Castle Rigg Stone Circle to Raven Crag

15th October 2011

I got pretty excited about this route the moment I planned it not three days ago, I do admit at first, I didn’t give Raven Crag my whole attention & that was why I asked my 11 year old son to join me, he however had other more serious plans, which included his mates, a sleep over & needless dare I say, Xbox’s.

So this opened up my walk a bit, I could now venture further afield & make the walk that bit more interesting which is exactly what I did, its a pretty lengthy walk but a glorious one at that, the type of walk in parts you wish may never end but I’ll get to that later.

I’ve been a bit of a stress head as of late, more to do with work, right now & for the foreseeable winter, I & my life long work colleagues shall be working out of a Portacabin while builders knock ten bells & twenty years of memories, I & my other life long friends & colleagues have shared, they don’t give a s*** about memories, they’re paid to work & we must all move with the times right?

I’m still stressed & It still saddens me though.



Wainwright Guidebook

The Central Fells

One of the many dozens of Raven Crags, best known of all, and the subject of this chapter, is the mighty buttress of grey rock towering above the Thirlmere Dam. The vertical face of the crag, now receiving the attention of expert rock-climbers, is a truly formidable object, standing out starkly from the dense surround of plantations.


Ascent: 2,200 Feet, 670 Meters
Wainwrights: 2, Raven Crag & High Rigg
Weather: Cloudy Start Turning To Warm Sunshine & Blue Skies, Highs Of 15° Lows Of 12°
Parking: Car Spaces, Castle Rigg Stone Circle
Area: Central
Miles: 9.5
Walking With: On my own
Ordnance Survey: OL4
Time Taken:  
Route: Castle Rigg Stone Circle Castle Rigg Lane A591 Bracken Rigg Raven Crag Thirlmere Dam High Rigg Low Rigg Tewit Tarn

Map and Photo Gallery



Blencathra from Castle Rigg Stone Circle.

It’s 8:23am & 12°, but it feels colder as I get my gear ready at the side of the car, although we are well & truly into October I don’t submit to the jacket, beanie nor gloves, I notice two other cars here already as I hastily tie my boots & shoulder my pack. Damn I thought, I wanted to be here first, well never mind.

I notice a photographer with a SLR attached to a tripod taking shots of the Stone Circle, well at least we are all here for the same reason I mutter, walking around the back of him I hear the clunks of the shutter, good shots I hope. I circle the huge colossal stones making sure I’m out of view, or at least out of shot. I look over at the guy, SLR in hand & silently hold up two fingers in reverse indicating I will be out of there after a few shots myself, he gives me the thumbs up as I start click away.

Within less than two minutes I have my shots, by now a young woman has turned up as I make my way to Castle Lane & a Sty cut into the wall in the top right corner of the field, I smile & say ‘morning’ & she returns my complement, clunking away  SLR in hand.

Time to leave.


Sunrise over Clough Head & The Dodd’s.

As I take in Castle Lane towards the A591 with its altogether narrowness I can’t help but take shot after shot of the sun rising above Lakeland, I note my camera’s batteries are on two bar-not the usual three, but this doesn’t stop me, moments like this create great memories.

I’m kinda wishing I at least put my gloves on, the cold morning breeze nipp’s at my fingers & ears, so Boy like I put my hand in my pockets & make my way to the hustle of the A591.


Sunburst over St Johns In The Vale.


My route today includes a mile southbound on the A591 towards Bracken Rigg, the morning was turning out just beautiful in magnificent contrast to my last weeks drowning on The Mell Fells. What I was a little uncertain off was the footpath along the roadside, you can see it clear in the right of the picture which laid my mind at rest, the footpath swaps sides after Dale bottom to a grassy path which was just as safe.


The gateway to something special.

Should I keep this little pathway to myself? Of course not, because what lies behind this wooden sty hidden within the weeds & tumble of the A591 is just under two miles of walking bliss.


White Side & Helvellyn (L) & The Ben (R)

The conditions were just perfect for an all out assault on the fells, whether like me, you were out on some of the lesser in height fells, or you were on the top of Scafell, today was a walkers paradise in Lakeland.

This footpath would lead me all the way towards Shoulthwaite Gill, a steady climb that hardly gets noticed underfoot, the footpath at this particular point varies from grass to stone & then back again, the path continues on a sound wave from passing cars to sprinkling gill, once you hear the sound of running water you know you have reached Shoulthwaite Gill & for me something special.

