The Greenburn Skyline.

Start. Grasmere (lay-by north of the village)

Route. Grasmere - Travellers Rest - Low Mill Bridge - Ghyll Foot - Helmside - Cotra Breast - Steel Fell - Tarns - Calf Crag - Moment Crag - Gibson Knott - Bracken Hause - Helm Crag - Easedale - Easedale Road - Butharlyp Hows - Grasmere.

Notes. “ Although this is not one of the best known Grasmere excursions, it is a walk that all here should find time to do”. Alfred Wainwright. Tucked away only a mile to the north of Grasmere, just before the pass of Dunmail Raise lies a pleasant side valley sandwiched between the Helm Crag Ridge and the cliff and scree of Steel Fell, Greenburn an alluring unspoiled valley walked and enjoyed by few. Today on this my first fell walk since the week before lock-down I intended to traverse the valleys skyline, if the lungs and legs hold out, if not a descent through Greenburn would be a pleasurable alternative.

I parked in a large lay-by just north of Grasmere on the Keswick road, across the field the unmistakable rock architecture of Helm Crag (The Lion and the Lamb) dominated the skyline, to the right Steel Fell a great wedge of a hill, facing me the south ridge, Cotra Breast just inviting me to climb the hill. Towards Steel Fell I walked, opposite the Travellers Rest a foot-path cut along the edge of a field, this I followed, passed a small barn then across a fine set of stepping stones fording Tongue Gill, I emerged at Mill Bridge, crossed before following the narrow ribbon of tarmac to Ghyll Foot.

Once at Ghyll Foot I stepped onto a private drive, this in turn guided me passed a couple of white washed Lakeland farmsteads before terminating at a field gate, after passing through said gate, with views up Greenburn and a green trod under foot I started my assault of Steel Fell. Considering this was my first fell walk since the 16th March, the ascent wasn't that bad, legs and lungs held up well, it felt good to be back in the hills.

Up I went after two false tops I reached the summit to be greeted by an ice cold mountain wind, stunning views the length of Thirlmere and a red stone summit cairn. After a quick brew I headed west an old boundary fence my guide, there’s not a lot left of this fence just rusty fence posts, none the less they safely ushered me from the summit over wet ground to two delightful mountain tarns fringed by cotton grass dancing in the wind. I continued following my guide, through yet more wet ground, when I was sure I could see Calf Crags rocky aerie to the south I left my companion cutting across very wet ground to gain access to the summit, the start of a super ridge walk to Helm Crag.

With the valley of Far Easedale to my right and Greenburn on my left I wandered towards Helm Crag. Over Pike of Carrs I picked my way, across Moment Crag, above Horn Crag then on to Gibson Knott before descending to the mountain crossroads christened Bracken Hause. Time to make a decision, descend into Greenburn, or maybe Far Easedale, or even better ascend Helm Crag. Tired legs nagged me to descend but who can resist the summit architecture and striking views from Helm Crag, come on just one more hill.

Mind over matter, mind won, up I went, a short sharp pull but well worth the effort, the last top of the day I’d ran out of hill. This hill is much loved by hillwalkers and non-hillwalkers alike, probably the most recognisable top in the Lake District, hence it’s nearly always busy, good paths guide many people to it’s summit. I followed the main ascent path down to Easedale, joined the tarmac of Easedale Road then headed towards Grasmere, on reaching Glenthorne Guest House a finger-post greeted me, a promise to guide me to the B5287. A delightful woodland walk followed, a perfect end to the day, the path as promised ejected me onto said B road a few yards from the main road and the patiently waiting car.

view route map.


Cotra Breast my guide onto Steel Fell.

The stepping stones near Low Mill Bridge provide a dry shod crossing point of Tongue Gill..

Above Helmside looking up Greenburn to Greenup Edge.

The most recognisable hill in the Lake District, Helm Crag, or for those cooped up in cars and coaches on the A591 The Lion and the Lamb.

Rising from Dunmail Raise, Seat Sandal.

On a glorious morning, the scene over the Vale of Grasmere.

From the slopes of Cotra Breast views over Greenburn, Helm Crag with dappled light on Gibson Knott.

Viewing the pass of Dunmail Raise with sunlight on the slopes of Dollywaggon Pike, back a bit Nethermost Pike behind which rises mighty Helvellyn.

Stunning views over the head of Easedale, rising above Blea Rigg and Great Castle How the Coniston massif.

Thirlmere as seen from the summit of Steel Fell.

Kissed by cloud Helvellyn.

The summit Steel Fell with views to Ullscarf.

Capturing the spirit of the sky, one of two unnamed tarns above Greenburn.

The second a real gem in a mountain setting.

The summit Calf Crag.

Between Calf Crag and Moment Crag enjoying stunning views over Far Easedale to Grasmere.

The summit Gibson Knott.

Racing shadows over Cotra Breast backed by the Helvellyn massif.

Next on the bill, Helm Crag.

Gibson Knott as seen over Bracken Hause from the ascent of Helm Crag.

Looking to the shadowed wall of cliffs guarding the head of Easedale, Blea Rigg and Eagle Crag and Great Castle How, peering over the top in sunlight Harrison Stickle and Pavey Ark.

The summit Helm Crag with views to Steel Fell and Dunmail Raise.

Dancing shadows over the Vale of Grasmere.

I've been there, Gibson Knott viewed from my descent route.

A splendid way to finish the days outing, a gentle stroll through Butharlyp Howe.

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