Castle Crag walk from Grange including Millican Dalton’s Cave — True Freedom Seekers
On an extremely mild day, we started our walk up Castle Crag from Grange. At just under 300m/1000ft it is the smallest Wainwright to be included on the list, but don’t let that make you think it’s not to be taken seriously. Because Castle Crag Fell has some of the most interesting features of them all, including the famous Millican Dalton’s Cave.
Again it goes without saying if you want any further information regarding Castle Crag itself then please feel free to check out our information page here.
Getting to Grange, the starting point for our Castle Crag walk
So, as usual, we needed to get to the very starting point of our Wainwright walk. Firstly we left our flat once again in Cockermouth and took the A66 towards Keswick. Once we arrived at the turning for Keswick we took the B5289. This goes down the edge of the magnificent Derwent Water. And the just as magnificent Ladore Falls Hotel and Spa.
Once past Ladore Falls you’ve only got a little bit further to travel to get to the starting point for our walk up Castle Crag. You’ll soon see some lay-bys on the left-hand side down here. This is where we actually parked. There is some parking in Grange, but it is an extremely small village so again arrive early to get parked up. The back lanes are tight.
Grange is easy to spot as there is a little bridge heading into it on the right-hand side. This crosses River Derwent which of course leads into Derwent Water. There are also public toilets here at the back of the Grange Bridge Cottage Tea Shop. These were also free last time we were there to walk up Castle Crag.
It is also a good place to park if you wanted to visit the Bowder Stone. A huge stone that now has a ladder up to the top of it. This giving amazing views over the Lake District. It won’t be a full day visit by any means but if you’re in the local area then it’s worth checking out. And you can even do a round route if you wanted to. We did and it was a lovely afternoon spent without walking any Wainwrights.
Taking the south path out of Grange on our walk up to Castle Crag
Again we parked in the little lay-by and then crossed the bridge into Grange. From there we used the facilities. Carrying on, we continued on the roadside until we got to a signpost. This says ‘Public Bridleway to Seatoller and Rosthwaith.’ It is just past the Grange Cafe on the left-hand side.
We were excited to do this hike for two reasons. Firstly because we had already climbed Castle Crag but on looking at photos of others from the summit we realised something. We actually hadn’t made it to the summit of Castle Crag at all. We’d gotten to the slate part but didn’t realise there was a path to the actual top of the Wainwright.
So here we are again. This time on an extremely humid day. The sun wasn’t even out and the clouds were quite low but the temperature was warm. Really warm. Following the path in the now direction of Castle Crag. We were pumped to get to the top of Castle Crag and be finally able to say we conquered it. Yes, no one else would know, but to us it was important. And equally, we wanted to see the views from the very top of the smallest of the 214 Wainwrights.
Holmcrag Wood is on the left-hand side, which you’ll pass. The road itself will curve round to the right towards Hollows Farm, but we want to keep going straight on. And sometimes there are people camping in the field down here too at Hollows Farm Campsite. Down here you can already see the summit of Castle Crag. Eventually, this will bring you to a little bridge.
Turning off towards Castle Crag on our walk up to the actual summit of the Wainwright
Once you’ve crossed the bridge you want to take the right-turning. The left-turning is the way we’ll be coming back down. So don’t worry, you’re not going to be missing out on a little lake-shore walking. This route will soon start to incline slightly. And you’ll also be in Low Hows Wood now. It’s a very pretty place to be let loose. Especially amongst all the caves including Millican Dalton’s Cave.
This is where the walking continues to towards Castle Crag. The scenery soon starts to open up more as well once you’re out of the Low Hows Wood. For us, the walking to Castle Crag was an easy one which was made difficult with the humidity. I was carrying my new raincoat as the clouds looked like rain. But the only things that were damp and sweaty were us. The heat was becoming crazy on the walk up to Castle Crag from Grange. And we knew it hadn’t even started yet.
