Fellwalking – Hopegill Head

Looking towards Braithwaite from Grisedale Pike

“A high mountain ridge leaps like a rainbow from the woods and fields of Brackenthwaite and arcs through the sky for five miles to the east, where the descending curve comes down to the village of Braithwaite. This ridge has three main summits, of which the central one (and the finest, but not the highest) is known locally as Hobcarton Pike and to mapmakers as Hopegill Head”

The Northwestern Fells (Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells)

I started this walk from Braithwaite, parking in the village and then walking up the road (the B5292) to where a well worn vehicular track leaves on the left to begin the journey south-west alongside Coledale Beck. After passing Force Crag Mine on the right, the track ascends steeply to the east to Coledale Hause before turning north for the final pull up to the summit of Hopegill Head (via Sand Hill). Wainwright’s original guide (North Western Fells) describes there being no path on this final section, but thousands of boots since means there is certainly one now. From Hopegill Head I took the path eastwards that skirts the edge of Hobcarton Crag and then proceeds to Grisedale Pike. From here there is a well trodden path along the ridge back to Braithwaite.

The previous day I had climbed Glaramara, and it had rained all day, almost without respite – when I returned to my car at Seathwaite I had to literally pour the water out of my (Goretex lined) boots. Suffice to say that when it started to rain on the morning of this walk to Hopegill Head, I started to get rather grumpy and occupied myself on the haul up to Coledale Hause muttering to myself about the ****** English weather. Indeed I almost gave up on the final ascent when the clouds drew in and an icy wind started to blow, but in the end decided to persevere – and a good job I did. Just as I reached the summit, the rain stopped, and in the space of five minutes I went from a “view” of about 40 metres to a magnificent vista out to the coast, as the cloud dispersed as fast as it had appeared.

My rating: A.
Map: OL4 – The English Lakes: North Western area (1:25,000)
Wainwright’s guides: The North Western Fells (50th Anniversary Edition): Book Six (A Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells)

Hopegill Head panorama (from Grisedale Pike)

Fellwalking – Crinkle Crags

Crinkle Crags 1

“Bowfell’s companion at the head of Great Langdale was given the name of Crinkle Crags by the dalesfolk of that valley because of the succession of abrupt undulations on its log summit ridge. Seen from a distance these seem minor and of little consequence but on closer acquaintance are found to be not merely crinkly but exceedingly rough…”

Wainwright’s Favourite Lakeland Mountains

Parking by the side of the Wrynose pass just east of Three Shire Stone, I walked briefly along the pass and then turned north, following the well-worn footpath past Red Tarn, and turning left at the crossroad of paths a little further on to follow the trail past Great Knott to the Crinkle Crags. There are five summits (although the track doesn’t traverse them all). A quick lunch was had at the last crag, before rapidly deteriorating weather forced a hasty retreat back to my car.

My rating: B+
Map: OL6 – The English Lakes: South Western Area (1:25,000)
Wainwright’s guides: Book four, The Southern Fells
Access: The track starts at the Wrynose path just west of Three Shire Stones.

Fellwalking – Helvellyn

Looking back over Striding Edge

“Legend and poetry, a lovely name and a lofty altitude combine to encompass Helvellyn in an aura of romance; and thousands of pilgrims, aided by its easy accessibility, are attracted to its summit each year”

The Eastern Fells (Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells)

On both my ascents of Helvellyn, I approached from Glenridding on the eastern side, walking towards Patterdale on the permissive path by the side of the road, crossing Grisedale Bridge and then turning right into a lane and then picking up a path to Hole-in-the-Wall and ultimately ascending via Striding Edge. Wainwright describes Striding Edge as the finest way of all to the top of Helvellyn, a judgment that few would disagree with. After lunch at the top, I descended via Red Tarn and Swirral Edge, making a particularly fine circuit walk. The Pathfinder Guide to Lake District Walks describes a good route that follows this basic idea.

