Wainwrights: Blea Rigg, Silver How
Date walked: 19/07/2019
Time taken: 4.08 hours
When I go walking in the Grasmere area I usually park in the long - and so far free - lay-by on the A591 just north of the start of the village that has the name of Cerry stuck at the side of it on the OS Map and despite it being a small cluster of old houses is but a satellite of that gem of the village of Grasmere in the Central Fells. Today I'm out with Martin and as he's the one in charge of transport today we have parked up in a lay-by - also free - directly opposite and to the east of the main village from where we entered it by crossing the main road and following the well marked and obvious path that runs alongside the school playing fields and showground.
Although the day was damp and miserable it was warm and the village, even at this relatively early hour of the day, was, as usual swarming with visitors who must have all elected to have an early breakfast today and to get out and purchase their last memento's of their stay in this fair village. There is no doubt that it is a nice place to visit, but like many other places has been caught up in the urge and necessity to make money from any source that is available and that usually means from the visitors pockets and one of those sources is the public toilets that from time immemorial have been free, until just a few years ago that is when a turnstile demanding a fee of 20 pence appeared. Now this is all well and good - well, not good, really - if one has loose change in their pocket, change that includes at least one 20 pence piece, one that wasn't included in my pocket as I don't usually carry loose change around with me nowadays when out walking. I needed to strain the greens and couldn't wait until we got into the foothills of Grasmere, so what to do then? I delved into my wallet to retrieve a £5 note, walked across the road to the newsagents/whatever shop and had to purchase a postcard that I neither wanted nor needed to be able to get change so that I could enter that small tiled room of relief. Whilst inserting my contribution to keeping these toilets open I noticed that they have now got a small card reader installed that will allow one entry without having to go into the village and purchase unwanted goods although it could be a ploy to boost the sale of postcards from the shop opposite.
Well we're off at last with tank emptied and eyes now not steamed up as we made our way along Easedale Road to cross Easedale Beck by the slate bridge that put us on the track towards Brimmer Head Farm and a good if cloudy view of Tarn Crag and the white of the waterfalls showing starkly against the dark green of the fellside.
An uneventful walk soon had us climbing the steady path that is a bit worn out in places and before long the sound of the waterfalls was beckoning us along as they were rushing down over the rocks well supplied with the previous night's rain.
Waterfalls on Easedale Beck
The low cloud is nothing but a nuisance cutting visibility down greatly so we got our heads down to finally pull alongside the waterfalls where a couple of climbers were honing their skills on wet rock below Ecton Crag.
Climbing the waterfalls on Sourmilk Gill
A view back along Easedale
We left the two climbers at it and continued on through the bracken covered fells with Tarn Crag finally appearing in front of us behind the sea of aforementioned bracken.
Tarn Crag far centre
Fifteen or so minutes later we arrived at the tarn with a quick look back showing a large bank of low cloud behind Helm Crag.
Low cloud cover on the Fairfield ridge
Easedale Tarn is a great place for visitors wanting a flavour of the Lake District without wandering too far out into the fells and where there is plenty of space to have a picnic and not be overcrowded by other likewise visitors, but today, due to the weather we came across this small group huddled together.
Despite the damp air it was quite warm as we decided to have a short break and survey the crags to the north of the tarn the lower slopes again swamped in bracken. We soon set off again as it was too damp to sit around despite the warmth of the day and after a short walk along the south shore we came across the small cairn that marked the start of the path up to Blea Rigg. The path that begins its journey upwards in an easy fashion starts at NY30799 08555 and first shows as a fairly wide and grassy path through the ever present bracken and although it's clear in its lower reaches the bracken closes in as height is gained and it's probably prudent to don over trousers - something we didn't do - to push through the path side vegetation. This path is well graded for most of the way with just the odd spot where a bit more effort is needed. As we gained height so the views opened out somewhat as much as the haze of the clouds would allow.
Easedale Tarn from below Looking Howe
Coledale Head in cloud
After some steady walking and a stop or two to survey the scenery we arrived at a spot just between Great Castle How and Blea Rigg…
Easedale Tarn from below Great Castle How
and we were not far from completing the climb to Blea Rigg.
