When I first moved to Cumbria I worked at the Cottage in the Wood, a hotel and restaurant on the Whinlatter Pass. The owners of the hotel took me to Borrowdale for the first time for a gentle walk with their friends and I fell in love with the valley.
We walked a simple 6 mile route between Grange and Rosthwaite which I have since adapted to become an 8 mile loop of the valley that takes in an old miners track and the valley floor along the river.
Start from Grange by the café (not the one on the bridge, the one further up the road). At the side of the café there is a finger post sign that directs you down the lane towards Rosthwaite and Seatoller.
There is a short section on tarmac, bear to your left at the bend in the road to leave the road. This track goes down past Hollows Farm Campsite and emerges at a bend in the river. You can chose to go left or right here. I prefer to follow the river and stay on the valley floor.
Keeping the river to your left, a path winds along the valley, through woodland and an old quarry (where I once broke my ankle!). Eventually you emerge from the woods and reach a steep packhorse bridge over the river. A little further up stream are some stepping stones as an alternative but be aware, some are further apart that you think and the water is very cold!
If you are partial to a flapjack, I suggest diverting here into Rosthwaite. There is a small tearoom called the Flock Inn that serves a mouth watering selection of homemade cakes all baked by Hazel the owner. The flapjacks are AMAZING! You can also buy lamb from her own flock, reared on the fells surrounding the farm.
Back to the path, keep the river on your left till you reach the youth hostel at Longthwaite, another place to grab a cup of tea and a slice of cake!
Continue till the path becomes a rocky climb around a corner with plenty of foot holds. It is not difficult and adds excitement for children. There is a chain link bolted into the rock to hold on to – the rock is quite polished and can be slippy.
Eventually, the path passes behind the Glaramara independent youth hostel. Soon after, you need to start making your way uphill. This bit of the walk usually gets a bit squiggly as there are so many paths crisscrossing each other. If you can get on the old miners zig zag path then you will be alright. What you need to aim for is a patch of pine trees to the left. Above the pine trees is a horizontal wall with a gate. Pass through the gate and keep this wall on your right as you start to head back towards Grange. A beautiful undulating path opens out in front of you, previously a miners track between Honister and the mines of Borrowdale.
The route is very simple to follow as it snakes along the side of Scawdel Fell, High Spy and Maiden Moor. As you cross the bridges across Far Tongue Gill you can look uphill to see the remains of Rigghead quarry and the stone built banking that almost blends into the hillside. The path undulates across the hillside with superb views of the Borrowdale Valley. It reaches a high point beneath Castle Crag where there is an awesome view of Skiddaw and Derwentwater. I have a particular boulder that I like to sit on and take in the view and perhaps enjoy a flask of coffee.
The slate flagged path continues downhill past Castle Crag (it would only add on 20 minutes to climb it, well recommended). At the bottom of the hill, you walk through woodland to emerge at the bend on the river, practically back where you started. Grange is only a few minutes walk to the left with a choice of two cafes to enjoy a well earned cup of tea and slice of cake.