Yewdale, Holme Fell and Tarn Hows

The second day of my mini break in Coniston I’d decided on a lower level walk. I checked out of the hostel at about 9 and walked the short distance to Shepherd’s Bridge to set off down Yewdale. It was a gey start to the day, with low cloud up on the high fells, but the weather forecast looked promising for later in the day.

Holly How YHA

The walk down this very scenic valley is one of my favourite low level walks taking me through pleasant fields and woodland with good views over to the fells to the north.

The Yewdale fells over the fields to the left
Holme Fell ahead
through the woods
Holme Fell
Cloud over Wetherlam

I turned down towards Yew Tree Farm. Owned by the national Trust the farm featured in the film Miss Potter about Beatrix Potter starring Renée Zellweger. In the film it stood in for Hill Cottage where the author lived, but, although she owned the farm, she never actually lived there. The current tennants sell their Herdwick Hogget (young sheep between 1-2 years old) and Belted Galloway beef. They’ve been on TV a few times recently (including Countryfile on the BBC) – a good advert for their business I bet! We’ve bought their meat several times via the internet and I have to saya that we all think that their “Beltie Burgers” are the best burgers we’ve ever eaten.

Yew Tree farm – a very picturesque setting

Here’s some of their Herdies!


I took the path behind the farm and began the climb up Holme Fell

a couple of curious Herdies!

It’s not one of the bigger fells – just over 1000 feet – but it was a sharp, steep ascent.


but there are great views from the top. It was still grey and overcast but there were still 360 degree views


There was some peeking out over Wetherlam


Holme Fell is probably one of the best viewpoints for looking over Coniston Water


I stopped for a while, taking in the view and trating myself to a snack and then I started to make my way down the other side of the fell. This is the second time I’ve been up here but I still haven’t worked out the best way down. The path I took metered out and whichever way down I’ve taken inevitably results in some bog hopping.

This used to be slate quarrying country and there was plenty of evidence of the industry between the fell and Little Langdale.


My route followed a track that eventually headed east, over High Oxen fell (which isn’t very high!) back towards the Ambleside to Coniston road. The views over to the fells from this road was outstanding, especially as the cloud was clearing and the sun beginning to appear.


Reaching the main road I crossed over and took the track following the Cumbria Way towards Tarn Hows

Looking across to Holme Fell

I had considered walking over to Black Fell – another small fell that’s a great viewpoint – but decided against it for two reasons. My knee was starting to give me a bit of trouble and I was also keeping my eye on time as I had to catch the bus from Coniston back to Windermere at 4:30 to make sure I connected with my train back home. So I carried on following the Cumbria Way to Tarn Hows where I stopped for a bite to eat.


I deviated from the Cumbria Way following the western side of the tarn with the extensive views over to the Coniston Fells


At the end of the Tarn I followed the metaled track back towards Yewdale. The weather had really changed now with plenty of sunshine, and it was getting warm.


Making my way back down Yewdale I passed through a field on unusual Dutch spotted sheep


Carrying on down Yewdale Coniston Water came into view


Reaching Shepherd’s Bridge on the edge of Coniston, I had a couple of hours before my bus was due so I decided to walk over to the lake

Looking across to the fells from the path to the lake

On a sunny afternoon there were a lot of people enjoying themselves out on the lake


Time for a brew and a slice of cake in the lakeside cafe!

After enjoying people watching for a while by the lake, I headed back towards the village


had a mooch around and then joined the group of people waiting for the bus back to Windermere. It was running late but I had a chat with a couple of liverpudlians who were heading back to Bowness via Ambleside.

I arrived back in Windermere an hour before my train was due (I’d bought an advance ticket for the last direct train) so bought a few supplies from Booth’s supermarket and then sat and ate my purchases on the platform. The direct train ended up not being so direct. It was due to terminate at Manchester Airport but signalling problems (had somebody been nicking the copper cable again?) meant it would now terminate at Preston. Luckily it was only a short wait there before I was able to find a connection which got me back to Wigan only 15 minutes later than originally scheduled.

