A Coledale Round

Outline of Route
Braithwaite - Grisedale Pike - Hopegill Head - Grasmoor - Eel Crags - Sail - Scar Crags - Causey Pike - Barrow Door - Braithwaite (Grid ref. NY 227238)
Total Distance 10.9 miles, Total Ascent 4400 feet, Equivalent Distance 20.3 miles

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Escape Routes

  1. Descend from Coledale Hause past Force Crag mine and back to Braithwaite.
  2. Omit Grasmoor heading straight for Wandope, or Crag Hill.
  3. Descend from the col between Sail and Scar Crags to Barrow Door and Braithwaite.

Details of Route
Braithwaite is not a difficult village in which to park but my preferred parking spot for this walk is off the Whinlatter road just outside the village. Coming out of Braithwaite there is a steep hill following a right-hand bend. About 100 yards up on the left turn into the small (free) parking area. There is a footpath leading to the fell up some steps from the car park (on the right-hand side as you enter) through woodland with occasional glimpses of Skiddaw through the foliage (photo). On the fell the paths are like motorways catering for hardened walker and passing tourist alike. Walk up onto the ridge and just keep going: it would take real commitment to get lost. The ridge overlooks vast forest plantations to the north, like Lakeland with designer stubble. To the south, across Coledale, lie some well-manicured fields (photo) as well as Causey Pike, Scar Crags, Sail and Eel Crag (photo). The slope gets gradually steeper as one approaches the summit (photo). There are no real surprises when one reaches the top; the views are fine in all directions (panorama), as one would expect from this lofty and isolated peak, and the rest of our route is clear to see. From here continue along the ridge, the bleak face of Hobcarton Crag holds the interest (photo), and reach the top of Hopegill Head (Hobcarton Pike). The view of the Whiteside ridge is excellent (photo), as is that of Ladyside Pike, to the north (photo) and the fine (panorama).

Follow the path south, over Sand Hill (photo), to Coledale Hause. Shortly after starting up the path on the other side bear right across the beck and follow the cairns which go along the top of Grasmoor's northern crags (panorama). These ultimately lead to the top of Dove Crags (photo) from which there is a short stroll to Grasmoor's summit. After that brief excursion from the well trodden routes we return to them. Head along the path to Eel Crag and after reaching the lowest point gradually bear right to the cairn that marks the summit of Wandope (photo). When approached from this direction it looks like no more than a blip on the path up to Eel Crag but the view down to Buttermere reminds us that it looks impressive from that direction.

There is a straightforward climb from here to Eel Crag (Crag Hill) where there's a fine view of Coledale (photo) and continuing east we reach the narrow ridge that leads to Sail (photo). The wind seems to accelerate over this ridge and it can be difficult to keep one's feet. About a third of a mile after the summit of Sail, at a col (photo), a path leads off on the left, which can be used for an early return to Braithwaite. Continue along the ridge over Scar Crags to Causey Pike, the characteristic knobbly summit so easily recognised from Borrowdale. This is an interesting ridge, full of peaks and troughs. Causey Pike is well-known for its views of Skiddaw (photo), Derwentwater (photo) and Newlands (photo) and has a fine (complete panorama). Return to the col between Causey Pike and Scar Crags where a path leads off to the right. Follow the path - it is not much used and indistinct - where you can, going diagonally down across the northern slope of Scar Crags and curving to the right to meet the path from the Sail col by a sheepfold.

This path skirts the south eastern slopes of Outerside after which look for a path diverging to the left. The path keeps to the contour line rather than going downhill (to Stair), skirts the eastern slopes of Stile End, through Barrow Door (photo), and gradually descends via High Coledale farm to Braithwaite. This is a deservedly popular route which is best avoided by the misanthropic during the tourist season.

Rev. 02 September 2014

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