Blea Rigg north face crags
Our intention is to use the grassy rake to gain the summit of Blea Rigg so we left the main path at approx NY30341 07859 to take the stone scattered rake to the northwest…
Climbing the grassy rake to Blea Rigg
and although it is a tad steeper than the path it was climbed easily enough and it presents no difficulties at all.
A stop on the way up gave us a glimpse of sunlight down in the valley of Grasmere.
A small patch of sunlight in Grasmere
As can be seen we had by now donned our coats due to the wetness in the air from the low cloud cover and later in the day it was full waterproof layers due to the drizzle that began to fall.
Upwards progress was steadily made as the underfoot rocks were quite slippery due to them being wet…
Nearing the top of the rake
but just a couple of minutes later we were stood on the north end of the crags with camera in hand.
Easedale Tarn from the north end of Blea Rigg
Belles Knott - Lang Crag - Deep Slack
We found a sheltered spot to park up with food and drink consumed whilst watching the clag come and go as it rose and fell like a well used blind. At one point it was possible to stick an arm up and touch the dank stuff. Once that we'd had enough of sitting around in the gloom of the low cloud we made our way to the summit proper from where we got a hazy glimpse of Windermere and Great Langdale Beck.
Blea Rigg summit
We were just below the cloud base
It was quite obvious that there was no point in going any further than Blea Rigg in a north westerly direction towards Sergeant Man as we would only have been climbing further up into the clag so we did a quick rethink and decided to make our way back via Silver How that was southeast of where we were passing by Great Castle How and its smaller neighbour Little Castle How on the way.
Our way now is by Great Castle How
A hint of Great Langdale and Windermere
We walked on first to the east passing a couple of unnamed tarns on the way and then passing between Little Castle How and Raw Pike before reaching the shattered rock of Swinescar Pike with its small stone built shelter sat amongst the fallen flattish pieces of rock.
Old shelter at Swinescar Pike
From Swinescar Pike a short walk south down the fellside gave us a good view into Great Langdale as we stood in Swinescar Hause between Raw Pike and Swinescar Pike.
Langdale from viewpoint at the south end of Swinescar Hause
It was just a shame that the cloud was lying low over the fells today as the views would have been so much better than they were just now but they were still remarkably good. Just by turning around to the left slightly the cloud topped Lingmoor Fell and Side Pike was in full view with a patchwork of muted green and brown fields sat at its base.
Lingmoor Fell and Side Pike
We now turned more to the southeast again and just before reaching Lang How I turned around to see that the cloud was dropping ever lower.
A look back to Raw Pike - Great Castle How and Little Castle How
As we approached Lang How we were surprised to see a man with a young girl who couldn't have been more than 5 years old walking towards where we had just come from and straight into the descending clouds.
We walked on past the tarns on the south side of Lang How and now making our way towards Silver How that had begun to appear it didn't take us long to close the gap.
It was but a short climb onto the summit but that short distance put us in the clouds once again from where the views were of zero quality and by this time it had been drizzling fairly hard for a while.
A view into Grasmere from Silver How
No point in lingering then so off we dropped along the path to the crossing at Wray Gill that runs along a fairly deep and narrow rocky gully.
We hadn't far to go now but from the 230 metre contour we still couldn't see Grasmere and it wasn't until we got to just above Allan Bank at 120 metres that we had something of a view of Grasmere.
At last we can see Grasmere
A minute or two later it was Helm Crag's turn to be recorded through the mist and rain.
Despite the weather this has been a good walk with more to see than we could have hoped for, and it didn't matter that we had to change our plans as just being out and about in the fells and grabbing what views you can more than makes up for the dreariness of the day. We were warm and dry and had kept the weather at bay, not that the rain was too bad at all really, just the usual nuisance when trying to take a photo or two.
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- Location: Near Appleby - Cumbria
- Activity: Walker
- Mountain: Blencathra
- Gear: Map, compass, waterproofs
- Camera: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS35
- Ideal day out: A good mixed walk with scrambling leading to a good ridge walk.
- Munros: 11
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- Joined: Nov 26, 2014
- Last visited: Aug 17, 2019
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