I’d had a good couple of days in Coniston and despite the slight delay on my way home using public transport was a welcome change from sitting in traffic. I’d have liked to stay another night given the fine weather, but I had a meeting the next day. September’s going to be busy, but I have a family holiday to look forward to at the end of the month

Dow Crag


When does summer end and autumn begin? Well for me, the August Bank Holiday signals the start of the transition between the seasons. September is the end of the school holidays and the prospect of a busy time at work is on the horizon. So the Bank Holiday weekend is the last shout of summer, but also a time when everywhere is busy, the motorways are jammed and half the rail network is shut down due to engineering works. So definitely not a time to be heading out. This year, though, I managed to extend the Bank Holiday by a couple of days and book a place in the Youth Hostel in Coniston. So on the Tuesday, when most people were back in work I took the direct train to Windermere and then caught the bus (an entertaining ride between Ambleside and Coniston on little wiggly roads encountering cars – how the driver didn’t hit them I’ll never know!). It took longer than it would if I’d driven, but I enjoyed being able to look out of the window and appreciate the scenery for once.

I arrived in Coniston about 12:30 and set out on the walk I’d planned, by passing the Old Man and heading up Dow Crag. The village was busy but I was soon away from the crowds, setting up across the fields that would take me up to the Walna Scar Road. I had thought I might follow the shore of Coniston Water down to Torver and cut up from there, a route I’d fancied trying for a little while, but I wanted to get to the hostel around 6 o’clock and I reckoned that would take me a little too long to achieve that objective.

Crossing the field of Belted Galloway cattle – there was a bull at the other end of the field!
Looking towards the Coniston Fells

and back down to Coniston Water

On the Walna Scar Road

Reaching the old track, about a mile after the quarry car park, I carried on climbing gradually and the Dow Crag ridge with Brown Pike and Buck Pike came into view .

I turned off a short distance before the Torver Bridge taking the path towards Goat’s Water and Goat’s Hawse. As I climbed the path, i started to encounter people coming down the path. A popular return leg from Coniston Old Man for those who park up at the Walna Scar Road quarry car park.

I eventually reached the foot of Goat’s Water with Dow Crag, a mighty wall of rock, popular with rock climbers, looming over the tarn.

It’s a tricky walk along the shore of the tarn, over the boulders. The ascent up to the Hawse started at the top of the tarn.

Looking back to Goat’s Water from the top of the Hawse

over to Dow Crag

and over to the north west I could see the Scafells, although the summit of the Pike was obscured by cloud

Looking over to Swirl How and Grey Friar

and looking to the east, there’s the Old Man

It was a grey afternoon and I could see rain falling over to the east and also over the Scafells. I was keeping my fingers crossed it wouldn’t blow over and although there were a few drops, it never really started to rain over my chosen route.

Looking across Goat’s Water down to Coniston Water. Looks like it’s raining over Grizedale forest.

I stopped for a short while for a bite to eat and then started my climb up towards Dow Crag

Dow crag is the first of three summits on a ridge to the west of Goat’s Water. It consists of steep, rocky crags that plummet down to the bottom of the valley, the west side is a much gentler slope. It’s a much quieter along this ridge than on the old Man. There was a couple taking the same route but that was it, although I saw a walker and three mountain bikers coming the other way after I’d reached Brown Pike.

Approaching the rocky summit of Dow Crag

Looking back to Swirl How and Grey Friar

and across to the Old Man.

Getting over the summit of Dow Crag is a bit tricky but it’s easy walking after that.

A good view down to Coniston Water opened up. Definitely some rain falling over that way

After the summit I passed the steep gullies beloved of “crag rats”. They’d be a quick way down but that’s not exactly advisable!

can you spot the “crag rat”?
zooming in

I couldn’t help keep looking back towards the Scafells

The next summit along the ridge was Buck Pike. After crossing over the summit I could see down to Blind Tarn. It got its name as it has no apparent inflow or outflow

As usual, there were quite a few Herdies up on the fell


The summit of Brown Pike where I met another walker tackling the ridge from the opposite direction


Starting my descent down Brown Pike, the last of the three summits

I was soon back on the Walna Scar Road heading down towards Coniston

There’s the Torver Bridge


Carrying on I eventually reached the Walna Scar Quarry car park. They’d done it up a bit since the last time I was there and had started charging. A lot of people start their ascent of the Old Man from here, where they’re already getting on for 200 metres above the lake saving some climbing.

