Walk in the Eastern Fells

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Attachment(s) Wainwrights: Caudale Moor, Froswick, High Raise (Far Eastern Fells), High Street, Ill Bell, Rampsgill Head, Rest Dodd, Thornthwaite Crag, Yoke
Hewitts: Froswick, High Raise (Far Eastern Fells), High Street, Ill Bell, Rampsgill Head, Rest Dodd, Stony Cove Pike (Caudale Moor), Thornthwaite Crag, Yoke
Date walked: 14/03/2018
Distance: 23.5km
Ascent: 1787m
Views: 7

Western Fells round of 11 Hewitts in dramatic weather

Wainwrights: Causey Pike, Dale Head, Eel Crag, Grasmoor, High Spy, Hindscarth, Maiden Moor, Robinson, Sail, Scar Crags, Wandope, Whiteless Pike
Hewitts: Causey Pike, Crag Hill (Eel Crag), Dale Head, Grasmoor, High Spy, Hindscarth, Robinson, Sail, Scar Crags, Wandope, Whiteless Pike

Date walked: 08/03/2018

Time taken: 13 hours

Distance: 36.1km

Ascent: 3097m

The Forecast and the Plan

Sustained (= 2 days plus) of good weather in the Highlands did not seem to be on the meteorological menu. So, restlessness increasing exponentially as I saw WHR after WHR full of the most enticing pix of mountains cloaked in white, and so feeling increasingly stir-crazy, my attention turned to Snowdonia and the Lake District.

Following some very interesting reports over the past couple of years or so, from, amongst others, Dav2930, malky_c, baja, and trailmasher, I'd picked up something of the attractions of the Western Fells area, and I'd gradually been working out a few possible routes .

The forecast at the weekend suggested that Thursday would be the day; and after poring over the map a bit and scanning the various routes I'd plotted, I plumped for the following ...

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... with the thought that if conditions were particularly favourable, I might be able to get to Grizedale Pike. The link between start and finish would be effected by bike.

It turned out to be quite a special day - as in fact have most of my recent excursions into the Lake District.

The weather conditions – and hence the light - varied enormously on this walk, and as such made it one of the most memorable for a long time.

The forecast didn’t give much clue as to what to expect: moderate risk of snow showers, some periods of reasonable visibility, patchy sun …. in other words: take your pick!

In fact what fortunate folk out in the hills that day got was a stunningly varied kaleidoscope of visual impressions: dull wintery grey initially, but with tantalising lighter whiter hints, glistening through the veil of morning haze, of snow capped hills in the distance; and then, as the morning developed, the landscape gradually suffused by a silver grey light that emerged in localised patches, catching hills and clouds both, so that there was no easily discernible border between the two - a light effect that one imagines is more typical of the icy tundra of Lapland or Siberia; then later the sky quite unexpectedly and rapidly cleared to a perfect clear blue, with the sun reflecting brilliantly off the snow - picture postcard mountain weather. And then towards late afternoon, cloud came in, though not so low that there weren't still great views to be enjoyed.

I hope just that my pics have captured even something of what was truly an exceptional day. If any of the panos catch your fancy, it's worth clicking on them to get a full screen rendering of them.

The Walk

I have driven up to Braithwaite the previous night (having worked out that I would need to be up at 02.00 am if I was to do the route I had in mind in a single day expedition - a bit too extreme :roll:), and parked up in a forestry car park a mile or so above Braithwaite. The alarm wakes me at 05.15, and after a lot of unnecessary faff, I've struck camp, and am on my bike on the way to Little Town by about 06.30 (why, oh why, does it take so long to get going in the small hours ...??? :( ).

Image. This pic (taken a few hours later) shows the early part of the walk. No official path, but a sharp climb, and some circulation-inducing scrambles among the cliffs on the way... a perfect start!

Image20180308_071037. Looking back north down the valley towards Skiddaw from the ascent to Knot End and High Crags.

Image20180308_071053. Same view as a pano, with Causey Pike - where I hope to be around midday - the pimple just left of centre.

Image20180308_072312. Ahead, due south, Maiden Moor, and High Spy (with my little eye...??!!??).

Image20180308_073759. Looking back north towards Skiddaw and Derwent Water, the light is eerie and awe-inspiring. I'm only sorry that brother Frank hasn't been able to make it today and experience this. Well beyond the power of words to capture...

