Borrowdale, Rigghead Quarries and Castle Crag

Walk Date – 17th December 2016

Distance – 7.7 miles

Weather – dry and sunny, occasional light cloud, hardly any breeze


Today’s walk sees us starting out from Grange in Borrowdale. This area is very, very popular in summer and parking is limited in the little village of Grange, so we thought it best to do this walk out of season.


Grange – Hollows Farm – Dale Wood – Little How Wood – High How Wood – Pennybridge Dub – Cumbria Way – Longthwaite – Johnny Wood – Allerdale Ramble – Tongue Gill – Rigghead Quarries – Tongue Gill – Allerdale Ramble – Castle Crag – Allerdale Ramble – Broadslack Gill – Grange


02 Ditto

A dramatic and simply stunning sunrise from the back garden, taken at 8.29 am two days ago. Today’s wasn’t worth bothering with as it was very pale and feeble.

03 Grange Bridge

There is a small parking area just to the right of this shot, which was empty, and after getting kitted up I walked the couple of yards to the river side for this view of Grange Bridge. Its a bright sunny morning but the sun isn’t yet high enough above the distant fells for it to be reaching the village. The only person around was a lady who was just about to open the little Wesleyan church by the car park and she gave us a cheery good morning.

04 River Derwent from Grange Bridge

The view downstream from the bridge as the River Derwent makes its way down to Derwentwater and Keswick. Its a frosty morning but its not as cold as it looks in this shot. On a sunny summer’s day this place is crowded as there are lots of places to picnic and paddle.

05 Taking the lane from Grange to Hollows Farm

We walk into the village from the parking area and take a left turn at the Grange Cafe to walk along this little lane leading to Hollows Farm.

06 On the skyline are Nitting Haws and Blea Crag,below them in the sun is Cockley How

The lane is still in the shade but the fellsides opposite are beginning to glow. The small hill in full sun to the right is Cockley How, on the skyline behind it is Blea Crag and to the left of Blea Crag is Nitting Haws. Whenever I see that name a certain group of females with knitting needles and wool springs to mind. Think about it.

07 Hollows Farm campsite

As the lane begins to bend around towards Hollows Farm we leave it and take a left turn along a rough track which takes us alongside Hollows Farm campsite, where the low morning sun is casting long shadows over the frosty grass. You can take your pick of the camping pitches today but it’ll be altogether different come July and August.

08 Sunlight in Dale Wood

Further along the track and the sunlight is enriching everything in Dale Wood …..

09 Morning mist rising from the River Derwent

….. while over on our left the morning mist is rising and drifting over the Derwent. We are now walking through Little How Wood, having taken a left hand path at a junction, to walk alongside the river for a while.

10 Castle Crag

Further along the woodland path and Castle Crag comes into view. Had we taken the right hand path at the junction we would now be walking up Broadslack Gill which runs through the v-shaped gap over to the right of the shot.

11 Goat Crag as we climb up from Low How Wood

Further along the path veers away from the river and begins to climb out of Low How Wood. At the gap in the wall we take a left turn and continue to climb to the highest point before the path descends through High How Wood and back to the riverside. Here we’re looking in the direction of Goat Crag.

12 Looking back as we pass through High How Wood

Back down to valley level and a look back at the route as we pass through High How Wood.

13 The path through HIgh How Wood

Looking ahead as we walk through High How Wood. We’re walking due south now and the low sun is making it difficult to see, so once again it hands on foreheads to shield our eyes and see where we are going. Taking a tumble, even on a flat and low level path, is all too easy when its covered in wet leaves, with plenty of slippery stones, tree roots and moss just waiting to send you sprawling.

14 High Scawdel appears as we leave the woodland

Out in the open once again at Pennybridge Dub, frost still clinging to the grass and this view of High Scawdel straight ahead of us.

15 Walking alongside the Derwent and a look back at Grange Fell

Another stretch of riverside walking along the Cumbria Way path and I took a look back at Brund Fell, one of the high points on Grange Fell.

16 New Bridge and High Scawdel

The footpath we were following is over there on the opposite side of the bridge (aka New Bridge) but the view from that side was spoiled by bright blue plastic bags full of stones which were helping to shore up the bank on this side. I crossed the bridge for this shot thinking that a view of High Scawdel might be more attractive than a row of blue plastic bags.

17 The stepping stones across the ford leading to Rosthwaite

I crossed back over the bridge and we continued along the path to the stepping stones across the ford which lead over to the path to Rosthwaite. We weren’t going to Rosthwaite today so there was no need to cross either by the bridge or the stepping stones. The path continues to the right of the picture.

18 A look back at Low Scawdel and Castle Crag from the fieldside path

A look back, from the fieldside path between the ford and Longthwaite, at Low Scawdel, the large area of fellside on the skyline, and little Castle Crag, just behind the trees over on the right.

19 One of the houses at Longthwaite

We’ve now reached our turn around point of Longthwaite …..

20 The bridge at Longthwaite

….. and, as its Mars Bar o’clock, we take a short break beside the river as it burbles its way down to Derwentwater and Keswick.

21 Camping pods at Borrowdale YHA

The path from Longthwaite to Johnny Wood crosses the open grounds of the Borrowdale YHA where various types of accommodation, including these ‘camping pods’, are available. You could almost imagine David Copperfield and the Peggotty family emerging from one of these.

22 Grange Fell from the path alongside Johnny Wood

Following the path alongside Johnny Wood with a view of Grange Fell across the frosty fields. The two high points of the fell are King’s How on the left, and Brund Fell on the right.