This was the view over to the fells.

After the car park I was walking on tarmac for a while, before taking a path down towards MIner’s Bridge at the bottom end of Copper MIne Valley.

Looking down to Coniston village
The view along Copper Mine Valley

After crossing over the Miner’s Bridge, I followed the track down towards Coniston

looking back to the bridge

and then took the path along Yewdale, passing the hostel and then doubling back to check in. It was about 6;30 pm, only a little later than planned.

This time I’d reserved one of their land pods – a kind of cross between a pod and a tent. I think they look like some sort of alien spaceship – but I didn’t end up getting abducted!

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!

A lower level walk in Borrowdale

Thursday was my last day in Borrowdale. I wasn’t leaving the Lakes quite yet, though. When I’d checked the weather forecast the week before my break it llooked like the weather would continue to improve as the week went on (it did indeed) so I’d checked out availability in hostels and mangaed to get a room for one night in Grasmere. But I still had another walk planned in Borrowdale before I moved on.

The mini heatwave had definitely arrived and after two days of heavy walking amongst the high fells I decided on a lower level walk. I left the hostel and drove the short distance to Rossthwaite and parked up in the small National Trust car park in the village – free to NT members, of course. I was amazed when I arrived before 9 o’clock to find it was almost full, but I managed to grab one of the last available spaces.

After booting up I set off, walked through the village, crossed the road and took the path that headed across the fells to the remote village of Wattenlath.

It was already beginning to heat up so I took it slow up the hill looking back several times up Borrowdale towards the high fells.

There definitely wasn’t any cloud on Great Gable today – but it would have been hoard work climbing up the steep slopes on a hot day. The route to Watendlath involved some climbing but nothing like the previous two days.

Zooming in – not a cloud in sight anywhere near Great Gable – but you could probably guarantee if I went anywhere near the mountain the cloud would suddenly descend!


Here’s the view across the valley to High Spy and dale Head

The terrain was different than the previous two days, grassy moorland instead of bare rock


Approaching Watendlath

It’s a small hamlet nothing more than a farm with a small collection of other buildings, standing next to a small tarn. Almost hidden in a valley between Borrowdale and Thirlmere, besides the pass from Rossthwaite and paths over the fells from Thirlmere, it can be reached by driving up a narrow road from Ashness Bridge.


The National Trust cafe was shut due to you know what and there were very few people around other than a group walkers arriving at the car park, and some contractors working on a new hydro-electric scheme.


Oh, and a couple of fishermen on a rowing boat in the middle of the tarn.



After a brief rest beside the tarn I set off past the pack horse bridge and followed the path along the beck. What a glorious day!

Reaching a bridge over the river, rather than cross to the other bank I turned left down the path that descended through woodland past the popular Lodore Falls.

Passing the falls (i couldn’t get a decent shot) the path started to descend steeply down towards Derwent Water. I caught glimpses of the lake through gaps in the foliage.

I emerged near the Borrowdale Hotel. After a short walk along the road I took the path across the flat fields towards the lake.


I approached and crossed the bridge over the River Derwent


and then took the path along the south shore of the lake. It was certainly a glorious day but getting hot as midday approached.


This part of the route often flood in the winter when the lake level rises


Reaching the minor road that runs along the west side of teh lake, there was a shortish walk along the tarmac until I reached the village of Grange. The village orignates from a farm (that’s what Grange means) built by the monks of Furness Abbey in medieval times. The Abbey owned a lot of land hereabouts and sheep farming was a major income source for them. One of the ways the monastic houses accumulated vast wealth which Henry VIII eyed up and got his hatchet man Thomas Cromwell to confiscate for him.

I passed this interesting little church – the Holy Trinity – which dates back to 1861.

