At the start of this year, my friend Flick was over from Ibiza. We decided to catch up whilst walking in the Lakes, because going from a pleasantly warm 12 – 15 degrees to single digits in Manchester wasn’t enough of a temperature change – close to freezing on the fells was what was required.
With snow and ice on the high fells and strong winds forecast, we decided to stick to one of the lower fells. Grasmere is just off the A591 and an easy drive from Manchester so Blea Rigg was the perfect choice. And I had received an awesome anemometer for Christmas, so I was really excited to get outside and give it a go.
We parked up at Stock Lane car park in Grasmere (postcode LA22 9SJ), paid 20p for the loos and then after admiring a huge dog about to set off on his own adventures with his mum, we strolled along the pavement into the village centre. On our way, we passed St Oswald’s Church, resting place of William Wordsworth.
After trying my best not to get lost round the village green, we found the Easedale Road. Heading up the tarmac path, we passed some pretty houses and from the bridge we could look across fields towards Stone Arthur and Seat Sandal, with the higher fells wearing white winter hats.
Soon, we came to our turning- a little signposted wooden bridge on the left spanning Easedale Beck. Peering through the trees as we crossed, we could make out Helm Crag. The Lion and the Lamb is somewhere I am planning to visit with the boy this year.
The bridge led to a wide stone path that made its way up the valley, eventually giving way to a gravel path alongside Easedale Beck.
It was sunny, but cold with beautiful blue skies and the sound of the water was soothing. Ahead we could see the waterfalls of Sourmilk Gill, which we would be heading up to soon. A walk in the countryside really is the most beautiful thing.
I knew of the Lion and the Lamb on Helm Crag, but I spotted another lion, guarding the way to the walled lane that would lead us up to Sourmilk Gill. Surely it’s not just me that can see this lion head?
And further on was the lamb.
We started to climb the rocky path that steadily rose along the hillside. There was a lot of water on the path, but it was in no way boggy. The air was very still, with no sign of the forecast winds yet. The anemometer was to stay in my pocket for the time being. Taking a breather was the perfect excuse (as if you need any) to look down the valley towards Grasmere.
We reached the waterfalls just as another party were packing up to leave. The water turned white (like milk) as it crashed down over the rocks. Again, for the umpteenth time, I resolved that I would get to know some of the manual setting on my camera.
After passing the waterfalls, the path began to level out as the landscape became hummocky and autumnal in colour. Looking ahead, we could see the path begin to rise again, climbing to the lip of the corrie that housed Easedale Tarn – our next objective of the day and the source of Sourmilk Gill. And glancing back, our view was just as beautiful, if a little cold looking.
Eventually, we reached Easedale Tarn, with Tarn Crag rearing up imposingly from its shores. We followed a gravel path on the left hand side of the lake, with the ground underfoot starting to become a little softer in places.
Our route took an indistinct path that peeled away to the right, marked by a small cairn, and leading across the soft grass towards the depression beneath Blea Crag. At times it was difficult to see where the path was, but we kept on towards the skyline, heading for a steep grass slope behind Blea Crag.
The climb up the grassy rake marked in Alfred Wainwright’s guide was hard going, but fun and several breathers were taken on the way up.
We were rewarded for our hard climb to the summit with amazing views all around. From the snow-capped Fairfield, Seat Sandal and Dollywagon Pike… (what brilliant names)
To the rugged Pavey Ark and Harrison Stickle…
To the sun bursting over Wetherlam, lighting up the small tarn on Lingmoor Fell.
After posing for the obligatory photos on the rocky summit, we sat down for dinner looking over to Pike of Blisco (another brilliant name). As we ate our sandwiches and enjoyed the awesome flask coffee, we watched as our view was steadily obscured by cloud then found ourselves enveloped by a snow storm.
It was great being out in the elements (and I was very thankful for my extras layers), but soon enough it was time to move on. We had previously discussed the possibility of a second fell, and, as we were feeling good, we decided to yomp over to Silver Howe. Climbing down from the summit of Blea Crag, the colours ahead of us were beautiful.
We passed a small tarn on the way to Great Castle How, and looking back towards Blea Rigg we could see patches of snow, with the sunlight casting shadows over the knolls in the landscape.
Walking over the soft, undulating ground, admiring the scenery, was lovely, though sometimes soggy underfoot. However, I began to doubt my navigation skills. I knew that we should be passing some tarns, but they didn’t seem to be appearing. Looking at the map, I was pretty sure we were on the right route, but we still decided to check with a man enjoying the same walk as us. Were we still heading towards Silver Howe? He was lovely and confirmed my thoughts, and as we crested the slope ahead of us, the little pools appeared, along with a glorious view to the head of the Langdale valley.
From here, it was a short burst to the top of Silver Howe. It was windy so I seized the chance to use the anemometer. Gusts of 33 miles per hour. I love this gadget!
We did not linger though. The clouds were looking ominous and conscious of the amount of daylight remaining, we made our way down from Silver Howe towards Wray Gill.
Crossing the stream, we continued along a magical shrub lined path before reaching grassy slope which descended alongside a dry stone wall
We reached an entrance in the dry stone wall leading us to a rocky path alongside Allan Bank and back to Grasmere. An amazing walk, of 7.3 miles, with snow, wind, blue skies and sunshine, all enhancing amazing scenery. What more could you ask for? If you’d like a look at this route, you can find it here.