Following the Coffins Part 1

After a night in the hostel I woke to another fine day with views over the fields to the high fells. After breakfast I loaded up the car and made an earlyish start, driving over to Grasmere. I’d had a think about a low level (or lowish if that’s a real word 😁) that would be too strenuous. I’d read in a book I’d purchased last year about the Cumbrian “coffin roads” about the route locals Chapel Stile in Langdale had to use to carry thei dead to be buried in the church in Grasmere. I’d decided to park in Grasmere and walk over the fells below Silver How over to Chapel Stile and then return by the coffin road. It seemd like it would be a decent circular route I’d not followed before, matching my requirements of something not too strenuous. As it happened I pushed myself a little harder than intended and also made some off the cuff changes to the planned route.

It was quiet in Grasmere and before I set out I grabbed myself a coffee in the Heaton Cooper Gallery (Lucia’s Cafe wasn’t open but this turned out to be a good substitute – a decent coffee with tables outside on a sunny day with a view over to Stone Arthur (and good cakes, sandwiches and breakfasts, too)

Energised by the caffine, I set off. This, right at the start, is where I made one of my decisions to vary the route, deciding to climb to the summit of Silver How rather than passing it lower down.

At first I felt pretty good climbing the lower slopes

and looking back, on a particularly fine morning, there were most excellent views over Helm Crag, Seat Sandal and Fairfield

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About half the way up (maybe a little further) my lack of fitness began to tell – not helped by a high blood sugar level (which explained why I felt so thirsty) caused by being tempted by the tea loaf at the cafe and not compensating with some insulin. Consequently I needed to stop a few times for a “blow” (in the Scouse parlance I picked up when in lived in Liverpool while at University this means a rest, not some illegal narcotic!). Being stubborn, I wasn’t going to let it beat me even if everyone else climbing up (not very many people I have to say) were overtaking me!

I eventually made it to the summit – time for another rest to soak up the views in every direction.

Down to Grasmere and Rydal Water

Farfield, Great Rigg and Seat Sandal

Pike o’ Blisco, Crinkle Crags, Bowfell and the Langdale Pikes

and the Coniston Fells

Rested and refreshed, I set off down from the summit on the path towards Langdale.

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Another change of mind now. I was enjoying being high up enjoying the great views. So rather than descend into the valley and climb back up again, I decided to saty up on the ridge and walk over to pick up the Coffin Route path as it crossed the top of the fell. I’m never one to stick to a plan if a better one becomes evident during the walk.

This is the path I’d have descended down into Langdale if I hadn’t changed my mind.

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Instead I carried on up and down on the hummicky fell (I probably made that word up too, but it seemed to describe the nature of the ridge), enjoying the walking and the views

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Looking back to Silver How

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Back to the Langdale fells

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and south to Elter water with Windermere visible in the distance

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I reached the coffin route towards the edge of the ridge and turned eastwards to folow it down to Grasmere. The descent here was extremely pcturesque – initially with views across to the fells and Grasmere

The route took an old “lonning” (a Cumbrian term for a lane or track) through the Hammerscar Plantation

The shade from the trees was most welcome. I expect that this would be a good walk during the autumn when the trees were wearing their coat of red, gold and brown leaves.

The lonning emerged on the road above the lake. Now to complete the Coffin Route I’d have followed it back to teh village. But the lake was tempting me so another change of plan and I walked down to the lake shore where I stopped for a rest and a bite to eat

It was about 1 o’clock now and I didn’t feel like calling it quits for the day, so another decision – I’d follow the shore of Grasmere and then on to Rydal Water where I decide whether to carry on to Rydal Village and return to Grasmere by another Coffin Route (one I’d walked a couple of times before). Alternatively I could miss out Rydal Water and cut across from White Moss and walk half of the route.

But this post has gone on long enough. part 2 to follow when you’ll find out which options I took!

6 thoughts on “Following the Coffins Part 1

  1. More stunning views and inspired decision to take a couple of days away while the weather was so good. Again never walked these smaller hills, need to correct that at some point

    • Yes it was a last minute decision almost. I thought I’d have a quick look at the YHA site on the offchance of a cheap solo break to get away from the tennis that would be permanantly on the telly when the French Open started on the Monday, and struck lucky!

  2. I’m staying on Red Bank Road at the end of July, looks a good route this one, although I have done Silver How many years ago but never the coffin route. Great walk in some superb weather. Didn’t know you were diabetic, I’m type 1 have been since Jan 1987

    • Insulin dependent type 2 due to acute pancreatitis in 2007.
      Hope weather holds for you in July. Fingers crossed. I’m in Borrowdale 2nd week of August for a few days.

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