The design of the stonework above the windows and door was particularly striking

I was flagging a little so stopped at a nice little cafe by the old bridge. My blood sugar had dropped so some food was needed and a baked spud with trimmings and a slice of Dutch style apple pie was just the ticket – made a change from sandwiches!

After finishing off my meal I set off again following the course of the River Derwent through woods below Castle Crag on the path towards Rossthwaite.

Looking towards the dinky Wainwright, Castle Crag

Not surprisingly there were a few people splashing about in the river.


I diverted off the path to take a look at a disused slate mine


The path eventually emerged from the woods and continued through fields back to Rossthwaite


over the bridge and past the stepping stones


Arriving back at the village, before returning to my car, I stopped off at the Flock Inn cafe for a brew and slice of tea loaf to refuel before my journey to Grasmere.

Here’s a map of the route

Third time lucky?

The weather had continued to improve so on the third day of my little break in the lakes I decided to tackle a favourite mountian – Great Gable. It’s a big, distinctive lump of rock that stands out from the surrounding fells. It’s not “pretty” like some – using a French term I’d describe it as “jolie laide”. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder but you can’t fail to be impressed by it’s ruggedness. And it looks very different depending which side you’re viewing it. It’s prettiest face being the one viewed from Wasdale where it appears as a classic pyramid. But for me, whatever the angle, Great Gable remains a favourite fell.

The summit is one of the best viewpoints in England with views across to the Scafells and down Borrowdale, Wasdale, Ennerdale and Buttermere. If succesful (not garanteed!) it would be the third time I’d have climbed this great hulk of volcanic rock. The first time was when I was 16 or 17 (with a party from school organise dby our maths teacher who was the spitting image of Bob Harris, the presenter of The Old Grey Whistle Test). It was not a fine day to say the least. It rained all the way up and the summit was enveloped in cloud and we couldn’t see a thing. The second time was when I had a short break in early May a couple of years ago. I reached the summit with heavy snow falling and the views completely obscured. Would it be third time lucky?

It was fine day as I set off up the valley towards Seathwaite. Although I could see fairly thick cloud up above the fells, given the forecast I was optimistic that it would “burn off” and disperse.

I took the path on the east side of the river to Seathwaite and then it was on to Stockley Bridge

and up the Sty Head Pass

Looking back to take a photograph down the pass was a good excuse for a short rest!

Casrrying on the cloud was clearing and it was getting seriously warm.

Reaching Styhead Tarn the water looked very inviting and several people had accepted the invitation.

I stopped for a short break for a bite to eat and then set off again towards the brand new stretcher box.

There’s Great Gable. It doesn’t look so high – but looks can be deceiving!

I started my climb. It definitely wasn’t as easy as it looked! So several brief breaks were required as I made my way up the steep path.

Looking back down to Sty Head Tarn.

and down Sty Head Pass

I eventually reached the summit, to be greeted with


I decided to hang around for a while with the hope that it might clear.

I took alook at the monument dedicated to the members of the Fell & Rock Climbing Club who died in World War I. The club bought 3,000 acres of land including Great Gable which it donated it to the National Trust in memory of these members. An annual memorial service is held here on November 11th, Remembrance Sunday.

My patience paid off, at least to some extent, as some gaps appeared in the cloud. For the first time I was able to experience the classic view down Wasdale and Wastwater,

and down Ennerdale and the Buttermere valley

Unfortunately the cloud reappeared.

Anyway, although a little disappointed I started to amke my way down the very steep path to Windy Gap ready to climb the neghibouring fell of Green Gable.

It wasn’t any easy descent and in some places more than feet were required!


But I eventually made it to the hawse in one piece to be greeted with the view of Ennerdale

and the Buttermere valley

The climb up Green Gable, although up scree in places, was considerably easier than the ascent of the fell’s bigger sibling! Being lower down the views weren’t obscured by cloud.

There was a definite difference in the weather between the western and eastern fells, with thick high cloud above the former while the latter were experiencing blue skies and sunshine.


I descended down Green Gable ready to climb my third fell of the day, Brandreth.

