Borger Dalr geology walk, Borrowdale
Explore the origins of Borrowdale as you walk from Bowder Stone car park to Castle Crag, including the poignant war memorial, Peace Howe and amazing views of the flat valley bed that was formerly the bottom of an Ice Age lake.
Admire the amazing colours in the rock walls at Dalt Quarry
The area was described by the renowned fell-walker and author Alfred Wainwright as ’the finest square mile in Lakeland’. Look out for colours in the rock walls of Dalt Quarry, where a wetland habitat has developed since the quarry closed.
Bowder Stone National Trust car park, grid ref: NY253168
From the upper tier of the car park follow a short path to a wooden gate. Go through the gate and follow a track across a small stream (may not be flowing in a dry spell). Walk past a large boulder to an old quarry. From here the path skirts a low-lying boggy area to join another path. Turn left here and follow the path downhill and through some trees to a wooden gate leading onto the Borrowdale road B5289. Note the location of this gate for your return journey in step 10! Carefully cross the road and turn right to follow it the short distance to Grange Bridge. Follow the road across the bridge and through the attractive village of Grange, the site of a medieval monastic farm belonging to Furness Abbey. Continue along the road for about 440yd (400m) until you almost reach the Borrowdale Gates Hotel.
Walk quietly and watch for wildlife
This first part of the walk between the car park and Grange is very little walked by visitors. If you walk quietly and keep your eyes peeled you could spot the wildlife that retreats here from busier parts of the valley. As you cross Grange bridge look down to see roche moutonnee with deep scratches left by the glaciers during the last ice age.
Go through the gate on the left, follow the path to a high point, then leave it to climb the knoll on the right, Peace Howe. Now walk down to the gate at the edge of the wood. Passing through, take the clear track going gently down to the left towards Hollows Farm. On the west side of the valley above the farm you might be able to spot the good contrast between the smooth Skiddaw slates (around 480 million years old) and the gnarly Borrowdale Volcanic rocks formed when this area went through violent volcanic eruptions a mere 450 million years ago.
The small summit viewpoint of Peace Howe was bought for the nation in 1917 as a place where people impacted by the First World War could come to regain a sense of peace and tranquility.
Pass through the yard at Hollows Farm. After approximately 220yd (200m) take the track to the right. Ahead, across the camping field is the craggy wooded knoll of Holmcrag Wood. It has crags at its left end and a more gentle profile to the right. This piece of solid rock was sculpted by glaciers some 8,000 years ago. It is known as a roche moutonee, French for 'rock sheep' and you will see lots of these, large and small, throughout the walk. Continue on the main path down to the River Derwent.
At the first large beck, cross it by the bridge and ahead is a path that ascends to Dalt Quarry.
Look out for the amazing colours in the rock walls of the quarry where a new wetland habitat has developed since the quarry closed
With your back to the Quarry, take the smaller track to the right. This joins a larger track near a small bridge. Ascend the larger track, shortly leaving the wood and climbing by the stream of Broadslack Gill.
Further up, below the steep crags on the left, a smaller but still clear path branches to the left. Take a breather and a moment to listen to your surroundings. If time, weather and inclination permit, the short steep climb to the summit of Castle Crag is recommended. But if time is pressing skip the next description and go to point 7. To climb Castle Crag, ascend steeply to a ladder and stile. Cross these and follow the fence to another ladder stile. Turn left and keep going up. Now comes the juicy bit. Go up the spoil heaps on a path that is not as hard as it looks. A great view awaits you at the top. Go to the right of the large quarry and climb to the top of Castle Crag. After enjoying the view retrace your steps back to the ladder stile.
Castle Crag was the site of a hill fort some 2,000 years ago, and it is easy to see why from the stunning views over the surrounding valleys. The Iron Age earthworks gave the valley its name: Borger Dalr, old Norse for Valley of the Fort. Notice how flat the land is in the valley bottom. It represents the drained bed of an old lake that existed here at the end of the last Ice Age, when the glaciers melted.
Climb the stile and follow a grassy track until you approach a stone built footpath, take this path down towards the wall and gate. Follow the narrow track through the woods and you will again find a stone-built path leading you down amongst the mature oaks towards a gate and stile.
Glacial meltwater channel
The gap behind Castle Crag is a glacial meltwater channel, carved by the enormous force of the water melting from the receding glaciers at the end of the last ice age, approximately 10,000 years ago.
Cross the stile and bear left towards another set of gates, go through and follow the path. Continue through the woods, passing through an area of quarry workings (if you wish to visit Millican Daltons cave, take the narrow path to your left as you pass through a dry stone wall). Follow the path until the river is reached once more, and you are back to the footbridges and the track to Dalt Quarry.
Millican Daltons Cave
Millican was a self titled Professor of Adventure. Between the two World Wars he spent the summers living in these caves. You can still see some wise words that he carved on the walls of the topmost cave. If you wish to visit the caves, its advisable to refer to the OS map.
From the river retrace the earlier route to the access lane to Hollows Farm. Turn right and follow the road back to Grange village.
From Grange village, retrace your outward route back over the bridge, turn right onto the road and look out for the little wooden gate on the left hand side. This will lead you back onto the quiet paths - reverse the directions in step 1 to return to the car park.
The Bowder Stone
Just 10 minutes walk from the car park is the Bowder Stone, a geological Site of Special Scientific Interest with a ladder you can climb for a tree-top view of the valley.
Bowder Stone National Trust car park, grid ref: NY253168
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