Walk Date – 2nd October 2016
Distance – 6.75 miles
Weather – sunny and warm but very windy
The weather forecast last night promised a bright sunny day so we drove over to Crummock Water as we’d decided we would walk up Whiteless Pike today. The drive to Crummock was a little on the fraught side as there was a cycling event taking place along part of our route. This meant lots of driving carefully behind little knots of cyclists, who seemed unable or unwilling to ride in single file, until it was safe to pass. Parking areas in Buttermere were already full as we drove through and we wondered if we would be lucky enough to find a place to park in the area by Cinderdale Beck. Luck was on our side as there were only a couple of cars already there. We’d brought breakfast with us and after we’d eaten it was on with the boots and the packs and off up into Rannerdale.
A shot of Grasmoor taken as we walked towards Rannerdale which is to the right of the shot. There was no hope of taking any pictures looking up the valley because the sun was directly ahead and all we could see were the dark outlines of the fells ahead.
On the other side of us is a view of Mellbreak across Crummock Water.
Moving the camera just a little to the left of the previous shot and the silhouette of Red Pike on the left comes into view. In the distance on the centre skyline is Starling Dodd.
We walk on into Rannerdale over the very wet and often muddy ground with Rannerdale Knotts to our right. The sun is so very bright and casting such deep shadows that its hard to see any detail over there. We did see a little group of climbers standing on a grassy shelf just below that rocky knoll sticking out over to the left. If you zoom in you might be able to pick them out.
We continue on our way and eventually reach the footbridge over Rannerdale Beck which leads us on to a rather drier path than the one we’ve just been using.
A look back down Rannerdale at the route we’re following. A little of Crummock Water is on view with the Loweswater fells behind it. The forecast last night made no mention of any strong wind but there certainly was one along here. It was coming straight down the valley at us and while it wasn’t impeding our progress it was enough to have to stop and wipe eyes and noses every now and again. Having the sun directly in our faces wasn’t helping matters either.
Nearing the hause at the top of the valley and on my right is this sheepfold below the slopes of Rannerdale Knotts. Its not a very high fell but it is quite a long and undulating one. Its a very interesting little walk if you only have a morning or an afternoon to spare.
We’ve reached the hause and take the left hand path for the start of the climb up Whiteless Breast. You could go straight ahead and turn up a bit further on but you still have to do the climbing, so it was a case of six of one and half a dozen of the other.
A pause for a breather and a wipe of the eyes and noses so I take a look back down the path we’re on, above which you can see the long and undulating Rannerdale Knotts.
A little further to the left and you can see the path coming up from Buttermere, the little village tucked away in the trees down there. Its also the name of the water over on the left. On the skyline is the Red Pike to High Crag ridge.
A lone walker and his dog having a break on the lower end of Rannerdale Knotts and a couple of walkers making their way up. Time to get moving again as there’s still a lot more climbing to be done.
Don’t get too excited because this isn’t the summit, its just one of the many ‘false’ summits along the way.
This isn’t the summit either, just steady yourself against the wind and keep on going.
We reach a level section and pause to take in the view. We’re looking straight down Rannerdale with Crummock Water at the end of it. Mellbreak stands along the shore, and just beyond Crummock is another body of water, this one is Loweswater. We’ve been climbing since leaving the car park down there by Crummock so its great to have something flat to stand on for a change and give the legs a break.
This is another of those ‘don’t get carried away’ moments because this isn’t the summit either.
If this was your first ascent of Whiteless Pike then, as you round the corner from the previous shot, your spirits would no doubt take a nose-dive when you see this, because now you are looking up at the summit of Whiteless Pike. You’ve done all that climbing just to get to here and now somebody has put a whole new ascent in front of you. There’s nothing for it but to gather up what’s left of your will power and get on with it. You could of course turn around and go right back down but then you would always be annoyed with yourself for giving up, wouldn’t you?
Here’s what the ascent path looks like when you’re looking back down it.
You can get some idea of the steepness of the path from this view over to our right. We’re looking at the deeply shadowed Ard Crags to Knott Rigg ridge behind which are Clough Head and some of the Dodds, while over to the left is the knobbly top of Causey Pike.
A longer view of the previous shot.
Approaching the summit and the path becomes stonier and looser underfoot. Knowing that the summit area has no shelter or anywhere comfortable to sit which would be out of the wind, we decided to stop and have something to eat before going on to the summit. The spot we chose was that dark area just below the left hand clump of rock, it was a sheep scrape and a perfect little sun trap which kept out the wind. They aren’t daft these sheep, they always make their little scrapes situated well out of the wind.
