A Coledale Round
Once again (see previous walk blog), part of the motivation for this round was to find out what difference it would make to reverse the direction I went in last time, i.e., to go anti-clockwise rather than clockwise. I also wanted to avoid the lengthy end-of-walk trek back from the Braithwaite side of the valley to the Stair side that I incurred on that occasion by this time leaving out the Causey Pike-Scar Crags section, and, instead, diverting from Sail Pass to Outerside, Stile End and Barrow, a route that leads directly back to the starting point at Braithwaite village.*
The walk thus began with the steep but exhilarating ascent of Grisedale Pike from Braithwaite, along the fell's main 'shoulder' at Kinn and then Sleet How, finally broaching its ever-narrowing, ever-towering summit 'fin'. Then, having already thoroughly explored the nearby attractions of both Hobcarton Crag/Hopegill Head and Dove Crags of Grasmoor on a recent previous occasion, I eschewed them both and instead made my way directly from just after Grisedale Pike's subsidiary summit to Coledale Hause, and from there up to the 'crossroads' where the path intersects with the one linking Grassmoor and Eel Crags.
From here I continued straight on on a fainter but clear path that rises only negligbly to a part of the walk that turned out to be one of its main highlights. Firstly, on soon reaching Thirdgill Head Man by this means, there were splendid views from just beyond it down into Rannerdale and Crummock Water to the south-west and Buttermere vale and its magnificent 'Three Peaks' to the south-east. I then took a diagonal path bypassing Wandope summit directly from there to the southern end of Addacombe Hole rim, and continued on northwards and then east on an excellent contouring path alongside the remainder of the combe edge, until meeting the main path over Eel Crag just beyond its summit. This part of the walk also provided some stunning views, both into Addacombe Hole itself and back towards Wandope summit, as well as down towards Ard Crags and to Robinson beyond. It also turned out to be a great place for a lunch stop. Definitely a far more scenicr alternative than to have just turned left at the aforementioned crossroads and trudged on directly from there up to the top of Eel Crag!
Having next continued on to Sail summit, I descended from there down the new zig-zags to Sail Pass and then north-east along the path that runs beneath the northern cliffs of Scar Crags. Then, once it started to level off, I went off this path to ascend across, in succession, Outerside, Stile End and Barrow, finally descending fully from the latter back to Braithwaite once again.
Although conditions were somewhat overcast at the outset, especially looking east towards Keswick and Skiddaw, there were nevertheless fine views to be had west and north from Grisedale Pike summit, and, as the day wore on, the skies increasingly cleared, providing great panoramas to the south as already noted, and then, in the last part, some fine clear vistas over Bassenthwaite and the vale of Keswick as well.
Despite the height and length involved, because of its geology the going underfoot in this walk is relatively smooth, and so it never feels as strenuous as others of comparable dimensions. Also, if Grasmoor is left out of the equation, as on this occasion, going round anti-clockwise gets the main (and certainly longest and steepest) part of the ascent out of the way at the start. But this is a great round in either direction, very highly recommended!
[Distance: 9.2 miles, 14.9 km. Highest point: 2721 ft., 829 m. (Eel Crag). Total ascent: 4051 ft., 1235 m.]
*I now realise, on studying Mark Richards' 'The North-Western Fells' more carefully, that I could have also avoided the Braithwaite-Stair trek at the end of the walk by continuing on to Causey Pike and then descending from near its summit on a path that slants backwards down across its northern flank to near the base of Outerside. Ah well, maybe next time!
Photos per row