Seat Sandal

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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”)

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

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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

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looking back to Silver How
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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

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Looking back

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I carried on climbing gradually up the valley

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Some locals were keeping an eye on me

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

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Keeping on

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I eventually reached Grisedale tarn.

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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.

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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

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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.

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Looking North West
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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

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There’s Bowfell and the Scafells
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Great Gable in the middle of the shot
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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.

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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

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Steel Fell dead ahead

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

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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

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Looking back across to Helm Crag

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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

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I was climbing up through rougher country now

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Climbing up towards the hause

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

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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

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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!)

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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

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

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

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Looking across to St Sunday Crag and the mighty Fairfield

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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.

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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.

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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!