Looking back towards Green Gable and Great Gable from the hawse


Then a steady climb up Brandreth

I was getting drunk on the views by now


After Brandreth a relatively easy, although boggy in parts, bimble over to the final fell of the day, Grey Knotts followed by a long, steep descent towards the Honister pass. It was tricky in places and difficult underfoot.

Feeling tired, I was glad to reach the Slate Mine car park.

But I was far from finished. I had to get down the Honister Pass to Seatoller and then make my way back to the hostel. So a few miles to go.

There was a short section of tarmac to endure

but the route soon diverted on to the old toll road, walking on a track, gravel and stone initially but then on grass.

The path emerged at the hamlet of Seatoller and then my route took me along a short stretch of road, passing Seatoller Farm where I’d stayed during my last visit to Borrowdale.

Then it was back along the riverside path to the hostel. I was ready for a shower – and just made it in time for my allocated slot!

So was it third time lucky? – sort of, I guess.

Irrespective of that I’d had an excellent, if exhausting day. I had managed brief climpses from the summit but was also able to savour the views from 3 other fells I’ve never tackled before on the return journey.

Here’s a link to the route

Glaramara and Allen Crags

After a good night’s sleep I was up fairly early and during breakfast was checking the weather forecast for the day ahead. Warm dry conditions were promised and I was looking forward to a good day up on the fells. I’d decided to try my luck tackling a couple of the bigger hills within walking distance of the hostel – Glaramara and then on to Allen Crags. I’d been working up to a more challenging walk in the months since I went under the knife so this would be the moment of truth.

I followed the path along the banks of the River Derwent and then cut across the field past the Mountain View row of cottages

Looking up the valley there was plenty of grey cloud, but I was hoping it would clear during the day.

Crossing the road, I took the track towards Thorneythwaite Farm, turning off soon after onto the path that would take me up Glaramara via Thornythwaite Fell.


Looking back down Borrowdale as I climbed

The route was taking me up a very typical bowl shaped glacial valley


I was making my way slowly up the path and was passed by a much more energetic, and younger, walker, but I was happy to take my time making gradual progress and enjoying the views across upper Borrowdale (there’s the distinctive shape of Fleetwith Pike peeking over the Seathwaite fells)


and looking back down the valley towards Derwent Water and Skiddaw

Carrying on climbing


There’s Great Gable in the background over the valley – a great hunking piece of volcanic rock

The summit of glaramara finally came into view – still a little way to go


Close to the summit I was faced with a wall of rock and some scrambling was required. I veered a little to the right taking a slightly easier route.


A couple of walkers were already at the summit as I arrived. I said hello but they weren’t so friendly and were soon on their way heading towards the next objective. There’s Bowfell, Esk Pike and Scafell Pike in the distance.


Time to stop now for a bite to eat while enjoying the views. The cloud hadn’t cleared but it was high level and didn’t obscure the views of he surrounding fells. It was warm though



Another couple of walkers arrived and we chatted for a while. But overall it was a quiet route – I didn’t encounter too many people until I reached Esk Hawse. These fells are are not far from Scafell Pike which acts like a magnet leaving other smaller fells to those of us who like to avoid the crowds.

Time to move on so I set out heading towards my next objective – Allen Crags. It looked a little further than I expected! The summit is only slightly higher than that of Glaramara but to reach it entailed a descent before climbing to regain the height. The route took me over some marshy ground and past a number of small tarns. Fortunately, after a dry spell, the ground wasn’t too boggy. It would be harder going during the winter, no doubt.

After a brisk climb I reached the summit. Time for another short break. Visibility wasn’t bad and there were extensive views as far as Derwent Water and Skiddaw to the north and Windermere to the south


Looking back towards Glaramara

Looking over Sprinking Tarm towards the great bulk of Great Gable


Great End


and across to Scafell Pike


I descended down towards Esk Hause. I now had two choices – strike left, down to Angle Tarn and return to base via the Langstrath Valley or turn right and return down Grains Gill with the hordes returning from climbing Scafell Pike. I decided on the latter as it was a shorter route – I was begining to feel tired and sapped by the heat – and because I felt that the views would be more dramatic.

The latter was certainly true!

