That done it was stowed in Allen's rucksack, and hearing Dad slam the boot of the car shut, we hurried out and settled on the front passenger seat.

The drive we had done many many times, leaving the motorway at junction 36, then along the fast dual carriageway, and so towards the town of Windermere.

As we crested the second of two sweeping dips and the lake came into view, Allen said, "I love this first glimpse of Windermere, and feel that we have arrived in our beloved Lake District."

After a further few miles we passed through Ambleside, and then on to pass Rydal Water, where there were some lovely reflections. "It is such a shame that there is no where to stop, as that would have made a beautiful picture", remarked Tetley.

Soon after the road loops and rounding a corner the next lake Grasmere came into view.

"Wow", breathed Southey, "That is so lovely." Then allowing his eyes to roam he took in the views of the fells and mountains. "I think it is amazing that you have climbed to the top of all these and so many many more.

"Some wonderful walks and lots and lots of memories of many happy days", replied Grizzly.

The road led us up over Dunmail Raise and then the reservoir Thirlmere came into view. "My, the level has dropped quite a lot, with the dry weather", remarked Tetley.

At the very end, Dad then turned off left, and we crossed the dam. "Look Little Eric", called out Allen. "There is Raven Crag towering above us."

"Wow it looks so imposing, and a vertical cliff too. However do we get to the summit."

"Through the woods to the right, and then round the back, as you will see", replied Shaun.

At the junction Dad went right and then in a few hundred yards, parked in the layby on the right. Then, while Dad got ready we looked about.

Looking across the valley east Tetley said, "Little Eric, Southey, that's Castle Rock our climb for later. The summit is at the far left end. The approach is made by the crags on the right, and is rather steep, but a lovely little climb with great views as the reward."

Turning round, Shaun then said, "our route to Raven Crag is through the gate across the road."

"OK, I'm ready, get settled in the rucksack" called out Dad.

As we jumped in Southey said with disappointment in his voice, "there is no room for me, and I so wanted to come along."

"And you will", replied Dad firmly. "I will zip you up in the front pocket."

"Ooh great", cried Southey getting settled.

And so off we went. Passing through the gate we read the signpost, which indicates this is the route to the Castle Crag Fort.

The path climbed steadily through the trees. The last time we had parked here in October last year, there had been a notice that the path was inaccessible to Raven Crag due to fallen trees, and even today Dad had to climb over one with a large girth. The path then soon led onto a forest road.

"Wow that is a superb view of the precipitous face of Raven Crag", exclaimed Little Eric.

"We cross the road, then go on upwards, through the double deer gate", instructed Shaun.

Here is the gate, taken after we had passed through, with the forest road seen below.

The narrow path wound its way steeply, to a similar gate on to another forest road, where Shaun said, "we cross again and continue the ascent."

With little change in gradient the path looped left and and then right on its way to the ridge.

As we approached the ridge Tetley said, "there should be what I reckon is the largest sign directing walkers to a summit in the Lake District."

On the gate at the start there had been a sign advising that forestry operations were taking place, and as a result the ground at the ridge was churned up, and the sign that Tetley referred to had fallen face down.

"Huh", he said, "that's not very good, I hope they re-erect it when the works are done."

"Well", said Dad, "the least we can do is turn it over so that even on the ground it will still indicate the direction."

So as indicated by the arrow on the sign, we made our way along a narrow path beside a small valley.

From where the above shot was taken, the path very soon began to go left to wind on up, still quite steeply, and with steps to help, through the dense woodland.

At one point there was a short boggy section and Dad said, "even after all these years I remember this part of the ascent."

Beyond was the final short climb bringing us to the cairn marking the summit.

"Yippee", cried Little Eric, "that's another Wainwright ticked off."

"Come on Southey", cried Allen. "Settle with us for your picture at your first summit."

"Right ho", he called back. Southey is sitting in front of Allen.

We then walked on a few yards, descending slightly to see the superb view of Thirlmere.

"Wow!" exclaimed Little Eric, "that is breathtaking."

