Through The Viewfinder and What Alice Found There
Last week I decided to fit in one more Wainwright walk before moving back to University for my 4th and final year. I chose Raven Crag - it's one I'd wanted to do for a while as I'd heard it has great views over Thirlmere which was beautiful on my last visit there. I looked up a route online which said the walk would take about 1 hour 15 minutes so we set off in the car about 10am planning to be back in Kendal ready for dinner. We arrived around 11am, parked the car in a small layby, then set off up the footpath through the woods. We soon joined onto a wider forest road which winded round and started heading towards the base of the crag, then started getting steeper up the hillside.
From here we had to look out for a smaller path on the left that would supposedly climb quite steeply up through thicker trees. We carried on following the road up which got quite steep in parts but there was still no sign of a path so we continued on for a bit longer. Eventually the road twisted round and turned into a smaller path and we assumed this was the path described in the online route so up we went, climbing over a fallen tree on the way! The path kept getting steeper and steeper and was now quite open as a lot of the trees had been cut down so we were quickly getting very hot in the midday sun! Finally we reached the top of the path and went into thick woodland again, following the path and looking out for a sign that was supposed to show us the way to Raven Crag. However, we saw no sign and the path started to go downhill so we decided we must have gone wrong somewhere and turned round to retrace our steps. We got back to the top of the path and decided to take a right into the woodland as there was a very faint path visible so we assumed the sign must just have been taken down at some point. Following the path we met a man walking his dog and as he passed us he said that the view at the top was worth the tough climb up so we thought we must have been going the right way. After climbing up further through thick bracken and ferns we eventually got to the top of the small crag but something didn't seem right. As we stood at the top we looked to the right and there we saw Raven Crag, towering above us some distance back the way we'd come! It turns out we must have missed the turn off to the path some time ago and ended up climbing up a smaller crag further away from Thirlmere! After laughing at our mistake we then decided to try and get up the real Raven Crag so attempted to take a short cut down the other side of the crag and cut through the trees to join back up with the forest road to try and find the right path again.
Once we'd finally managed to climb our way through the undergrowth back onto the road we walked all the way back down where we'd already been and got so far back that we thought we must have missed the path again, when at last we saw it! It was really close to the beginning of the walk so if we'd seen it on the way up we would have saved so much time! It was a very small path though hidden by a lot of ferns and grass so it was quite difficult to spot. At last we set off on our way up Raven Crag, 1 and a half hours after we started the walk! The path was steep up through the trees and turned into steps about halfway up, but eventually we reached the top and it was definitely worth it! We passed the summit cairn and went down onto the edge of the crag where the views were just amazing - we could see all down the length of Thirlmere with the fells all around us, and it was sunny up at the top which makes a change for my walks! We spent a while up at the top taking in the views until we realised how hungry we were so we made our way back down all the way to the car and nearly 3 hours after arriving there we finally set off back home to get some dinner!
Despite going slightly wrong on the walk, it was still enjoyable and I'm glad we managed to get up Raven Crag in the end. That's one more Wainwright I can tick off on my way to completing them all! I'm not sure when my next hike will be now that I've moved back to uni for a while, but hopefully when I'm back in the Lakes for a weekend off I will post some more Wainwright adventures, so watch this space!
Landscape & travel photographer from Cumbria, UK.