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”.
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.
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.
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.