Glaramara – Allen Crags from Seathwaite walk
Cumbria is a large county in North West England and contains the Lake District and Lake District National Park. It is bounded to the north by the Scottish Borders, Dumfries and Galloway, to the west by the Irish Sea, to the south by Lancashire, to the south east by North Yorkshire, and to the east by County Durham and Northumberland. Cumbria is very mountainous containing every peak in England over 3,000ft above sea level with Scafell Pike being England’s highest mountain at 978 m (3,209ft). Cumbria is also one of England’s most outstanding areas of natural beauty attracting mountain climbers, hikers and walkers, cyclists, runners and tourists and holds a source of inspiration for artists, writers and musicians. Cumbria consists of six districts Eden, Carlisle, Allerdale, Copeland, South Lakeland and Barrow-in-Furness.
The Lake District is an area with stunning scenery located within in the County of Cumbria. Commonly known as The Lakes or Lakeland it was granted National Park status on 9th May 1951 less than a month after the first UK designated National Park, The Peak District. It is the largest of thirteen National Parks in England and Wales and the largest in the UK after the Cairngorms. The Lake District National Park itself covers an area of 885 square miles and stretches 30 miles from Ravenglass in the west to Shap in the east and 35 miles from Caldbeck in the north to Lindale in the south. Crammed with so much natural beauty the Lakes attract visitors, tourists and holiday makers from all over the world. As the name suggests there are many lakes each with their own uniqueness, amenities and activities such as lakeside walks, sailing, waterskiing, boat trips and ferries. All of the lakes except Bassenthwaite Lake are named by water, tarn or mere and are surrounded by stunning scenery and magnificent fells. There are some wonderful towns to explore such as Keswick, Windermere, Ambleside, Kendal, Hawkshead, Grasmere and Cockermouth all with a splendid mixture of shops, cafes, pubs, bars and restaurants. There are also many museums, theatres, historic homes, gardens and many easy walks for the not so energetic visitor wishing not to climb the fells. William Wordsworth the famous British poet was born in Cockermouth and later lived in Grasmere where he wrote some of his best works before moving to Rydal Mount near Ambleside for his last 37 years. Both places are open to visitors and so is Brantwood home to John Ruskin until his death. Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Robert Southey and Thomas de Quincey all followed Wordsworth to the Lake District. Arthur Ransome, author of Swallows and Amazons, also grew to love the lakes and settled in the Winster Valley near Windermere. The painters Thomas Gainsborough, JMW Turner and John Constable were early visitors to the lakes but it was John Ruskin who settled here at Brantwood on the shore of Coniston Water. Farming and especially sheep farming has been historically and still is the main industry of the Lake District. The tough Herdwick breed with their stocky build and distinctive grey coat are especially hardy for the Lakeland fells and its weather. Sheep farming has probably been here since Viking times and is an important factor both to the economy of the lakes as well as in preserving the stunning landscape which attracts visitors and hence income to the region.
Borrowdale, often referred to as Cumberland Borrowdale to distinguish it from Borrowdale in the county of Westmorland, lies in the central Lake District. The River Derwent flows through the dale into the lake of Derwent Water. Derwent Water is situated at the northern end of the valley and the dramatic Honister Pass leads away from the southern end. Borrowdale is also completely within the Lake District National Park and houses the villages of Grange, Rosthwaite, Seathwaite, Seatoller, Stonethwaite and Watendlath. Above Grange Bridge, Borrowdale is constricted between the steep slopes of King’s How on Grange Fell and Castle Crag below High Spy. This narrow gorge, known as the Jaws of Borrowdale, was carved by the last Ice Age and erosion over thousands of years. Borrowdale is one of the most beautiful places in Cumbria with sheep grazed uplands and extensive areas of oak woodland draping the hillsides. The valley pastures are divided into fields by massive stone walls and ancient packhorse tracks wind their way through the landscape along with the River Derwent and its tributaries. In the 16th century an enormous deposit of graphite was discovered near the hamlet of Seathwaite. Known locally as ‘wadd’ or ‘black lead’ the locals found it was very useful for marking sheep. This deposit of graphite was extremely pure and solid and it could easily be sawed into sticks hence the pencil industry was born in Keswick. Seatoller, a cluster of white and grey cottages at the foot of Honister Pass, once housed miners from the graphite mine and quarrymen from Honister Slate Mine. Slate quarrying developed in the early 18th century and a narrow band of Lakeland Green Slate running through Borrowdale and up to Honister became the primary building material for Victorian Keswick. Honister Slate Mine, reopened in 1996, continues to mine slate commercially and offers underground tours to visitors. The mine also offers a Via Ferrata tour which the Victorian miners used to use. The valley is a very popular tourist location, with hotels, guesthouses, holiday cottages, bed and breakfasts, youth hostels and campsites catering for the lowland visitor as well as the hill walker. The National Trust cares for and undertakes a great amount of conservation and access work in this very special and beautiful area.
