Whiteside to Grisedale Pike – Lakeland’s Golden Mile

1 06 2017

Thu 11 May 2017
During a week-long break at my new house in the Lakes (I still have to go ‘home’ for my shifts), I spent my time urgently trying to get fit for my Scottish Munro Top Compleation which was only around 2 weeks away. Quite a short time frame…

click on photos for full size/resolution – photos all from other days

I did a few shorter walks, starting with non-hill walks, before I went on to the more interesting stuff – the Wainwrights. One route I did was to try out an unknown rake on the opposite side of Littledale than normal, going up onto Hindscarth instead of Robinson from the reservoir dam. I’d looked at this for years but wasn’t sure whether anyone else had been up it. When I finally got around to doing it this particular week, it looked like it had been used sometimes but not regularly. The two guys sat in the sunshine on the opposite side of the dam looked at me like they thought I was either lost or mad though.

The rake went very nicely up through a break in the crags with no real scrambling but lots of entertainment, especially as the drop below got bigger. There was just one section, around a corner, where I dithered for a moment but it was fine, with care, to get around the gap which had appeared. Near the top of the rake, when I met a little wall on my right, I chose a little scramble up the immediate crags above me but a continuation along the wallside would have meant a totally grassy ascent from the top of the rake. From there you can slog up the grass anywhere but it looked easier to rake left again on a wide, grassy ridge to join the High Crags path between Scope End and the final climb to Hindscarth.

At the top of Hindscarth I was torn – should I do Robinson with its fantastic descent ridge to High Snab Bank (a favourite of mine) or Hindscarth Edge onto Dalehead – a route I hadn’t done for some years. In the end I chose Dalehead but was a bit sorry as the descent and re-ascent must only be half that of going for Robinson and I was supposed to be getting fit. There was a cutting wind that day so I didn’t hang around anywhere and, although tempted by the path which curves back around into the coombe from the little descent ridge above Gable Crag, I decided the normal route down to Dalehead Tarn would be more sheltered from the cruel wind. Anyway, I hadn’t done the track down from Dalehead Tarn for years either. I enjoyed my route but was surprised to see that everyone has nowadays lost the track and cut straight down loose ground to the valley from around half-way down – a shame as the real path is well-graded, non-loose and lovely.

I’d done two hill days in a row by then so had the next day at leisure and cleaned my caravan for the (late) start of the season. This took three hours as I found it had been ‘moused’ yet again and the damn thing had been in every single cupboard and on every single shelf. Not only that, but it had somehow subsisted on bottles of shampoo and shower gel and perfume – it must have been foaming at the mouth!

The next day was my last so I decided to go for a tougher route – up the end of Whiteside from Lanthwaite Green in the Buttermere Valley. The day was red-hot and fairly windless so it was fairly hard work – just what I needed! I looked back as I reached the end of Lanthwaite Green to see the guy who’d parked up after me was haring after me at quite a rate. The race was on.

Even though I’m too old to race now and have been way too bad with my breathing, I still didn’t feel like giving in and letting him zoom past so I went as fast as was comfortable up Whin Ben – the outlying shoulder of Whiteside. This is a steep climb and, although the much younger guy kept looking like he’d catch me up, suddenly he’d have to stop and puff and have a little rest. I’ve learnt to pace myself nowadays and rarely stop at all going uphill so I just plodded on feeling hopeful.

I went to the actual summit of Whin Ben as I think you should but, as I left the top, noticed he’d missed it out and continued around it on a little path so was ahead. Still – one hill to me so far.


My return route of Gasgale Gill from the ascent

The climb up Whiteside’s edge is very steep indeed and pretty rocky and, while he didn’t really get much further away from me, I couldn’t catch him up at all so he won that one. He stopped for a break on the top but I continued along the glorious ridge – now in a lovely, cool breeze. This ridge is superb and I went up and down every single bump along it looking down Gasgale Crags all the way to my intended return – the superb Gasgale Gill.


Hopegill Head from Whiteside


Dove Crags on Grasmoor

I was overjoyed to be back on what I consider Lakeland’s Golden Mile along the ridge to Hopegill Head. I’d come this way for the narrow sections as I felt my balance was still poor due to my leg muscles still being insufficiently developed. I needed some balance practice. It’s not a scary ridge though…


Looking back to Whiteside

I was amazed at how well I flew up the ridge to Hopegill Head and, although he’d nearly caught me up while I was messing around doing all the tiny summits on Whiteside, he never caught me up before the summit – and I think he was trying now. I felt fit and well for a change…

After a little pause where we both admired the lovely little path down the crags towards Ladyside Pike, we both turned reluctantly away and headed for Sand Hill.

Again I was absolutely blazing the way to the summit (no effort really though) and he was very surprised to meet me coming back. Most people are going on to Grasmoor but I’d decided I wanted to go onto my favourite Lakeland mountain just along the ridge – Grisedale Pike. I literally ran down the springy turf to reach the path between Hopegill Head and Grisedale Pike and then continued on, having a good peer down Hobcarton Crags all the way to the col.


Hopegill Head or Hobcarton Pike – a beautifully-shaped peak! (Whiteside beyond)

I again stormed over what I call Grisedale Pikelet (the mini pike on the way) and continued to storm on energetically up the back of ‘The Grise’ as I call my favourite. I had the summit to myself and sat for a few minutes break in the sun – lovely.