Walking up to the summit of Castle Crag with a welcome relief
There will be a sudden incline which will take you through a gate. This is where we’ll soon be turning off on your Castle Crag walk to the summit. The stones underfoot are relatively large and make for good walking. Carry on up here and keep an eye out for a path leading up on the left-hand side. This is where you’ll be walking up to climb Castle Crag.
Once you see this route, take it. For us, as we were walking up here on the Wainwright we soon noticed a bench. Also known as a welcome relief from the day so far. It felt tough walking today because of the heat and a sit down was just what the doctor had ordered. Also, the bench itself is set into the stone of the Castle Crag. Above it is a plaque to Sir William Hamer, who donated the land around Castle Crag to the Nation. The seat itself commemorates his wife Agnes.
We have been up here with our parents before and it was a fetching photo that we got with this bench. It seems we also needed it on that day as well as today. For me, it was the perfect spot to catch our breath and take a moment out. Before we continued our walk up to Castle Crag.
Slates everywhere on this Wainwrights
Keep on heading up in the only direction possible. It does sometimes feel like you’re heading on a dodgy path but be reassured it does lead somewhere. Soon you’ll face the beauty that is the slate top. And the only way up is, well up. The memories were coming back to us now. Yes, we remembered this section of the walk up Castle Crag. This is actually the leftovers of the spoil pile from the days in which Castle Crag was a quarry.
It does look somewhat daunting and for someone that likes to fall on their bottom. Let me tell you, I haven’t yet fallen down going up or down this part of Castle Crag. So that says something haha. Just be super careful. Once you get going you’ll be fine but watch your stepping. And if you have fallen down or do, then drop us a comment won’t you.
Still a little bit further to reach the summit of this Wainwright in the Lake district
Once at the top this is where we made the biggest mistake in our Wainwright hiking career. Haha, so warning, this is not the summit of Castle Crag. I repeat this is not the summit of Castle Crag. I’m hoping it isn’t just us that has made this mistake and if it is then equally, it wouldn’t surprise me. But still, the warning is there. You’re welcome.
Here though, the views are without a doubt sublime. Amazingly you’ll only have views in one direction and that’s south-east to south. This is the Borrowdale Valley, also known as one of the wettest places in England. So be sure to bring your raincoat with you. Like me.
The amazing structures of the slates on Castle Crag
Honestly, it’s up to you, but whichever way you do it be sure to take some time out to admire the slate works up here. Yes, the summit of Castle Crag is only a couple of metres higher, and yes it’s beautiful. But so are these slate works. Take a wander around and enjoy them for what they are.
Some pieces are stuck up on end in a kind of formation. For us, we spent some time admiring them on this Wainwright and wondering how they ended up like that. I think the other thing to note here is the massive cairn sat just at the edge where the view is overlooking the Borrowdale Valley. Again it makes for some stunning photos over the Fells. And feel free to pop another piece on top too.
Walking to the actual summit of Castle Crag and views over the Lake District
So are you ready? We definitely were. To head to the peak of Castle Crag, look for the smalls trees to the right-hand side of the cairn. There is a little path there that has the final incline to the summit. Here you’ll find a war memorial in the stone itself. Along with views overlooking Derwent Water, Keswick, and of course the range on a clear day. For us, however, it wasn’t a clear day but we could still see to the end of Derwent Water.
Heat still rising we were desperate for some rain. But it didn’t come even though it looked threatening. The views to the west are of High Spy, and this is a walk you can even add onto Castle Crag if you so with. It also takes in the Wainwrights of Maiden Moor and too which are part of the Newlands Horseshoe. We have personally done all three of these Fells but on three separate days. However, we’d love to do the full circuit.
East on a good day you’ll be able to make out the Wainwrights of and Nethermost Pike. Fantastic Wainwrights and in comparison to little Castle Crag, much taller.
South, Glaramara and Eagle Crag. Wonderful Wainwrights to get ticked off too. Honestly, I can’t say which Fell I think is my favourite but I’d definitely put Castle Crag in the top ten. To say it nearly missed being a Wainwright at all, I’m so happy it did. It’s perfect for tourists of the Lake District.