Image20180308_074657. On the left the Causey Pike to Grasmoor Ridge - the target for the afternoon; and to the right, Skiddaw and Blencathra.

Image20180308_075119. I can't stop snapping this view. And the going is easy, so no reason not to embrace fully such hedonistic pleasures :D .

Image20180308_075742. Looking ahead to High Spy - a bit of a Lake District motorway here, but no other folk, so not really off-putting.


Image20180308_080916. Looking east towards Helvellyn, in this most ethereal light.

Image20180308_080927. And the view back the way I've just come along Maiden Moor, north towards Skiddaw.

Image20180308_081356. Towards the Helvellyn range again. The light is really sensational.


Image20180308_081652. It's easy and most pleasant upland walking here towards High Spy, with Dale Head and Hindscarth showing to great effect in the background. It's quite cold, so the ground is beautifully hard (= not boggy) underfoot, but there's very little wind, so it doesn't feel too chilly. The so far grey and white sky is rapidly turning blue in the west.

Image20180308_082720. High Spy.

Image20180308_083537. Having consumed a marmelade croissant - breakfast 2 - I awiftly continue towards Dale Head: it soon feels cold enough when I'm not moving,


Image20180308_090604. Looking back north east towards High Spy on the ascent to Dale Head, Dale Head Tarn glistening in the increasing sun.


Image20180308_092333. Miners, Red and Eel Crags to the west of the High Spy ridge showing to awe-inspiringly dramatic effect - impressively steep cliffs. The cornice immediately in front of me also looks like it could be pretty dramatic if I get any closer to it ... :roll: .

Image20180308_092358. The rather splendidly solid cairn at Dale Head - there are quite a few of this form of construction on the walk.

Image20180308_093542. The top of the next target, Hindscarth, is swathed in mist for the moment. But it is looking as if it could clear any moment.

Image20180308_094321. And sure enough, it does, at least for a few minutes - this shot looking towards Hindscarth summit...

Image20180308_095127. ... which by the time I get there is again swathed in mist.

Image20180308_102822. And mist characterises the walk to Robinson, though a fence along the approach shoulder and plain topography means that navigation is not difficult.

Image20180308_103302. The mist is still down on Robinson itself. I don't mind too much: the contrast just serves to heighten the pleasure in the views when it clears...

Image20180308_104547. ... which it does a hundred metres or so below the summit, revealing the whole length of Blea Crags and High Snab Bank. I should have paid more attention here to the appearance of the Causey Pike slopes - in hindsight it's clear that the top half is covered in heather, and it proves to be quite hard work and time-consuming to flog through it. If I were to do it again, I think I'd walk the extra kilometre, and take the path...

ImageCausey Pike routes.

Image20180308_104547 labelled.

Image20180308_104608. To the south east, Hindscarth is looking rather fine.

Image20180308_110000. .... with the whole of this morning's first ridge, from Knott End and High Crags to High Spy, showing in the background.

Image20180308_110000 labelled.

Image20180308_110833. Looking back, Robinson is still clag-bound (beclug??).

Image20180308_110839. This is a beautiful ridge walk - nearly all downhill :D . In the background, Skiddaw in cloud, and Derwent Water. Eventually the ridge path descends to a vehicle track, which I follow for about a kilometre before hitting a minor road. Another kilometre on this gets me to the bridge over Rigg Beck, which is where I've planned to cut off up to Causey Pike.

Image20180308_114352. Looking back towards the hills I've just been on, shortly before Rigg Beck.

Image20180308_114352 labelled (2).

Image20180308_115400. Causey Pike viewed from Rigg Beck - looks quite a long way up!!! The hillside is convex, so the heather jungle that starts about half-way up is only just visible as a purple tint almost on the skyline. Looking at the lower part of the slope I am very glad to be doing it in winter: it's apparent that in summer there would be very thick bracken extending right from the start of slope to the start of the heather, making an ascent via this route a real trial from start to finish!

Image20180308_122140. Just into the heather, I stop to take a pic (= rest my weary limbs!). Last version of this view - promise! (but I hope readers can see why it was hard to resist snapping...).

