Fairfield Via Alcock Tarn

Keeping my eye on the weather forecast, a Tuesday in early June looked promising so I decided to get out for a walk. I had an idea for a circular route based on the train, but a cancellation by the ever dependable (not!) Northern Rail put the end to that option. So, I reverted to driving up to the Lakes and decided to park up in Grasmere and see where I ended up. It was bright and sunny when I arrived so I booted up and headed towards the fells to the east of the village. I decided to walk up to the Fairfield ridge via Alcock Tarn. I’d only been up to this small man made tarn up on the hillside once before so I thought it was time to give it another go. My first walk up there, just before the first lockdown, was up the path to the north of the tarn, so this time I thought I’d take the alternative southern route that passed Dove Cottage before ascending through woods on the fell side.

Dove Cottage

It was a steep climb and views over the valley below over to the high fells in the west soon opened up.

Part way up the hill I passed through the gate – the tarn, and much of the surrounding fell, was bought by the National Trust in the 1940s.

I carried on up the hill, occasionally stopping to look back at the view, and eventually reached my first objective where I stopped for a break and a bite to eat. The tarn, which sits on a shelf on the side of Heron Crag, is about 1000 feet above Grasmere and was originally a small natural pool known as Butter Crags Tarn. It was purchased during the 19th century by a Mr Alcock who lived in Hollins, a grand house on the edge of the village the valley below (it’s now used as the Regional HQ for the National Trust), who enlarged it with a dam and stocked it with trout.

The edge of the tarn was swaring with tadpoles. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many!

After a short break it was time to set off up the fell side along a clear path up towards Nab scar that isn’t shown on the OS map.

Looking back down on the tarn

The view back down to Grasmere and over to the Coniston Fells

I reached the ridge at the top of Nab Scar. Looking south I had a good view over Windermere

but my route was in the opposite direction, over to Heron Pike then Great Rigg and the summit of Fairfield. There were a few other walkers about, many of them tackling the Fairfield Horseshoe, but that wasn’t my intention.

After tackling the first two peaks I arrived on the stony summit of Fairfield

Looking over to Coffa Pike and St Sunday Crag

and over to Dollywagon Pike, Nethermost Pike and Helvellyn

The view over to the Western Fells

and over to Windermere

I stopped for a while chatting to another solo walker who was tackling the horseshoe and then retraced my tracks back to Great Rigg

I’d decided to descend via Stone Arthur so reaching Great Rigg I left the main ridge and took the path down the slope towards the rocky outcrops that look down on Grasmere village.

Looking to my right as I descended
Stone Arthur ahead

I passed a small group of walkers and then reached my objective where I stopped to enjoy the views down to the valley and over to the western fells.

I made my way down the path back to the village. Having been up this way a couple of times previously I knew it was a steep path and it was tough on the old knees as I descended, so I was glad to get down to level ground. I had a quick mooch round the village buying myself a cold drink from the Co-op which I drank siting on a bench on the village green. It was then time to return to the car and set off back home. The joys of the M6 to come!

Fairfield Ridge

Walking opportunities during mid February have been limited due to visits from Dudley, Eunice and Franklin, but the week before the storms I managed to take a day off work and drove up to Grasmere to head off up the fells.

For once I managed to bag a free space on the outskirts of the village – mid week in February meant there weren’t as many people out and about. I booted up and set off. I’d decided to tackle Fairfield taking the route up to the ridge via Stone Arthur. It’s a steep climb up to the rocky prominence, which is really an outlier of Great Rig, one of the peaks along the western ridge of the Fairfield Horseshoe.

Good views looking back down towards Grasmere

The RAF were out in force that morning. Part way up two Typhoons zoomed allong the valley. They were followed by a stream of more aircraft at intervals as I climbed, disturbing the peace and quiet for a couple of hours.

The wind picked up as I climbed – it was blowing a hooley when I reached Stone Arthur.


