Tarn Crag via Codale & Easedale Tarns

14 04 2013

Feb 2013
The day after our Fairfield Photo Fest walk (see my earlier post), Richard said he didn’t want to do another walk but I wanted to get another mountain in. I suggested that I do Tarn Crag above Easedale and then he could have a gentle stroll up Easedale to see the tarn – a beautiful and popular walk which he’d never done. As he’d otherwise have had to hang around Grasmere for half a day while I did my hill, he agreed.

The Grasmere Hotel, where we’d stayed, suggested we leave the car in their carpark as otherwise it would cost us £7 to re-park in the village. We’d actually been going to ask them anyway but they got in first. We readily agreed, booted up and set off in yet more great sunny weather. It was positively scorching for February – at least mid 70s! It was another walk where we both went mad with our cameras…

Easedale Tarn Ridge from Easedale Track

(click on photos for full resolution)
While visiting the village pubs the night before, I’d seen a quieter lane signposted for Easedale rather than Easedale Road which seemed quite busy. I took us along that and, almost immediately, we ended up completely wrong. I think we should have turned off the lane near the start and headed across fields back to the Easedale Road but nothing really said to so we strolled on up the quiet lane. There were great views of Helm Crag from here (Richard’s photo)…


Soon, we came to a choice of either a path heading up to Silver How (completely wrong), a private notice for the rest of the lane, or a track heading all the way back down the hill nearly to the village again! 😦

We had no choice but to head all the way back downhill again to the Easedale Road just as it left the village – we’d added about 15 minutes onto our walk and a load of height gain for no reason whatsoever. I was pretty furious and determined to rip the signpost off the start of the lane when I got back!

I didn’t really come out of my black mood until we’d left the road onto a good path, the path got much prettier and Tarn Crag hove into view. Even from here though, I was already noticing there was a bit of a worrying snow ramp right up the steep route immediately below the summit – I hoped it was okay when we got there.

Tarn Crag from Easedale Approach

Pretty soon the path heads uphill beside the various cascades of Easedale Beck – a very pretty route.

Easedale Cascades

Easedale Upper Falls

Upper Easedale

At the top of the cascades, the path turns and flattens out considerably as it heads towards the tarn…

Upper Easedale - nearing tarn

By now I was sweltered and seriously considering taking my top off and shocking all the tourists but I refrained from doing so – if I’d been further into the hills and away from the tourist track I would have. I was studying the SE ridge of Tarn Crag as the whole thing was in view now and was my proposed descent ridge…

Tarn Crag SE Ridge (all)

I pointed out to Richard where my path down would re-cross the beck and suggested he wait there when he’d explored the environs of Easedale Tarn. I was by now thinking I could probably manage, with a bit of guile, to get him to do the whole hill route though if I chose an interesting enough route.

We soon reached the tarn… I was a bit disappointed to see it was pretty frozen as the ice was making the surface look very dull.

Easedale Tarn - The Boulder

A bit further along the lake though, looking to the classic view of Tarn Crag, it looked much better…

Tarn Crag - Classic View

and even better towards the end…

Easedale Tarn End & Tarn Crag

The views looking back to Fairfield (our previous day’s walk) and the Helvellyn Range across the tarn were lovely…

Easedale Tarn to Fairfield

Easedale Tarn to Fairfield & Seat Sandal

By now it was more or less the point where Richard intended to return… I suggested he walk back on the other side of the tarn but he kept being put off most of the boggy-looking crossings to the other side of the valley – I didn’t argue with him. We plodded on along the very icy track having to pay a lot of attention to our footing to avoid a fall.

I’d originally been going to ascend the normal route from the other side of the tarn but saw I’d missed the start of the path as it began back at the beginning of the tarn. I revised my plans to set off up the sunny and unfrozen grassy hillside opposite. However, as Richard still hadn’t left, I had an idea I could maybe entice him up to see Belles Knott and Codale Tarn. From there it would be just as easy for him to go back over the mountain as it would to re-descend the route. The route up to the valley head looked extremely frozen and pretty steep however.

Codale Route

I pointed out the lovely Belles Knott to him and told him that, if he walked a little further, he would see ‘The Matterhorn of Easedale’ as she is also called. He continued on and soon we got the classic ‘Matterhorn’ view (his photo)


I told him how, although the front was a reasonably exciting scramble, you could easily stroll along an almost flat grassy ridge from Codale Tarn onto the summit from the back. He looked intrigued and continued on…

Fairfield from Codale Tarn Approach

The path steepened dramatically and pretty soon, we were tackling a very steep section of awkwardly iced slabs. We had our hands full and he was too busy to think about turning back – anyway, there was Codale Tarn to look forward to, I said. We couldn’t really stop to take any photos until we surmounted the slabs at the junction of paths where we turned off towards Codale Tarn (Richard’s photo from the top of the slabs)…


As soon as a grassy ramp came down from Belles Knott, I said I was popping up to the summit – Richard followed. Codale Tarn hove into view looking really pretty…

