West from the car park by the side of the A66 into the village of Braithwaite followed by a 2½ mile uphill trek to Grisedale Pike. South-west above Hobcarton Crag to Hopegill Head, then south for 2¼ miles to Whiteless Pike via Sand Hill and Whiteless Edge. North-east by way of Wandhope to reach the top of Crag Hill before heading east to ascend and then descend Sail. North-east to the summit of Outerside and around the southern flanks of Stile End to Barrow Door, returning to Braithwaite via Barrow and Braithwaite Lodge. A 12-mile walk in the Lake District.
The best map to use on this walk is the Ordnance Survey map of the Lake District North-Western Area, reference OS Explorer OL4, scale 1:25,000. It clearly displays footpaths, rights of way, open access land and vegetation on the ground, making it ideal for walking, running and hiking. The map can be purchased from Amazon in either a standard, paper version or a weatherproof, laminated version, as shown below.
The view down to Braithwaite from the hill on the western side of the village.
Looking south-east from Sleet How over to Outerside (foreground) and Causey Pike (background).
The steep path to the top of Grisedale Pike.
Hospital Plantation and Thornthwaite Forest (Whinlatter Forest Park).
The summit of Grisedale Pike, height 791 metres (2595 feet).
I reach Hobcarton Head between Grisedale Pike and Hopegill Head.
The rocky slopes of Hobcarton Crag and the path leading to Hopegill Head.
The summit of Hopegill Head, height 770 metres (2526 feet).
The fog clears briefly and I get a view of the magnificent Eel Crag as I descend the southern flanks of Sand Hill. The col or saddle seen here between Sand Hill and Eel Crag is Coledale Hause, and although there are a few paths which can be confusing in mist it is a straightforward crossroads:
- Right (west) down through Gasgale Gill to reach Crummock Water.
- Left (east) into the Coledale Beck valley and on to Braithwaite.
- Straight on to get to Grasmoor, Crag Hill or Whiteless Pike.
Looking east from Coledale Hause. The pointed peaks are Causey Pike (right) and Outerside (left).
The summit of Whiteless Pike, height 660 metres (2165 feet).
The strong winds blowing over Whiteless Edge momentarily clear the mist to reveal Crummock Water and Mellbreak. Loweswater is also visible in the distance on the right.
The summit of Wandope, height 772 metres (2533 feet).
The Lake District Herdwick sheep
The Herdwick breed of sheep is one of the toughest in the UK and is perfectly adapted to a harsh life on the high fells of the Lake District.
Herdwicks are free to roam anywhere they wish on the unfenced Lake District land, but they generally do not stray far from where they are supposed to graze because of their in-built homing instinct which is passed down through the generations.
They keep the vegetation under control due to constant grazing and thus help to create the distinctive look of the Lake District landscape.
Herdwick lambs are born with a jet black fleece which quickly lightens to dark brown. When the young sheep are first shorn at about 15 months old, the fleece turns steel grey. After a few years white ‘kemp’ fibres increase and the fleece becomes a very light grey.
The main features of adult Herdwicks are white heads and legs; horns on the rams; broad, long, muscular bodies; and two coats (a woolly waistcoat and a thick, wiry, outer coat).
The name ‘Herdwick’ appears to have been derived from the Norse term ‘Herdwyck’, which means ‘sheep pasture’, and the earliest record of the breed in the UK was in documents dating back to the 12th century.
The summit of Crag Hill, height 839 metres (2753 feet).
The view north from The Scar (between Crag Hill and Sail) over to Grisedale Pike which I had climbed earlier that morning.
Looking back towards Crag Hill from The Scar.
The summit of Sail, height 773 metres (2536 feet).
The winding, stone track down from Sail and up to Causey Pike. Behind Causey Pike is Rowling End. The three peaks on the left are Outerside, Stile End and Barrow.
Ard Crags is lit up by the sun as I look south-east from the lower slopes of Sail. In the background, and in shade, are the likes of Robinson, Hindscarth and High Spy.
The view of Outerside from the col between Sail and Causey Pike. In the distance is the Skiddaw range of mountains. Skiddaw, Carl Side and Little Man are cloud-covered, but Dodd, Long Side and Ullock Pike can be seen.
The summit of Outerside, height 568 metres (1864 feet).
The summit of Barrow, height 455 metres (1493 feet).
The Newlands valley and Cat Bells, as seen from the northern flanks of Barrow.
The Newlands valley and Derwent Water. The wooded hill on the left is Swinside, with Keswick in the background.
Braithwaite is visible as I descend Barrow. The village is about a mile away and I’m tired. This has been a hard walk.
Looking back at some of the fells I had visited. From left to right: Stile End; Outerside; Eel Crag (cloud covered); Hobcarton Head; Grisedale Pike.
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