Nab Scar and the Vale of Grasmere.

Start. Rydal (St Mary's Church).

Route. Rydal (St Mary's Church) - Rydal Mount - Nab Scar - Lords Crag - Alcock Tarn - Greenhead Gill - Swan Lane - Grasmere - Red Bank Road - The Lea - Grasmere Shore Path - Deerbolts Wood - Loughrigg Terrace - Rydal Cave - Steps End Wood - Rydal.

Notes.This walk's been on the radar for ages, if you take a look at the OS map two tarns sit in the shadow of Heron Pike, Alcock Tarn which I've visited many times and the smaller rarely seen Dockey Tarn. On the map the slopes from Lord Crag look an easy descent to Alcock Tarn, if I was lucky I may also find a route to Dockey Tarn. Come along it's a glorious morning we'll see what we can find.

The Lord provides cheap parking, I parked at St Mary's Church, Rydal, the only church I can think of with no burial ground, after slipping the required fee in the honesty box I ascended the lane. After passing Rydal Mount the lane narrowed ended at a finger-post pointing up the steep slopes of Nab Scar. This path is steep, zig zags ease the gradient but it still makes the lungs and legs work hard, a good excuse to stop and drink in the views. Once the hill leveled out a little and I'd got my breath back I crossed a ladder stile, on a grassy knoll a few yards away a cairn looked down on me, foolishly I presumed this was the start of the path to Alcock Tarn, I plunged down the hill before stopping to assess my situation, knee high bracken, boulders and waiting for me what looked like soft ground, was this a good idea? A younger me would have plunged on down regardless, the older me took stock of the situation. In this case sense prevailed and I ascended back to the main trod, if another path existed I would find it, or ascend Heron Pike then descend from there.

Another path did exist, a small cairn in the shadow of Lord Crag marked the junction, it bypassed Dockey Tarn but was a wonderful path to descend. A leisurely stroll through stunning scenery followed, Alcock Tarn was almost an anticlimax after such a stunning descent. The path I followed ran north dropping over steep ground to access Greenhead Gill and a gate, I passed through said gate then wandered into Grasmere.

I'd had the hills to myself all morning, Grasmere was busy, Wordsworth disciples everywhere, brightly coloured ramblers nearly all heading out on the trail, I picked the quickest route through the village leaving the crowds behind as I wandered along Red Bank Road. Over half a mile of tarmac walking followed before a finger-post on my left invited me to the lake shore, this path had it's fair share of ramblers wandering over it's surface but the views across the lake easily make up for the people count. I continued speaking to most of them until entering Deerbolts Wood, a wide path allowed me to ascend to Loughrigg Terrace, another popular path gifting the lucky rambler with staggering views over Grasmere and it's vale. The terrace path, an old quarry track guided me to an old quarry, Rydal Cave, a close head quarry, the slate from this vast hole was used to roof the buildings of Grasmere and Ambleside.

After a quick wander inside I re-joined the track leaving it when it reached Steps End Wood, a short wander through this delightful oak wood deposited me on the main road opposite the Badger Bar, only a few yards from Rydal Church.

view route map.


From the lower slopes of Nab Scar views over the tree tops to Windermere Lake.

Viewing High Pike and Low Pike from the slopes of Nab Scar.

Stunning conditions on the steep slopes of Nab Scar.

Soaking up the views over Loughrigg Fell and Windermere Lake.

Looking down on Rydal Water backed by the northern reaches of Loughrigg Fell, on the horizon the Coniston massif.

A stunning view to Bow Fell and the Crinkle Crags.

Breathtaking views over Grasmere, top left Coniston Old Man and it's lieutenants, right a bit Pike of Blisco with the jagged skyline of Crinkle Crags leading to Bow Fell.

Kissed by the sun on this glorious morning Alcock Tarn.

Stunning Conditions, Butter Crag seen twice thanks to the exquisit reflection, on the skyline Great Rigg with the long ridge descending to Stone Arthur.

Before descending views over the Vale of Grasmere, Helm Crag and Steel Fell split by Greenburn Botton with the Greenup Edge face of Ullscarf closing and sealing the valley head.

Helm Crag better known as The Lion and the Lamb.

Drinking in stunning views from the west shore of Grasmere, from left to right, Helm Crag, right across Dunmail Raise Seat Sandal, right a bit more Great Rigg.

Shadowed against a bright sky, Loughrigg Fell.

Spectacular views to Great Rigg and Heron Pike.

The impressive scene over Grasmere, dazzling reflections of White Moss Common and Nab Scar.

Ascending in the cool of Deerbolts Wood.

From Loughrigg Terrace heavenly views over Grasmere.

Nab Scar and Heron Pike also seen from Loughrigg Terrace.

Taking in the view from Loughrigg Terrace, Rydal Water and Nab Scar.

Rydal Cave a must see on this wander through staggering vistas.

An echo of landscape confectionery, Nab Scar over and in Rydal Water.

On most days Rydal Water can be a magical place but days like today make it's utterly enchanting.

Silver How seen over Rydal Water from Steps End Wood.

St Mary's Church seen from Dora's Field.

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