The jaws of Borrowdale

Cairn on Castle Crag overlooking Upper Borrowdale, Cumbria.
Can you climb into the Jaws of Borrowdale by conquering Castle Crag? National Trust Images / Simon Fraser

Above Grange Bridge, Borrowdale is constricted between the steep slopes of Kings How & Castle Crag. Carved by ice, and eroded through thousands of years, this narrowing is popularly known as 'The Jaws of Borrowdale'.

The dramatic name was coined by early visitors to the valley, who found cliffs towering above the road, and the river rushing just beneath an exhilarating thrill.

The road and river certainly twist and turn around the crags at this point, vyeing with each other for the minimal flat ground at the valley bottom and the native Atlantic Oak Wood adds to the intimate, 'enclosed' atmosphere. 

The teeth in the jaws

Castle Crag, one of the pointed jagged 'teeth' in the jaws offers a few choices for exploring the area which Wainwright called 'the loveliest square mile in Lakeland'. 

The walk to the summit is less demanding than it first appears and offers wide-ranging views over Derwent Water and Skiddaw to the north, or to Upper Borrowdale and Great End to the south. 

Walking along the river

The riverside walk that meanders around the base of Castle Crag takes you beside lazy swimming holes with shingle beaches, and beside swift rapids as you walk between Rosthwaite and Grange.

From the National Trust car park at Bowder Stone (CA12 5XA), a gentle ten minute stroll through the woods will take you to the most famous boulder in Lakeland, the Bowder Stone, a natural tourist attraction for the past 250 years. 

Elsewhere, deeper delving will reveal ancient quarry workings. Nature is gradually reclaiming these, forming interesting new habitats. One disused example was used as a summer home by Millican Dalton the self styled 'Professor of Adventure'.