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!