Lake District Walks
Date: 24th November 2006
Distance: 14.6 miles
Ascent: 3217 feet
Time: 7 hours 40 minutes
With: On my own
Start Grid Ref: NY339073
A long walk up on to High Raise from Grasmere followed by an even longer return via Wythburn following a wrong turn in bad weather.
Route Summary: Grasmere - Wray Gill - Silver How - Lang How - Great Castle How - Blea Rigg - Sergeant Man - High Raise - Greenup Edge - The Bog - Wythburn - Dunmail Raise - Mill Bridge - Grasmere
1. A glimpse of Grasmere and Rydal Water
2. Looking across to Stone Arthur
3. The top of Silver How
4. Lang How
5. The tarn below Lang How
6. Silver How from Lang How
7. The top of Sergeant Man
8. The top of High Raise
Walk Detail: Weather permitting I planned to climb High Raise via the Blea Rigg ridge and return via Helm Crag. As it happened my plans went quite badly awry. The weather did not look too bad when I started and in fact I could see the top of the Langdale Pikes as I drove from Windermere to Ambleside. The cloud dropped (as it so often does) as I started the walk and when I had reached the top of Silver How the upper part of the ridge on Blea Rigg was already covered by cloud.
Silver How itself was a fine little top with some excellent views which would have been even more outstanding had the cloud base been higher. I enjoyed this initial part of the walk as I explored the Silver How ridge and visited Lang How and Swinescar before heading into the cloud to go over Great Castle How and finally Blea Rigg itself.
From Blea Rigg the continuation was a bit less straight forward as there were a few more variations in the path and I was probably encouraged to continue up because none of them looked to be obviously heading for Easedale. After passing the first walker I'd so far seen on the upper part of the ridge (who had wisely left High Raise alone) I soon made it to Sergeant Man where I barely halted before heading for High Raise itself.
After another brief stop on High White Stones I decided to head off for Greenup Edge and head down to Far Easedale. Having confidently headed off in what I thought was the right direction I somewhat bewilderingly arrived back at Sergeant Man. As I did not fancy trying to retrace my earlier steps back along Blea Rigg I decided to go back to High Raise and try heading for Greenup Edge.
This was my first mistake as in hindsight it would have been infinitely preferable to have returned by Blea Rigg. Instead I returned to High Raise and spent some time trying to work out my bearings, to add to my discomfort it had by now started to rain quite steadily. By the time I had finally worked out the right direction I was beginning to worry about getting back to Grasmere before it was dark.
When I got to Greenup Edge I lost the path a couple of times whilst fording streams and it was here that I made my biggest mistake when I decided to follow one of the streams down into Far Easedale and forsake the path altogether. However my knowledge of my maps let me down here and as I was to discover some time later after crossing some extremely wet and desolate marshland I realised I had come down into completely the wrong valley and was now in fact in Wythburn.
By this time I was completely sodden through from the incessant rain and often shin deep standing water in the valley. Unfortunately there was nothing for it but to head to the road as quickly as possible before it got dark. When I did make it to the road my initial relief gave way to genuine concern that an oncoming car would not see me in the gathering darkness and indeed there were some near misses particularly from a speeding coach that managed to douse me in water as it sped through a large puddle.
The last few miles to Grasmere seemed to drag on forever and by the time I got back I could barely feel my feet in my waterlogged boots. I was initially very angry with myself for making such a foolish error and was aghast at what the potential consequences could have been and even now I wince at how close that coach came to flattening me.
I've always had a very good instinct for direction and rarely use a compass but this was the one and so far only time that I've made a serious navigational error. It was both a humiliating and humbling experience and was a real warning to me not to get too cocky with my navigational skills.
Strangely enough the next day I was on a bit of a high after coming through such a bad experience, ironically I probably felt better than if I'd had a brilliant walk. Even more surprising was that I hadn’t caught something from getting so damned wet!!