Grayrigg revisited, Whinfell and Whinash ridges

Date walked: 21/03/2020

Time taken: 7 hours

Distance: 20.5km

Ascent: 1300m

Two weeks ago we decided to try out Grayrigg, an impressive little hill above Tebay but the weather put paid to our plans to continue along the Whinfell ridge once we'd been blown to the summit of Grayrigg, on our way back down to the car we vowed to return on a better day to have another go.

The weather was forecast to give us that chance on the 21st, the official 1st day of Spring, and very spring like it turned out to be :D We were bothered about setting off at all what, with the media full of the social effects of the Coronavirus and suggesting nobody should travel unnecessarily and to avoid crowds, well, rightly or wrongly we felt that not many people would be out in the lesser hills and we had no plans to go to any populated centres or the pub, so we decided to go and hope for the best.

We had a reasonably early start from home, it took 1.5 hrs to get to the start point, the memorial view point on the A685, we arrived at 9am no other cars were parked up so hopefully our guess that it was going to be quiet was right.

We were off by ten past 9, our planned ascent route was the same as last time, up the little ridge between Great Coum and Little Coum, this time it was completely different, there was a bit of a cold breeze but it was fine, not the strong wind and rain we had two weeks ago, it turned out to be an enjoyable saunter up to the summit.

Image00210030 by Martin Hawer, on Flickr

Image00210037 by Martin Hawer, on Flickr

Image00210038 by Martin Hawer, on Flickr

Image00210039 by Martin Hawer, on Flickr

50 minutes from the car we were at the big cairn overlooking the Lune Valley the views were so much better than two weeks ago, what I'd read was right, the views are lovely in all directions.

Image00210043 by Martin Hawer, on Flickr

Image00210045 by Martin Hawer, on Flickr

Image00210048 by Martin Hawer, on Flickr

We set off for the trig point, once there we could see the Repeater Station and most of the route ahead so from now on we were on unfamiliar ground.

Image00210050 by Martin Hawer, on Flickr

Image00210051 by Martin Hawer, on Flickr

Image00210052 by Martin Hawer, on Flickr

Image00210054 by Martin Hawer, on Flickr

There's a path up here that can be indistinct at times but it follows an obvious line, the wall ahead, that has to be crossed, has one of those stepped stiles that's built into the wall, it's difficult to make out from a distance but the path takes you to it so you don't have to search for it.

Image00210056 by Martin Hawer, on Flickr

Once over the wall it's a short walk to the Repeater Station.

Image00210057 by Martin Hawer, on Flickr

At the station we could see the path up Whinfell it was just a case of finding where we leave the service track, its at around NY585002 and can be made out, just, but further up the fell side you can see it so its a case of heading off towards it when it feels right :wink:

Image00210058 by Martin Hawer, on Flickr

The hills ahead were also in view

Image00210059 by Martin Hawer, on Flickr

Image00210060 by Martin Hawer, on Flickr

The climb up Whinfell is nice and steady, on the summit there's a large cairn, the views are good back to the station and to the next objective Castle Fell and beyond to Mabbin Crag, it looked a long walk, the weather was improving so we started to relax and enjoy the time we were going to be out.

Image00210061 by Martin Hawer, on Flickr

Image00210062 by Martin Hawer, on Flickr

Image00210063 by Martin Hawer, on Flickr

In reality, the walk to Castle Fell took no time at all, there's a short steep climb to the summit and once there we met the first person we'd seen up to now.

Image00210066 by Martin Hawer, on Flickr

Image00210068 by Martin Hawer, on Flickr

After a quick natter he was off to Mabbin Crag, that was the last we saw of him, we set off shortly afterwards heading for the plantation on the slopes of Mabbin Crag.

Image00210069 by Martin Hawer, on Flickr

There's a stile in the wall at NY566018 from there the path leads to the remnants of a stile in the fence surrounding the plantation, this is the way through the trees, it's a bit boggy to start with but there is a path that threads its way through them. The path eventually clears the trees and starts up the obvious gap in the trees seen from Castle fell.

Shepherds hut where the trees cleared

Image00210070 by Martin Hawer, on Flickr

Image00210071 by Martin Hawer, on Flickr

It's an easy climb to the summit and today the views were great.

Image00210072 by Martin Hawer, on Flickr

Image00210074 by Martin Hawer, on Flickr

Ashstead Fell was next, the path takes you down between the gap in the trees and then threads its way around the boggy bits to the summit. There's a short scrambly bit up a gap in the rocks to get to the summit, when we got there we met a couple having their lunch on the top, the sun was out so we decided to stop somewhere lower down to have ours.

