Walk Date – 1st October 2018
Distance – 8.8 miles
Weather – dull, overcast, cold north westerly wind on tops
We planned today’s walk on a forecast which offered a cold but bright sunny morning with cloud beginning to roll in around one o’clock. That would do nicely we thought and indeed we did leave home in cold, bright sunshine and a cloudless blue sky. Spirits were soon dashed as we turned on to the A66 heading towards Keswick and couldn’t fail to see the heavy band of cloud already making its way across Blencathra and Clough Head. We’re heading into Borrowdale to climb the highest of the Central Fells, with some lovely views from its lofty position, and even before reaching Keswick we already know that those views will be much duller and drearier than they otherwise might have been. The closer to Keswick we got the heavier and greyer the cloud became and by the time we had parked up in Stonethwaite I was considering abandoning the whole thing. Stubbornly clinging to the obviously forlorn hope that by some miracle of meteorology things would eventually brighten up we kitted up and waited for the gps to work its magic. Once the operator was satisfied that it was working properly (it occasionally has an off day apparently) off we went still hoping against hope that better weather would turn up eventually. Disappointingly it didn’t.
Stonethwaite – Stonethwaite Beck – Greenup Gill – Lining Crag – Greenup Edge – Low White Stones – High White Stones – High Raise summit – Greenupgill Head – Greenup Gill – Stonethwaite Beck – Stonethwaite
Eagle Crag appears as we walk into the village along the lane from the parking area. As we were kitting up a car arrived, disappeared into the village, came back and parked in front of a gateway, after which the driver once again changed his mind and swung it round to park behind us. He asked us if there was parking further along into the village, yes there is but it is only a small parking area we told him. Is it OK to park here was the next question, yes it is we replied, which was followed by the information that their day’s walk was up to Eagle Crag and Sergeant Crag and would it be much further to walk if he parked behind us and not right in the village. Well, it’ll add a little extra to your day’s mileage but not enough to make a great deal of difference we told him. He seemed happy enough with that and proceeded to get his gear sorted out while he waited for his companion to arrive.
The small parking area in the village itself, which the chap was looking for, is just to the left, as you look at the shot, of the house beyond the bridge. From where we and he were parked though it really is only a five minute stroll to the bridge over Stonethwaite Beck from where I take a look back towards the village and Rosthwaite Fell right behind it. Its a cool damp morning and down here in the valley everything is very quiet and still.
From the bridge we follow the rough stony track alongside the wall and begin making our way up the valley passing this sheepfold along the way. The path to the left of the fold is the route up to Dock Tarn through the woods of Lingy End but that’s not for us today so we keep to the track beside the wall.
Threading our way between the walls as we progress along the valley. We could just as easily have taken the grassy one on the left, its six of one and half a dozen of the other anyway as they both meet up again a little further along. Eagle Crag looms large against a sky the colour of an old vest.
Another view of Eagle Crag as we reach the bridge just above the confluence of Langstrath Beck and Greenup Gill. Crossing the bridge leads walkers on into the lovely valley of Langstrath and where a great little walk can be had if its not a day for the high fells.
A view back down Greenup Gill with Dale Head, High Spy and Maiden Moor on the distant skyline.
Its a pleasant walk alongside the gill, the path climbs steadily but never very steeply and, with plenty of water in the gill today, offers some attractive views of the numerous falls and cascades.
Looking ahead as the path winds its way upwards to where Lining Crag is just beginning to put in an appearance above the rim of the valley head …..
….. and looking down for a closer look at a couple more of the lovely little falls and cascades.
Somewhere between the last shot and this one the walker, in the red jacket over to the centre right, who had asked us about parking came by us with his mate. They have chosen to climb Eagle Crag via its eastern slopes so were now hunting around for suitable places to cross the gill where it divides temporarily as it makes its way around the little island. An old sheepfold stands on the island so its a useful indicator for the crossover point.
A gap in the cloud and blue sky appears as I look back to take a shot of Pounsey Crag standing guard above the gill. Unfortunately the gap was in the wrong place to allow any direct sunshine to land on us. It was probably just as well or it would only have added to the trials and tribulations of the two walkers now battling their way up the steep wet slopes of Eagle Crag a short distance behind us. There is no defined path and there’s plenty of squelchy stuff to deal with so it can be a bit of a slog and one of them was certainly having a hard time of it. We watched them for a while and then …..
