In View WHERE EAGLES DARE with Stan Leigh

‘Broadsword calling Danny Boy’, ‘Broadsword calling Danny Boy’ marks an exciting part of the escape from the imposing castle fort, high in the Bavarian Alps in the classic film ‘Where Eagles Dare’. It’s 50 years since the film was released. My son, Richard, who lives in Swansea, does a good impression of Richard Burton - we jokingly repeat the greeting to each other in a similar way but there is never any attempt to repeat the mountain heroics that followed.

straightforward route is Wainwright’s Route B, via the ‘back door’ by ascending via the path alongside Greenup Gill to a sheepfold which is situated on an island. Bear left at first and then right along the upper bracken limit to the wall, which leads to the summit.

Eagle Crag on the ridge between Haweswater & High Street

Eagle Crag approach from Stonethwaite

Having enjoyed some bird spotting in Andalucía, Spain earlier this year, we were fortunate to see short-toed and booted eagles in flight. So, this month my focus is on Eagles – Two fell walks but first, what happened to the Golden Eagle, known locally as ‘Eddy’, that had been resident at Haweswater/ Rigginsdale Nature Reserve for nearly 15 years? In 2016, ‘Eddy’ would have been between 19 and 20 years old but failed to appear - it is believed that the he died of natural causes. His disappearance marked the end of an era as he had been an iconic part of the Haweswater landscape for 15 years. During that time, thousands of visitors travelled across the country hoping to catch a glimpse of him at the Rigginsdale viewpoint.

Enough of ‘Eddy’, let’s get walking - Eagle Crag – there are two of them – they are both favourite walks of mine:

Walk 1 – Mardale and Haweswater. On Saturday 7th July, we travelled to Mardale Head at Haweswater to walk the Rough Crag and Long Stile ridge route to High Street passing Swine Crag, Heron Crag and Eagle Crag en route with good views of Blea Water. We kept an eye out for ‘Eddy’ or other birds of prey but without success. From High Street summit, we visited Thornthwaite Crag, Mardale Ill Bell and descended back to Mardale Head via Nan Bield Pass and Small Water.


To walk this circuit from Mardale Head [Grid Ref NY469107] have a look at for a map and photographs. You can do a shortened version of our route by missing out Thornthwaite Crag that will provide a walk of 5.9 miles and just over 2,000 feet of ascent. Use OS Explorer Maps OL5 [The English Lakes, North East Area], Alfred Wainwright’s Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells – Book 2 [The Far Eastern Fells].

Walk 2 – Eagle Crag from Stonethwaite in Borrowdale. High Raise at 2,500 feet is considered as Lakeland’s most centrally situated fell which is gently contoured on the upper plateaux but is sturdily buttressed around the flanks. Eagle Crag is a giant cornerstone of the High Raise Group at the North West area, wonderfully situated at the confluence of the valleys of Langstrath and Greenup and looks splendid from Stonethwaite. Eagle Crag soars upwards between Langstrath Beck and Greenup Gill with steep cliffs in tiers from bracken slopes. The fell looks unassailable when viewed from the valley and initially the crags are repelling.

However, there are two routes from Stonethwaite, 2 miles with 1300 feet of ascent. The

The second route, known as Wainwright’s Route A, is an exhilarating ascent with fantastic views, but shouldn’t be used for the descent. The path follows Stonethwaite Beck to a bridge just beyond the confluence with Langstrath Beck. Cross the footbridge and bear left, over the step stile and follow the field edge above the woodland. Follow the faint path through the bracken up alongside the wall heading for the knoll of Bleak How. Here you take the clear path to reach the saddle where you cross the fence at the step-stile. Follow the faint path to climb over rocky ground and gully to reach a series of rock terraces above which is a clear path to the summit cairn. From here, you can continue along the clearly defined ridge to Sergeant’s Crag [1/2 mile with 250 ft of ascent] or descend via the wall eastwards to Greenup Gill - the straightforward route B. Don’t descend via Route A.

Eagle Crag near Stonethwaite summit with Sergeant’s Crag beyond

Use OS Explorer Maps OL4 [The English Lakes, North West Area], Alfred Wainwright’s Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells – Book 3 [The Far Eastern Fells], pages Eagle Crag 3 and 4 for specific route details and this website provides maps, photographs and a detailed route description.

These walks are tough, challenging and require a good degree of fitness. However, they are two of the best walks in Lakeland. Be safe and prepare well, for a wonderful day’s walking.

Eagle Crag near Stonethwaite Explore and discover! Stan

ISSUE 428 | 23 AUGUST 2018 | 12

Frances at the Step-Stile on Eagle Crag ascent

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