Causey Pike to Grasmoor, above the clouds
by richardkchapman » Wed Nov 04, 2015 11:44 am
Wainwrights included on this walk: Causey Pike, Eel Crag, Grasmoor, Sail, Scar Crags, Wandope
Hewitts included on this walk: Causey Pike, Crag Hill (Eel Crag), Grasmoor, Sail, Scar Crags, Wandope
Date walked: 03/11/2015
Time taken: 6
Distance: 16 km
Ascent: 1086m5 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).
After yesterday's successful foray above the clouds on Mellbreak, when the forecast looked similar we took "Low cloud" to mean "chance to get above the clouds" again and planned a route across some of the local high ground to maximize our chances. Granny was off to meet friends in Grasmere, so there was an opportunity to leave a car at the finishing point and hitch a ride over to the starting point for a one-way ridge walk.
An early start (by our standards) was called for both to make sure Granny could get to Grasmere in time for her lunch date and in order to give ourselves the chance to get up and down and over 6 Wainwrights before it got dark. The promise of 6 fells ticked off in one day was enough to get even Sarah out of bed in time to leave the house at 10am sharp.
We dropped the Landrover at Lanthwaite, at the top of Crummock Water, and squeezed 3 walkers and 3 dogs into Granny's rather smaller car to drive over to Stair.
We had decided NOT to approach Causey Pike via the traditional route from Rowling End/Sleet Hause, as we were concerned that the final rocktower might be tricky for the dogs (and for Thomas with his damaged finger). Instead we picked a route that was a cross between Wainwright's "Ascent from Braithwaite" and his "Ascent of Scar Crags from Stair" routes - up the old mine road to High Moss then up to the ridge between Causey Pike and Scar Crags.
Setting off from Stair by Richard Chapman, on Flickr
The old mine road (I think actually it was an old railway) made the going very easy at a gentle gradient. We had one dilemma at the point where the OS map showed a path leaving to the left to ascend to the Causey Pike ridge, but Wainwright showed the path rather further on. It was hard to tell in the mist, but the general lay of the land on the map suggested that the OS option would involve losing quite a bit of height then ascending steeply, while the Wainwright path would cross the valley at its head and so be much gentler, even if it was a longer way round. We opted for the latter.
Suddenly we started to get hints of sunlight above the cloud, poking out from behind the Causey Pike summit to our left.
First view of Causey Pike by Richard Chapman, on Flickr
And in a few moments we were above the clouds.
Coming out of the cloud by Richard Chapman, on Flickr
Looking back along the mine path by Richard Chapman, on Flickr
The Wainwright path up to the ridge turned out to be a very good choice - diagonally up the ridge at a very easy angle.
Head up to Causey Pike by Richard Chapman, on Flickr
Before long we were on the ridge and ready to tackle the first of Causey Pike's five mini-summits. Thomas thought I was joking about the 5 summits until he got to the top of the first one...
Causey Pike summit from the ridge by Richard Chapman, on Flickr
The real top was a little vertiginous (I think the cloud makes it more so) with no view of the route up from Rowling End. Felt very much like being on a tower of rock in the middle of a sea of cloud, and it was not entirely a comfortable feeling!
I was glad to set off back along the ridge to Scar Crags.
Skiddaw group from Causey Pike by Richard Chapman, on Flickr
View from Causey Pike by Richard Chapman, on Flickr
View from Causey Pike by Richard Chapman, on Flickr
Atop Causey Pike by Richard Chapman, on Flickr
Scar Crags was easily reached after a gentle climb. We paused for part one of lunch...
On top of Scar Crags by Richard Chapman, on Flickr
There were some engineered causeways to cross bogs on the summit that seemed a little unnecessary (but nothing to compare with the engineering of the path up to Sail...)
Causeway over a bog by Richard Chapman, on Flickr
Over-engineered path up Sail by Richard Chapman, on Flickr
Having been rude about the aesthetics of the zigzags up to Sail when viewed from a distance, I have to say they made for a much easier climb than it would have been without them. The summit of Sail comes as a bit of an anticlimax, with the smallest of cairns, and somewhat overshadowed by Eel Crag beyond.
On the way up Sail by Richard Chapman, on Flickr
Wainwright described the ridge to Eel Crags from Sail as "exhilarating climb up a narrow crest" which pretty much sums it up - there were a few moments when the path was a little close to the edge for my liking but nothing too scary.
Eel Crag from Sail by Richard Chapman, on Flickr
From Eel Crags the views were panoramic.
On Eel Crag, looking back at the ridge by Richard Chapman, on Flickr
Wandope from Eel Crag by Richard Chapman, on Flickr
On top of Eel Crag by Richard Chapman, on Flickr
Wandope and/or Grasmoor were our next targets, and it didn't look like a detour via Wandope would really add much time or distance to the ascent of Grasmoor. We were aware that we needed to press on if we were not going to have to descend in darkness, so after a short break for chocolate we headed down to Wandope - an ascent so easy it felt like cheating...
We didn't hang around on Wandope but headed straight on towards Grasmoor. Quite a long slog up to the ridge, but then an easy stroll along it to the summit and some lovely views.
The sky was starting to get some colours in it, and I briefly contemplated hanging around for what I am sure was going to be a fantastic sunset, but the prospect of a cold descent in the dark was not appealing.
Waiting for the sunset by Richard Chapman, on Flickr
View from Grasmoor by Richard Chapman, on Flickr
Sapphie on Grasmoor by Richard Chapman, on Flickr
I was not confident of finding or following the direct descents to Crummock water via Red Gill or indeed the direct route ("probably less difficult than the north wall of the Eiger" according to Wainwright) so we had planned to descend via Coledale Hause from where I assumed the path down the Gasgale Gill would be unmissable. The path to Coledale Hause was indistinct but there was no real need for a path - any route would do down the grassy bank. I suspect we should probably have stayed closer to the crags for a better path and a better view.
At Coledale Hause our path led down into the mist. There was a sudden drop in temperature from one step to the next as we passed into the cloud.
Looking down from Coledale Hause by Richard Chapman, on Flickr
Descending into the mist by Richard Chapman, on Flickr
The path down was distinct enough though not as easy walking as I had expected - a few tricky rock steps to negotiate especially for tired dogs - and the fading light and thickening mist didn't make for a particularly fun end to the day. But overall the day had been spectacularly enjoyable - and 6 new Wainwrights bagged.
Sapphie contemplates the clouds by Richard Chapman, on Flickr
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