A Grisedale Retreat

4th December 2010

Deflated, defeated, angry self loathing, unaccomplished are just a few words I muffled all the way back to the car parked back in Patterdale, as today was the first time I looked at my route in dismay & realise I can’t go on any further ‘I’m beaten’ my usual get up & go attitude  has got up & gone & took my will & not to mention my legs with it.

My route today was to be a simple but joyful one, Dollywagon Pike via Grisedale a great route amongst the giants of St Sunday Crag, Helvellyn & Nethermost Pike, a walk covering roughly  400 Mtrs in over 3 miles so on a good day a nice stroll out, then my choice was to climb Dollywagon Pike up the steep zig zag path from Grisedale Tarn then a hasty retreat back down & back out the valley, today I wasn’t to be tempted by Birkhouse Moor (although I have climbed Helvellyn previously via Birkhouse Moor on numerous occasions I don’t actually have a  summit shot) even more tempting was a shot of Red Tarn or Helvellyn’s precariously over hanging snow cornice..no I wasn’t tempted by any of this..my plan was laid out & simple.

I knew today was going to be cold, its something I have become accustomed to but today was especially cold, a bone chilling –13°as I left for Grisedale from Patterdale, the temperature did rise to a tropical -6° which again I am accustomed too. The first hour of the walk into the Grisedale Valley I was met by what looked like promising blue skies, the sun shone on the fells lighting their snow covered summits with an orange afterglow, this walk I said to myself has reminiscent of last weekend, great views, blue skies & snow covered fells.

I was a little wrong..

Wainwright Guidebook
The Eastern Fells



Ascent: 875 Ft, 267 Mtrs
Wainwrights: N/A
Weather: A frosty But Bright Start To The Morning Turning Very Cloudy Above 200 Mtrs, 30-40mph Gust, Lows Of -13° Highs Of -6°.
Parking: Off Road Parking, Patterdale
Area: Eastern
Miles: 4
Walking With: On my own
Ordnance Survey: OL5
Time Taken:  

Map and Photo Gallery



8.30am at the White Lion, Patterdale, & looking at what promises to be good day.


Now picking the path up behind Pattedale village shop, there is a more direct route into Grisedale via the Grisedale Road but with extremely limited parking spaces I find this way easier.


Sheffield Pike from the footpath.


And behind me is a cloud topped Place Fell.


And in the same direction Boredale Hause.


Birks catching the sun, my path dips a little here as I cross Hag Beck hidden in the trees then I flank the base of Birks.


A wintery Ullswater.




Birkhouse Moor catching the sun, here I turn right through the sty in the wall & make my way down in to Grisedale.


An ominous looking wall of cloud as I head in to Grisedale, thoughts at this time were of  Birkhouse Moor & a trip to Red Tarn maybe, but I thought it best to stick to my original plan.



Grisedale Beck.


Passing Elmhow Farm as I make my way along the track, another reason why I choose this walk today was to pay a visit to a Landmark in the Wainwright world,. an old barn Alfred Wainwright used as an over night  shelter back on 29th May 1953.


And here it is.


Unfortunately I am unable to get my shot as I don’t want to disturb the cattle especially as there are young calf’s in the paddock too,. I was a little disappointed really.


Alfred Wainwright’s words as he spent the night at this barn on 29th May 1953, I quote Alfred Wainwright :

This barn has a memory for me, on Coronation Day it was a public holiday and I came over here spent the night in this barn and without the permission of the farmer. I felt a bit apprehensive in case he came along so I was off at dawn to catch the first bus from  Grasmere back to Kendal for I had to be at the office for 9o’clock, when I got back to the office I found that Hillary & Tenzing had climbed Everest on  Coronation Day the same day, and that rather pricked a bubble for me because I always had a impossible ambition  to be the first man on Everest, so its a day I’ll always remember.


Eagle Crag & Nethermost Pike under cloud, the weather really has taken a turn for the worse from here on in.


Looking back into Grisedale with the sun picking out a spot on Birkhouse Moor.


I’ve spent the last half an hour walking with my head down trying to get my face out of the westward  biting wind, fully clothed in winter gear my prospects & not to mention my determination was stretched at this point, my initial thoughts were of at least make it to Grisedale Tarn, making a summit in these conditions would be madness (my own personal thoughts) I had only walked the two out of three miles into the valley but the will to carry on was slowly being sapped away, I stood at this point & I do not kid you for a good twenty minutes (twenty minutes I would almost have been at the Tarn) the snow collecting on my gear, constantly pulling at my hat to stop the wind blowing it away, I now look down at my snow hit trousers & find my decision making is wearing away the snow beneath my feet with the constant shifting of my boots looking up the valley then back down,.up the valley then back down, this was my way of saying to myself ‘Paul abandon the walk’ I didn’t want to but if I do reach the Tarn what am I going to see? I’ve already ruled out reaching the summit of Dollywagon so with my tail between my legs, beaten I turn & start walking back out of the valley, this was the last photo I took.

Being safe is paramount, but the feeling of failure hurts like hell.


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