Just a few more yards ahead, was the precipitous drop of about 500ft, to the lake below.

This shot shows the dam and the road we drove along earlier, with standing above the lake Great How (1100ft), which we climbed with Uncle Eric in January 2009. Behind that to the left, and looking diminutive, is Castle Rock.

"It seems odd that there are just a few trees on the edge here that are dead", remarked Tetley.

"Hmm", agreed Dad. Who then said, "they will make an interesting shot with Great How, and the further ridge of the Dodds, behind."

A final shot looking more to the left shows Clough Head and the small protuberance that is Calfhow Pike. Clough Head marks the northern end of the Helvellyn Range. Below Clough Head is Wren Crag, the southern end of High Rigg, which we had climbed on our last walk.

"OK", said Southey, as we settled in the rucksack again, "where do we go now."

Without hesitation Shaun, our trusty guide, replied, "we have to retrace our route to the ridge, and the top of the ascent path, and then go left. You'll see there is a signpost pointing the way."

Just a few yards across the ridge a gate gave access to a clear path, from which we could see clearly the rocky outcrop of the once iron age fort, seen were in the centre foreground.

The path crossed a stream by footbridge then wound its way past the trees, where a sign told us we had arrived.

As we got to the base of the outcrop, Shaun said, "if we go right we will be able to get to the top that is the summit."

"OK", replied Dad putting best foot forwards.

The climb was very short and once on the top, we jumped out to have our picture taken, by few stones making up the tiny cairn.

Dense heather abounds, so as regards the fort there is little to see, but as we looked about, Allen commented, "the outcrop stands proud of the surroundings and with the Shoulthwaite Valley to the west, it is easy to see how the position would have been defendable."

"That is the ridge with Bleaberry Fell and High Seat etc., across the valley", said Tetley.

"How perennially wet and boggy it is too", added Grizzly. "I'm glad that really we do not have to go up there again."

"So where it it now?, asked Little Eric and Southey, in unison.

"We retrace our route to the ridge, then go left", replied Shaun.

Dad strode out, and once through the gate he turned left along the track, Shaun soon calling out, "we need to take that churned up forest road climbing right just ahead, and then very soon a faint path leaving this left."

Once on the forest road Tetley, who was keeping a look out, called out, "there is a rather flattened cairn here, this must be where to go left."

Nothing more than a grassy trod initially, a more definite path did fairly soon materialise.

"Look", called out Grizzly, "that is a very large fungi, by the path."

"I wonder what variety it is?" asked Southey.

He was met with silence, as none of us knew.

Continuing ahead the path dropped down into a hollow, then climbed to come below the rocky slopes of The Benn. Here it went left across the face and then wound its way up the slope to the summit.

We jumped out of the rucksack and settled on the summit rock.

"I'm hungry", complained Allen.

"Just like Dad, you are always hungry", laughed Grizzly. "But I agree, it is time for lunch, and a sandwich cake and cuppa will be just the ticket."

This summit too provides some wonderful views, and Dad having walked a short way to get the view of Thirlmere, took this shot of our very temporary encampment.

And, here is the shot of Thirlmere, with Raven Crag our first summit today, being prominent above to the right, and the sweep of the Helvellyn ridge above to the left.

As Dad returned to us, Tetley said, "Little Eric, that is Blencathra to the north-east, with High Rigg in the foreground. I am glad it is so clear today, as you are getting the view you would have had, if it had been clear that day."

"So am I. It really is a terrific view,", replied Little Eric with enthusiasm.

Dad took the opportunity to have a snack too, and finally before we set off again, we posed for our usual picture.

"Our route is that narrow path heading north", advised Shaun.

Like the one on the ascent it was at times just a narrow grassy trod. Wet muddy and slippy too, causing Dad to lose his footing at one point. Not a problem, other than this caused him to sit down and so get a wet bum!

We tried to resist, but could not help bursting out laughing. Thankfully Dad was not the least bit offended and his trousers fairly soon dried out.

Finally the path led to a forest road, where Shaun instructed, "we go right, and follow this to the double gates we passed through on the ascent.

