Stonethwaite Camping and Gorge Scrambling in Borrowdale
Our latest Lake District trip was a fun weekend in Borrowdale with camping at Stonethwaite and ghyll scrambling up Seathwaite's Grains Gill. Borrowdale is one of my favourite Lake District valleys, seeming more lush and dramatic than many of the heavily grazed fells elsewhere in the Lakes. Accessible trad climbing, bouldering (The Bowderstone) and watersports on Derwent Water add to its appeal.
The basic facilities at Stonethwaite campsite (toilets, taps, nothing else) were ample and its location next to Stonethwaite Beck stunning with views up the Borrowdale valley. High on my list of good campsite factors is a westerly aspect, necessary to enjoy the evening sun. Stonethwaite performs well in this respect, with a clear view west-north-west ideal for early summer evenings. Midges appeared from nowhere just before dark, so liberal application of deet insect repellent and/or an early night was called for, but this was pretty much the only downside.
Now our preference when car-camping, the stove was shunned in favour of BBQing. Charred delicacies included foiled-wrapped sweet potatoes (cook among the coals), garlic (grill bulbs whole and squeeze cloves into your mouth) and red peppers; nice to diversify alongside the bangers and burgers.
We found Grains Gill in the Cicerone North Lakes Scrambling Guide, top-rated at 3 stars with a mild 1-2 difficulty -- perfect for the gorge walking (AKA gill scrambling) novice. Starting from Seathwaite, the lowest section of the gorge is accessed just upstream of Stockley Bridge, and the ghyll followed upstream with strategic escapes from the gorge made where necessary if the water level is high or scrambling sections undesirably challenging. The full scrambling route is in 3 sections, continuing to the buttresses in front of Great End. It's easy to tailor the route depending on available time though, and we opted to return early for a wild swim in a secluded pool in the lower gorge of Grains Gill near the intersection with Ruddy Gill.
The fine weather and beautiful setting made for some great photo opportunities. Here are a select few from Flickr.