Eagle Crag and Sergeant’s Crag

Date: 18 June 2019                      Weather: 19’C, sunny with puffy clouds and light wind

Height gain: 1,755ft                    Distance: 7.4 miles

Time taken: 6 hours 10 mins   Wainwright count:  83 & 84 of 214

Route:  From Stonethwaite school car park up Greenup Gill and back the same way.


We intended this to be the next section of the Coast to Coast from Stonethwaite to Grasmere so we took two cars, parked mine in the layby on the A591 near The Traveller’s Rest and then onto to Stonethwaite to start the walk.  I had needed to be on a conference call for work first thing so we set off later than we would normally.  The positive was fresh hot pasties from Ambleside for lunch, the downside was concerns over parking and S’s general discombobulation at not starting a walk until 12pm.

We got the last spot in the Grasmere lay-by and found that parking in Stonethwaite was fine – in fact we found a school with a large and nearly empty car-park which was open to anyone and only made a request for donations – which we gladly made.

Boots on, we set off through the village and onto the footpath to Greenup Gill.  The weather was lovely – sunny but not too hot.  The walk starts with a mile or so of flat walking along the footpath before starting the gentle ascent up the Gill.  The rather imposing first object of the day, Eagle Crag, soon comes into view above us:

1The views back down the valley are also very attractive as we start to climb:

2

Although gentle, after 600ft of ascent I’m struggling and need to eat.  S is doing fine, but agrees to stop and have lunch.  There are plenty of good rocks to sit on and it’s a very good lunch venue – the Gill running alongside us and curious sheep on the hillside checking us out as we munch our pasties.

Food sorts me out as usual, but unfortunately also slows S down.  We cross the Gill a couple of times, and S slips on the slippery stones in one and lands face down.  He springs up as usual and carries on as if nothing has happened.

We reach the top of the path up the Gill and sit on a rock to catch our breath while eyeing up the path to the top of Greenup Edge ahead of us:

3

We currently plan to be going up that later once the two Crag’s are conquered.  A weary looking couple have been ahead of us and are making their way slowly up the path as we watch – they definitely look a few hard days into the full Coast to Coast walk.

Eagle Crag is behind us and we know we have to cross the Gill and find our way up the hillside but there are no distinct paths.  A woman walking alone comes past us and confidently crosses the river and starts up the hill – we decide to follow as she looks like she knows where she’s going.  S isn’t feeling good at this point and we’re moving slowly.  The confident walker is out of sight before we can blink an eye.

We can see the top ahead of us so we make our way up the steep grass – it’s about half a mile and 300ft above us but it seems to take forever as we undulate over steep then less steep and sometimes boggy ground:

4

We eventually reach a fence surrounding the top of the mountain and find ourselves on the wrong side of it.  It’s tall and has barbed wire along the top so is not easy to get over.  We can’t see any gaps or stile, so start walking along it to see if there’s a way through.

We find a spot where you can just get over it, but are then squeezed between the fence behind us and a wall of rock in front of us.  We manage to find a section with enough foot and handholds to haul ourselves up the 15ft or so and land on the heathery plateau.  Still more up on craggy and heathery ground before we finally reach the top:

4.5

We’d both gone off Eagle Crag by this point, until we saw the views and also enjoyed the rocky slabs of the top – it’s a lovely little mountain.  Here’s the views looking back down the valley towards Stonethwaite:

7

And off the side to the valley and Langstrath Beck below:

6

Feeling a little refreshed by how lovely the top of Eagle Crag was we set off towards Sergeant’s Crag – half a mile and 250ft above us.  We had seen the fit lady heading off Eagle Crag earlier and she had gone right to the Langstrath Beck edge of the hill to what looked like a precipitous drop – given our earlier shenanigans with the fence we decided to check it out and yes, this was the right way – a small stile with a very steep drop to our right took us onto the path towards Sergeant’s Crag.

It was a quick and not too strenuous walk across – it gets steep towards the end and we see a man gingerly coming down the craggy rocks as we go up – but as always going up steep crags isn’t as difficult as coming down them.

Sergeant’s Crag is also a nice top, although more compact than Eagle Crag:

9

And the views are also very good:

10

We spend some time at the top pondering whether we can get to Greenup Edge from here without going all the way back down to the Gill and up the steep path we saw earlier.  S is feeling pretty tired and we’ve been slower than usual so combined with our late start it’s well into the afternoon by now.  We can see a route up towards High Raise and a path which looks like it avoids going all the way to the top, but it’s probably 600ft of ascent and perhaps 1.5 miles to the Edge so we admit defeat and decide to head back the way we came.

We find a less craggy route for our descent and make relatively swift progress down the steep grassy hillside.  The fence proves a little problematical again but many people must have had the same issue and we find a part which is dipped and we can get over it.

We retrace our steps back to the top of the Gill and then down the valley towards Stonethwaite.  It’s a beautiful late afternoon and the views on the way down are excellent:

11

Even though it’s not difficult walking it seems to take us ages and we finally arrive back at the car at just after 6pm.  We go and collect my car from it’s day out in Grasmere and decide to pick up fish & chips for dinner at the chippy we like in Windermere on the way past.  S volunteers to stop off but finds it closes on Tuesdays.  I end up going into Kendal on my way back to try and find a chippy which I eventually do and we finally get home with dinner sorted.

We didn’t quite do what we planned today – we’ll have to come back to do the Coast to Coast section properly – but it’s been a lovely walk on a lovely day, with only flagging energy levels and a pesky fence to detract from it.