After our break we continued on up to the summit where all the fells to the east lay stretched out before us. It was lovely to have the sunshine but it did create such deep shadows which made rather a mess of the photos.
Mellbreak in full view along the shore of Crummock, and beyond it a more complete view of Loweswater.
Grasmoor is on our left and nearest the camera is Lad Hows, its long southern ridge, which we’ll be using as our descent route later on. The blue bit on the left horizon is the sea.
The summit of Whiteless Pike, I did mention that it was a bit bare, but the surrounding scenery more than makes up for it. We didn’t stay long because it was very windy up here as you can imagine.
Ahead of us is Wandope, the summit of which is to the right of the ravine. Now we have to lose some of the height we’ve gained only to have to regain it by going up that path over there. I just hope it isn’t too windy across there.
Down we go and then back up again. Its not too bad though and it looks worse than it really is.
A look back down the ridge from about halfway along.
From the top of the ridge a view of the summit plateau of Grasmoor which is our next port of call.
The rough stony track gives way to a pleasant wander across grassy moorland and over on our right are Crag Hill, on the left, and the summit of Wandope on the right. We didn’t bother going across to either of them today.
Straight ahead is the col between Grasmoor and Crag Hill, when we reach it we’ll turn up to the left for the steepish walk up Grasmoor. Lots of people around on Grasmoor today and who can blame them, its a lovely day and the wind seems to have lessened slightly.
We’ve reached the path junction and turned up the Grasmoor path. There are walkers everywhere and the chap below has just got out his lunch box.
The view to our right as we carry on climbing. Grisedale Pike is on the left, Crag Hill is on the right and between the two is the Skiddaw group of fells.
The top of the path brings some welcome relief after all that climbing. This is the huge summit plateau of Grasmoor where the legs can take a well earned rest while we have a very pleasant stroll across. I know it doesn’t look it at the moment but there were lots and lots of people up here today.
I had a wander over to the edge for this view down to Crummock Water.
Enjoying the sun and a very welcome sit down in the summit shelter on Grasmoor.
After our short break and a little wander around we head back the way we came to pick up the path down the Lad Hows ridge. Grasmoor’s summit is so extensive that once away from its edges all you can see are the very tops of the surrounding fells.
You could park a fleet of jumbo jets up here and still have room to spare.
We leave the summit path and turn down to the right to begin the descent over Lad Hows.
It looks as though we’re about to step off the edge and into a void but the path is there, it just drops down rather steeply at this point. Across from us is Whiteless Pike and the connecting ridge to Wandope which we walked across earlier.
The long, and often very steep, route down. The ridge is over 1.5 miles long and there is a path all the way back down to the car park. It is very stony and loose in lots of places, and there are one or two short but awkward scrambly sections. Just below the green area at the end of this part of the path we came across two young lads and their dog having a break. They were looking up at one of the steep scrambly bits and just having a rest before tackling it, both of them sweating heavily. Hardly surprising as they have just walked up quite a long way and they still have a bit of a way to go.
We’re about halfway down at this point so I took a look back to give some idea of the length and steepness of the route. It isn’t a walk in the park from this point on either but this was a convenient point at which to stand and take the brakes off the legs for a while.
Still descending this long ridge and the path gets narrower and deeper as it winds through the heather, there’s just enough room to put one foot directly in front of the other. These paths can be very trying at times, especially when the heather overhangs the path and snags on bootlaces, trousers and walking poles.
Well at last we can see the car park even though it is still quite a way off. The path drops down just behind the sheep so we still have some steepish bits to negotiate. You might think it would be easy but constant downhill walking is very hard on the legs. Thankfully the wind has eased considerably or the descent would have been even more trying than it already was.
The path passes close to this splendid set of falls in Cinderdale Beck and you can see the sort of terrain we were walking down.
We’ve been eagerly awaiting this flat grassy section of the path for quite a while now and there were big sighs of utter bliss when we reached it. After a mile and a half of steep descents, twists and turns, loose and slithery rocks and stones, drops and scrambles it was lovely to feel the springy turf under our feet and simply enjoy walking normally again.
The car park is just a few yards off to the left on the other side of the beck. This is the last obstacle and normally the beck is hardly more than a trickle which you can cross easily without a second’s thought. It was a bit different today though and after the recent rain it was full and fast flowing and, unless you wanted your boots filled, there was no way you could simply walk straight across. Stepping over the wobbly and wet stones wasn’t a piece of cake but we crossed with nothing more than a few splashes on trousers and sock tops.