Years ago while staying at Castlerigg Manor I wandered down to Derwent Water on a short walk taking me to Friar’s Crag a wooded knoll on the shores of the lake. There I met a gentleman who happened to be a principal of a college in New England. He was visiting the Lake District on a walking holiday. Was it his first visit I asked? “No,” came the reply, “I have come on a two week break every year for the past 21 years.” I found this surprising because what I know of New England it is a very attractive place in its own right. “What I like about the Lake District is its scale,” he explained. “The trouble with landscape in America is that there is just too much of it. Here everything is seems manageable.”  He has a point. Travel in a straight line from Kendal in the south to Wigtown in the north you’ll do about 40 miles which is a similar distance if you crossed from St Bees Head in the west to Shap in the west.  But what lines of travel across some of the best scenery in the world. And here’s the thing – you don’t have to fly across the ocean to reach it. Here’s a walk on the far side of the lake from where I had my encounter with the American gentleman.

Start/Finish: Grange in Borrowdale CA12 5UQ
[Car parking may be an issue as there is none in the village. There is a small car park on the right of the B5289 if travelling south about 250 yards before the bridge leading to the village.]

Fact file:

Distance 7 miles 11k

Time: 3 - 4 hours

Grade: Strenuous

Map OS OL4 The English Lakes north-western area

 Map by kind permission of Johnston Press


1. From the village centre walk up towards the chapel turning left onto a bridleway in the direction of Seatoller.


 Keep on the track as it takes you past the camping ground of Hollows Farm.


The way enters woodland close to a wide reach of the River Derwent. Here branch right


and soon after begin to climb steeply up a valley formed by Broadslack Gill. After half a mile bear left to a stone stile


in a wall below the spoil heaps of Castle Crag. From here a clear and very steep path leads to the summit of one of the Lake Districts most popular hills.


2. The reason it is a popular summit is that it gives a commanding view of one of the Lake District's most attractive lakes - Derwent Water.


Part of its popularity is due to the fact it is not particularly high. In fact at 985 feet it is the lowest of all the Lakeland Fells listed by Wainwright. Once you have admired the stunning view retrace your steps to the main route. When you reach it turn left, cross a rise


and after ¼ mile bear right


onto a footpath leading up Tongue Gill.


There follows a sustained climb of 1,000ft in little under a mile taking you through the spoil heaps of worked out quarries and mines.

3. After crossing a fence


the way levels out at Wilson's Bield. Ahead Dale Head (2473ft/753m) strikes a majestic pose with its crag covered flank.


The way leads right on a faint path over grassy and in places boggy ground. As you gain height the path becomes more definite taking you to the summit of High Spy and its handsome cairn. (2143ft/653m)


The path leads away northwards to the left of a broad ridge. In clear weather there is plenty of scenery to admire - Grasmoor Group form a defined clump across Newlands to the north west. Follow the path as it dips down below


Blea Crag with its noticeable cairn to your right and continues to the col before the expanse of Maiden Moor. Where the path divides bear left following it to the top. (1887ft/576m) Deciding the exact summit of Maiden Moor will be a matter of speculation unless you have an altimeter. When we checked the route there seemed to be a grouping of stones - perhaps a cairn in progress - that we took to be a sign that we had bagged the fell.


4. Keep on the path as it descends to Hause Gate. If time allows it may be impossible to resist the shapely summit of Cat Bells.


This is recommended for the sublime view of Derwent Water and its backdrop of Skiddaw and Blencathra.


The path down is to the right as you descend from Maiden Moor. At first it zig zags below Hause Gate


and then strikes a more definite course


to deposit you on the road


leading back to Grange.