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Whiteside to Whiteless Pike and detour to Grasmoor.

Whiteside to Whiteless Pike and detour to Grasmoor.


Postby trailmasher » Sun Jul 10, 2016 2:06 pm

Wainwrights included on this walk: Grasmoor, Hopegill Head, Wandope, Whiteless Pike, Whiteside

Hewitts included on this walk: Grasmoor, Hopegill Head, Wandope, Whiteless Pike, Whiteside

Date walked: 28/06/2016

Time taken: 5.18

Distance: 16.9 km

Ascent: 1163m

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This is the second of our five days of walking and as we had breakfast at Honister YH the day has started as it ended on Monday, mild, cloudy, and damp. Not raining, or just yet remotely like it, but there is a dampness in the air that does not bode well for the walk to come. Rain has been ordered for around 1pm this afternoon so we can only hope that the weather people have got it wrong and that it arrives much later than that.

After the usual YHA substantial breakfast fare has been consumed the bags are packed and checked and off we go. Today's walk is to be started at the large car park at Lanthwaite Green over by Crummock Water and overlooked by Grasmoor and Whiteside. The route will be Whiteside via Whin Ben, Hopegill Head, Sand Hill, Grasmoor, Wandhope, Whiteless Pike, and Rannerdale Knotts, the only downside to this route being the walk back along the road to Lanthwaite Green car park. But before we start that walk we have another mission and that is to try and locate a Lake District Memorial, Maria Loechle's Cross that is situated somewhere under Dale Head on, or below Buckstone Hows.

The cross is another of those Lake District memorials that I am slowly searching out and it is situated under the aforementioned crag having been placed there after the tragic death of a loved one after a fall. On the 7th April 1963 two young German girls Maria Loechle and Gudrun Strobel both from the West German town of Memmingham and both working as au pairs in Lancashire left Keswick to walk the Newlands Round including Cat Bells. Everything was going alright until the mist dropped whilst they were on Dale Head and upon seeing a break in the mist and getting a view of the road and river of Honister Pass thought that they would make their way down out of the mist to what they thought was safety.

They unfortunately decided to descend by way of the crags of Dale Head's south face when the mist came down once again. The rocks were steep, wet and slippery and they soon got crag bound. Gudrun could hear Maria moving about and couldn't see her but she did hear a crash as Maria hit the rocks below. Maria had fallen and Gudrun moved forward to see if she could help her, and then she herself fell but landed on the steep scree which took her with it as it moved, the action of which probably saved her life. Although badly injured she managed to get down to the road and stopped a passing motorist who took her to Gatescarth. Maria who was 23 years old was killed instantly and was taken back to Germany. Someone - maybe her parents - placed a small oak cross at the base of the crag.

That cross is what we were searching for, but to no avail. Even though I have a grid reference it couldn't be found. Chris and I climbed 220 metre from the road over grass, bracken, rocks, and scree scouring the area around the grid reference but nothing could be found. As Chris suggested, maybe it has got lost and covered up as the rocks have moved, maybe knocked over by passing sheep over the years, and it has been over fifty years since it was placed. We were disappointed but we had to move on as time was being eaten away from our original mission. From where we were we had a first class view of the face of Black Star on Fleetwith Pike and also a great view down the valley towards Gatescarth.
2 - Black Star on Fleetwith Pike from Buckstone Hows beheath Dale Head.JPG
Black Star on Fleetwith Pike from Buckstone Hows beneath Dale Head.

3 - Gatesgarthdale Beck from Buckstone Hows.JPG
Gatesgarthdale Beck from Buckstone Hows.

Well that little episode kept us busy for an hour and a half - far too long when other business has to be attended to - but as I look back up the fellside I make a promise to return and continue searching, maybe I'll strike lucky and find a cross.

Parking up at Lanthwaith Green there were another three cars there but apart from sheep all is quiet on the livestock front. The great bulk of Grasmoor is towering over us and it's hard to believe when looking up that there is a direct route up the west facing crags starting with the torturous scree slope that runs up to the base of the crags. A great way to go indeed but today we are going to tackle it by the more sedate and well trodden path that lies opposite Crag Hill.

