stone circles

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.

Castlerigg stone circle hike

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.

Castlerigg stone circle hike

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.

Castlerigg stone circle hike

Every mountain (even with sheep) is scenic.

Castlerigg stone circle hike

a new breed of self-shearing sheep…that heavy wool must get pretty itchy when the weather warms up.

Castlerigg stone circle hike

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.

Castlerigg stone circle hike

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.

Castlerigg stone circle

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.

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