Grayrigg Pike At Last (had my eye on this for years!

8 12 2018

Thu 15 Nov 2018
I was super-excited to get up this hill despite that most people would probably find it tame, bland and boring. Why? quite a few reasons really…

Firstly, although I’d done around four very tame and easy Lake District hills since my hip replacement, this was a much tougher proposition. It was very rough ground, I assumed it would be largely pathless (and much of it was) and it was a pretty steep ascent ridge. Therefore, I was extremely chuffed with myself on attaining the summit without any problems.

The hill is also one I’ve looked at for years (or even decades) now on my many journeys up and down to the Lake District. I kept saying I’d turn off the M6 and do it but never did – I just kept on blasting past.

Just before Tebay on the M6 heading north, just after a small hill with a comms mast on it, there is a very interesting looking hill. It has a huge corrie, a knobbly ridge leading down to the A road just above the motorway, and, the bit that was always drawing my eye – a superb crag-sided ridge going steeply up for the summit cairn. This cairn was also large enough to be seen while speeding past on the motorway – must be worth a visit!

I was heading back from Kendal after dropping Richard off at Oxenholme station and decided to take the Tebay road back to the motorway to get home. This hill was just above that road so I decided, as it was a lovely day, this was the day to finally do it. I wasn’t sure my new hip was up to what was probably a pretty rough walk but there’s only one way to find out.

There is a large carpark just under the hill with a monument to a poor Highways Worker who was killed (and his mate paralysed) on the M6 around here in Feb 2016. I can’t remember his name from the memorial but am pretty sure it was Adam Gibb and seem to remember he was helping out at an accident which had already occurred during the awful snow and ice of that winter when a posh car came flying along at around 80mph (despite the awful conditions) and hit him and his colleague. I’ve googled it but can’t find anything definite…


Great view of the Tebay Fells from the memorial carpark though

I parked up and grabbed a single walking pole just in case – I was already booted up as I’d decided just to wear approach shoes. I was soon off up the hill. I’d noticed there were two gates and think I should have gone for the one by the carpark but it looked like I’d have to cross the stream so I walked up the road to the higher gate.

After crossing an initial bog, you can join a short zig-zag grassy path up the hillside – this headed through an open gate which was swinging tunefully in the breeze. I soon reached the lip of the coomb (corrie) where I headed onto the wide ridge. Almost immediately a path appeared going up the middle of it.

The path was going very well but there was a single herd of beef cattle up here – of course, they were right across the path. Now, I’m not a bit afraid of cows but there was a bull (probably quite tame) and calves so I diverted round. And, of course, that meant I never found the path again for the ascent up the steep part of the ridge (if it continues).

The ridge went very steep indeed and quite rocky – it was a hands and feet job to get up it here and I used my pole for balance in a couple of places. On reaching the top of this section, I could see I was now almost at the summit cairn. A wonderful short ascent!

I rushed onward from my north-facing and very wet ridge as I could see it was lovely and sunny above. I was soon at the cairn and back in the lovely, warm sunshine. I was delighted to notice that the onward route was nothing like as arduous as it had looked from below and had a great path again.


Grayrigg Pike Cairn – high above the M6!

I romped along the great path stopping once to take a photo back to Grayrigg Pike.

There is a wall to pass through which once had a little gate but the gate is now gone. The farmer has wired it up with fencing but everyone is just climbing over and it isn’t very high – just enough to keep sheep enclosed really…

One thing I really like about the hills between the A6 and the M6 is that they are really unfrequented and desolate. These are becoming my favourite hills recently… Funnily though, on my approach, I did actually see two people on the main summit where there is a trig point.

I soon reached the trig point which was now deserted. From google searches I believe this is ‘Grayrigg Forest’ and apparently a ‘Marilyn’ of 1620 feet – bigger than I’ve been doing recently anyway πŸ˜‰

I was far more excited than any Marilyn-bagger to be here I’m sure! I had a little break in the sun and took a couple of photos – I nearly did one of my little celebratory war-dances too πŸ˜‰


Looking back to the Howgills

The path looked to go onward towards the two masts on the next col – either that or it was going to head down to the road at the back of the hill – I wasn’t sure and didn’t have a map (if it’s even shown on one). I dithered for a while but then decided I ought to go back down the ridge I’d originally intended which meant a complete circuit of the corrie by the road.

I’d seen a path before the wall I’d passed through (over the wire) and that had headed off down the ridge. There was also a path leaving this summit however which headed off down that way. Surely there’d be a way through the wall further down?

