Ski Club of Manchester, Lake District Walk 30th April
The Grasmoor circuit is a lesser known hike but it has great views over fine and rugged country. It is about 11 km in length with 1100 metres of ascent and will take about 5 hours with breaks and stops for sandwiches etc. It completes a trilogy in these western hills for the ski club, following the Buttermere round (2004) and the Coledale horseshoe (2003).
Despite the proximity of these walks to each other - the Coledale and Grasmoor walks forming the two rings of a figure of 8 - each has its distinctive character and unique features. Grasmoor is oriented towards the west and south and rises quickly from the road and steely Crummock Water at its base, "a wild and impressive lake", as Chiang Lee a Chinese writer and artist described it in 1937 in his Silent Traveller in Lakeland.
The plan is to do the walk anticlockwise, starting from the car park close to Crummock Water (Grid Ref: NY 162 194). This is the one slightly further to the north, but it is only 100 yards distant from the other car park. [Photo 1 & Photo 2]
From the car park we walk due east on a grassy path bordering a rushing beck with small waterfalls and soon gain height. Trees do not grow here apart from an odd brave and windblown quick or holly! [Photo 3] The backward views are already opening up with the full vista of Crummock and the comma of Loweswater beyond fringed by Carling Knot. [Photo 4] By the time we reach Lad Hows, the Buttermere range is in full view as well as the tumbling mass of Rannerdale Knotts below us to the south west. [Photo 5]
From now on the focus is on Grassmoor almost due north up a good path over the fells to its 851 metre top. A small detour will gain us the summit with good panoramic views not so very different from those to be seen from adjoining Crag Hill to the east [Winter snow photo 6]. This is the highest point in all these far western Lakeland hills. From here we drop down below Eel Crags to Coledale Hause. At this point to the right is a descent to Braithwaite along the 5 kilometre long mine track. To the left is an 'escape' route down Gasgale Gill, which reduces the length of the walk and avoids more climbing.
For the main walk however we will be climbing up about another 200 metres over Sand Hill to Hopegill Head, which will open up great views down Ladyside Pike to the north and northwest and across to the Solway Firth. From here comes a marvellous ridge walk due west to Whiteside, which we leave to drop down via the Whin Ben outcrop to the valley below. Gasgale Crags are passed on our left. It is now just over a mile back to the car park on a contouring track, across the fellside leaving Whiteside and the high tops behind. [Photo 7] With luck you'll be able to relax and sit in the sun with a hot tea from the thermos and a view of the lake!
Getting there: Allow 30 minutes to get to the car park from the Braithwaite or Keswick area for the start via the Whinlatter pass or the Newlands valley route. The latter is easier to find and involves dropping down to Buttermere and driving north from there (See the map).
We will meet at 9.15 am to be sure of parking and aim to get off at 9.30. Be sure to bring appropriate gear - warm clothing and protection from the rain if needed plus food and drink. Walking sticks are always useful too. Don't miss out on a great day to start off the post skiing season. See you there! Ian.
Click on an image below for a larger picture.