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Grasmoor and the Coledale round - long way for a walk!

Grasmoor and the Coledale round - long way for a walk!

Postby malky_c » Mon Dec 11, 2017 12:20 am

Wainwrights included on this walk: Causey Pike, Eel Crag, Grasmoor, Grisedale Pike, Hopegill Head, Sail, Scar Crags, Wandope

Hewitts included on this walk: Causey Pike, Crag Hill (Eel Crag), Grasmoor, Grisedale Pike, Hobcarton Crag, Hopegill Head, Sail, Scar Crags, Wandope

Date walked: 09/12/2017

Time taken: 6.5

Distance: 21 km

Ascent: 1600m

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Hewitts: Grisedale Pike, Hobcarton Crag, Hopegill Head, Grasmoor, Wandope,, Crag Hill, Sail, Scar Crags, Causey Pike.
Date: 09/12/2017.
Distance: 21 km.
Ascent: 1600m.
Time: 6 hours, 30 minutes.
Weather: Grey and claggy with some late sunshine. Snow and cold-ish.

Eyeing up the weather all week at work, Saturday looked to be good. I need that sort of motivation to make me plan the night before and get up early these days, which is what I did. It looked good enough to head over to the Lake District, which definitely needed an early start. Although it isn't too far away by car, it is a bit of a military campaign by public transport from the NE - I was up for the challenge though.

After leaving my flat shortly after 5:30am, I got the first Metro into Newcastle, the first train over to Carlisle, a quick scoot down the main line to Penrith, then a bus via Keswick which dropped me at Braithwaite at 10:15am. Phew! While there were a few other options for walks, the Coledale round appealed to me as last time I'd done it, I had missed out Grasmoor - probably the 3rd or 4th highest hill that I haven't been up in the UK. The other walks would all have seen me take small chunks out of routes I had planned for overnighters in the new year too.

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The weather had started off as fine as promised, but by the time I started walking it had greyed over a bit. It wasn't overly cold (couple of degrees below zero perhaps), but after a rather cold 90 minutes on the first train of the day, I hadn't really warmed up properly, so set off with just about every item of clothing I had with me on.

Looking across Coledale from just above Braithwaite

I missed the path straight up onto Kinn and had to make my own way up onto the ridge from the Force Crag Mine track. Fortunately all the bracken was dead, otherwise it would have been a miserable mistake to make.


As I suspected on the ridge, there were icy sections on the path where the surface water had rapidly frozen over. I didn't think there would be as much of this higher up as the ground is generally drier. I didn't have my axe or crampons with me so I knew I'd need to make sure I didn't get myself into any situations I couldn't get out of. I didn't think I'd have any problems though.

North to Scotland - Criffel just visible

I passed a few other groups on the ascent to Grisedale Pike. The final ascent to this looks quite steep and mountainous but it is pretty straightforward. Unfortunately it looked like I would be plunging into the clag after the summit, although I could see sunshine on Criffel and the south of Scotland to my north.

Ridge to Grisedale Pike

Back down the ridge to Keswick

Hobcarton Crag also looks impressive, and I enjoyed what views I could on the traverse of the ridge to Hopegill Head. Ideally I would have liked to have headed out to Whiteside, but I didn't think I'd make it back in time for the bus if I did that. Instead it was back over to Sand Hill and down to Coledale Hause, where I was just about out of the clag.

Hobcarton Crag

Derwent Water

Getting closer to Hobcarton Crag

I had a quick lunch break here before crossing the headwaters of Liza Beck and heading onto Grasmoor. I caught a glimpse of Dove Crag, but there was little to see until I reached the summit shelter. Shame, as I'd been looking forward to the view over to High Stile and the first hill I ever tried to climb in the Lakes - Red Pike. I was probably only 9 at the time but I still remember we were beaten back by thunder and lightning.

Summit of Grasmoor

I chanced my lick dropping off Grasmoor, and didn't bother taking a bearing. I popped out exactly where I was expecting to this time, but it seems I never learn - how many times have I done that in the past and screwed it up?

A quick diversion over to Wandhope before heading for the next big summit - Crag Hill. For the umpteenth time, a short patch of blue sky whisked by overhead without anything clearing.

Why don't you just fecking clear!?

Having re-united a guy with his lighter which I spotted on the ground (bet he was glad of that later on :lol: ), it was time for one of the most dramatic parts of the walk - the ridge to Sail. A couple of moves here almost count as scrambling, although it's fairly easy. Fortunately the rock was dry, so it was only fresh snow lying on it rather than ice. The mist cleared a bit as well, which was nice.

Along the ridge to Sail

Coledale from Sail

Back to Crag Hill

There was a relatively new path descending from Sail. Even in the snow it stood out against the surrounding ground. Obviously good for combating erosion, but is this round really that popular? It seemed a bit over the top to me - you could practically drive up it.

Mega path on Sail

Sail path

Looking back to Sail

Last time I had done this round (seems quite recently, but was actually in 2000 :roll: ) we had taken in Barrow before returning to Braithwaite. This time I wanted to get back to Keswick, as that's where the later bus went from, also conveniently taking in a couple more 2000ers - Scar Crags and Causey Pike. I also hoped there might be some sunset to see from the end of the ridge.

