Lake District Walks
Date: 2nd April 2008
Distance: 4.1 miles
Ascent: 1252 feet
Time: 2 hours 50 minutes
With: On my own
Start Grid Ref: NY306189
A steep woodland climb on to the dramatic summit of Raven Crag before visiting Castle Crag and The Benn.
Route Summary: Thirlmere Dam - Smailthwaite Banks - Raven Crag - Castle Crag - The Benn - Shoulthwaite Gill - Shoulthwaite Moss - Thirlmere Dam
2. Looking up at Raven Crag
3. Looking back down the steep woodland path up Smaithwaite Banks
4. The top of Raven Crag looking towards Clough Head
5. Thirlmere from Raven Crag
6. The Benn
7. Looking across the valley to Castle Rock
8. A glimpse through the woods of High Seat
9. Mere Gill and Shoulthwaite Gill from Castle Crag
10. Raven Crag and Thirlmere from The Benn
11. The forest track below Sippling Crag
12. Shoulthwaite Gill
Walk Detail: After a family trip out that morning to Derwent Water I had the opportunity to go out for a short walk on my own in the afternoon. I chose Raven Crag because it was close by and because once again it was a grey day and it would definitely be under the base cloud level.
This was one of those climbs which was steep from the word go with no chance to get warmed up – a real calf stretcher. The wooded slopes were actually far pleasanter than I thought they would be. The plantations were quite open with plenty of light getting through and even allowed a few glimpses of the impressive face of Raven Crag.
The summit was a strange place with a large covering of trees but by dropping down to just above the crag itself there was a stunning view of Thirlmere. I sat and ate some food here while taking numerous photos, it was a most excellent spot even if I was very conscious of the precipitous drop just yards away.
Next I decided to go and have a look at the iron age fort on Castle Crag but there was nothing really to see. Nevertheless Castle Crag was quite a nice little outcrop with a fantastic view of Shoulthwaite Gill, a valley which was perhaps the biggest revelation of the walk. Indeed having seen it I would quite like to work a route out up to High Seat from this side.
The next detour, to The Benn, proved to be longer with a surprisingly steep final ascent. Another fell which could feel slightly aggrieved to be missing from the canon of Lakeland Fells the summit proved to be a pleasant top of heather and rock. In this respect it was more satisfactory than Raven Crag though the view of Thirlmere was inferior.
The descent via the forest road proved to be pleasant and easy and passed some impressive crags on The Benn as well as providing great views of Iron Crag on the flanks of High Seat and Bleaberry Fell. It also brought me down, briefly, to Shoulthwaite Gill before circling back round to the road.
This was one of those walks that was far better than one would have thought, the only real downside being that the three ‘tops’ all had to be visited by ‘there and back’ trips from the forest road which, presumably, did not exist in Wainwright's time as he makes no mention of it.