Hiking to Castle Head

I couldn’t have picked a windier day to hike the track out to Castle Head. In fact, it was such a blowy day that the train I was on from the city got taken out at Springwood when the high winds caused a tree to come crashing down on one of the carriages… all out, all change.

After getting the next train up the mountains I started my walk about an hour or so later than planned. Not to worry, the mountains weren’t going anywhere and there was plenty of light left in the day.

Solicitude and Solitude en route to Mount Solitary Views

 My hair: a testament to the wild and windy walk

My hair: a testament to the wild and windy walk

The winds didn’t let up so the walk along Narrow Neck and out to Castle Head was a wild one.

The winds were more intense than any I’ve ever hiked in and I was keeping a close eye on the trees I passed while listening for every snap, crack, and creak — I was certainly not interested in playing the part of wrecked train in a repeat of the morning’s lower mountains train debacle.

I began my walk at Katoomba train station, first making my way through Katoomba to Glenraphael Drive and up to the locked gate on Narrow Neck Plateau.

The Castle Head track comes off of Narrow Neck a short way after the locked gate — look out for it on the left hand side of Narrow Neck, it’s signposted by NSW Parks, so it’s easy to spot.

This track is a bit rambling and scrubby, but it’s certainly not a long walk, and when you spot Castle Cliff trig station, you’re just about there.

After making my way out past the trig station to the point overlooking Mount Solitary at the end of the Castle Head track, I found a little spot sheltered slightly from the wind where I took a break to have lunch, and give thanks to the trees for leaving me unscathed.

The walk to Castle Head for me, all up, was about 20km. The Castle Head track itself is actually only a couple of kilometres, and you can take many, many kilometres off the version of this walk that I did by instead driving to the car park on Glenraphael Drive (and by not side-tracking to Cahill’s Lookout for sunset!). Walk your own walk and all that.

 Lookout for the NSW Parks track signs on Narrow Neck Plateau.

Lookout for the NSW Parks track signs on Narrow Neck Plateau.

 Before you reach the end of the Castle Head track you’ll pass some epic views across the Jamison Valley.

Before you reach the end of the Castle Head track you’ll pass some epic views across the Jamison Valley.

 The Jamison Valley at Katoomba in the Blue Mountains.

The Jamison Valley at Katoomba in the Blue Mountains.

 The Castle Head track is a 2.5km walk starting from Narrow Neck in the Blue Mountains.

The Castle Head track is a 2.5km walk starting from Narrow Neck in the Blue Mountains.

 Nearly there: the Castle Head track offers up excellent views across the valley to Mount Solitary.

Nearly there: the Castle Head track offers up excellent views across the valley to Mount Solitary.

 Blowy Blue Mountains.

Blowy Blue Mountains.

 Castle Cliff trig station on the Castle Head track.

Castle Cliff trig station on the Castle Head track.

 Castle Head track at Katoomba in the Blue Mountains.

Castle Head track at Katoomba in the Blue Mountains.

 The view of Mount Solitary from the end of the Castle Head track.

The view of Mount Solitary from the end of the Castle Head track.

 Unbeatable lunch time views.

Unbeatable lunch time views.

 The view of Mount Solitary from the Castle Head track on Narrow Neck at Katoomba.

The view of Mount Solitary from the Castle Head track on Narrow Neck at Katoomba.

 Moon rise over the Blue Mountains National Park.

Moon rise over the Blue Mountains National Park.

 Sunset view from Cahill’s Lookout at Katoomba.

Sunset view from Cahill’s Lookout at Katoomba.

After lunch I hiked off the plateau and up Cliff Drive to Cahill’s Lookout, just in time for sunset.

What a spectacular vantage point there is from Cahill’s Lookout: it offers up views across Megalong Valley, the length of Narrow Neck, and even a glimpse through to the Jamison Valley. It’s a cracker of a lookout, that’s for sure.

And while these pictures shows warm-looking golden hour light, let me tell you, there was no respite from the hectic winds of the day.

The winds were blowing so hard my eyes were watering and my fingers were numb... I put on every layer I had, and alternated between giving thanks for all this glory (look at that view! 😊) and dreaming of a warm doona and a mug of chai.

And so, as the sky put on its orange and pink grand finale, I watched the changing light through the trees as I ran to get the last bus up the hill to Katoomba station — because it might’ve only been another 3km, but it was also 2 degrees and dark… and after the 20km I’d already done it was time to get warm, and get home. Until next time ✌🏻

 The golden hour view of Narrow Neck from Cahill’s Lookout at Katoomba.

The golden hour view of Narrow Neck from Cahill’s Lookout at Katoomba.

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