Reporter: Reporter Brian Richardson
Thirteen walkers and four dogs met at Town End farm, by the northwest flank of Catbells or a 10:15 start.
The sky was veiled in light cloud as we followed a path south up the valley towards Dale Head, keeping to the east of the main beck. David diverted from the main path, keeping lower and nearer to the beck, to bring us to the waterfall which cascaded in several high distinct pitches into pools. We had a tea break, entertained by the more adventurous dogs swimming to chase stones thrown into a large pool, somewhat oblivious of the waterfall above, and the pool’s outlet falling below.
In consequence of our dally for refreshment by the falls, we faced a steeper climbing path beside the beck, reaching the main path, and the grassy fell beyond. Here, we turned east, striding across the saddle between High Spy and Dale Head, and passing Rigghead Quarries.
The sun took control of the skies as, descending Tongue Gill we took a more severe, long and steep path formed on broken slate, which passed through a derelict series of slate structures serving several drift mine adits — long since abandoned. The quarries were a major source of building stone from the 17th century. Drift mining in the quarry developed in the 16th century employing experienced German miners extracting iron, lead, and ‘the purest deposit of graphite in the world’.
The steep clough widened on reaching the Allerdale Ramble trail. We turned and followed this track north for the next challenge: ascending Castle Crag, which prominently filled our view ahead.
Diverting from the track we headed in trees up Castle Crag on a steep, tricky, zig-zag path, formed amongst somewhat unstable slate tailings. At the top, we stopped for our picnic lunches, whilst experiencing a wonderful view north along the Borrowdale valley towards Grange, Derwentwater and Skiddaw: the latter beyond Keswick.
Retracing our steps, just as delicately, we returned to the Allerdale Ramble trail, and headed northwards still, alongside the River Derwent with a very pleasant waterside gravel shore spot. Then the path took us higher above Grange and Derwentwater on the slopes of Maiden Moor. By-passing the steep track to Little Town over the saddle between Maiden Moor and Cat Bells to save our tired legs, we continued north, to skirt around Cat Bells along a good track, then headed south, through Skelgill back to Little Town.
The farm has a very pleasant and welcome café which served us all with hot drinks and scones, cakes and more. David and Vanessa had put together a very rewarding and strenuous route, which made the teatime even more welcome. So, we all expressed our thanks to them for their previous contrasting preparatory two days of reconnoitres in very wet and misty weather, and for the day’s walk.
We had walked 16 km (10mls) and ascended 800m (2625 ft).