Seathwaite is a hamlet situated at the end of a no-through road in the Borrowdale valley in the Lake District of Cumbria. The hamlet was a very secluded place until fell walking became very popular and the walkers started to park their cars on the verges. Seathwaite has now become one of the most popular starting points giving access to the mountains such as Brown Base, Glaramara, Great End, Great Gable, Green Gable and Scafell Pike the latter being the highest mountain in England standing at 978 metres. Seathwaite and Seathwaite Fell, which is about a mile south of Seathwaite and takes its name from the hamlet, are the wettest places in England and quite often flood. In 1966 five inches of rain fell in an hour damaging Stockley Bridge which is an ancient packhorse bridge on the old route between Borrowdale and the Cumbrian coast and for centuries the packhorses carried goods such as wool, salt and Charcoal. The bridge was constructed in 1540 and widened in 1887 and is designated as a Grade I listed building because of their rarity in the area. Around the mid 1500’s graphite was discovered close to Seathwaite and this graphite was pure and solid which could be easily cut into sticks thus the pencil industry in Keswick was born. The mine closed in 1891 and remains the only deposit of graphite ever found in this solid form. The locals also found it very useful for marking sheep.
Glaramara at 783 metres (2,569 feet) is central and part of a long ridge that stretches over 3.75 miles (6km) from Stonethwaite in Borrowdale up to the mountain pass of Esk Hause. Glaramara has two summits and separates the valleys of Langstrath to the east and Grains Gill to the west. The ridge has two additional fells, numerous subsidiary tops and several small tarns. Combe Gill on its northern flanks is a good example of a hanging valley formed by glacial erosion during the last ice age. The gill is full of crags and according to Alfred Wainwright contains a natural cave called Dove Nest Caves. A rock slip from Dove Nest Crags has partly covered the cave which has three entrances. Glaramara’s east and west slopes fall away steeply with rocky slopes and scree to the valleys. To the south the ridge continues from the summit for 1.25 miles (2km) over three subsidiary tops, without losing too much height, to Allan Crags before descending to Esk Hause. The tops with Hewitt or Nuttall status are named Looking Steads, Glaramara South Top / Red Beck Top / Lincomb Head, and lastly High House Tarn Top. The annual Glaramara Fell Race, a five mile race with 640 metres of ascent from Glaramara Outdoor Centre near Seatoller to its summit, takes place in July. With Glaramara being situated in the centre of the Lake District the views from the summit give a good all round panorama.
Allen Crags situated at the end of the long ridge from Stonethwaite to Esk Hause stands at 785 metres just two metres higher than Glaramara. The fell is craggy and rocky and falls away steeply to the head of the Langstrath valley on its eastern side. Its western side, of grey slabs of rock, is not as sheer as it falls away to Grains Gill a lovely little valley separating Seathwaite Fell and Allen Crags. To the south the fell drops more gently to Esk Hause. The summit of Allen Crags, seldom climbed as a sole fell, has three cairns with the middle one set on rocks being the highest. It has a great view of Great Gable and a wonderful northern panorama from west to east whilst the southern view is restricted by higher fells. Glaramara, Allen Crags and Seathwaite Fell are part of the 9 mile horseshoe walk from Seathwaite.
We park at the side of the road and walk through the farm. We then go through the gate and head forwards following the track with the stream on our left. We cross over the stream and keep heading forwards through a second gate. Just before a bridge we turn left through the gate, marked by a yellow arrow, into a field. We cross over Hind Gill and follow it steeply uphill to a wall. We go through the gate and keep following the gill on our left steeply uphill. The rocky path starts to bear right away from the gill and we keep heading uphill. As we come over the brow the path becomes grassy and faint but we keep following the cairns uphill to the large cairn on the sky line. The cairns seem to disappear but we keep heading forward uphill until we come to level ground. We now bear right and head forwards towards a cairn and the summit of Glaramara we can see in front of us. We make our way down and head for the next hill slightly to the right. We keep following the path over two more hills then make our way steeply uphill to the summit of Allen Crags. At the top we can see a cross shaped shelter at Esk Hause down below and head towards it. Just before the shelter we take the path going off to the right. We follow the path more or less on the level for about five minutes or so to where the path splits. We take the path on the right downhill past a steep gill on our left. We keep following the path and cross over a little footbridge Grains Gill is on our right. We follow the stepped path downhill, quite steep in places, to cross over Stockley Bridge and turn left. We now just follow the track with the gill on our left back to the farm and our parked car.
This is hard walk on paths and tracks with steep inclines and declines. It is rough and rocky in places.
Elevation: Approx lowest point 125.10m (410.45ft) Approx highest point 776.60m (2547.90ft)
Distance and Start Point
Approx 6 miles allow at least 4 hours using OS Explorer Map OL4 and OL6, The English Lakes North Western area and South Western area.
Start point: Seathwaite in the Borrowdale valley.
Seathwaite is in Borrowdale in the Lake District, Cumbria.
Directions and Parking
From the A66 coming from the east take the A5271 for Keswick. At the junction turn right. At the traffic lights carry on forward. At the mini roundabout turn left then left again at the junction. At the roundabout go straight over then at the next roundabout turn right and follow this road, the B5289, passing Derwent Water and Grange on the right. Continue on through Rosthwaite and after passing the left turn for Stonethwaite continue for a little further and take the next left on a bend in the road for Seathwaite. Follow this narrow little road to the end and the farm.
Parking: At the side of the road near the farm at Seathwaite.
Toilets and Refreshments
There are no public toilets or refreshments. The nearest amenities are at Rosthwaite where there are public toilets just next to the car park and for refreshments there is the Royal Oak pub on the main road and the Flock-in Tearoom at Yew Tree Farm.