Maiden Moor and High Spy.

Start. Grange.

Route. Grange - Borrowdale Gates Hotel - Hause Gate - Trap Knotts - Bull Crag - Maiden Moor - Narrow Moor - High Spy - Dalehead Tarn - Rigghead Quarries - Rigg Head Hut - Allerdale Ramble - Dalt Wood - Grange.

Notes. After a few days self exile in the Howgill Fells I feel I have a point to prove, having described the Lake District as overcrowded, my goal today is to wander the high plateau of Maiden Moor, to be the only walker on the hill, to prove to myself the Lake District hills aren't really awash with people. I picked a week day, dragged myself out of bed at an unearthly hour to take a walk on one of the most popular paths in the Lakes. My high level people count was zero, six friendly greetings lower down, so why not come for a wander in the lonely beautiful world above Borrowdale, I think the hills can stand one more pair of boots.

I parked on the small car park next to Grange Bridge, my route followed the tarmac lane through the village, get the boring bit out of the way first. I passed the Borrowdale Gates Hotel followed by a few smart holiday lets, as I left the village a finger-post invited me to Little Town, anyone remember Little Town?'s home to Mrs Tiggy-Winkle. I followed this path ascending to the coll at Hause Gate, if you wish it's a short ascent onto Cat Bells from this coll, I didn't wish so turned left to ascend Maiden Moor. On a well walked path I passed above Trap Knotts and Bull Crag before traversing Narrow Moor, the path ushered me passed the cairn above Blea Crag before crossing Eel Crag to reach the splendid cairn marking the summit of High Spy.

Next on the tick list Dalehead Tarn, one of my favourite bodies of water in the whole of Lakeland, nestled in the palm of Dale Heads rocky hand, clearly visible from High Spy, a good place to get the flask out, chill for a while. Brew over I re-traced my steps to a small tarn I'd passed on my descent from High Spy, just passed said tarn a faint path winds it's way west over boggy ground, this faint trod guided me to the head of Rigghead, where I crossed a stile to start my descent. Over shifting quarry spoil I teetered, fearsome shafts and adits welcomed me, the gaunt remains of quarry buildings littered the hill side. About half way down the valley I joined a narrow path forking off to the right, this in turn carried me to Rigg Head Hut, a climbing hut with wonderful views over Borrowdale, it had another big plus going for it, the descent from here was over springy turf, bliss, easy on the joints. Once I'd bounced my way down the hill I joined the main path traversing the west side of Borrowdale. With super views over the valley and a good path under foot I wandered back, the shear cliffs of Castle Crag and the quarries at Hollow Stone marked the start of my descent to the valley floor, a large rock on the banks of the River Derwent made an excellent seat to drain my flask. Sitting by the river bank drinking coffee, pondering over the days outing, I noticed an Otter watching me from the far bank, there's something you are not likely to see on a busy weekend. I think that's a good point to finish on, after all it's only half a mile of easy walking back to Grange.

view route map.


Looking to the crags that mark the Borrowdale face of Maiden Moor.

Views to Blea Crag and White Rake.

The ascent to Hause Gate.

Early morning views over island studied Derwent Water.

Looking to the sylvan slopes of King's How with Rosthwaite Fell to the right.

Magical views over Derwent Water, taking centre stage the Blencathra massif.

Seen from Hause Gate, Clough Head dominates the skyline with Bleaberry Fell and Walla Crag rising from the lake shore.

The view over Newlands from Hause Gate, Causey Pike and the ridges of Scar Crags and Rowling End.

Seen from the slopes of Maiden Moor, Blencathra and Clough Head with Walla Crag reflecting in Derwent Water.

Across the skyline Skiddaw and it's lieutenants, with ever fashionable Cat Bells to the left, if you want proof of these hills popularity just look at the width of the path.

Viewed over Newlands, Ard Crags and Knott Rigg backed by Sail and Crag Hill.

Seen from above Bull Crag the ridges of Robinson and Hindscarth.

Under cloud Blea Crag.

Blea Crag as seen from Narrow Moor.

A window in the cloud gifts me with this stunning view, reaching across the skyline the Dodd's, from Clough Head on the left to Stybarrow Dodd the right.

Maiden Moor, not a soul in sight, with Skiddaw looming above.

An unnamed tarn reflects the morning sky with views to Causey Pike and Scar Crags.

Above Eel Crags looking to Dale Head, take a look to the left, the summit cairn on High Spy is clearly visible.

Tranquil and serene amidst a landscape of rock and bog, nestling in a hollow under the slopes of Dale Head, Dalehead Tarn.

Looking to the riven cliffs and rivers of scree you don't see from the summit of High Spy.

The Rigghead Quarries, once owned by the Layton family, produced slate from levels deep cut into the mountain side, several adits are still open but very dangerous, even attempts to mine copper were made in the 18th century.

Castle Crag and King's How seen from the slopes below Rigg Head Hut.

With Castle Crag rising sheer to my right I stopped to drink in views over Derwent Water to Skiddaw.

My route through Delf Wood.

On the banks of the River Derwent, I'm looking for that bloody Otter it's disappeared now I've got the camera out.

back to top

back to list