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An indecisive wander around some Grasmere fells.

An indecisive wander around some Grasmere fells.


Postby trailmasher » Wed Mar 22, 2017 1:25 pm

Wainwrights included on this walk: Calf Crag, Tarn Crag (Central Fells)

Date walked: 15/03/2017

Time taken: 5.08

Distance: 18.16 km

Ascent: 995m

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Calf Crag and Tarn Crag.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts


As reported earlier I had enjoyed a fairly level walk in Swaledale a week or so ago but I hadn't been in the LD hills since the 5th February and I'd got a touch of cabin fever, so it was time to mobilise myself, sod the work and the weather, pack the bag, put on the boots and get on with it TM. So got on with I did, although I couldn't make up my mind which part of the LD was going to suffer my size nines tramping all over them. I finally decided on the Central Fells around Grasmere, a most delectable place for a day's walking with choices galore.

The forecast was to be fair with sunny periods and the chance of some late afternoon rain and as I arrived at the long lay-by that sits on the A591 on the northern outskirts of Grasmere it was sunny with cloud and a nice 7°c that was trying to dull the chill of the slight breeze that I just knew would be a lot stronger up in the hills.

As I readied myself I looked up at Stone Arthur over to the northeast, clear to see with blue sky and some very white clouds enhancing its already attractive shape, and then cast my mind back to a few weeks ago when it was buried in cloud and rain, a day that shall be long remembered as I led Chris and Daniel up the waterlogged paths in their quest for bagging Wainwright summits.

As I set off walking into Grasmere I decided to have a go at the Helm Crag ridge again as I haven't walked it end to end for quite some time, so after walking down the little side road that picks up the B5287, and then walking down that for a few metres I once again turned down the good path that rises above Easedale Beck as it passes through the small wood of Butharlyp Howe. After a quarter of a mile I arrived at Easedale Road, crossed over and walked along the enclosed path that lies alongside the tarmac of Easedale Road, past Goody Bridge and then took the next right turn along the lane towards Thorny How.

Instead of following the lane round to the right I now turned left along the wide and well compacted stone covered lane that leads to the Lancrigg Hotel and then once again - as I did with Chris and Daniel a few weeks ago - passing in front of the hotel to continue on through the woodland and then up the dead bracken covered bank under White Crag. It was in the wood that I stumbled across a red deer having a drink from the old dam, and as I passed through the gate onto the open fellside I stood and watched a red squirrel searching for his hidden winter cache of mixed nuts with him only shooting off when I made a move to continue on my way.

The path from the gate gets quite steep as progress is made forwards but not without some difficulty as the ground in the lower reaches was wet and slippery especially as I made my way through the bracken. Nonetheless, I was soon on the main path of stones alongside the wall with the views opening up nicely below and around me in all directions apart from north where the shoulder of Helm Crag blocks everything out apart from a few outcrops of rock and brown grass. Despite the chill of the breeze I was warm with my efforts of reaching the point where the path either continues on up the south ridge to Helm Crag and beyond or takes a dive back down to pass under High and Low Raven Crags.

I stopped at the junction of the paths…
4 - The south ridge path to Helm Crag.JPG
The south ridge path to Helm Crag.

to enjoy the view and get a picture of Seat Sandal, Great Rigg and Fairfield sat either side of the small valley and Great Tongue that is skirted by a path on both its east and west sides that follow Little Tongue Gill and Tongue Gill respectively, both paths allowing easy passage to Grisedale Tarn and the surrounding fells.
5 - Seat Sandal with Fairfield in cloud.JPG
Seat Sandal with Fairfield in cloud.

