Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Griesdale Pike and a big smile.

It's really strange that Griesdale Crag is described by Wainwright as being hidden. I didn't know it was only just behind where I was camped for the week in the Lakes until I noticed it on my return to camp from Keswick. I checked it out on the map and from the description given by Wainwright it sounded interesting.

I walked to the start of the route, just next to the B5292, which comes westerly out of the village of Braithwaite on a steep section of road. There is parking at the start for around half a dozen cars. The car park was full, so an early start might be called for.

The path goes up through an area called Heavy Sides and the village of Braithwaite comes into view.

As you progress up this area a lot of hills start to come into view, including Griesdale Pike which, up to now, had been out of view.

Behind I could see rain coming across Keswick and within about ten minutes it hit. Fortunately it was more of a shower than a downpour. At this point I put on my Rab Volt jacket and this stayed on till I came off the summit (a review coming up).

The path continues up Sleet How and there are fantastic views either side of the path as it slowly becomes a really nice ridge walk after the final steep grass section.

The plant life goes from grass and bracken to moorland with heather. The path also becomes more gravel than mud making for a nicer walking surface.

After about 10-15 minutes the rain bated off but the cloud over Griesdale Pike was still there. I was getting very concerned that after all this work I was going to have no views from the top. For me, the views from the top are a big part of getting there.

As I worked my way up to were the path turns very rocky I could see the clouds around me slowly breaking up, gaps were appearing. Fingers crossed.

As I got further up the rocky section it was getting lighter. The terrain here can be a little unnerving, but I have to admit I enjoyed it. The use of my hands became necessary at times, but what a rush.

This was my favourite part of the walk, and all too soon it was over with. I was on the summit and amazingly the low cloud had gone and some amazing views were had.

After a break for about 15-20 minutes and a good chat with some very friendly fellow walkers I decided to head back via Coledale. I know now in hindsight I should have done a few more peaks while I'm up here. But I didn't want to bite off more than I can chew. I haven't done anything this high or difficult for almost 30 years so I'll be back in September for more.

The path off the other side of Griesdale Pike cuts across Hobcarton Crag and then left down to a saddle like area called High Force.

High Force was the only part of the walk where I found it was almost necessary for gaiters. There is quite a lot of standing water in places and the ground is quite soft. So after heavy rain, it should be accessible, but I would take care here. Once past the water the path off High Force is pretty good, quite rocky in places, but entertaining with care.

From the top of the path the view down the valley of Coledale is very picturesque. I really like this type of terrain.

The path descends down past Force Crag and there are more opportunities for some nice photographs in this area.

Continuing down the hill and the Force Crag Mine can be seen down in the valley. The mine was used to extract lead, zinc and other metals from around 1839 until it was closed in 1991. Visits are possible but have to be prearranged. The visitors are shown how the mine operated and how the metals were processed.

Just passed the mine is a man made stepping stones/bridge construction that make crossing the bridge pretty straight forward. Although after some heavy rain it might be a little more challenging.

From here it's a straight forward path down to the start point. Fortunately the weather held and proved the weather forecast wrong once again. I'm going to stick with looking out of the tent door rather than trusting the weather guesses.

Going up Griesdale Pike has been the highlight of my year so far from a walking aspect. I'm really looking forward to returning to the Lake District in September.

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