Silver How, Blea Rigg & Tarn Crag

2nd February 2014

Today I was back in Lakeland with Tim on a pre-arranged walk organised some weeks ago. Tim is notching up his Wainwright count where after todays walk would see him reach the 185th summit mark. It’s an incredibly exciting place to be for Tim right now but Tim is in no hurry & hasn’t set a date for the inevitable finish nor has Tim concreted a fell to finish on, but, going off todays conversation Tim is thinking low so his four young children can join him which is a lovely finale to finish your Wainwrights I think…maybe even get the young ones starting their own Wainwrights.

The weather has always played a massive part into todays walk, the weather still isn’t playing ball & the weather warnings continue to disrupt the country & indeed our fell walking plans today thus our decision to stay low, this didn’t mean we weren’t to be lashed about by the fierce winds whilst dressed in full winter kit because that is exactly what we got.

The forecast was set to be a wet one turning drier in the afternoon with snow showers falling across the high fell tops, well, for once the forecasters got it wrong in our favour & we managed to stay dry the whole duration which only added to what was a great walk.

 

Wainwright Guidebook Three

The Central Fells

-Tarn Crag (Easedale)

Easedale Tarn has a popular venue for visitors: a romantic setting, inured in bracken-clad moraines with a background of craggy fells, and easy accessibility from Grasmere, have combined this a favourite place of resort. The dominant feature in the rugged skyline around the head of the tarn is the arching curve of Tarn Crag, above a wild rocky slope that plunges very steeply to the dark waters at its base.

Easedale Tarn is not the only jewel in Tarn Crags lap. A smaller sheet of water, Coledale Tarn, occupies a hollow on the higher shelf; beyond, indefinite slopes climb to the top of the parent fell, High Raise.

 

 

Overview
Ascent: 2,041 Feet, 622 Meters
Wainwrights: 3, Silver How – Blea Crag – Tarn Crag (Easedale)
Weather: Overcast With Some Hail Showers, Staying Dry. Wind 45-50mph Gust, Highs Of 6°C Lows Of 6°C Feels Like -4°C
Parking: Grasmere C.E Primary School (Donation Box)
Area: Central
Miles: 8.1
Walking With: Tim Oxburgh
Ordnance Survey: OL7
Time Taken: 5 Hours 45 Minutes
Route: Grasmere – Allan Bank – Wray Gill – Silver How – Brigstone Moss – Langhow Tarn – Blea Rigg – Belles Knott – Coledale Tarn – Tarn Crag (Easedale) – Tarn Crag East Ridge – Easedale Tarn – Sourmilk Gill – Easedale Beck – Easedale Road – Grasmere
 

Map and Photo Gallery

 

St Oswald’s Church, Grasmere 08:21am 6°C

We timed our arrival with sunrise & parked just behind St Oswald’s in the school playground of Grasmere’s C.E Primary School, a great place to park but it does fill up very quickly so the earlier the better I suppose. There is no official parking fee but there is a donation box in the wall of the school so dropping a few quid for prime location parking is no bug bear at all.

We kitted up as more cars started to arrive, within five minutes we were soon on our way walking through the deserted Grasmere streets. I at the same time was cloud watching not believing my luck that we hadn’t kitted up in the forecasted rain.

Those clouds as dark as they were look high & were moving at some speed, good signs to start the walk this February morning.


Broadgate, Grasmere Village (the fell in the background is Nab Scar)
We took a shortcut through the village green seen right, Tim made for the the Heaton Cooper art studio where he made a passing glance at the Lakeland paintings displayed in the windows, next door to the art studio is the Miller Howe Cafe which is where we took a right turn for Allan Bank.

 
 

Allan Bank.
We soon arrived at Allan Bank where we passed through the grounds of Allan Bank House, a former property of William Wordsworth which suffered major damage during a fire back in 2011, I’m not too sure if the construction is still on-going due to the fire but we did pass a sign saying it was due to re-open in Spring 2014.

Above Allan Bank.

After passing Allan Bank we continued along this tarmac road for a short distance until we reached a sign-post for Silver How.

