Winter walks in the Lake District: Castle Crag

They say good things often come in small packages, which is certainly the case with the smallest Wainwright fell, Castle Crag. Standing solo in the depths of the picturesque Borrowdale Valley, Castle Crag makes for an ideal winter walk in the Lake District.

As the smallest Wainwright of the bunch, do not be put off by Castle Crag’s modest height of 290m as the fell boasts magnificent views over the valley and offers a unique viewpoint of Derwentwater many have not seen before.


winter walks in the lake district

Due to its modest stature, Castle Crag makes for an ideal winter walk if you’re looking for something that will get your blood pumping but won’t result in you being on the fells all day like some of the surrounding peaks.

One thing is for sure, do not be fooled by Castle Crag’s height as the incline up the fell is certainly a steep one in places, albeit manageable for all walking abilities.

As a smaller fell, Castle Crag is a wonderful choice for a winter walk in the Lake District as you can admire the snow-dusted fells around you without necessarily having to get your own toes chilly! It also offers an uninterrupted view of the dramatic Skiddaw mountain range, which is a natural wonder of the Lakes in its own right when coated in a snowy blanket.

What’s also great about this walk is that it is really family friendly. It’s an interesting route, with lots of things to look at on the way up for instance the slate path, which looks hazardous but is actually quite simple, just watch where you put your feet.

Then once you get to the top there are spaces to run about and places to play hide ‘n’ seek.

Then it’s time to get out the drinks… hot chocolate for the kids and homemade gin for the adults!


winter walks in the lake district

The route

You begin the walk at the National Trust Pay & Display Car Park located within the little village of Rosthwaite, no more than a 5-minute drive from the Lodore Falls Hotel & Spa and the Borrowdale Hotel.

When you leave the car park, take a right turn and follow the road down past the farm yard and kennels which open up onto a stone lane. Continue on the lane until you reach a quaint bridge that crosses the river, then continue along the path.


After around 200m you will begin a minor climb where a gate presents before you. Head through the gate and continue on the stone path which takes you up the hillside. This clear route continues up the fell and you follow the zig zags.

As it begins to level out, proceed along the grass to a pronounced ladder stile that climbs the wall. Do note that this may be slippy if it has been very cold, and the steps are quite narrow which may prove difficult for doggy paws.

Once over, follow the path as a dome-shaped slate quarry appears before you – do not worry, it looks worse than it is! Follow the faint path up the slate and do not forget to admire the views of the valley behind you.


winter walks in the lake district

At the slate summit, head towards the trees at your right and follow the faint path up the grass slope to Castle Crag’s summit.

Here you may truly appreciate the panoramic views that unfold before you and do not forget to pay attention to the War Memorial that was erected at the fell’s summit to commemorate the fallen Borrowdale soldiers.

Return the same way you came up and take your time getting down if slippy.


winter walks in the lake district

  • Top tip – take a bottle of water because the climb up gets steep quickly. Don’t forget a water proof jacket too as the Borrowdale Valley is the wettest place in England.
  • Distance – 2.8 miles
  • Ascent – 214m
  • Time – 1 hour 20 minutes (minimum)
  • Near – Borrowdale, Derwentwater, Keswick