Bank Holiday Solitude in Lakeland's Hinterland

Wainwrights: Grey Crag
Hewitts: Grey Crag

Date walked: 30/05/2021

Time taken: 5 hours

Distance: 15.9km

Ascent: 642m

Back in August 2019 I managed to achieve what I thought was impossible; visit the Lake District on a bank holiday and go on a walk without meeting another soul. Swindale was the place and I managed to walk around the area's Wainwrights, admittedly at times in poor visibility, in total solitude, well apart from Hughie that is.
That was of course in the pre-covid world, now as more and more people have taken to the hills between lockdowns a repeat would seem unlikely. Still there was no way I was heading for Langdale or Striding Edge, no doubt filled with the hoards that would be descending on such honeypots, even the Howgills had been un-characteristically busy on my most recent visit and felt like bad bet.

So it was to Wainwrights' outlying fells that I turned, this is a list I've never had a great deal of interest in but as I'm partial to a Birkett or two, and there is much crossover, I decided to take a bit of inspiration from this book and formulate a route.
I was thinking about a Bannisdale horseshoe but given the distance and parking problems I decided upon a slightly shorter but nearby route. AW’s version of a Crookdale round didn’t fully appeal so I dispensed with his squelch up by the beck and decided to return via The ‘ridge’ on the Northern side of the beck. This left linking the two ridges which I decided to do by including Grey Crag and Harrop Pike.

It was a beautiful morning when I arrived at the lonely summit of the A6, suited and booted, and set off with Hughie in tow.

Hazy layers from the A6 summit

To avoid a climb at the end of the walk, something I’ve never been keen on, I decided upon a clockwise direction which meant dropping down the old route of the A6 to Hause Foot farm before climbing the first fell of the day.

On the route of the old A6

Crookdale Beck

That Fell is High House Bank and the climb is the steepest of the round so it was nice to get it out of the way early. The fellside is largely pathless but the going is good and soon the main cairn, offering some fine views, down the ‘other’ Borrowdale in particular, is reached. The high point was less well adorned and blessed with views so was quickly traversed on the way to the intriguingly named Robin Hood.

Hughie on the way up High House Bank

Looking down on Hause Foot

Hazy views down the 'other' Borowdale

Main Cairn on High House Bank

The 'other' Borrowdale's upper reaches

Soon a path was found and once we passed through a gate and crossed some wet ground it was a simple climb up the easy slopes, made a little more interesting by the addition of the odd bit of exposed rock. Once again the views are nice with hazy distant fells towards the Yorkshire Dales and High House bank looking very shapely.

Robin Hood

A few rare craggy bits on Robin Hood

Looking back to High House Bank

Crookdale Beck from Robin Hood

Cairn on Robin Hood

Great Yarlside from the summit of Robin Hood

So far it had been a very pleasant walk but the featureless terrain on the way to Lord’s Seat soon becomes a bit of a grind. The views from the summit, once I arrive, are inferior to both previous tops and the way forward to Grey Crag looks a long way off. Still nothing for it but to get my head down and keep plodding on through the at times wet ground.

Hughie on Lord's Seat summit

Along Borrowdale from Lord's Seat

Red Crag, a sign of approaching real Lakeland

A fence had to be clambered over before the final approach to Grey Crag the high point, and only Wainwright fell of the round. If I was going to encounter anybody else on this walk it would be here but once we’d made our way up unfamiliar slopes from this direction, the summit was deserted. I took in the views while Hughie explored before we squelched off towards Harrop Pike and a lunch stop.

Hazy Layers

An unfamiliar view of Grey Crag

Grey Crag Summit

Looking down Longsleddale

Tarn on Harrop Pike

Harrop Pike's fine summit cairn

Cairn and Tarn from the true summit

Lunch over with it was now a case of following the fence while listening to to the near constant song of skylarks, the views are nothing much, being largely hindered by the broadness of the moorland, but its hard to be too harsh on such a lonely, empty place, the chance of solitude is one of the reasons we all do this isn't it?

Not a lot here apart from fences

Looking back along the fence to Harrop Pike

Looking towards Swindale

Hughie in the wide open spaces

The walk along the fence takes you over the actual summit of Great Yarlside before a slight drop down brings you to where AW placed it. It's a little underwhelming to be honest, perhaps it's because the sun has gone in or perhaps it's because it's been a warm day and it's beginning to take its toll, whatever the reason my thoughts of a diversion to Great Saddle Crag and Wasdale Pike are forgotten for another day as we set off towards Little Yarlside.

Great Yarlside's underwhelming 'summit'

More Hazy layers

Well earned rest for Hughie

We dropped down from Great Yarlside, fairly steep for these parts, before having to cross the wall to visit another tiny cairn marking the top of somewhere that really isn't its own fell. Lingering seamed pointless so we pushed onward to Whatshaw Common.

Descending from Great Yarlside

Three Amigos

Great Yarlside from Little Yarlside

Crookdale Beck from Little Yarlside

So far the walk has had it's moments when it has been wet underfoot, between Grey Crag and Harrop Pike in particular, but things deteriorate as you approach Wasdale Mouth as it becomes a constant struggle to stay on the dryer ground, not that there are any man eating bogs you understand, but it comes as a relief once the rather insignificant top of the Common is done with, the final fence clambered over, and the short wander back to the car can be enjoyed.

Looking towards the quarry

Looking back to where we've been

View from Whatshaw Common, final top of the day

So mission accomplished, another bank holiday spent on the fells, on a beautiful day, without another soul seen. In some ways it wasn't a surprise, these are fells for the purist, whose merits are, by in large, a few more ticks and a whole load of solitude, I wouldn't bother on a wet day however.

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Comments: 1

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Hewitts: Harter Fell (Southern Fells)
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User avatar
Location: County Durham
Occupation: General dogsbody
Interests: Walking (Who would have guessed), photography and playing Guitar.
Activity: Hill Bagger
Pub: Moulin Inn
Mountain: Blaven
Place: Isle of Skye
Gear: Boots
Member: None
Camera: Canon EOS760D
Ideal day out: Ridge walk without to much exposure.
Ambition: Too keep climbing hills

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