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Some Grasmere Fells and another wet day out

Some Grasmere Fells and another wet day out


Postby trailmasher » Fri Feb 10, 2017 9:50 pm

Wainwrights included on this walk: Helm Crag, Stone Arthur

Date walked: 31/01/2017

Time taken: 4.36

Distance: 13.9 km

Ascent: 904m

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



The bit to Helm Crag

Chris has been working some odd shifts off shore lately and his new pattern of work schedule has resulted in our days on the fells together to be monotonously wet. The days that he has been able to get on the hills lately has resulted in 3 of our last 4 being wet days, but the annoying part is that both the days before and after said walking days have been bright and sunny, now that's 'sods law' with as much vengeance as it could muster.

My report of this walk is filled - or should I say - liberally sprinkled with comments regarding the wet conditions that we endured on this wet but otherwise decent day out. It's a good job that we're not made of blotting paper or we would by now be merely fragments of white and soggy pieces sliding down the fellside to either finish up stuck to the underside of a size nine boot or filtering our way down to the River Rothay. What a way to go!

As can be surmised by the tone of the start of this report it was a wet day when Chris, Daniel, and myself sallied forth to make the drive to Grasmere after once again abandoning our original plan of doing something more adventurous than two of the smaller of the Central and Eastern Fells. They'd both had a long drive over from the North East, so not going out for a stroll in the fells no matter how low or short it would be was never an option for these two.

Passing over Dunmail Raise we saw a group of likewise hardy - or foolhardy - souls walking across the fellside in the direction of Raise Beck so no prizes for guessing where they were heading, and as it was a lot higher than where we were going we wished them the best of luck.

We parked up in the lay-by at NY338084 on the main road just on the outskirts of Grasmere and got ready to make Helm Crag our first climb of the day having to get changed in the car due to the steady rain. Once we were ready we set off walking towards Grasmere taking the first turning right to continue on down the narrow side road that leads on to the B5287 into the village. Shortly after passing over the bridge that spans Easedale Beck we turned left through a single gate to take the path that runs above and along the line of the beck in an anti-clockwise direction and then meets up with Easedale Road. Crossing over the road we picked up the path that now runs northwest alongside the road and after a short distance met the road again to pass by Goody Bridge and continued on to then take the first short tarmac lane turning off to the right that then connects up to a stony lane that runs between two walls that eventually passes the Youth Hostel at Thorny How.

However, just before reaching the hostel we turned west - signposted - to continue on along a narrow but well made path through the woods to soon arrive at the Lancrigg Hotel. Having arrived at the hotel we immediately thought that we had either taken a wrong turn or missed one but the now well gravelled path ran straight in front of the hotel.
5 - The path goes by the front of the Lancrigg Hotel.JPG
The path goes by the front of the Lancrigg Hotel.

At this point of the walk it would have been all too easy to forget continuing on in the rain and instead seek shelter in the embraces of the welcoming bar where samples of the local ale could have been imbibed in the company of a warm fire and soft furnishings. But one has to build up a raging thirst first so we slunk past the door and windows to now enter into a realm of wet woodland that afforded little shelter from the steadily falling rain.

Under cover of any other season's cloak this would have been a most attractive part of the walk, but today with the bare trees, soggy leaves underfoot, rain, and water running along the path it was far from being so.
9a - Moss covered rocks and stones in Lancrigg Wood.JPG
Moss covered rocks and stones in Lancrigg Wood.

Even so, the woodland path has its secrets. We came across a stone set in an upright position on which was fixed a bronze plate inscribed with words written in Latin…
8 - At this spot Dorothy Wordsworth.JPG
At this spot Dorothy Wordsworth.

the words being - SUPERCILIO SEDEBAT DOROTHEA WORDSWORTH DUM EX ORE FRATRIS PROPE INAMBULANTIS CARMINA DESCRIBIT - and are obviously relating to Dorothy Wordsworth. Not being a student of the ancient language I employed the use of Google Translator to do so which sort of gave me a rather scrambled translation as best it could, but being a machine it couldn't put the correct interpretation of Latin verbs, nouns, adjectives, etc into their correct meaning so a little more digging was required until I finally cracked it, more or less anyway. It may not be a perfect rendering of the phrase but this may be near enough:-
'Dorothy Wordsworth used to sit at this spot, writing down the poems that her brother dictated as he walked nearby'.
The spot mentioned is located on the side of the fell amongst the trees and from there a delightful view across the valley to Grasmere can be seen so I can see why the two of them would choose this place to get inspiration for some of the poetry that he wrote. Apart from this particular marked spot there is another one dedicated to the great man himself of which an arrow points the way but due to the weather we decided to give it a miss this time and find it on some other more amenable weather day.

