Clare on Brund Fell’s (and Grange Fell’s) summit, cooling off.

Date: 23rd July 2021, with Clare. This is the fourth walk I have done on this date: now joining walk 3 (2009), walk 40 (2011) and walk 114 (2016). I think this makes 23rd July the first date on which I have done four walks.

Weather conditions: Sunny, and very warm; one of the hottest walks I have done, in fact. Too hot for C, who “wilted rather spectacularly” (her description).

Summit bagged: Grange Fell (1363 feet above sea level, number 278 of my second round). This was first bagged on walk 11, back in March 2010.

View over to Borrowdale, from the ascent.

Start and end point: Started at the car park for the Bowder Stone, and finished at Rosthwaite. These points are served by the #78 bus from Keswick to Seatoller, which runs all year.

Distance walked: 4.5 miles approximately, putting it in the bottom five of all my 190 walks so far when it comes to length.

Feet of ascent: 1,350 feet approximately.

In Rosthwaite.

Pub at end: The Riverside Bar at the Scafell Hotel, in Rosthwaite. I think this is my third visit here. It is an OK place, given interest by the board on the wall which honours the winners of Borrowdale fell race; the times are usually under 3 hours (with the record being 2:34); considering the terrain that is crossed on this race, that is an astonishing pace. Note also the photo of the youngest ever person to complete the 214 Wainwrights, Carl Lavery (aged 4 years and 10 months). Good for him, but did he do the Outlying Fells as well? I think we should be told.

Route: This short walk has great beauty near at hand, and a classic view from King’s How. But there are two downsides. The climbing is very steep, and there is an ocean of bracken to contend with in the summer, particularly in the first part of the walk. It never exactly impedes progress but it grows head-high in places, and battling through it became very tiresome. I therefore highly recommend this walk, but only if done outside the summer months.

The Bowder Stone shows off its balancing skills.

The bus stop for the Bowder Stone is the one immediately after Grange. Follow the signpost and you will be at this vast lump of rock a few minutes later. It only occurred to me a few days ago that the name ‘Bowder Stone’ is tautological — ‘Bowder’ is obviously the Cumbrian rendition of ‘boulder’, and certainly, a very very big Bowder is what it is. Hollow it out, install plumbing and I imagine a family of three could live inside it fairly comfortably.

And, for its size, it is exquisitely balanced on a relatively narrow edge, as the picture shows. Could it really have fallen off the crag above and landed like this? As it apparently came down some 12,000 years ago give or take, the best explanation I can think of is that it fell onto a glacier which then melted and left it like this.

Castle Crag, from the side.

From here, the summit of King’s How is only a third of a mile in horizontal distance, but the path has to take a circuitous route, and even then it’s still steep. Continue along the Bowder’s access path until it comes back out on the road, which walk down (with care) for a couple of hundred yards until reaching the footpath sign, pointing to the left. This path is a steep climb, and in summer, you will be most oppressed by bracken. Measure your upward progress by comparing your altitude with that of Castle Crag across the Derwent (950’ a.s.l.) — see the picture.

Once things finally flatten out — a bit — King’s How will be on the left, and Brund Fell (Grange Fell’s actual summit) is the top covered in beige rocks to the right. Even if it is not the ‘real’ top of the fell, don’t avoid visiting the summit of King’s How, which has a classic view north to Derwentwater and the Skiddaw range.

The view from King’s How. Catbells on the left, the Skiddaw range behind Derwentwater.

The path on from there to Brund Fell branches off at an obvious junction part-way up, crosses the fence at a stile, and then picks its way through the various rocky outcrops until reaching the topmost one: the summit of Grange Fell.

There are various options for descent from here, including to Watendlath (see walk 185), or along the ridge north, but with the heat of the day only slightly lessening, we went for the easiest option. That is achieved by taking the obvious path heading south from the summit, which deposits you on the Rosthwaite – Watendlath bridleway.

There, turn right, attend to the guidance of the signpost at the one significant junction, and you will come out onto the main Borrowdale road near the Hazel Bank hotel. Here, the bus stop is a few yards along the road to the left — the Scafell Hotel, not much further.

Sheep in Borrowdale, near the terminus.

Anniversary commentary: This is the first of three walks that were done over a very pleasant four-day weekend spent with Clare in Keswick. Pleasant firstly because of the company but also the weather, which has been spectacularly good, particularly for the time of year. Late July is usually a convenient time to visit the Lakes, thanks to schools breaking up, work schedules generally, etc., but it doesn’t always offer fine weather, with last year in Eskdale being a case in point (see walk 181, particularly). But we have gone the other way this year. Clare will certainly say that she found today’s exertions too much in the heat, but beyond that it’s hard to find too much cause for complaint.

Clare at exhaustion level 5 (and this was after a rest). King’s How behind.

We were here in the Lakes at this time 12 years ago, too, and it was on that holiday in 2009 that I began recording my climbs and thus gave birth to this project. It is amazing to look at the pictures of Joe taken on that holiday — see the first one on the walk list page for example — and then muse on the fact that, as he is now over 18, he was under no obligation to join us on this break and is currently (we assume) holding the fort at home. In a couple of weeks’ time the outcome of his application to study at university will be resolved. Time flies, eh?

But you don’t want to hear about other people’s kids. What can I moan about? OK, two things. First, the bloody bracken. God, have I learned to hate this stuff down the last dozen years, and the western slopes of Grange Fell are festooned with it. Bracken’s a sign of neglected land and the biggest bane of the summer walker. It doesn’t ruin today’s walk but it would have been better without it.

Local resident of Brund Fell. (A thrush, I am assuming.)

The 20-minute traffic jam between Penrith station and the M6/A66 junction would not have been missed, either. I know that coming to the Lakes on a hot, sunny July weekend is inevitably going to mean making one’s trip in with lots of other people, but this picture was taken from the top deck of a bus that wasn’t exactly bursting at the seams.

Enough moaning though. Today was a worthwhile walk, if too hot for Clare, and just the beginning of the weekend’s entertainment.

Getting the hell out of Penrith — slowly.

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