TO TARN CRAG AND BEYOND FROM GRASMERE

This adventure started on 14th September 2008, but was actually only destined to be completed on 19th March 2009. No, we were not camping out for all that time. The first attempt was to end in a disaster, and it was only on the second date that Dad finally laid the ghost so to speak. So, here are the accounts of those two walks.



GRASMERE & SOUR MILK GILL

 

Summary

Date - 14th September 2008 Distance - 2.5 miles
Map - OL7 Start point - Broadgate Meadow car park (NY 338077)

 

The Walk

On this fateful day we started out from the very popular village of Grasmere. Just on the outskirts is Dove Cottage once the home of William Wordsworth and indeed he is buried in the churchyard. If there can be a compensation for what happened, the fact that there was a power cut in Grasmere that morning meant that the car park machine was not working so this saved Dad £6. From the village a narrow road leads to Easdale. Soon after crossing Goody Bridge a signed path leads through woodland to the wide path to Easdale Tarn via Sour Milk Gill. This is the view looking up to Sour Milk Gill with Tarn Crag (notched top) and behind that towards Coldale Head. These were to be the first two objectives of the day.

You will see that the path climbs up beside the gill passing the waterfalls...

Just past here we reached level ground. There were a good few people out and all but Dad continued on the popular path to Easdale Tarn. We had however to cross the gill to reach the narrow path ascending the east ridge of Tarn Crag. On the far side the ground was very boggy and this sadly was where disaster struck, as Dad slipped and his left leg folded under him as he fell backwards. He cried out as he fell not surprisingly and then gingerly picked himself up and rested by a rock. He thought the pain would soon pass and indeed started up the ridge but we could tell that he was struggling and we were very glad when he turned back. If we had made it to Tarn Crag here is the photo we would have had taken. This was in November 2004 when as you can see Shaun, Tetley & Grizzly climbed it.

We were bothered about Dad crossing the gill again on the rough stones, so he agreed to descend via Stythwaite Steps (happily there is now a bridge across Easdale Beck). Slowly, resting frequently, he made his way over the rough path and along by the beck. We had noted that there was a long line of Herdwick sheep coming along a distant path and then suddenly they were right behind and in front of us bleating away. Probably talking to Shaun!

They stopped at a farm just a little further down where we were surrounded by them. Dad commented to some walkers that he was not responsible for bringing the sheep down. Another walker passing by commented that he had put one in his rucksack. Shaun of course! Soon the Easdale road was reached and to Dad's great relief then the car. We all had our picnic before Dad drove us home. One other compensation today was that while it started off blue skies, the cloud and mist soon obscured the tops.

Thankfully it was nothing more than a very severe sprain, but it did keep Dad off the hills for five weeks, and much to his chagrin during some good weather, which was a rarity in 2008.

At least the hills are not going anywhere, and Dad promised that we would do this walk.



TARN CRAG, COLDALE HEAD, HIGH RAISE, SERGEANT MAN & BLEA RIGG from GRASMERE

 

Summary

Date - 19th March 2009 Distance - 10 miles
Map - OL6/7 Start point - Broadgate Meadow car park (NY 338077)

 

Summits Achieved

Name Height (ft) Height (m) Grid Ref
Tarn Crag 1807 551 NY 3036 0930
Coldale Head 2401 732 NY 2890 0908
High Raise 2500 762 NY 2807 0954
Sergeant Man 2414 736 NY 2864 0889
Blea Rigg 1776 541 NY 3016 0783

 

The Walk

"Where are we going today Dad?" asked Allen.

He replied "it’s about time I laid the ghost of the walk from Grasmere, where I fell."

"Great" said Allen, as with Eric he would tick off no less than four of his outstanding Wainwright summits.

We were up early and jumped into the car for the drive to Grasmere, once again our start point. Dad was soon ready and we settled into his rucksack and he strolled along Easdale Road. Soon this view heralded our first objective, Tarn Crag.

Sour Milk Gill is in the centre, but today Dad decided to avoid the need to cross this. Instead he reversed his descent route of the abortive walk. As we walked along the rough track we were surprised to see again those Herdwick sheep. They must have come to greet Shaun, and perhaps wish Dad well for the walk today.

Continuing up the valley we soon reached Stythwaite Steps. So named for the stepping stones across Easdale Gill. However the bridge provides an easier crossing now in all conditions. The stepping stones are still there in the foreground and Dad actually used them today.

