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Seat Sandal and Saint Sunday Crag

Seat Sandal and Saint Sunday Crag


Postby nigheandonn » Thu Nov 06, 2014 7:25 pm

Wainwrights included on this walk: Arnison Crag, Birks, Seat Sandal, St Sunday Crag

Hewitts included on this walk: Seat Sandal, St Sunday Crag

Date walked: 01/11/2014

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This walk started where the last one left off, from the road near the Travellers' Rest just north of Grasmere - I'd come down the night before, walked up from Windermere to Ambleside (walking up an unlit road on Halloween with an imagination while the weather changes from uncanny warmth to howling wind is... not the best of ideas), and then got the bus up in the morning.

Seat Sandal looked beautiful from there, but unusual - a curving ridge instead of the usual view of a rounded top.

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Seat Sandal

The path started up the lane past the coast to coast house (St Bees Head 49 Robin Hood's Bay 130), then turned off at a stile into a small maze of fields which didn't quite seem to match either map - but applying common sense brought me out onto the ridge, and up more or less parallel to the Tongue Gill paths.

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Gavel Crag and the top of Great Tongue

It had been a beautiful morning at first, clouding over slowly, and now the first clouds were touching the hills ahead.

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The first cloud

The forecast had been for dry but windy, with the clouds above the summits, but as so often the clouds hadn't bothered to read the forecast! It had been reasonably calm so far too, but the wind was strengthening a bit, blowing the clouds up from the south west.

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Cloud looming over the central valleys

The ridge went on for quite a while, and didn't ease off further up as much as I had thought it might - but eventually it began to get rockier, which seemed like a good sign of getting near the top.

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Near the top

I came out on the summit in grey cloud as the weather took another turn for the worse - rain and gusts of wind - and sat down in the lee of the wall to eat chocolate and hope it would clear enough for a summit view. Which it did, more or less.

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Seat Sandal summit

From the summit there was a choice of direct-but-steeper to Grisedale Hause, and longer-but-gentler to the other side of the tarn - I went for direct, which was probably the wrong idea. The hills ahead were coming and going dramatically in the cloud as I worked my way down - not too bad at first, and then steadily steeper and stonier and slippier, until at one point I had to retreat back up a wet rocky bit as there was just no grip for my feet going down. Towards the bottom the path just vanished into a mess of loose stones, but I dodged onto the grass and got down.

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Saint Sunday Crag ahead

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Misty Grisedale Hause

There were quite a few people around at the tarn, including two very friendly dogs who were far more interested in going for walks with everyone else than with their owners - I wouldn't have minded the company for longer! The wind was still quite strong, with waves on the surface of the tarn, but I decided that unless it got significantly worse than it had been on Seat Sandal then the Saint Sunday Crag ridge should be ok.

It's a lovely path that heads up towards Saint Sunday Crag, one of those thin line across the hillside ones, up and down and in and out - but after a while I realised that although I was a long was above the valley, it was more because the valley had fallen than because I had risen - which wasn't how the path looked on the map.

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Rising path

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Grisedale tarn

Eventually I came to a junction where the path went straight on or straight up, and decided that up had to be the way to go whether the map said so or not - I didn't want to follow a climbers' path and end up under crags. It seemed to be right, because I came out on the ridge more or less where I expected, between Cofa Pike and the rise to the summit.

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Cofa Pike

On the ridge I was more in the wind, and it did feel stronger - but there was always higher ground on at least one side of the path, so it didn't feel too exposed. Towards the summit it got flatter and broader, which was still ok, but there were starting to be a few gusts that I sat down and waited out.

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Approaching the summit

Again the summit didn't give much of a view, although the the cloud was still coming over in patches, with breaks and misty times. I headed down towards Gavel Pike to try to get off the ridge as quickly as possible, and failed to find the path so just turned off north anyway - it was all quite easy ground.

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Saint Sunday Crag summit

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Gavel Pike

I met the path heading for Birks after a while, but about then I got soaked to the skin by surreptitious drizzle before I'd really realised I was wet - but then there was RAIN, and HAIL, and some more rain, and some more hail - and all I was really thinking about was whether the path down into Grisedale or the bypass round Birks would get me to the hostel quicker, with no intention of climbing any more hills.

But by the time I got down to the col it was dry again, with the views opening up, and the wind was drying me quite nicely, without trying to knock me over, and Birks was only about 100 feet up, so it seemed daft not to go.

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Grisedale

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Birks

Birks may hardly rise above where it joins to Saint Sunday Crag, but it definitely has its own identity - bumpy moorland which has no relation to the bold ridge above. A nice easy walk to another friendly but unexciting summit.

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Birks summit

From there I was supposed to follow a wall down, but once again I couldn't find it so just headed down anyway - it was wet and very steep, but the kind of long grass that holds on to your feet. After a while I did see the wall and headed over, and then almost wished I hadn't, as the path was harder to walk down.