Now just a simple matter of retracing the outwards route to the car, so completing part one of today's adventure.


 

Castle Rock

We now drove the short distance to the verge parking at Smaithwaite Bridge for our assault on Castle Rock, that stands proud above the start of the road to St John's in the Vale.

"However do we get up there?", asked Southey.

"I know it looks pretty unassailable" replied Allen, "but the secret is to climb below the crag to the right, after which it is quite simple to gain the highest ridge and walk to the summit on the far left."

"OK", said Shaun, "We should walk along the old road that links to the one through the vale, and then go a little right to climb the steps and through the gate.

You will note that there is an information notice pinned to the fence. We stopped to read this, and it informed us that a crack a few centimeters wide and metres long had appeared on the north crag.

"Will this cause us any problem", said Southey with a worried tone in his voice.

"No pal", replied Tetley, "we are not climbing by that route, and as the notice says, the warning applies to rock climbers."

Beyond the path climbed steadily across the field, to the top right corner, coming to the aqueduct that channels water into Thirlmere.

"There's a bridge", said Little Eric.

"Yes, but that is not our route", replied Shaun. "We climb the stone step stile in the wall on the right and follow the narrow path into the trees."

Not far into the trees we could see that the path kept on ahead, but our way was barred by a fence and single strand of wire.

"Where now?", queried Little Eric.

"Over the fence on the left using the stones to assist getting over", instructed Shaun.

A path led through the tall bracken come to a wall corner, the south crag now towering over us in front.

Going left by the wall, we then continued steeply up beside it to come immediately below the south crag.

"There are people climbing the crag", exclaimed Southey. "Do we have to do that?"

"No", replied Tetley. "There is a short bit of scramble across the face of the crag to the right and then we ascend to the top via the steps."

Dad passed the time of day with one of the rock climbers, commenting, "I did not recall it being this steep."

He replied, "you were younger then."

"Too true", agreed Dad.

At the top of steps it was left between the crags the summit now being in view ahead. "Not far now, Little Eric", said Grizzly.

"I can't wait" he replied.

A short scramble up an easy slope to the right, and then along the undulating ridge and the summit was attained.

"Yippee", cried Southey as we all jumped out and settled to pose for our picture.

"Well done pal", Allen said to Little Eric, "that's another Wainwright and 4 Birketts, ticked off. And the same for you too of course, Southey."

"Thanks pal", Little Eric replied. Then he exclaimed, "what an absolutely amazing view of St John's in the Vale."

"You can see Low Bridge End Farm nestling by the trees on the left and the path by the wall from it that we walked after climbing High Rigg", said Tetley.

The whole length of the fell can be seen and the highest point, Naddle Fell, can just be made out at the far end, backed by the Skiddaw Group with Dodd just beyond", went on Allen.

This shot shows this in more detail.

Shaun piped up saying, "if you look round to the left the crack in the north crag, that was referred to in the notice on the steps can be seen clearly."

"Hmm", mused Tetley, "it seems certainly wise for climbers to avoid this, as it is not at all clear how stable or unstable it is.

And finally before we left the summit to return by our ascent route, we include this shot of Thirlmere and the main A591 road that was to be our route homewards.

On reaching the car Grizzly said, "I guess it is refreshment time Dad."

"Got it in one, lad. I am going to the Wordsworth at Grasmere for a snack and hopefully I might see Kim too."

"Can I come in too?", asked Southey. "After all I came from there and I would like to see Kim as well."

"No problem lad", replied Dad.

When Dad arrived Kim had just come on, so he got to chat a bit and Southey got fussed too. Dad was pleased to see her and that she is happy and well. After having a nice salmon sandwich and pint of bitter, he was able to chat just a little again. They talked about happenings at Armathwaite Hall, as she had seen on Facebook that Dad and Uncle Brian had been last Thursday, amongst other things too.

As we then drove on home, Southey said, "thank you Dad and pals for letting me come on the walk. I have thoroughly enjoyed it and will remember the day for a long long time. What an interesting life I have had since I was adopted just a couple of months ago."

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