It was whilst gazing across the valley that carries the A591 that I had my first moment of indecision and decided to drop back down and make my way along Greenburn Bottom - a way that I haven't been for a while - and then climb back up to attain the ridge at Pike of Carrs. And then from there…
The path, that is a bit steep and slippery today, is in pretty good nick and good progress was made with just a little care when passing over a couple of large rock strewn area but once the intake wall was reached it is merely a case of following the wall and striding out on the green path to arrive at Ghyll Foot. Leaving Ghyll Foot behind with the house hidden amongst its small copse of trees I strode across a couple of becks and now started gently climbing again still following the wall and then along an enclosed lane set between a few enclosures as I approached the waterfalls of Green Burn.
10 - Looking southeast down Green Burn.JPG
Looking southeast down Green Burn.

I left the lane behind at the waterfalls to climb a grassy bank with many rounded boulders poking out of it and a few wind bent trees at the base and I could now see Cotra Breast and the top of Steel Fell over to my right.
9 - Cotra Breast and Steel Fell from Helmside by Green Burn.JPG
Cotra Breast and Steel Fell from Helmside by Green Burn.

From the hump I dropped down to the river across some wet ground and had no difficulty in crossing to gain the opposite bank and stony path that allowed me to continue onwards to Greenburn Bottom. The stones of the path soon changed to the colour of green as grass took over the role of guidance into the head of the valley. It was warm and sunny, sheltered from the annoying cool breeze; there was no one else in sight and with sun, blue sky, the sound of the water as it fell over the rocks and small waterfalls combined with the sound of a curlew it was quite idyllic, with a strange sense of comfortable isolation making it be, the place to be.

Before too long I was in the mouth of Greenburn Bottom which, I am led to believe is all that remains of a large and ancient tarn…
13 - Greenburn Bottom and the source of Green Burn.JPG
Greenburn Bottom and the source of Green Burn.

and from where I now had to re-cross Green Burn by way of some large stepping stones. I then continued on my way northwest along a wide but in parts boggy track passing a circular sheepfold that has at least two massive boulders incorporated into its walls. I say track because that's exactly what it looks like, it is wide and well graded and also looks as though it has been engineered, built up and quite straight in some of its higher reaches, but no matter, apart from the boggy areas it supplied easy access as it made its way up and under Gibson Knott and Moment Crag.
17 - Looking to the head of Green Burn and Rough Crag.JPG
Looking to the head of Green Burn and Rough Crag.

At about the 400 metre contour the path that has now been running west takes a turn south, then southwest and then the path runs out to become a faint mark over the rough fell grass until it finally disappears altogether as I closed in on Pike of Carrs with its rocky top poking out of the grass as it sits way above and near the head of the valley of Far Easedale.

Now, the views from Pike of Carrs are quite stupendous as the views along Far Easdale with the waters of the gill glinting below, the Helm Crag ridge and along into, and over Grasmere, the eastern fells and more, with only the view south giving less inspiring views that will soon get better as I begin to make my next climb up to Codale Head.
18 - The Helm Crag ridge from Pike of Carrs.JPG
The Helm Crag ridge from Pike of Carrs.

19 - Far Easdale Gill from Pike of Carrs.JPG
Far Easedale Gill from Pike of Carrs.

20 - Tarn Crag and Deer Bields from Pike of Carrs.JPG
Tarn Crag and Deer Bields from Pike of Carrs.

But first I wanted to visit Rough Crag with its small cairn of stones and similar views as from Pike of Carrs.

From Rough Crag I then made my way over to Calf Crag with its cairn sat on an up thrust of smooth rock and a good view into the head of Greenburn Bottom and northeast across to Steel Fell with the face of Blakerigg Crag showing rough and grey.
16 - Blakerigg Crag from Greenburn Bottom.JPG
Blakerigg Crag from Greenburn Bottom.

23 - Steel Fell with the Helvellyn Range behind.JPG
Steel Fell with the Helvellyn Range behind.

The views are still more or less the same but Silver How is now a lot clearer with most of the fells in the south still hidden behind Tarn Crag and Codale Head.
28 - The view southeast over towards Grasmere from Calf Crag.JPG
The view southeast over towards Grasmere from Calf Crag.

