Start. Grange.

Route. Grange - River Derwent - Dalt Wood - Broadslack - Tongue Gill - Scaleclose Gill - Little Gatesgarthdale - Seatoller - Johnny Wood - River Derwent - Borrowdale Youth Hostel - Rosthwaite Steps - High House Wood - Castle Crag Quarries - Low House Wood - River Derwent (Gowde Dub) - Grange.

Notes. Sylvan Borrowdale, in my book one of the most picturesque valleys in the Lake District, not always so. From the 17th century into the mid 20th century this was an industrial place, slate, lead, copper and the purest graphite in the world were all brought to the surface. Iron smelting and charcoal burning took place in the shadow of ragged crags and inviting fells. Borrowdale has some stunning woodland, from telegraph pole straight pine to coppiced chesnut and hazel, the white bark of the silver birch and stunning sessile oak woods. Old Wainwright described it as “the loveliest square mile in Lakeland”, it also happens to be the wettest in terms of annual rainfall, as I found out today.

No fell tops today just a wander through Autumn, just a wander through Autumn started in Grange, in a small car park next to the impressive twin arches of Grange Bridge, built in 1675. I walked into the village to be greeted by a finger-post promising passage to Rosthwaite and Seatoller, this route I followed first over tarmac then onto a stoney track leading to the River Derwent. Once at the river a lesser trod path guided me through Dalt Wood passed some old quarry workings before ejecting me onto the main path ascending Broadslack. I’ll stick my neck out and say this stoney track much loved by walkers was once the main route through the valley, it sticks to the high dryer ground gifting the lucky walker with stunning views over the loveliest square mile in Lakeland.

By the time I reached the top of Broadslack the loveliest square mile in Lakeland was a wet one, I’d donned waterproofs to enjoy wet but stunning views. South I walked the weather at my back, heavy showers sweeping up the valley. Wooden footbridges aided my crossing of swollen gills, I wandered behind High Doat to emerge in Little Gatesgarthdale, here I joined a path that descended to Seatoller in hopes of a roof over my head and a pot of tea, as the place was shut I continued on my Borrowdale excursion.

I wandered to the National Trust car park, passed through it to access a wide path that guided me back down the valley. Along the edge of Johnny Woods (a stunning sessile oak wood) I rambled, the path guided me to the banks of the River Derwent, I crossed a small chain walk, thankful of the chain the rocks were extremely slippery. With the river as my companion I strolled north passed the Borrowdale Youth Hostel and Longthwaite Farm, care was needed along the river bank, exposed tree roots made for a slippery passage. I arrived at Rosthwaite Steps unscathed, by now the rain had stopped, I removed my outer shell then continued.

Ignoring the stepping stones and New Bridge I continued into the woodland guarding the slopes of Castle Crag, as the sun was attempting to cut through rents in the cloud cover I decided to have a wander around the old mine workings under the crags eastern cliffs. There’s a number of caves and a lot of slate spoil, it’s a pity so much got wasted, all that effort quarrying it out. Impressed by the past endeavors of man I descended back to the main path and the banks of the river. Soon finding myself at Gowde Dub about to re-trace my steps of earlier.

Not a bad day for a wet one, the sun was now shining, it was lunch time, I wondered if Grange Cafe was open, an outdoor meal to round off the morning, it was and there was lots of empty seats, social distancing heaven, mask on, spectacles steaming up, in I went.

view route map.


The River Derwent at Gowde Dub.

Dalt Wood Quarry, take a closer look there are some wonderful colours in the rock walls.

Ascending Broadslack looking back to Derwent Water and a cloud capped Skiddaw.

Johnny Wood and High Doat backed by Combe Head.

Over Borrowdale the Stonethwaite valley with the steep slopes of Ullscarf plunging in from the left, taking centre stage the rocky earie of Eagle Crag.

Rearing up out of the Jaws of Borrowdale Castle Crag with King's How to the right.

Rain washes the slopes of Brund Fell, seen from above Scaleclose Gill.

Diffused light paints the landscape, looking to Little Gatesgarthdale.

From the edge of Johnny Wood views to the head of Borrowdale, closing the valley Seathwaite Fell.

Under cloud the ragged heights of Combe Head with The Combe still visible under the cloud base.

Viewing the high valley of Gillercomb between the slopes of Base Brown and the Borrowdale slopes of Grey Knotts.

Borrowdale Youth Hostel.

Rosthwaite Steps, if you don't fancy wet feet there's a bridge a little further down stream, we intend to stay on this side of the beck.

Looming above the valley, grey and quite malevolent Eagle Crag.

This is what I came here today for, a splash of Autumn.

Exploring the past endeavors of man.

Walking through the history of slate mining, one of the caves in Castle Crag.

Viewing King's How from the piles of slate spoil on Castle Crag.

From the field of stone spilling from the slate mines on Castle Crag, views to Great Crag.

Striding out along the banks of the River Derwent.

The Jaws of Borrowdale, where road, river and numerous paths and quarry tracks pass through this narrow gap, it's a stunning place.

Sunlight on Cockley How, for hill walkers it's the best route by far onto High Spy, for photographers, you won't get a better view over Derwent Water.

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