Date: 27 March 2019 Weather: 8’C, overcast, little wind
Height gain: 1,604ft Distance: 4.0 miles
Time taken: 3 hours 40 mins Wainwright count: 66 of 214
Route: From Grasmere through Michael’s Nook through the gate and left up by the wood then right to the top and back the same way.
It’s a cool and overcast day but bright with no low cloud and light winds so we decide to head for Stone Arthur. I’ve been looking forward to doing this again – we last did it almost exactly six years ago when we had a holiday in Ambleside the week before an early Easter and it snowed heavily on the day we arrived. We had a wonderful walk up Stone Arthur in snowdrifts and I was looking forward to seeing what it was like underneath all that snow.
We park in one of the (very expensive and not even a toilet) village centre cars parks and head across the playing field and out of the village, crossing the A591 and up the road to the right of the Swan Hotel. Along the road behind the hotel is a narrow lane, signposted “Public footpath Greenhead Gill, Alcock Tarn” which we follow upwards until we reach the gate giving access to the open fellside. The walk up the short road has been beautiful – the gardens to the houses are spectacular with their rocky streams and brightly coloured rhododendrons in full bloom to both the left and the right.
Once through the gate we take the left hand path which rises steeply alongside a walled patch of woodland. The path is of good stone slabs (engineered by the path-builders?) and is easy to walk on although very steep. I seem to be on good form and am bouncing upwards but S is finding it tough – never in our 25 years of hillwalking together have we ever felt good on the same walk.
We reach the point where the path turns to the right and leaves the wall and the gradient becomes less steep. There are great views back towards Grasmere:
To the left we can see Alcock tarn on the top of the hillside opposite us. There has been a steady stream of people going up and down the route to it all morning and the last couple of hundred feet up to it (or down from it) look very steep – people have been descending very gingerly as I would be. We’ve not been up to it before – maybe not one to add to the “easy stroll to a pretty tarn” options.
We carry on along the less steep path until we meet the path directly up from Greenhead Gill and turn left to join it for the last couple of hundred feet to the top of Stone Arthur. S is ready for food so we stop in a sheltered spot on the shoulder of the hill and enjoy our pasties with great views down to Grasmere.
We set off again and the food must have given us too much energy ….. 200ft of ascent turns into 400ft and what looks like the stony top still looks a surprising distance above us. AW is never wrong about height gain, especially when we started in Grasmere as he would have done, and S checks the GPS. Sure enough we have walked straight past the little rocky outcrop that is the actual summit of Stone Arthur so we track back down the hillside before working out which rocky outcrop is the top. It’s this one in the right foreground, although you can see why we kept on going towards something more distinct above it (Great Rigg as it happens):
I enjoy the views west across to Easedale Tarn. Helm Crag is in front of it and High Raise and, to its left, the Langdale Pikes, are behind it. Scafell Pike can be spotted on the furthest ridge:
The view behind us to the north is dominated by the ridges of the Fairfield Horseshoe – this part being Great Rigg to Heron Pike:
We enjoy ourselves taking photos and sitting on the rocky summit to consult AW and work our which mountains we can see. We then start to make our way back down the way we came. As we approach the steep descent along the wall I look back and take a photo of the path we’ve just come down leading up to the tree which stands all on its own:
It looks quite different to how it did in March 2013, although the tree doesn’t look like it’s changed at all:
We quickly tackle the last steep descent along the wall and walk back through the beautiful colour filled gardens into Grasmere and to the car. I enjoyed Stone Arthur in the snow and I very much enjoyed it without – a lovely short hill walk.