….. carried on up to the head of the valley. A ‘Middle Earth’ sort of place full of drumlins and meandering becks where you can almost imagine strange, mystical creatures lurking and watching us intently as we trespass on their territory. The only creatures around today though were the Herdwicks and even they took no notice of us. The patch of blue sky was heading south and the sun was tantalisingly obscured by the white cloud over on the left, grrr.
A look back as we make our way over the drumlins towards Lining Crag. We got a brief hint of weak sunlight when some thinner cloud drifted across the sun but it didn’t last.
We stopped for the Mars Bar break at this point below Lining Crag. We had passed the two walkers over to the left a little way back as they were taking a break on an outcrop beside the path. Flasks were out and packs were being rummaged in for some re-fuelling before the climb. The steep path winds its way around the side of the crag so there’s no need to graze hands and knees climbing the thing. Not that anyone would without ropes, pitons and carabiners, would they?
A pause for breath as we follow the path around Lining Crag and have a look back across the drumlins towards Eagle Crag. Every so often we had been looking across to see how the two walkers making their way up there were getting on and eventually we spotted them approaching the wall just below the summit so they got there in the end. Next on their route would be Sergeant’s Crag and then, presumably, back down to their cars.
Approaching the top of Lining Crag, after a steep but relatively short climb, where one of the previous two walkers now had his jacket on and was taking in the view. We can also feel the keen wind now and our jackets go on as soon as we reach the top.
From the top of Lining Crag there’s this grand view across the head of Greenup Gill towards Sergeant’s Crag and Eagle Crag although there was no sign of the two walkers we had seen battling their way up there. Something I didn’t notice at the time I took the shot was the sheepfold down towards the bottom left.
Below us is the head of the valley where a number of smaller becks flow off the slopes, round and through the drumlins and down into Greenup Gill. The sheepfold has snuck into the shot once again while I wasn’t looking. On the skyline above the rim of the valley head are Bowfell, Esk Pike, Scafell Pike and Great End, with Glaramara, the summit of Thornythwaite Fell over to the right.
From the top of Lining Crag the walking becomes easier as we make our way up to Greenup Edge, the pass between the slopes of Ullscarf, on the left, and High Raise on the right. A good and prominent line of cairns keeps walkers on the right track.
A look across to Low White Stones on High Raise as we make our way over to Greenup Edge.
On Greenup Edge where the path begins to drop down towards Grasmere and where we leave it, at this cairn, to follow the path up to High Raise behind me. On the distant skyline are Nethermost Pike, Dollywaggon Pike and Saint Sunday Crag, while across the gap at Grisedale Hause are Fairfield and Great Rigg. The smaller green fell below Fairfield is Seat Sandal.
A look back towards Ullscarf from the path up to High Raise. This is one of those paths which always seem to be longer and just that bit steeper than you remember or what they appear to be from the start of them. Perhaps I’m too impatient, or just getting feebler. Probably a bit of both.
Pity the day is so dull and the light so poor otherwise this view of the Helvellyn range would have been so much better. The crags rimming the slopes of Ullscarf above Wyth Burn are on the left and opposite them is the soggy plateau between Calf Crag and Steel Fell.
Across the middle foreground are the aforementioned Steel Fell and the Calf Crag to Helm Crag ridge. Above Steel Fell, on the left, is Seat Sandal and above that the Fairfield to Nab Scar ridge which forms the western section of the Fairfield Horseshoe. Its all looking a bit dull, grey and moody,
The cairn on Low White Stones with the north east top of High Raise on the centre skyline and the actual summit over to the right. There’s always just a little bit more to go before the summit is reached isn’t there? Its chilly up here so we keep moving. The wind is stronger and colder now, on the plus side though its more or less behind us so we aren’t having to struggle against it
The summit shelter was vacant so in we went to grab a bite to eat, get some hot coffee down us and get some respite from the wind. Even in the shelter it was still rather draughty so we didn’t stay any longer than it took to refuel. Despite the gloom I wanted to take some shots from the summit so, with J providing the necessary backstop against the wind, here are Crinkle Crags and Bowfell …..
….. Hanging Knotts (the craggy northern end slopes of Bowfell), Esk Pike, Scafell Pike (just), Great End and a little bit of Seatallan. Below Esk Pike, and to the right of Rossett Pike (the sinewy fell in the middle foreground), a zoom in might just reveal a tiny smidge of Angle Tarn, the Langstrath one not the one above Hartsop. Moving swiftly on now that I’ve probably created more confusion than clarification …..
….. for a look across Langstrath where we have the summit ridge of Thornythwaite Fell, more often referred to as Glaramara, and on the skyline beyond are Red Pike, Great Gable, Pillar, Brandreth, High Stile, with the unmistakeable silhouette of Fleetwith Pike (better known in our house as Fleetwood Mac) just below the skyline over on the right.