24 Low Scawdel and Castle Crag

Over on the left we have a view of Low Scawdel and Castle Crag.

25 A closer look at Castle Crag

A closer look at Castle Crag over on the right of the shot.

31 A look back as we head up the Tongue Gill path

From the Allerdale Ramble path we turned left up Tongue Gill. This is the view looking back down into Borrowdale where the sun has been obscured by a thin layer of cloud for the time being.

32 A look ahead from the same spot

The view looking up the Tongue Gill. If you kept going you would eventually come out at the col just below HIgh Spy. We walked over High Spy on 28th November so we aren’t going up there today, instead we are going to have a look around the Rigghead Quarries.

33 Derelict buildings at Rigghead Quarries

Derelict buildings, adits, rusting machinery, long metal pipes and spoil heaps are found in abundance up here. Beyond the sloping pitch of the wall a grassy path leads steeply up to a stile, above which are numerous slate pathways and steps leading to a higher level of workings.

34 A look back across Borrowdale as we climb up to the higher quarry workings

The path might be grassy but it was mighty steep and my calf muscles were definitely not happy. To give them a chance to stop complaining I took a look back over the valley and noticed that we are now high enough to be seeing the Dodds and the Helvellyn range on the skyline.

35 The climbing hut

On this next level is this building, always referred to as ‘the climbing hut’ and about which I can give no information other than it has Rigg Head Hut daubed in red paint on one of the metal window shutters. No idea who owns it or its actual function, it may not even be a climbing hut at all.

38 Another derelict quarry building

More dereliction close to the hut.

39 The view over Borrowdale from the climbing hut

The hut stands on the flat grassy top of a spoil heap with this view over to the far eastern fells so we decided it was the perfect place to stop and have something to eat …..

41 More dereliction

….. especially as there was a retaining wall topped with flat stones providing a ready made table and seating. None of the usual hunting for dry, flat rocks free from sheep droppings up here, this is four star accommodation, so we made the most of it.

42 Approaching a quarry entrance

Hunger being satisfied we went up another set of slate steps and did a bit of exploring. This was one of the bigger tunnel entrances so we went to have a look.

44 We went no further in

This was as far as we went for three good reasons, water was dripping down everywhere, inside and out, by the bucketful, we didn’t have torches, and its not a good idea to enter old mine workings even with a torch. If you look closely at the floor the old metal rails for the mine trolleys to run on are still there, and further inside we could see what looked like a tall metal tank, which looked a bit like a hot water cylinder that you’d find in an airing cupboard.

45 The climbing hut from the higher level

From this level we had a good view down to the hut and the wall where we had our lunch, plus the excellent view across the valley. Whoever built the hut couldn’t give the lack of building material as a reason for not finishing the back wall of the lean-to could they?

46 Looking back up the Tongue Gill path

Having explored the quarrying/mining area we made our way back down to the path, crossed the gill and walked back down on the opposite side to the one we walked up. I took a look back up before we lost the view.

48 Hazy sun over Rosthwaite and Borrowdale

We’re about to join the Allerdale Ramble path once more but before that there’s another chance to look along Borrowdale with Eagle Crag at the head of it. Behind Eagle Crag is Greenup Edge which links up with Ullscarf over to the left.

49 Castle Crag from the Allerdale Ramble path

Why can’t we walk straight past Castle Crag? We’ve been up there before after all …..

50 We take the path going off to the right up to Castle Crag

….. but here we are, making for the path on the right which takes us steeply up to the summit. I suppose you can’t ignore it because its right there, its not far to the top and you aren’t having to go out of your way, so there is no good reason not to.

51 The Skddaw fells and Derwentwater from Castle Crag summit

Having met only two dog walkers on the whole of the walk so far it felt quite crowded on the top of Castle Crag. There were only about a dozen people but they were all clustered around the memorial stone so I hung around and took a couple of shots while waiting for people to make their way back down. The view down to Derwentwater and Keswick, with the Skiddaw fells behind, never fails to please, especially in the soft afternoon sunlight.

53 Grange Fell from Castle Crag summit

To the right, and also standing out well in the sunlight, is Grange Fell. Over on the left is the King’s How top while over on the right is the Brund Fell top. Somewhere between the two is a huge outcrop which goes by the wonderful name of Jopplety How.

54 Another look down into the quarry

Still waiting for the summit area to clear so I took a look down into Castle Crag’s quarry.


At last the summit is clear and I can take a shot of the summit rock and its memorial stone. The poppies and crosses remaining from November’s Remembrance Day service.

60 Back on the Allerdale Ramble path after our descent from Castle Crag

Back on the Allerdale Ramble path down Broadslack Gill after our descent from Castle Crag, and heading back to Grange.

61 Deserted Grange

Back in Grange and the place is deserted. The grey building with the porch is Grange Cafe, not open today, and beside it is the wooden signpost pointing along the little lane we took out of the village at the start of our walk this morning.

63 The bridge from the Grange Bridge Cottage tea gardenJust opposite the car park, which is now to the left of the shot, is another cafe but it too was closed, although it had been serving lunches. It’s not quite three o’clock but I guess they’ve now finished for the day. Here I’m standing in their tea garden, I couldn’t have a cup of tea but I could have a view of the bridge and the river for free. We’ve had a very different and varied walk today, we haven’t set foot on any of the high fells but you don’t always have to do that to have an enjoyable outing. Well, I’d better go and get my boots off so we can get off home and begin preparing for the upcoming festive period.

Happy Christmas.