Raven Crag

Sunday, 25 May 2014
810ft/247m ascent
Wainwright #150

Another short walk through the woods to a rocky crag overlooking Thirlmere. We chose this pretty little hill to complete the first of our walking challenges: 150 Wainwrights.

If you like woodland walks, then the ascent to Raven Crag (1,512ft/461m) in May is beautiful.

Woods 2  Woods 1Woods 3

There are glimpses of the crag all the way from the start, and as you get higher the Helvellyn (3,117ft/950m)  ridge appears followed by Skiddaw (3,054ft/931m) to the North.

Clough HeadRaven Crag

Emerging at the rocks at the top of the cliff the whole length of the Thirlmere reservoir lies below and we sat in the sunshine enjoying the view.

Summit 2Summit 1


From the layby at (NY307190).  There is a pay and display car park at the nearby junction if the free parking is full.

Raven Crag Route



Friday, 18 April 2014
10.2 miles/16.5km
3260ft/994m ascent
Trail 100 #31 & #32
Wainwright #140

Fairfield (2,864ft/873m) is a very popular mountain. Good Friday is the traditional start of the hiking season. The sun is shining, clear blue skies all day. The popular routes up Fairfield are going to be very, very busy; a steady stream of hikers walking up the well trodden paths from Grasmere, Ambleside and Patterdale. We stopped to take a ‘selfie’ by Goldrill Beck before starting our walk.

Goldrill BeckSetting off in the Sunshine

Our route was from Patterdale up Deepdale, and when that got too crowded (with one other couple), we left the path and headed up the steep rock strewn, grassy slope that winds around Greenhow End.

Greenhow End

We stopped to watch a Peregrine Falcon feeding young on a nest on the crag. And crags are the major feature of this route. Looking up from the valley floor, Hart Crag (2,697ft/822m) and Fairfield look an unpromising route, but once you know, there is a clear route.  There is no path here, but from a distance a grassy strip ascends winding in a mirrored ‘S’ shape around Greenhow End to the top of Fairfield.

I promised to mention drumlins in this post.  Here is a photograph of the field of drumlins lying, where the glacier left them, at top of Deepdale.


Wainwright does not recommend this ascent, but for those with strong legs and a a desire to walk on less trodden paths, this is a superb way up a fantastic mountain.

The StepHigh Street


The views of the central Lake District fells and the Helvellyn ridge are breathtaking.  We ate lunch on the crowded top and then followed the more traditional steep scree covered path down over Cofa Pike (2,700ft/823m) and St Sunday Crag (2,759ft/841m) following the ridge.

HelvellynCofa Pike and St Sunday CragGrisedale TarnDeepdaleCofa PikeFairfield

From there we diverted onto the grassy bank of Birks (2,041ft/622m) and then quickly down to Arnison Crag (1,421ft/433m), which has a great view of Patterdale and Ullswater.

Arnison CragBirks


From the car park in Patterdale (NY396160)

Fairfield Route


Tuesday, 15 April 2014
7.70 miles/12.4km
3380ft/1030m ascent
Trail 100 #30
Wainwright #136

I love the names of these hills, Wetherlam (2,503ft/763m), Swirl How (2,631ft/802m), Grey Friar (2,536ft/773m); makes me wonder who named them and why.


Starting at the foot of the Wrynose Pass we forded the River Brathay and crossed to the track running to the disused mine near Greenburn Beck.  The path shown on the map turned out to be a series of sheep tracks running across the rocky fell-side, and as we climbed the views of Pike O’Blisco (2,313ft/705m), Cold Pike (2,300ft/701m) and Crinkle Crags (2,818ft/859m) opened up; and the sun got hotter.


Once we reached the col we joined the obvious path over the crags to the top of Wetherlam. Despite the sunshine there was a strong breeze blowing and the air was cold.  Here you can see Lake Windermere, the Helvellyn range across the Langdale valley and the black cliffs of Swirl How, Brim Fell (2,612ft/796m) and The Old Man of Coniston (2,635ft/803m).

Wetherlam SummitSwirl How from Wetherlam

Our second climb of the day is the ascent of the craggy Prison Band to the summit of Swirl How, and the view changes to reveal Levers Water nestling at the foot of Brim Fell with Coniston Water and Morecambe Bay beyond.

Prison BandLevers Water, Coniston and Morecambe BaySwirl How

From Swirl How an expanse of grass drops away and then rises to the rock covered top of Grey Friar.  The view of Scafell (3163ft/964m), Scafell Pike (3,209ft/978m) and Dow Crag (2,552ft/778m), and down into Eskdale and Dunnerdale is spectacular and one of the best in the Lake District.

Scafell Pikes from Grey Friar We paused at the memorial for the crew of a Halifax bomber who died in a crash on Great Carrs (2,575ft/785m) during World War II, and then followed the ridge down, before the steep decent to the Wrynose Pass.

Plane Crash MemorialCloud

We sat in the warm sunshine and ate some food, watching a film crew recording a small part of a hill walking documentary film, the two presenters wearing full winter gear (for continuity) in the glorious afternoon sunshine.  We walked back down the road, stopping to photograph the Three Shires Stone, an old boundary marker showing where Lancashire used to extend far North before the county lines were re-drawn in the 1970s.

Three Shires Stone


From the Wrynose Pass outside Little Langdale (NY292032)

Wetherlam Route


Monday, 14 April 2014
11.4 miles/18.3km
2730ft/831m ascent
Wainwright #131, #132, #133, #134 & #135

A rounded grass covered hill in the Lake District is called a Dodd, and the Northern end of the Helvellyn range is a series of this type of hill.  The start of the walk follows a track with views of Great Mell Fell (2,480ft/756m) and the huge sculpted mass of Blencathra (2,848ft/868m).