I romped off down the nice, soft, spongy path keeping an eye out for breaks in the wall and taking more photos…


Grayrigg Pike with my ascent ridge running up to it


T’Other Borrowdale – very beautiful valley! You can return through this if you do the Whinfell Beacon full ridge walk

Unfortunately, there were no breaks in the wall whatsoever and, nearing the foot of the ever-steepening ridge, the wall cut across my path. I found a corner which was lower and clambered over. There was a very steep descent here to the boggy upper sections of the valley…

I was pretty glad to reach the road but my leg felt fine…

Turning right onto the road took me back out of the valley to the main road where I had half a mile or so to walk back up to the carpark. The verges are wide and flat enough to walk on but, as my feet were now soaked, I was trying to dry them off a little by walking on the road. You need to have your wits about you to do this though…

If you want a map for this hill, you’re out of luck as it appears, no matter which type of map you choose, to be on 4 different ones! There are great descriptions online about the Whinfell Ridge though which are very helpful (I only read them afterwards though as I didn’t even know what this hill was called until I got back!)

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23 responses

15 12 2018
Mark

Never mind the years, these have been on my to do list for many a decades. I’ll have to break the journey, north or south one day…………

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20 12 2018
mountaincoward

Well me and Simon (see comment below) are hoping to do it this spring – I’m sure you’re welcome to join us. We’ll be doing the whole ridge between the A6 and M6 and back down t’other Borrowdale valley afterwards…

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11 12 2018
tessapark1969

Nice to see you getting back out there.

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12 12 2018
mountaincoward

It’s certainly nice to BE back out there! Looking forward to the Keswick meet…

Liked by 1 person

11 12 2018
underswansea

Very fine post. I can’t get over those rock walls that are in your country. It seems so labour intensive to separate property or keep in livestock, yet very permanent. Barbed wire and Canada are about the same age so that’s what we used. Good to hear you are out and about. Regarding those rock walls, in Canada lawyers and developers are always disputing property lines. I always say it’s whosever paying the surveyor. Property lines get moved back and forth along with barb wire. Maybe rock walls are the way to go.

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12 12 2018
mountaincoward

Part of the reason for the dry-stone walls is to clear the land of all the loose stones around about. It’s a fine art though and very satisfying to do – although very slow obviously and best with 2 people – one each side…

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13 12 2018
underswansea

Believe it or not – I wish I could help out on one someday.

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14 12 2018
mountaincoward

Well, if you ever come over here, give me a shout and we can rebuild part of one of mine! πŸ˜‰

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14 12 2018
underswansea

Sounds good. And if you are out this way, I’ll show you how to run a chainsaw and we can get firewood. πŸ™‚

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15 12 2018
mountaincoward

I went on a chainsaw course once – when it came to my turn to try it, I realised I’d learned a valuable lesson – I never want to use one! Terrifying things!

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9 12 2018
Blue Sky Scotland

Good to see you are back in action again. Best wishes.

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9 12 2018
mountaincoward

Really enjoyed that one!

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9 12 2018
chrissiedixie

It’s lovely to hear how well you’re doing, Carol. Bet it feels great to be feeling so much better and more mobile, and so quickly after the op really! πŸ™‚

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9 12 2018
mountaincoward

It’s great – I’m so much happier. Just want my leg length sorting out now though before I do damage when I start walking more…

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9 12 2018
John Bainbridge

Often seen it – never done it.

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9 12 2018
mountaincoward

Do it in dry weather if you take my route – and come back through the wall with the gap to descend the northern ridge. Well worth a bimble though – lovely hill…

Liked by 1 person

9 12 2018
Simon Howlett

Looks like a lovely walk Carol. There are some good maps/drawings of the Whinfell Ridge in Wainwright’s ‘Walks on the Howgill Fells’. I’ve been reading it recently as I’m planning to walk the Howgills and Whinfell Ridge next year after completing the Wainwrights. Sounds like your hip is well on the mend, especially if you’re celebratory war-dancing on the summits! πŸ™‚ A beautiful series of photos, were they made with the Zenith?

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9 12 2018
mountaincoward

I’m supposed to have that Wainwright book somewhere and have been hunting desperately for it – can’t find it though. Think I’ll have to buy it again…

Those are from the Zenith, yes. The first photo was from a film which had been in the camera more or less all year as I hadn’t been doing much!

I’m determined to walk the Whinfell Ridge too so give me a shout when you’re doing it… And I didn’t actually do the wardance – just felt like it. I’ll soon be doing them again though I’m sure πŸ˜‰

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10 12 2018
Simon Howlett

Will do Carol, planning to walk the Whinfell Ridge in springtime. Look forward to seeing the war dance πŸ™‚

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8 12 2018
Jim R

It looks like you had gorgeous weather for this hike. I am glad you are getting out and about . Your new hip seems to be settling in. Good for you. πŸ™‚

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9 12 2018
mountaincoward

It was a beautiful day – shame it was a north-facing ascent and so wet but, after that, superb walking!

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8 12 2018
mbc1955

Congratulations!

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8 12 2018
mountaincoward

I’m super-chuffed. I’m actually going to do it again (hopefully soon) but from the back and via the comms masts road

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