Lake District, Grasmere to Rosthwaite via Helm Crag and Greenup Edge

Sunday morning in Keswick, I was suffering a little from Saturday’s freestyle fell walking and a bit disappointed that we hadn’t managed the ridge walk from Red Pike to Haystacks due to weather (and taking a wrong path). I had thoughts of going up Helvelyn and then over the Helvelyn range down to Grasmere but the lovely B&B owners with whom we were staying said mountain weather forecast said cloud above 700m so that put Helvelyn out of question. Still, walking around Grasmere remained a possibility. So we decided, on their suggestion to get the first bus to Grasmere, walk up Helm Crag and along the low ridge over Gibson Knott, Pike of Carrs and Calf Crag, then up Greenup Edge and down to Borrowdale, following the stream of Greenup Gill and Stonethwaite Beck into Stonethwaite.

Luckily, the start of the walk, on Easdale Road was just across the main bus stop in Grasmere so we managed to avoid the usual hordes of tourists in the village.

helm crag start of climb

 

Start of the Helm Crag climb. The weather remained cloudy all day and I think this low ridge walk was absolutely perfect for the day – it was pretty windy, not too cold, good walking weather. The views, throughout, were fantastic and it was wonderful to see the changing scenery, from Grasmere Common, to Wythburn Fells and then Borrowdale.

The Helm Crag climb is steep-ish to start but not difficult, quite exhilarating and the path through bracken well defined. It was still fairly early in the morning so we didn’t see many walkers (yet, this is a popular fell), only sheep.

lamb on crag helm crag

 

Nearing the top, we could see over Grasmere Common and Easdale Tarn, another popular walk.

easedale tarn from helm crag

 

Easdale Tarn just visible in the centre of the photo. The weather didn’t allow for better photography unfortunately but this looks a beautiful spot nevertheless.

The famous Howitzer, the actual summit of Helm Crag is a rocky outcrop over a sheer drop, Wainwright completers deem it a difficult climb and Wainwright himself never reached it.

the howitzer and helvelyn range

 

The Howitzer and Helvelyn range beyond. It doesn’t look quite so menacing in this photo but rocks are actually quite tall and a proper scramble.

the howitzer and ridge beyond

 

Our path was along the ridge diagonally left from The Howitzer. This is the first time that we saw where we’d be walking and I was looking forward to it immensely. We chatted here with another couple who were also walking along the ridge, then looping back towards Grasmere. They’d gone up Scaffel Pike via corridor route the day before – something I was quite keen on doing but thought it too much for my fitness levels and easier if you had a car (it’s an 11.5 miles loop from nearest bus stop at Seatoller). I was quite relieved when they said it was hard going and not as rewarding as some other fells. Another group of two couples was also heading along the ridge and it was good to have company to keep pace with, especially as they were all more experienced fell walkers than us.

ridge walk from pike of carrs

 

Looking back over the ridge from Pike of Carrs, Grasmere just visible to the right and Helvelyn range left. From Calf Crag we walked down into a boggy col, with several gills to cross. We freestyled here a little, as the path wasn’t immediately visible, then had a break at the start of the climb to Greenup Edge, sitting behind a rock to protect us from the wind. Another exhilarating, but brief climb to the top – this was the highest point of the walk, just over 600m (Helm Crag summit is 405m, Calf Crag at 537m).

Looking back from Greenup edge top

Looking back from the top of Greenup Edge, Calf Crag, where we came from is on the left. From here, we walked on our own, following cairns marking a loose path along the Edge and picking our way over boggy ground towards Borrowdale.

borrowdale coming from ridge walk

 

Borrowdale valley below, with Eagle Crag to the left – this looked a great little fell to do in future.

greenup gill waterfall

 

Looking back up the path alongside Greenup Gill. We followed the gill down, very picturesque with lots of little falls.

greenup gill waterfall1

 

The way down is long, but wonderful scenery all along the way, we even saw a doe, happily grazing up on Coldbarrow Fell above us, which we got very excited about – we’ve been to Lake District several times before but had never seen any. We didn’t see any other walkers until we got right down near Stonethwaite, so I’m not sure how popular this walk is. I suppose going up, it might be tiring as it would be a long, slow climb. It took ages to reach Stonethwaite but once there, we thought we may as well walk on to Rosthwaite as we realised that we hadn’t missed the last bus back to Keswick. We retired to the Dog and Gun in Keswick for a couple of well deserved pints.

