Grisedale Pike

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!

Barrow and Outerside

My B & B in Braithwaite was very handy for exploring the North West fells with walks starting from the front door. There was a view over the valley to Skiddaw from my bedroom window and looking out before breakfast I could see cloud hanging over and obscuring the top of the fell. I reckoned conditions would probably be similar up Coledale, and a look at the mountain weather forecast websites seemed to confirm this. I was hoping to go up Grisedale Pike but decided to leave that high fell, hoping the weather would be better the next day (it was) and instead tackle a couple of lower fells. This turned out to be a good decision as the top Grisedale Pike was covered with cloud for most of the time I was out and a walker I’d spoken to later in the day who had been up told me it had been windy up top with no views.

My objectives for the day, then were Barrow and Outerside, to lower fells which were below the cloud base and which did offer some views over Newlands Valley, Coledale and the higher fells. I had to endure some rain and wind, but nothing that presented any difficulties.

After breakfast I booted up and set off walking through the village and then took one of the paths up towards the fells.

Looking back over Braithwaite towards Skiddaw and Blencathra
Barrow to the left – Causey Pike ahead the summit peeking through the cloud.

I realised I hadn’t taken the most direct route towards, Barrow, my first objective. But consulting the map I decided that rather than retrace my steps I could take a path a little further up the valley and cut across to the fell.

Causey Pike, the minor summit of Stile End and Outerside
The path cutting across towards Barrow

After crossing the beck, rather than take the steep full on path up to the summit, I turned left and along a path running diagonally across the fell, joining the main ridge route to the top. As I climbed the rain started to blow in.

Looking back over the valley towards the Skiddaw group with low cloud obscuring the summits of the fells
The view over towards Derwent Water part way up Barrow
Looking across the Newlands Valley – the rain was coming across
Looking over to Causey Pike, Sail, Crag Hill and Outerside from the summit of Barrow
Looking back towards Skiddaw from the summit of Barrow
Making my way down from Barrow towards Outerside
Making my way down Barrow

Reaching the hause I started to climb a path that I thought would take me towards Outerside. After a short while I found myself on the summit, not of my intended hill, but the subsidiary summit of Stile End. My second error of the day. I stopped to take a short breaking taking in the views over the fells as the rough weather continued to come in along the valley from the direction of Buttermere

Some rough weather blowing in from the west – covering the summit and higher slopes of Grisedale Pike
The weather coming in over Grisdedale Pike
Sunshine on the lower northern slopes of Grisdale Pike
A rainbow over Braithwaite

Time to get moving again. I dropped down from the summit, made my way back to the hause and set off on the path above Stoneycroft Gill before cutting across on to the path that would take me up Outerside. There was a short steep climb requiring a little scrambling – care needed on the wet, slatey rock, but it didn’t take too long to reach the summit.

The view over Stile End and Barrow towards Derwent Water
Sail and Crag Hill in the cloud
Can’t see much of Grisedale Pike

As I made my way down Outerside, the cloud was beginning to clear. Reaching the Stoneycroft Gill path on a better day when I was feeling more “fell fit” I’d have been tempted to climb up to the ridge and tackle Causey Pike and possibly Sail and Crag Hill, but I decided it was time to make my way back down to Braithwaite. I followed the path towards Barrow

then cut across back towards the top of Stile End to take in the views again as the cloud was clearing. It was boggy underfoot. When I reached the summit of the smaller hill the cloud ha completely cleared from Grisedale Pike

Grisedale Pike from Stile End
Looking over towards Coledale Hause
Towards Outerside
Causey Pike

It was a steep and slippery slope to descend down off Stile End

Following the path back down to Braithwaite with the Skiddaw massive dead ahead
Passing a mass of snowdrops as I approached the outskirts of Braithwaite
View over Braithwaite

Reaching the village I popped into the small village store and picked up a few goodies to take home (locally made fudge)

Before making my way back along the road to my B & B and a welcome brew supplied by Helen, one of the owners!

A weekend break in the Lakes

It’s been a surprisingly busy start to the year and I felt like I could do with a break. Wife and daughter had already taken themselves for a weekend in Venice in January (leaving me and son behind). I thought I could do one better ( 😁, well maybe not! ) and headed up to the Lakes last weekend.

