GRANGE FELL, WATENDLATH & GREAT CRAG from ROSTHWAITE

 


Summary

Date - 3rd June 2012 Distance - 6.5 miles
Ascent -
2200ft
Map - OL4 Start point - Rosthwaite car park (NY 2576 1486)

 

Summits Achieved

Name Height (ft) Height (m) Grid Ref
Brund Fell on Grange Fell 1363 415 NY 2467 1627
Great Crag 1444 440 NY 2700 1468

 

Preface

"It's that river pageant for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee on Sunday, so we will be definitely walking, as Dad does not want to see it", said Tetley.

" Uncle Brian does though", added Little Eric.

"Which is precisely the reason we will be walking as he wants Dad out of the way", replied Tetley emphatically.

Allen meanwhile had grabbed Dad's iPad and opened up the Met Office app. "Looks to be a poor day here in Morecambe and the southern fells are likely to covered in cloud, but there is no rain forecast for Keswick and the north."

"Sounds like a good idea to go north, and that will please Dad too, as he will be able to go to Armathwaite Hall for meal afterwards", said Grizzly.

"Uncle Brian won't be too happy when he finds out, however", replied Allen.

"So", said Tetley, "the question is where to walk?"

"Let's have tea and biscuits while we mull this over, it will make my brain work better", said Allen.

"Any excuse", laughed Shaun, as he filled the mugs and passed them round.

So after a few minutes contemplation, Tetley said, "any ideas?"

"Well", said Grizzly, "I have been looking through Wainwright's book 3 Central Fells. There is Grange Fell and Great Crag, which we have not visited for some years."

"Seven to be precise", interjected Tetley.

"Wow, what a memory you have", said Little Eric.

"You are the reason I am suggesting them as you alone have not been to the summits", said Grizzly. "Also the route will take in the pretty hamlet of Watendlath and its tarn."

"Well that's decided then", said Shaun. "All you need to do now Allen, is go and ask Dad and see if he approves of our suggestion."

"OK, but on one condition, you pour me a fresh mug of tea, for when I get back", cried Allen as he dashed out of the door.

Just a few minutes later he was back, a smile on his face, so we knew it was on, the proximity to Armathwaite Hall, having a bearing too.

"There's just one other thing too, Dad wants to be off by 07:45. Rosthwaite is a popular place and being bank holiday, the car park may fill up quickly", said Allen gratefully accepting his refilled mug.

 

The Walk

So we were up early and Dad dodged the rain to load his gear in the car. As the boot was slammed shut, we dashed out quickly and settled on the front seat. Dad wished Uncle Brian an enjoyable day watching the Jubilee celebrations, and we set off, on that ever so familiar route north on the M6 then west on the A66 to Keswick, here taking the winding road down Borrowdale. The car park was actually quite empty when we arrived, but it was better to be safe than sorry. The day was completely dry, with clear views. Windy on the summits and quite cold too. No shorts today.

From the car park it was left along to the main road, crossing just a little left, to take the path past Hazel Bank Hotel. Immediately Dad spotted these two lambs who had poked their heads through the fence to get at the longer grass on the verge.

"Well that's our chance of getting a story done without a sheep picture gone again", laughed Grizzly.

Worse was to follow just minutes later. As we climbed the stony track, Dad snapped this Herdwick ewe, with its lamb. They really do we think have appealing faces.

"Right Dad, that's it, no more sheep pictures in this story", said Tetley firmly.

The rough path continued upwards, passing through a gate, then on towards a second gate.

Just beyond the gate, we crossed a small stream, and then soon arrived at a junction of paths.

"We go left on the path towards Keswick and down along by the wall", said Shaun.

"Surely that is the wrong way", replied Little Eric.

"If we were going directly to Watendlath, yes I would agree, but we are going to Grange Fell first. To get to the path to the summit, we go a short way along the Keswick path, then just round the corner in the wall, we take the stile on the right over it", replied Shaun patiently.

"OK", replied Little Eric, "you are the expert."

Tetley, Allen & Grizzly, meanwhile had been looking at the view, and Allen, now that he could get a word in, said, "that is a quite lovely view over the Borrowdale Valley, and is surely worth a shot for the story."

"How right you are", replied Dad, hauling the camera out.

Borrowdale is truly one of the most idyllic valleys in the whole of the Lake District, and one of our most favourite places. The village is Rosthwaite, where we had started from. Dale Head (2473ft), is to the right, the distant one in the centre being Great Gable (2949ft).

"Right", said Dad, "off we go again."

Taking the gate on the left, the path descended by the wall, and soon after rounding the corner, we saw the stile, on the right, just as Shaun, had said.

A clear path, that was never in doubt, led steeply upwards by the trees. After a while the gradient eased, and now on open fellside, the path dropped slightly to cross a small ravine. Beyond the gradient was steep again, as we climbed up towards the ridge, the path now turning distinctly right, and rising on to a number of rocky towers at the highest point on Grange Fell. One has a tiny cairn that is considered the summit. It is in fact named Brund Fell on the map.

"Please take our picture, Dad, cried Little Eric.

"Of course Lads", he replied.

