CASTLE CRAG from GRANGE IN BORROWDALE

 


Summary

Date - 30th March 2014 Distance - 5 miles
Ascent -
950ft
Map - OL4 Start point - Roadside layby on B5289 below Grange Crags (NY 2563 1768)

 

Summits Achieved

Name Height (ft) Height (m) Grid Ref
Castle Crag 951 290 NY 2493 1594

 

Preface

Allen and Little Eric were reading quietly, when Tetley came dashing into the room. "I come with news of a walk. Dad has been busy since the last one and the weather has been none too kind either, but Sunday looks good and Dad has resolved to get out."

"Ooh great", cried Little Eric.

"You are going to be even more pleased pal, as Dad feels able to tackle a modest hill, and has decided to take us to Borrowdale, to climb Castle Crag, which is one of your outstanding Wainwright summits in Book 6 - North-Western Fells."

"Brilliant", shouted Little Eric, rushing over and giving Tetley a hug.

Meanwhile Allen and been and got the book off the shelf, opening it a that chapter. "The last time we went up from Rosthwaite, is that what Dad intends this time?"

"No, he is planning to approach from Grange, parking in the layby under Grange Crags, as we did when we climbed to High Spy."

Glancing at the book again, Allen said, "that is the other ascent shown by Wainwright, so it will give us a different perspective on the walk in."

"What we need now, is tea and cake to celebrate", said Tetley.

Well just on cue, that was when Shaun and Grizzly walked in with flasks and cake tin.

"Perfect timing pals", cried Allen, as he went off to get the mugs and plates.

Meanwhile Grizzly informed us that the selection today was mincemeat slice that Little Eric had made, or cherry and ginger scones that he had made.

"Sounds scrumptious", said Tetley in anticipation.

Soon the mugs were full of steaming tea, and we had scones and cake on our plates.

"Well done both of you, the cakes are delicious", called out Shaun.

"Thanks", replied Grizzly. "And thanks Little Eric for your help with the baking. I do appreciate it."

"Your welcome pal." And then raising his mug he said, "here's to Sunday."

"Absolutely", the rest of us called out in unison.

Shaun then went on, "we were not the first hug members to climb Castle Crag, as when Dad first made the ascent with Uncle Eric, he took Barnaby and Lee along, as a treat for them. That was back in 2000, and it was August 2006 when we eventually bagged the summit."

"Well I think perhaps we should include the picture of them at the summit in our story, for their sakes", responded Allen.

"Yes pal, that would be a nice idea", agreed Grizzly.

 

The Walk

We were up and off quite early, taking the M6 north, and then the A66 west to Keswick. Through the town it was left at the island to follow the narrow road down the Borrowdale Valley with for part, Derwent Water to the right, Catbells rising beyond, on the far shore.

As we neared the turn to Watendlath, Tetley remarked, "it is perhaps as well that Dad was not able to bring us sooner this month to do this walk, as the road had been closed due to it partly collapsing into the lake."

Even now only one lane was open and temporary traffic lights were in operation. Soon we arrived at the rough parking area below Grange Crags. It was surprisingly busy, and we got about the last space.

While Dad got ready we looked across to the ridge of High Spy and Maiden Moor, picking out the route we had followed to get to the summits, two months ago. "It was arduous and steep at times, said Little Eric. "He was repeating them for my sakes, and I really felt for Dad's poor knees on the steeper parts."

"Right I'm ready", Dad called out. "Get yourselves settled in the rucksack."

"OK", replied Tetley, as we hurried over.

We crossed the road, then started down to the path by the river which we were to follow left. "What's that plaque about?", queried Southey.

We went closer, and Dad took a picture. which we include below.

There was we thought some significance to including this, as last year it was 60 years since the Queen's coronation. The tree of course was not in leaf, being too early in the year, but here it is, 60 years on from being just a sapling.

The rough path soon brought us to Grange Bridge, which we crossed over the River Derwent into the village.

The day was calm, as can be seen by the perfect reflections. Dry throughout, it was cool at the start, but soon suddenly it warmed up and there was some sun at times, so Dad was glad to be in shorts.

Just before the church, Shaun called out, "our way is along the very narrow road on the left."

A very pleasant way through woodland, it eventually turned sharp right, with a track going off left.

"We take the track", instructed Shaun.

"Of that there is no doubt, as the signpost shows it leads to our destination", agreed Grizzly.

So Dad strode off, the track stretching out before us.

This led through woodland, finally coming close to the river, where just beyond the track forked.

"Which way?", asked Southey.

"Shaun had already looked at the map, and replied immediately, "for the way to the summit, we need to take the right fork to follow the track between High Spy and Castle Crag, which eventually goes to Seatoller. Then if we follow the plan to return on the river side of Castle Crag, we will come in along the left fork."

Soon Castle Crag was towering above, and beside the track one of our lovely Herdwick sheep, that are synonymous with the Lake District, stood proud. Dad could not resist snapping off a picture.

Quite shortly then, there was a wide grassy verge to the left of the track. "It is here that we should be starting to make the ascent," advised Shaun.

"Look", called out Tetley, "there is a vague path branching off left."

Soon this became a clear path that swung back, reaching a seat below a large slate plaque.

"We'll have to go and see what that is about", called out Allen.

It is the Hamer Memorial, and reads -

THE LAND SURROUNDING THE
SUMMIT OF CASTLE CRAG
WAS GIVEN TO THE NATION
IN MEMORY OF
SIR WILLIAM HAMER
M.A. M.D. F.R.C.P.
BY HIS WIFE AGNES, WHOM
THIS SEAT COMMEMORATES
1939

Sir William Hamer was an eminent doctor who specialised in the study of epidemics, and was knighted for his contribution to medicine in 1923. On his death in 1938 his brother Samuel, on behalf of Lady Hamer, asked William Heelis, the husband of Beatrix Potter, to enquire about the possibility of acquiring the lower slopes of Castle Crag. In due course the 23 acre Low Hows Wood was given to the National Trust in his memory, which has enabled many thousands of visitors to enjoy exploring a very striking feature in the landscape of Borrowdale.

