The previous day we’d had a slow leisurely walk up Great Mell Fell in nice sunny weather, the day we’d planned to venture up Grasmoor the forecast was over cast but the rain was supposed to stay off, it did and we had a cracking day!
We were staying in the Eden Valley, although it’s an amazing place and only 20 minutes outside the National Park, some places in the Lake District take some getting to and can hack a large chunk off your planning to take in a fell or two. After packing the car we headed for Buttermere via Honister, I always like driving the Honister Pass, without sounding too big headed, it reminds me how much better I am at driving than most of the halfwits that find their way onto the road. The weather was improving with every mile and as we negotiated the sheep and cyclists Buttermere glistened in the sun as we skirted passed and joined the banks of Crummcock Water and slipped into a cheeky little parking spot at the foot of Rannerdale Knotts.
Due to my Aygo’s boot locking itself and not allowing any access, we’ve had to pack and unpack the walking kit via the back seats making things very awkward and testing my patience. Boots on, daysacks checked and on our backs, we headed north the main road to the footpath just past Rannerdale Bridge at the foot of Cinderdale Common. The map is correct, the terrain shows a few different paths littering the base of the Common but the path is on the east side of Cinderdale Beck. It’s disguised by a forest of Fern but it’s there and it takes you straight up Lad Hows as the climb goes up fast revealing more and more Crummock Water. At this point, if you have a dog, beware, as the Ferns are so thick that sheep are hard to see as they hide in the deep undergrowth.
The temperature started to rise as the sun showed more and more through previously thick cloud and we were down to base layers in no time. To the north Grasmoor was like an attentive teacher always watching you but didn’t appear to get closer. On Lad Hows the approach up the 20th highest Wainwright becomes a reality and time to take on some liquid for the big push up its shale spur. A family were taking the same route as us and they looked like ‘THE Borrowers’ as they trudged up our chosen path not more than 200 metres ahead of us. Alfie had his eye on the sheep on the steep ascent to our left and kept edging his way closer to the woolly teasers as we closed in on the summit. It wasn’t long before temptation got the better of him and he went for it! Again, I blame the sheep, he’d come across a lonely sheep on Lad Hows which stood its ground and he just turned his back and didn’t bother it. But when they run he loves the chase, he wouldn’t even bother if they’d stand still. Anyway, he vanished over the edge and all we heard was a shale avalanche and my Spaniel was left in the hands of the mountain gods. I ran over to the last place is saw him take the leap and prayed I wasn’t going to see a lifeless Springer metres below. I couldn’t see him but saw a couple of breathless sheep about 150 metres below. Near the start of our ascent I saw a black and white blob wandering about aimlessly. I whistled and shouted and the blob started the climb all over again as he’d realised where we were and caught up panting his little heart out.
The summit was a great sight and we walked over to one of two shelters to eat our butties and give Alfie some water. The top reminded me of the summit of Skiddaw, flat and spacious! The family we were following were in the bigger shelter and we could hear them chat and laugh in the breeze as we tucked into our corned beef sarnies. An inspection of Alfie revealed a couple of scrapes on his legs, he’s like a Bairn who goes out to play and comes back in with bloody shins and grazed knees. I had a half laugh and half serious thought, ‘If he’s (Alfie) gonna go, it’s gonna be off a mountain!’
We packed our daysacks and headed east towards the dip between Grasmoor and Crag Hill and the junction bang on the ‘722m’ on the map. Here we came across a very well-spoken gent who had climbed from Coledale Hause. He enquired in a softly spoken voice about the ‘Honister Rambler’ bus service from Buttermere, unfortunately we had nothing to offer as an answer. I could’ve offered an anecdote about our recent encounter with the Lakes bus service and Dick Turpin driving the number 55 into Grasmere but I don’t think this lad would’ve appreciated it. In fact, I hope he didn’t catch any of our usual repertoire on the fells, a mixture of Yorkshire/Pit yacker that can get colourful when things aren’t going well. Anyway we left him at the junction and headed south towards Wandhope, he did appear to spend a lot of time sorting kit out as I glanced back on a couple of occasions, maybe he had heard us coming off the top of Grasmoor!
The decent down Wandhope Moss and Whiteless Edge was very pleasant and one of those Lakeland moments which you want to treasure. To our right we had Crummock Water reflecting Mellbreak and further on Loweswater shimmering in the sun.
We’d decided that Rannerdale Knotts was optional extra Wainwright for the day and as we walked over Whiteless Pike and dropped off towards the sheepfold above Whiteless Breast we decided we’d save it for another day so we could take in the ‘garden’ along Squat Beck and the area where the Bluebells compliment the view in the Spring. This decent was one of the most pleasant in all the Wainwrights and this was testified by the amount of ‘tourists’ crossing us near the end.
We walked the last few hundred metres back to the car and I felt really relaxed and calm, until I remembered the bloody car boot was broken!! Nice post walk pint in the Bridge Inn and the sunny beer garden.
This was one of my favourite Wainwrights, the view, the weather and not too tedious decent made the day great. Could’ve done without the puppy playing ‘chase the sheep’ off sheer edges but that’s my dog, as mental as me!