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From Whiteside to Grasmoor
by nigheandonn » Fri Oct 26, 2018 9:22 pm
Wainwrights included on this walk: Grasmoor, Grisedale Pike, Hopegill Head, Whiteside
Hewitts included on this walk: Grasmoor, Grisedale Pike, Hobcarton Crag, Hopegill Head, Whiteside
Date walked: 25/08/20182 people think this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
The very first autumn colours were showing, red berries on the rowan trees and brown bracken on the hills - faded purple on the heather, too. Whiteside does look pretty unassailable from the road - even the climb up Whin Ben, the one sensible starting point, is fairly steep.
The back of Whin Ben is not nearly so impressive, though, and an easier path leads on towards the next little summit.
Easy for a while, at least - the top of the next rise is rocky, and the path leads you to the side of it and then leaves you to scramble to the top.
The way on towards the summit was much the same again - path for a while, and then scrambly rocks, where I didn't recognise Wainwright's 'prostrate juniper' until I put my hand on it without looking and got prickled.
But the summit at least arrives fairly quickly after the top of the climb - no long walk across flat ground, it seemed to be there as soon as I'd stopped climbing.
It was already lunchtime, so I found a spot away from a group who had come up behind me, with a dramatic view along the valley.
The Hewitt summit is a bit on along the ridge - presumably it is the mathematical summit, the highest spot beyond the lowest dip, but it's a very undistinguished one, just one of a series of grassy bumps, and with a cairn made of three stones! I'd managed to remember that it was my 100th Hewitt before getting there, but not before setting out, so the best I could manage to celebrate with was melon - I think I ate all my Kendal mint cake on Catbells.
The ridge is stunning but slightly confusing - extra ridges run off in various directions, and from here the clearest continuation beyond Hopegill Head is along Sand Hill to the far side of Coledale Hause - Grisedale Pike is lurking very much in the background. But there was no possible doubt about my immediate way to go - only one route possible, and a lovely one.
It was great fun to walk - at one point the path dropped just below the top and I went on along the tiny ridge to practice for real ridges elsewhere!
The summit of Hopegill Head was busier, with good views to the west.
An extra ridge runs up to the summit over Ladyside Pike, with the coastal plains beyond and then Scotland over the water.
I made the detour to the cairn on Sand Hill, where most people seemed to be going, cutting back down to the path on to Grisedale Pike.
The ridge is too much directly above the crags to get an ideal view of them, hut they're pretty impressive just the same.
I almost didn't realise that I'd reached another Hewitt summit - I knew there was another one on the ridge somewhere, called Hobcarton Crag, and that I should walk over it without making a special trip, but it wasn't very obvious and not at all near the crag, and I nearly did just walk past.
The summit of Grisedale Pike was busy with people who had come up from the other side and found it hard work, so the ridge seems to be well defended at both ends.
At this end the views had changed again, looking out to Keswick and Derwent Water, and across all the ridges of hills, although I was confused by the angle, because I was convinced that the ridge I was on must run north-south like all the others, and not east-west.
There were some good shapes of hills over on the parallel ridge as well, where I hoped to be heading the next day.
On the way back I took a tiny bypass path which led around the back of the rise on the ridge to join up with the Coledale Hause path further down - it turned out a bit airier than I expected, but did give a fantastic view of the mine buildings below.
As I made my way down over Coledale Hause, which had been so busy earlier, the hills seemed to have suddenly emptied - it was only about half past three, but the couple of people in sight were making their way rapidly downhill, which made it feel much later, and a little bit eerie.
There was apparently a way up Grasmoor directly from the hause, but with no obvious starting point and fairly rough grass to cross it wasn't very appealing - there seemed to be no good reason why I couldn't follow the good path along to the little crossroads and go up from there, so I did - it did turn out that the little neighbouring burn also wanted to walk, or at least run, in the path, but it wasn't hugely wet.
There were a few more people up here as well, surprisingly, heading down from Grasmoor and over towards Eel Crag.
From the path as it rose there was a very good view of the Scafells, which I stopped to admire, since they probably wouldn't be so well in view from the very flat summit.
The path ran on along the edge of a steeper slope, bare and red, with the ridge leading to Lad Hows further on.
This side of the valley was all quite smooth and gentle, but the far side, with Wandope and Whiteless Pike, was a bit more dramatic.
The final stretch to the summit was almost flat, with the path fading away since it didn't really matter where you walked. The highest point is marked with a large shelter, although there are a cluster of other cairns and shelters around.
The tiniest of possible cairns marked the start of the route down by Lad Hows, although it didn't take long for a faint path to appear. The book was a bit contradictory about this route - its own page described it as pleasant lower down, and generally less arduous than the alternative route from Crummock Water, but a stray aside on a different page described it as 'difficult to find and difficult to negotiate' at the top because it was steep and loose stones, which is exactly what I don't like.
It wasn't at all difficult to find, but it was loose, and it was steep, the kind of path which seems to more or less fall from the sky to land down below. Taken slowly, though, it wasn't too bad - there were at least plenty of stones on it, and I had plenty of time for going slowly in.
Further down it became a gentler path through heather, and then a grassy path, and finally a lovely section winding down from the little summit of Lad Hows, joining the stream to descent past waterfalls and finally come down to the level of Rannerdale Knotts, which looks tiny from above.
From below, the Lad Hows path is still very easy to find, just as long as you're not looking for it where either map says it is - instead of slanting off towards the next burn below Red Gill, it follows Cinderdale Beck right down to cross it together with the path coming out of Rannerdale, and is marked where it meets the road with a knee-high signpost pointing towards Grasmoor.
Then a walk along to the hostel, which was trying to confuse me by *not* putting me in the room up under the roof - Keswick had also put me in an unheard of room, and I suspected general reorganisation by their computers, but they said it was just chance - and a slightly chilly dinner, because the only free seats were outside - it was a nice evening still, but not all that warm.
by Sgurr » Fri Oct 26, 2018 9:49 pm
by nigheandonn » Fri Oct 26, 2018 10:01 pm
by dav2930 » Sun Oct 28, 2018 6:07 pm
The direct route to Grasmoor from Coledale Hause is not that easy to find and starts off quite steeply after crossing the beck, but becomes a distinct path following the edge of Dove Crags and is well worth seeking out.
Reminds me that I need to get back on these north-western fells again sometime soon - they're among my favourites.
by trailmasher » Mon Oct 29, 2018 8:11 pm
by johnkaysleftleg » Tue Oct 30, 2018 9:57 am
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