UKH

Easedale Horseshoe Walking

It's fifty years since the publication of John Wyatt's seminal book The Shining Levels. The title refers to the multilayered gleaming waters often found in Lakeland views, and nowhere better exemplifies this than the complex, hummocky watershed between the Brathay and Rothay valleys. Pools jewel the ridges while tarns fill the hollows, sparkling in sun, glowering in storm, and leading the eye down to the lowland lakes, with perhaps a glistening estuary beyond. Water, water everywhere. This ridge is often quieter than many, yet easily accessible from Grasmere. The route described marks a horseshoe around the two Easedales, keeping to high ground, and includes the Central Fells’ highest point, High Raise before looping back over Calf Crag, Gibson Knott and Helm Crag.

Small Herdwick enjoying the view of Langdale  © Norman Hadley
Small Herdwick enjoying the view of Langdale
Fetching Map

Detailed description

1
NY3364207584 Leave the village by the access lane to Allan Bank. It's marked no through road but that needn't concern us. Just before the house itself, we'll fork right and bypass it. You'll soon leave behind the scone-and-jam National Trust feel and get onto the open access fell.Looking north, you'll see the way you'll be coming down.
The descent seen from the start  © Norman Hadley
The descent seen from the start
© Norman Hadley, May 2023

2
NY3245207186 Crossing Wray Gill, the peak of Silver How is up to your left. This is a fine viewpoint.
Grasmere and Rydal Water from Silver How  © Norman Hadley
Grasmere and Rydal Water from Silver How
© Norman Hadley, Apr 2021

3
NY3246306593 Follow the gloriously hummocky ridge for mile after fantastic mile starting on a west-north-west bearing. Savour it: surrender to the temptation to visit each little peak - especially Lang How. Don't be confused by the green hatching on the OS map; don't expect to be running through forest. This ridge is complex in mist but the general bearing is north-westerly. Look out for the little rock howff on Blea Rigg, then follow the ridge up to the rocky turret of Sergeant Man.
The reedy pool of Lang How Tarn  © Norman Hadley
The reedy pool of Lang How Tarn
© Norman Hadley
Looking across the face of Pavey Ark to Stickle Tarn and Harrison Stickle  © Norman Hadley
Looking across the face of Pavey Ark to Stickle Tarn and Harrison Stickle
© Norman Hadley, Apr 2021

4
NY2863308903 The turret proves to be a fairly one-sided battlement fringing an expansive plateau. Keep heading northwest to the high point of High Raise.
Pool high on High Raise, looking toward the Scafells  © Norman Hadley
Pool high on High Raise, looking toward the Scafells
© Norman Hadley, Apr 2021

5
NY2807409531 Saunter north, losing a little height to the important pass of Greenup Edge.
The darkling waters of Easedale Tarn (not actually en route but encircled by it)  © Norman Hadley
The darkling waters of Easedale Tarn (not actually en route but encircled by it)
© Norman Hadley, Apr 2021

6
NY2857010539 Turn right at the edge, picking up a path that skirts the top of the Wythburn draining basin before rising slightly to the col at the top of Far Easedale. This is tricky territory in mist and the unwary traveller could be lured too far down Wythburn and end up on the wrong side of Dunmail Raise. [Theoretically, an even more spectacular foul-up is possible: to descend the wrong side of Greenup Edge and end up in Borrowdale. I've witnessed worse.]

7
NY2957010282 At the Far Easedale col, pick up the path to Calf Crag, skirting the edge of Far Easedale. This continues on a fine switchback over Gibson Knott then up to the Lion-and-Lamb-adorned citadel of Helm Crag. If you are an assiduous peak-bagger, and fancy an airy scramble, surmount the summit rocks.

8
NY3265509309 Continue along the ridge, zigzagging down to the lower reaches of Far Easedale. The road will then lead back into Grasmere. Maybe there will be time for one last backward glance.
Returning to cool waters in the valley  © Norman Hadley
Returning to cool waters in the valley
© Norman Hadley, May 2023

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