Now that the history lesson is done with I can get back to walking in the rain that had no idea of letting up as we walked the now steadily rising path to very quickly exit the wood at a point that overlooks the usual path that passes by the old quarries as it works its way up to the right of Jackdaw Crag and over White Crag. But we elected to carry on along the old path that turns right and runs along to a small disused quarry that is overgrown by bracken and a couple of small trees. The path to the quarry is fine but on leaving it to climb the fellside we were then on a steep and slippery path running through dead bracken that made it fairly hard going for its short pull of only about 50 metres or so. Once we were off this short stretch slippery sludge we were on firmer ground and a well used path that looks as though it has been neglected for the other more popular way up to the summit of Helm Crag. Looking back from this higher ground gave us a dodgy view across the valley of Easedale towards Silver How and the area around Easedale Tarn but the clouds were so low that a summit view of anything was out of the question.
15 - Silver How from below White Crag.JPG
Silver How from below White Crag.

Once again the wind and rain was playing havoc with my camera lens and trying to keep it dry and smear free was a mission in itself so I'm afraid the spots on the images are there to stay.
16 - Grasmere from the lower south ridge of Helm Crag.JPG
Grasmere from the lower south ridge of Helm Crag.

On we climbed until we reached the easier ground above High Raven Crag from where on a good day good views are to be found and enjoyed, but not today. The views along the Easedale valley either way were not bad but it was lacking the prominence of the mountains around us. From High Raven Crag we could just about see the outline of the higher crags of Helm Crag itself…
21 - Approaching Helm Crag.JPG
Approaching Helm Crag.

and after passing over the wide swath of short, green grass we soon arrived at the rougher path that would take us on to the summit itself. The path is good but the rocks were slippery and care had to be taken as we scrambled over the higher rocks on our way to the south summit from where the coldness in the wind was now more prominent.
24 - Climbing the south end of Helm Crag.JPG
Climbing the south end of Helm Crag.

A scramble up on to the first south summit crag ensued, but today even this was a bit dodgy especially on the top where the smooth rock of many passing boots combined with the strong wind made for very careful footwork on top as we didn't fancy a tumble into the rock strewn hollow that sits on the east side of this particular crag.
25 - South Helm Crag in cloud.JPG
South Helm Crag in cloud.

Leaving the first crags we continued on to the northernmost summit of Helm Crag, The Howitzer being one of its local names due to its great resemblance to same as it sticks up at an angle pointing to the sky but this time due to the wetness of the rock it wasn't possible to make a safe ascent of it.
28 - The Howitzer is too slippery to climb today.JPG
The Howitzer is too slippery to climb today.

After a rain lashed lens photo shoot for my two wet companions we then set off in the direction of Gibson Knott with the intention of finding the path that heads off to the south initially and then once down at the valley bottom swings around to the northeast on to the path that comes down from Stythwaite Steps. The path leaves the ridge at Bracken Hause but due to the weather and clag we missed it, well when I say we 'missed' it what I really meant was that we passed it and because it was running with rain water we dismissed it as a minor watercourse even after Daniel had gone to have a close look at it. Consequently we continued on scanning the ground for signs of a path but none was to be seen and as we were getting nearer to Gibson Knott I knew that we had gone a little too far.

Turning back we had another look at the 'watercourse' and realised that it was indeed the path that we were looking for despite the camouflage. All we had to do now was to follow it down as the water ran over the rough stoned path and upon seeing another path joining in from our right realised that there is an unmarked path leading from Gibson Knott. We were walking in low cloud cover and the views were initially confined to our immediate surrounding area but on the up side the path was now much drier than before and was indeed a decent path to be walking along.

We came to a small and unnamed rocky knoll from where I took a couple of photos of Easedale and the fells opposite…
32 - Looking northwest along Far Easedale Gill.JPG
Looking northwest along Far Easedale Gill.

33 - Sourmilk Gill-Cockly Crag with Tarn Crag lost in cloud.JPG
Sourmilk Gill-Cockly Crag with Tarn Crag lost in cloud.

34 - A view into Easedale.JPG
A view into Easedale.

not as much could be seen but as I hadn't been on this path before it was good to get a photo from a different angle and perspective. As we got lower and started to turn to the northeast we left the dead bracken behind to find ourselves now on the rock strewn grass of the lower fell, passed by a roughly built reservoir belonging to some enterprising farmer who had placed a couple of plastic pipes in to it and was using them as a water feed down to a couple of stone built farm buildings lower down the fellside.