With views over towards…


Helm Crag & Dunmail Raise.
 

And our last fell of the day…Tarn Crags seen here with Sourmilk Gill.
 

Crossing Wray Gill.
The path continues towards a narrow gorge where Wray Gill can be crossed, by now the wind had picked up incredibly which saw us both layer up & baton down the hoods with our draw cords, shortly after taking this photo I was lashed across the face with a strap from my pack causing both my eyes to water, not the best cocktail in these high gusts.

‘Angels Torches came & went’

Not far from the summit you get this fabulous view over Grasmere & Rydal Water, in the distance Lake Windermere also makes an appearance.

The light was fantastic when the sun shone between the clouds, such was the high winds these Angels Torches didn’t last very long so I had to be quick with the camera to capture them.


Loughrigg Fell seen with the sporadic light affect creating the Angels Torches.
 

Tim crouched down at Silver How’s summit.
I think it was a combination of wanting to get the brilliant light in the background & the fact that standing up was quite difficult whilst at the summit with such high gusts.

Myself at Silver How summit.
After the summit photos it was time to re-adjust the clothing & baton the hoods again, Tim opted for his balaclava as I applied the neck gaiter, with draw strings tightened again we set off across Brigstone Moss towards Lang How & Langhow Tarn.

 
 

The Langdale Fells & Lang How seen over Brigstone Moss.
I was lucky enough to be able to carry my camera around my neck as the light across the fellside was just fantastic when the sun broke through the clouds just for those few seconds at a time.

Langhow Tarn.
Here looking south (towards Chapel Stile) from one of two of Langhow Tarns, this one being the more eye catching than the larger Tarn found next to it.

Here, Looking back towards Silver How, Swinescar Pike & Lang How from Great Castle How.
 

Blea Rigg illuminated by more brief sunshine.
The ridge from Silver How takes in some slight ascents & descents before reaching Blea Rigg itself but are all very enjoyable especially on a day like today. However, this area is particularly known for being wet & boggy underfoot as my toes where starting to find out!

Tarn Crag & Easedale Tarn come into view from the base of Blea Rigg.
 

Blea Rigg summit cairn looking back towards a distant & somewhat hazy Windermere.
From the ridge (base) of Blea Rigg not much effort is needed to reach the summit itself, this was also the area we encountered the snowline where in places the snow was deep & slushy & not really causing too much difficulty except for the ‘slippery & wet feet issues’

The Blea Rigg ridge from Blea Rigg summit.

The sporadic light continues creating spectacular contrast between the near & distant fells. Here in this photo Pavey Ark can be seen together with Sergeant Man seen just off centre in the photo.

Tim & I plotted our route down to Coledale Tarn not before traversing the ridge to take in some great views over towards Stickle Tarn & the Langdale Fells.


Harrison Stickle, Pavey Ark & Stickle Tarn seen from the Blea Rigg ridge.

The walk south to see the Langdale Fells was done while battling a fierce & very cold wind, Tim opted for some higher ground as I kept with the ridge moving headlong into the wind.

Just before I left Tim he shouted over the wind ‘make sure you get a close up of Jack’s Rake’ I found standing up in a vertical position difficult so concentrating on getting that one shot wasn’t & didn’t come easy.

I took this photo on my knees so fierce the wind I sadly didn’t manage the close up of Jack’s Rake.


Descending towards Belles Knott.

This descent was the trickiest of the day due to the soft wet snow which just lay inches above soaked grass, not the best combination I must say.

Tim lead the way as I picked off zig zag’s, no matter your route or routine a slip here was inevitable which happened to the both of us within seconds of one another.

The trick is to let your knee take the slide & let your trailing leg keep your balance all the while your brain is telling you you’re falling!


Belles Knott (R) Tarn Crag (L) & Easedale Tarn with distant views towards the Fairfield Horseshoe.
We pick up the path seen running diagonally behind Belles Knott towards Coledale Tarn where we both shared our thoughts on just how glad that descent was now behind us!

Coledale Tarn.
 

