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King's How - Grange Fell - Great Crag - Dock Tarn.
by trailmasher » Sat Aug 12, 2017 7:44 pm
Wainwrights included on this walk: Grange Fell, Great Crag
Date walked: 20/07/2017
Time taken: 4.27
Distance: 15.18 km
Ascent: 655mRegister or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
E and I hadn't made a visit to these fells for quite some time and as it is easily accessed from various points of the Borrowdale valley we decided to have another walk through them. These fells are not too high and apart from actually getting to height by way of either of the steep and paved paths from Rosthwaite or Stonethwaite up by Willygrass Gill and Lingy End or - as we chose to do - from either the small car park that is right in front of the church/village hall on the right just over the bridge, or the roadside parking area just north of Grange at approx NY256176 where there is room for around 10 cars. As we were quite late arrivals the car park in the village was already full so it back to the alternative one. There is another car park further south from where there are good paths to Brock Bield but it is a Pay and Display one and quite expensive.
It was a dull day, full cloud cover although thankfully it was quite high and as we were not it shouldn't present any problems with the views that in the event wasn't too bad for a cloud covered day. Despite the lack of sun it was a pleasant 13°c when we finally got away from the car park to walk south along the roadside path, past Grange and at NY253172 - or near enough - there is a gate leading into Cummacatta Wood. This was our point of access that would give us a steady walk, first through the trees then taking the path through a clearing that was covered in very high and dense bracken. With the clearing being surrounded by trees and Long Crag rising up in front of us E likened it to a walk through the Peruvian jungle with the only sounds apart from us being the birdsong from birds that we could neither see nor identify. This was a great way to start the walk.
The path wanders about with a few ups and downs and then starts to descend easily down to a gate where the path now passes through bracken and under tree cover prior to reaching Brock Bield and the start of the climb up through the trees to the minor summit of King's How. Passing over the remnants of an old wall we then entered the wood proper with the narrow and stony path soon becoming crisscrossed by tree roots and a rough patch or two of loose stones and slippery ground. It had been raining the previous night so we couldn't expect any other conditions really. Before too long the path becomes mostly paved with just the odd part missing the stones that form the paved way. The climb up through the wood is fairly steep but if kept at it the end of the worst climbing is soon reached and a more level and open area is then passed through as we left the wood at Long Moss.
Still following the path that skirts around the wet ground of the Moss a small beck is crossed by a large flat stone slab from where we once again entered the trees that surround the base of King's How. With the purple heather covered rock of King's How on our left and thick bracken to the right we made our way along the good and easily rising path until a break to the west allowed us a first view of Grange Fell and the rocky spur of Jopplety How. From that point the path now begins to rise more steeply over a short jumble of greasy rocks and once over those the path now turns to the south and after a short distance of climbing a look to the left will produce a view of the King Edward VII memorial plaque regarding Grange Fell and presented by his sister Louise the wording of which are to be found below.
In loving memory of King Edward V11, Grange Fell is dedicated by his sister Louise
as a sanctuary of rest and peace.
Here may all beings gather strength and find in scenes of beautiful nature a cause
for gratitude and love to God giving them courage and vigour to carry on his will.
And that is why this particular fell is named King's How.
Once the plaque is passed it's just a short distance to the summit of this lovely little fell with its grass and purple heather covered top giving really good views in all directions, the one over to Derwent Water and its surrounding fells being particularly good …
whilst in the opposite direction a similarly magnificent view of the Borrowdale Valley and its accompanying fells fight from the other corner in its quest for favour.
Skiddaw, Blencathra, and little Latrigg dominate the scene behind Derwent Water whilst in the other direction towards Borrowdale there is Rosthwaite Fell, Base Brown, Grey Knotts, Great Gable, and even a hint of the Langdale Pikes can be seen over to the left with the top of Harrison Stickle just peeping over the distant skyline.
Over to the southeast we now had a good view of Grange Fell and Jopplety How with the fells of High Tove, High Seat, Bleaberry Fell and more making up the distant backdrop of fells. The ground between us and Grange Fell looking particularly lumpy with its many outcrops of rock bursting out of the ground, and as we looked down upon this wild landscape we could see the path that we would follow winding its way through the bracken and then disappearing behind the rocks as it bends its way towards the short and rocky ridge of Grange Fell.
