Misty murky Coledale round with a wild camp

Wainwrights: Barrow, Causey Pike, Eel Crag, Grisedale Pike, Hopegill Head, Outerside, Sail, Scar Crags
Hewitts: Causey Pike, Crag Hill (Eel Crag), Grisedale Pike, Hobcarton Crag, Hopegill Head, Sail, Scar Crags

Date walked: 03/04/2014

Time taken: 7 hours

Distance: 15km

Ascent: 1974m

As part of the deal on a trip away to the Lake District with some non-walkers I was given the okay to escape for an overnight wild camp and some photography - my first in years, and my first time walking without some company. After scouring guides, photo's and walk reports I settled on Grisedale Pike as a good place to start. Only downside? The weather. The forecasts were looking steadily worse so on a very hazy Friday I was dropped off and set out from the car park just off the Whinlatter road out of Braithwaite.

The first 20 or so wooden framed steps that start the route up Kinn almost had me reaching for the phone and telling my lift to come back and pick me up - with an extra few kilos of heavy tripod, lenses and paraphernalia for the camera I was gasping. Plodding on however I carried on up and soon settled into it. I'd like to say I was rewarded with stunning views but I had to settle with the road noise from the A66 slowly receding.


The path over Kinn was easy enough, and by the time I crested a rise and Grisedale Pike came into view it was virtually silent. The haze and mist only added to the feeling of being the only person for miles around. The views over Barrow, Causey Pike and Outerside were just hinted at in the hazy sunshine.



Using a wide angle lens for the photo's I took really didn't do Grisedale Pike any justice - it looms over the route up Sleet How. Sometimes I wonder if the Lakeland Fells count as mountains...and then there are those occasions where any doubt is removed. It really has a sense of presence.

The path up however was relatively clear, with the very odd bit of hands on scrambling. The last few hundred feet were a bit of a slog and I could feel every gram of gear on my back but fairly quickly I was on top and able to take a breather.



I was a bit wary of losing the light - whilst I knew the sunset time, with the heavy haze I wasn't sure if it would go suddenly and before I'd reached my planned camping area down at the bottom of Sand Hill near Coledale Hause. So I got a shift on and nipped along Hobcarton Crag to Hopegill Head and their dramatic faces.



From HopegillHead I headed over Sand Hill and down to the saddle between Sand Hill and Crag Hill/Eel Crag.


It wasn't a bad spot for camping but was a tad boggy so another few minutes walking brought me up the flanks of Grasmoor and a flat-ish stretch of dry but soft ground with a nearby stream for water, and the noise of the waterfalls I could hear but not see. Perfect.

By this point I was feeling pretty shattered so I threw up my shelter for the night - an Alpkit Rig 3.5 tarp - spread out my sleeping and bivvy bags and cooked up some noodles ready for an early night. The tarp was sloppily pitched as I just wanted to crawl into my sleeping bag as soon as possible, but given I was sheltered by the hills on 3 sides I figured I'd be alright, and off to the land of nod I went.

Sometime during the early hours it started chucking it down - properly bucketing - and the previously non-existant wind made an appearance, with gusts coming in from the open side...as the weather forecast had predicted. At this point I started getting a bit twitchy about my lazy pitching but decided to stick with my slothlike approach. 20 seconds later I'd clipped the exposed tarp edge to my (raincover enclosed) rucksack which I'd been using as a wind shield at the head end. Bingo. Comfort and cosyness restored I swiftly fell asleep again - nothing helps me sleep like the sound of rain pouring down whilst I'm warm and comfortable.

At 6am my alarm sounded. After raising my head and seeing that visibility was less than 20 metres I ruled out sunrise photo's over Gasgale Crags and nodded off again. A couple of hours later (and still in the clag) I reluctantly got up. (Don't let my rubbish efforts with the Rig 3.5 shown below put anyone off tarping - it was brilliant, more spacious than my effort below shows and kept me warm and dry despite my laziness when erecting it. )


I had made a vague plan to do a run along to Whiteside without all my gear before returning, heading up Grasmoor and Wandope then moving on to Crag Hill - had I made an early start. Which I hadn't - a warm sleeping bag had put paid to that plan, so Whiteside was straight out. I was sorely tempted to do Grasmoor but having seen it hulking over Crummock Water in the past I didn't think going up in clag as a box ticking exercise would do it any justice. So I decided to give both a miss. After a quick coffee I struck camp and headed up Crag Hill.


Visibility was virtually nil and it stayed that way over Crag Hill, Sail and Scar Crags. Fortunately it's difficult to get lost but it did make me feel like the only person in the world, walking along some sort of causeway in the clouds.


It was at Scar Crags that I was most itching for the cloud to lift though - the views on a clear day were hinted at, and I will definitely be going back there to see what I was missing out on.



Controversial as it may be the new path on Sail did make life easier on my tired legs. Perhaps the mist was softening it but I can imagine it improving with age.

By the point that Causey Pike and it's mini tops appeared out of the gloom I was having a lull in enthusiasm, but I still had a few hours before my lift was due to pick me up in Braithwaite so I decided to drop down across High Moss and take a trip up Outerside, on to Barrow and then finish off. I'll admit, partly it was a box ticking exercise - if not views I could at least take home a couple more bagged Wainwrights, but I had the time and visibility seemed better lower down so it seemed daft not to.

A muddy track running back down Causey Pike was a boggy mess but it was and it wasn't long before I was heading up Outerside. The character of Outerside seemed a bit softer than the route so far, but I still found the slog upwards left me out of breath.


Plodding across Low Moss left me knee deep in mud a couple of times but overall the going was easy enough. I was briefly 'directionally challenged' and found myself crossing Stile End as my internal compass threw me out by 90 degrees, but checking with the magnetic variety got me back on track after 5 minutes or so.


Barrow looked pleasant and green but I didn't linger to take it in. The descent down the far side however was a gentle finish to the walk and I can imagine Barrow in it's own right being a worthy little walk on a summers day.


It was on the lower slopes of Barrow that I passed the only other person I'd seen on the hills - until that final 5 minutes I'd had the entire place to myself, neither seeing nor hearing another soul for the entire walk and camp. After a late breakfast in the form of a flapjack from the Braithwaite village shop and a natter with someone about to head up Barrow I returned to my start point.

Despite the gloom and mist I thoroughly enjoyed my trip. But I'm already planning a return - partly to see those parts I never reached (like Grasmoor), partly to take in the views that I missed but mostly to see if it feels just as wild and isolated on a clear day as it did when I was there.

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Lingmoor Fell

Attachment(s) Date walked: 05/09/2012
Distance: 3.4km
Ascent: 305m
Comments: 3
Views: 1810


Munros: 2
Wainwrights: 44
Hewitts: 40

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Trips: 1
Distance: 15 km
Ascent: 1974m
Hewitts: 7
Wainwrights 8


Trips: 1
Distance: 3.4 km
Ascent: 305m

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