It was at Calf Crag where I decided to have a break sheltered behind an east facing rock from the cold wind from where I could see the long view in front of me. It's was still sunny but the clouds were rolling in and I just hoped that the promised afternoon rain didn't materialise.
Setting off once again I continued forward on the well worn path from Calf Crag and along Brownrigg Moss…
30 - Unnamed tarn on Brownrigg Moss.JPG
Unnamed tarn on Brownrigg Moss.

31 - Calf Crag from Brownrigg Moss.JPG
Calf Crag from Brownrigg Moss.

passing over some boggy areas in the process. Stepping stones are available across the worst bits but some of the stones have, or are disappearing into the ground that is black, soft, and sticky so it wasn't possible to keep the boots neither clean nor dry.

Once across Brownrigg Moss the walk from Calf Crag entails another climb, this time alongside Mere Beck with the path once again not at its best in many places but with a steady plod height was soon gained and I reached Codale Head without any fuss or bother. On the way a couple of unnamed tarns sitting above Ash Crags…
33 - Steel Fell from above Ash Crags.JPG
Steel Fell from above Ash Crags.

are passed by walking around the perimeter of the low ground that contains them and from those it is about another 75 metres of a climb to Codale Head. This is where I had my second moment of waffling and indecision, should I continue on over to Sergeant Man and then make my way along to Silver How and then Grasmere, or would it be the short cut down behind Lang Crag and down to Codale Tarn, a way that I've dropped off the edge before in bad weather. Both ways have their merits but I didn't fancy the long trudge down from Codale Tarn, Easedale Tarn, and then the long drop off into Grasmere, nor did I now particularly want to continue on over to Blea Rigg and onto Silver How, What the hell then am I doing up here, just for the view? I'm going to change direction and go for Tarn Crag, somewhere that I haven't been to for a while.
35 - Looking east towards Tarn Crag and the Eastern Fells.JPG
Looking east towards Tarn Crag and the Eastern Fells.

Why then didn't I make the turn at Deep Slack and pick up the faint path behind Ferngill Crag. From moving south I now turned east hoping to find the path that would take me to Tarn Crag, I missed it but did see three walkers way below me wandering about and then stopping and guessed that they had the same problem. I must have crossed it at some point and obviously missed it so I continued walking north then northeast towards Ferngill Crag from where I knew that I would pick up another path.

Upon reaching the crag I could now see the path in front of me…
36 - Tarn Crag from Ferngill Crag.JPG
Tarn Crag from Ferngill Crag.

and just continued dropping down over easy ground until I reached Tarn Crag with just a short climb onto its summit. It was here that I met the other three walkers that I had spotted wandering about earlier. I decided to have another short break before setting off down the east ridge and making a visit to the Easedale Tarn viewpoint that is just a few metres more to the south.

From the small summit cairn of Tarn Crag once again good views are to be seen but still not much of one to southwest with just the tops of Sergeant Man and Harrison Stickle poking up just above the skyline.
37 - Tarn Crags east ridge and looking to Grasmere and a just visible Windermere.JPG
Tarn Crags east ridge and looking to Grasmere and a just visible Windermere.

38 - The Dodds-Dollywagon etc-Seat Sandal-Fairfield behind Steel Fell and Gibson Knott from Tarn Crag.JPG
The Dodds-Dollywagon etc-Seat Sandal-Fairfield behind Steel Fell and Gibson Knott from Tarn Crag.

I wonder how many people visit Tarn Crag and don't even bother to visit, or know about the viewpoint that has a far bigger cairn than its more famous near neighbour and great views of Easedale Tarn with just a hint of Codale Tarn further to the southwest. Grasmere, Windermere, Loughrigg, Silver How, Blea Rigg, and many more are now in view, and with the sun now shining again over this beautiful landscape the cold wind and indecisions are forgotten, even the incentive of a good woman and a couple of pints would be hard pushed to tear me away from this.
42 - Easedale Tarn with Grasmere and Windermere in the distance.JPG
Easedale Tarn with Grasmere and Windermere in the distance.