The one thing that did cross my mind was, in the height of summer you would have a fight with the bracken whilst here.


On reaching Shoulthwaite Gill I spotted this cheeky chappie, not content with just the one pose he hung around for a few more…

Pose number two
Pose number three

I really could of snapped away all morning at this Red Squirrel, it was me who left him & not the usual the other way around by the means of a quick run out in front of you, then disappear off up a tree. This was one tame little fella.


Thirty minuets of walking paradise.

Not even a picture could grasp just how special this place feels, with the trickle of Shoulthwaite Gill on my flanks I head up to the col seen at the top of the picture, with no one around for what feels like miles I take in this special mile.


Looking back along my golden mile towards a distant Great Calva & the northern fells.


Looking up towards Iron Crag.


One last look back  beyond the now boulder strewn path of Iron Crag.


Castle Crag Fort seen here from the banks of Shoulthwaite Gill.

It was here I crossed the Beck & made for the obvious sty, however I deemed it easier to stay on the right hand side of the fence & followed it to the bottom of the Crags.


It was a tough little slog to the top, 450 yards west of this point lies Raven Crag, but first it was a little visit to Castle Crag Fort.


Castle Crag Hill Fort, Period, Iron Age.

Sadly there’s not much at all to see here, During the Iron Age just like Castle Crag itself in Borrowdale, Such outcrops of over looking hilltops were used as defensive forts.


The northern fells which include Lonscale Fell & Skiddaw (L) Great Calva (C) & Blencathra (R)


Looking back at Castle Crag Fort as I crossed the footbridge on route to Raven Crag. It was here I crossed paths with a family & there dog aptly named ‘Bracken’ They seemed to be checking their position before an assault on Raven Crag, we passed on our hellos & I was soon on my way through the tree lined route towards Raven Crag.


Most of the popular of the lower touristy type fells come with directions which is all well & good because after the conversation I’ve just had with my fellow walkers I completely missed the sign & started walking in the opposite direction! here come the embarrassing back track, red faced or what!


Raven Crag summit, it looks pretty ordinary from here but just wait until you see the view…


Thirlmere from Raven Crag summit.

With views all the way to Dunmail Raise, this has got to be one of the best viewing points in the whole of Lakeland. Its truly awe inspiring as I take of my pack & just absorb the brilliance before me.


Looking down on Thirlemere Dam & Great How from Raven Crag, as you can see by the waves being whipped up it looks quite choppy down there, but up here its so peaceful with just me & the big blue skies.


After having spent some time at the summit I now make my way down towards Thirlmere Dam via this path, the path is a little rocky & steep in places underfoot but its the quickest way down to the road that circulates Thirlmere Reservoir.

It was here I hear a beeping noise, I cant hear where its coming from & first thoughts were of my Suunto Vector watch which beeps at set altitudes but it wasn’t that, Its coming from my pack, so off with the pack & find the beeping is coming from the battery low warning from my GPS.

I always carry spare rechargeable’s so I wait until I reach the road & change the batteries for recharged ones.


A sun bleached Thilmere Reservoir taken while I crossed the Dam.

Upon reaching the tarmac road its off with the pack again & while I was at it I grabbed a couple of Tuna sandwiches from my pack, I lay two sandwiches on the wall with the moggies & begin to change the batteries over. Job done I set off for the sty Situated on the A591.


Raven Crag from Thirlmere Dam.

By now Its been a good qtr of an hour as I recheck my GPS is working ok, I tap the screen & see no map,.hmm that’s odd why’s it doing that? I continue to go in & out of different prefaces thinking it doesn’t recalculate its self when the batteries run dead on it, I’m getting a little concerned & worried why my GPS isn’t working, its now picked up full satellites & yet no maps?

The next thing I did was re-open the back & lift the batteries out & to an absolute shock I find no SD Card, I feel myself go pale, how the? where the? what the hell has happened to my SD Card?

With full UK Mapping I know that this is a very expensive loss, at this point I kid you not I could of cried. ok compose yourself Paul, I back track all the way over the Dam & to the spot where I knew I changed the batteries & where the SD Card probably fell out.

