Sunday, 17 February 2013

Crag Fell, Grike & Lank Rigg, Ennerdale.

Thursday 31st January saw three of us in the Ennerdale area of The Lakes. One of the party had never been on the Grike range to the west of Ennerdale. This was my second visit this year and I was interested in changing our previous route slightly to take account of the path on the far shore of Ennerdale Water, a path I had not previously walked. We parked on the Bleach Green Cottage car park, on the south side of The River Ehen and headed past the cottage toward the foot of the fell taking the track that veers to the right of Crag Farm House, heading for the gate.

Setting off.
The weather was not as good as the forecast had indicated, or we were being too optimistic, however it didn't appear to be about to rain anytime soon, though it was cold. The clouds were off the fell tops so it was to be a walk where we could navigate by sight.
Once through the gate we aimed slightly to the right and picked out the worn track (not marked on a map, but very distinctive) that goes directly up and connects with the footpath through the wood which then goes over Ben Gill by the waterfall. Our first destination was to be Crag Fell, with the intention of heading to Grike, then dropping off the back to Lank Rigg.

The view over Ennerdale Water and the weir with Bowness Knott and Great Borne on the far shore.

Striding out for Crag Fell.
The snow was just clinging to sheltered areas of the fells and these are all rolling fells with no crag faces to encounter so we expected no safety issues, we all carried trail spikes and I had an ice axe for overkill. Both dogs were loving this outing being grass to run about on and soft on the paw. The summit of this fell is never quite in sight until you are just about on it, but the near top is in view whereupon it flattens to a gradual and easily manageable incline, so it was 'heads down and crack on' time.
Crag Fell Summit
None of these three fells rate in the most dramatic fell category of lakeland peaks, though you do get the contrast of the fells and the solway plain that skirts between the coastline and the National park. They also afford you views across to Galloway and to the Isle of Man when the views are clearer, though not today unfortunately. Being a west cumbrian I was not here to glimpse these, having had a lifetime of looking at them, though I am struck by how others take time to soak in what I have taken for granted all my life. What I personally enjoy from these vantages, is the different aspects looking to the Buttermere ranges and to Pillar. Ennerdale is a much more secluded valley than say Langdale or Borrowdale, the only longer drive for most walkers and tourists is to Wastwater yet this draws people for the iconic Scafell Pike and the dramatic screes. Ennerdale has no single iconic feature, even Pillar is a long access from here and people tend to travel to Wastwater to scale this group, yet Ennerdale's remoteness is it's joy, away from the crowds with many features of interest not least the ancient settlements between Latterbarrow and Starling Dodd. These were not on our itinerary today though and our next destination was Grike.
 This fell is a small drop off and gradual climb up to the summit, having two cairns near it's summit. The views are much the same as from Crag Fell, except you see less of the lake and more of the plain toward the coast below St. Bees Head, the closest point in England to Ireland.
Heading for Grike.
We had devised a plan here to go 'off path' and head to the wood with the intention of making a more direct route up to Lank Rigg. On the last walk we had gone through the larch plantation, which was hard work, but on looking back the plantation had been cut down to the west and we had not been far from it. We took this more open approach to Whoap Beck and headed directly up Lank Rigg. This was a slog, but was to be the last real climb of the day, so again, heads down, hang on to the shirttails of the one in front and try not to get blown out the back of the group.
Lank Rigg Trig point summit.
Once on the summit we took time to address any clothing issues and we were to have our bait here so I donned an outer jacket for warmth while stationary. We dropped toward the back of the fell slightly to get some shelter from the wind. Although not harsh, it was a cold day and the wind enhanced it's bite. We skipped the lower cairn top to the west which normally affords views of Sellafield and the plain to Ravenglass as it was hidden by descended cloud. We had our food, got loaded up with tea and coffee, took in the views of Caw Fell and Pillar, but now it was time to start thinking of our second refreshment stop, The Fox and Hounds back at Ennerdale Bridge. ( Well, you didn't think the walk was about three Wainwrights did you?)
 We headed to the summit of Whoap and then took the gate through the wall and skirted Boathow Crag and followed the stone wall line which is to the right of Red Beck, going down to Ennerdale Water. Although steep, it was safe, even on the higher frozen ground. Once at the valley floor we headed on the path back to the weir that raised the level of Ennerdale.
Heading to the Red Beck wall, in the valley bottom is Bowness Knott, in the distance is Knock Murton.

The lake path with Anglers Crag ahead.

Looking back up Ennerdale Valley from below Anglers Crag.
This was the part of the walk that had interested me. I have not done this path before and loved it's views. As a lake shore path it is not a gentle stroll, being rocky in places and a steep scree drop to the lake at some points on it's route. We skirted round Anglers Crag and although these fells are rounded this crag face is steep, dramatic to view and you don't get a sense of it from the usual Bowness Knott side of the lake.
 We could have skirted the fell bottom but I wanted to take the weir path, again I've seen this from a distance but never actually been to it. En route to this we came across a tribute seat to:-
Ian Forsyth and Prince
Lake District Search and Rescue Dogs
Two bunches of flowers had laid laid at this fitting tribute to these two worthy members of an association that will give it's time freely to search and rescue 'fell users' when in need, yet a search of the Internet reveals nothing of this memorial. I would be interested if anyone has any information on this tribute.
 Soon we were at the weir itself and a final look back on Ennerdale Water before a half a kilometre walk to the car.
Ennerdale Water weir, Anglers Crag(right), Bowness Knott(left)

Journey's end and a quick change out of our fell clothing at the car, followed by a short car journey to Ennerdale Bridge and The Fox and Hounds. This is another gem of this valley with a variety of beers, mainly local with an added twist of travel miles marked on the pumps. Some of the beers were from Ennerdale brewery, 2.3travel miles away, even the Loweswater Gold was 35travel miles, though it is no longer produced at Loweswater in the next valley. Either way the Ennerdale Gold and the Loweswater Gold couldn't be faulted. With a good roaring fire and quality beers to warm up three retired(old) men it was a perfect end to a cold 12.5km, 850m ascent, brilliant short day's walking.