I stopped for a short while, sheltering from the wind behind the rocks, for a brew and a bite to eat before continuing the climb up towards Great Rig

Cracking views back over the valley
and over Grisedale to Dollywagon Pike and Helvellyn
The summit of Great Rigg ahead

Reaching the ridge and the summit of great Rigg I was battered by the wind but stopped to chat with some other walkers and to take in the views

Looking over to Fairfield
Down the ridge to Windermere
Looking west over Grasmere toward the Coniston Fells, with Coniston Water visible in the distance
Looking north to Seat Sandal, Grisedale Tarn and Dollywagon Pike with Helvellyn just about visible

Onwards now towards Fairfield


It was cold and windy at the summit


and I stopped at the small shelter to warm myself up with a coffee from my flask. Last time I was up here, the summit was covered with cloud, but today there were good views all round.

Looking north towards the Helvellyn ridge with Skiddaw and Blencathra visible in the distance
Cofa Pike and Saint Sunday Crag above Grisedale
Looking across to the eastern fells

I now had to decide on what route to take for the return leg of my journey. One option was to take the steep path down from Fairfield to Grisedale Tarn. I decided against this, choosing to stay high on the ridge despite the wind and head back over Great Rigg to Heron Pike.


Cloud was drifting over but every so often the sun broke through leading to some dramatic lighting effects

Looking back towards Fairfield
Dramatic light over the Coniston fells
Herdies on the hillside
Looking back along the Horseshoe from Heron Pike
The east side of the horseshoe

To descend from the ridge back to Grisedale I took the VERY steep path down from Heron Pike. I managed to keep upright for most of the way down – thank goodness for walking poles – only landing on my backside once!

Looking across to the north as I descended

I eventually reached the path to Alcock Tarn and then turned right for a slightly easier route back down to the valley.

Looking over Grasmere
Looking over to Stone Arthur – I could see the route I’d taken during the morning
Back down at the bottom of the fell now. I crossed the bridge and then took the path heading down into Grasmere

I wandered into the village and had a brief mooch before returning to my car and setting off back home. Another good day in the fells .

Steel Fell to Helm Crag – the Greenburn Horseshoe

My last day in the Lakes and it promised to be an absolute scorcher (by Lakeland standards, anyway!). I was up early and soon on my way up to the fells. I’d decided on a horseshoe walk starting by going up Steel Fell and then making my way round to Helm Crag before coming back down into Grasmere. I’d been up all of those medium sized fells before, but never done them all in one sweep. (Route map)

Making my way along the quiet lanes from Grasmere towards Steel Fell

Looking over the fields towards Seat Sandal, Fairfield and Stone Arthur.

There’s Steel Fell ahead.

Starting the climb up the fell. It’s quite a steep ascent and I took it easy. It’s not as popular as the fells overlooking Easedale or the bigger ones on the other side of the A591 and I didn’t anyone else until I reached the summit.

Getting closer to the top. The route is mainly on grass with a couple of rocky sections that required some easy scrambling.

Looking back down towards Grasmere. There’s Helm Crag over to the right on the other side of the valley.

Reaching the top there were excellent views on a great day.

Looking down over Thirlmere with Skiddaw and Blencathra on the horizon.

The Helvelyn range to the east

Looking to the west with the Coniston fells peeking over the smaller Easedale hills.

Taking a rest at the summit and taking in the views I encountered my first fellow walker of the day. He’d come up a lot quicker than me walking at pace. I said hello and started to chat. He was friendly enough but seemed a little confused when I asked him about his route and wasn’t completely coherent. I moved on and a little later he overtook me an sped on his way.

Looking down Greenburn Bottom

I reckon the section of the route across from Steel Fell to Calf Crag would be very boggy in the winter or after heavy rain. No problems today though.