In my mind I know I’m not going to find an object half the size of a mobile Sim Card on a black tarmac road covered in leaves & what not, but I still go back & find nothing.

For now, for that one moment in time, for the time it took me to regain my utter disgust that I could be so stupid to loose a £160 piece of plastic, my heart fell out of the walk.

I try to compose myself, Its not the mapping, its not the fact I’m utterly dependable on a GPS its the fact that this piece of kit is going to cost me at least £160 to replace. A big BUT comes along,  a huge slap across my already slapped arse of a face ‘Paul this is not the end of the world’ you are safe, you know where your going & most important you know where you are, now enjoy the rest of your walk.

I do, I do enjoy the rest of my walk, feeling slightly deflated I carry on but say to myself once the walk is over, bring the car back here & have another good look for the SD Card. With this in mind I make my way for the A591 & the Sty opposite the bus stop ready for my next assault on High Rigg.


Back at the A591 I now make for the Sty.

Its really started to hot up, the sun is displaying an unusual summer warmth given that we are now in October as I mop my brow & make for the Sty.


Castle Rock, I tried to spot any climbers but I couldn’t see any today.


Great How (R), Thirlmere & Raven Crag from a hot  sweltering ascent on High Rigg.


The long & undulating Ridge of High Rigg.

High Rigg is a family fell, a place where on a day like today you can enjoy the wonderful views surrounded by some of Lakelands greats, such as Clough Head & the Dodds or the masses of Skiddaw & Saddleback & the Helvellyn range, but don’t come here expecting an easy ride, with my second time visit to High Rigg it never ceases to amaze me just how much the ups & the downs of the contour of the fell can really take it out on you.


Not too far to go now, with the summit in sight from one of many of the un-named Tarns found on High Rigg.


Blencathra from the summit of High Rigg.

I have a few moments to take in the views & recall my last visit here over a year ago and with much similar conditions, today however, I shall be pressing on towards Low Rigg & maybe a late lunch at Tewit Tarn.


Blencathra over shadowing Threlkeld & Threlkeld Common.


And to my left, The Skiddaw Massif including (L) to (R) Latrigg, Dodd, Carl Side, Skiddaw, Skiddaw Little Man & Lonscale Fell.


Great Calva has never been out of view all day & non more so than my descent down to Tewit Tarn. I’m really starting to get hungry at this point with the belly making all sorts of noises, Tewit Tarn cant come soon enough!


A free App I downloaded a while ago helped to guide me through the lanes of Castle Rigg, not that I needed much help as from the Summit of High Rigg I could see Castle Rigg Stone Circle & the lanes I would need to navigate.

This App is called OS Atlas Lite, it cost me nothing & only works when you have a signal, which if you’re a Virgin user like me, is never, especially in Lakeland! Something I would never rely on is a battery that last’s as little as four hours after continuos usage, there all fair & well for checking out routes but as to use them as a walking aid I’ll stick to my maps & GPS (cue the eye roll)


Lunch with a view.


Clough Head from Tewit Tarn.


Blencathra from Tewit Tarn.

Its been such an up & down day, more up I might add with the views as I have had today & of course the downs of losing the SD Card, yes its going to cost money & yes I’m a klutz for losing the SD Card, as an accident as it now turns out to be, that’s what I’m telling myself anyway, ‘accident’ makes it so much easier to swallow.

But what a fantastic day I have had, I knew this route was special from the moment I planned it, what I didn’t know was just how much I would fall in love with Shoulthwaite, what I didn’t know & expect was the fine views across Thirlmere from both Raven Crag & its Dam.

Before I end may I add that I did drive back to Thirlmere Dam & the exact spot I knew that I changed the batteries in my GPS, with little to no searching at all I find the damn bleeder, with a yelp & a huge grin on my face I place it back in its rightful place & turn on the GPS. It doesn’t work, its not wet, its not scratched but the SD Card did have a slight bend in it & I guess that’s all it takes to pack in the ghost.

Well, If I learned one valuable lesson today, its to make sure that when changing the batteries in a GPS make sure the SD Card does not drop out.

With this in mind, if losing an expensive Item as I did, only to find it hours later is pretty good going. I cant say that I didn’t drive away from Thirlmere with a grin on my face, with the immortal, only four left now Paul imprinted on my brain was enough to secure that grin back on my face.


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