When I first heard of Castle Crag my main thoughts were “what a poxy low fell” and “why is it included at the expense of much higher places?” Well, we all know that Wainwright created loads of anomalies when he compiled his 7 volumes, and after much pondering, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not worth dwelling on, as that way lies insanity. Best to consider it a part of the charm of his list which is after all much more famous than any of the more objective hill lists that cover the Lakeland fells.
Even Wainwright states that Castle Crag is technically part of High Spy, but clearly he considered it separate enough to warrant treatment in its own right. And Wainwright clearly didn’t consider Castle Crag to be a poxy little fell, as he broke his guideline of fells being above 1,000ft so as to include it. It’s little certainly, but packs a lot in.
By now readers of this blog will probably have picked up that I’m partial to the smaller, lower fells so it really shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that the lowest one of all comes out so high on my list of favourites. Indeed, it was so tight between the top four that it wouldn’t have taken a lot for Castle Crag to be my number 1.
So what do we get for our money ?
Firstly, it’s situated between Grange and Rosthwaite, not far from the bus route, so in theory it should be teeming with the flip-flopped hordes. It’s not though. Now this is partly because it doesn’t take very long to get up and back down, but must also be due to a perceived lack of glamour and stature. But then again it might have something to do with the weather on the days I visited as both times it’s been similar – wind and rain.
My first visit was an afterthought. I’d walked over Catbells and Maiden Moor in murky but not rainy conditions and revisited High Spy. It started raining as I descended through the old mine workings, and I thought my day was done. But opting to walk along the base of High Spy towards Grange, rather than head for a bus at Rosthwaite, Castle Crag loomed to my right, and didn’t look that high so I thought I’d give it a go. I left the path to climb a fence and stagger up through the wet slate, which was surprisingly steep. The top was gained relatively quickly, and what a top. Somehow it doesn’t seem quite right for a fell to have trees at the summit, but in Castle Crag’s case it seems to work. It’s also quite rugged in places with plenty of corners to explore.
Due to the weather that day, I didn’t stay long, but arguably I was better sheltered on top of the fell than off it. But I descended again and continued on my way to Grange for my bus.
My second visit came in 2011 on my Cumbria Way walk. The Way itself passes over the fell but south of the uppermost part, and yet again it was a wet and windy day. I still had the walk to Keswick to complete, so decided not to go all the way to the top, and instead veered off path to explore the lower fringes and also to try to stay out of the worst of the wind-driven rain. And worthwhile as there are caves and mine workings galore to explore.
Apart from enjoying the fell through being on it, I also enjoy seeing it wherever I am in Borrowdale. Cute is probably an appropriate word to describe it, and despite its lack of height, it can be seen from some surprising places. I even think I could see it from Lingmell the day I was up there. It just refuses to go away.
The most surprising thing is that I don’t seem to have any photos of Castle Crag. Not one. How can this be? I can see that when I’m in the Lakes at the end of April I’m going to have to pop in to get one to put in my wallet.