Good walk with friend Steve in the unspoilt hills of the other Borrowdale. Not the Borrowdale near Keswick but the one lying between the A6 and the M6 just to the south west of Tebay. The hills may not be as high or as rugged as in the more well known Borrowdale, but they are still lovely and we saw nobody all day.
We started in a small parking spot just off the A685 Tebay to Kendal road and followed the minor road into Borrowdale before heading south west up a track towards the radio masts on Whinfell Common. The first summit of the day was Whinfell Beacon where the summit stones once formed the base of a fire beacon from the 15th century and gave the hill its name. It formed part of a system of beacons set up in the Border counties to give warning of Scottish invaders.
We continued along the ridge over moorland with views south towards Morecambe Bay and south west to the Coniston Fells. The hills became more rugged as we approached Mabbin Crag, the highest point of the walk at 482m, not high, but very pleasant. It’s name is derived from Mabon, an ancient name linked with native Celts. There is a small stone shelter on the south east side of Mabbin Crag, in good condition, which would be useful in bad weather.
We descended through a Norway spruce plantation to Ashtead Fell and dropped down to the A6, crossed the Borrow Beck on large stepping stones and headed up the north side of the valley to Borrowdale Edge. This is a bit of a misnomer as the hills here are more rounded and grassy than on the south side, but again, very pleasant and unspoilt walking along narrow sheep tracks. We continued along the ridge to the eastern end at Jeffrey’s Mount where we looked straight down on the M6 and the main west coast railway line with traffic thundering north and south. The final descent was steep and unforgiving then a short walk along the A685 brought us back to the starting point.
When Wainwright wrote his “Walks in the Howgill Fells” in 1972, Borrowdale was considered suitable for a reservoir but for some reason this never went ahead and the valley remained lovely and unspoilt. Long may it continue to be so.