We started the walk by crossing over the road to then walk across the grassy and almost level fell to reach the footbridge that allows passage over Liza Beck and the start of the climb that begins with the fairly steep slopes of Whin Ben. The path is initially grass but soon changes to rougher material as we follow it through the heather to arrive at its 413 metre high summit. This first part of the climb gets the blood running and is a good starter for ten but we have a long way to go yet, rough and steep in places before we arrive at the top of Whiteside. As we were climbing up Whin Ben and looking back we couldn't help but see the devastation that the storms had wreaked on Liza Beck below the footbridge. Banks have been washed out and there are more stones and rocks than I remember there ever having been. There used to be great clumps of yellow flowering Gorse along the banks but most of that has gone also.
7 - Looking across to the Loweswater Fells from Whin Ben.JPG
Looking across to the Loweswater Fells from Whin Ben.

From Whin Ben the ground eases off somewhat to make for a good stretch of easy walking on a good path as it works its way along to the ridge that sits between Whiteside End and Gasgale Crags, this is where the path begins its relentless climb to the summit of Whiteside itself.
8 - Whiteside top from Whin Ben top.JPG
Whiteside top from Whin Ben top.

9 - Looking down onto Whin Ben top with Mellbreak behind.JPG
Looking down onto Whin Ben top with Mellbreak behind.

As we climbed higher we could see into Gasgale Gill and see that the recent storms had ripped Liza Beck apart and now looked like a long and winding road of grey rocks and scree with great areas of the fellside on both sides scoured out by the force of the water squeezing its way down through the narrow confines of the valley.
10 - Flood damage in Gasgale Gill and Liza Beck.JPG
Flood damage in Gasgale Gill and Liza Beck.

The path goes over much rough ground with some mild scrambling needed in one or two places whilst nearer the top the best option was to pick your own way over the now large areas of bare rock that was once covered in vegetation and is but another victim of the storms and passage of many boots. As we left the rocky areas behind the ground gets a bit more vegetation on it as it struggles to grow over the shale like ground that now forms the more rounded and easier slopes that precede the final grassy approach to the summit cairn. The cairn is small and sits on a large outcrop of the grey rock that stretches from Whiteside all the way to Hopegill Head and beyond.
11 - Chris approaching Whiteside summit.JPG
Chris approaching Whiteside summit.

It's still dry but the clouds are slowly dropping as is the temperature now that we are higher up. The views are good, but once again - as so often has been the case recently - restricted by the low clouds, haze, and light mist. North there are the Whinlatter Fells, east is Hopegill Head, Grisedale Pike, further round Sand Hill and Crag Hill is to be seen, south is blocked by Grasmoor and west the Loweswater Fells are to be found.

As we started walking the ridge from Whiteside to Hopegill Head the weather forecast of rain by 1pm now became a reality as part way along the top of Gasgale Crags we were obliged to don our wet gear.
12 - The ridge to Hopegill Head.JPG
The ridge to Hopegill Head.

13 - Looking back to Whiteside.JPG
Looking back to Whiteside.

The ridge walk is mostly alright but there are one or two places where the sloping banks of exposed rock being worn smooth by many boots are quite slippery especially on the climb out just before Hopegill Head summit.
14 - Hopegill Head.JPG
Hopegill Head.

It's raining steadily but fortunately there is no wind to speak of so it's not too bad although the clouds are still dropping.

After Chris's photo shoot…
15 - Chris at Hopegill Head summit.JPG
Chris at Hopegill Head summit.

we turned south and proceeded to ascend and then descend Sand Hill with its wide swath of a scree path that is bad enough when it's dry, now it's wet, loose, and dodgy, but we made it down to Coledale Hause with its small unnamed and weather dependant tarn.
18 - Causey Pike-Scar Crags-Sail-Outerside far left.JPG
Causey Pike - Scar Crags - Sail - Outerside far left.

19 - Grisedale Pike-Hobcarton Crag-Sand Hill.JPG
Grisedale Pike - Hobcarton Crag - Sand Hill.

