A walk planned a couple of weeks ago, when looking out from a rain beleaguered kitchen table, was to give myself, three friends and my dog, a long overdue shot of vitamin D and a day in the hills from which we did not wish to return.
Setting off from Grasmere we walked up Far Easedale and Grasmere Common. Lulled into a false sense of an easy stroll along the valley, while going a little gaga at the site of the tops of mountains. After weeks of rain and drizzle we had to just ‘stand and stare’.
From the valley there is a gentle but steady ascent up to Calf Crag. The path follows a stream, turning into series of waterfalls as the trail becomes more acute. Not many people were about on this Friday in early January so we were able to enjoy the valley in splendid isolation, listening only to the sound of the water and cries of a raven. Almost at the top a small flock of sheep peered down at us from a rocky outcrop with no apparent access point. The mild temperatures of the previous weeks gave an unseasonable green to the landscape with only the odd tiny pocket of snow at the top. As we climbed it was cold enough to put a frozen crust on the sodden peat. Great for my terrier, she just padded over. Not so good for her four human companions. We periodically broke through the icing and ended up wet to varying degrees.
From Calf Crag we doubled back along the ridge which takes in Gibson Knot and ultimately Helm Crag, the Lion and the Lamb. From the start of the ridge the Langdales can be seen to the west, the clear dome of Harrison Stickle and as we picked our way along, Pavey Ark came into view. Looking to the other side Helvellyn and Dolly Wagon fold across the horizon. It is certainly a good day when the only decision to be made is where to stop for lunch.
Up at 400m+ the mountains become rolling hills and it is easy to forget that between them are valleys with roads, villages and people. Not until we were almost at the end of Helm Crag did we hear any sound of modernity. Poking our heads over the grey slates we could see the Keswick road and hear the sound of traffic. Grasmere and humanity.
From the outcrops of the Lion and Lamb the path drops quickly back to Grasmere village. After escaping for the best part of six hours refreshments – cake – had to be had. Dog friendly Heidi’s provided the necessary sugar boost and we lingered there until they closed.
The route is marked on OS7 but not very distinct on the ground across the ridge to Helm Crag, not a problem when clear, but had caused one of my friends to turn back on a previous day in poor weather. Though we were out for most of the day, this was vastly due to the wonderful weather. Move a bit faster and it could probably be completed in around 4 hours.
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