Apr 08 2012

Walk 48: Kings & Queens of the Castle

Derwent Water from Castle Crag

route: Castle Crag from Rosthwaite
Date: 8th april 2012
distance: 2.2 miles
ascent: 676 feet
time: 1 hrs 45 mins
walkers: Dave, Graham, Leanne, Roger, Sandra & Simon

Day three of our “Wainwright weekend” began at a more relaxed pace than the first two days. The reason for this was more to do with the agreement made the previous night that we would take stock in the morning, rather than the late start be forced on us due to hangovers. In fact, I think we all felt pretty good and ready to go but there was one slight problem, the weather. It had been drizzling for an hour or two as we surfaced one by one and made our way into the communal area for breakfast. The girls were making it clear they were happy to stay at base for the second day running and that us boys should go off to do Skiddaw as previously suggested the previous day. I am not a fair weather walker by any means and since the formation of the Badgers the rule has always been plan a walk on a certain date and go no matter what, but I didn’t feel the urge to head off to Skiddaw today. I gave it a moment’s thought and fired up my laptop to check out a couple of possible routes. With all data crunched and everything considered (time, weather, team spirit etc) I decided to take charge and set out the plan for the day. There wasn’t any dispute as such but everybody was saying “I am happy to do this” and “I don’t mind if you do that” and we were getting nowhere. The plan was simple. It was too late to do Skiddaw and the surrounding peaks if we wanted to enjoy our evening and in the conditions, we would climb to the top of one of only four Wainwright’s above 3000ft to see… nothing! The idea of the four boys going off again didn’t seem right as we were meant to be away walking together so in order for the girls to be excited and look forward to it the walk needed to be (a) short, (b) low and (c) pretty. The only option therefore was to stick to my suggested plan from the night before and we would all venture to Castle Crag. After explaining to the girls that it was the lowest of all 214 peaks on our list and the fact it is different to many of the others they were up for it. At the same time the fact that it was a short walk seemed to not be ideal for some of the crew but it is all about finding the common ground and that is something I am more than happy to do. It is all about the enjoyment of seeing new places with friends and not making it so hard nobody wants to go along. Today’s 2.2 mile walk wouldn’t push those boundaries and we made the 30 minute journey from our base to prepare for the off. Upon arriving we managed to squeeze into the last two parking spaces as a man pulled into the car park. He suggested that as he was a member of the National Trust he had the right to park here for free. The free part may be the case but I don’t think it means people have to move their cars for him, which we didn’t. We weren’t rude we simply told him we were going for a walk and had only just arrived, as he muttered something about seeking a refund or compensation for him not being able to park. It wasn’t our concern and having done nothing wrong we went through our pre walk routine full of smiles.

Castle Crag is the little tree covered mound that can be seen behind us in the picture above and the fact it was clearly visible and a lot lower than the surrounding summits meant L’Autobus were happy they came along. The weather was dry too and with a bit of luck it would remain that way for the duration of the walk and allow us to fully enjoy the delights ahead of us. We left the car park and the guy still prowling around and made our way between some farm building and a lovely looking tea room before joining a walled track that removed any doubt we were on the right path. We had been moving for no more than a couple of minutes when we ground to a halt to watch the little lambs in the field to our left complete with their raincoats. Roger mentioned they were ready for the oven or boil in a bag which I chuckled along with, but I still don’t like to associate these cute little bundles of energy with the wonderful Sunday dinners my mum does when the family get together.

The path turned to follow the River Derwent as we casually strolled along laughing about anything and nothing. I think at this early stage the promise of a nice pub lunch was appealing to most of us, not that we were in any danger of rushing the walk. I spotted one of the sheep which always make me chuckle as they kneel to eat which while no doubt practical looks so lazy. G found it amusing too as I pointed it out and we soon spotted a couple of others doing the same, before we reached the footpath that began to take us uphill.

The climb on its own would hold no fears at all but there was no doubting I could feel the previous two days in my legs and I quite happily plodded away at the back as the others ascended in their own time. A few minutes in to the climb we had a clear view albeit a misty one back to Rosthwaite which was helped by the fact the surrounding land was so flat.

Wu Tang joined me as we had a natter about what she thought of the walk so far and if she was glad she came along. She said it was high on her list of favourites and that impression only increased as we climbed higher and higher, firstly though open hillside, then under and through trees before it opened out once again and finally reached a massive mound of slate with a purpose built switch back path all the way to the top.

Once we reached the top of the slate pile we had an even better view back to our starting point and the choice of walk seemed to be even more sensible as the higher peaks that surrounded us sat under a blanket of cloud. Taking the weather forecast I had watched on tv a few hours earlier as a guide had paid off. It was dry and clear in Borrowdale at the height we were at and it feels good to know you made the correct choice.

We know only had a climb of no more than 20 – 30 ft to reach the top and five of us made our way up the path through a few small trees to the summit plateau as Roger went on one of his explorations down below us. At the top we found 15 – 20 people who had beaten us but that didn’t bother us one bit after all it isn’t a race to get anywhere and the hills will be there for a long time to come yet. I don’t see any need to rush anywhere when out and about, especially when I am forever up against tight deadlines during my working week. L’Autobus carefully read the war memorial at the top and we then climbed above it for our snap shots.

The wind even at this relatively low altitude was considerably stronger than ground level so we only spent 15 minutes soaking up the views of Derwent Water and the surrounding fells that we got the occasional glimpse of before we headed back. Ramblo’s knee that began to give her some trouble a couple of days back was hurting once again and she took her time descending from the top before we headed back down the slate path.

The rest of the descent took no time at all as we kept one eye on the time, after only putting enough money in to park for two hours. It wasn’t our main concern as we knew we had given ourselves plenty of spare time and at no point did any of us feel rushed.

As we made our way back alongside the river I spotted a little lamb ahead that was eating grass from the other side of the fence rather than the acres it had to go at. As we approached it wanted to back away but we didn’t want it to get flustered so we stood still and allowed it to remove its head from the wire fence before we carried on. It soon began to attack the longer grass through the fence again though.

All that was left to do from this point was walk the final couple of hundred yards back to the car and then on to our pub lunch.

There was no doubt we had broken new ground today. It was the shortest walk by far and the least amount of ascent other than the canal walk 4 weeks earlier. At under two hours it was almost in the bracket of is it actually worth doing? But of course the answer was yes! The reason we based ourselves in the Lakes over this weekend was to give us the flexibility we don’t have with a 200 mile round trip. It was exactly this scenario that I envisaged when I suggested a weekend away last November. Everything was working out perfectly as the rain began to come down as we walked through the pub door. The rest of the day was now ours and once again we would enjoy ourselves to the full. Sure the weekend was about walking and visiting some of the Wainwright’s on our tick lists, but nobody said how many and it certainly was never going to be at the expense of having fun. My initial weekend itinerary had a small walk of 4 miles on the Monday before we returned home but as we sat looking over the food menu with a cool drink beside us I said that we had done enough for the weekend. I knew L’Autobus were more than happy with that and if I am honest I think everybody else was too. Yes we could have done more today or even done something the following day but it would have left less time to sort things out when we got home before going back to work. From here on the plan was simple, pub grub followed by heading back to the ranch where everyone could do what they want. As it happened we sat round discussing the merits of each of the peaks we had done over the last three days whilst taking it in turns with bar duty. People would disappear at various times for a shower or a soak in the bath before returning to the group. The girls read books as the boys played a board game with Beaky being crowned the champ and all this before 6pm. Sure walking was the reason for our visit, but the main thing was to enjoy ourselves and that is what we managed to do.

Sir Edmund


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