Once we had arrived at the valley bottom we simply followed the good path, track and lane - all running with water - that runs on the north side of Easedale Beck and would transport us back to Grasmere where we had lunch in the dry confines of the most welcome bus shelter whilst Daniel wrung out his coat that had failed to keep him dry and top two layers. Of course Chris and I were most sympathetic to his dilemma with me asking if he/they wanted to call it a day due to the bad weather. Both were most indignant of the suggestion and as Daniel had wrung out as much water as he could, we had eaten and drunk our fill, and mostly because we were getting cold we decided to drop our bags back at the car and get Daniel sorted out with some dry clothes and a decent top coat before we started our ascent of Stone Arthur on the opposite side of the valley.

And now for Stone Arthur

For the next part of the day's walk we left the car behind as we walked south down the A591…
1 - Looking to Stone Arthur from the A591 lay-by near Grasmere.JPG
Looking to Stone Arthur from the A591 lay-by near Grasmere.

until we reached the Swan Hotel where once again it took great strength of character and fortitude to avoid making a left turn too soon which would have put is in the bar instead of taking the first left after the hotel to walk along the narrow road behind the hotel and then take the second tarmac road on the right. This second road is in fact just a narrow tarmac covered lane that has dwellings on the left behind a high beech hedge whilst on the right there are the tumbling waters of Greenhead Gill, today looking rather busy as it makes its way well below the level of the lane to soon join up with the much larger River Rothay.

In a matter of a few minutes we had left the lane behind as we passed through a gate and onto a well made track…
2 - From tarmac to a proper track alongside Greenhead Gill.JPG
From tarmac to a proper track alongside Greenhead Gill.

that we followed for a short distance before turning left to start the climb along the paved way that follows the wall that separates the plantation from the open fellside.
3 - Leave the track to climb the steps.JPG
Leave the track to climb the steps.

Turning around for a view into Grasmere gave only a hazy view of the valley below through the rain and mist.
4 - A quick look back to Grasmere.JPG
A quick look back to Grasmere.

We could hear voices from the other side of Greenhead Gill and spotted a couple of lads making their way down the zigzag path from Alcock Tarn.
17 - Unnamed gill from Alcock Tarn running below Butter Crag.JPG
Unnamed gill from Alcock Tarn running below Butter Crag.

The tarn is set in a lovely hollow and is almost invisible from anywhere unless you're right on it. It's a great place to spend an hour or two on a nice summer's day with good seating and views that don't disappoint.

We did in fact follow the wall that changed from left to right hand sides as we continued uphill and once past the plantation the path swung around to the northeast to run quite level for a few metres until we reached the ford of the unnamed beck that begins its journey just below Brackenwife Knotts to eventually run into Greenhead Gill. Once the narrow ford had been crossed - it's just a leg stride - the path once again begins to rise, now alongside a tumbledown wall that was on our right. This part of the path is quite rough and today very wet with a lot of standing water in the low areas.
5 - Across the gill and follow the wall.JPG
Across the gill and follow the wall.

Not far past the ford and now walking more or less just south of east there is a path shown on the OS Map at roughly NY345086 but today this path was running like a beck and had in fact washed away quite a lot of ground at the junction of these two paths.
6 - The path has been washed away.JPG
The path has been washed away.

The chances of using this path was not an option today so we continued on alongside the wall and then where the old and disused levels are the path now begins to climb up the south ridge straight towards the summit rocks. We were still more or less following the wall but now it was on our left and once we had left it behind the ground eased off in its steepness and if it hadn't have been for the copious amounts of rainwater running down the now wide and grassy path it would have been quite a pleasant experience.
7 - A bit dampish underfoot.JPG
A bit dampish underfoot.

No matter, the going is easy but we were once again in the clag that made it difficult to pick out any identifying features and we did actually pass by the summit of Stone Arthur and climbed a little further than was necessary and ended up on Brackenwife Knotts.

An about turn and a minute later the two of them were once again in catwalk mode as I struggled against the wind and rain to get a blur free photo.
9 - Braving the rain on Stone Arthur.JPG
Braving the rain on Stone Arthur.

We didn't linger as it was most miserable up there so for our return journey we now took the path that leads straight off the summit to descend through the rocks…
11 - Daniel leaving Stone Arthur.JPG
Daniel leaving Stone Arthur.

below the summit and meanders its way down the fellside and running parallel to our upwards journey.
16 - Looking back to Stone Arthur.JPG
Looking back to Stone Arthur.

Once the lower rocks of Stone Arthur had been negotiated the going was easy with the fellside nowhere near as steep as it looks on the OS Map, it was just running with water.
15 - The paths running with water.JPG
The paths running with water.

The path is actually the higher section of the one that had washed out much further down and as we reached the intake wall instead of continuing down to the washout we turned to follow the wall as it ran downhill until we were able to pick up the path of our outward journey. Now all that remained was to re-trace our way back down to Grasmere the way that we had gone up to Stone Arthur.

