Great Crag & Grange Fell from Stonethwaite

8th February 2015

Day two in Lakeland saw us take on the Central Fells & two more fells that had escaped my attention for well over twelve months in both Great Crag & Grange Fell. Despite only 24 hours previous when we were treated to wall to wall sunshine our optimism slightly subsided during the drive to Stonethwaite which was done under the duress of heavy fog.

This didn’t alter what was going through my head, all that mattered was I was walking two consecutive days on the trot, and, yesterday was sure going to be one of the most memorable walks due to the one in a million conditions, as far as I was concerned, today, it could have chucked it down & I still would have been happy.

This is Great Crag & Grange Fell from Stonethwaite.


Wainwright Guidebook Three
The Central Fells

-Grange Fell:

Grange Fell is nothing on the map, everything when beneath ones feet. In small compass, here is concentrated the beauty, romance, interest and excitement of the typical Lakeland scene, here nature has given of her very best and produced a loveliness that is exquisite.


Ascent: 2,000 Feet – 610 Meters
Wainwrights: 2, Great Crag – Grange Fell
Weather: Bright & Sunny,  Highs Of  4°C Lows Of -3°C
Parking: Red Phone Box, Stonethwaite
Area: Central
Miles: 6.5
Walking With: David & Jennifer Hall
Ordnance Survey: OL4
Time Taken: 4 Hours 30 Minutes
Route: Stonethwaite – Lingy End – Dock Tarn – Great Crag – Watendlath Tarn – Watendlath – Puddingstone Bank – Grange Fell – Puddingstone Bank – Rosthwaite – Stonethwaite

Map and Photo Gallery


Stonethwaite, Borrowdale 09:00am -3°C

The fog that we had encountered lifted gloriously timed only with the sunrise which set of an aura of oranges & reds over Bassenthwaite. Once again my foggy encounter was left behind in the rear view mirror as we now took on the drive through to Borrowdale via Keswick.

The sun shone direct through my windscreen, this coupled with the fact that it was also layered with more than a generous layer of salt left behind from the gritters meant I could hardly see a thing, squirt the wiper thingies I hear you say, well that would have been a great idea had the water not been froze, the screen wash that I had added a fortnight ago simply wasn’t fit for the Cumbrian night time temperatures.

It was tempting to stop at either Ashness Jetty or Kettlewell Car Park along the Borrowdale Road if only to capture the stillness of a semi frozen Derwent Water as a moon lit morning sky filtered the sunrise high above our heads but we drove on by for the pure reason it was fast approaching 09:00am which, wasn’t the best time to collect those early parking spaces.

We were lucky as we pulled into Stonethwaite grabbing two of the three last spaces left. The air was much cooler than that of yesterday morning due to the fact that Stonethwaite lay in the shade which respectively meant -3°C was the highest temperature we were going to get, for now at least.

Jennifer was ready first as David & myself eased our feet into damp leather boots, good grief it was like descending into some kind of frozen hell, not helped by the fact that I had kept my damp boots in a frozen car all night, my cosy toes in thier cosy socks soon lost their heat as a cold chill rapidly descended upon them.

Jennifer by now was fully kitted up & had started to walk over to the large stone barn opposite the car park, where she found a herd of sheep no doubt making good use of the warm straw they had bedded down in.

With this, cars were locked as we headed out towards the bridge which crosses Stonethwaite Beck.

Eagle Crag is seen as we pick our frozen path up.
We hadn’t been walking long at all yet this didn’t stop us feeling the pinch from the sub-zero temperatures almost immediately where unlike yesterday I was now donning my hat & gloves.

Here, looking back on Stonethwaite & Seatoller Fell from the start of our climb towards Lingy End.
It’s fair to say that despite the low temperatures today’s walk was already feeling like one of those special walks which you are far to unlikely to forget so easily, the main reason for this for me on a personal level was the solid ground underfoot together with knowing that despite it being in the cold & frosty shade, within moments we would be walking in sunshine.

Thats more like it.

Our path from the village of Stonethwaite starts with a gentle incline before arriving at what can only be described as a stone staircase which then rises & twists rather rapidly, with this though came the sunshine found lower down the path as it teased its brightness through the dense woodland, not long after however we were enjoying the full spectacle of how it feels to be walking in early spring sunshine.

Time to delayer…

At which point Jennifer remarks that once she had counted every step from the bottom of the path to the top, how many then asked David? oh I’ve forgot, it was ages ago! Well you best make your way down & start again then hadn’t you!

I see David’s sense of humour isn’t just with me then…maybe Jennifer will find her own way of getting him back!

From Lingy End, views open up towards Eagle Crag & Sergeant’s Crag.

Rosthwaite Fell (Bessy Boot) from Lingy End.
We had soon crested Lingy End & was making our way towards Dock Tarn not before negotiating the frozen path beneath our feet which at times gave cause for some slight detours if only to keep ourselves standing firm on two feet.

From Lingy End Great Gable distinctive summit could be seen quite clearly along with Grey Knotts, Brandreth & Fleetwith Pike there on the far right.
I guess it didn’t matter how far or how high you walked today, you were still certain of a perfect day on the fells.

