High above Thirlmere stands Raven Crag, stern and dramatic and beautiful, easily distracting the eye from the planted conifers all around. Once it would have been surrounded by bare moorland and hardwood trees, but the coniferisation of the 20th century swept all that away.
It is actually better now than when Wainwright wrote his Central Fells guide sixty years ago. He wound his way up through a dark forest path, hemmed in by conifers. Now the top part of that path has been mostly cleared offering views which he never saw, and precious daylight too.
Below is Thirlmere, Manchester’s reservoir, built by hundreds of navvies who encamped in nearby Legburthwaite. A damned hard life they had too. But then it was the working class who made Britain great. You can see their Mission building on the road to Stanah, part church, part meeting place and part hospital.
To add a little distance we walked out from Stanah village hall (£2 honesty box), round to Smallthwaite Bridge and then across the dam itself. A very pretty approach, because you get such superb views of Raven Crag most of the way.
The path up the side of the crag is steep but clear. The crag itself is magnificent. It’s many years now since I rock-climbed as opposed to going scrambling, but I still automatically look for routes on a rocky face like this. All a bit beyond me these days, I fear.
The top of Raven Crag now offers wider views that in Wainwright’s day, though I fear it has been a bit over-nannified with wooden steps and walkways and a viewing platform, presumably so people don’t fall down the crag. I rather prefer my tops left alone.
We walked back around The Benn, following a forestry track of ups and downs. Towards its conclusion it offered once more some stunning views of Thirlmere.
A pleasant morning out.