Easedale Tarn is dark and broody sat amongst the brown bracken covered slopes. There's no wind or even a breeze down there in that sheltered spot as the glassy smoothness of the tarn bears testament to. Unusually there is no one about the tarn, the only signs of life being the white form of some waterfowl itself enjoying the peace and tranquillity that abounds around here just now.

Never mind what I just said about indecisions, now which way to go? I could drop off down to the tarn by way of the gill, take the path under Cockly Crag and Stenners Crag and on to Stythwaite Steps as I'd already crossed out leaving by Sourmilk Gill. But a more interesting and maybe quicker way would be to take the east ridge from Tarn Crag, over Greathead Crag, then under Stenners Crag to the Steps.
44 - A view down the east ridge towards the eastern fells and Greathead Crag.JPG
A view down the east ridge towards the eastern fells and Greathead Crag.

45 - Tarn Crag from the east ridge.JPG
Tarn Crag from the east ridge.

That is what I did. The path is good and the going easy with no having to watch every step as would have been the case if I had gone down by the gill to Easedale Tarn as it's quite steep and stony.

I soon arrived at Stythwaite Steps where there is a footbridge as well as the original stepping stones crossing although there are a few missing just now, due no doubt to the horrendous flood waters of 15 months ago. I took one last photo looking into Far Easedale…
47 - Looking into Far Easedale with Gibson Knott behind.JPG
Looking into Far Easedale with Gibson Knott behind.

49 - Footbridge and stepping stones at Stythwaite Steps on Far Easedale Gill.JPG
Footbridge and stepping stones at Stythwaite Steps.

before setting off down the good track that is mostly enclosed between walls and rock as it passes below Helm Crag and Jackdaw Crag before passing across the more open ground of lower Easedale to then pick up my outward track just above Goody Bridge. Another moment of indecision, should I go into Grasmere for the after walk drink or simply return by way of Butharlyp Howe? I decided on the latter so just made my way back to the car where I changed and cast my eyes once again on Stone Arthur and Helm Crag, both acting as guardians to the approach of the Vale of Grasmere and its many delights, lakes and mountains in equal merit.

It's not often that I set off for a walk and change my mind and route, the main reason being the safety factor, when a copy of the intended route is left behind in case of emergencies, whether it be an accident or stuck out on a hill due to bad weather. But today I cast all that to one side; I rebelled against my better nature and good sense, the altitude must have addled my brain, I'm 14 years old again, footloose and fancy free, that's what cabin fever does to you. But I returned rejuvenated, I've had my fix and that will do me for another few days, that is until the hills come a calling again but next time sense must prevail because as how much I would like a ride in a helicopter or a carry down off a hill the MRT's have better things to do than come looking for some foolish person who hasn't stuck to the all important and simple rules of walking the hills.

The occasional haze was a nuisance, blocking out distance detail in some of the photos, sometimes it was just there, and at others it was very clear. It looks like I inadvertently chose the best weather day of the week as it was a respectable 7°c with mixed sun and cloud when I set off from Grasmere. This held up, more or less, until I got up to Calf Crag then the clouds dropped in with the temperature dropping slightly and making the fairly strong wind even more cutting than before. The rain held off, probably beaten away by the strong winds and when the sun appeared again and I was at a lower altitude it almost felt like a summer's day despite the abundance of winter debris, dead bracken, and brown and nearly bleached white rough fell grass. I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to cross the gills/becks due to the recent rain that we had suffered during the last few days, although it had played havoc with the paths in quite a few places where the water was lingering and making the boggy areas even more so especially just before and after leaving Greenburn Bottom.
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trailmasher
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Re: An indecisive wander around some Grasmere fells.

Postby Alteknacker » Thu Mar 23, 2017 7:11 pm

A nice-looking round, I must say. Greenburn Bottom and Brownrigg Moss look quite special.

I was looking directly across at this area a couple of months ago, but had no idea what it was, or what it was like. You really need to get in among the lower hills like this to appreciate them, I think.
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Re: An indecisive wander around some Grasmere fells.