This walk was only 8.5 miles – although it felt longer and took us 6 hours. It really was perfect for the weather and also for our level of fitness. This time, I managed to work out a way of carrying the camera around my neck, safely secured under rucksack strap so that I didn’t have to worry about damaging it. Not sure I’d do this over higher fells though but it definitely saved stopping all the time to take the camera out.

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Lakes journal

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    Coniston boat launch

Back in the Lake District for a long Bank Holiday weekend. Beloved thought we should have waited until September but I know my work will be busy and I won’t be able to take time off. We arrived in Keswick on Friday afternoon and it’s been positively heaving with people since. Not that we have spent a huge amount of time in Keswick but you notice restaurants and pubs are much fuller than in early July when we were last here.

It has been raining quite a lot since we arrived, which happens here pretty often making it more difficult or unpleasant to do certain walks, but so far, the weather hasn’t affected us much. On Friday afternoon, Skiddaw, the highest local peak at 931m and 5 and a half miles out of Keswick, was bathed in sunlight so we went for it thinking we probably wouldn’t get another chance. We were at the top just after 6pm after passing lots and lots of other walkers on their way down. We had the top to ourselves, a deserving end to a pretty exhausting climb (we are not very fit). I took lots of pictures with the camera, none with phone, so will post when back home. By the time we reached the top, the weather had completely changed and we were lucky that the rain didn’t start until we were almost back in Keswick. So happy that we did this, views were amazing throughout the climb and from the top. I loved how you couldn’t actually even see the top of Skiddaw for most of the climb, hidden as it was behind Skiddaw Little Man. We haven’t seen the top of Skiddaw since either, it’s been covered in cloud.

Saturday’s weather forecast was ‘rain’ so we hopped on a bus to Ambleside and, from there, on another to Coniston for a day out in that part of Lake District. We were lucky with the weather again, for although it was cloudy, we managed to avoid the rain for most of the day. In Coniston, we walked to the lake shore, famous for Campbell’s crash while attempting speed record in the Blue Bird, had a look at Coniston Old Man standing tall above and thought it could be a good one to climb one day. Then we headed back via Tarn Hows, a short walk from Hawkshead Hill (we got a bus to that point), and this was a simply magical setting, which my photograph doesn’t do any justice to. It was too overcast for my phone. Anyway, you can see that when Lake tourism became popular in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, this is what the ‘picturesque’ tourists had read about and come to see. They still do in large numbers. As we left to catch the bus to Hawkshead, lots and lots more cars arrived. Did not see anyone but us on foot.

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    Tarn Hows

Hawkshead is a charming, twee little village, proper old school with narrow passages and twee shops and tea rooms, I’d been keen on seeing it for some time. We got some very good cake in a cute little tea room for the journey back and then sampled some local ales in a pub. By the time we eventually got back to Keswick, it was raining pretty hard. We only stopped in Ambleside long enough to grab a bite from a caf we really liked last year, Gaggling Goose I think it’s called or something similar. 20120827-073146.jpg

    Hawkshead Bitter and Coniston XL

Weather forecast for yesterday said ‘dry’ so we thought we’d walk in Borrowdale. Got a bus to Seatoller and planned to climb to High Spy, then walk along the ridge and back down to Grange. Only about 20 minutes into the path towards High Spy, it started raining. We decided to have a go at climbing anyway, Wainwright’s guide pointed at only one rough and steep bit by disused quarries. Unlike Skiddaw, though, this climb was fun. 20120827-073205.jpg

    Climb via disused slate quarry

When we got to the top, however, everything was covered in mist and cloud, you could not see more than 20 feet around you. This sort of thing happens a lot in the Lakes. We abandoned the ridge walk, came back down past the quarries, then continued to Grange along the path lower down. Beloved said this was his favourite walk so far, this had everything, gills (mountain streams) and waterfalls, imposing cliffs, disused mine shafts piles and piles of slate, then the scenery completely changes into woodland as you get nearer to River Derwent and Grange. Have no idea how long the walk was, path from Seatoller to Grange is 5 and a half miles without taking the climb into account. Would love to come back here and do the ridge walk as well, it eventually leads to Catbells. 20120827-073219.jpg

    View over Borrowdale, mist settling on our way down.

Not quite sure what we are doing today yet, think it’s meant to be raining, wifi in our room is practically non existent so even checking the weather is a laborious process, hence no blog posts over the weekend and this long, journal one this morning. Has taken a whole to get done so getting it out early before the signal goes off again!