Now balancing on the summit rock was going to be a bit tricky at the best of times, but today it was windy here, so we had to be content to sit in a convenient hollow out of the wind, just below.

"Where now?, asked Little Eric.

"We take that narrow path down that leads shortly to a stile over the wall. There are two options then, the simplest being probably to descend roughly south to gain the main path and follow this left down to Watendlath", replied Shaun.

So, this is exactly what we did. A large stand of trees hides both the tarn and the tiny hamlet until almost the last minute. Coming to a signpost, Shaun said, "our route is right here."

"That's right Lad", replied Dad, "but I want to explore first and see if we can find a seat for lunch too."

"Ooh great", exclaimed Allen.

However before that we digress somewhat. On an April day in 2009, when the sun shone, unlike today, we climbed amongst others Coldbarrow Fell. Nestling below this is Blea Tarn, some 700ft up on the eastern ridge that overshadows Watendlath and its tarn.

This via its outfall Blea Tarn Gill, provides the water for Watendlath Tarn.

The tarn is 7 acres in size and has a maximum depth of 56 feet. Water from Watendlath Tarn flows into the beck of the same name and eventually feeds Lodore Falls, and ends up in Derwent Water. It was given to the National Trust by Queen Victoria's daughter, Princess Louise, in memory of her brother, King Edward VII. Stocked with brown trout and rainbow trout, it is a popular fly fishing water, with wading and boat fishing used. The hamlet too, is owned by the National Trust.

Right, where were we? Oh yes, at the path junction. We strolled ahead, passing through the gate, then along the narrow rocky path, to where the path comes up from Ashness, then crossing the beck by the lovely old packhorse bridge.

Just across this was a bench where we sat to have our lunch, and watch the steady stream of people arriving along the Ashness path.

"It's getting a bit busy", remarked Grizzly.

"Yes", agreed Dad. "I think we will be getting off on our way soon. We are used to quieter, more lonely places."

There are only a few buildings but Dad did take us round in a circle, and showed us Fold Head Farm house that was used as the fictional home of Judith Paris in Sir Hugh Walpole's Herries Saga of four novels published in the early 1930s. Walpole had a home in London and also at Brackenburn on the slopes of Catbells, over looking Derwent Water.

So, saying goodbye to Watendlath, we recrossed the bridge and walked back to the junction going left along the path above the tarn. A gap in the trees provided an opportunity to get a shot from a different angle, showing the hamlet and High Tove behind.

Onwards the path meandered, coming to a gate, where it climbed steeply beside the slopes of Great Crag, our next summit.

"It must be over to the right", said Shaun.

"I agree", replied Dad, as we struck ahead where the path turned sharp left.

Then we went across to the right, and met with another couple, who were also trying to find the summit. After seven years none of us, Dad included, could remember the exact route. However soon Dad spotted a narrow trod climbing up to a col. Here we went right and soon the cairn came into view, Dad calling to the couple that this was the way.

Dad got chatting to them. They were doing the Wainwrights - this was their 79th - we wished them well on their quest. We and Dad were quietly quite glad to have done then all. They were intrigued with us, and took our photo sitting at the cairn. The gentleman then very kindly took us again with Dad. It is nice for us to be able to include a picture of Dad.

"Where now", asked Little Eric, once again.

"We regain the main path then walk along by Dock Tarn, and along above its outflow Willygrass Gill", replied Shaun.

Dock Tarn has a quiet beauty about it. It is about 330 yards by 220 yards and has one small island with a few rowan trees growing on it.

Beyond the tarn the path led on above Willygrass Gill, gradually descending. Looking across the Stonethwaite Valley, the twin tops of Eagle Crag and Sergeant's Crag made a nice picture.

"It's seven years since we climbed those", remarked Tetley.

"My how time flies", added Allen.

"Uncle Eric wants to do those tops, so you may get to tick them off Little Eric", went on Shaun.

"That will be just great", cheered Little Eric.

The final descent to Stonethwaite is down Lingy End, which we had in fact climbed up those seven years ago with Uncle Eric. The path is pitched, but the zig-zags are tight and very steep, requiring great care and concentration on Dad's part.

"Phew, I'm glad that's over", sighed Dad with relief.

Joining the valley track, we went right to Stonethwaite Bridge, but did not cross, instead going on ahead by the Stonethwaite Beck, to join our outward path. Here we turned left crossing the bridge over the beck,

and on to the main road, and to the car.

"Thanks Dad, I enjoyed that walk very much, and with these two summits I have done exactly half the Wainwrights", said Little Eric.


Now Dad drove to Armathwaite Hall, where he intended to have a meal. As he walked in he saw Mia and Lorraine on reception, and then Kim arrived too, and a few words were exchanged. Dad then strolled down to the Brasserie, where for most of the time he was the only customer, so there was the opportunity to chat a lot to Sunshine, which was lovely.

When Dad got home, Uncle Brian asked where he had been for his meal, and Dad said, "I have been to Keswick, so where do you think I have been."

The penny finally dropped, as he realised, and jokingly ordered Dad out of the house!

Dad did however, and quite rightly perhaps, feel rather guilty about this, so the next Friday, he treated Uncle Brian to afternoon tea there. Of course our pals Fletcher and Polly went along too.

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