Codale Tarn from Belles Knott Ascent

We had a lovely sunny break at the summit rocks and I had a peer down the scramble which I thought was probably too steep and high for me…

Belles Knott Summit Rocks

(this one is Richard’s photo)

Then we headed back to the tarn-side…

Codale Tarn - snowy & sunny

The most spectacular views were looking back into the sun at the snowy areas and we took loads of photos each…

Codale Tarn under ice with seated couple

Codale Tarn - Icy Swirls

Codale Tarn - Icy & snowy

Codale Tarn into sun

and Richard’s bluey-digital version of the same

We then headed below the very snowy Codale Head to pick up the momentarily steep and grassy path up towards the back of Tarn Crag. There are quite a few cairned lumps but I knew the true summit was the one with the snowy ramp leading steeply down below it.

The true summit (above) and another summit (below) – both Richard’s photos


There was another, lower summit directly overlooking Easedale Tarn

Easedale Tarn from Tarn Crag

Which also had a great view back to the Langdales…

Langdale From Tarn Crag

We had another break in the sun for a quick coffee and then set off to examine our descent. Looking over the edge to the snowy ramp from the main summit showed us our descent ridge – it was quite a drop down very steep ground to the start of it – I hoped the snowy ramp was okay.

Tarn Crag - looking down SE Ridge

We dithered at the top of the steep snow – I noted there were boulders lower down if we slipped and we hadn’t brought any kind of spikes. We tentatively set off down the snow slide but decided it wasn’t the best place to be and fished around to the left of it among broken crag and rocky ground. We could see there were some steep ways down keeping to the grass and picked two separate routes downwards.

Tarn Crag Awkward Snowy Ramp
Looking back up – a choice of cragginess or steep snow

This whole section reminded me very strongly of Meall Ligiche in Glencoe – the hill is a very similar configuration with easy grass slopes leading to a very steep finish with broken crags and I’d done it in very similar conditions (but with a lot more ice and luckily going up instead of down).

Tarn Crag Summit from SE Ridge
Tarn Crag Imitating Meall Ligiche!

Richard took this photos of the ice and drumlins at the end of Easedale Tarn from where the normal route branches off down…


Lower down we passed the remains of Deer Bield Crag which Wainwright reported as falling down quite a few years ago – the huge white scar down the front of the crag still looks fresh! (in shadow in the photo)

Deer Bield Remains

Richard took a couple of photos on the way down the knolly ridge…


Looking back up

And he photographed a huge boulder with a heather garden beside another with a tree growing out of the middle of it. When I studied the photos after loading them onto my laptop, I saw the completely misleading directions on the larger boulder – it points left to Grasmere which takes you in completely the opposite direction and into no-man’s land at the head of the valley!
(click on photo to see the writing)


And then we were back to Easedale Beck and the tourist route back. Richard had enjoyed his impromptu mountain walk and so had I! 🙂

Easedale Beck & Juniper




14 responses

26 03 2014

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27 03 2014

Oo-err missus! No-one’s grabbed my arss for ages 😉


30 04 2013
Dan Hudson (aka icemandan)

I’m always impressed by how wild that area feels when you consider what a honey pot Grasmere is. My tip for parking in Grasmere is the bottom of White Moss Lane where there are usually a few spaces – or take the bus. It adds a bit to the walk but I don’t usually mind walking around the Lake.


30 04 2013

It is pretty wild once you’ve left Easedale Tarn – pretty busy and popular before that though…


15 04 2013

I’m glad you had a good time despite the early wrong turns. It looks beautiful!


17 04 2013

Even if you only go as far as Easedale Tarn (which most folk probably only do), it’s a really beautiful walk, especially on a lovely sunny day!


14 04 2013
Paul Shorrock

Good post all round Carol, and well done on your powers of persuasion!


17 04 2013

I have to be very persuasive sometimes! 😉


14 04 2013

Great pictures 🙂 🙂 I’ve never figured out why Tarn Crag doesn’t get the footfall of the surrounding hills, especially when combined with the two tarns of your route.

Parking charges must put off some visitors, it may just be me being tight though. It certainly restricts people ‘touring’ – wouldn’t be so bad if the tickets where transferable.

A few walks in & no mention of your foot, I take it its healing nicely ?


17 04 2013

I think the £7 parking charge probably puts most normal walkers off. Also, the busyness of Grasmere generally puts us off ‘in season’. That’s why we went in Feb.

My foot is variable but generally doing quite well. It’s just had some extensive walking on stone-pitching and I’ve had a sore ball as it were!


14 04 2013
jackie sowrey

I love the photographs. It must have been a brilliant hike. You really do know what you’re doing but I suppose you need to. I’d be lost for days!


17 04 2013

The walk is fine for anyone up to the first tarn but, in wintry conditions, the section up to the next tarn catches many people out as it’s steep and not great under ice. We just had one tricky section but it was quite long…


14 04 2013

Lovely pictures too!


17 04 2013

It’s a beautiful spot 🙂


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