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High Raise, and six more

High Raise, and six more


Postby OpenC » Sun May 31, 2015 8:46 pm

Wainwrights included on this walk: Blea Rigg, Calf Crag, Gibson Knott, Helm Crag, High Raise (Central Fells), Sergeant Man, Ullscarf

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

Date walked: 30/05/2015

Time taken: 7.5

Distance: 21 km

Ascent: 1000m

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A friend of mine has been hankering after High Raise (the Central one) for a little while now. I've been up there before, from Langdale, but was looking at the Borrowdale approach as probably a quieter way to get there. In the course of my map-reading, though, I noticed that there was the potential to knock off a few Wainwrights which I haven't been anywhere near, starting in Grasmere. Probably too big a day to do in polite company and then go for a meal without a shower between, though, so I thought I'd give it a go myself and see what happened.

I was supposed to be in Torridon this weekend so was vaguely grumpy to be driving West on the A69 rather than the A832. You get spoiled if you spend too much time in Scotland. Heading down St. John's in the Vale I pfffft'd dismissively at every rocky eminence that I saw ("no more than 300 bloody metres") and when I arrived in Grasmere to see the hordes, then got parked and found out that I was going to have to carry three maps, I knew that the walk would have to be something special to improve my day.

As ever when town centre starts are involved, the most difficult navigation of the day is to find the way to the hill. I did this more by luck than judgement but soon found myself outside Grasmere and heading up the track toward Helm Crag. The immediate steepening and prescence of rocks cheered me up straight away, and while the sight of Far Easedale hardly sets the pulse racing, I felt things starting to improve.

Far Easedale
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Pulling up to the top of Helm Crag was a delight. Interesting rock features the whole way along, and not nearly as many people up there as I'd anticipated. It really is a wonderful little hill and I'd recommend it to anyone.

Helm Crag Summit
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Moving along the ridge to Gibson Knott left such crowds as there were behind and I started to settle into more of a rhythm. The whole walk from the start of the Helm Crag summit ridge to the end of Gibson Knott is a pleasure; like a smaller scale Crinkle Crags. Peat and bog started to appear as I approached Calf Crag, but being Northumbrian and living in the shadow of the Cheviots, peat and bog are second nature to me. Calf Crag was a worthy continuation of the ridge but the terrain does let it down a bit.

From Calf Crag back along the ridge to Helm Crag
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Dropping off Calf Crag, I had the pleasure of meeting an inspirational 78 year old man who I passed the time of day with and who assured me that being 40 next month didn't mean I had to start thinking of hanging up my crampons. The path all but vanishes here, and there are a choice of ways to go. I was in my stride by now and decided to add Ullscarf to the day's objectives by climbing the ridge a little bit North of where the map showed the track heading. Ullscarf was not a place of great beauty, but I'm pleased to have got it out of the way. It was, however, good to leave the company of only the dull Helvellyns and reacquaint myself with Skiddaw and the North.

Calf Crag from near the tarn West of summit
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The pull up toward Greenup Edge. I ended up going further right than this to emerge closer to Ullscarf.
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The North, from the Ullscarf / High Raise col
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I hadn't been looking forward to High Raise, having been there before on a day of thick mist. However, I really enjoyed it when I got there. Probably my favourite view of the Bowfell to Great End ridge with Scafell Pike overtopping, and Great Gable looking particularly imposing. A nice day makes all the difference hereabouts.

From High Raise summit
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Bowfell looking imposing across Langdale
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I had no real plans on how to proceed from here, but given that my strength was holding, I decided to head down via Sergeant Man and Blea Rigg (I had already done Silver How). Much as I love Wainwright's writing and artistry, I have to say that some of his selections as what consititute separate tops are bewildering (particularly when you're used to the organisation applied to Scottish mountains, Munro's mysterious criteria aside). I don't care how imposing they look from elsewhere; these are not under any circumstances separate hills. The walk was literally and metaphorically all downhill from here; Sergeant Man disappointed, Blea Rigg disappointed more. The views over toward the Langdale Pikes and Pavey Ark were not as great as I'd hoped they would be. I decided to try and revive things by backtracking along Blea Rigg and descending by Belle's Knott, which was a nice little scramble in places and gave me the chance to take a picture I've wanted to take for a while (didn't really work out so great since the sun was by then in the wrong place, but was worth a go).