We made the short and fairly steep climb down from the top, first going south and then twisting and turning until we were eventually descending in a roughly north easterly direction. There are a couple of longish steps down and over a few rocks but all in all it’s a reasonable way down and we were soon making our way southeast through the bracken once again to reach a wire fence and step stile. I have been this way many times and this spot just in front of the stile was always very wet but today despite the rain that we have had over the last day or so it is today, surprisingly dry, only the stepping stones laying testament to what the ground just here can, or used, to be like. Do I smell global warming again?
Looking back there is a good view of King's How and the ground that we have just covered.
Once over the fence the ground begins to rise again but in a very gentle fashion as we continued in the south westerly direction passing a couple of old sheep shelters or folds built into the crags of which there are many on this walk. Before long we were changing direction and now walking northeast towards the summit of Grange Fell itself. Again the path is good and dry as we passed great mounds of shattered and jumbled rocks with the flowering heather showing up well against the grey of the surround rock.
As we reached the top of Grange Fell the ground levelled out and its easy walking about and getting on the rocks to attain the highest point and the top is as it looks from afar, short and knobbly…
with the highest point being to the south end and is a very large boulder that overlooks the fells to the south.
The large rocky outcrop of rock that has the great name of Jopplety How sits to the north of this summit and although I have never climbed up it in the past the time must come when I must do so.
Casting an eye to the north we could still see Derwent Water with its background of Skiddaw, etc, but unlike the view from King's How we could now just see Bassenthwaite Lake over to the left.
The one thing that confuses me is why Wainwright named this as Grange Fell when it clearly states on the OS map that it is named Brund Fell??
We left the top by the easy walk down to the northeast passing Jopplety How from where just a few more metres on we climbed a short ladder stile over a wall and then turned to the south to be greeted with a good view of Great Crag over in the distance.
We were still following good paths to arrive at Puddingstone Bank and the main path that runs from Rosthwaite to Watendlath. This is where we saw a lonesome orchid that goes by the name of the Moorland Spotted Orchid, I think. On looking up this plant I could not find an exact match but there are many varieties with various combinations of spots and little stripes so maybe one of the more knowledgeable members may have the correct name for this plant. It looked so bright and cheerful amongst the fell grass that I just had to take a picture of it.
Passing over the main path we went through a gate to walk along a path through the grass that has now turned wet and remains so until we arrive at the next gate that will put us into the wetlands below Great Crag. As we walked the views opened up southwest towards Stonethwaite and the fells behind it.
We moved quickly over this easy but wet ground to soon arrive at the next gate that would put us into the aforementioned wetlands that sit below Great Crag. As you pass through the gate you are met by a sign that advises turning left and picking up the regular path that rises up from Watendlath to avoid walking through and damaging the wetland area. That is what used to happen but looking at the path that runs straight through the area it appears that it no longer applies.
It seems as though everyman and his dog now walk across this area and to be fair there is a path shown on the OS Map, a path that cuts a fair corner off the walk and I'm ashamed to say that E and I took advantage of the well walked path instead of walking around like we normally did. But the path is not good as the clue is on the diversion sign. Wetland it is, and with a vengeance it tries to suck the boots off your feet, retaliation for ignoring the diversion sign, and this was the worst part of the whole walk so if you would like to keep dry then do as the diversion sign suggests, go around to the east and keep dry.
After we had waded through the marshy ground we arrived at the regular path, dry ground at last, and made our way towards the gate that would now let us onto the climb up the paved and well graded path towards our last hill and then Dock Tarn for a well earned break. When we were around halfway up this path I turned around for a view back and had a good view of Watendlath Tarn with High Tove sat right behind it.
Up until this point we had seen no other people but as we arrived at the top of the paved path we were inundated with walkers who had started out from Rosthwaite and were on their way to the tea room at Watendlath. After spending a few minutes chatting with some of those we continued on and upon reaching the more level ground at the top of the climb we took the first, quite faint but obvious path on the right to begin wending our way through the heather and grass. The path works its way roughly southwest ascending quietly with the occasional short rocky 'step ups' to clamber up. The ground was fairly wet around here but in spite of E's fumbling, mumbling, and grumbling we were soon at the lower north summit with a small cairn sat on one of the numerous lumps of grey rock that protrudes from the short undulating ridge.
