Birks & Arnison Crag

Birks and Arnison Crag are the north-eastern 'outriders' of St. Sunday Crag, the great peak that straddles the southern flank of Grisedale, various 'arms' of the Hellvellyn massif forming its northern counterpart.  The route was no. 43 in Book 2 of 'Short Walks in Lakeland' (A. & B. Evans, Cicerone), a handy source for days such as the one in question, when the weather conditions don't make it seem worthwhile to go higher or further.*

The walk began in Patterdale and then threaded its way along the lower slopes of Birks a little above the floor of Grisedale, until Elmhow plantation, where a left hand turn was made up the steep slope.  However, the going was greatly eased by soon linking up with the 'Elmhow Zigzags', and old miners' trod.  From the top of this section of the walk, the main path going to St. Sunday Crag was briefly joined, before turning off it to head for Birks, and then, via Trough Head, to Arnison Crag.  From here there remained only a short descent back to the starting point.

The weather made the earlier parts of the walk less scenic than they would have been otherwise, but still well worth it.  But on the way to Arnison Crag it cleared up somewhat, making the panoramas from this excellent viewing point quite reasonable.

The chief attraction of this walk (apart from it not being too strenuous!) is the wide range of views it provides of a number of great fells, starting with those belonging to the Helvellyn massif, then the summit of St Sunday Crag itself as well as those of Hart and Dove Crags (and the great curving ridge of Hartsop-above-Howe), ending with fine views across to the other Hartsop Fells, Ullswater and Place Fell.  Definitely one to be repeated in better weather!

PS A brief visit after the walk to St Patrick's Church, Patterdale, to admire its beautiful, panoramic embroideries, incorporating much of the local mountain scenery, was a very good end to the day (my usual walking companion Jim Mercer unfortunately not being available for our customary visit to a neighbouring pub instead!).

(Distance:  5.25 miles / 8.5 km.  Ascent:  1640 ft. / 500 m.  Highest point (Birks): 2040ft. / 622 m.)

*However, please note that references in this part of the book to 'Lanty's Tarn' or 'Pool' are completely inaccurate, as this small stretch of water lies on the opposite, northern side of the entrance to Grisedale, near Keldas.

Photos per row