What started out as a hike to a crag (hilltop viewpoint) ended up as an excursion through sheep and cow pastures in search of the well-visited Castlerigg stone circle, just over a mile from Keswick.
We first climbed through a beautiful forest for a view of the lake (Derwentwater) around which we had hiked yesterday. Stone-walled pastures continued all the way to the top of the hill.
A sign on the public footpath indicated that Castlerigg stone circle was nearby, so we abandoned our climb to the top of the crag and began a long sojourn through numerous walled sheep pastures. Two of my hiking companions stopped to pose for a photo on the un-labeled footpath. It’s often hard to tell the footpath from sheep-path or normal erosion.
Every mountain (even with sheep) is scenic.
a new breed of self-shearing sheep…that heavy wool must get pretty itchy when the weather warms up.
there were more cattle than sheep in the higher pastures
And finally after turning many corners and walking through many pastures we came to the site.
The Castlerigg stones are set in a flat open space with a 360 degree view. The site is so popular with tourists, it’s difficult to see the stones themselves. Click on the image for a larger view.
Castlerigg is one of many (more than 1300) such stone circles in Great Britain, and probably dates to about 3200 BC. Its purpose is not really known, and various suggestions range from a meeting place for trade to a celebratory site for Druid rites to solar calendar. It is interesting to note that each of the large stones lines up with one of the surrounding peaks — as illustrated in the plaque at the site.
Alignment of peaks and stones is not perfect, but then stones may have moved or been adjusted in the past 5000 years.
We may never know what went on here, but the route to the site was beautiful and well worth taking the detour.