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Early morning autumn view over Derwent Water, Borrowdale from Castle Crag
Early morning view over Derwent Water from Castle Crag | © National Trust Images/Paul Harris
Lake District

Castle Crag from Seatoller trail: the scenic route

Scaling Castle Crag from Seatoller starts with a bit of a climb, then follows a rolling contour route giving you great views right across the valley. This is definitely the civilized way to climb Castle Crag.

Total steps: 8

Total steps: 8

Start point

Seatoller National Trust car park, CA12 5XN

Step 1

Leave the car park, turning right onto the road. Follow the road through the hamlet . Take your first right through the gate onto a wide track. Follow the track as it goes up and turns to the left up towards a gate. Go through the gate and continue following the wide track with the wall to your left.

Step 2

After going through a coppice of trees, the path crosses a small stream. At the stream, turn hard right and walk straight up the hill towards a gate in the wall above you. Go through the gate and turn right along the wall. This path hugs the contours high up on the flank of the fell. You'll stay on this track now all the way to Castle Crag.

Woman walking along old miners track towards Castle Crag
Woman walking along old miners track towards Castle Crag | © National Trust/Jonathan McMeekin

Step 3

The footbridge across Tongue Gill is a big landmark on the way – this is the biggest gill the path crosses before Castle Crag. If you need to, there is an option just before and just after the gill to take a shortcut down to the hamlet of Rosthwaite (the huddle of white houses round a small green hill). However, if you're keen to carry on to Castle Crag, simply continue along the track until at the cusp of the brow you get your first glimpse of the lake of Derwent Water.

Step 4

Just over the brow when you get your first sight of Derwent Water, take a little 'sheep track' path that forks off to the right. It skirts round the base of a crag then follows the fence to a ladder stile. Climb the ladder stile and turn right to join the main path up to the top of Castle Crag. You don't have to use the 'sheep track' path, but it avoids losing height.

Step 5

Retrace your steps to descend Castle Crag, but don't go back over the ladder stile. Instead, follow the main path down the hill. Once you're into the woods, take the right-hand fork over the footbridge. Where the path reaches the river, follow the path signposted 'Rosthwaite 1¾ miles'. You're now on the return leg of the walk, heading back towards the car park.

The River Derwent at Borrowdale and Derwentwater
The River Derwent at Borrowdale and Derwent Water | © National Trust Images/John Malley

Step 6

As the path meanders away from the river and into the woodland, you'll come across a fork in the path heading up to the right. This will take you up to to Millican Dalton's Cave. You can add this in and return to this point (it's not far and it's well worth a look), or you can continue straight on, following the signpost to Rosthwaite.

Step 7

When you get to the packhorse bridge over the river, ignore the stone bridge (unless your feet have had enough and you want to catch the bus back to the car from Rosthwaite). Continue straight ahead over the wooden footbridge, and keep on the path beside the river, past the stepping stones until you get to the YHA hostel at Longthwaite.

New Bridge the traditional stone-built bridge over the River Derwent, between Castle Crag and Rosthwaite, Lake District, Cumbria
New Bridge at Rosthwaite is a traditional stone packhorse bridge | © National Trust Images/Paul Harris

Step 8

From the hostel at Longthwaite, follow the path along the river back towards Seatoller. There's a scrambly bit where a chain's been attached to the rock to give you a helping hand, but if you take it steady it's less daunting than it looks. The path then leads you round the bottom of Johnny Wood, along the wall and all the way back to the car park at Seatoller.

End point

Seatoller National Trust car park, CA12 5XN

Trail map

Map of the Castle Crag from Seatoller trail
Map of the Castle Crag from Seatoller trail | © Crown copyright and database rights 2013 Ordnance Survey

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