As can be seen from the last pic but one, the last 170m ascent of Causey Pike is much steeper than main shoulder approach, and I meet the first fellow walkers of the day at the point at which the going becomes steep, where they are taking a breather and enjoying the views. The sky is now largely clear, and we briefly reflect on the unreliability of weather forecasts!

Image20180308_131035. Causey Pike summit - time to sit down, chew a sandwich, and luxuriate in the vistas that spread in all directions. Here are Skiddaw and Blencathra in the background left, and the Helvellyn group background right; and Derwent Water centre pic, with Bassenthwaite just visible on the extreme left.

Image20180308_131136. Looking ahead, this is clearly going to be another superb ridge walk, ascents not so taxing as to distract from the enjoyment of the landscape - pure pleasure.

Image20180308_131136 labelled.

Image20180308_133406. First to Scar Crags...

Image20180308_133442. Grizedale Pike over to the north - I might just get there today.... Then again, I might not...

Image20180308_134400. Slightly odd-looking raised path for the ascent of Sail... Doing a little reading about this, it seems it was a tad controversial when it was first built a few years ago - unsurprising given the very dramatic (and quite honestly rather detrimental) effect it has on the appearance of Sail's east shoulder. But I guess this form of construction helps prevent accelerating path erosion, so perhaps it's the lesser of two weavils... (pace P O'Brien :D ).

Image20180308_135723. Looking back down the said path as the summit of Sail is neared. Blencathra in the distance to the left, and the northern part of the Helvellyn group to the right.

Image20180308_140239. The less than wholly stunning summit cairn of Sail ...

Image20180308_142224. ...from where it's but a short hop and 60m of easy ascent to Crag Hill. Where I meet the last fellow walker of the day, who kindly takes a someoneelsie as my record for posterity :wtf: . He tells me he'd originally planned to go on to Grasmoor, but we can both see that cloud is closing in fast from the west, and he's decided to head down as quickly as he can to avoid getting caught in it.

For my part, I follow a route south west to take in ...

Image20180308_142856. Wandope (left hand side) and Whiteless (behind the pimple in the distance, but too low to be visible on this picture).

Image20180308_143914. Another underwhelming summit marker, this time Wandope...

Image20180308_144101. ... but the lack of immediately local drama is more than compensated for by the stunning striated cliffs of Scar Crag that form the south side of Crag Hill - just a pity that the light ain't as good as it could be.

I take a bearing, and head off SSW in the clag towards Whiteless Pike - gentle downhill walking.

Image20180308_150706. As I start to descend the path on to Whiteless Edge, just after the part-cairn at 184196, I drop below the mist and Whiteless Pike and Crummock Water come into view. It's a smashing little walk down the Edge path and up to the Pike - superb views.

Image20180308_151725. Looking back from the summit of Whiteless Pike, along Whiteless Edge the way I have just come, and now have to return.

In the meantime the clag has lifted to about 750m, so I've got reasonable visibility on the walk to the col between Crag Hill and Grasmoor. But above 750m, it's pretty thick mist, and it begins to snow lightly.

Image20180308_160639. Grasmoor summit. The clag isn't showing any signs of dissipating, and I am beginning to recall that the contours for the descent to the north are both closely spaced, and interspersed with "rock/crag" symbols. Looking again at the map, I see that the entire north face is essentially craggy, and slopes down pretty steeply. I take a careful bearing and set off. In short order I come to the top of slope; and it really is quite steep, with every surface less than about 25 degrees slope covered in rather mushy snow. I guess the overall slope is about 45 degrees - which doesn't sound that much when I write it, but in the flesh is quite intimidating when it's covered with slippery snow.


After the accident on my last outing due to not donning crampons early enough, I make an easy decision.

What a difference!

One feels so much more secure. And I get down the tough old slope easily enough. The crampons also help a lot in the wet turf below the snow line. I take them off about 200m from the bottom, after which point it's possible to scree run right to the bottom (though I'm so out of practice in this arcane skill that I end up travelling the last 50m or so on my bottom :wtf: ).

Image20180308_172648. Looking back up the slope just descended.