I reached the summit of Calf Crag and rested for a while before making my way down the second arm of the horseshoe


Looking across to Steel Fell

It was a little busier on this leg of the walk as there’s a popular route along Easedale and then along the ridge – I’ve walked it in both directions myself. One fellow walker on catching me up slowed down to chat as we carried on along the ridge. I enjoy the solitude of the fells but also like to chat with other walkers and swap experiences. This shirtless and well bronzed walker, who had the wiry look of a fell runner, was relatively local, from Workington. He was a similar age to myself but had retired early and was able to get out on the fells more or less whenever the fancy took him, like another walker I’d met a few days earlier returning from my walk up Glaramara and Allen Crags. I was quite jealous! We parted at the bottom of Helm Crag as he descended down the zig zag path before the summit while I carried on and made my way to the summit.


The view from Gibson Knott towards Helm Crag


At the bottom of the final climb up to the top of Helm Crag.

On top of the fell. It’s known as “The Lion and the Lamb” due to some distinctive rock formations. I can never see why they’re called that myself!

Looking down to Grasmere

I stopped on the summit for a while taking in the views. It was midday by now and getting hot, but there was a welcome cooling breeze on the top of the ridge.

Time to make my way down now. It’s a sharp steep decent and I had to watch my footing in places. It’s a steep ascent too, of course and there were a few groups making their way up. I was quizzed by a couple of them -“how long will it take to get to the top?” (not an easy one to answer – it depends how fit you are!) and “is there a breeze at the top?” from another group feeling the heat.

Reaching the bottom, hot, sweaty and hungry I decided to stop and take on of the tables at Lancrigg which used to be known well known as a vegetarian hotel (we’re not vegetarians but stopped there about 30 years ago when my daughter was a tiny tot). When ordering a sandwich I discovered that the menu is no longer meat free. There’s been a change of owner – and all the staff seemed to have come from Liverpool – you can’t mistake that accent!

I enjoyed my sandwich and a well earned brew and after settling the bill made my way back to Grasmere. I had a mooch round the village and bought a few small gifts to take back home for the family. No gingerbread, though, the queue was horrendous!

I’d had a great few days in the Lakes and had really struck lucky with the weather (will I be so fortunate during my next expedition?). I’d ticked off a few items on the bucket list while I was in Borrowdale and was glad I’d extended the break an extra day in Grasmere. Now it was time to head back home via the M6. Fairly easy going most of the way – except for a jam approaching the Tickled Trout junction near Preston due to an accident. To quote Tom Jones – “it’s not unusual”.

A Summer evening in Grasmere


After a hot day in Borrowdale I drove over to Grasmere for a fianl night in the Lake District. After checking intot eh hostel, showering and having a bite to eat, it was far too nice to stop indoors, so, making the most of a beautiful, warm Summer’s evening I went for a mooch around the village.

In the daytime it is usually heaving with day trippers, but in the evening, although the pubs and resterraunts were busy, it was quiet in around the lanes around the village.

Stone Arthur
Seat Sandal
Helm Crag
Stone Arthur and Heron Pike

As the sun started to go down I went back tot he hostel and sat outside for a while with a bottle of Nanny State and then turned in for the night. I had a good walk planned for the next day!

Following the Coffins Part 2

I sat by the lake for a while enjoying the view and the sunshine and refueling. Then it was time to set off again. Not surprisingly it was busy as I walked along the lake shore with plenty of families enjoying messing about beside and in the water. Only after my trip did I discover via social media that Shazza of Sunshine and Celandines was also in Grasmere that day as well as a former collegue I knew through my work. It’s a small world as they say! Mind you, there were plenty of other people around.

At the foot of the lake I took the path alongside the river towards Rydal Water and carried on along the lower path along the lake shore. I’d made the decision to carry on to Rydal village and then return to Grasmere along the Coffin Route.


On a hot sunny day during half term it wasn’t surprising that, like Grasmere, the lake shore was heaving with families.

Reaching Rydal I passed the church

Climbed the hill and turned off and cut through the grounds of Rydal Hall


and then stopped at their cafe for a brew and get my water bottle refilled (they’re happy to do that for you). My blood sugar had now dropped so I munched on one of my energy bars.

I’d managed to bag a seat outdoors overlooking the river


and this was the “view from the bridge”


Rested, I walked up the hill and next to Wordsworth’s former home,


and turned off down the Coffin Route.