Grisedale Pike from ‘the Pikelet’

On my return to Coledale Hause, the splitting of all the routes, I decided I’d try the cheating path we’d recently seen around Grisedale Pikelet. The mini-pike is a beautiful little peak and no effort and I think it should always be included but I was curious about this new path which had sprung up. I apologised to the Pikelet as I headed levelly just below. The path started off quite well but soon became quite uncomfortable for me as it is a small path through steep screen with a hugely long slide down to High Force Crags below – ugh. I was looking for where the path again met the descent path to Coledale Hause but it never did – it’s a completely new path up from the Hause. It avoids the normal, eroded descent but I don’t see that as a plus as it will soon become just as eroded and then there’ll be two sets of erosion up the grassy hillside. Not a path I’d ever use again really – but then I don’t like cheating paths anyway.


‘The Grise’ from Coledale Hause

I had a short break on the hause in the sun again as there was a guy dithering around just above the very steep descent down the loose gully at the top of Eel Crags. I wanted to shout that if I found the route great fun and not scary, he’d find it fine but I doubt he’d have heard and it would have disturbed everyone else around so I didn’t. After a while of him not appearing, I set off for the head of Gasgale Gill for my descent.

Looking around just after the first loose and steep section of descent, I recognised a familiar figure haring after me – the chap I’d raced up the hills. I was no match for him descending loose ground and soon had to let him pass – he disappeared pretty quickly. I’m just too careful on loose scree paths in descent to race.

As I reached the gill floor, I was amazed how much damage the last few winters’ floods have caused. The path has washed away in very many places and the gill is no longer an easy stroll – it’s quite tricky in places. There’s still no danger but you might just end up in the beck down the loose sides!

It was red-hot in the gill but I enjoy hot sun so I strolled along happily wishing for the hundredth time that week that I’d remembered my camera. I never remember to take it to either the new house or my caravan for some reason unfortunately.

I was soon at the little scramble at the gill exit and saw a car driving off – I’m pretty sure it was my rival. By the new bridge over the gill I sat and bathed my hot feet in a lovely cold pool and drank the rest of my water. My car had been parked in the shade so I wouldn’t be too hot driving back. What a great walk – can’t wait to do it again soon and must drag Richard along next time.

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20 responses

28 06 2017
McFadzean

Great stuff. I love that area. Wish I was there right now.
Alen

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28 06 2017
mountaincoward

I’m heading back there soon seeing as I live pretty near now 😉

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25 06 2017
tessapark1969

Finally did Grisedale Pike and Hopegill Head today starting at 1.45pm after a long journey from London. I didn’t miss out the Pikelet!! Tbh the bypass looked more effort than just going up it!

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26 06 2017
mountaincoward

Did you like them? I think they’re really beautiful mountains the pair of them.

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26 06 2017
tessapark1969

Have to say a couple of bits of the last bit of ascent of Grisedale Pike were a bit more scrabbly than I’d thought. Views from top great but really windy. Really liked Hopegill Head – cracking hill.

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27 06 2017
mountaincoward

The arete part has worn out considerably. We were shocked how eroded it had got when we went up that way earlier this year – I hadn’t been for a few years previously.

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5 06 2017
chrissiedixie

Didn’t realise you’d got a new house in the Lakes! Hope you’re very happy there 🙂

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7 06 2017
mountaincoward

It’s great in summer – needs much more heating in winter though as the place is currently only partially heated!

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4 06 2017
tessapark1969

Very nice. Really looking forward to doing this one.

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7 06 2017
mountaincoward

It’s a really superb ridge walk – I used to do it in an evening – shows how much I’ve slowed down in the last few years doesn’t it? 😦

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3 06 2017
johndburns

Some great photos there.

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3 06 2017
mountaincoward

Thanks John

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3 06 2017
underswansea

Looks like great country to hike. Enjoyed your photos. Reminded me that I had better get in shape for the mountains. Take care.

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3 06 2017
mountaincoward

I’m still not in shape really – in fact, after that, I lost ground! 😦

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2 06 2017
Julie Watson

Hi Carol… Sounds like you had a lovely day… One of my favorites aswell,love the ridge to hopegill head and then choosing which way to return,iv often continued over to eel crag and then back to wandope and walked back through rannerdale to lanthwaite green… Good to hear your fit and well….. 😃

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3 06 2017
mountaincoward

Well, I thought I was but I haven’t done very well since I got back from a week in Scotland! My chest is fine but my hip is decidedly undecided!

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2 06 2017
Blue Sky Scotland

Another new area of the lakes for me. I did notice you never seem to stop on any ascent uphill- not my cup of tea at all that as I like to sit and admire the views now and then- preferably eating something large and sugar drenched- like a jumbo yum yum.

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3 06 2017
mountaincoward

To be honest, I think I partly get that from my more asthmatic days – you find with asthma that, often, if you don’t stop at all, an attack somehow doesn’t catch you up. Whereas, if you do stop, it comes on more or less straightaway. Not sure why that is…

Also, I’ve got used to the weather shafting me if I delay on the ascent! I relax more on the tops and on the descent and will then stop and loiter.

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2 06 2017
Jim R

Thanks for the lovely pictures.

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3 06 2017
mountaincoward

Thanks 🙂 It’s a stunningly beautiful area – as is all the English Lake District really. That’s my favourite area in the Lakes though and the nearest to my new house 🙂 🙂

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