Postby johnkaysleftleg » Fri Mar 24, 2017 1:39 pm

There is something wonderful about just wandering without a fixed plan. I've done it myself on occasion and obvious safety factor aside it's so good for the soul :D I was going to have a bimble up Glaramara this Saturday but now you've got me wondering about Grasmere :? looks like indecisiveness is catching :wink:
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Re: An indecisive wander around some Grasmere fells.

Postby Mal Grey » Fri Mar 24, 2017 3:45 pm

A wander is a wonderful thing.

Your photos reminded me how nice the Lake District is, sort of friendly mountains/hills somehow. (I know they're not always like that though!)
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Re: An indecisive wander around some Grasmere fells.

Postby trailmasher » Fri Mar 24, 2017 9:14 pm

Alteknacker wrote:A nice-looking round, I must say. Greenburn Bottom and Brownrigg Moss look quite special.

I was looking directly across at this area a couple of months ago, but had no idea what it was, or what it was like. You really need to get in among the lower hills like this to appreciate them, I think.


Now then Alte, you had a good taste of the Northern Fells a few weeks back and a great one it was too :clap: so maybe its time to dip into the Central Fells, you won't be disappointed 8) . It is a good route and will be even better as spring wakens up the local plant life :) There are plenty of hidden places, they just need finding and visiting :wink:
Thanks for your comments and reading :D
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Re: An indecisive wander around some Grasmere fells.

Postby trailmasher » Fri Mar 24, 2017 9:20 pm

johnkaysleftleg wrote:There is something wonderful about just wandering without a fixed plan. I've done it myself on occasion and obvious safety factor aside it's so good for the soul :D I was going to have a bimble up Glaramara this Saturday but now you've got me wondering about Grasmere :? looks like indecisiveness is catching :wink:


It was just one of those days Anthony when a man couldn't decide where to go :? Glaramara is a good choice for a day out :) but I can appreciate your indecision as they both have equal merits 8) . Whichever one you go for enjoy it to the full as a good day is forecast :clap: Thanks for comments and reading :D
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Re: An indecisive wander around some Grasmere fells.

Postby trailmasher » Fri Mar 24, 2017 9:27 pm

Mal Grey wrote:A wander is a wonderful thing.

Your photos reminded me how nice the Lake District is, sort of friendly mountains/hills somehow. (I know they're not always like that though!)


Thanks MG and the LD is certainly a wonderful place to walk 8) at any time of the year and despite the weather :? I guess that you've had your fair share of mixed weather whilst counting off the Munro's :wink: You must know the LD but I don't spot any of the hills crossed off :? Thanks for comments and reading :D
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Re: An indecisive wander around some Grasmere fells.

Postby Mal Grey » Fri Mar 24, 2017 10:11 pm

trailmasher wrote:Thanks MG and the LD is certainly a wonderful place to walk 8) at any time of the year and despite the weather :? I guess that you've had your fair share of mixed weather whilst counting off the Munro's :wink: You must know the LD but I don't spot any of the hills crossed off :? Thanks for comments and reading :D


You know what, I'd never even noticed you could record Wainwrights on here. Or Hewitts. Used to get to the Lakes a few times a year, been a bit less often recently. This is gonna take some time to put right....
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Re: An indecisive wander around some Grasmere fells.

Postby trailmasher » Sat Mar 25, 2017 8:38 pm

Mal Grey wrote:
trailmasher wrote:Thanks MG and the LD is certainly a wonderful place to walk 8) at any time of the year and despite the weather :? I guess that you've had your fair share of mixed weather whilst counting off the Munro's :wink: You must know the LD but I don't spot any of the hills crossed off :? Thanks for comments and reading :D


You know what, I'd never even noticed you could record Wainwrights on here. Or Hewitts. Used to get to the Lakes a few times a year, been a bit less often recently. This is gonna take some time to put right....


A couple or three nights in then Mal :lol: :lol:
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