Coast to Coast – Stonethwaite to Grasmere

Date: 27 August 2019 Weather: 20’C, sun then cloud
Height gain: 1,857 ft Distance: 8.2 miles
Time taken: 6.25 hours Wainwrights:

This is our seventh walk of the Coast to Coast and we decide to go back and do the full stretch from Stonethwaite to Grasmere – we had intended to do this adding in ascents of Eagle Crag and Sergeant Crag in our walk on 18 June 2019 but flagging energy levels plus seeing the scale of the climb up to Greenup Edge from the col beneath the two mountains meant that we abandoned mission that day.  We couldn’t leave a section half done so knew we’d have to come back.

The recent warm weather has kept us away from more challenging walks over recent weeks and we are feeling the need to get back out into the mountains.  The forecast is for partly cloudy weather and a top temperature of 20’C – a bit warm but 15 mph winds are also expected so that will provide some breeze.  We decide today is the day to go back and finish what we started.

It takes about 1.5 hours to get the cars into position.  There are a lot more cars parked on the verges around Stonethwaite when we arrive today than there were in June, but we manage to get the last spot in the layby by the phone box which is right where the footpath starts.

We have our boots on and set off at 11.15 am, Apple Pie shop pasties smelling good in the rucksack.  The sky is full blue and the sun straight above us as we start on the lovely path which takes us to Greenup Gill.  We look up at Eagle Crag ahead of us and I’m glad we don’t have to take that detour today:

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This is a very enjoyable path which gradually climbs the 1,000ft to a col beneath Eagle Crag and Lining Crag.  Despite all the cars parked in the village there aren’t too many walkers out.  We pass a couple who are on their way to Eagle Crag – he’s beaming and full of enthusiasm but she’s looking like she isn’t enjoying herself.  They stop to greet a party of red faced men who are catching their breath on some rocks and we don’t see any of them again – a real shame if the couple didn’t make it up to Eagle Crag – it’s a great walk with beautiful views, especially on a day like today.

The views behind us down the valley look as good as they did in June:

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It is hot, though, and after about 600ft I start to struggle.  There is another good point about this route, though – regular access to cool water in Greenup Gill:

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I pause while crossing the Gill a couple of times on the way up to fill my hat with water and plonk it back on my head – a bit drippy but it cools me down and I start to feel a bit better.

We’d spotted a party of four making rapid progress up the Gill and we pause to let them pass us.  I think the chap in the lead is the man from the couple we spoke to earlier, perhaps they’ve waited for friends to join them, but no, these are different people.  I ask where they’re heading – off to Grasmere like us.  He and his wife are on holiday doing the full Coast to Coast but taking it slowly and keeping the sections relatively short.  The four of them steam off ahead of us.

By the time we reach the col I’m flagging again and we stop here to enjoy our pasties for lunch.  We have a great view of the walk ahead – the path is obvious on the mound in front of us and I try to work out where the path then goes – I think it will track underneath Lining Crag to it’s right, but no it does go straight up the left edge of the crag:

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The party of four don’t stop and carry on up what looks like the very steep path on the mound.  They quickly reach the top and I’m envious of their fitness.  They then disappear over its shoulder and I keep a look out expecting to see them to the right of Lining Crag but perhaps I’m just looking in the wrong place as I don’t see them emerge – and in fact we don’t see them again all day (at their speed they probably got to Grasmere in time for lunch!).

The lunch stop does me good, as it usually does.  I cool down, replace lost calories and have much more energy for the next part of the walk.  The path up the mound looks daunting from our lunch spot but it’s a quick and well made path and only just over 100ft of ascent.  I’m surprised that we’re going so directly up Lining Crag, but rather up something of that gradient than down it:

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It’s rocky and steep but quite fun and we make steady progress to the top of the Crag.  There are quite a few people coming down it, some of them very tentatively and we all agree that coming down is definitely worse than going up.

We stop for a breather on the top of Lining Crag and soak up the views back down the valley we’ve come up with Eagle Crag prominent on the left:

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I love all the hummocky moraines up here and we debate whether they are natural or man-made.  I look them up when we get home – the best definition I can find tells me that they are natural and are irregular mounds of glacial debris.  Here they are in a bit more detail, Sergeant Crag just captured on the far right:

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I’m starting to flag again at this point – everything seems to be aching from wearing my rucksack, not sure why.  The going is less steep now but there is still more up to the top of Greenup Edge and there are boggy patches all around us.  There are good cairns to mark the path and we move from one to the next hoping we’re going in the right direction.  I veer to the right of the path to tackle a boggy patch and testing it with my foot find it’s just water underneath the reeds.  As my foot disappears into the bog I sprawl onto the hillside and get myself nice and muddy.  The wet and muddy patches are nice and cool in the breeze though once I’ve picked myself up and followed S to firmer ground.

After what feels like forever we finally reach the top of the edge and can see our route back down the other side to Grasmere.  Cloud has started to bubble up, which we’re grateful for, but it doesn’t do a lot for the pictures so although we can make out signs of life at the end of Helm Crag (Lion & Lamb) it’s not very clear in the photo:

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We take a breather and have afternoon tea 200ft or so below the summit and as we much our cakes we feel a few spots of rain.  It rains gently for most of our descent from here which is actually very pleasant in the warm and humid weather.

Once we reach the col below Calf Crag we decide to continue on this path straight down rather than pick up our intended route on the path to the left which goes over Calf Crag.  We know this will bring us out on the wrong side of Grasmere and add a mile or so to the walk but we decide to avoid further climbing and besides, we’ve been up that path before so why not try something new?

The path isn’t scary but it is rocky, undulating and boggy in places so it’s slow going.  We know we have to get to the end of Helm Crag before reaching Grasmere and it seems to take forever to come any closer – it’s at the end of the ridge in the centre of the photo:

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We trudge on and make slow but steady downward progress.  I look back up to where we’ve come from – we’re surrounded by lovely scenery:

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We’re finally down to flatter ground, though the path remains rocky and stony.  As we cross a bridge the locals decide to keep a close eye on us:

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In fact they decide to covertly follow us for the next half mile, being unobtrusive so we don’t spot them of course:

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We’re nearing the end of the path and my feet are looking forward to some flat road, but it still seems to take an age to get there.  I take a final shot of the views surrounding the path – you might just be able to make out the rain which looks heavier than it felt:

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We reach the road and speed up on the easier terrain.  It takes me a while to recognise where we are – the road is running parallel to the path down from Easedale Tarn:

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We reach the familiar Easedale Road and after three quarters of a mile take a footpath to the left to circumvent the village centre.  It has the most underwhelming words I’ve ever seen on a footpath finger post – “to the B5287”.  We duly reach the B5287 and walk up it until we meet the A591 and the final, thankfully short, distance to the layby and my car.

This has been a really beautiful walk but harder work than it felt like it should have been – I’m exhausted after only 8 miles.  I must be out of condition after reducing the hill walking in the horrible hot weather – roll on Autumn.