Saturday, 28 March 2015

Grike, Crag Fell & Lank Rigg

Open Space Web-Map builder Code

Route: Whorl Gill, Blakeley Rise, Kinney How, Red Moss, Grike, Crag Fell, Black Pots, Whoap, Lank Rigg, Kinniside Common, Lankrigg Moss, Bomery Gill

Date: 28/03/2015
From: Whorl Gill

Parking: Roadside parking on the Coldfell Road
Start Point: Blackley Rise
Region: Western Fells

Route length: 6.7 miles (10.8 km)
Time taken: 02:29
Average speed: 2.7 mph
Ascent: 616m
Descent: 617m

Wainwrights on this walk:
Grike (488m), Crag Fell (523m), Lank Rigg (541m)

Other Summits: Blakeley Rise (389m), Whoap (511m)

Other points of interest: The Treasure!

I'll admit straight away that there's not much in this walk in the way of photographs, such was the grimness of the day. If I hadn't travelled so far to get here I may have considered turning round and going home but I was hopeful that the forecast would ring true and the weather would begin to clear by mid-morning. It was already 11am and things didn't look promising.

I said I'd travelled a long way, these fells stand on the very western edge of the National Park, a considerable trip for anyone who doesn't live on the west coast of Cumbria. These fells look and feel remote and I didn't see anyone all day (though given the low clouds there could have been hundreds out and I still wouldn't have seen them). Grike and Crag Fell form the beginnings of the southern rim of Ennerdale while the unattractively named Lank Rigg stands over a harem of low tops around the valleys of the River Calder and Worm Gill. This really is the territory of the peak-hunter.
All optimism had faded by the time I started
I started from a small layby at the foot of Blakely Rise, a easily climbable hill that forms the gateway to Grike and Crag Fell. The clouds were very low, as you can see from the photos but it wasn't long before I reached the summit. From here a fence leads to Kinney How where a forest track takes you up towards the first Wainwright of the day; Grike.
Blakeley Rise
Though marked as woodland on the map, much of the area around Grike has been felled leaving a battered and scarred landscape behind. Despite following the wrong track for a short distance, I reached the summit of Grike with the rain well and truly hammering down. Though it is topped by a large shelter (that certainly looked appealing) there was little else entertaining to capture my attention so I continued on towards the marginally higher Crag Fell.
The fence leading to Kinney How
Bit of a squeeze
Grike's summit
A large wind shelter partners the cairn
On the summit of Grike
Crag Fell looks magnificent seen from across Ennerdale, a view that I'd have to wait until the afternoon to see. In the grey murk it looked just like everything else around these parts, a smooth, grassy hill.
More rain
Climbing Crag Fell
Crag Fell summit
I carried on, descending back down into the felled woodland and crossing the head of the River Calder at Black Pots. Here the path follows a wall a short distance before a course change is required to meet the top of the col between Iron Crag and Whoap. Once again, a final easy climb claims the summit of the fell.
Descending off Crag Fell
A water hazard
Despite the aid of the GPS I was unable to find the boulder that is supposed to mark the summit. Everything just looked the same though I'm happy enough that I reached the top. The original plan had been to continue the walk up to the distant Haycock but that was always dependant on the weather which was determined to stay put, despite the forecast. With that decision made, I headed down the slopes of Whoap towards Lank Rigg.
Crossing Black Pots
Lank Rigg is a large hill, covering some 3 square kilometres of land and is home to a number of smaller named summits as well as some ancient habitation around Town Bank. Despite this though, it is an uninspiring fell with (supposedly) an uninspiring view, so much so that Wainwright decided to bury some money on the summit, to be claimed by the first person to visit who could find it. It was claimed the very day after the volume was published. Walkers still leave money on the summit and I was hoping to find the hoard for myself.
Onwards up Lank Rigg
After a short climb with a bit of steepness at the end, I reached the trig-topped summit of Lank Rigg and immediately set about finding the stash. This didn't take very long though I won't spoil it for anyone else who's foolish enough to venture to these parts. There's considerably more there now than the original two-shilling piece that Wainwright buried. I do wonder if this is the very stone that Wainwright decided to turn over all those years ago. I like to think so, if only to be sharing in a common purpose rather than a reverence to the man himself.
Lank Rigg's trig pillar
Cairn and trig pillar
The treasure
After deciding I'd seen all there was to see on the top of Lank Rigg, it was time to start back towards the car and an easy descent down the western slopes into Lankrigg Moss. With a huge sense of irony, the weather began to clear the moment I stepped off the summit which is a shame really as I may have been able to complete the route to Haycock afterall. Still, this gave plenty of time in the afternoon to think about tackling more fells in this area.
The River Calder
The clouds begin to break up over Lank Rigg
The Calder valley
With that spurring me on, I crossed the River Calder and began the fairly long walk back along the valley to the car, passing the entertainingly named Bomery Gill and the unfortunately named Stinking Gill as I did. Thanks to some cunning planning at the start of the week, the car was waiting right at the foot of the track as it emerges from the Calder valley.
Whoap appears from the clouds
Long Barrow
A different scene to the one I left in the morning
Despite the weather and unattractiveness of the fell, I do have a soft spot for Lank Rigg, largely because it is so far away and uninteresting. Wainwright had to resort to a 'moment of recklessness' to entice people up to the summit. I certainly wouldn't have ventured this far west were it not for the inclusion of Lank Rigg in the western fells volume and I think that is reason enough to set out and climb the Wainwright fells. They certainly guide you to places you otherwise wouldn't visit and can harbour unexpectedly good days out (though perhaps not quite in this case).