The top is basically rock with a thin layer of soil giving a hold for the sparse covering of grass and the more predominant purple flowering heather. It was also quite wet underfoot. In between the two summits the ridge drops down to form a small col but following the narrow path over to the larger and higher south cairn gives no cause for concern and is done in a matter of a couple of minutes or less.
The views from this top are not much different than those seen from King's How and Grange Fell although we could just about see a corner of Dock Tarn and a really good view southwest into Borrowdale from the south top, and although the clouds have behaved themselves today they are now hanging low over the high fells but somehow the sun has managed to make a breach somewhere amongst them as there was a patch or two of sunlight shining on the fields and lower fells. It's just a pity there was none where we were.
A view into Langstrath and along the valley of Greenup Gill was more or less blocked by the humps and bumps of the nearby skyline although a decent view of Eagle Crag and Sergeant Man can be seen with High Raise forming a backdrop to this pair. The larger cairn of the south top is also set upon a small upstanding lump of grey rock and when we got there we could see that someone had left a backpack leaning against the cairn. Maybe someone has just gone for a stroll about we thought but as we looked around we could see no sign of anyone so the bag was investigated for clues as to whose it was. The first thing that was spotted was where the local wildlife - voles we presumed - had chewed holes in the bag and pulled out the cellophane wrapping from whatever it had got at. On opening the bag there was only a Mars Bar, cereal bar, an empty food container, and a stuff bag with some article of clothing in it though I didn't open it to see. The bag had obviously been there for quite some time looking at the damage that the locals had done to it.
Now then, the way off Great Crag can be a convoluted affair and it would be easy to go astray and wander away from the direction of Dock Tarn if the wrong paths are followed. There are lots of little tracks below Great Crag and we took the ones that were heading roughly northeast and would take us back to the main path to Dock Tarn. Once there we made our way for a short distance before I decided to climb up a minor hill that sits by the side of the path thinking that I would get a clear view of the whole of Dock Tarn, which I didn't. The heather covered 436 metres high hillock is just 4 metres lower than Great Crag and although I did get more of a view of the tarn it wasn't really worth climbing up.
We regained the path once again and were at Dock Tarn within a minute or two where we found a young lady in silent repose on the tarn side rocks who neither looked, nor spoke to us as we passed her by. Despite the leaden sky and lack of sunshine the tarn as usual looked great with its small island a haven for the mallard ducks that have been around this tarn for years, ducks that will waddle up the fairly steep bank from the water if there is any food going free. In the past I have actually had them eating out of my hand. The waters of the tarn were in full flower today as there were dozens of white water lilies covering a large area whilst the multitude of upright reeds had the appearance of a large green blanket covering the water in places.
As it's so tranquil here, this is where we stopped for a break.
All too soon it was time to move on and we simply followed the well worn path to leave the tarn behind and follow it as it turned to the southwest following Willygrass Gill until it disappeared into the depths of the tree lined gully. Passing below White Crag we were soon at the steep pitch stoned path that makes its way down Lingy End and the woodland below.
A great view of Eagle Crag and Sergeant Man is to be seen sat between Stonethwaite Beck and Langstrath Beck.
This part of the route is very steep and fortunately today the stones are dry, but when they are wet - especially in winter - it can be a treacherous path to negotiate. Once the path gets alongside the gill again the pitched path is left behind and the ground slopes gently down to a wall and step stile from where it is then a steady walk down to the Greenup Edge path and quite a long and pleasant walk along the side of Stonethwaite Beck to Rosthwaite where tea and cake awaits weary travellers at Prince Charles's favourite Lake District caff.
We stopped for refreshments at Rosthwaite both of us having coffee and cake whilst sat in the busy and pleasant garden area before taking off once again to walk back to Grange using the Cumbria Way route through High Hows and Low Hows Woods alongside the River Derwent and back to the car park below Grange Crags where the temperature was showing 18°c.
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