So one of Britain’s most popular stone circles. Castlerigg Stone Circle is one that if you're in the area, it's a must-see. It doesn’t take up a lot of your time. It can easily however be linked into many other walks. And most of all the views of Castlerigg Stone Circle and the surrounding Wainwright mountains are all that's needed to convince a tourist to look it up.
Castlerigg Stone Circle – Where is it?
Castlerigg Stone Circle is literally a stone's throw from the town of Keswick. If you are staying in Keswick itself then you can easily walk up to Castlerigg Stone Circle. I would estimate the walking time to take around 30 minutes from the middle of the popular tourist town itself.
It's quite a simple straight forward walk, however, there is a little steep incline to some of the walk, to begin with. Don't worry though, the views when you get to Castlerigg Stone Circle will all but make up for your efforts.
The start of your walk to Castlerigg Stone Circle:
All you need to do is head from Keswick War Memorial in the direction following Penrith Road A591/A5271. This follows the River Greta on the left-hand side. It's a nice easy road with full access to paths as well. You'll pass a petrol station on your right, which is also a convenience store.
Continue past this picking up any supplies you might need. Keep on following the A591 in Keswick up the hill and around the corner until you reach a junction. This is where you need to be careful while crossing the road. You'll see the signposts here and you'll already notice Castlerigg Stone Circle on it. So head left up towards Castlerigg Stone Circle and Penrith A66.
Not far after turning down here, you'll want to keep an eye out for the road splitting off on the right-hand side. It will be signposted again for Castlerigg Stone Circle. Keep on walking up here and be careful as the road soon loses its path verges and becomes a small single track. It does climb somewhat so just pace yourself. There's no rush in the Lake District. It will take some time so be patient but once you see a huge lay-by on your left-hand side you're in the right place. There will be a gate on the right-hand side and that leads into Castlerigg Stone Circle.
Driving to the Stone Circle:
If you don't fancy walking though, that is fine as there is car parking available. The postcode for Castlerigg Stone Circle is CA12 4RN. Grid Reference NY291236. See the map above also. This will take you to a huge lay-by next to the Castlerigg Stone Circle, perfect for parking. Meaning it is also free for parking. So literally hop across the road and through the gate and you're there. We parked here one early morning when we went for sunrise. There was no one else around and we had the Stone Circle to ourselves as well as the surrounding Wainwright mountains as company. In summer I have heard that there's also an ice cream van that parks here as well. How cool is that!
You can easily get to it just off the A66 in either direction just look out for the awesome signposts. You can't miss those big brown signs. The drive does feel like you are sometimes driving into the middle of no-where but be sure you are. Castlerigg Stone Circle is a real place.
Bus service to Castlerigg Stone Circle:
There is a Caldbeck rambler bus service 73/73A from Keswick that calls at Castlerigg Stone Circle.
The history behind the Stone Circle
It is believed to have been built around 3000BC around the beginning of the Late Neolithic Period and Early Bronze Ages. This means it is between 4000 and 5000 years old. I mean imagine that for a minute. How something this magnificent has lasted such a long period of time. For that reason, it is thought that Castlerigg Stone Circle is one of the earliest stone circles in Britain.
The construction itself contains some amazing astronomical alignments making it rather interesting especially for megalithic astronomy and geometry. Although the reason for the Stone Circle is actually unknown it is again thought to have been built for religious and ceremonial means. However, there are beliefs that Castlerigg Stone Circle could have been built for an astronomical observatory. This meaning that the stones had been aligned with the sun, moon and include the stars.
I find it rather interesting that with all the history and science behind us that with certain things, for example, Castlerigg Stone Circle we still don't understand it fully. This means for a lot of people when they visit that they can guess. And who knows, they might be the ones with an answer as to why it was originally built.
There is an information board here where you can read about more information regarding Castlerigg Stone Circle if you so wish. I believe if you are visiting these places then it's important to read a bit about its history too.
It seems there are more Stone Circles, not just Castlerigg
There are indeed other Stone Circles in the Lake District. Check the others out below for more details.
- Cockpit Stone Circle – Ullswater
- Swinside Stone Circle – Broughton In Furness
- Burnmoor Stone Circles – Eskdale
To find out more about the 50 other Stone Circles in the Lake District then why not take a look at this book. It gives you full information about where you can find them and what you are likely to find when you get there. It's the perfect little guide or present for a Lake District lover. And it includes photos as well to help you identify which are which. The size makes it easy to pop into your backpack and carry around with you, ready for your next visit. All in all, the books easy to follow and perfect for Stone Circle Lovers.
Who owns Castlerigg Stone Circle?
Well actually it won't surprise you when I tell you this but Castlerigg Stone Circle is actually situated on land that's owned by the National Trust. It is also maintained by English Heritage. It was one of the first areas to be covered under the Ancient Monuments Protection Act, which came into force in 1888. And then in 1913, it was acquired to the National Trust through a man named Canon Rawnsley.
