Calf Crag and Steel Fell

Walk date – 19th May 2021

Distance – 6.6 miles

Weather – cloudy with sunny spells, north westerly breeze


A good day of weather came along with none of the usual ‘scattered showers’ warnings. Not that they’ve actually been that scattered where we are as we’ve seen a pattern develop over the last few days. Fine mornings gradually turning into heavy and prolonged afternoon rain followed by a dry evening. The young plants in the garden seem to have stopped their growing as its been much cooler than usual so far this month, and they have also taken a battering from the heavy rains. It remains to be seen if they will recover despite our best efforts. Anyway, back to today’s walk. We decided to walk up the Greenburn valley then over to Calf Crag and round to Steel Fell. A middling length walk with plenty of ups and downs and lots of views to be enjoyed along the way. The weather stayed dry but there was a great deal of large cloud around plus a cool north westerly breeze so it turned quite chilly when the sunny spells disappeared from time to time. A good day on the whole though apart from one little niggle which I’ll come to later on in the report.


Town Head lay-by A591 – Town Head – Ghyll Foot – Helmside – Greenburn – Pike of Carrs – Calf Crag – Steel Fell – Town Head – Helmside – Ghyll Foot – Town Head lay-by A591

Approaching Town Head farm along the lane from the A591. The farmer has just whizzed past us on his quad bike on his way into Greenburn to move some of his sheep into another field. We met him earlier in the lay-by and had a chat with him. His lambing season has gone well, his ewes and lambs are now out on the fells so now its just a matter of keeping an eye on them all.

Emerging into Greenburn from Helmside. The lane climbs steeply from Ghyll Foot up to Helmside but its only a short climb and it doesn’t take long to reach the gate and pass through into the open valley. The shot shows the Helm Crag/Gibson Knott side of the valley.

Looking up the valley towards Greenburn Bottom with the approach path for Steel Fell over on the right. That will be our return route today.

Although we couldn’t see him we could hear the farmer yelling instructions at his dogs as the sheep were rounded up. Helm Crag is probably a bit too steep for the quad bike so he must have been obscured by one of the many humps and bumps along the valley.

We’ve reached Greenburn Bottom so I took a look back along the route we’ve just taken. The initial section of the path is quite rough and wet with plenty of large rocks and stones to deal with, this eventually gives way to a well worn track which makes for better traction and quicker progress. On the skyline is the western side of the Fairfield Horseshoe. On the left is Great Rigg, and just in front of it, although difficult to distinguish clearly, is the Stone Arthur ridge. Over on the right skyline are Erne Crag and Heron Pike with Nab Scar just about visible on the far right.

From the same viewpoint I turn around for this view of Greenburn Bottom which many becks flow into from the surrounding fells, all of them eventually forming the beck known as Green Burn. Its probably a very soggy area but not being that keen on deliberately getting waterlogged boots we’ve never ventured into it to find out.

Turning to my left for this shot of the next part of our route. Below the small rise I’m standing on the path curves around to the left, crosses the beck and winds its way past the sheepfold and eventually up to the Gibson Knott/Pike of Carrs ridge.

Stepping stones across Green Burn.

A look back at the sheepfold alongside the path. Having had the sun to our backs all the way it was nice to sit facing it for a change while we had a short stop for drinks. A sign that spring seems a little later and colder this year is the absence of new bracken shoots. There were a few but these had barely broken through the ground.

The path begins to turn up towards the ridge line and offers a good view of Steel Fell’s Blakerigg Crag beyond the drumlins in Greenburn Bottom.

Higher still and we have a bird’s eye view of Greenburn Bottom and its numerous feeder streams.

Out on the ridge now and a sunny view of the craggy face of Deer Bields across Far Easedale. Directly above, but some distance beyond it, are the humps and bumps of Tarn Crag.

From the ridge we make our way over to Pike of Carrs. By then the large cloud which had been keeping Gibson Knott and Helm Crag in a murky shadow had drifted away and I was able to take this sunny shot of them. The large clump of cloud was now obliterating the Nab Scar ridge just behind them. The yellowy-brown covering of winter is taking a long time to disappear this year and the ‘greening up’ is much slower thanks to the cool weather we’ve been having lately.

We pressed on from Pike of Carrs and eventually Calf Crag came into view. The Helm Crag/Gibson Knott/Calf Crag route seemed particularly popular today and lots of people were out taking advantage of the better weather.