The weather forecast wasn’t so great, but I’d booked my B & B and a bit of rain wasn’t going to put me off. I rescheduled a couple of commitments and set off late morning. On the M6 I ran into rain near Preston and it continued to get heavier as I drove north. It eased off as I approached Penrith but it continued to rain on and off along the A66 to Keswick. I drove down Borrowdale and parked up in the Great Wood car park and weighed up my options. It looked fairly miserable up on the fells so decided I’d just take a walk along the lake to Keswick.

First stop was Calf Close Bay, only a short distance from the car park, and the Hundred Year Stone, the monument carved by by Peter Randall-Page, marking the centenary of the National Trust which owns much of the land around the Lake.

I’ve been here in all sorts of weather – it’s almost a traditional stop during a visit to the north Lakes – and photographed these stones many times, sometimes with them partially covered with water when the lake level was high.

It continued to rain on and as I carried on walking along the lake

approaching Keswick

It was quiet when I reached the small town, just a few bedraggled visitors (including me, of course!) wandering the streets. I had a mooch around the walking gear shops and then went for a sit down with a coffee in Java, a favourite cafe on Main Street.

reenergised by a strong coffee I set off back along the lake. The rain had eased off and the fells were becoming visible

I’d dried off by the time I reached Great Wood. I debooted (is that a real word?) and drove back into Keswick, stopping off at Booths to pick up a few supplies, and then on to Braithwaite and the B & B where I would be spending the next two nights. I was looking forward to some walking up on some fells I’d never explored before.

Scout Scar and Cunswick Fell from Sizergh

I’m trying to get the hang of my new “arrangements” – so far with only limited success. However, last Wednesday promised to be a fine day for a walk. I didn’t fancy going too far in peak holiday period so I drove up the M6 towards Kendal, parked up at Sizergh Hall, and set off for a walk along the limestone ridge of Scout Scar. I’d been up there a few times, but previously from the other end.

At first I retraced our return route from a walk during our visit to Sizergh Castle a few weeks ago – across the fields and through woodland

up to the viewpoint near to the “Chapel of Ease” of St John Helsington – and on a sunny morning with decent long range visibility, what a fine view it was.

the view over to the Lakeland fells
the limestone escarpment of Whitbarrow (I must get up there one day soon)
Looking over to Arnside Knott and the Kent estuary

This was as far as we’d got during our previous visit, but this time I carried on heading north

crossing a minor road and then taking a path on to Scout Scar

The views over to Lakeland just got better and better and opened up so that I could see over to the Fairfield horseshoe, Red Screes and the Kentmere fells

I reached the “mushroom”, a popular destination, not far from the car park on the Kendal to Underbarrow road, where I stopped for a bite to eat.

I carried on to the end of the ridge

I’d intended to turn back from here, taking the path along the edge of the scar, but a moment of madness came over me and I decided to carry on for another couple of miles over Cunswick Fell to the other limestone edge of Cunswick Scar.

It was quieter along here – its obviously not as popular as its more dramatic companion. But there were a few people about.

The walking is easy going, and at the summit I was rewarded with excellent views over to the Kentmere horseshoe

and over Kendal towards the lonely hills of Borowdale (the lesser known Westmorland variant, not the more well known one south of Derwent Water) and the Shap Fells

over to the Howgills

and the major fells to the west

Outstanding views and the photos don’t really do them justice.

I turned around and more or less retraced my steps back towards Scout Scar

I crossed over the minor road and climbed back up onto the ridge of Scout Scar

and set off along the edge of the ridge heading south.

There’s the mushroom again

This is the view looking backwards that shows the limestone escarpment. It is quite a steep drop down to the bottom

As I walked along the ridge the Kent estuary began to dominate the view

along with Whitbarrow over to the west

At the end of the ridge I descend down to the Brigsteer road, crossed over and retraced my steps back to Sizergh, with a slight variation at the end, following a different path than the one I’d come. I arrived back in time to buy myself a well earned brew and tasty peach crumble cake.

It had been a good walk and I’ve got in mind to come up here again on a fine day during the autumn or winter when I’d get a different perspective of the landscape. I think I’ll cut out the diversion over Cunswick Fell though.