During my first navigation course with Chris from Walking the Wild earlier this year, I didn’t just find out about all things map reading. I also walked to the summit of a lovely little, heather clad fell rising above Stonethwaite Beck – Great Crag.
Starting out from the National Trust car park at Rosthwaite (postcode CA12 5XB), we turned left, walking along the B5289 briefly, before crossing the road and passing over a bridge to reach the opposite side of Stonethwaite Beck. It was a glorious day, with brilliant sunshine and clear blue skies as we turned right to walk beside the coolness of the stream.
We walked for just over a mile beside the stream, following the route of the Cumbria Way; the water gently babbling to our right as trees rose up the steep hillside to our left, looking like huge heads of broccoli. Every season brings its own colours, and this summer’s day was blue, green and the vivid pink of the foxgloves.
Ahead, we could see Eagle Crag, standing majestically between Greenup Gill and Langstrath Beck. The view into this valley was so enticing – definitely one to visit in 2019.
Soon, we came to a step stile and, after clambering over the dry stone wall, we began the steep slog up through the trees.
After climbing over 220 metres in under half a mile, I was shattered and feeling pretty unfit when the path levelled off. But the view over the tree tops to Honister slate mine was well worth it and taking in the view and a few photos was the perfect excuse to get my breath back.
We followed the path onto the fell and were presented with another fabulous view – Willygrass (snigger) Gill cascading down the fell side and another glimpse of the cliffs of Eagle Crag.
We tramped along a path through the bracken until we arrived at the very tranquil Dock Tarn, where we stopped for dinner and some factor 50. And of course, the obligatory cup of flask coffee. It’s still great, even in the heat of summer.
With bellies full, it was time to head off to the summit. In his guide, Alfred Wainwright said that “there is no continuous path to the cairn”, but this did not matter to us. We were learning about, and practising, walking on a bearing, so it was off through the heather for us.
Before long, we arrived at the hummock we had identified as the summit of Great Crag, and after a short climb, we found the summit cairn. From here, we could see the High Spy ridge in one direction, Skiddaw in another and Watendlath Tarn in the other. Certainly a place to stand and admire.
After spending some time just appreciating the day, we began the walk back to the cars, making our way out of the hummocks before heading down a pitched path until we reached a gate.
From here, we followed an indistinct path through the long grass, passing through a couple more gates until we reached a wide gravel bridleway. A right turn would have taken us to Watendlath Tarn, but we were heading back to Rosthwaite, so we turned left and strolled down the path, keeping the mountains ahead of us.
At the side of the path on the way back, I spotted this old, weathered tree stump. I just found it really intriguing – why had it been cut down, how many bugs or other woodland creatures have since made their home inside the cracks and hollows, and how many faces could I make out in the wood?
Within about a mile, we were back at Stonethwaite Beck and the yellow blanketed fields around Rosthwaite, arriving back at the cars full of new navigation knowledge. This was a lovely, peaceful walk – under five miles in distance and climbing around 450 metres. If you fancy exploring the area yourself, you can find a map of the route here.
And if you’d like to read about what I learned about finding my way around, follow the link below.