In the Morning
Our fifth morning in the Lake District and not a lot going on for three-quarters of the family. I’d half-agreed the previous evening with Ami that we’d go for another hill walk in the afternoon. Notionally I needed to test out my new walking boots. Hmm! Anyway, we’d picked Helm Crag as a target.
Back at the plot, I did myself some bacon. mushrooms and toast for breakfast, because you can’t walk up big hills on an empty stomach. After that, Ami and me both had a final piece of equipment to go get sorted. When we walked Baystones she’d commented that the insoles in her boots were moving around. Eventually they got completely rutted up and were a bit useless. Cheap, giveaway insoles in boots that weren’t massively expensive… So we decided to go get that fixed. She’d initially suggested getting some superglue, but I thought a better idea would be to get some decent insoles. So off we went again to Gaynor Sports for a chat. We came out armed with some new insoles for Ami that made the boots fit more snuggly. And we came out with a similar item for my new boots, because, well, why not?
Where are we going then?
All of that insole buying meant we now had an urge to get out and walk up a hill. First of all we had to make sure Kas was back from her outdoor swim near Rydal Water. We swapped the cars around to leave hers outside the house, while me and Ami jumped in my car to get going.
Helm Crag is best accessed from Grasmere, and as it happened, one of the parking permits the house provided allowed for free parking in a number of car parks in the area. One of these was in the middle of Grasmere village. We did a single full lap of said car park before on the second lap the Gardner parking-karma kicked in and somebody backed out of a space right in front of me. Result. Put that permit in the window, Ami, and lets get our boots on!
Up to Helm Crag
From where I’d parked we had a bit of ground to cover through the village and up Easedale before reaching the footpath up the mountain. In fact, it was a mile or so, but at least it was over flat ground.
The path that leads from Easedale up to Helm Crag (the one closest to Grasmere, anyway) takes what you’d call a direct route. At the bottom it’s well marked with stones and is quite wide. A coupe of hundred metres off the road there’s a couple of gates and junctions in paths and then you come out of the trees and start to hit the steeper bits. By steeper, I mean steep. There seem to be two options and I remember reading that one is described as a scramble. We went for the other. That one takes a slightly gentler route but at least it was a discernable path of small stones through the bracken. Wherever it got really steep there were the usual built-in rocks forming irregular steps.
The climb up is not very long, because to be honest it’s not very far, despite the steepness. It’s about 300m of altitude above Grasmere village. The steepness made it a challenge but it was definitely quicker and easier than the walk up Baystones.
Once we were at the top, we were treated to excellent views back over Grasmere and Rydal Water to our south-east. To our north-east was the Helvellyn range and the top end of the Fairfield Horseshoe. Over the western side there was a decent view of Silver How, Blea Rigg and the more distant Langdale Pikes.
We decided to treat ourselves to a snack break whilst watching the skies and guessing how far away all the other hills were that we could see.
We were peering across to the west wondering which of the peaks along the ridge was Gibson Knott and which was Calf Crag. It all looked pretty flat and as a result we weren’t really sure. Estimating the distance was tricky and there are multiple, small hilltops there. But we were feeling full of energy so we decided we’d set off and try to get to Gibson Knott anyway. It looked about a mile away, but after a sharp drop from Helm Crag it wasn’t too steep.
It took us under half an hour to walk over to where my GPS said was the top of Gibson Knott It was the nearer of the two bigger crests we could see. The weather was still good so we sat for 10 minutes having another snack break. Ami decided this would be a good moment to fill in the relevant two pages in her “Diary of Doing the Wainwrights” that she’d acquired from Amazon. Thankfully it wasn’t raining or windy. That made for a pleasant 10 minutes for me staring at the clouds and along the views.
We decided that we were getting a bit short on time though, and the next stretch up to Calf Crag looked like further than the walk from Helm Crag. It also looked uphill. So we decided that would be enough for the day. We still had to get back down the hills, and heaven knows how long that would take.
Is it a Path?
Between the afternoon’s two peaks we’d noticed what looked like a better route back down into Easedale. It didn’t involve climbing back up to the top of Helm Crag to get to the original path, anyway. That made it better.
It turned out to be a challenging route back down, because it’s a footpath still under construction. What looked from above like steps below us were just big bags full of the stones used to make the steps. So the footpath was more of a loose gravel-covered slope with a few bits of grass. At least it was mainly dry though, and not very far down. Soon enough we were on much more level ground and close to the footpath that runs all the way along the base of Easedale.
The path at the bottom was mainly flat, so we walked it pretty quickly and got back to Grasmere Village. We’d been away from the car for a little under four hours, which seemed good.
In the village I persuaded Ami to let me go and do a couple of geocache stages near the church, and then we jumped into the car to come back to Ambleside. There were a couple more stages by the museum out on the main road, so we did those two.
Back at home, all was well and the two remaining members of the household had decided we were having dinner at the Flying Fleece in Ambleside. It turned out to be a good choice. We had some moxed starters. Venus picked a tomato soup, and it was very, very good.
After hill walking I felt I’d earned a pie of the day, and they confirmed that it was indeed a proper pie, rather than a casserole with a hat on. The pie-ness was enhanced by it being served with chips, mushy peas and gravy.
And that was us for another day. Nobody had the space or energy for pudding, and the girls were tired, so they all jacked it in as soon as we got home. I probably stayed up for a while typing notes for blog posts or reading a book.