GLW1306 : The Great Big Handfast

Sunday 18th August 2013

Borrowdale is one of our favourite parts of the Lake District but, with it being at its north end, we seldom visit the area.  It was therefore a double delight when Rosie and Al invited us to join their Rix Family Celebrations at the Glaramara House.



Family & friends reunion festivities started on the fearfully wet Saturday night.  This included tentative arrangements for various activities, weather permitting, on Sunday Fortunately, come the day, the weather was much improved.  The young and keen set off for Great Gable,  Others opted for low level ambles to Grange (ice cream mandatory) and on to Keswick by boat.

Our objective was Castle Crag.  We had been there before (whilst undertaking the Cumbria Way) but Margaret had been put off actually climbing the crag due to Julia Bradbury seemingly finding it a challenge.  Today she was resolved to rise to the occasion.

Al opted to join us as far as the Crag, following which he intended to gallop off into the far yonder.  Also with us were his Aunt and Uncle, Rose & Rob

It was a bit cloudy and damp in the air when we set off downstream, clambering along a mini "via ferrata" at one point.



Before long, we left the swollen River Derwent and climbed through the wood to meet the Crag path.  The path zig-zags up the slate slopes- more exciting than dangerous but you could still do yourself a nasty injury if you miss your footing.  



Amidst the mine workings, someone has had a lot of fun setting up mini rock artistic structures.



The views from the top make it all worthwhile.  You have probably the best view there is across Derwentwater with Catbells to the left, Skiddaw and Blencathra in the far distance and the less dramatic Bleaberry Fell to the right.  And to the south are the valleys of Greenup Gill, Langstrath Beck and, of course, the River Derwent, each surrounded by high fells.

After taking in the view, our colleagues left for points north whilst Margaret and I had our picnic then gingerly made our way down the path to the west of the crag.

Fortunately the trees that had obscured the view five years ago seemed to have beeen cutbackt and the graffiti on the war memorial had been cleaned off.

Our intention was to continue south, picking up the Coast to Coast path, before dropping down to Seatoller.

However, a drinks stop caused us to change our minds and return via Johnny's Wood.  That was a happy revision. After we crossed the beck and were beginning the climb, who should we see following our trail but Al, moving rather faster than we had!

He used us as an excuse to revert to walking and guided us back to the Glaramara House, showing us a startled deer plus some of the hidden treasure that he planted as part of a treasure hunt for the younger guests.


Later in the afternoon was the handfast ceremony, involving not just Rosie & Al but also George & Leo and then by all of us as we circled around them with the lengths of cord or the like that we had been asked to bring.  Each cord was knotted to its neighbour then Al, assisted (?) by George, wound the resultant rope onto cross sticks.

It was a ceremony unlike any other I have attended and a very moving way of celebrating their recent marriage.

Festivities continued with an excellent early dinner following which the ceilidh started. Unfortunately we had to leave early due to grannifications but it had proved a most memorable trip for both the Great Little Walk and, more importantly, the Great Big Handfast!

Don, 18th August 2013


Distance: 5.7 miles;     Height climbed:  1,768 feet



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