A 10 Mile Coledale Circular - Grisedale Pike, Crag Hill, Sail, Scar Crags and Causey Pike

October 02, 2016  •  2 Comments

Hello folks,
This weekend we shuffled our plans around in order to hit the fells on Sunday as the weather was looking more favourable than Saturday. This turned out to be an excellent decision. Myself, Steve and my daughter Stephanie had decided to head to the Coledale range with a bit of an open plan that would start with Grisedale Pike and from there just go with however we felt. I am still struggling with knee problems of late and am finding my abilities differ day to day on the fells, sometimes being able to do 12 miles, others only 5. As a result, I had a few routes planned that all started with Grisedale Pike, but differed from there onwards, hopefully covering every eventuality. As it happens, today was a good knee day.

Oh how I miss the old days, when I referred to my knees as "Left" and "Right" instead of "Ok" and "Bad"...


Today we visited 5 Wainwright Summits:

  • Grisedale Pike (2'595 ft)
  • Crag Hill (2'753 ft)
  • Sail (2'536 ft)
  • Scar Crags (2'205ft)
  • Causey Pike (2'090ft)


Parking Location:

  • Braithwaite School. (CA12 5TD)

Time & Distance Info

  • Distance walked: = 10.1 miles
  • Time Taken: = 9hrs
  • Total Ascent: = 3'983ft

Please Note:
All image description text is "above" the image that it is referring to on my blogs.
Some find that odd... But then so is the author.


This route, when viewed in Opentopo map looks like this: (North / South Orientation correct)
(Walking Anti-clockwise from top right)


And the view of the route as seen on Google Earth. (Walking Anti-clockwise from the right)


Here is the elevation profile: (Height on the left axis, and mileage along the bottom)


Steph and I left Norbreck nice and early, picking Steve up in Blackpool at 6:30am. We grabbed a nice little breakfast wrap from McDonalds near his house and hit the motorway early. The early start gave us a nice easy run up the M6 and as a result we were parked up in Braithwaite outside the school for 8:15am. Once booted up and headed out into the sunshine, walking up the hill towards Hope Memorial camp.

We were immediately greeted by Barrow and Causey Pike looking fabulous in the early morning sun.


A little way up the hill is a parking slot. The path onto Grisedale begins here, hidden in the trees. We missed it first time and had to double back.


As the path climbed, the view out over Braithwaite towards Skiddaw unfolded to the most amazing view that images just can't do justice.


Onwards... the climb is steady and constant.


As are the stops Steph and I make. We aren't as fit as Steve. But with views like this, who cares?


As the walk progressed, the view forwards was almost as impressive. The sky is promising us an amazing day and there are no signs of that blue haziness we have had for a few weeks. Looks like it will be a good day for photography!


As you progress into the walk, it gets steeper as you gain height.


The view to our right - Over to Hospital Plantation.


A bit of cloud has settled on Grisedale Pike now. Steve is already up there. Hes in training for some fell running so we have agreed prior that he can just crack on and run up there and have the kettle on for our arrival.


The view over to Eel Crag, Crag Hill and Sail.


Onto the steepest section now.


We took ages to get up this section. It's very steep here. Perfect for taking lots of pictures of the path we have covered thus far.


Steph tackling the last 50ft up onto the summit


And what a view unfolds when you get there! Hopegill head to the right, Grasmoor in the distance ahead.


Looking a little to the left of the above scene to show Eel Crag and Crag Hill as well. This is certainly one of the best looking sections of mountain track I have seen in the Lake District so far. It really is stunning.


Looking back to Grisedale Pike after we have descend around 100ft. If ever a scene was begging for a panorama... this was it.


Zoomed in a little. What a view. I love the way Coledale Beck snakes its way back down the valley below.


Steve grabbed a lovely shot of Steph and I here. Which reminded me to mention it was very cold up above 2500ft!


In exchange, I grabbed one of Steph and Steve as they descended towards Coledale Hause.


