|OS Route Map →||GPX Route file →|
Date: 11 Jan 2008
Start / Finish: Grasmere.
Maps: Explorer OL6: English Lakes South West & OL7 South East.
|Day 1||Helm Crag ridge, High Raise & Thunacar Knott||6.5 miles / 2950 feet (10.5km / 899m)|
|Day 2||Codale Head tarns & Easedale||5.0 miles / 240 feet (8.1km / 73m)|
Another short winter circuit of Easedale from Grasmere culminating at High Raise, approaching via the Helm Crag ridge and returning via the Easedale Tarn path.
This was a window of two reasonable days in a prolonged foul weather stream that had brought heavy rain and strong winds across the country, along with some fatalities on the snow covered tops in the Lake District. The forecast was worse than predicted with mist on the high peaks, and there was snow overnight and into the second day with few opportunities for photos, but it was an enjoyable first trip of the year in the wintry conditions.
The MWIS weather forecast had predicted a 90%+ chance of clear tops, but as we arrived in Grasmere the mist was right down and we couldn't even see Helm Crag. It started to lift as we climbed the steep southern slopes, with plenty of water flowing down the rocky path, and the lower ridges were clear by the time we reached the famous outcrop at the summit. We remember clambering easily to the top of this thing years ago but having to make use of some deft bum work to shuffle back down.
It was still rather gloomy but the winding undulating path over Gibson Knott to Calf Crag is a fine approach to the emerging snow-dusted central peaks, and the veils of mist in the valleys could still be seen beyond Steel Fell with the white Helvellyn ridge above.
Brownrigg Moss was very wet in places after the recent rain but the path makes good use of stepping stones at the worst bits. This time we decided to cross to Greenup Edge for a change, making use of the numerous streamlets to collect water. There are a few more stepping stones at the boggy section before Mere Beck and Birks Gill, once we had spotted them just under the copious amounts of water flowing down the hillside. At Greenup Edge the mist had disappointingly closed in again, leaving a landscape of dull grey and white for the climb to High Raise and onwards to Thunacar Knott where we made our pitch.
The wind increased during the night and it was snowing before dawn, leaving a fresh thin covering. The snow stopped and the mist briefly cleared just long enough to capture a pitch shot showing the snow-covered tarn near the summit of Thunacar Knott.
It didn't feel particularly cold and this was wet snow that seemed determined to stick to everything and permeate every crevice, and I was glad I had chosen to take our totally dependable Outdoor Designs pack liners rather than the lighter UltraSil ones we bought recently, which have received mixed reviews. It was nevertheless a very pleasant walk back to the col and across to the head of Easedale, passing large frozen sheets of water on the grass. The Codale Head tarns were covered with snow, but at least the summit rocks of Sergeant Man made an unusual bluish-white artistic sculpture for a photo.
The cloud began to break up intermittently allowing some good atmospheric views on the descent into Easedale, especially of Pavey Ark and Stickle Tarn. The dank mist was hanging in veils throughout the day at all levels, and the melting snow and ice had swollen the streams and waterfalls lower down, attracting many Saturday day trippers out for a stroll. Some were equipped with polkadot wellies, a good choice for the wet conditions although the giftshop-style flowery rucksacs and fashion pink boots would certainly get a bit grubby.