“If a visitor to Lakeland has only two to three hours to spare, poor fellow, yet desperately wants to reach a summit and take back an enduring memory of the beauty and atmosphere of the District…let him climb Castle Crag.” Alfred Wainwright
The walk back down off of Castle Crag in the Lake District
Pretty straight forward, just retrace your steps to get to the bottom of the slate zig-zagged path on Castle Crag. Here instead of going back down the way we came up, we headed forwards and then took a small right hand turning. This takes you back down off of the Wainwright and to the path that we were on before we headed up.
From here we continued a little while longer until we found a turning off towards the left, east. This was a lovely section to walk and was good underfoot too. We congratulated ourselves on finally hitting the summit of Castle Crag and reminisced about the last time we were there. Now we were just enjoying a long walk in the Lake District after finally being satisfied.
We thoroughly enjoyed our walk around here. The scenery was gorgeous and the day was just wonderful. The weather was starting to turn as well, so high hopes for rain.
Going down Lingly Bank we felt as though we were truly heading into the valley itself. Fells on either side towering over us and around us. We headed down to Stang dub and had some much-needed snacks on the bridge there. Of course, we can’t go far without eating haha. And what a beautiful place to stop as well. The clouds still overhead, it was starting to get a bit cooler.
Heading back towards Grange and Millican Dalton’s Cave on our walk
So from here, we followed the only path there is. Along Derwent River and on the Cumbria Way. The walking is easy going and you’ll soon get a good pace down here. Further on you’ll enter High Hows Wood which is where the caves and quarries of Castle Crag are.
We’ll leave you to explore the caves around Millican Dalton’s Cave and see the surroundings yourself. It’s an awesome place to explore with the family and get a real insight into Millican Dalton himself.
“This was not the life for me. I gave up my job in the commercial world and set out to seek romance and freedom in nature.”
The self-styled ‘professor of adventure’ — Millican Dalton
The main one being Millican Dalton’s Cave. This in itself is a story which is so amazing that once you know it, you’re sure to remember it. And you’ll want to share it. So why not take a visit here. To the cave where Millican Dalton lived for many years, even furnishing the cave and having ‘the attic’ (another section of an adjacent cave) as his sleeping area. The lived there for 50 years in the summer. So be sure to check them out.
Walk from Millican Dalton’s Cave on Castle Crag back to Grange
Once back onto the Cumbria Way, just keep on following it back to Grange. Enjoy the scenery here and be sure to take in the views. High Hows Wood is beautiful and if you’re lucky you might even see some wildlife too. I’m always on the lookout for squirrels in woods.
We were lucky enough to not see any wildlife as such but to see some people in weird little boats. They almost looked like human-sized acorns upside down, and they were rowing around in them on River Derwent. We waved across at them and they waved back in their swimwear. Which I’m not going to lie, I was pretty jealous off with the heat the way it was today. Still, I was hoping for rain though haha. There’s also a couple of tree swings here for a bit of fun.
Soon you’ll come back to the junction at the bridge where we first headed off. And from here we just headed back towards Grange, with Castle Crag now behind us.
The drizzle started and the smiles broaden on our walk back to Grange
It happened. I know you’ve been dying to know, and now you finally do. Yes, it did in fact rain, and when I say rain, I mean more like drizzled a bit. Still, we were taking this and running with it. Our raincoats finally came in handy and the smiles couldn’t be shaken off. Arriving back in from our Castle Crag walk, we felt we had accomplished something that needed putting right.
As Alfred Wainwright beautifully said, if you do find yourself with a couple of hours spare then why not visit Castle Crag. It really is one of our favourite Wainwrights and I think it could be one of yours too. Enjoy!
Not only had we finally walked to the summit of Castle Crag, but we’d seen the caves where Millican Dalton had lived. And if this wasn’t good enough, the rain (OK drizzle) had finally come and cleared some of the air. I’m taking that as a win-win. Big smiles and a lovely couple of hours walk with my twin was perfect. Now back to the flat to plan the next Wainwright, or Wainwrights to bag.
Originally published at https://truefreedomseekers.com on December 11, 2020.