Weekend finally arrived after a long week on the dyno and my wife and I had decided we wanted to do an easy hike, but one that we had not done before. After a bit of research I settled on "Silver Howe" a lovely little area up above Grasmere where I was reasonably sure I could grab a few nice landscape images and we could incorporate a before and after cafe visit along with a little shopping. Something for everyone really... So we packed up and headed north from Blackpool at 9am, and got parked up for 10:30am at Red Bank car park in Grasmere.
Our destination Summit was "Silver Howe" with a summit height of approx 1'300ft.
Our route, mocked up in Google Earth looks like this:
After parking up and paying the lofty £6 parking fee, (Reminding me what great value my national Trust membership is, as I normally find a NT car park.) we wandered off in the general direction of the fells, but decided to stop off in a nice looking cafe near Allen Bank for a nice pot of tea. Its the one behind us in this image and it was a great place, very friendly and nice tea. :)
Mandy, surprisingly, came back from a quick toilet trip with the second image of the day on her phone. It seems she was highly amused by this (Grossly innacurate in my opinion) sign by the toilets...
Hmm... not wanting to debate that one in any detail (IE: Absolute rubbish...lol), we finish our great tea and headed up the side of the cafe towards Allen Bank, a National Trust property where our route begins... The ascent starts gently on a tarmaced path and the views to our right across to Helm Cragg were beautiful. This view also reminded me that this is the potential subject of our of our next walk with two good friends. I have done the whole horseshoe that route normally entails but due to bad snow and wind we aborted that last summit in favour of safety and hot coffee, so I do need to go back one day and ascend that one too.
We sat here on a handy bench for a while and just watched those sheep going about their day and enjoying the great views across the valley towards Helm Cragg.
There were plenty of bluebells around this wooded area too, always nice to see. Its a shame they dont last very long. I wanted to get to Rannerdale this year to photograph them, but failed yet again!
The path upwards from here is pretty easy going, and sheltered too as you head upwards through the tree line. Its a very rocky ascent, so care needs to be taken, and if wet it will no doubt be quite a lot more treacherous.
As you come out of the tree line and look back towards Grasmere, the views across to Great Rigg and Heron pike etc are beautiful. More summits for me ever expanding "To do" list.
And the views to our right looking over towards Yew Cragg and Blind Tarn Gill are fabulous too. Another place I now want to investigate further. Perhaps alone, with all my SLR gear and filters.
We continue upwards... with great conversation, the odd breather to rest my aching calves and of course, a few selfies!
As you start to breach 1000ft, the views really start to open out, and its here I get one of my favourite images of the day. The view from here across to Great Rigg, Stone Arthur and Heron pike etc is really stunning. I like everything about this image personally, and the hiker coming round the corner just makes it for me.
Looking to our right, Grasmere is now just coming into view and promising to reveal more of herself if we climb higher...
So higher we climb, and the views just keep on giving. To our right Helm Cragg is looking great and shows all of my intended ascent path when we visit there in a couple of weeks. All the buildings below make this image for me. What a place to live!
And a very short detour off the path gives a great view right across Grasmere. This seems a great place to take a five minute breather and grab a few images, so that's exactly what we do. Mandy and I always take it nice and easy - there is never a race to the top, we just enjoy being out there together. The summit is just a halfway point and lunchtime location to us.
Then its upwards towards the summit of Silver Howe, this section of the route really is great for views. Generally speaking, this must be one of the most scenic routes we have done to date.
From here, you need to cross a small ravine that houses a nice little waterfall that meanders down the side of Silver Howe. Its called "Wray Gill"... the path takes you down into the little ravine where you cross the river. The path is visible just behind Mandy here, to her left.
Its a lovely Gill in a nice rocky area and the ascent out of it offers some great scrambling back up the ravine.
Once you have scrambled up the side and walked a few minutes, the top of Silver Howe becomes visible... the halfway point of our hike, and our lunch location is now within sight!
As we get closer, we can see there are a few people already up there enjoying the summit.
Once atop, we grab a summit selfie. The wind is howling and its pretty cold, so we drop down the front face and find a little location to settle down for a 30min lunch and enjoy the views.
And what views they are! This is one of my favourites. Grasmere and Rydal water.
I shot a panorama here for stitching back at home as the G7X has no panorama feature. Its seven portrait shots all stitched together, featuring my gorgeous wife eating her lunch, Rydal water, Grasmere, Loughrigg tarn and of course Windermere out in the distance there.
