About this blog

Just having a bit of fun here, posting about walks and other stuff. I need to get out more.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Shap to Ravenglass - Across the Lakes in Autumn

Last month I walked from Shap to Ravenglass with a couple of mates....it was a grand walk.
Here are some photographs and a few words with which I hope to do the trip justice.

Out of bed at stupid o'clock to collect John in Sheffield at 05:30 and then over the Snake pass to pick up the motorway links up Cumbria. We arrived in Shap just before 08:00 and met up with Richard in the car park. Richard's drive had been a much longer one, he had travelled down from Beauly the day before to spend the night sleeping in the back of his car in a lay by just outside Shap.
The cars were secured and left in the car park and we were on our way.

Day 1.

Shap to Gray Crag.

Following a visit to the co-op to stock up on supplies we probably didn't need, we walked through the village and then out on lanes to Keld on what was turning out to be a beautiful morning.
The line we were walking was that of the Old Copse Road which once linked Mardale with Shap Abbey.
Tarmac was left behind close to some farm buildings and a soggy path was joined to take us over to the isolated hamlet of Swindale Head.

From Swindale Head, the Old Copse Road rises steeply through woodland on to the ridge of Swindale Common where we left the Copse Road to take the gradual ascent to Selside Pike, our first Wainwright of the trip.

Rough Crag and High Street from Selside End
The top of Selside Pike is unremarkable but the views all around are stunning, we paused here for quite some time until the cold started to penetrate expensive layers and we reluctantly continued along the broad ridge and past some impressive cairns to Branstree.
A short descent to the Gatesgarth Path was followed immediately with a steady climb to Harter Fell, interrupted only to pause for impressive views and photographs down the length of Haweswater. 

Onwards and upwards, with a bit of downwards thrown in for good measure, to Harter Fell, Mardale Ill Bell and across to the High Street summit trig point. The weather had been great all day and we made a group decision to make our way over to Thornthwaite Crag and then out along the ridge to Gray Crag to try and find a suitable place to pitch the tents for the night.

Gray Crag camp site
The tents were pitched before 5 pm and the usual routines were followed, food was consumed, whisky was shared and the conversation went on until the sun eventually set over the hills of tomorrow.

Henry Shires Scarps and the setting Sun 

As night fell, and the temperature dropped sharply, stags could be heard roaring in the valleys around us as the rutting season was at it's peak. Stars appeared one by one until eventually the Milky Way was clearly visible in the night sky. Just before I finally zipped up the tent, I caught sight of a shooting star to cap off a wonderful day's walking in the Far Eastern Fells.

Day 2 

Gray Crag to Easedale Tarn

It had been a cold night in the tent, sleep had been a fitful affair, interrupted several times as I sought out the warmth deep inside the sleeping bag. 
As day broke, the stags were at it again...roaring their heads off. A hind appeared briefly on the ridge just behind our tents but scampered off when alerted to our presence.
A great advantage of a high camp is the down hill start to the day and it was a steep descent down the spur of Gray Crag to Hartsop and out along the road to pick up the path to the Hartsop above How ridge. 

Gray Crag 

The path from Bridgend initially winds its way through woodland, which looked a picture this morning  in the Autumn sunshine. An early rest stop was taken here before we started the long pull up the ridge to Hart Crag. 
Energy levels were running low this morning, a result of the strenuous first day, the lack of a proper nights sleep and in my case, a general lack of fitness. John decided to push on ahead rather than stop for a break on the highest point of the Hartsop above How ridge. The sky had clouded over by the time we approached the final slog up the steep scree which led to the top of Hart Crag. The hard work was over for the day, or so we thought, as we followed the well worn path up to Fairfield and around the horseshoe to Great Rigg where we branched off to Stone Arthur. We decided to cut short our route today and camp at Easdale Tarn instead of the planned Angle Tarn camp. The lure of an extended break in Grasmere was a temptation we could not resist.
Grasmere from Stone Arthur.
It is a steep descent from Stone Arthur down to the A591, our group three walkers became three solo walkers, conversation petered out as we made our way off the hill. We were all feeling leg weary and ready for the flesh pots of Grasmere. 
Eventually we traipsed into the village and made initially for the co-op for much needed refreshment. Pork pies, chocolate bars and other such luxuries were snaffled up and stuffed in the packs for future treats. Next port of call was the Red Lion, where we settled down for an hour to enjoy a couple of pints of Cumberland Ale, before crossing the road to a bakers shop to buy delicious hot pasties. 
Suitably nourished and refreshed we left Grasmere at 4.30 pm for the pleasant walk along Easdale and up past Sour Milk Gill and to Easdale Tarn, 

Easedale Tarn camp.
Day 3

Easdale Tarn to Wasdale Head

Another cold night in the tent. The cloud was down on the surrounding fells as we broke camp and set off for what would be another memorable walk. I'll let the pictures tell the story of our route through some of the best mountain scenery to be found anywhere in the UK.