It was moderately busy as it’s a popular route that’s not difficult so attracts a range of people of varying abilities and there are good views across Rydal Water to Loughrigg and some of the higher fells beyond.


Approaching Grasmere village towards the end of the walk I passed another of Wordsworth’s former homes – Dove Cottage.


I arrived back in Grasmere which was now very busy with day trippers with queues outside the Gingerbread Shop and all the cafes and food shops. I sat for a while on a bench taking in the views of Stone Arthur and the other hills across the vally before returning to my car for the drive home (via Keswick Booths and the Tebay services farm shop where I did some shopping for a few tasty treats!).

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’nt 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


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.


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 stay 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.


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


Looking back to Silver How


Back to the Langdale fells


and south to Elter water with Windermere visible in the distance


I reached the coffin route towards the edge of the ridge and turned eastwards to follow 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 are 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 the village. But the lake was tempting me so another change of plan and I walked down to the 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’d 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!

Seat Sandal


Just two days after my wander over Winter Hill and the moors, I was off out again, this time to the Lake District. The weather forecast looked good, at least for the morning, so I set out early and arrived in Grasmere for a 9 o’clock start. I arrived to be greeted with a bright blue sky in an almost deserted village – the next stage of the easing of lockdown when shops could open was only scheduled for the following Monday.

After booting up, I set off down the quiet country lanes heading towards my destination, the valley of Tongue Gill and the path up to Grisedale tarn and then up Seat Sandal, the distinctive medium sized fell that overlooks the village. I’d been up this way the January before last – before you know what landed on our shores (or, at least, before the Government woke up to it).

I passed Helm Crag (the “Lion and the Lamb”)


with Steel Fell (the last fell I climbed before the first lockdown) ahead


but the road veered right towards the A591. I crossed the road and set off down the lane that started to climb up the gill. On a glorious morning I couldn’t help but to keep stopping to take int the views

looking back to Silver How
Looking East – Helm Crag, Gibson Knot and Steel Fell

Part way up the valley it’s divided in two by a hill – the Tongue. I took the right hand fork, following the Coast to Coast walk route


Looking back


I carried on climbing gradually up the valley


Some locals were keeping an eye on me


It had been cold for a few days due to the weather coming in from the Arctic and the ground was partially frozen


Keeping on


I eventually reached Grisedale tarn.


I’d found the relatively modest climb hard going – after been away from any serious walking I clearly wasn’t “fell fit” – or is it just age catching up with me? In reality, it was probably a combination of both factors. So i was glad of a rest while I refueled and took in a fix of hot coffee from my flask.

A few people passed by, most of them heading up to climb the steep path up Fairfield and I could see quite a few people up on the summit, probably tackling the horseshoe. But that wasn’t for me that day. Instead I was going to make my way up the shorter, but still steep, climb up Seat Sandal.

Yes Anabel, I’ll be going up that scree!

So suitabably rested I started to make my way slowly up the hill. The scree made the start of the climb a little tricky and then there was a bit of a scramble up the rock – taking care as there was ice, some of it quite thick, in places.

There were great views behind me, so I was able to punctuate my climb with a few short breaks for photos

Dollywagon Pike to the left, Saint Sunday Crag to the right an Ullswater just visible down Grisedale

It didn’t take too long to reach the summit. Unlike the more popular (and higher) Fairfield, it was very quiet and I saw only two other walkers (and another two on the way down later).. It was a good clear day so there were good views over the Lakeland Fells and I could even see over the Solway across to Scotland.

Looking North West
Looking down to Grasmere. I could see the Coniston Fells and Coniston Water in the distance

I used my camera to zoom in for some shots

There’s Bowfell and the Scafells
Great Gable in the middle of the shot
Skiddaw with Scotland on the horizon

I chatted with one of my fellow walkers (she’d come over Fairfield first and hadn’t enjoyed the descent to Grisedale Tarn down the long, steep scree slope), fortified myself with a sandwich and coffee and soaked in the views, before starting my descent back down towards Grasmere.