Looking northwards from the trig column where Bass Lake separates the Skiddaw massif from the north western fells with the high points of Grisedale Pike and Causey Pike being the most prominent in the general murk.
Across Rosthwaite Fell where almost the whole bunch of the north western fells is on view.
Over to the east are Great Dodd, Stybarrow Dodd, Whiteside, Helvellyn Lower Man and Helvellyn.
A little further to the right and a look over at Nethermost Pike, Dollywaggon Pike, Saint Sunday Crag, Cofa Pike and Fairfield.
After all that I’m chilled to the bone, my fingers are numb and J is already hot-footing it back down, right in the teeth of the north westerly. Wait for me!
A few minutes later, now that my hands have had the benefit of gloves, I have a final look back across Langstrath for another skyline view of Bowfell, Esk Pike, Scafell Pike and Great End. Raw just about sums up both the view and the strong wind.
Skirting around Long Crag we make our way back down and head towards Sergeant’s Crag fully intending to round off our walk with a crossing of it and Eagle Crag, but …..
….. the skies darken and the rain begins to fall. The views turn from bad to worse, we’ve had quite enough of the bitter wind and not wanting to have second helpings of it from the tops of Sergeant’s Crag and Eagle Crag we have a change of plan and decide to give them a miss for today.
We contour around the head of Greenup Gill and drop below Sergeant’s Crag taking this look back at High Raise above Long Crag as we do so. At last we are out of the wind …..
….. as we enjoy the protection offered by the crags as we pass beneath them. With great relief we pull back our jacket hoods and can hear other speaking again.
A look back up at Sergeant’s Crag from a dry tarn beneath it. Beats me how it hasn’t got water in it by now because we’ve certainly had enough rain lately.
A look across at the path going up around Lining Crag from our descent back to Greenup Gill …..
….. followed by a closer look at it and the large drumlin below it where we had the Mars Bar stop.
On our left is roughly the route the two walkers took earlier on their way up to Eagle Crag summit. The last time we walked up there in April 2016 it was still hideously wet after the long succession of storms we had during the winter of 2015/2016.
We descend gradually, zig-zagging here and there to avoid the soggier areas, and aim for the little sheepfold island …..
….. and here we are, back on the Greenup Gill path once more after an uneventful couple of beck crossings …..
….. and making our way back down to Stonethwaite. The rain has stopped, the sky still looked threatening but we reached the village without any further showers.
The Herdwicks gathered by the gate in the intake wall looked a little woebegone too. Who’d be a sheep eh? Left to fend for themselves, stuck out in all weathers and only getting a change of scenery when they have a haircut once a year. No sense in getting anthropomorphic over Herdwicks though, they’re hardy little characters and can tough it out on these fells much better than we can.
Beyond Eagle Crag’s bracken covered lower slopes is Rosthwaite Fell, better known as Bessyboot, so Stonethwaite isn’t too far away now …..
….. and I take a last look up at Eagle Crag as we pass below it. The bracken has well and truly gone over now, praise be.
Stonethwaite campsite is now deserted. A couple of vehicles were there this morning, their occupants quietly taking down tents and preparing to leave after their weekend camping. Its a lovely spot for a campsite and gets very busy during the summer months.
Back in Stonethwaite at the village parking area the walker was asking us about this morning. From here its just a short stroll back to where our car is parked where, to our surprise, we found that the car belonging to that same walker was still parked behind us. Given that they were only going up Eagle Crag and Sergeant’s Crag we fully expected it to have gone by now so they must have found somewhere else to explore. As we walked back down the lane to the car we were stopped by a couple of young lads asking us if this was the way to Castle Crag. Er no, that’s Castle Crag over there behind you we replied. Both looked somewhat crestfallen saying that they had been told it was in this direction. They then pointed up the valley to Eagle Crag asking what if it was possible to walk up there. Given that they clearly had no local knowledge of the area, had no map or packs, were wearing everyday trainers and had nothing to keep them warm other than the sweatshirt hoodies slung across their shoulders we recommended that they gave that a miss and head over to Castle Crag as they had intended. Not wanting to overload them with information we gave them directions for getting back to Rosthwaite and suggested that once there they should ask again for directions for the correct route up to it. Happily they took our advice, turned round and began making their way back. We walked on to our car, changed our boots and began our drive back. As we negotiated our way through the narrow road running through Rosthwaite there they were at the roadside and on their way to Castle Crag. All’s well that ends well.