Image00210075 by Martin Hawer, on Flickr

We picked a nice quiet spot on the way down out of the breeze, overlooking the A6 and the eastern Lakes it was a nice place to be, we could see Hucks Bridge, another starting point for this walk and the way up to the start of the
Whinash Ridge on the other side of Borrowdale and our way back to the car.

Image00210078 by Martin Hawer, on Flickr

Image00210081 by Martin Hawer, on Flickr

Image00210080 by Martin Hawer, on Flickr

After lunch we set off down to pick the track up that takes you up towards Whinash, its called Breasthigh Road before you start up it there's a ford over the river, there are boulders that help but there's a gap about halfway over where care is needed, I didn't take care and ended up slipping off one of the boulders soaking my right foot, it's a horrible sensation having a wet foot so the climb up the track was a bit uncomfortable :roll:

Once sufficient height was gained we left the track at around NY562041headed East and picked up the path for

On Whinash we could just make out Jeffrey's Mount, our last top and crikey, it looked a long way off so it was a case of heads down and getting on with it :lol:

Image00210084 by Martin Hawer, on Flickr

The views to the other side of Borrowdale were good.

Image00210085 by Martin Hawer, on Flickr

Image00210086 by Martin Hawer, on Flickr

The Whinash ridge is a bit of a contrast from the Whinfell side, it's more rolling so the pace is quite consistent, there are one or two steeper sections but the majority of the walk was steady away, it reminded us of the Cairngorms but on a much smaller scale, it's really enjoyable which is a good job because we were feeling it a bit now and the wind was getting stronger and quite chilly.

We met some of the locals between Whinash and Winterscleugh and the views to the Whinsfell side were grand.

Image00210089 by Martin Hawer, on Flickr

On our way to Belt Howe we passed another couple, we said "hello" but they passed us with no more than a grunt, I think this advice on "social distancing" is taking away peoples willingness to stop and have a chat at the moment :roll: :lol:

Belt Howe

Image00210092 by Martin Hawer, on Flickr


Image00210094 by Martin Hawer, on Flickr

Image00210095 by Martin Hawer, on Flickr

Image00210096 by Martin Hawer, on Flickr

Belt Howe to Casterfell Hill was a bit of a slog, we could see Jeffrey's Mount beyond and it still looked a long way off, I'm sure the route was getting stretched as we were going :lol:

Over Casterfell Hill and onto Jeffrey's Mount at last.

The little climb onto Jeffey's Mount wasn't as bad as it looked, thankfully, once there we had a sense of relief, it was downhill all the way now so after a bit of a break we set off down.

Image00210102 by Martin Hawer, on Flickr

Looking back to our route seen from Jeffrey's Mount

Image00210103 by Martin Hawer, on Flickr

Tebay below

Image00210104 by Martin Hawer, on Flickr

We took a direct route off the summit, heading in the general direction of the bridge over Borrow Beck on the A685, it's a very steep descent and you pick up a track marked on the map at the bottom, once on it we simply followed it back to the road and then the shortish walk back to the car.

Looking up from the track, it was a lot steeper than it looks

Image00210105 by Martin Hawer, on Flickr

Grayrigg from the view point

Image00210108 by Martin Hawer, on Flickr

We had an excellent day out, it was very enjoyable, we could tell our lack of hill fitness at the end of it so we're going to try a bit more self isolating soon. As this present situation unfolds we'll abide by the Governments advice and do what's necessary to keep ourselves and others out of harms way. I'm hoping that if we stay away from the busy places we'll be able to get out into the hills without a feeling of wrongdoing.

Stay safe all, it may take a while but normality will return and hopefully things won't be taken for granted so easily.

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This post is not published on the Walkhighlands forum
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User avatar
Location: Halifax, West Yorkshire
Occupation: Employed
Interests: Mountaineering, Photography, History, Historic Buildings and sites, all of Scotland
Activity: Mountain Walker
Pub: Helwith Bridge Inn
Mountain: An Teallach
Place: Isle of Harris
Gear: Paramo Windproof
Member: National Trust
Camera: Olympus/sony compact
Ideal day out: A good long walk taking in several summits,varied terrain and brilliant views.

Munros: 206
Corbetts: 17
Grahams: 10
Donalds: 7
Wainwrights: 214
Hewitts: 146
Sub 2000: 2
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