The reason it was bought is that it's said that the 19th-century tourists began to chip pieces off the stones to take back as souvenirs. So we can thank him for it still standing today and being visited by 1000's of people every year that visit the Lake District.
So what exactly is this formation of stones?
A very good question again. Try counting all of the stones yourself at Castlerigg Stone Circle and see how many you come up with. It may shock you to realise there are in fact 40 free-standing stones. Free-standing makes me wonder how they have lasted through the harsh winters of the Cumbrian weather for so many years and still standing strong. That simply amazes me, but I've always been easily amazed.
And more amazingly some of these stones stand at 3 metres high as well. That's 10 feet. Maybe that's why it makes a good place to hide and seek. For us, we went up for sunrise one morning and the mist was just lifting off the Wainwright mountains and the stones themselves lit by the sunlight. It was quiet but on other days when we have visited, it's been bustling with tourists and locals. If you want to get the views of the Lake District to yourself, I'd advise going early.
For photographers of all skills, this is a lovely place to come. The Wainwrights all around you as you wander around Castlerigg Stone Circle. There are views in every direction of Fells and you can soon get lost in trying to capture the perfect shot. For us we had a couple of sheep and lambs hopping and hiding about too. We couldn't resist them as well as the Wainwrights saying 'good morning' too.
And get this, it isn't just a stone circle either. Castlerigg Stone Circle actually has about 10 stones on the inside of the circle that makes a kind of rectangular shape. Thus confusing people even more about the meaning behind it.
The views and Wainwrights around Castlerigg Stone Circle?
There is also a fixed display there that names all the surrounding Wainwright mountains for those that are interested which are which. This is literally as you walk through the gate. You can not miss it. As well as that they also have a miniature structure of Castlerigg Stone Circle on it so you know which are in the direction you're looking. Some include Blencathra, Grisdale Pike, Lonscale, Catbells, and Skiddaw. But I'll let you take a look at the sign when you get there.
For us, it's easy a place where you can spend some time on a peaceful day. You can soon get swept away into wondering about what Castlerigg Stone Circle really is and bouncing ideas around. As well as the views surrounding them it's the perfect place to have a picnic or just take some quality time out for yourself.
Summer Solstice at Castlerigg Stone Circle
How to celebrate the longest day of the year? Well, some do at Castlerigg Stone Circle. There are guided walks that take part every year to welcome the longest day of the year. It sounds like a beautiful and memorable thing to do if I'm honest. Some guides will even offer porridge or bacon butties for breakfast along with a hot drink. There can be a talk on the Stone circle as well. It's certainly something I'm going to look into for next year. It sounds truly special.
So make a visit to this amazing site
So if the reasons enough aren't enough to tempt you to have a look yourself at this place then just look over the photos again. For us, it's a lovely place to have a wander too and you can soon walk off in all directions as well. For the family, it's a nice place to come before perhaps heading home. Or if you've arrived later in the day and fancy stretching your legs after a long drive but not too much. Either way, I'm sure you'll love this place.
Let us know your thoughts and your experiences of the Castlerigg Stone Circle. We'd love to hear about your adventures too. Check out our other blogs below.
Camping near this unique wonder
There are some lovely camping places to stay around this area too. So if you want a family filled camping holiday, exploring all things unique then check them out below. Just imagine waking up in the rural Lake District, to the sound of Herdwick Sheep, and the view of the surrounding Wainwrights as the sun comes up. Yes, please.
- Castlerigg Farm - Offering caravan/motorhomes, and camping.
- Castlerigg Hall - Offering touring/motorhomes, holiday hire, glamping, and camping.
- Dale Bottom Farm - Offering touring, camping, cottages, and static caravans.
Make a day of it
So while you're here why not go walking. The Lake District offers some amazing walks, wherever you are. Of course, you can head back into Keswick and explore this amazing town. Visit Derwent Pencil Museum or Puzzling Place. We've had some fun there as well.
Or take a leisurely stroll too. Head down to Derwent Water and wander around the lakes and see the views of Catbells. Even have a walk-up Catbells. Why not? You can even get to Walla Crag and onwards to further Wainwrights if you so wish. Not only that but if you're at Derwent Water why not try rowing on the lake itself? It is so much fun I promise, we thoroughly enjoyed it, both in the rain and in the sunshine.
Another option is to head down to Tewet Tarn and then perhaps on to Low Rigg. A lovely stroll again around the Lake District. The thing is you can quite literally walk anywhere and everywhere. The possibilities are truly endless.
And if you want to take some chill time, then head in to Keswick and just grab a coffee overlooking Lake Derwent, or some fish and chips. Then head around the shops and see if you can pick up some lovely souvenirs for friends and family. Whatever you decide to do after visiting Castlerigg Stone Circle, I hope you have a truly awesome time.