Lake District Walks
Date: 7th February 2007
Distance: 12.4 miles
Ascent: 1660 feet
Time: 6 hours 10 minutes
Start Grid Ref: NY606014
A fabulous walk on the Whinfell ridge above the unsung valley of Borrowdale between the Howgills and Shap Fells.
Route Summary: Low Borrowbridge - Repeater Station - Grayrigg - Repeater Statio - Whinfell Beacon - Shooter How - Castle Fell - Mabbin Crag - Ashstead Fell - High Borrowdale - Low Borrowdale - Low Borrowbridge
1. Castle Fell and Borrowdale
2. Grayrigg Common
3. The top of Grayrigg Common
4. Matt on Whinfell Beacon
5. Shooter Howe
6. Borrowdale from Shooter Howe
7. On Castle Fell
8. Matt on Castle Fell with tree covered Mabbin Crag behind
9. Castle Fell
10. The top of Mabbin Crag
11. Looking across Borrowdale to Greenside
12. Ashstead Fell
13. On Ashstead Fell's north top
14. Borrow Beck
Walk Detail: We parked at Low Borrowbridge and headed off on a very cold icy morning with the temperature at about -4.5 degrees. The climb to the repeater station was quickly accomplished and we soon left that rather ugly sight for a there and back excursion to Grayrigg Forest.
While it is the highest point on the ridge it is also the bulkiest of the fells on the ridge. Apart from the nice stone trig point it was probably the least distinctive summit, perhaps a walk further along to the east to one of the cairns overlooking the motorway would have given us a better feel for the fell.
After returning to the repeater station we got on to a nice little track that took us all the way up to Whinfell Beacon. We did not hang around long (someone was sat by the beacon and we weren't feeling very sociable having hoped to have the whole ridge to ourselves) so we descended down to White Moss where we made an excursion out to Shooter Howe.
Whilst it is the lowest top on the ridge by some way and unmarked by a cairn Shooter Howe still had some good views, particularly up the eastern half of Borrowdale. The next top, Castle Fell, involved a steep pull to the summit but it was well worth it. All the way from Grayrigg Forest we had enjoyed great views out to the Lake District, especially the Coniston and Scafells, about this time the North Pennines also started to make their appearance with Great Dun Fell prominent.
We ate lunch in a sheltered spot before crossing a barbed wire fence so we could include the minor top of Old High from where we had a good view back at the abrupt summit of Castle Fell. The next part of the ridge had quite a different feel to it with heather more prominent. Especially novel was the plantation of Christmas trees we walked up to get to the summit of Mabbin Crag.
We did not stay long on this summit as the triple crowned Ashtead Fell was beckoning to us and the day was getting on. The last few summits all involved much shorter climbs than previously but they were all more clearly defined than I imagined them to be. The highest was seemingly the most southerly which is the only one on the OS map without a spot height while the only one with a summit cairn was the lower northern top which had an excellent view to the fells in the northern half of Borrowdale.
The descent from here to the valley was steep but quick with the only incident of note was me slipping on a patch of ice. We then had to carefully ford the semi frozen beck which was slightly nerve wracking but accomplished easily enough. The Borrowdale valley is very beautiful but by this time the shadows were lengthening and we had to hurry along on the long walk back to the car.
This was an excellent walk in beautiful conditions and was a good advert for the fells between the Howgills and Lakeland proper.