A steepish climb now brought us to the scene of the disaster, at the foot of the east ridge of Tarn Crag. We gave the boggy area evil looks.

This avoided; we now started the steep ascent of the ridge surmounting a number of smaller rises including Greathead Crag. To the right was the precipitous Deer Bield Crag, below the summit of Tarn Crag.

Ahead we now saw that there was just one rise to cross before Dad made the final climb to Tarn Crag summit.

This is the peak on the right of the notch, and we jumped out for our photo.

"At least Eric and I will be on it this time too" said Allen.

We all gave Dad a cheer for finally having brought us all to this summit.

Well we thought it is easy from now on, but Dad reminded us that we were at 1800ft and our furthest objective today was to be High Raise at 2500ft. So there was some climbing still to go and we could see ahead the next ridge that we had to surmount. There is little or no path but a line of cairns is supposed to mark the route. However they seem to have just disappeared.

Dad just headed over the rough ground to the gully that climbs up to the left of the highest point seen above. Soon after climbing this, the ground levelled off and it was just a short walk to reach the small cairn on Codale Head. This summit is not a Wainwright Fell. However it is one of the list of Birkett Fells and none of us had been to it before, so this was one that we all bagged, Dad included. We were now at 2400ft and so it was just under half a mile and 100ft of climb to reach High Raise. In 2004 Dad took a super shot of Shaun, Tetley & Grizzly here on the trig point and he wanted to try to replicate it today. Sadly though the weather was not as clear and the fells behind were obscured. It was rather windy too, but being the plucky lot we are we insisted on sitting on the trig point. Dad focused the camera on us, but just at that moment there was a gust of wind, Shaun and Tetley taking a dive off the back. Dad’s shot caught the action.

Before setting us up Dad had chatted to a group of walkers who were resting here, and one of them very kindly agreed to hold on to us while the proper shot was taken.

When it is clear it is such a wonderful view to the fells above the Honister Pass, and so we have decided to also include this shot from 2004. The pointed top above Tetley’s head is Honister Crag rising behind to Fleetwith Pike. To the left of this is Grey Knotts. Below Honister Crag runs Honister Pass above which to the right is Robinson and Dale Head.

Some months after Dad took this, there was a feature about a Teddy Bear exhibition, on our local news programme North West Tonight, and they asked if viewers had any special stories. Well as you can guess Dad could not wait to write and he sent in this photo and the very next night we were famous TV stars!

Well, enough of that, and back to the walk. In a manner we now retraced our steps but veered off a bit right to the pointed top of Sergeant Man. During the time he was at this summit he met a number of people, including a Polish couple who had no map with them and were unaware that the summit they were at was Sergeant Man. Dad did his best to orientate them, and they wandered off. It was just as well that it was a clear day for had the cloud come down they could have been in trouble. It just goes to show that even if you know the fells and paths well it is essential to have a map and compass and nowadays a GPS device.

"Which way now?" asked Grizzly.

"Along that clear path below" replied Dad.

So off we went descending now and after a while we kept left to take the long ridge that was to eventually lead to Blea Rigg. We have mentioned Codale and Easdale, and these valleys each have tarns, the former being at a higher altitude. We had good views of each, the water being a beautiful blue. Here is Codale Tarn.

and now Easdale Tarn into which it runs.

As we continued the path meandered avoiding a few boggy areas, and passing a number of rocky tops. We thought Dad had missed Blea Rigg, but suddenly he struck left uphill, passing two tiny tarns and so climbing to a high point adorned with a small cairn. This summit is actually quite hard to find amongst other outcrops, so Dad checked the plan in his Wainwright guide, and sure enough he had taken us to the top. We should never have doubted him and here we are at the cairn.

"Last top", said Tetley.

"Not too far to go now then", said Shaun.

We were a little wide of the mark however as it was about 3 miles back to Grasmere. We are sure lucky to be carried in that rucksack.

First there was the steep descent to Easdale Tarn. From here the path continues its descent to reach after some distance the lovely waterfalls on Sour Milk Gill.

From here a clear path falls to the valley and to the Easdale Road that leads to Grasmere and the car. We were exhilarated by the walk but rather tired too, so gratefully settled in the car to have a picnic. Dad of course went to the Miller Howe Café for an expensive pot of tea and cake. Such are the prices in Grasmere, a major tourist honey pot in the Lake District.

A wonderful day and we all slept very well that night.

back

shopify analytics