Cloud had been coming over the course of my walk, but Seat Sandal was still in the bright sunshine. Suddenly, I noticed some white flakes falling to the ground. Yes it was snow and it seemed to be falling out of a bright blue sky.

the little white dots you might be able to make out in this picture if youare snowflakes not marks on your screen!

Looking over to the south I could see that the snow was coming from a dark cloud over towards Fairfield and was drifting over. I’ve heard of four seasons in a day but never experienced what seemed like four seasons simultaneously! But that’s the Lakes for you.

I continued my descent.

Looking backwards

Grasmere village had been sitting under a cloud for mst of my descent and was in shadow.

The path rejoined the track I’d tken up from Grasmere near to the A591. I walked down the lane, crossed over the main road and retraced my steps back to the village, passing new born Herdwick lambs with their mother in the fields.


It was still quite quiet when I arrived in Grasmere as none of the shops were open. There was a queue though at Lucina’s cafe, which I joined to treat myself to a take out coffee and cake. I sat on a bench on the small green to consume my purchases just as the snow began to fall, fairly heavily at first. But the shower soon moved on and the snow didn’t stick.

I had a little wander round the village, doing a little window shopping in Sam Read’s bookshop,but with everything being shut and weather becoming less pleasant it was time to head back to the car and set off back for home. It had been good to get back up to the Lakes. It will be busier now as we start to move out of the current lockdown. I’ve plans for a short break up there in the summer and I hope to get back up for the occassional day walk over the next few months – before the next wave hits us.

A walk up Seat Sandal

So, after completing my 1000 miles challenge in 2019 (hurrah!!!) I made a start for 2020 with a local walk around the Plantations on New Years Day. But I was still itching to get out into the hills, so as Friday looked like it was going to be a decent day and I was still on holiday from work, I decided to head off up to the Lakes and tackle Seat Sandal, the mountain that dominates the view to the north from the western and southern shores of Grasmere.

Rather than scrabble for a parking space in one of the lay-byes on the A591, I parked up in Grasmere. Some walkers are reluctant to pay the parking fee but I don’t think £8 for the day is unreasonable – especially when you compare it with what you have to pay in central Manchester. Starting from Grasmere added 2 or 3 miles along a rough road to my walk, but that wasn’t a problem.

I set off on a bright sunny morning with bright blue winter sky. A little chilly but I was wrapped up and you soon warm up walking.

Leaving the car park there was a good view of my objective.

I walked into the village, stopping at Lucia’s takeaway to buy one of their Cumberland sausage rolls to make sure I had fuelled up ready for my walk. I then set off down Easedale Road before turning north up Helm Close, a rough road (a track in places) which took me up past fields and isolated houses, passing to the east of Helm Crag


Steel Fell dead ahead


and there’s Seat sandal with a glimpse of Fairfield to the right


My route would take me up the gill (valley) between the two mountains up to Grisedale Hause.

I crossed the busy main road – it was a bit of a blind corner so I had to take care not to get run over by the cars that speed up the road between Grasmere and Keswick – and then set off along the path up the gill


Looking back across to Helm Crag


There are two paths up towards the hause, one to each side of a minor hill, the Great Tongue. I crossed over the beck to take the right hand path, which is part of the Coast to Coast route


I was climbing up through rougher country now


Climbing up towards the hause


I eventually reached the hause and was greeted by a view of Grisedale Tarn and Dollywagon Pike


While I was walking the wind had been picking up and the cloud stared to appear covering what had been a beautiful blue sky. Here’s the view back down the gill


Time to stop for a break, shelter from the wind and grab a bite to eat, and a hot coffee from my flask.

Over to the left was my Seat sandal and a steep climb up the scree (not a route for Anabel, then!)