It was time we had a break for food and drink so decided to sit on a couple of rocks under Eel Crag surveying what we have just walked over and trying to keep our sandwiches as dry as possible. Needless to say it was a short break and packing our bags once more we set off still walking south on the well beaten path that would take us to the junction of paths that lead to either Grasmoor, Crag Hill, Wandhope, or Whiteless Pike.

The path that we need first is the one opposite the Crag Hill path…
21 - Crag Hill.JPG
Crag Hill.

and will take us west as we climb up the fairly steep path that is both wide and loose to the first cairn that many people think is the top of Grasmoor. Our next hill to visit after this one will be Wandhope and it looks a long way from where we are just now.
20 - Wandhope.JPG
Wandhope.

But beyond the cairn there is still a fair bit of ground to cover as we continued climbing until the ground eases off and swings more to true west as it passes across the south side of the fell passing over the top of Lad Hows to finally arrive at the large summit shelter cairn which by this time was shrouded in mist.

Just now there are no views to speak of, just a great pile of rocks, and of course, Chris.
22 - Chris at Grasmoor summit.JPG
Chris at Grasmoor summit.

It's colder up here with a strong breeze that always seems to appear when walking along the south side of the fell, probably because it's wide open on that side.

It's miserable as sin up here so we about turn and scurry off back the way we came and quickly arrive back at the four path junction from where we now took the Crag Hill path roughly east for a short distance before turning off on a faint path that runs south through the grass as it rises gently upwards towards the summit of Wandhope. The summit of Wandhope is round and covered in grass, sports a small cairn of stones and overlooks Addacomb Hole which is a great green bowl that contains a sheepfold and the source of Addacomb Beck that itself runs into Sail Beck just below its own source.
23 - Crag Hill to Sail ridge from Wandhope summit.JPG
Crag Hill to Sail ridge from Wandhope summit.

I once climbed up Addacomb Beck and into the Hole just for something to do one day and I can fully understand why one would want a sheepfold there. It's sheltered, has plenty of grass and water, and would have been quite a hidden haven from those rampant, plundering Scottish reiver's of days gone by. There is also a good path that runs up the ridge from top to bottom and comes out right at the Wandhope summit cairn.

From the summit we can now see the long sweep of Knott Rigg and Ard Crags to the southeast, just about Robinson through the clag, High Snockrigg sat at the foot of Robinson, the High Stile range is south, Crummock Water and Mellbreak southwest, with Grasmoor still towering over all to the west.
27 - The Lad Hows ridge on Grasmoor's south face.JPG
The Lad Hows ridge on Grasmoor's south face.

East is Crag Hill, Sail, Scar Crags with Causey Pike hidden by the former.
Next on is Whiteless Pike…
26 - Whiteless Pike.JPG
Whiteless Pike.

so we left Wandhope to walk just short of west along Wandhope Moss as it drops gently down towards Whiteless Edge to start the ridge walk proper. The ridge is an up and down affair with the biggest 'up' being the last one from Saddle Gate onto the summit itself. There is a good path all the way along it with just the odd rocky bits and pieces to contend with before the summit crown of rock and cairn of bits of coloured stone is arrived at. It's still raining.

29 - Whiteless Pike top with Wandhope behind.JPG
Whiteless Pike top with Wandhope behind.

From the summit there is now a long drop off down the south ridge with the first 200 metres being the steepest and roughest as it descends over the rough ground that in places has been eroded down to the bare rock that appears in quite large, steep, and slippery areas that can be difficult to get over if one has a nervous disposition. From the bottom of this rough area the going is now mostly over grass…
31 - Looking down and along Whiteless Pike's south ridge.JPG
Looking down and along Whiteless Pike's south ridge.

and is normally good going with exciting views over Buttermere and Crummock Water plus the accompanying and surrounding fells. But today with the rain it's quite a tedious trip down though not hard. To our right we can see Rannerdale Knotts our next and last objective and as Wandhope did from Grasmoor, seems a long way off just yet.

On we plod over the wet grass that is testing my new boots to the limit as we walk over the level area that sits just above Whiteless Breast and then begin to descend again with Rannerdale Knotts now looking a lot nearer.
32 - Rannerdale Knotts from Whiteless Breast.JPG
Rannerdale Knotts from Whiteless Breast.

