Castlerigg Stone Circle And Friar’s Crag – Keswick

Keswick is located in the northwest of the Lake District National Park in Cumbria. It is an ideal base for a visit to the Lakeland fells. There is much to see in the surrounding area including the landmarks of Castlerigg Stone Circle and Friar’s Crag.

The Moot Hall is the starting point for many walking routes. This prominent building is situated in Keswick town centre. Originally built to be a courthouse and prison, the site became important in the copper mining industry in the 16th and 17th centuries as the place where the metal was weighed and shaped into ingots. The building we see today was constructed in 1813 and is now home to the Keswick Information Centre which is an excellent source of advice and guidance about things to do in the area.

The Moot Hall

From here, Castlerigg Stone Circle is less than two miles away. This particular morning was overcast and gloomy. It was not favourable for walking in the high fells but it provided the perfect atmosphere for a visit to this Neolithic monument.

Initially there is a moderate climb out of Keswick, crossing fields and walking along lanes. The popular route is signposted but there are step-by-step instructions available on the internet. Castlerigg Stone Circle is also accessible by car via a road from Keswick. It is maintained by English Heritage and owned by the National Trust. Entry is free.

Castlerigg Stone Circle is a prehistoric, stone-age site dating from 3000 BC. It has historical significance as a geometrical location. There is much mystery around who constructed it and for what purpose. The position of the stones, in alignment with the stars, suggests an astronomical link and its use in ceremonial occasions. Whatever the truth is, there are impressive views of the surrounding ring of mountains.

Castlerigg Stone Circle
A section of Castlerigg Stone Circle

The route back to Keswick follows roads and part of the old railway line to return to the town centre at the perfect time to stop for lunch!

This section is an enjoyable walk in its own right but to discover more, it can be extended to include Friar’s Crag. It is a short walk to the shoreline of Derwent Water from the town centre. This was the point during my walk when the sun appeared, just at the right time to enhance the views from the vantage points.

The shoreline path leads to Friar’s Crag, a rocky outcrop overlooking Derwent Water. This is another area owned by the National Trust. The name derives from the time when the religious monks used it as the boat launching point for the crossing to St. Herbert’s Island, a place of pilgrimage. St. Herbert is believed to have lived a lonely existence on the island during the 7th century.

The view from Friar’s Crag

Continuing from Friar’s Crag to Castlehead involves a short, steep climb to a viewpoint that overlooks Derwent Water from a different angle. Care is required on the stones and rocks. The scenery is magnificent and includes some of the famous Lake District peaks.

The viewfinder at Castlehead
The view from Castlehead

A steep descent leads back to a lane which joins with the main road once more.

In total, this route covered approximately seven miles. It is excellent as an introduction to the area surrounding Keswick. My walk was an amalgamation of several routes. If you are planning your own route, further information can be found at:
www.keswick.org/what-to-do/walking-routes
http://www.lakedistrict.gov.uk/visiting/placestogo/explorederwentwater/thingstododerwentwater/walkingderwentwater

The walk route using memory-map GPS Navigation Software
  • Please note that this is the route I followed. I am an experienced walker. You should take care and use your own judgement for your safety when planning where to walk.