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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Like Here Only Different ~ Day 5 Grasmere to Patterdale

7.5 miles / 12 Km 5 hours for standard route.  Add 2 miles and 2 hours for ~ Helvellyn.  Add 1 1/2 hour for St Sunday Craig. 
Grasmere - Grisdale Tarn
> Option 1  Helvellyn and Striding Edge ( Dixon Memorial) 
>Option 2 St Sunday Craig
>Option 3 Valley floor, multiple streams - Elmhow Plantation
all meet and into Patterdale. 
Tonight I stay am at Grisedale Lodge www.grisdalelodge.co.uk  and dinner is at the White Lion Pub.  www.patterdale.org/Whitelion.htm

A short but classic day.  Helvellyn is the third highest peak in England at 3118 feet.  It is a steady hike up from Grasmere to Grisdale Tarn where a decision must be made;  Helvellyn tough but a great highlight, St Sunday Craig, at 2756 a fine climb with kinder gain and descent.  The third route for those weary of leg or for when the weather is foul is and long gentle 6 mile valley floor descent to Patterdale. 

Helvellyn is quickly followed by Striding Edge.  Open knife-edge ridgeline walk that is thrilling for its views.  The guide book says Striding Edge can be walked in 20 minutes but to allow 1 hour for busy times where the narrow trail requires pulling aside and waiting for others coming from the opposite direction.  It is, perhaps, best tackled early in the day.  All the way up here is a memorial to Robert Dixon, who was killed in 1858 while following his fox hounds during a hunt.  That is tough sport in a tough country.  This is the place I want to be.  If it is a fine clear day, I will know it is the highlight of the trip.

St Sunday Craig is said to hold better views and fewer thrills.  The guide book describes it as a "steady plod" and far less strenuous than Helvellyn.  In recent weeks I have walked a route that makesj the steady 1000ft/mile climb (and even sharper descent) and feel OK for Helvellyn if the weather is OK.  The guide book says winds on St Sunday and be quite fierce, but the footing is better.

Well ,that is the tour book rundown.  The reality is that the day is drizzly and while I am feeling a bit better, I am in no shape for the extra miles and elevation.  I chose the valley route and it was awesomely wonderful.

The hills here remind me a bit of the scarred basalt ridges you see from Yakima north into the Okanagen However the are covered in green and dotted with sheep.

Sheep.  Funny things.  I asked one of my fellow travelers about how they keep control of the animals in what is open range.  He said ,as a rule the sheep had been living in this valley for so many generations, they simply don't stray.  Looking up these high hills, really we are in glacier carved canyon / valley, you can see stone walls running down the hillsides.  What a tough breed of people created all this.

With their bare hands.

This is Ruthwaite Lodge.  Stone built hut used for search and rescue.  We are at the backside of Nethermost and Dollywaggon Pike.  I hope you can see the detail of the waterfalls behind the building.

On the way up Tongue Gill there were local NP workers and volunteers doing work on the stones of the stair climb route.  I made sure to thank them for their effort.

I opined to one NP staffer that a least marker is really needed in the place we went astray yesterday.

He politely smiled and said "Yes"

Sort of as if he had heard it before.

At  dinner tonight and ran into a gent who started day one with me.  Tomorrow is his last day and it sounds like he will be trying the high mountain route.  Weather does not favor that for yours truly, so I am going to use the alternate route suggested by Sherpa.  I sat down with the maps and some info here at the hotel.  I found that there is an option of taking a boat part way up the lake, saving seven miles.


  1. So you are meandering in England now. This sounds like a healthy and interesting adventure both.

  2. Inger it has been an excellent experience. Every evening I wonder how I can go on and every morning I am itching to go.