A glimpse of the High Stile range

It was a nice easy stroll along the ridge, there being barely any drop between the two summits, but he descent of the end of Causey Pike was probably the most awkward part of the day, as the scrambling involved quite a lot of ice avoidance. It wasn't too bad though - I'm pretty sure if I had packed my axe and crampons, they wouldn't have left the bag, although micro-spikes may have made things a little quicker.

Along to Causey Pike

Summit of Scar Crags

Helvellyn range in the sunshine

I had another break under the steep section of Causey Pike, admiring the surrounding hills in the last light. The sunset wasn't up to much, but the weather had improved a fair bit.

Helvellyn range again

Back to Crag Hill and Hopegill Head

On Scar Crags

Derwent Water

Newlands Valley Round

Binsey and Bassenthwaite Lake. If you zoom right in you can spot Scoob and Fi (possibly)

The last drop off Rowling End was also steep and icy, but I hit the road before dark and in pretty good time. Now was an easy stroll along backroads back to Keswick, which I reckoned would take around an hour.

Last light over the High Stile range

...and the Newlands Valley hills

Causey Pike

Last light

Skiddaw and Derwent Water


My walk was rudely interrupted by the Swinside Inn, which I decided would be criminal to pass without stopping in for a pint or two. Perhaps a little on the posh and expensive side for the likes of me, but a pleasant way to while away 40 minutes or so....40 minutes? **** - I need to get going or I'm going to be spending the night here!

And finally....

The rest of the walk was dark and I missed the bus back to Penrith by about 30 seconds. Fortunately there was another one that went (not very) directly to Carlisle in 15 minutes and allowed me to get the same connection back to Newcastle. Just enough time for a chippy.

Thank god for that chippy. If I'd had to find food in Carlisle as originally planned, I would have had a bit of a job, as Christmas party season was in full swing and the city centre was a bearpit. After an initial quiet 20 minutes on the train, that too was transformed into a party train and I realised that would be the theme for the rest of the journey home - the trains even had bouncers on them at Newcastle. Mental note never to travel on a Saturday evening at this time of year again! Is this what I'm like on my Christmas works night out? Pretty sure it isn't, but I'll find out next weekend.

Despite the large amount of travelling and not quite up-to-scratch weather, I was glad I'd bothered. I'll probably restrict my Lakes trips in the near future to overnighters only though.
Last edited by malky_c on Sat Jan 06, 2018 11:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Grasmoor and the Coledale round - long way for a walk!

Postby Broggy1 » Mon Dec 11, 2017 5:45 pm

Great round Malky this one.

That path up Sail is widely regarded as one of the worst in the District. I'm sure it was done with the best intentions but it sticks out like a sore thumb from just about anywhere you see it from.

I suppose if nothing else it has given some fame to Sail - which is a bit of an afterthought between Causey Pike and Eel Crag.
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Re: Grasmoor and the Coledale round - long way for a walk!

Postby Alteknacker » Mon Dec 11, 2017 6:40 pm

Looks like a fine high ridge walk, notwithstanding the unprepossessing weather in the morning. And fine views of Helvellyn and friends in the afternoon. (Didn't recognize you without the shorts, though).

Glad to see that you are appending a visit to an establishment of cultural, architectural and historical interest to your wanders... :); though I see your timing remains a bit iffy...

I was looking at these earlier this year when looking at possible summer routes - also some good possibilities for extending the ridge theme in this area by hike-and-bike when the days are longer...
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Re: Grasmoor and the Coledale round - long way for a walk!

Postby trailmasher » Mon Dec 11, 2017 8:19 pm

A great round malky and some great atmospheric photos of your day out :clap: I agree with Broggy re the path as I think that I preferred it the way it was, rough and ready :wink: Oh, and well done also for managing to replenish the lost fluid, most important part of any decent walk :lol:
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Re: Grasmoor and the Coledale round - long way for a walk!

Postby dav2930 » Mon Dec 11, 2017 8:53 pm

Enjoyed reading that. One of my favourite of the shorter Lakeland rounds, especially by the Scar Crags / Causey Pike extension, and definitely at its best in winter conditions IMO. Shame the promised sunshine disappeared so soon in the day! Karl & me were on the High Stile ridge same day and experienced similar weather/conditions. Like you we didn't bother taking axes (not enough snow), but did have crampons and Microspikes in case of ice. Didn't need the crampons but were glad of the Microspikes coming down the constructed path below Bleaberry Tarn, which was covered in thick water-ice in places. I was secretly wishing we'd gone up Blencathra as there looked a lot more snow on it and Sharp Edge looked in proper winter nick!
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Re: Grasmoor and the Coledale round - long way for a walk!

Postby Roger n Sue Fellows » Mon Dec 11, 2017 9:35 pm

Thanks MalkyC.

When we did something similar the other month we wondered if the Sail track is aimed at cyclists? :(
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