It certainly was a steep climb and hands were needed in a few places. But it wasn’t too bad and it didn’t take me too long to reach the top of the slope. Pausing part way a took a few snaps back down towards the Tarn and Dollywagon Pike


St Sunday Crag and the slopes of Fairfield with Ullswater just about visible in the distance down Grisedale


It was windy when I reached the summit and there was thick cloud over the fells to the west and north


Looking across to St Sunday Crag and the mighty Fairfield


After a short break to take in the views I set off down the ridge towards Grasmere – a much more gradual descent renowned for great views down to Grasmere and over to the fells to the west. Unfortunately the thick cloud rather obscured them today.


More and more cloud came in as I made my way down the ridge, but I managed to snap a few atmospheric shots (spruced up with a little manipulation with Snapseed!)

The path along the ridge eventually joined the track down the gill and I retraced my steps back towards Grasmere

The rain finally arrived as I walked along the lane back to the village. Looking back over to Seat Sandal and Fairfield looks like I got back down just in time to avoid a downpour.


I called into the village, had a browse in Sam Read’s bookshop (and was tempted to purchase a slim volume) before heading back to the car. It was just after 3 o’clock so I decided to drive up to Keswick and a visit to the Keswick Boot Company – after all the walking I’ve been doing I needed a new pair of boots

I’ll need to get out on the fells again soon – these boots are made for walking!

A walk around Grasmere and Rydal Water

The day after my trip to London last week was forecast to be hot and sunny. Should I go into the office? Well, there wasn’t anything I needed to do that couldn’t wait a day so I decided that it would be far preferable to get out for a walk. J was coming with me so we loaded our walking gear into the boot of the car and drove up the M6 to the Lake District. We weren’t going to do anything too strenuous, but had decided to park up in Grasmere Village and do a circuit of Grasmere and Rydal Water, returning by the Coffin Route from Rydal.

The first stretch of the route is along a minor road, until, about half way along the length of the small lake, there’s a path that took us down to the lake shore. We then followed the shoreline to the end.

The view back over to Helm Crag, Seat Sandal and Stone Arthur
Looking back towards Silver Howe

We then followed the path through the woods beside the river on towards Rydal Water, a short distance away.


Approaching Rydal Water we took the high path that runs parallel to the lake on the lower slopes of Loughrigg Fell.. About half way along we reached Rydal Cave, a large cave created by mining for slate.


There are notices warning of the dangers of entry – there’s been rock falls from the roof in the past – but, like everyone else who was passing, we went inside to take a look. Much of floor of the cave is flooded, but the water wasn’t so deep and we kept our feet dry by walking on a series of stepping stones, taking care not to lose our balance!


Leaving the cave the path descended down towards the lake .


At the end of the lake we followed the track a little further in the direction of Ambleside before cutting down and crossing the river by the foot bridge


A short walk along the main road was followed by a climb up the steep lane through Rydal village. We stopped off for a break at the cafe at Rydal Hall and then continued up the hill past Wordsworth’s former home at Rydal Mount

Rydal Mount

Just after the house we took a left turn on to the Coffin Road. This is the route along which the dead would be transported from Rydal, which didn’t have it’s own church and graveyard, to be buried in the grounds of St Oswald’s in Grasmere village.

Following the road up on th ehillside, looking down there were good views over Rydal Water


with the Coniston Fells poking above the lower hills to the west.


It was a reasonably easy walk, with a few rougher stretches, and we were soon back in Grasmere.


We had a wander through the village back to the car park so we could drop off our rucksacks and change out of our boots. On the way I couldn’t stop myself having a look at the small independent book shop . Although quite small it has a good selection of books and ended up buying a copy of Curlew Moon by Mary Colwell. I couldn’t resist as the curlew is one of my favourite birds. The book describes the author’s 500 mile journey from the west of Ireland to the east coast of England to raise awareness of the curlew’s endangered status. I’m looking forward to reading it.

We’d decided to have a bite to eat before setting off for home and headed over to The Good Sport, a pub owned by Grasmere Brewery and which sells their beers and serves food, including dishes made from locally raised meat. They also sell a decent non-alcoholic beer.

