Grike and Crag Fell

A Lakeland Round (2011): Day 6 – Saturday 9 July

The Unglamourous End of Ennerdale

Today started slowly and at one point I thought I might not make it to the top of any fells, but ultimately I achieved everything I’d planned.With breakfast being half an hour later here, this contributed to quite a late start, and I think I was the last person to leave the hostel.

A good fast pace down to the bridge was soon undone when I started along the lakeside path – courtesy of rocks on the path and the number of people coming the other way. And the views across Ennerdale to Bowness Knott did nothing to increase my pace, and eventually I found a spot on the lake shore to paint.

Heading down Ennerdale to Crag Fell
Heading down Ennerdale to Crag Fell
Bowness Knott
Bowness Knott from across Ennerdale Water

At this point, I considered forgetting about the walking and just painting today, but having only got pencils and not my paintbox, that was enough to limit me to just the one. I got going eventually and made my way to Red Beck, where I struggled to find the path. Experimentation eventually did the trick and soon I was hauling myself up a steep indistinct path through the bracken. It was hard going, and sweat poured down my face, so I was surprised at how well I progressed. Eventually the gradient lessened and I slogged my way up the grassy tussocks to the summit of Crag Fell. I sat down for my coffee break to enjoy the view.

Grike from Crag Fell
Grike from Crag Fell

Next objective was Grike, today’s silly name, and I was at the summit in 20 minutes. I looked south and east at the rest of the fells I’d planned to do, as it was now decision time. I didn’t want to descend via Red Beck so I either had to descend towards Ennerdale Bridge and walk up the valley or commit to the rest of the walk. And I’d used a good chunk of time on artistic breaks. I worked out a rough schedule in my head. It was 2pm, it looked like an hour’s work to work my way around to Lank Rigg (not wanting to leave this as an odd one out). If that was the case it would easily be the same to get onto Iron Crag. I needed to be back by 6:30 latest, and with an hour and a half for descent, that only left me an hour to get to Caw Fell. It sounded doable, but I’d have to put my foot down.

Grike and Crag Fell
Grike and Crag Fell

I set off back from Grike, joining the old mine road to take me into the forest in the valley between Grike and Whoap. I emerged at a fence junction and immediately angled right to slant my way along and up onto Whoap. After some initial trouble with small valleys, I found a small ridge to follow onto the main body of the hill. Then I forged up to the unmarked summit.
Now I looked across to Lank Rigg – it seemed a long way away from the main ridge, but not too steep. In the end I steamed up, arriving 5 minutes ahead of schedule. Now to get to Iron Crag by 4, I looked at the map, saw that the height of the col was 491m, and decided to contour around Whoap when I reached that height. This worked a treat, although whether it saved me anything compared with going over the top is questionable.

On Iron Crag looking towards Caw Fell
On Iron Crag looking towards Caw Fell

I steamed up Iron Crag, losing a bit of momentum when I encountered rocks, but reaching the summit on time. The descent and re-ascent to Caw Fell was slower as my energy started running out.

Pillar and Steeple from Iron Crag
Pillar and Steeple from Iron Crag

I got to the top and had a good look at tomorrow’s walk over Steeple, Haycock and Seatallan. Then I aimed for the ridge path down to Ennerdale, found a cairn, and headed down. There was no sign of a path as such, but the way down was obvious, and I expected the path to gradually emerge and to see more cairns.

No such luck. No sign of the path and I aimed down the hill to the right of the ridge line, where it was supposed to be. When I hit heather, I contoured for a while back to the crest of the ridge and found the path. A 2 boot-wide stony path through the heather, obscured by heather so you couldn’t see where to put your feet was not great and several stumbles later I made it down to the edge of the plantation and a bridge over the stream.

Foolishly choosing the public footpath on the right rather than the permissive path on the left, it disappeared in the trees and I was left to stumble my way down through the trees to the River Liza. Then across the fields to the hostel, arriving at 6:15.

Today’s stats

Distance: 14.07 miles / 22.64km
Time: 6 hrs 50mins
Ascent: 954m
Descent: 954m
Speed: 2.06mph / 3.31kph
FES: 2.99mph / 4.81kph
Wainwrights: 4, (subtotal 21)
Nuttalls: 2 (7)
Hewitts: 1 (6)
Marilyns: 0 (4)
Trail 100s: 0 (1)
Birketts: 6 (37)
Points: 19 (119)

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