Wanting to give Dad a breather, Southey suggested, "let's sit on the seat for a few minutes."

Then, setting off again, the path climbed steeply to a stile and then on upwards to a ladderstile over the wall.

Long ago there had been a slate quarry here, and the huge spoil heap rose up on the left. Over the wall the path went right beside it for a little way, before turning up left and zig-zagging through the spoil heap.

"Ooh it's a bit slippy in places", said Little Eric. "It might be a bit tricky on the way down."

"Don't worry lad, I've had much worse to contend with over the years", replied Dad comfortingly.

At the top, there was a plateau, where we guessed once the quarry buildings were. From here it was just a short way on an easy climb to the actual summit, a rock outcrop on the flat top.

"Look, another memorial plaque", said Southey. "That makes three today. They say things come in threes."

This is the John Hamer Memorial, and reads -

Castle Crag was given to the
National Trust in memory of
JOHN HAMER
2nd Lieut 6th KSLI Born July 8 1897
Killed in action March 22 1918
Also of
The following men of Borrowdale
Who died for the same cause
2nd Lieut H.E. Layland R.E.

Pte G.Bird 1st
Border Regt

Pte E.J.Boow

2nd
Border Regt
Pte J.H. Dover 11th
Border Regt
Pte J. Edmondson 1st
Border Regt
Pte F Hindmoor 7th
Border Regt
Pte W. Nicholson 5th
Border Regt
Pte T. Richardson 6th
Border Regt
Pte J.W. Rigg 8th
Border Regt
Pte A.E. Wilson Kings
Own Royal Lancasters

The Hamer family lived in London, and while not apparently owning any land or property in the Lake District, they obviously had a great love for Borrowdale and the view from Castle Crag. Probably persuaded by his brother Samuel, who was secretary to the National Trust from 1911 to 1933, Sir William and Lady Hamer made a donation to the trust in 1918 to buy land as a memorial to their son, who was killed in France in March 1918. In 1920 eight acres at the top of Castle Crag were purchased for £150, and handed over to the National Trust. It was the intention of the family that the plaque affixed to the summit rock be solely to the memory of their son, but they were persuaded by Canon Rawnsley to add the names of the men of Borrowdale who had fallen in the war, even though there was already a memorial to them in Grange churchyard.

Now we have already mentioned that the first time Dad climbed to this summit on 7th May 2000, he took our pals Barnaby and Lee along, and here they are sitting above the memorial plaque.

Today when we arrived, there was just one gentleman there, who Dad chatted to for a few minutes. He then set off, but as we got settled for our summit picture, he called out, "do you have a camera."

"Yes" responded Dad.

So he kindly returned to take a Dad's picture with us at the summit, after which Dad took his picture.

After he had gone, Allen said, "will you take our usual summit picture as well, Dad."

By now quite a few other people had arrived, including a Scottish couple, the lady commenting on us, not realising that we were with Dad. This misunderstanding was soon cleared up and Dad then chatted with her. She asked where we usually walked, and it came out that she had climbed all the Munros, being all the summits in Scotland over 3000ft. Wow we thought that is some achievement!

Although modest in height at just below 1000ft, the view looking to Derwent Water is truly beautiful. Today the visibility was rather hazy...

but much clearer on 6th August 2006...

Skiddaw forms the main backdrop, its summit and that of Skiddaw Lower Man, just in the cloud. The lower fell below that ridge on the right is Latrigg. Blencathra is distantly to the far right, its summit in cloud too. Closer to the far right is Walla Crag, rising right to Bleaberry Fell.

"We had enjoyed being at the summit, but finally Dad said, "I guess we had better be getting on lads."

So settled in his rucksack, we followed the ascent path down to the plateau, and then through the slate spoil heap.

Shaun was looking at the map, and as we reached the bottom, called out, "we should go on ahead to climb that stile in the wall."

Over this we crossed boggy ground to pass through a wall gap.

"Looking back there is a lovely view of Castle Crag", remarked Tetley. "I think it is worth taking a picture for the story, Dad."

Beyond the gap, the route continued descending to a gate into pasture, then following the path half left to reach a gate, through which we were on the path by the river, where we went left.

The path was level and wide with the river to the right. As we made our way along, Southey asked, "what is that fell ahead on the right?"

"King's How, lad", replied Tetley. It is part of Grange Fell, the summit being at 1286ft. It is one of the Birkett summits, and we climbed it on 10th November 2010."

Further on, the path swung left, but we all spotted a group of our lovely Herdwick sheep, so we went to have a closer look. They were busily intent on devouring some hay that the farmer had provided for them. Nevertheless with a bit of patience, Dad did get this picture.

Rejoining the path, that ultimately led to the junction, we had this quite beautiful view of the River Derwent and distantly the crags below the ridge of High Spy and Maiden Moor.

From the junction of paths, it was then a reverse of the outward route to the car.

"Wonderful", cried Little Eric. "Thanks so much Dad. I hope that it has not been too much for you.

"No lad, I am feeling fine."

"So refreshment time?", asked Tetley.

"Yes, and I am going to see if Kim is on at the Wordsworth."

Well as it turned out she was not, and as it was Mothering Sunday, they were not serving snacks in the bar. Instead Dad went to Heidi's, where he had a lovely sausage sandwich, a gorgeous piece of chocolate flapjack, and a pot of tea.

Then suitably refreshed, we all headed home, having had a great day.

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