When I woke up on the Sunday morning of my recent short break in Braithwaite, looking out of my bedroom window I could that Skiddaw was cloud free. The forecast was promising too – a high probability of cloudless summits up Coledale (although a grey day on the cards) – so after breakfast I checked out and, leaving my car at the B and B, I set out to climb Grisedale Pike. It’s a shapely fell, described thus by the blessed Wainwright
a graceful peak piercing the western sky ……. conspicuously in view from Keswick, it is one of those fells that compels attention by reason of it’s shapeliness and height.The North Western Fells
The profile of the mountain means that the ascent from Braithwaite, (the most popular route up), involves a steep initial climb followed by a long gradual ridge, then another steep section, a short easier ridge and a final steep pull involving a little scrambling.
First of all, taking the Whinlatter Pass road out of the village up a steep slope as far as a small car park (already full at 10 o’clock)
then up some steps for the start of the steep climb at the start of ascent
Stopping to look back is always a good excuse for a little rest and in this case it was justified by the view over to Scafell & Co.
an over to the Dodds in the east
The climb eased off and the summit, with a clearly defined path to the top, came into view
No cloud hiding the summits of the other fells of the Coledale valley today
Getting closer to the summit now, the hidden valley of Grisedale, from which the fell takes its name, was revealed. There’s another Grisedale, one with an eponymous tarn, at the foot of St Sunday Crag in the Eastern Fells, of course, plus Grizedale (with a z) forest between Windermere and Coniston Water. They origin of the name for all of them is “the valley where young pigs graze” and so these were all places where there once would have been wild boar.
I had to take a rest and refuel, though, as the steep climb had reduced my blood sugar and the low alarm from my sensor was beeping away. It took a little while to recover before I could continue.
Now for the start of the final pull
A little scrambling required. This stretch reminded me a little of the final section of the Watkin Path on Yr Wyddfa (formerly known as Snowdon)
Finally reaching the summit, the views were excellent in every direction and I could even see as far as Scotland and the profile of the Isle of Man on the Horizon
Time to carry on down an easier slope than on the ascent. Looking back –
As I descended I could see over to Hopegill Head. I had in mind climbing up there too but my blood sugar was dropping and I was running low on carbs so thought it best to leave that for another day. I didn’t want to hypo when there was still a way to go back to Braithwaite down Coledale. I hadn’t managed my carbs too well today – the climb had been tougher than I’d expected and I wasn’t fell fit. I had some sugary snacks in my pack but didn’t feel comfortable that they would see me through. I usually pack more food than I think I’d need for a walk, but this one had been tougher than I’d expected and it’s better to be safe than sorry and have to be carried back down by Mountain Rescue. (I did make it back down to the village before my sugar level had dropped to the point where an intake of carbs was needed, but I’d made the right decision).
So I carried on descending making my way to Coledale Hawse where I was greeted by this view down the valley
I started chatting with a couple of other walkers who were also admiring the view. I recognised the accent of one of them – he was from the town where I grew up.
The path descended steeply towards the bottom of the valley down a rocky path. The old mine soon became visible.
Force Crag Mine was the last working metal mine in the Lake District, finally closing in 1991. Initially mining lead from 1839 until 1865, and then zinc and barytes from 1867. The abandoned mine is now owned by the National Trust who host open days from time to time. The water running out of the mine workings is heavily polluted with toxic metals including zinc, cadmium and lead and the Coal Authority, the Environment Agency, National Trust and Newcastle University and have developed and implemented an innovative pilot scheme to reduce the levels of metal pollution.
Looking back from near the bottom of the valley
I crossed the river and then joined the old mine road. It was a long, relatively easy but not very exciting walk back to Braithwaite
In the morning I’d passed a sign for the Braithwaite Orthodox church. Curious, on returning to the village I went to take a look.
It was originally a Methodist Chapel but really is being used as an Orthodox place of worship.
I then made my way to the village shop where I was able to replenish my carbs and buy a take away coffee. It was a short walk back to the B&B and my car.
I’d had an enjoyable few days in the North Lakes but it was time to set off on the drive back home. I’ll be back up here again before too long. But I’ll make sure I’ve more than enough carbs with me next time!
One of my favourite fells and one of my favourite walks. Lovely photos.
Thanks Martin. Definitely a good walk – glad I waited and didn’t try it the day before when it was windy on the summit and in the clag.
Yes, with views like that, you want the fullest possible vista. One of my three ascents was cloud-topped: it had been intended as an attempt at the complete Horseshoe but I tapped out after Hopegill Head and came back and did it a fortnight later, in glorious conditions.
Its not the easiest being a diabetic on the fells, like you, I find myself loading up with food for walks and lowering the amount of insulin taken in order to not drop too low. The difference between walks around Dartmoor and steep fell walks can be quite a shock at times with sugars plummeting after a long climb. A wise move to head down if in doubt, hopefully your fell fitness will return and allow for some longer walks with carbs
It’s easier when I stay in self catering. It’s easier to load up with carby food. I always like to end the walk with some food left. That means I’d have had food in reserve if something happened and I was up longer than expected or was waiting for help.
I like Grisedale Pike. The views on the way up are incredible. Wise decision to not go to Hopegill head. As we say in French the mountains will still be there.
Yes, it’s silly taking unnecessary risks
One of Lakeland’s classic peaks and looks like you had a really decent day. Always sensible decisions to take a safe option. Mountains can be unpredictable and unforgiving environments.
Love Grizedale pike, elegant and huge. I used to stay in Braithwaite regularly and have done it a couple of times, including the round over Sail. Stunning walking, but you’re right, it is a killer. 🙂👍
“… it is a killer” – especially for an old git like me!!