On Blea Crag
Pavey Ark and Angle Tarn through the clouds

High Raise

Richard looking towards the Scafell range.

Group photo on High Raise


Langdale from Rossett Pike

Great Gable from Allen Crags

Yewbarrow and Wasdale Head 

Ours were the only tents on the camp site at Wasdale Head, which is now run by the hotel and boasts a shower, washing up area and a smart toilet block situated behind Ritsons Bar. 

The MWIS forecast pinned up in the shop warned of impending stormy weather, heavy rain and high winds were set to move in overnight and continue into tomorrow.

Cleaned up, we retired to the pub for a few beers and some food. The food was decent but not as good as it was on my last visit here a couple of years ago. The beer was excellent though, as was the Talisker night cap. Richard and myself decided we had had enough at about 8pm, leaving John to burn the midnight oil in the Hotel bar, a special invite from coming from a couple of Jeeves and Wooster lookalikes.

Day 4

Wasdale Head to Ravenglass

The bad weather arrived as predicted and we awoke to the sound of heavy rain on the tents. Lazy breakfasts were taken washed down with several cups of coffee in the forlorn hope that the rain would stop. Eventually, as the field was on the verge of being transformed into a village pond, we packed up and headed for the shelter of the wash room to consider our options for the walk out to Ravenglass. It was a no-brainer really, 70 mph winds were forecast for the high fells.  Illgill Head, Whinn Rigg and Muncaster Fell would be saved for another day and our final day would be a road walk all the way to Ravenglass.

Looking back to Yewbarrow

John And Richard with Wast Water backdrop
As road walks go, this wasn't so bad. Luckily the rain had stopped and the miles passed by quickly with lively conversation and discussing options for another trip next year. 
The hamlet of Santon Bridge provided a convenient half way refreshment stop. John opting for hair of the dog in the pub and Richard and myself opting for the excellent Woodlands tea rooms. 
We were reunited again as the sun came out, on the long straight road at Gubbergill and we walked together to Saltcoates and over the railway footbridge crossing the River Esk estuary to Ravenglass. 

Ravenglass from Saltcoates
A couple of celebratory pints of Guinness were swallowed down in the Ratty Arms before heading for the camp site to pitch tents for the last time on this trip. We made use of the showers before returning to the Ratty Arms for more beer and good food. 

A great walk across the Lakes. The Autumn colours, the  unique Lakeland scenery and the great company will ensure that this trip lingers long in the memory.

Ravenglass sunset


  1. Enjoyed that, Dave!
    Ta, fella

  2. Now I remember why I keep going back to the lakes. Lucky with the weather.
    Bits of that took me right back to my C2C, and also the holidays we used to take when our 2 were smaller.

  3. Thanks chaps, it was a great walk, and you are right Andy we were very lucky with the weather, it hammered it down all night in Wasdale and Ravenglass. Next years trip will be from Silecroft to Keswick in March, it should make for a good pre-Challenge daunder.

  4. Good read and photo’s. How did you get back to Shap from Ravenglass?

  5. Thanks Alan. John's dad lives in Barrow and he kindly collected us in Ravenglass and drove us back to Shap via the Hardnott Wrynose passes.

  6. I wondered because Ravenglass is a bit out on a limb. I once got the bus from Penrith to Workington and then the train to Seascale. It took ages.

  7. Looks like a belting walk. I covered some of the way (if not route) on the C2C a few years ago and it calls in at some other of my favourite spots, notably Wasdale, but it looks brilliant!

  8. Howellsey, it was a great walk and we dropped on with the weather until the final day which meant we missed out on the hills above the Wastwater screes and Muncaster Fell. Can't grumble though as we managed 17 Wainwrights on the trip. Looking at options for a similar trip this year.