Castle Crag

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Guest post by Chris Jesty

During one of Chris Butterfield’s visits at my home this summer, he suggested going for a walk to Castle Crag. It had been about 14 years since my last visit there when I was revising The North Western Fells guidebook. I thought it would be a good opportunity to see how much had changed in the intervening years.

In the concluding part of my first book, published in 1984, I wrote that the best time to be in the countryside is between 5am – 8am in May, June or July. This is when the mist is on the meadows and the air is full of the sights and sounds of wildlife.

So, when Chris asked me what time I wanted to be picked up, I chose 5am. As a result, we had a traffic-free run from Kendal to Grange-in-Borrowdale, where we started our ascent of Castle Crag. From the summit, we looked down on the upper part of Borrowdale. It was enveloped in a blanket of beautiful white mist. This was our reward for the early start, as the mist cleared long before we set off down.

I have also noticed that people have started to call Borrowdale ‘the Borrowdale valley’. This is incorrect because ‘dale’ means valley. However, I don’t mind when people incorrectly call Windermere ‘Lake Windermere’. This helps to distinguish it from the town of the same name. It rolls off the tongue better than ‘Windermere (the lake)’.

We found that all the changes taken place since 2007, had been faithfully recorded by Clive Hutchby in his Walkers Edition of the same guide. It occurred to me that he might have mentioned in the descent notes that walkers should follow the zigzags carefully to avoid taking the short cut to the gate. There is plenty of unimportant text that could be removed to make room.

Before we got home Chris told me that he had posted photographs from our walk on his Facebook group, and that people had already commented on them. I often used to wish that I could see into the future, and now I am living in it. When I was young, I would not have believed that things like this would ever become possible.

A few days later Chris asked me if I would like to write about our walk. I said that I couldn’t do this because I had nothing to say except for the one comment I had already posted on his Facebook group. Then I remembered page 6 of A Coast to Coast Walk and page 84 of Pennine Way Companion, when I thought that I would never be able to fill the page with text. In both cases I thought and thought about the problem until I succeeded. So, this is what I have done now, and here is the result.

The route ahead
Planning the route ahead
A gentle start
A gentle start.
The River Derwent
The River Derwent in the mist.
Low Hows Wood
Low Hows Wood.
Broadslack Gill
Broadslack Gill.
Nearly there
Still going strong.
Broadslack Gill 2
Chris takes Wainwright’s advice and watches where he puts his feet.
Chris checks the route ahead
Did Wainwright miss something here?
Chris double checks everything
Chris double-checks everything.
Chris inspects the plaque
Taking time to read the plaque above the seat.
The plaque
The plaque.
Chris admires the view
Chris takes time to absorb the magnificent landscape before him.
Chris near the summit
Final push for the summit.
Chris on the summit
Chris summits for the first time since 2007.
Chris watches the mist slowly dispersing
Well earned rest
Time to rest and reflect on the journey.
Derwent Water in the mist
Skiddaw above the mist.
The mist has cleared
The inversion clears and Chris takes in Borrowdale one last time before descending.
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