We both chose the Herdy burgers made from local Herdwick lamb. It was rather delicious.


After eating, we sat outside for a while in the sunshine with a cold beer (non-alcoholic in my case) before heading back to the car and setting off home. Back to work tomorrow, but only for a day, as I’ll be off next week, walking in Snowdonia. Fingers crossed that the weather is OK!

A walk from Grasmere


On Sunday I drove up to Grasmere for my first more challenging walk of 2019. I had a couple of options in mind for my route, leaving the final decision until I arrived and had a better idea of what conditions were like. After I’d parked up the going looked generally good with only a relatively light covering of snow on the high peaks so I decided on the route that would take me up Stone Arthur, a summit which looms over Grasmere village to the east, up on to Great Rigg, then south along the ridge over Heron Pike, down into Rydal village and then back to Grasmere via the “Coffin Route”.

View of Stone Arthur from Grasmere village

The route up to Stone Arthur is well trod – it’s a popular climb up from the village, and most of the path was “engineered”. It was a steep climb, though up the side of the hill.

As the temperature was just above freezing, I was well wrapped up, but the energetic climb meant I was heating up, so the hat and gloves came off and I opened up my coat.

The view back down to Grasmere
Approaching the summit
The view from the summit of Stone Arthur

On reaching its summit, it becomes clear that it’s really just a rocky outcrop at the western end of the ridge that continues to climb up to Great Rigg, a more significant peak that’s hidden when viewed from the village. After a coffee from my flask and a bite to eat I carried on. It was getting cold now on the exposed ridge with a fairly strong breeze blowing and the air temperature had dropped. Snow was clearly visible on the summit of Great Rigg


as well as Fairfield and the other summits at the head of the Rydal valley. So I fastened up my coat and the hat and gloves went back on!


I climbed up the ridge – and easier walk than the climb up to Stone Arthur and made the final ascent up the snow covered summit of Great Rigg using my walking poles to stop myself slipping.

Reaching the top there were great views, although cloud over to the east obscured the Coniston and Langdale fells to some extent.

View towards Fairfield
Looking over to Dove Crag
Looking west
Looking south towards Windermere

Great Rigg is one of the summits on the Fairfield Horseshoe I’d walked in quite different conditions last summer, but this time I wasn’t going to attempt the full circuit. Instead I set off south along the ridge heading towards the village of Rydal. The walk wasn’t too strenuous, at least until the steep descent off the ridge.

Looking over towards Dollywagon Pike and Helvelyn in the distance.


The next peak was Heron Pike and looking backwards as I neared it’s summit there was an excellent view back to Fairfield and the other snow covered peaks at the head of the valley.


Carrying along the ridge there was a good view over to Red Screes in the east


Windermere was spread out before me to the south


and Grasmere to the west, with the mountains above the Langdale Valley beyond


Carrying on, there was Rydal Water


I descended steeply down towards Rydal village (using my poles to try to save my knees from too much agony), following a group of walkers, one of them carrying a baby in a sling in front of his body; an early introduction to the fells!


Reaching the small village of Rydal, I passed Wordsworth’s final residence, Rydal Mount


I took a short diversion to Rydal Hall, strolling through the gardens.


They have a very excellent cafe where I was able to top up my flask with a strong coffee – a shot of caffeine to re-enegerise for the last 2 or 3 miles along the Coffin Route back to Grasmere.


Many years ago, before the road along Rydal Water and Grasmere had been constructed this is the route that the dead would be transported from Rydal, which didn’t have it’s own church and graveyard, to be buried in the grounds of St Oswald’s in Grasmere village.


Coming into Grasmere village, I passed another of Wordsworth’s former homes, Dove Cottage


and while I was passing St Oswald’s, I thought I’d pay homage by visiting his final resting place


as almost next door there’s the Gingerbread shop. It’s compulsory to take home a sample – a good way to earn Brownie points!


I had a mooch through the small community and then made my way back to the car for the drive home. 10 miles done according to the pedometer. And hard ones at that.