Silver How

Date: 15 Dec 2019 Weather: 1’C, cloudy, snow
Height gain: 1,142 ft Distance: 4.6 miles
Time taken: 3 hours 40 mins Wainwrights: Repeat

Route:  From Grasmere up Easedale Road taking left onto footpath up to Allan Bank then left onto footpath up to Silver How.  Headed north east off summit to descend on path via Kelbarrow and walking through Grasmere back to car park.

C is staying with us for a pre-Christmas visit.  She arrived in pouring rain on Friday afternoon and it rained all day yesterday so we had to make do with a game of Monopoly (hadn’t played since I was a teenager and it was enjoyed by all, although perhaps me most of all as I won).  We were expecting a nicer day today and had a few walks up our sleeve depending on what we woke up to.

Opening the curtains gave us a big surprise – a covering of snow on the ground.  Luckily it wasn’t deep at valley level and at 1’C was wet enough to be able to drive.  We ruled out Patterdale and the Kirkstone Pass and decided to try for Grasmere and Silver How.

The A591 still had snow on it but luckily we were behind a gritting lorry.  As we got to Windermere there was less snow at valley level so the final leg of the drive on the smaller roads was fine.

We parked up in Broadgate Meadow car park in Grasmere and donned enough clothes to keep us warm at the North Pole.  We headed for Easedale Road via the toilets – 3 x 20p already stowed in my pocket for once.

As we turned left onto the footpath towards Allan Bank the field had a good covering of snow and it crunched wonderfully under our boots.  The sun was out and as we gained a little height the view over towards Helm Crag (Lion & Lamb) was beautiful:


We carried on up and through a gate onto the path up to Silver How.  It is steep and rocky at this stage but quite wet from recent rain so the snow wasn’t a problem for us without any spikes on our boots.

The valleys around us looked stunning with their monochrome colours in the snow:


After about 500ft of ascent the gradient becomes less steep and the path widens out as we leave the waterfalls behind us and we can see the footsteps of others who’d been up before us today:


We keep climbing and admiring the views and so far the going has been ok for our naked boots.  We leave the wall behind and can see the summit of Silver How above us as the hillside opens up around us:


C is nervous of the steep and icy looking path straight up to the summit and we agree with her.  We track to our right to pick up the less steep ridge line to the top following the footsteps of another walker as we go.

It’s wonderful out here and we’re all enjoying the crunchy snow and wonderful scenery and in what feels like no time at all we reach the top:


Someone has been having some fun up here and we meet this fellow on the eastern edge of the summit:


The weather has clouded over a bit but the views are stunning in every direction.  We all scamper excitedly over the top taking lots of photos.  The views down over Grasmere and Rydal Water blow me away and I trot backwards and forwards along the ridge to try and find the best shot:


There are also good views of the Langdales, although they get a little lost against the mostly white sky:


There is more cloud to the north east obscuring the views of Helvellyn:


The views south east towards Loughrigg look very atmospheric in the sun and cloud:


We can just see the upper reaches of Windermere to the south east with Loughrigg standing proudly between Grasmere and Windermere:


We regroup after all our scampering and weigh up the planned descent route.  We can see the initial section then there is a crag and it looks like it could well be steep down the other side.  There are quite a few people coming up this way and the snow has been trampled down into something icier than our crunchy, sticky snow from the ascent route.

I would prefer to go back the way we came because I think it will be ok in descent but we would all prefer a circular walk so we start down the path.  A group of walkers are on their way up and we stop to chat to them.  They’ve come up on our planned route back to Grasmere and we ask them what it’s like.  They say that it’s a gentle path and won’t be any problem – said in a very nice Liverpool accent.

We carry on with more confidence, C taking the lead to keep herself motivated to tackle the slippery territory underfoot.  It’s harder to stay upright on the well trodden snow and we all slip and slide around as we make our way tentatively downhill.

We reach the crag and look down the other side – sure enough there is 100ft or so of very steep rock below us.  Had our Liverpudlian friends forgotten this but of the ascent?!  We start to carefully pick our way down and actually it’s not as bad as feared – the rocks are wet rather than icy and it’s almost like padding down stairs.

We reach the bottom of the steep rocks and are back onto a gentle gradient with snowy grass underfoot.  There are some good rocks around and it’s more sheltered than the summit so we decide to stop here for some lunch.  C and I tuck into homemade roast beef sandwiches while S pulls out his pillow sized Apple Pie bakery pasty that we made a quick stop for on the way.

We all get chilly as we eat, especially our hands which are wet from handling the rocks earlier.  We don’t hang around and get moving again as soon as we’ve eaten.  The path takes us across little streams twice and as we descend the amount of snow reduces.  We’re all walking confidently now and enjoying the pleasant path.

Although it’s only 2.30pm the light is already starting to fade and the hillsides around us look striking with their snowy accents:


The path continues to meander it’s way to Grasmere and the views in front of us look magical in the fading light:


We finally reach the road and trot our way through the village and back to the car park.

This is the first snowy walk we’ve had since we moved here 13 months ago – the 2018/19 winter must have been very unusual as we didn’t see a flake of snow in either the valleys or the hills.

It’s been a fantastic walk today and we couldn’t have asked for more perfect weather – all the pleasure of a snowy day but with conditions which meant we could drive to Grasmere and walk safely without needing full winter footwear.

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