Looking South you can see Elterwater, Loughrigg and Windermere too. What a place to stop for lunch!
Mandy enjoying the views across Grasmere and Rydal waters.
A simple two image stitch including Windermere too.
Hanging around up here was starting to chill us down quite a lot as it was very windy, so after one last shot of Mandy its time to leave the summit. Always a sad time for me - I love the fells and dont feel the cold, but Mandy does, so we always limit summit exposure time when we are together.
The route I have chosen down is very steep and takes us straight off the side of Silver Howe summit. The wind was howling straight through this section so Mandy layered up for the descent and donned her gloves in case she needed some hands on action with rocks. She did some of this initial descent on her bum. Naturally, I couldnt resist firing off a quick snap or two.
Lots of loose rock and scree around here. I like this kind of terrain, although I am not so sure Mandy does, but she copes better with it every time we go out. Its like anything I guess, the more you do it, the easier it becomes.
After the first section of poor terrain, you come to some high quality pathway. It is still very steep, but also very stair like, so its an easy and very fast descent, complete with amazing views of course.
I think next time I do this route, I will do it in reverse and see which way up is best. I think this way up will be faster and easier on my calves as I handle steps better than inclined terrain on ascent.
I spot another quick photo opportunity, so detour across to a little outcrop to shoot a last couple of images of Grasmere & Rydal water from above.
We continue back down towards Grasmere. The terrain here is excellent, nice and rocky, lots of streams and an easy to follow track. This is one of my favourite images of the day. What an amazing view... The colours are all starting to peak at this time of year and its just gorgeous.
There are lots of "Kissing Gates" on this route and Mandy and I always stop at them for a kiss. Its a bit of a daft ritual I guess, but its one we both enjoy - I mean, how can I ever resist this sight?
As we get down to almost road level, I notice some foliage that matches Mandy's outfit, so I insist on grabbing an image of my bemused wife. "You will like it" I tell her. Well, I like it anyway.
And we are down. Just a short road to follow back into Grasmere. Its a shame to be down, but sadly, we have a prior engagement back in Blackpool tonight so we need to get going.
That said... I figure we have more than enough time to stop in a tea room and sit in their garden with a pot of tea and some cakes to keep us going before the events buffet later that evening. It has to be said, that was the nicest scone I have ever tasted! Blackpool's scones are always rock hard!
And that was that. Mandy's 11th Wainwright this year and my 57th. Plenty more to go!
All images in this blog were taken with my Canon G7X point and shoot pocket camera. My camera of choice when hiking any distance. The Canon 5D3 SLR stays at home and only comes back with me if I come across any location really worth coming back for with time on my hands to make the best of it.
Here is a little Suunto movie of the trip, showing the route via Google earth.
And some data aquired by the Suunto Ambit 3 peak watch too. Interesting for ascent, descent and mileage etc. (calories are pretty accurate as I wear the Suunto Smart HR monitor too.)
Here is some data from my Viewranger Account. I cut the track short to try and miss out the parts where we wandered around Grasmere a little. It should at least help you identify the path we chose, should you wish to replicate it. (This is active and you can change the maps used to OS maps etc instead)
A little about me:
For as long as I can remember I have been passionate about landscape photography. I love nothing more than leaving the house at 4am and heading to some distant landscape with a view to capturing an awesome sunrise during golden hour and then staying out shooting all day until night falls and trying to capture an incredible sunset... this escalated into a love of hiking.
Sometimes it's very successful, as you will see from this website, but other times its extremely frustrating and I just spend 12hrs getting cold, wet and downhearted with the weather, but that comes with the British climate and makes the great captures all the more satisfying.
My equipment centres around the incredible Canon 5D MK3 Body which is a fantastic camera by any standard and with a resolution of 22mp allows me to create very large prints with no loss of detail, and I have the amazing 18mp high speed Canon EOS 7D as my backup body... just in case of disaster! If hiking any distance, or with long, hard ascents I often just take the awesome Canon G7X, a 21mp pocket camera that is almost as capable as my 5D MK3.
I hope you enjoy reading my trip reports and looking at my images. If you would like to hang any on your wall and its not part of my main gallery (A trip report image for example), please feel free to drop me a line and I will upload a high resolution version to the main gallery for purchase.