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Two children look out from Castle Crag to the valley below on a cloudy spring day
Looking out from the cairn at Castle Crag | © Melinda Gilhen-Baker
Lake District

Borger Dalr geology walk

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.

Total steps: 10

Total steps: 10

Start point

Bowder Stone National Trust car park, grid ref: NY253168

Step 1

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 village of Grange, the site of a medieval monastic farm belonging to Furness Abbey. Continue along the road for about 440 yards (400m) until you almost reach the Borrowdale Gates Hotel.

Step 2

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 450 million years ago.

Step 3

Pass through the yard at Hollows Farm. After approximately 220 yards (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 moutonnée, 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.

Step 4

At the first large beck, cross it via the bridge and ahead is a path that ascends to Dalt Quarry.

Dalt quarry near Grange in Borrowdale, Cumbria
Dalt quarry near Grange in Borrowdale | © National Trust Images/John Malley

Step 5

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.

Step 6

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 step 7. To climb Castle Crag, ascend steeply to a gate and then follow the fence to another gate. Turn left and keep going up. 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.

Step 7

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.

Step 8

Go through the gate 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 Dalton's cave, take the narrow path to your left). Follow the path until the river is reached once more, and you are back to the footbridges and the track to Dalt Quarry.

Step 9

From the river retrace the earlier route to the access lane to Hollows Farm. Turn right and follow the road back to Grange village.

Step 10

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.

Visitors descending the steel steps from the Bowder Stone, Borrowdale, Lake District
Visitors descending the steel steps from the Bowder Stone | © National Trust Images / Arnhel de Serra

End point

Bowder Stone National Trust car park, grid ref: NY253168

Trail map

A map of the Borger Dalr geology walk
A map of the Borger Dalr geology walk | © Crown copyright and database rights 2013 Ordnance Survey

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