Friday, March 28, 2014

High Raise et al from Grasmere

Date : 27th March 2013
Route : From Grasmere to High Raise; anticlockwise via Steel Fell & back over Tarn Crag
Wainwright's : Steel Fell, Calf Crag, High Raise (2500 feet), Sergeant Man, Tarn Crag
Distance : 12.7 miles (20.4 km)
Height Gained : 3658 feet (1115 m)
Time Taken : 7 1/2 hours
Social Hiking Map : click here

I have also done a very basic video of the summit views, more for my own amusement then anything else but the link is here if anyone wants a look

The route; Anticlockwise from Grasmere

 I am very familiar with this region of the central fells and have climbed most of them many times before but somehow Steel Fell and Tarn Crag have managed to escape my wanderings. I have often looked curiously over at them but never set foot on their summits, so this route intended to make amends. According to Wainwright the best way up (and down) Steel Fell is via the eastern ridge from Dunmail Raise and so, having parked in Grasmere, I set off at 7am along the road past Helm Crag towards the foot of Steel Fell.

A snow covered Seat Sandal  from Helm Close

Helm Crag's eastern side

Looking up the Greenburn valley

 The path up to Steel Fell is mostly grassy and easy going except for a small craggy outcrop near the top. At this point, a light sleet shower temporarily obscured the views over to Helvellyn but thankfully it soon blew over and views were clear and unobscured for the rest of the day.

The grassy route up to Steel Fell 

A panorama of the Helm Crag to Gibson Knott ridge

Looking across Dunmail Raise to the Helvellyn Fells

Looking back

Steel Fell summit view towards Thirlmere

Looking over to the Fairfield horseshoe. Sun shining down towards Stone Arthur. 

Steel Fell view eastwards

Steel Fell view of Blencathra, over Thirlmere

Nethermost & Dollywagon Pikes from Steel Fell summit

 The route along the ridge to Calf Crag is mainly an exercise in avoiding wet feet. The terrain is wet moss, peat hags and a few small tarns.

The marshy 'path' to Calf Crag (left foreground). Ullscarf over the valley ahead

The Greenburn valley

From Calf Crag; Steel Fell, Seat Sandal and Fairfield

 Calf Crag is the highest part of a long ridge from Helm Crag up to Calf Crag itself. It stands opposite Tarn Crag occupying opposing sides at the head of the Far Easedale valley.

Calf Crag summit view back to Steel Fell

Calf Crag summit looking over the valley to Tarn Crag

High Raise from Calf Crag

The Far Easedale valley from its head. Helm Crag centre.

 From Calf Crag I joined the 'coast to coast path' which comes up from the Easedale valley, traverses the head of the Whythburn valley and emerges onto Greenup Edge. My route then turned southwards to follow this broad ridge in a gradual ascent towards High Raise. At this point the smattering of snow became more widespread with occasional drifts up to shin deep. The main path was covered and the snow must have been recent as there were no footprints to follow. There was a hard crust which sometimes collapsed under foot and sometimes did not. It made for tiring but invigorating upwards progress.

Ullscarf at the head of the Whythburn valley

Looking back over Calf Crag and the ridge to Helm Crag

On Greenup Edge looking over to Dale Head & High Spy

The 'path' upwards to High Raise

Looking back northwards to Ullscarf

Low White Stones summit looking towards High Raise

Panorama west from Low White Stones

 The High Raise summit shelter made for a convenient lunch spot with views over towards Bow Fell and the Scafells providing ample distraction from the biting easterly wind.

High Raise summit panorama east

High Raise summit panorama west

High Raise view towards the Scafells

High Raise summit shelter view over the Langdale Pikes towards the Coniston Fells

Bow Fell and the Scafells from High Raise

High Raise view over Eagle Crag towards Bassenthwaite Lake in the far distance

 From the summit of High Raise it is a simple 1/2 mile stroll to Sergeant man which is nothing more than an abrupt rocky terminus before the land falls sharply down towards Stickle tarn. 

A Frozen tarn on the High Raise summit plateau looking towards Bow Fell

Sergeant Man with Windermere beyond

Looking over to Pavey Ark from Sergeant Man. Glimpses of Stickle Tarn.

Sergeant Man summit panorama west

Sergeant Man summit panorama east

Looking back to Sergeant Man from the downwards path

 From here on the terrain was unfamiliar to me and largely pathless on the OS map. I headed off eastwards in the direction of Tarn Crag and soon emerged at the top of a steep crag looking down onto Codale Tarn. Having never visited the tarn, or Belles Knot which overlooks its southern flank, I scrambled down for a closer look. Wainright describes Belles Knot as 'the Matterhorn of the Lake District' due to the sharp and pointy profile it presents to walkers on the path above Easedale Tarn. It must be said that it is not nearly so impressive from the other side but was worth a visit not least for the views down to to Easedale Tarn and beyond.

Looking down to Codale Tarn and Belles Knot (the pimple centre right)

Tarn Crag & Codale Tarn

Belles Knot

For comparison; Belles Knot from the other side taken March 2010 - much more 'Matterhorn like'

Belles Knot view down to Easedale Tarn

Looking back over Codale Tarn to the Crag I descended 

 Having previously thought that my upwards labouring was done & dusted for the day, this deviation to Codale Tarn and Belles Knot required a bit more 'up climbing' in order to get onto Tarn Crag. Once on the summit plateau it is not immediately clear which of the many rocky bumps is the actual summit. After visiting the main summit candidates I headed eastwards along a track which followed the main ridge downwards to eventually join Far Easedale Gill and the 'coast to coast' route back to Grasmere.    

Easedale Tarn from Tarn Crag

Tarn Crag summit view towards Grasmere

Looking back up to Tarn Crag from the descent track

Easedale Tarn with Blea Rigg beyond

Back down to Far Easedale Gill

Looking back towards Tarn Crag from the Easedale Road
 So despite the long route today only 2 new Wainwright's were added to the tally which now stands at 125. Not sure where I'm heading next but weather permitting its likely to be a wild camp somewhere in either the western or northern fells.  

I have also done a very basic video of the summit views, more for my own amusement then anything else but the link is here if anyone wants a look