Coledale Tarn.
We debated on stopping for an early lunch at Coledale Tarn but we couldn’t really find a place to stop that wasn’t too exposed, so we decided our fuel stop would be at our final summit of the day on Tarn Crag.

Here looking back on a very cold & wintery Coledale Tarn as we make our ascent on Tarn Crag.
 

Blea Rigg from our Tarn Crag ascent.
Looking in the same direction this time towards Blea Rigg with the Langdale Fells seen over on the right.

Tarn Crags (Easedale) summit cairn.
The wind had picked up with the little height we had gained so we decided to drop down a little where we found a perfect hollow to take respite out of the cold wind to eat lunch.

Easedale Tarn from Tarn Crag east ridge.

After lunch we re-shouldered packs & set about finding the safest way down from the summit which was coated in a heavy blanket of snow, the initial route would have been to follow a birds eye descent straight onto the east ridge but this was over boulder & deep snow, we skipped back a little & decided to make a slow but safer descent beneath the summit crags where we passed beneath a sheltered grassy rake.

During the descent through the snow Tim slipped again but adding a rather theatrical role into his descent, my heart stopped for a moment then as soon as I realised he was ok I thought it ok to take the mick a little, 10/10 for effort my friend!

Tim would get his revenge before the day was out.


Here, Looking back up the east ridge towards Tarn Crag (Easedale) summit.

My time would come & it did during the descent of the east ridge where the path was saturated in running water, I cant exactly remember what happened as  it happened so quickly but I do know that I got a good soaking…my only worry was my camera which escaped a drenching due to my quick reactions as I went down.

After a quick wipe down we were soon back on our way.

Dare I say a cheeky grin forming from Tim’s direction!


Heading down to Easedale Tarn.
We could hear the roar coming from the Tarn’s outflow well before we could see it, at this stage unwittingly, we didn’t think anything of it.

Sourmilk Gill.

What would have been a simple crossing at the Tarns outflow would have been way too dangerous to negotiate.

We walked beside Sourmilk Gill for a short while looking to see if there was a safer place to cross but it was soon becoming apparent that even at the narrower parts of the outflow the water was  travelling way too fast to make a safe crossing.


 
 

Tarn Crag from Sourmilk Gill.
We had no choice but to follow the path on the Far Easedale side of Sourmilk Gill, here the path deters away from the Gill further into Far Easedale towards Stythwaite Steps, as we wanted to keep with Sourmilk Gill to see the falls we decided to follow a faint path which tracked its way along the waters edge.

Here, looking back up towards Tarn Crag from Sourmilk Gill.
 

Sourmilk Gill waterfalls.
Our faint path negotiated towards the top of Ecton Crag, here we had the advantage of being able to look down on Sourmilk Gill in full flow, the sound was deafening & certainly brings out the youngster in you, but besides this, footings weren’t aplenty so before we made a spectacular fall in front of an abundance of day trippers we made our way down the front of the Crag downstream from where I took this photo.

Sourmilk Gill as we cross Easedale Beck via a wooden footbridge.
After crossing Easedale Beck we met back up with the main Easedale Tarn path, here we pass large groups of day trippers heading up towards Sourmilk Gill & Easedale Tarn.

 
 

Passing Blind Tarn Cottage along the way (Pronounced "Blinton’’)
Now a guest house Blind Tarn cottage holds a haunting past, during 1808 proprietors George & Sarah Green both died  during a blizzard leaving there six children alone for days. The Wordsworth’s had recently taken up residence in Allen Bank. Agnes, the eldest child of the Greens spent time in their service.

New Bridge over Easedale Beck (1997)
 

Easedale Cottage.
 

Please Leave – It Keeps Deer Out !
 

Sam Read's bookshop, Grasmere.

We strode back into Grasmere at our own leisurely pace passing more walkers & day trippers along the way, Grasmere was quiet which seemed odd as Grasmere even during the winter months never seems to sleep.

The shop lights illuminated the windows as we passed by reflecting on another perfect walk carried out on what should have been a day for the waterproofs, perhaps this is why Grasmere is so quiet, perhaps like us it may be worthwhile to take a risk with the weather, the forecasters don’t always get it right…


 

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