|Outline Map →||Route file →|
Date: 24 Oct 2007
Start / Finish: Braithwaite. Several marked car spaces by the school, also other roadside parking.
Maps: Explorer OL4: English Lakes North West.
|Day 1||Coledale Fells & Buttermere Moss||11.8 miles / 5360 feet (19km / 1630m)|
|Day 2||Newlands Fells||10.2 miles / 2850 feet (16.4km / 868m)|
Another fine variation of these fell groups linked via the high passes between Sail Beck / Rigg Beck and Newlands Hause, this time approaching Grisedale Pike on the seldom used path over Hobcarton End.
I'd forgotten that this was half-term week and it was quite a culture shock meeting so many people on arrival at Grisedale Pike, but this was nothing compared to the traverse of Cat Bells the following day...
On the B5292 road W out of Braithwaite I took the signed footpath R towards Hallgarth, a good woodland path just inside the trees that curves around to join a wide track which climbs to rejoin the road. I saw several deer in this wood, I hadn't realised they were found in this area. It was then a pleasant brisk walk along the quiet road in the early frosty air to Revelin Moss and the signed 'C2C' route that leaves the road via a forest track. This descends R a short way across a stream and climbs to turn R following another C2C sign near a post bearing a '41' plate. A short walk after this where it bends L, a less prominent track (not shown on the OS map) branches off L and a short way along this I forked L again on a rougher track. This quickly becomes a good path climbing through the trees to emerge on the open hillside with the heathery NE ridge of Hobcarton End ahead, while Whinlatter is well seen across the valley.
A startled grouse flew up as I started along the ridge path, a rare sight in the popular core of the Lake District. The path passes a viewpoint cairn on the first heathery hummock and crosses a fence to the 634m summit. Grisedale Pike dominated the scene ahead with Hopegill Head and Ladyside Pike across the valley in the sunshine.
The NW ridge is an easy climb to Grisedale Pike which was already peppered with walkers enjoying the sunny weather and fine views, and I put on my windshell against the cold breeze and moved swiftly on. It is an easy walk over Hobcarton Crag to Hopegill Head with great views down the cliffs into the valley, and the Whiteside ridge draws the eye to the extensive views westwards.
Over the separate top of Sand Hill and down to Coledale Hause: here I crossed the head of Gasgale Gill to climb Grasmoor on the path above Dove Crags which gives great views of Gasgale Crags on the flanks of Whiteside, then descended back towards Crag Hill on the main path.
The inclusion of Grasmoor meant missing the rocky N ridge of Crag Hill, the best ascent route from this direction, but you can't have everything. I took the easy cairned path to the summit and admired the views from the small inadequate windshelter on the eastern edge, then continued over Sail to the col before Scar Crags. From here a thin path slants down to the head of Rigg Beck with Ard Crags growing in stature every minute. There is excellent water here and I filled up before tackling the very steep slopes on a faint path that climbs straight to the summit. There are good views back to the SW Coledale fells from this fine ridge along to Knott Rigg.
Some families were plodding up as I descended to Newlands Hause, which I was wishing was a few hundred feet higher today as I contemplated the steep climb to Buttermere Moss. There was a grand prospect of the Newlands valley and Robinson.
I made surprisingly good progress up the steep path near Moss Force considering that this would bring the total ascent for the day to over 5000 feet, and gentle slopes above were quickly reached. I slanted across to the tributary of Moss Beck flowing down from the S and followed it upstream to near its source, but the water was reedy and somewhat anaerobic. Fortunately I had enough to last until tomorrow and I continued upwards to make a pitch below High Snockrigg with good views of the mountains against the gradually clouding evening sky.
I obviously missed out on a cold weather test for the Akto mesh panels by one night: unlike last night which was frosty, temperatures rose and it was mild and dry overnight like the previous trip.
The first job today was to obtain good water: I slanted down to Goat Gills and found the point where the second stream emerges from the ground, this was excellent and I filled up. The climb out was very steep but I soon joined a broken rocky rib that took me at a more civilised angle to the summit cairn on Robinson. It was rather dull and overcast but the tops were clear as I walked on to Hindscarth and Dale Head, and so it would remain for the rest of the day.
Passing Dalehead Tarn and starting the climb to High Spy, a sizable party of young people was already coming down towards me with a few more some distance behind, and looking along the ridge from the elegant cairn at the summit it was clearly going to be that kind of day. There were even a few people coming off the N top of High Spy some way off the main path and a few families picnicking further along, but it wasn't until Maiden Moor when I saw the whole of Cat Bells that I realised the extent of it: it was like an anthill. It was nevertheless a good walk along the ridge with a pleasing view over Derwent Water from the N top.
There was nothing for it: I had to traverse Cat Bells amid the maelstrom!. It was certainly the first time I've had to wait in a queue to get down from a summit, while many more were still streaming up from the north and making a traffic jam at the steep bits. I noticed quite a few people with a telltale dusty seat of their pants, having slithered down some rocky steps on their bums. Continuing along the N ridge there were many more people relaxing on the lower slopes and I arrived at the road with some relief, although looking back on it I must admit it was entertaining in a perverse sort of way.
One last bit of entertainment lay in store: the narrow lane northwards was of course chock-a-block with cars parked up against the hedgerows and walls, and a delivery van was trying in vain to get past the hairpin bend - nobody could move. I took the quiet lanes back to Braithwaite.