A cursory glance up to Hopegill Head. A definite option to climb while you are up here if you wish. But its not for us today as we have a route planned for Steph that visits that summit during a Whiteside to Grasmoor route we once did. More about that later.


So... Its lunchtime. My knees are reporting no problems thus far, so bail out option 1, down to Force Crag mine has been cancelled, leaving the world our oyster with regards what to do next. Steph points out a waterfall as an ideal spot for lunch. Steve however, points out Grasmoor for lunch. 

We decided to do both... kind of. Steve went up Grasmoor and Steph and I stopped at the waterfall for lunch. Steve is in training for some ridiculous 60 mile fell running competition so he needs the training. Steph and I just need the calories. Ha Ha. What a great place to sit and eat for 30mins.


With these views of Whiteside and Gasgale Crags to keep us company while Steve huffs and puffs his way up and down Grasmoor.


Steve's views weren't bad from up on Grasmoor either it seems. What a great view down into Buttermere and Crummock.


And over to Loweswater.

This is the path that runs in the saddle between Grasmoor and Crag Hill. We walked this after lunch to meet Steve on the descent path off Grasmoor.


And right on time.... Here comes Steve down Grasmoor to join us. Perfect.


And we all set off up Crag Hill.


To our right is another Wainwright Summit. Wandope. Steve and I have done it, and Steph will do it as part of the Grasmoor round later this year.


Steve kindly took another good shot of Steph and I here with Robinson and Knott Rigg behind us.


We had chosen to wander off the main path up Crag Hill in search of better views. This little path looked just the ticket...


Careful though Steph... its a very long way down!


What a view! You can just make out Buttermere from here.


After consulting the map, it became quickly apparent that this path actually bypasses Crag Hill summit and goes round to Sail. So we either had to turn back or scramble up the VERY steep sides to the summit. Steve shot up it and grabbed this shot.


And scramble we did... Three points of contact at all times. This was uncomfortably steep to be on grass with such a drop behind us, but thats all part of the way memories are made on the fells. Exhilarating.


We arrived right on point at the summit. But it looks like the storms have taken their toll on the Crag Hill summit cairn.


Regardless - The vista from here is incredible. This is the view of the Grisedale Pike ridge we ascended.


And the zoomed view down onto Force Crag mine.


Panorama Nirvana! Amazing what the simple iPhone can do with good light. This one centres on the Scar Ridge to Sail.


One stood a little further left with both ridges flanking the valley.


The final navigation cairn on Crag Hill before you descend onto...


"The Scar"


From here onto Sail is new terrain for Steve and I. We had planned to do this ridge and Sail as part of our Grasmoor circular, but a cloud inversion halted play. Last time we stood here on Crag Hill it looked like this.


And it got better. We sat here for an hour watching the sun go down, before descending through the cloud in pitch black by torchlight. A night I will never forget.


To read the blog for that route and see the images of the amazing inversion we experienced... Click here to open in a new window.


But back to today... Before we leave Crag Hill, I really have to do another panorama, this time showing Steph and Steve as they leave Crag Hill and head onto The Scar towards Sail. This one is nine 20mp images stitched together out of the Canon G7X.


Down you go Steph... I note from the map that this is exactly the halfway point. 5 miles in... 5 to go.


The Scar ridge is pretty awesome actually. 


King of the ridge.


Some nice scrambly bits on this ridge too.


And from a great ridge... to the disappointing summit that is Sail.


From Sail, we descend down its very controversial zig zag path. I have mentioned this in a previous blog but will repeat it here. This path gets a lot of stick from walkers on social media groups, calling it an eyesore and other such comments. Personally, I think it's great. They have provided a nice safe path for us to enjoy the fell, and enjoy it we certainly did. Ok, it's a bit "in your face" for a mountain path, but it's new and it will eventually blend in I guess. The important thing is people made an effort to provide it for us as the old path was badly eroded and this terrain was extremely boggy, making it a very dangerous place to be in the wet weather. They do a great job and are completely donation funded I believe. Regardless, I for one am very grateful for the efforts of "Fix The Fells". You can visit them Here:


And anyway - Who cares what the path looks like with views like this?