Belle's Knott
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Back down to Easedale Tarn put me back among the Grasmere tourists. By then I'd been out for around six hours and was positively filthy with mud and sweat. I was given a wide berth by everybody heading up Sour Milk Ghyll. I know some people like this sort of thing, being able to roll straight into a pub for a pint, but the final walk through the crowded streets of Grasmere was an absolutely dismal ending to the day for me; give me a quiet car park full of tired walkers any day.

There's a lot to be said for just getting out and going for a walk without any real plans. The most obvious problem with my route, of course, is that I left out Tarn Crag, right in the middle. Looking back at the maps later, I realised that I should probably have just left out Ullscarf and headed straight to Tarn Crag from Calf Crag (or gone down to it from Sergeant Man), but no harm done; I have no real plans to bag all the Wainwrights. All the same, it's hard to ignore a nagging feeling that one day my scattergun approach will come back to haunt me, when I have 25 or so left to do but they're all as far away from each other as they can possibly be.

So, Torridon it's not. The best part of the Lakes it's not. All the same, though, there are parts of this walk that are up there with the best in Britain. The Helm Crag to Calf Crag walk is largely wonderful; High Raise is better than it's given credit for. The ascent to Sergeant Man via Belle's Knot is, I should imagine, quite a lot of fun (not so much going downward). Nice to tick so many off the list in one walk, and nice to get out into some quiet countryside in this crowded part of the world.

Route is approximate; I didn't keep that close a track of where I was headed. It shouldn't be far off, though.
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User avatar
OpenC
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 446
Munros:82   
Donalds:2
Sub 2000:1   Hewitts:53
Wainwrights:63   
Joined: Aug 4, 2013
Location: Northumberland

Re: High Raise, and six more

Postby ChrisW » Mon Jun 01, 2015 7:43 pm

That's quite some round OpenC with some beautiful photos to accompany the report. I'm entirely with you on the "car park full of walkers 'v' town centre" finish, I'd rather shower first, get cleaned up and then relax for the night over my beer :wink: Great report as always :clap:
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ChrisW
Scrambler
 
Posts: 4940
Munros:18   Corbetts:5
Grahams:3   
Sub 2000:6   
Joined: Jan 25, 2011
Location: Cochrane- Alberta - Canada

Re: High Raise, and six more

Postby trailmasher » Mon Jun 01, 2015 9:07 pm

Great report, great pics, and a great round :clap:
User avatar
trailmasher
Walker
 
Posts: 1126
Munros:11   
Hewitts:180
Wainwrights:214   
Joined: Nov 26, 2014
Location: Near Appleby - Cumbria

Re: High Raise, and six more

Postby OpenC » Mon Jun 01, 2015 10:44 pm

Thanks :) I'm looking back at it more fondly now the cramps have passed (could barely get out of the car when I got back to Northumberland). I think I took bits of it too fast; really rushed up to Ullscarf once I decided to do it (inspired by the aforementioned old dude), and I headed down the Sergeant Man to Blea Rigg path far too fast really. Was conscious of time getting on, though, and a long drive home.

When you fit a fair few into one walk like that, though, it starts to seem altogether more achievable to get the lot.. certainly moreso than the Munros, anyway :) Might start ticking them off with a little bit more organisation; I wouldn't like to do much more than this in a day coupled with the there-and-back drive, but I guess there are a fair few areas where you can really blast through a few and get the count up rapidly.
User avatar
OpenC
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 446
Munros:82   
Donalds:2
Sub 2000:1   Hewitts:53
Wainwrights:63   
Joined: Aug 4, 2013
Location: Northumberland

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