Up on Calf Crag summit now and looking towards the tarn on Brownrigg Moss. A shaded Greenup Edge behind it and a sunny High Raise on the left skyline.

Looking north east from the cairn on Calf Crag towards the Wythburn fells on the left and the Helvellyn group on the right.

From the summit a view eastwards. The Helvellyn group on the left, Fairfield on the right with Saint Sunday Crag just visible in the gap between them. Its much windier and colder up here now so we look round for a sunny and sheltered spot to have a break and get the lunch boxes out.

The view along Far Easedale from our lunch spot. Out of the wind with the sun on our faces and a warm grassy bank providing a backrest, what more do you need? We were also quite close to the path over to the summit cairn and everyone who passed by stopped for a chat, more than grateful for the chance to stop for a couple of minutes I suppose.

From our lunch spot and beyond the peat hags we have a view of a sunny Seat Sandal over on the left and the western side of the Fairfield horseshoe on the skyline. A couple more walkers have appeared on the path behind the peat hags, many more came along after them too.

Helvellyn, Nethermost Pike and Dollywaggon Pike on the skyline.

Lunch boxes are packed away and the windproofs stay on as we leave Calf Crag and set off to cross over to Steel Fell. Moments later we were under a very large cloud, the wind turned stronger, the temperature went down a few notches so we stopped again to add another layer.

The large cloud finally drifted away as we reached the tarns and the warmth of the sun was more than welcome.

The view along Greenburn as we round the head of the valley, Helm Crag and Gibson Knott are now in deep shadow again.

Still plodding around the head of the valley on our way to Steel Fell summit.

A look back along the route so far. As we rounded the rocky hump below I began to feel a niggling pain in my right gluteous maximus every time I put any pressure on my right foot. Great, just what I needed with a little more climbing still ahead. At no point was I aware that I had pulled a muscle, neither did I utter an ‘ouch’, as you do when something happens, so where or why it occurred remains a mystery, one minute I was walking along just fine, the next minute I’m wincing with every right footstep. It was definitely a pain in the bum from here on!

A few more humps and bumps still to go before we reach the top of Steel Fell but none of them are seriously steep, it just felt like it thanks to the ‘twang’ every time my right foot hit the ground.

A look back as we head up towards Steel Fell summit. The knobbly tops of Pike of Carrs and Calf Crag are across the middle foreground.

From the summit of Steel Fell a look along Thirlmere and the Wythburn fells towards Skiddaw, Blencathra and the rest of the northern fells.

Dollywaggon Pike, Saint Sunday Crag, Cofa Pike (just), Fairfield and Seat Sandal. Dunmail Raise on the A591 is in the gap between us and them.

Looking westward from the summit of Steel Fell. The cairn looks to have morphed into a shelter since our last visit in 2019. On that visit the fence post was completely free of rocks and there was a distinctive cone shape to the cairn as the shot below shows. We did  that walk on 17th Jan 2019.

Steel Fell summit cairn – 17th January 2019

It was still very breezy on the summit so we didn’t linger and made our way over to the descent path. Here’s the view ahead from the start of the descent.

Down at the next hump where we stop to remove the layers now that we’re out of the wind and the temperature has gone up a couple of degrees. J gazes down at the tiny vehicles travelling along the A591.

The view across Greenburn where it is just possible to make out the path we followed from the valley up to the gap in the ridge between Gibson Knott and Pike of Carrs.

The Coniston fells have appeared on the left skyline.

The view down to Dunmail Raise from the descent.

Sunshine lighting up everything ahead of us.

We’re almost back down at Helmside now so not much further to go before we’re back where we started. From Helmside its back onto the tarmac lane which we’ll follow past Town Head farm down there, and then up to the A591. We’re parked in the lay-by just to the right of the white camper van which you can see on the right of the shot. So that’s it for today and just as well we went out today because, as I write, the weather has turned, its cold and heavy rain is bucketing down.

I’ve just downloaded, from the government website here –

the latest vaccine adverse reactions analyses, up to 12th May 2021, and the figures are shocking. A quick check on fatalities reveals that up to that date there have been 1180 deaths, an increase of 37 deaths since the last report on 5th May 2021. This simply should not be allowed to go on any longer and the whole vaccine programme should be stopped immediately. If it isn’t then it is reasonable to believe that all those who are behind it have unbelievably sinister motives. I expect the analysis tool at uk column is being updated accordingly so here’s the link if you haven’t already got it –