Once Sails descent is dispensed with. We have a decision to make. From just ahead of where Steph and Steve are in this image, we were originally going to turn left and drop down to the valley, then take in Outerside and Barrow summits on the way back. But there is an alternative... we could carry on up to Scar Crags and Causey Pike, saving Outerside and Barrow as a nice circular for Steph another day as that route is ideally suited to less perfect conditions.


It's all down to this lady here... Steve and I dont care as we have done all four and steph has yet to visit any of them. What shall we do Steph?


Good girl... Decision made, we stay up here and head upwards to Scar Crags. The summit is up ahead...


The Scar Crags summit, with a nice view of the ridge across to Causey Pike.


Yet another awesome ridge walk. Today just keeps on giving... Look at our views!


Looking down to Outerside.


And along to Barrow.


Steph admiring her favourite fell. Skiddaw.


While I try and make something of the scene on the right down in the Borrowdale Valley. I have an affinity for dwellings with impressive mountainous backdrops.


Dad and Daughter Selfie!


The late afternoon sun is casting some amazing light down into Borrowdale right now.


The final summit of the day. Causey Pike. Steve is discussing descent options with Steph as I was a little concerned about her climbing down the chimney. Its not hard at all, I just worry too much as she's my daughter I guess. I would really hate to see her hurt herself out here with me. That said, she has done Crinkle crags in the snow... at 2am... in the dark... by headtorch in crampons. And still I worry... Old fool. Ha Ha.


The descent from Causey Pike... Derwentwater looks incredible from up here.


Down we go.


Descent path ahead. We are not going to descend via the very steep Rowling End, instead we are opting for the much easier diagonal path off to the left.


I shot a quick panorama here showing Sleet Hause and Rowling End pointing out towards Cat Bells with Helvellyn right in the distance.


Looking across to Skiddaw over Barrow summit.


Looking back up to Causey Pike summit. You can see a few folk coming down the same way we did.


The descent path... its all downhill from here.


Stoneycroft ahead.


Even the road walk is nice with weather and views like this.


We cut across Barrow to Braithwaite Lodge to end the walk at the Coledale Inn for a well-earned Steak and Ale pie and a refreshing drink.


Thanks for reading folks. I hope you enjoyed taking a little trip with us and that it inspired you to try the route.

Remember, take your time... never rush. The fells are there to be enjoyed, not endured.

While you are out there enjoying the beautiful fells, remember the golden rules...
"Take only pictures, leave only footprints and keep only memories".


Here is some data from my Suunto Ambit 3 peak watch.
Calories etc are pretty accurate as I use the Suunto Smart heart monitor on all my hikes. GPS data is updated every 1 second so it it records every footstep, thus mileage often looks a little different to most navigation apps as they are usually set to update far less frequently and so miss a few turns here and there. All that wandering around looking at views adds up.    



Here is my Viewranger data.
VR members can sign in and view it on OS maps too. Feel free to scroll around, the map is active.


Finally, here is a 3D representation of the route created by Suunto Movescount.

Camera Details:
All images in this blog that dont state they were taken on my phone, were taken with my little pocket-sized Canon G7X point and shoot. Its not a patch on my Canon 5D MK3 of course but I no longer lug all that around with me hiking as its just too cumbersome. When I find a scene worthy of the 5D3's talents, I usually return one day to make the best of it.



Route Completed on October 2nd 2016 with Steph & Steve.

New Wainwrights: 0. New total: 148 of 214.
New Birketts: 1. New total 206 of 541.


Stewart Sanderson Photography
Hi George,
Great to hear from you and thanks for the kind comments. Hope you get to do that walk. :)
George Kitching(non-registered)
You've inspired me again Stewart. I have done Grisedale Pike and Hopegill Head as one walk and Rowling End to Crag Hill as another. They were two of my favourite Fell walks and I've always planned on doing the full Horseshoe. That resolve has just strengthened considerably by reading your excellent blog. Fantastic photos and account.
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