A historic gem in the North Lakes: Castlerigg Stone Circle

Castlerigg Stone Circle
Castlerigg Stone Circle

A Lake District gem I’ve been meaning to visit for ages is the Castlerigg Stone Circle near Keswick – and recently I finally ticked it off my list (albeit on a thoroughly miserable day when the sky became increasingly grey and eventually I got very wet – a complete contrast to the incredible weather we’ve been experiencing over the past couple of weeks!). 

And I would thoroughly recommend Castlerigg Stone Circle to you too. It’s a short stop-off while you’re near Keswick, rather than a destination for a day out in itself (unless you’d like to head there on a day’s walking in the area), but it’s well worth half an hour of your time.

The backdrop is incredible, and if you like to be able to name your mountains – as I know many people do – there are a number of these lovely fixed displays as you enter the site, which tell you the names of all the surrounding fells.

Castlerigg stone circle information board
Fixed displays naming the mountains surrounding the stone circle

According to English Heritage, Castlerigg Stone Circle is possibly one of Britain’s earliest stone circles, and is believed to have been constructed around 3000 BC – although the dates vary wildly depending on which guidebook or website you read.

There’s a great piece about the history of the site, and what makes it different to many of the other stone circles around the country, on the English Heritage website. Whether the history interests you or not, it’s a stunning place in which to stand for just a few minutes and completely forget the modern world.

Castlerigg Stone Circle
Castlerigg Stone Circle

That is, unless you have a camera! Photographers will love this site, because the possibilities for compositions of stones and views here are endless. You might have to be patient if you want a human-free image though, because as one person leaves the circle, another one always seems to step into the picture!

As you can see, I visited on a very uninspiring day weather and light-wise, but I’ve seen so many photos with gorgeous light, sunsets, rainbows, etc, especially early in the morning or evening, so I’ll definitely be back in the future to try for some more exciting shots.

Castlerigg Stone Circle Castlerigg Stone CircleAccording to Keswick Tourism, Castlerigg Stone Circle is  owned by the National Trust and managed by English Heritage. In fact, the National Trust describes how the circle was so popular with 19th century tourists that people began to chip pieces off the stones to take back as souvenirs. As a result, the site was bought and given to the National Trust, and is one of the UK’s earliest Ancient Scheduled Monuments.

Access to the site by car is fairly straightforward. It’s about 1.5 miles outside Keswick on a narrow road, where it’s relatively easy to pass cars coming in the other direction with patience and care (qualities I happened to witness were in fairly short supply on the day I visited!). And just watch out for the deep ruts on either side of the tarmac on the first stretch of road going uphill, as you really don’t want to be going down those!

Parking is in a series of rough laybys opposite the site, and when I visited there was an ice cream van parked there also selling guides to the stone circle for around £5, if the history is of particular interest to you.

Castlerigg Stone Circle field and parking
Looking across the field from the stone circle to the laybys

Laybys at Castlerigg Stone CircleFor more about Castlerigg Stone Circle, take a look at the site’s English Heritage web profile.

There are quite a few stone circles around the Lake District and Cumbria, although Castlerigg is by far the biggest and best-known. Have you visited any of them for yourself, and would you recommend them to other blog readers? It’s always lovely to hear your experiences, so please share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.


  1. If you’ve been to Castlerigg Stone Circle and captured a gem of a photo, do share it with me over on social media!

  2. Angela Cowell

    Hi Janine, so lovely to receive another blog post in my In-box this morning. You may not have had a particularly good day but your photographs, as ever, are wonderful and very atmospheric.

    My husband and I have visited the site a couple of times, the last one being last Summer. It was a glorious day with a clear blue sky and wonderful lighting. I was able to get some lovely shots so I was thrilled. The hardest part, like you found, was trying to photograph the stones without people being in the picture. Most were respectful but some were not so! Still my patience was rewarded so all was well in the end!

    Looking forward to receiving more blog posts this Summer. Very best wishes.

    • Hello Angela, That’s very kind of you! I’ve been working through the really hot weather recently, so will have to time my future outings better to get some bright, sunny photos for the next articles! It’s lovely to hear that you were successful with your photography when you stopped by – I’ve seen some magical photos over the years that people have taken, so will definitely have to revisit and try again. It looks like one of those places where no two days are ever the same!

  3. Henry Roberts

    As with the other stone circles in this country, it’s amazing how the stones were moved to, and erected in their final positions, without any machinery, just old fashioned sweat!

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