Arnison Crag was a long way down again, although not quite as far as I expected since the path left the wall to follow the higher ground round. I was slightly disappointed as I'd been curious about what was so awkward about Wainwright's awkward stile - but not enough to go traipsing off downhill at that time. Somewhere along the way I remembered that I'd been about to eat lunch when the rain came on earlier and since it was now about 4 I probably should, so wandered along munching sausage rolls.

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The gap between

It was another nice winding path along, with a detour to a possible highest point - which seemed to be higher than the spot height on the map, but wasn't obviously higher on the ground - then on to the main summit, which is a lovely rocky place with a path twisting round it to come up from the back, which reminded me of Glenridding Dodd. But the rain was on again, not to mention the wind, so the Eastern Fells finished not with any particular feeling of celebration, but just with wondering how long it would take to get to the hostel and get a cup of tea!

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Arnison Crag summit

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Descending to Ullswater

From there it was just a case of following the wall down and looking at Patterdale ahead - I knew the path came out behind the hotel, but hadn't realised that it turned a corner first, so that what was ahead on the way down was around the church and school and the first buildings in Grisedale. The path came steeply down past a crag to meet a better path at the bottom and go through the trees to end up almost too much behind the hotel, somewhere around the kitchen door.

Summit to hostel time, 45 minutes - the cup of tea took a bit longer as I went to put everything I had on in the drying room first!


SeatSandal.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts



So I have finished the Eastern Fells within a year, even if it did take an extra trip, which I'm quite proud of after the Far East straggled out over more than two. But that may be why I felt for a while that these hills were - not too simple in terms of effort, but too uncomplicated - lacking the empty valleys and interlocking ridges of the far east. But I did love the Helvellyn day, and things improved a lot once Grisedale Tarn and Thirlmere got involved. So maybe it was water that was missing, with Red Tarn being the only other bit I can think of apart from Ullswater itself. I came to love them in the end.

And the Central Fells seem to have plenty of valleys to explore, so roll on next year..
Last edited by nigheandonn on Wed Nov 12, 2014 5:49 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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nigheandonn
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Re: Seat Sandal and Saint Sunday Crag

Postby johnkaysleftleg » Thu Nov 06, 2014 8:09 pm

Well done on finishing another book. Some fine tops on that walk, I'd certainly agree about the descent from Seat Sandle, very steep indeed!
You might well want to think about waiting for hard frozen ground for some of the Central Fells.
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johnkaysleftleg
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Re: Seat Sandal and Saint Sunday Crag

Postby nigheandonn » Fri Nov 07, 2014 12:39 am

Thanks - I've still got most of them to write up, but they're done!

I can just about cope with steep, but steep and loose and sodden is just not nice.

Tentative plan is to stick closer to home for the winter, and then do the edges - Langdale etc - in the spring and the soggy middle in the summer - hoping for a dryish one. But I may get impatient...
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nigheandonn
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Re: Seat Sandal and Saint Sunday Crag

Postby johnkaysleftleg » Fri Nov 07, 2014 9:28 am

nigheandonn wrote:Thanks - I've still got most of them to write up, but they're done!

I can just about cope with steep, but steep and loose and sodden is just not nice.

Tentative plan is to stick closer to home for the winter, and then do the edges - Langdale etc - in the spring and the soggy middle in the summer - hoping for a dryish one. But I may get impatient...


I would definitely consider waiting for frozen ground for Bleaberry, High Seat, High Tove and Armboth, not unless you fancy bog snorkeling :D
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johnkaysleftleg
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Re: Seat Sandal and Saint Sunday Crag

Postby nigheandonn » Fri Nov 07, 2014 10:38 am

Hmmm. There are a handful of summer reports, but nothing very detailed, and you don't seem to have been in most of the places I've thought of as wet, for comparison. Maybe I need a boggiest hills in England thread! :-)
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nigheandonn
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Re: Seat Sandal and Saint Sunday Crag

Postby stevesey » Sun Nov 09, 2014 5:58 pm

johnkaysleftleg wrote:I would definitely consider waiting for frozen ground for Bleaberry, High Seat, High Tove and Armboth, not unless you fancy bog snorkeling :D

Been there done that - one of our party vanished up to the the thighs!


N - you needed to carry on a bit before descending from Birks - then turn right away from the wall near the bottom - compare with our route here http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=46577 (little kink around the H of Trough Head is a faint path that avoids the steepest/worst bit of the wall) . You took the better path along the top to Arinson Crag though.
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Re: Seat Sandal and Saint Sunday Crag

Postby nigheandonn » Sun Nov 09, 2014 6:11 pm

Looks like a nice route you did, although I did enjoy the climb onto Saint Sunday Crag from the back. I keep managing gentle ups and steep downs, although to be fair I'm not too keen on any kind of up!

I think I tend to cut down too early for fear that I've gone too far and missed a faint path...

I await the central ridge with trepidation - never been deeper than my knees so far (although I managed that in a hole on reasonably frozen ground on Cold Fell, too!)
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