The Other Borrowdale - The North Ridge

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Tell your mates that you have been walking in Borrowdale and they will almost certainly think of the valley to the south of Keswick, but there is another Borrowdale not too far away from there – the ‘Other Borrowdale’, otherwise known as the Westmorland Borrowdale. The Cumberland Borrowdale, near Keswick, is the one that most people know well, drawing in walkers, climbers or people who just want to admire one of the most attractive valleys in the English Lake District. Its namesake in the old county of Westmorland, however, is quiet and deserted.

The reason for the neglect is simple – most walkers don’t know that these hills exist. Borrowdale Beck rises in the backcountry that is dismissed with the broad title of “Shap Fells”, and just to confuse fans of the Lake District even more, there is a Wasdale and Wasdale Head just up the road about three miles away, but these are not Lake District hills really – they are more reminiscent of the nearby Howgills, and share the same sense of peace and quiet

The valley runs roughly east to west, from the A685 near Tebay to the A6 between Shap and Kendal. Containing the valley are two parallel ridges, one to the north and one to the south – this walk includes most of the North Ridge plus some of the valley bottom. Starting from the hamlet of Roundthwaite, the route follows Roundthwaite Beck to Roundthwaite Common, before heading along the North Ridge towards the A6. From there a gentle walk in the valley bottom leads to the farm buildings at Low Borrowdale, where the ridge is crossed once more to rejoin the outward route – although gaining height towards the end of the day isn’t always desirable, the ascent isn’t too demanding, and it avoids the worse option of a 1.5 km road walk at the end of the day.

During the walk you will see a great deal of the South Ridge, which makes another great walk in its own right (route ID 6116) or which can be combined with this walk to make a truly big day out of 18 kms and 850 metres height gain. (See the Additional Information section in the route description) You may also see flower meadows in late spring, or buzzards soaring overhead, but what you won’t see are loads of people – remember that these are quiet, deserted hills.

(Note – As this route shares many features with walk ID 6116, you will find that the text for both is often the same. However, the detail differs where appropriate)

England - North England - Cumbria - Howgills

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5.6 Miles
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