Great Mell FellBlencathra

The Northern-most hill of the ridge is Clough Head (2,382ft/726m) which has a stunning view of the Northern, Central and North Western fells, from the top it is possible to see Bassenthwaite Lake, Derwent Water and Thirlmere, and the distant Coniston fells and Scafell Pikes, while to the North, Blencathra and Skiddaw (3,054ft/931m) dominate.

SkiddawBlencathra 2

The most amazing view is the stacked tiers of mountains to the West.

Clough Head Summit

From Clough Head we followed the ridge South across Great Dodd (2,812ft/857m), Watson’s Dodd (2,589ft/789m) and Stybarrow Dodd (2,766ft/843m) before turning East to Hart Side (2,480ft/756m).

Great Dodd

DoddsHart Side

There is a distinctly different feeling to the rounded gentle grass covered slopes of the Dodds, compared to the craggy ridges of Helvellyn where we were walking yesterday.


The final stretch of the route is a decent through increasingly wet and boggy ground and then a disheartening uphill walk along the road back to the car.


From the car park at High Row (NY380219)

Great Dodd Route


Sunday, 13 April 2014
3395ft/1035m ascent
Trail 100 #29
3000ft #19 & #20
Wainwright #128, #129 & #130

We set off alongside Glenridding Beck and passed a group of foreign visitors leaving the Youth Hostel, they pointed at the low clouds and asked if we expected to see anything from the top. Fortunately for us the wind quickly blew away the clouds as we followed the track up to the broken dam in Brown Cove, before climbing the steep North West ridge of Catstycam (2,920ft/890m).

Catstycam - North West RidgeCatstycam

Catstycam is a perfect pyramid of a mountain and from a distance the North West ridge looks like an impossible task, but there is a narrow path that winds up between the rocks. Buffeted by the wind we then set off carefully along Swirral Edge towards the towering cliffs of Helvellyn (3,117ft/950m).

Catstycam - Swirral EdgeSwirral Edge

The final stretch of the climb was tricky as the wind was blowing straight over the cliff and there was a short stretch of frozen snow.  The photo shows a group of walkers trying to stand up next to the trig pillar.

Helvellyn - Wind Dance

The return route took us over Helvellyn Lower Man (3,035ft/925m), White Side (2,831ft/863m) and Raise (2,897ft/883m), before following the Sticks Pass back to Glenridding.

Helvellyn - Trig Point

Helvellyn from Raise


From the car park in Glenridding (NY386169).

Helvellyn Route

Langdale Pikes

Sunday, 23 March 2014
2575ft/785m ascent
Trail 100 #26
Wainwright #126 & #127

A splendid day walking in the Langdales in the sunshine and snow.

From the New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel we walked up the steep fellside to Loft Crag (2231ft/680m) and all the time the views open up, first Crinkle Crags (2818ft/859m), then Bowfell (2959ft/902m) and the Coniston group in the distance.

Langdale Pikes - Crinkle Crags 

Looking down the Great Langdale valley towards Lingmoor Fell (1539ft/469m) and Skelwith Bridge.




Loft CragLoft Crag

The first mountain on the route is Loft Crag where the rest of the route can be seen for the first time. The photo shows the rocky summit of Loft Crag with the spectacular crags of Pike of Stickle (2326ft/709m) appearing over the cairn in the background.

Pike of Stickle

This is the Trail 100 hill on this walk and the reason we chose this route. A truely spectaular mountain with a tricky scramble to the top when the rocks are covered with compacted snow.

Pike of Stickle 3Pike of Stickle 2

These two photos show the view of Loft Crag and Harrison Stickle (2415ft/736m); and celebrating reaching the top with the snow filled Harrison Combe behind.

Pike of Stickle - Loft Crag and Harrison Stickle Pike of Stickle 1

Harrison StickleHarrison Stickle

We scrambled down Pike of Stickle and crossed back to Harrison Stickle on the other corner of the Langdale Pikes. This gave us the first view of Stickle Tarn and our planned route down.

The photo also shows a heavy snow flurry which completely hid the summit of Helvellyn (3117ft/950m) but missed us completely.


Pavey ArkPavey Ark
The snow made finding the route from Harrison Stickle to Pavey Ark (2297ft/700m) a challenge. The top of Pavey Ark is not very impressive – it’s much better from Stickle Tarn. We ate lunch sitting on the rocks before setting off over the snow covered rocks and peat towards Thunacar Knott (2372ft/723m).

Thunacar KnottThunacar Knott

The summit of this mountain looks like a lunar landscape – rock strewn and windswept. The view to the West includes Glaramara (2569ft/783m) and Great Gable (2949ft/899m). The photo shows the snow topped Helvellyn ridge and Fairfield (2864ft/873m) to the East.

We followed the well worn path towards High Raise (2500ft/762m) which was covered in deep snow. My leg disappeared through the snow into a peat bog hidden beneath. Thank goodness for gaiters!

Sergeant ManSergeant Man 2

Sergeant Man (2415ft/736m)  is a prominent and easy to identify mountain with a very distinctive shape, and was the last mountain on our walk.

From the top we followed the ridge down towards Blea Rigg (1175ft/541m) before turning South West and descending to Stickle Tarn where the huge cliff of Pavey Ark casts a dark shadow over the lake.


Stickle Tarn

Pavey Ark from Stickle Tarn

Last resting point before descending the steep rocky staircase back to the Dungeon Ghyll and a nice cup of coffee.

Resting at Stickle Tarn 1Resting at Stickle Tarn 2


Starting at the New Dungeon Ghyll car park  (NY296064).

Langdale Pikes Route