My rating: A+. Justifiably one of the most popular walks in the Lake District.
Map: OL 5 – The English Lakes: North Eastern Area (1:25,000)
Wainwright’s guides: The Eastern Fells (Anniversary Edition): Book One (Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells)

Striding Edge from Swirral Edge Red Tarn On the track back to Glenridding

Books: Lake District Walks & More Lake District Walks (Pathfinder Guides)

Lake District Walks (cover) More Lake District Walks (cover)

I have found the pathfinder guides to be generally very good at providing interesting and varied walks in the various areas of Britain (I own and have used nine of them). These two books covering the lake district provide a good introduction to some very enjoyable walks in that beautiful region. The first book (Lake District Walks) is the best and will provide an excellent introduction to those not overly familiar with the area. The second (More Lake District Walks) is starting to push the boundaries of the area a little and I personally didn’t find the suggested walks as compelling – having said that, the Newlands Horseshoe is one of my favourite Lakeland walks, and the second book also includes Scafell Pike – the highest mountain in England – which is obviously a Lakeland classic.

The route descriptions are generally pretty reliable, and having extracts of ordnance survey maps rather than line drawings makes the walks (usually) easier to follow. There are however a couple of minor niggles – sometimes the route descriptions leave a bit to be desired – in some places there’s plenty of detail, but in others where a bit more detail would be nice, none is provided; the descriptions of how to get to the start points of the walks could also be improved.

Overall though, both books provide a good selection of routes with generally clear directions and can be recommended. Just make sure that you still carry a full map and compass (and know how to use them).

Favourite walking photos 1

Like many walkers, I’m also a keen photographer. So for your delectation (or derision as the case may be…) here’s the first part of an occasional series featuring some of my favourite photos. (After a few weeks spent cranking out a set of financial statements for release to the Aust. Stock Exchange, looking at my walking photos in iPhoto is as close as I’ve got to the outdoors.)

track down to glenridding

On the track down to Glenridding (in the Lake District) after a great day climbing Helvellyn.

Fellwalking – Scafell

Sca Fell

A beautiful and very warm Saturday for another classic Lakeland walk:

“The most thrilling walk in Lakeland reaches the top of Scafell by way of an ingenious passage that penetrates the rocks of Scafell Crag … A struggle up this unfriendly ladder of rock debris … leads to the foot of Scafell Pinnacle in most impressive surroundings, the Pinnacle soaring above in a tower 500 feet in height. To the right at this point rises a steep narrow channel between rocks, and choked by stones and boulders. This is Lord’s Rake…”

Wainwright’s Favourite Lakeland Mountains

Parking at Wasdale Head we took the public footpath that leads south-east and then south to Lingmell Gill, then following the path as it proceeds upwards through Brown Tongue. Eventually the trail branches into two; following the southerly branch we proceeded to the bottom of Lord’s Rake.

We continued upwards for the traverse up Lords Rake and thus straight through Scafell Crag, before eventually (after a couple more up and down sections) reaching the high ground and a gentle stroll to the summit. Another option if you’d prefer not to climb Lords Rake would be to continue on the path and then take the gully up to Foxes Tarn. Don’t try going up Broad Stand – this is for roped climbers only!

Following lunch we took the path down through Green How to join a bridleway heading north to return to Wasdale Head and a beer (of course).

My rating: A+. Magnificent, but definitely for experienced walkers only
Map: OL6 – The English Lakes: South Western Area (1:25,000)
Wainwright’s guides: Book four, The Southern Fells

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Fellwalking – Great Gable

Towards Great Gable

“Great Gable is everbody’s favourite. The very name is a compelling magnet, the aspect of the mountain on all sides is challenging and its ascent a highlight in the itineraries of all active walkers in Lakeland.”

Wainwright’s Favourite Lakeland Mountains

We parked at Seathwaite, then took the path straight up Sourmilk Gill, rather hardwork so soon after breakfast, before following the path between Gillercomb and Base Brown, to ascend Green Gable and then Great Gable itself. The descent was down to Styhead Tarn and back along the Styhead Pass over Stockley bridge and back to Seathwaite.

My rating: A. A Lakeland classic.
Map: OL4 – The English Lakes: North Western area (1:25,000)
Wainwright’s guides: The Western Fells (50th Anniversary Edition): Book Seven (A Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells)