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Big skies over Grasmere...

Big skies over Grasmere...

Postby ciderpeter » Fri Feb 24, 2012 12:10 am

Wainwrights included on this walk: Blea Rigg, High Raise (Central Fells), Sergeant Man

Hewitts included on this walk: High Raise (Central Fells)

Date walked: 18/02/2012

Time taken: 4.5

Distance: 18.2 km

Ascent: 850m

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Another Saturday came and with it came another fairly abysmal weather forecast – wind, rain, cold, the lot... But once again the bag was packed and we set off towards Grasmere, with a plan to make a route up depending on the weather. Arriving at 7.30am it was foul – cloud to the ground and pelting it down, so I parked up, donned the down jacket and cracked the flask open. It is amazing how comforting it is being so snug and warm in the car, whilst the rain lashes down...

Rather than start walking I decided to wait a good while, knowing that the Met Office were saying the worst rain would cease at 9am and then it would be a mixed bag of showers/snow/sun for the rest of the day. So 90 minutes of dozing later I braved the rain and booted up, got the waterproofs on and put Todd’s warm gear on!! And lo and behold, at 9.15 the rain stopped and some blue sky even broke through... so off we went! Shame really as I was loving my nice warm jacket in the car - I think Todd was too!

I decided to head up to Easedale and see where we got from there, I have wanted to link the Langdales into a walk from Grasmere for ages so today seemed a good option. Forking off the Easedale Road, we hit our first obstacle. The track leading up to Easedale Tarn was under a foot of water which might not seem much – but when you have a 1.5 foot tall dog who can’t swim, it is!! This was a good sign of the changing weather we have had – the foot of snow and heavy rain had made the rivers/lakes full to bursting and the normally gentle track had become awash with rapids. So a slight detour was needed across the fields to avoid the deepest of the floods and in no time we were back on the track to Sourmilk Ghyll and quickly gaining height.

And the first shot of the day saw the force of Sourmilk Ghyll from a distance...


After the start to the day I had seen, you can imagine my surprise when I turned round to see this happening up ahead!


A little bit further on and a fairly gentle climb later, you reach the bridge where you cross Little Brinhowe Gill, which as you can see was also in full force! Quite impressive.



And on the other side of you a few meters further on is Sourmilk Ghyll, lots of pictures to be had, but I felt this one showed off the force of the water pretty well!


As the rivers were so full and with Todd in tow, I didn’t fancy crossing the river to get to the summit of Tarn Crag, so we skirted around the South side of Easedale Tarn. This was a good move as the light offered spectacular views across the tarn, to what must be one of the most impressive places in the Lakes... crags, slopes, big snowy mountains (Fairfield and the Helvellyn range covered in snow) in the distance! I have only been here once before, when the clouds were down to the ground and I remember thinking then it was beautiful, even though I couldn’t see it! The clouds made the scenery dramatic, big blue skies but at the same time heavy clouds lingering. With nobody in sight, it was an awesome place to be!

Panorama 1.jpg



Skirting round the tarn I was heading for Blea Rigg, up around Blea Crag, which was directly in front of me now. Spot the dog?? Measuring the wind racing round the tarn it was about -4 degrees here, so it was going to be a cold day on the tops!


Bizarrely it was actually beginning to snow... and just before I got this snap looking up the last rocky climb to Blea Rigg, the snow was fairly heavy and very much horizontal – yet the sky remained perfectly blue! I think Todd and me shared the odd glance of "wtf?"


Up the last climb to Blea Rigg summit, where the views were just as spectacular as before but it was now even colder, with the wind biting through any exposed skin. Here we are looking towards Helvellyn and Fairfield.


Whilst the other way is incredibly views across to the Langdales. I always wondered how close they were – not far is the answer!


I wandered round for a bit trying to get some decent photos – whilst Todd ate his beef stick and sheltered from the wind... Here he is catching a few moments with his fells! Just about the only time I get to take photos is when I bribe this one with either a Jumbone or a meaty treat!!


I decided we would carry on despite the wind and the looming clouds, hoping to take in the summits of Sergeant Man and High Raise – although Todd’s miserable looks were making me wonder if I should miss off High Raise?! On we went, getting closer to the Langdales and getting within I would say a few hundred meters of Stickle Tarn. I couldn't believe how close we were - I had seen it on the map but this was literally touching distance.


Hard to see in any previous pictures, but there was a good dusting of snow as I looked back over Blea Rigg with yet more impressive skies.


On the route up to Sergeant Man we had a breather by some rocks – here is Todd looking happy again lol! I don’t get him, when we move he is fine yet when we stop and shelter he whinges and looks miserable! He would make a good advert for Dog’s Trust.


The short but steep walk to Sergeant Man was soon over and getting to the frozen summit proved difficult as it was covered in ice and the wind was very strong – approx 50mph gusts. The views with the high clouds towards Bowfell and the Crinkles were well worth it though.


I then decided as Todd seemed happy enough to carry on to High Raise... a fairly dull and easy walk between the two summits that takes no more than 15 minutes. This is the highest of the fells in this region! The sky now looked pretty grim, although there were patches of blue still showing through the black clouds. I recorded -10 degrees here, so again a quick snack for Toddler whilst I got a couple of pictures and we were on our way back to Greenup Edge, where we would head down the side of Helm Crag etc, back to Grasmere. A longer route would have included this ridge, but I had to get back before 3 for guests! The first picture here is looking towards Bowfell and despite appearing to be black and white, this is full colour - the sky really was that heavy!


Whilst this second picture is just to the right of the last - looking in the distance towards the dome of Great Gable. I remember thinking the sky was bizarre and this picture shows it off well! How can it be that blue and that black - it is like what I am like when I get home late from a walk to pick the other half up!! :lol:


Between High Raise and Greenup Edge is Low White Stones cairn, where we stopped for a few moments respite from the wind again...


...and Todd enjoyed some shelter between a few rocks!!


And down we dropped... I once again made the foolish mistake of not using my map and ended up crossing a river twice... One of those looping bends where you think you have to cross, only to discover you don’t! Gah... And of course Todd was having none of it, so I got soaked carrying him across!! This snap is looking back up to Broadstone Head on the way down to Grasmere along Easedale, the big blue skies now a thing of the past.


And within minutes heavy hail had started – Todd sheltering again!!! The hail stones look like they are going up. This is because I had the flash on to highlight them and it burnt out quicker than the exposure – simple explanation really!


But then 20 minutes later, the big skies were back as we arrived back on the Easedale Road – looking up Easedale with Helm Crag on the right. What a day for mixed weather!


And that was that – another day which promised so little turned out to provide a fantastic walk in incredible conditions. They say the weather can change in an instant in the Lakes and I guess this walk just about proves that! Even more amazing was the fact that setting off 2 hours later than normal, from one of the popular tourist spots, along a tourist route - I saw nobody until I was back on the Easedale Road heading for Grasmere! The only real disappointment was getting back to a cold flask in the car!! Roll on next week in Scotland!
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Re: Big skies over Grasmere...

Postby johnkaysleftleg » Fri Feb 24, 2012 12:35 pm

Looks like an amazing day. I've had a few walks in weather windows when all around is poor but I've found a hole in the clouds. Nothing quite like that however.
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Re: Big skies over Grasmere...

Postby simon-b » Fri Feb 24, 2012 5:03 pm

That just shows why it's worth going back again and again, Peter. The hills and valleys may be the same, but the colours and the sky are always changing with the seasons and the weather.
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Re: Big skies over Grasmere...

Postby mrssanta » Fri Feb 24, 2012 5:47 pm

fantastic I really loved these
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Re: Big skies over Grasmere...

Postby ChrisW » Fri Feb 24, 2012 9:11 pm

Great report CP and a real mixed bag in terms of weather, fantastic that it opened out to such a beautiful blue sky - really helped get some cracking pictures :D
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Re: Big skies over Grasmere...

Postby SusieThePensioner » Fri Feb 24, 2012 11:18 pm

What an absolutely brilliant day and fantastic photos :thumbup: That was a great walk :D

Spent many a happy day setting off up Easdale for short or long trips depending on weather and time :D

One year, my brother and I were youth hostelling, stayed at Longthwaite (don't know if it still exists) in Borrowdale, and walked up Greenup and down Far Easdale to one of the Grasmere youth hostels. It poured with rain and blew a gale the whole day :lol:
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Re: Big skies over Grasmere...

Postby garyhortop » Sun Feb 26, 2012 11:59 am

Peter, Great report and really enjoyed the photo's - especially the hail - some real mountain magic there! Nice to know that I am not the only one with miserable dog! :shock:
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Re: Big skies over Grasmere...

Postby L-Hiking » Mon Feb 27, 2012 9:46 pm

Nice one Peter

I like the picture of the water coming down Sour Milk Gill, it looks alive :thumbup:
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