We stopped for a drink of water and survey the scene below us. I looked at Chris and just know that he is thinking the same as I am, do we go for it or leave it for another day? I ask the question and we both know what the answer will be, leave it until tomorrow - Wednesday - as the weather forecast is supposed to be the worst of the week and we could have an easy days walking, a ride to Keswick for a meal and a few beers then back to the hostel for a nightcap or two. Job sorted. We're sick of being sick of the rain.

In spring Rannerdale is renowned for its magnificent display of thousands of bluebells that paint the exposed southwest sides lower slopes a deep blue. I always find this strange as I have always associated bluebells with a shaded woodland environment, but who cares as they are a sight to behold when in full bloom.
34 - Protect the Bluebells plea.JPG
Protect the Bluebells plea.

So the plan has changed and we will now turn off at the foot of Rannerdale Knotts and follow the good path that runs down below Rannerdale Knotts and by the side of Squat Beck…
33 - The path through Rannerdale and down Squat Beck.JPG
The path through Rannerdale and down Squat Beck.

going northwest and then turning southwest along the end of RK to reach the main road and our final 2 kilometres of plodding over rain puddled tarmac that has no mercy on the feet. To any passing motorist's we must have looked like two sorry looking and sodden hobo's as we tramped up the road but in reality we were happy as Larry and reached the car park in no time at all.

This has been a good walk that was marred, but not spoiled by the inclement weather that was expected anyway. Chris and I have walked many miles together in the rain and will probably walk many more in it. The mist and low cloud was a bit of a bummer especially for Chris who couldn't enjoy the views that could have been but we grabbed what we could and we shall be back around this area when I take him on the Coledale Round from which he will be able to see most of what he missed today, fingers crossed. The last time I was on this walk was with MiniRambo when we were walking in a blizzard and deep snow so today was certainly a lot better one to be walking the fells than that one was.
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trailmasher
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Re: Whiteside to Whiteless Pike and detour to Grasmoor.

Postby thefallwalker » Sun Jul 10, 2016 5:19 pm

We are sick of being sick!! loved that quote :lol:
however it made the beers taste sweeter :)
I think its just as well we looked for the cross on the morning because there was no way we where going to look after all that rain :shock: but good luck in trying to find it some time :lol:
top report again mate I cannot believe how good your memory is :clap:
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thefallwalker
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Re: Whiteside to Whiteless Pike and detour to Grasmoor.

Postby trailmasher » Mon Jul 11, 2016 2:43 pm

thefallwalker wrote:We are sick of being sick!! loved that quote :lol:
however it made the beers taste sweeter :)
I think its just as well we looked for the cross on the morning because there was no way we where going to look after all that rain :shock: but good luck in trying to find it some time :lol:
top report again mate I cannot believe how good your memory is :clap:


Thanks TFW :D and end of day is time for food and drink at some friendly hostelry not staggering up another fellside with weary legs and dry throat :lol: :lol:
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trailmasher
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Re: Whiteside to Whiteless Pike and detour to Grasmoor.

Postby ChrisW » Wed Jul 13, 2016 4:08 am

Great stuff TM, a 'classic' lakeland hike...unfortunately :lol: :lol:

Shame you couldn't find that cross, such a sad tale and perhaps one that will soon be lost without it's marker :( Hope you get some better weather again soon mate, if not you'll have to stay in the boozer for a couple of days :crazy:
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ChrisW
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Re: Whiteside to Whiteless Pike and detour to Grasmoor.

Postby trailmasher » Wed Jul 13, 2016 10:02 pm

ChrisW wrote:Great stuff TM, a 'classic' lakeland hike...unfortunately :lol: :lol:

Shame you couldn't find that cross, such a sad tale and perhaps one that will soon be lost without it's marker :( Hope you get some better weather again soon mate, if not you'll have to stay in the boozer for a couple of days :crazy:


Thanks as ever Chris :D and I will have another go at finding the cross and when and if I do I''ll drop the photo onto WH :)
If Chris and I had spent anymore time with a glass or a bottle in the hand we might as well as bought our own pub :lol: :lol:
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trailmasher
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