Arriving at Dock Tarn.

Dock Tarn was soon reached as we decided to take the narrow path for a while if only to get up close with the frozen water.

After a test from our walking poles it was decided that the edges of the Tarn was covered in a thin layer of ice, however after a scientific test with a scientist stone it was determined that the centre of the tarn could possibly hold the weight of a small animal, both Jennifer & I asked David would he be prepared to carry out more scientific data but he declined.

Spoil sport!

Just kidding, never try walking over any expanse of frozen water, even if it looks solid enough to hold your weight.

Dock Tarn.

Frozen formations, as it’s coming up to Valentines Day…

Looking back on Dock Tarn.

Once we had passed Dock Tarn this was the point where we would head west where we followed a winding path which lead directly towards Great Crag summit.

Although there was snow on the ground the path was still easy to follow yet small rocky outcrops made for some timely decisions in how to get around, or over them without slipping on black ice or frozen snow.

Taken shortly before arriving at Great Crag, here’s Ullscarth seen with Low & High Saddle.

The snow topped summits of Borrowdale.

Looking towards Dale Head & High Spy shortly before arriving at Grange Fell Summit.

Watendlath & High Seat from Great Crag summit cairn.

Great Crag summit was soon reached where distant views began to open up towards an advancing cloud inversion that was making its way from Bassenthwaite towards Derwent Water engulfing Threkeld, St Johns-in-the-Vale & Keswick along the way.

It was here we turned our attention to ‘who would be the luckiest’ right now & where would they be to get the best view, after naming more than a dozen summits we both agreed that anyone on Walla Crag or Latrigg would find themselves looking over the Inversion rather than down on it, what a weekend this is turning out to be!

Distant views over Grange Fell towards Skiddaw with the advancing Inversion heading towards Derwent Water.

It was time to leave Great Crag but this was a little easier said than done as the ice had formed thickly over the stone path which again meant, more diversions.

Jennifer adopted her micro-spikes & showed both myself & David how to descend over the icy path as I especially looked on thinking, why haven’t I treated myself to Microspikes?

I followed a good lay of the land descent all the way to Watendlath Beck where still, the path had a good covering of ice over it, this wasn’t too difficult to negotiate as the long grasses at times made for good support.

Watendlath Tarn.


The Packhorse Bridge, Watendlath.

We soon found ourselves sat down on the wooden bench that overlooks Watendlath Beck, with the farm shop closed for winter it was here we tucked into Jennifers famous Lingmoor Cakes whilst sat under a strong winter sun.

It wasn’t long before we were surrounded by local wildlife either all wanting a piece of Jennifer’s secret recipe.

David & I spoke of what to do next as we had intended to include Grange Fell in todays walk, however due to us enjoying the walk so much we hadn’t noticed time was slipping us by, what do you think Jennifer do you fancy including Grange Fell or shall we give it a miss?

Jennifer’s reply was ‘you go for it, I’ll meet you further down the path.

Heading up Puddingstone Bank.
We both broke away from Jennifer agreeing to meet her further down the path after we had made our summit on Grange Fell, I’ll have to admit, we made the top of Puddingstone Bank in record time & gave the walking poles a good thrashing whist we were at it.

Grange Fell from the top of Puddingstone Bank.

It was probably a combination of just how hot it felt together with the fact that both David & I gained this spot in a time that Husain Bolt would have been proud of, we soon hooked a right where we followed the stone wall as our ascent gently inclined towards a wooden sty.

Already David had layered down again & was walking in just his mid layer with his sleeves rolled up, I missed the opportunity to at least take off my jacket, instead just opting to unzip to let the cold air at my chest.

The view from Grange Fell summit over the High Borrowdale Fells was just stunning.

Here’s that Cloud Inversion, its half way across Derwent Water by now.

Descending Puddingstone Bank.

Summit time whilst at Grange Fell summit was brief as we knew we had to catch Jennifer up further down the path which we did shortly after I took this photo.

By now we were passing groups of walkers all heading for Grange Fell & Watendlath in their droves, which kinda put a summer aspect feel to our walk which, I’ll have to admit, I think I’d missed a little.

The High Borrowdale Fell once more.
We had the perfect view of Great End & its satellite fells as we descended Puddingstone Bank, all the while being bathed by what can only be described as a walk in the middle of Spring.

Here, looking back up the path towards Puddingstone Bank.

Hazel Bank, Rosthwaite.

Arriving at Hazel Bank could only mean one thing which was our walk was sure enough coming to an end. All that was left was to walk back to Stonethwaite where once again we would pick up Stonethwaite Beck to accompany us by, here eyes are dazzled by the sun as it flickers from tree to tree, branch to branch.

Before arriving back at Stonethwaite we catch up with an old gent clutching a walking stick as he takes sure but short steps all the while enjoying the afternoon sun. I pause for the briefest of chats if only to pass on my afternoon, it’s only then am I reminded that this old fellow is local, a former farmer even who knows this land like the back of his hand, with his legs stretched wide apart to steady himself he lifts up his walking stick & points to Skidda.

Fine day he replies, with this he asked where you been? I went on to tell him our route, ahh… just a walk round block then!

With a smile I replied, Aye!


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