The path was relatively easy going at first, but soon started to descend steeply down the rugged Gill.

The path was busy too which wasn’t a surprise as this is a popular way up and down Scafell Pike. I kept overtaking and then being overtaken myself by several people as we stopped to take breaks.


The sun had started to break through as I made my way down the valley and the temperature consequently was rising. I was glad when I reached Stockley Bridge. I stopped for a rest by the water but I knew that it would be flatter and easier going down towards Seathwaite and beyond.

Reaching Seathwaite Farm I turned off to take the path to the east of the river, a quieter route back to base as the walkers who’d been up Scafell Pike returned to their cars parked up on the narrow road on the other side. However, I wasn’t alone as another walker had the same idea. We exchanged pleasantries as we held gates open for each other and soon got chatting properly, walking togther back along the path. He told me that he’d been up Esk Pike from Stonethwaite via Langstrath and was returning via Grains Gill creating a circular route. He’d retired early and as he lived in Penrith was able to get out onto the fells whenever he felt the urge. I was quite jealous! We parted when we reached the road near the Mountain View Cottages and I retraced my steps back to the hostel along the river.

Click here for a map of the route

A break in the Lakes

Earlier this year I decided to book a few days in the Youth Hostel in Borrowdale in the Lake District to try and do some walking among the higher fells. I was taking a chance as I had no idea what the weather would be like, but I struck lucky.

We’d had a wet and miserable few weeks, but the forecast was optimistic for some good weather. I drove up via the M6 on the Monday morning, through some heavy rain, but by the time I’d got past Penrith the cloud was clearing and the sun was peeking through.

I had some time to kill before I could check in at the hostel so I stopped off in Keswick to have a mooch around and to pick up a few bits and bobs from the outdoor shops. It was market day and the streets were busy, but it wasn’t too difficult to maintain some social distancing. After I’d made my purchases I popped into Jav coffee shop for an ice coffee – it was becoming hot and sunny. They had some seating out on the pavement, but it was all taken, but I I had no trouble finding a seat indoors.

Then it was back to my car for the start of the drive down Borrowdale. I stopped off at the National Trust car park at Great Wood taking advantage of the free parking which is one of the benefits of my NT membership. A short walk through the woods and I was on the lake shore taking in the views across Derwent Water to the fells beyond. It was cloudy and the light was very flat so not so good for taking photographs, but I snapped a few anyway!

Calf Close Bay is probably my favourite spot on teh east shore of the lake.

I always make a bee line for the sculpture by Peter Randall-Page. The Hundred Year Stone was commissioned to celbrate the centenary of the National Trust.

It’s carved from a glacial boulder from Borrowdale. Positioned close to the water I’ve seen it in vary stages of “drowning” as the lake level rises and falls. Despite the recent rain it was a few feet from the water during this visit.

The Hundred Year Stone by Peter Randall Page

I chatted a while with a couple of amateur photographers and then made my way back to the car for the drive down to the hostel. It didn’t take long so after driving nervously down the narrow lane lined on both sides with dry stone walls I had a short wait before I could check in.

I dumped my stuff in my room and had a bite to eat and then decided that I’d walk along the river to Rossthwaite, the nearby village.

The attractive cottages would once have been the abodes of workers from the nearby quarries and mines up on the fells. Today tman of them are holiday lets or B and B’s and as well as being pretty would cost a pretty penny to purchase.

Looking down the valley I was tempted by the profile of Castle Crag – a small fell guarding the entrance to the valley – which wasn’t so far away and as I had a couple of hours before darkness started to draw in, I decided to head over there.

I made my way up the path

Reaching the top, which required a short, steep climb up a slope of slate waste (there was a quarry here at one time) there were good views all around. To the north

Skiddaw looming over Derwent Water

the south, up Borrowdale towards the high fells

and towards Stonethwaite and Langstrath

and over to the fells to the east

The sun was beginning to dip behind the fells and the light was starting to fail, so I made my way back to Rossthwaite and then through the fields to the hostel. After a drink of diet pepsi to quench my thirst (they were out of low alcohol beer, sadly) it was time to turn in.

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 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 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.


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 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!