What can I say but that we had another good day on the fells despite the rain, wind, and the cold, clammy clag that was insistent on swirling around for most of the day but, on the other hand they have both seen off another couple of Wainwright's. It was unfortunate that Daniel's coat didn't hold up to the weather but also fortunate that I had some spare kit in the car that allowed him to continue with the walk. Next on the agenda was to get changed PDQ and get to a watering hole that is not too far from home base, and we know exactly the spot where we will find a welcoming log fire and a decent pint to end our day on the fells.
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trailmasher
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Re: Some Grasmere Fells and another wet day out

Postby thefallwalker » Sat Feb 11, 2017 8:16 am

A good account of the day bud :clap:
Just seeing the pictures makes me feel wet n cold again :shock:
As for the recent inclement walks :crazy: I'm not sure how we'll take to a nice, warm dry out bud, we may struggle to acclimatise! :lol:
See you on the next 1 :)
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Re: Some Grasmere Fells and another wet day out

Postby dav2930 » Sat Feb 11, 2017 11:09 pm

Interesting report TM. Looks like you made the most of a pretty dismal day weather wise. I admire your willpower in going up the other side of the valley to Stone Arthur, having come down from Helm Crag. The tea shops of Grasmere would have been too tempting for me!

The bit that caught my interest most was the plaque in the woods commemorating Dorothy Wordsworth. Well done for going to the trouble of seeking a translation. Quite revealing isn't it? What a lazy git William was - he couldn't even be bothered to write down his own verses! :lol:
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Re: Some Grasmere Fells and another wet day out

Postby trailmasher » Mon Feb 13, 2017 6:04 pm

thefallwalker wrote:A good account of the day bud :clap:
Just seeing the pictures makes me feel wet n cold again :shock:
As for the recent inclement walks :crazy: I'm not sure how we'll take to a nice, warm dry out bud, we may struggle to acclimatise! :lol:
See you on the next 1 :)


Thanks Chris :D and I'll just be pleased to get a 'dry one' some day :crazy: Maybe you should change your shift pattern :lol:
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Re: Some Grasmere Fells and another wet day out

Postby trailmasher » Mon Feb 13, 2017 6:12 pm

dav2930 wrote:Interesting report TM. Looks like you made the most of a pretty dismal day weather wise. I admire your willpower in going up the other side of the valley to Stone Arthur, having come down from Helm Crag. The tea shops of Grasmere would have been too tempting for me!

The bit that caught my interest most was the plaque in the woods commemorating Dorothy Wordsworth. Well done for going to the trouble of seeking a translation. Quite revealing isn't it? What a lazy git William was - he couldn't even be bothered to write down his own verses! :lol:


Thanks very much for your comments dav :D and it's something that's never bothered me is walking in inclement weather as I'm always glad to be able to get out walking 8)
Re the plaque, I'm a bit of a LD memorial/plaque nerd :( :( and love to hunt 'em out whenever I can, or stumble on 'em as I did this one :o so the research goes with it :) Yeah! Lazy git indeed that Billy :wink: :lol:
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Re: Some Grasmere Fells and another wet day out

Postby HalfManHalfTitanium » Tue Feb 14, 2017 9:07 am

Classic wet Lakeland conditions... must get to Helm Crag sometime, the summit rocks even look good in the mist and rain. I agree a lot of willpower needed to set off up Stone Arthur, the pub would have had too strong a pull for me.
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Re: Some Grasmere Fells and another wet day out

Postby trailmasher » Wed Feb 15, 2017 8:07 pm

HalfManHalfTitanium wrote:Classic wet Lakeland conditions... must get to Helm Crag sometime, the summit rocks even look good in the mist and rain. I agree a lot of willpower needed to set off up Stone Arthur, the pub would have had too strong a pull for me.


Thanks for your comments HalfMan :D and yes, Helm Crag is worth a visit. In fact the whole ridge right over to Calf Crag is a great walk 8) There was no danger of missing out on the pub after this one HalfMan :lol:
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Re: Some Grasmere Fells and another wet day out

Postby ChrisW » Mon Feb 20, 2017 3:38 am

Great write up as always mate but man....that weather :roll: Some of those images had me thinking it was an autumn hike :clap:
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Re: Some Grasmere Fells and another wet day out

Postby trailmasher » Mon Feb 20, 2017 1:41 pm

ChrisW wrote:Great write up as always mate but man....that weather :roll: Some of those images had me thinking it was an autumn hike :clap:


As ever, thanks Chris :D and it seems as though we've had too many wet and foggy walking days this last few weeks :( but hey ho spring is just around the corner 8)
BTW, nice to see you back on WH :)
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Re: Some Grasmere Fells and another wet day out

Postby ChrisW » Wed Feb 22, 2017 8:13 am

BTW, nice to see you back on WH


Wish I was back with a hike or two mate, :roll: next week is looking like a local wander might be in order though :wink:
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