Sunday, 21 April 2013

Helm Crag & Gibson Knott

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Route: Grasmere, White Crag, Helm Crag, Bracken Hause, Gibson Knott, Green Burn, Ghyll Foot, Thorny How, Goody Bridge

Date: 16/06/2013
From: Grasmere

Parking: N/A
Start Point: Grasmere village
Region: Central Fells

Route length: 7.9 miles (12.7km)
Time taken: 04:04
Average speed: 1.9mph
Ascent: 635m
Descent: 635m

Wainwrights on this walk:
Helm Crag (405m), Gibson Knott (422m)

Additional summits: None

Other points of interest: Dove Cottage

Helm Crag, one of the most famous peaks in the Lakes, mainly due to the variety of names attributed to its's rocky summit. The most famous of these being 'The Lion and the Lamb' thanks to rocks on the summit resembling such when viewed from the right direction.
'The Lion and the Lamb' sat atop Helm Crag
The plan for this walk was to climb Helm Crag and continue along to ridge to the head of the valley before descending and walking back along Far Easedale Gill. We'd chosen Helm Crag as a starter because it would give us a nice warm up to a week or so of walking we'd be doing over the easter period and it's a reasonably small mountain to start with.

The weather was also terrible, a classic mix of light persistent rain, heavy persistent rain, low cloud and a stiff breeze. No point being up in the high fells today. Starting from our rented cottage near to Dove Cottage on the edge of the village, we set off towards Grasmere.
Heading towards Helm Crag in the pouring rain
Just after crossing Easedale Beck, we followed the lane that would take us to the foot of Helm Crag. The entrance to a bridleway beckons you to start the ascent. The path is wide but climbs at a fair rate made slightly more difficult by the wet weather.
Starting the ascent up the slippery path
A view down the path as it passes under White Crag
After a 200m yomp up the hillside, the path levels out onto a flat, grassy plateau. It was here that the rain really started to fall and I finally gave in a donned the waterproof trousers. The softshells I had been wearing had put up a decent fight but nothing more that a layer of plastic would keep this rain at bay. Despite the weather, there were still some imposing views down High Raven Crag. After dressing appropriately, we carried on as another 50m climb puts you onto the summit ridge.
The grassy area above High Raven Crag
Looking down High Raven Crag
Completing the final climb to the summit
The summit of Helm Crag has some wonderful rock formations, none more so that the one that resembles 'the lion'. It was too tantalising not to climb so Sara monkeyed up without much persuasion. Despite appearances, the summit of Helm Crag is actually a bit further along the ridge at the top of another rock often referred to as 'The Howitzer', for obvious reasons. By now, the clouds had dropped and any other views into either Easedale or Greenburn were obscured.
Sara conquers 'The Lion'
'The Howitzer' marks the summit of Helm Crag
Unfortunately for us, most of the views were non-existent
After passing Bracken Hause, we climbed the second Wainwright of the day, Gibson Knott. Gibson Knott is one of those oddities that were included in the Wainwright guide while actually appearing to be little more that a hump along the ridge. It's interesting that some were chosen and some were not. The actually summit of Gibson Knott is debated but is thought to probably be the cairn on the most westerly outcrop.
Sara crosses Gibson Knott
After Gibson Knott, we were faced with a very strong wind as it blew up the head of the valley. After seeking a bit of shelter for lunch, we tried to push on up to Calf Crag but decided that the rain, not being blown horizontal, and the wind were not making for a very pleasant walk. The decision was made to drop down into the shelter of Greenburn Bottom and make out way along the valley back to Grasmere.

The camera starts to suffer in the wet as we walk along the valley of Green Burn
Sara crossing the swollen Green Burn which flows into the River Rothay
After crossing the river, we made our way past Helmside to the road that leads back to Grasmere. In typical Lakeland fashion, the rain began to die away the moment we got back down to civilisation.
Walking towards Helmside
The weather lifts as we reach Grasmere
Call me strange but I quite enjoy walking in the rain, despite the difficulties. There were points on this walk though that were thoroughly unpleasant and, with this being at a lower level, it was a no-brainer to halt it before we got either too wet or blown away. It doesn't matter how much waterproof kit you've got on, that water will definitely find a way in eventually.

I'll definitely give this one another go though, hopefully when the weather's a bit better.