Once down in the valley I have to decide whether to go for the ridge that includes Grizedale Pike, or to take the easy route through Gasgale Gill. Surprise, surprise - optimism trumps common sense. After all, it's only just after 5 o'clock - I should be able to get up on to the next ridge and do most of it in daylight. The only issue is, that the route I'd planned on the map is not reasonably doable: straight up the very steep opposite side of the valley, and on top of that: through thick heather :( . I figure that the most time-efficient way of getting up the ridge will be via a path, without a heather battle like that of earlier in the afternoon. So I head west down the valley towards Crummock Water so as to pick up the path up to Whiteside. I get to the point where I need to turn sharp right; and look at my watch. Oh dear! Realistically, it's going to be more or less dark by the time I get to the summit of Whiteside - which means a pretty pointless traverse of the ridge to Grizedale Pike in the dark. The only purpose served would be gaining of a few Hewitt ticks. No, it would be a real pity - and somehow disrespectful towards the majesty of the hills - to walk this ridge with no view; so, reluctantly, I turn round and retrace my way back up the Gasgale Gill - ie parallel to the ridge - towards the watershed.

It's a very straightforward path from thence back to Braithwaite: firstly about 5 km of path alongside the beck...


... followed by a further 5 km along a vehicular track, back to the car park in the woods above Braithwaite. The only issue is the random presence of icy areas on the path, especially on the steepish descent from the watershed. It's absolutely pitch black now, so the head torch is essential here.


From the car park, I drive back to Little Town to pick up my bike, then - preceded by a short sojourn at an establishment of cultural, historical and architectural distinction...
... I take the 3.5 hour journey home, very very satisfied after a superb day in the hills.

Image. 3D view of the route. It's perhaps a bit confusing because north is on the right hand side of the image, rather than the top, because the valleys generally run north east/south west.

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Comments: 8

A real hoolie: fantastic views in world of spindrift

Attachment(s) Wainwrights: Dove Crag, Great Rigg, Hart Crag, Little Hart Crag, Red Screes
Hewitts: Dove Crag, Great Rigg, Hart Crag, Little Hart Crag, Red Screes
Date walked: 09/02/2018
Distance: 23.1km
Ascent: 1555m
Comments: 14
Views: 529

2 underrated hills and a rather too hairy scramble

Attachment(s) Hewitts: Dduallt, Rhobell Fawr
Date walked: 02/02/2018
Distance: 34.6km
Ascent: 1367m
Comments: 9
Views: 418

An arctic Ben Vane in snow and sun

Attachment(s) Munros: Ben Vane
Date walked: 16/12/2017
Distance: 11km
Ascent: 977m
Comments: 6
Views: 648

Sun and snow: a Loch Earn round + some timely reminders!

Attachment(s) Munros: Ben Vorlich (Loch Earn), Stuc a'Chroin
Corbetts: Beinn Each, Meall na Fearna
Date walked: 15/12/2017
Distance: 24.5km
Ascent: 2339m
Comments: 14
Views: 1177

Japanese Rock Garden? a perfect short winter Howgills day

Attachment(s) Hewitts: Calders, Fell Head, Randygill Top, The Calf, Yarlside
Date walked: 30/11/2017
Distance: 24km
Ascent: 1897m
Comments: 11
Views: 432

1, 2

On the way back home... a'Bheithir in the cap

Attachment(s) Munros: Sgorr Dhearg (Beinn a'Bheithir), Sgorr Dhonuill (Beinn a'Bheithir)
Date walked: 12/11/2017
Distance: 16.5km
Ascent: 1724m
Comments: 28
Views: 1218

Kinloch Hourn

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Attachment(s) Munros: Sgurr a'Mhaoraich
Corbetts: Buidhe Bheinn
Date walked: 11/11/2017
Distance: 15.6km
Ascent: 1832m
Views: 58

Great Glen Meet: Tee before 2 at Loch Lochy.

Attachment(s) Munros: Meall na Teanga, Sron a'Choire Ghairbh
Corbetts: Ben Tee
Date walked: 10/11/2017
Distance: 25.4km
Ascent: 2036m
Comments: 6
Views: 428


User avatar
Location: Effete South (of WIgan, anyway)
Activity: Scrambler
Pub: The Bell, Trysull
Mountain: Cuillin Ridge
Place: Glen Brittle
Gear: Compass
Member: None
Ideal day out: Heavy ridge walk with plenty of scrambling and height gain - eg Welsh 3000ers, Wastwater Circuit, Cuillin Ridge
Munro rounds: 50

Munros: 141
Corbetts: 19
Wainwrights: 71
Hewitts: 176

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