Helm Crag, Gibson's Knott, Calf Crag, Sergeant Man, Blea Rigg & Silver How
The final day of my first September weekend in the Lakes was gloomy and drizzly. The others decided to do a bit of shopping, so I did a solo climb to Dodd summit overlooking Bassenthwaite Lake - another Wainwright ticked off and a great, but damp way (no photos) to finish an excellent weekend! And I only had a few days before my return visit, this time with my best mate Duncan.
The usual pattern of my trips with Duncan is that I travel up early on the Friday, do a spot of walking and photography on my own, and then Duncan joins me for the weekend. And so again this time I planned a solo walk on the Friday, to take in as many new Wainwright's as possible.
However, as late as Thursday afternoon, I was seriously doubting if this was going to be possible. I have recently taken up jogging, and in the process tweaked something in the back of my left angle. This hadn't caused me any problems at all in the first weekend in the Lakes so I thought I would go for a quick 5km jog on the Wednesday. By Thursday I was hobbling around like an old man - would I be able to walk in the Lakes at all???!!!
My plan was to combine parts of two routes in my book, ascending Helm Crag to its famous summit (405m) before continuing over Gibson's Knott (421m) to Calf Crag (537m) and then on to Sergeant Man (736m). At this point I had a possible diversion round to the Langdale Pikes, to capture Thurnacar Knott. From then I would return back to the more obvious main route by ascending Blea Rigg (541m) before extending the circular route back to capture Silver How (395m) with its viewpoint over Grasmere and Rydal Water.
As Thursday progressed my ankle seemed to get a bit better, and so I decided to give my original plan a go. I could at least attempt Helm Crag, a popular route, so there should be other people walking if I got into trouble.
In the end I was fine. My ankle was a bit sore as I started, but as soon as I started to climb I forgot all about it. I missed out the diversion to Thurnacar Knott, descending straight down from Sergeant Man to Blea Rigg. It turned out to be the perfect length, as I was able to capture the views in late evening light from Silver How, before descending to the car still benefitting from the last remnants of daylight. It was a great walk, with spectacular views, and my ankle lasted the full 12 miles. Bizarrely though, I whilst I was fine walking in the hills, as soon as I got back to horizontal ground, I was hobbling again, a pattern that lasted the whole weekend!!
My walk started in Grasmere village where I parked in the Easdale Car Park. The route to Helm Crag first takes you along the Easedale Road. I then followed a sign to Helm Crag that took me through the grounds of the Lancrigg Hotel. I had to check with someone that I was on the right track, but as I left the hotel grounds the route up to Helm Crag became clearer.
As I started to climb, the view opened up behind me of Grasmere lake with Loughrigg Fell behind.
A number of cairns mark the way. From this one, you can clearly see the route I have come up.
It is a steep climb, but soon the you reach a plateau with views towards and across the summit.
There are some great views from the summit ridge path, leading to the main summit outcrop, known as the Howitzer. The light was great, with a faint rainbow adding to the overall grandeur of the scene.
The light and views across the Scandale Valley were quite spectacular.
And towards Dunmail Raise.
Looking back as I carried on towards Gibson's Knott, you could see the Howitzer standing proud on the hill, with Grasmere lake down in the valley.
The summit of Gibson's Knott is quite indistinct. There are a number of summits with cairns, none of which seemed to correspond with the summit shown by my GPS. I kept taking images of the view behind.
And looking left across the valley towards Blea Rigg and the Langdale range.
The summit of Calf Crag is easier to find and offers great views down the valley and of the route I was to return down later in the day.
As you walk from Calf Crag towards Sergeant Man the view disappears and you climb steeply towards the next summit. Looking back you can clearly see Calf Crag summit.
By the time I reached Sergeant Man it was clear that I would have to leave Thurnacar Knott to another day. The view from the summit of Sergeant Man is great. I was particularly taken with the view of the Langdale Pikes and Stickle Tarn to my right - a perspective of this range that I hadn't seen before. The light was quite dramatic too!
And Lake Windermere can be seen quite clearly in the distance.
At the top, I started chatting to a young couple who I discovered live in Lincolnshire like I do. They noticed I was using my phone GPS and Viewranger app to navigate, so we walked together so that I could help ensure they found their route down back to Grasmere via Easdale Tarn.
Rather than go down to the tarn, my route kept high, along the ridge to Blea Rigg.
The views were spectacular along the entire ridge, here towards Lake Windermere.
But also right across the neighbouring valley towards the Coniston Fells.
My final Wainwright of the day was Silver How. To include it as part of this walk meant missing several of the quicker routes back to the car - but it was worth it, with great views of Grasmere and Rydal Water.
From here I made my way downhill and back to the car, just in time before it got dark. It had been a great day - a fantastic walk, in good light, and my ankle had behaved itself - and still two days of walking to go!!!
For more images from this walk please go to the gallery here.