Thursday June 30th Stonethwaite to Grasmere

Today is going to be another of those BIG days, in that in the Lakes there seems to be a major ridge to go over every day. Today we will have to climb out of Borrowdale, cross over the pass at Greenup Edge (one of the ‘let’s get lost’ hotspots of the trip apparently), and descend into Grasmere either on an allegedly ‘easy’ route down the Easedale Valley or via the ‘harder’ ridgewalk to Helm Crag. As to ‘easy’ routes on the walk, I soon realise that one person’s definition of easy is not necessarily another’s.

Nevertheless, following a hearty breakfast we are soon off, and progressing up what begins as a gentle and pleasant path under the shadow of Eagle Crag.


Yes, we know we will have to get over that escarpment ahead, but hey, this is OK! Lovely morning. Well, a bit grey, but this is still Borrowdale!

Its not long before THE BOOK begins to make encouraging remarks such as ‘path gets steeper here’, and breathing gets harder. Must be the altitude. At which point the path becomes steeper again, but the edge of the valley top is so near now. We stagger on upwards, then GREAT, we are over the edge! There’s a small tarn, some interesting drumlins and… another great escarpment to get up and over.


You have to see the funny side I suppose. It is at this point that the rain of Borrowdale finally decides to catch us before we make it out into the next valley. Its cold rain too. Full waterproofs are uploaded before we continue over the drumlins to the base of Lining Crag, described as ‘rockface with some steps’. This does NOT look good. Its wet. The rocks are slippery. The waterproofs are awkward, and these are the steps that Frodo and Sam went up on the way to Shelob’s Lair. (The Stairs of Cirith Ungol. Just looked it up.)

Best to go straight for it and not think or look too far ahead. We start up. But then. Oo er. There is no path. I am clinging to a wet slippery rockface, rain falling, water rolling down. Where IS the path? Panic. Ray! Where is Ray? I shout, then shout again into space, because there is his rucksack disappearing into the far distance overhead. Jesus. What next? It slowly dawns on me that there must be rocksteps over to the left, and clinging to the rocks like Shelob herself, I manage to get over there. It is still very awkward, but now looks like a possibility rather than an impossible climb. Thus is Lining Crag conquered. Not a place I shall ever feel the need to return to. Ray is fine at the top. “What took you so long?” he enquires. “Chocolate! Now!” Is the uncharitable reply.

In some senses the worst is over. However, at the top of Lining Crag begins the “boggy ground” and “indistinct path” where many “lose their way” before topping Greenup Edge.

Well, we were warned.

There’s a grey and miserable sky, drizzle, a big bog with paths going here and there. Nowhere is there a likely path to take us down into the next valley. We can see the “prominent fencepost”, but not the “twin cairns” we are supposed to pass between. For the first time, Ray is a bit stumped. The compass is out. The 2 ‘parents’ from yesterday’s family outing are similarly mystified. As is Jenny who also turns up. There are some differing opinions on the general direction. We walk here and there looking for a landmark. Its all looking a bit unlikely, until a fine fellow spots someone descending a long path to a distant Col off to the right. That will do. A wet rocky descent thus begins. A woman in our little group suddenly stops and stands by the path, so we pass by. Later that day it turns out she fell there just in front of us, and broke her wrist. We didn’t see anything. Too busy watching our own feet. Just shows how easy it is to come to harm up here.

Anyway, on across another bog, and we come to the dividing of the paths. To the left, the ridge walk to Helm Crag, to the right the path down Easdale Beck to Grasmere. The weather is looking up. Ray and Jenny would like to do the ridge walk. It doesn’t look tooo bad, and I hear myself agreeing to it!? I guess I’ve already had so much excitement today that I have been numbed to fear.

Undulating along the lengthy path to Helm Crag we meet day trippers and dog walkers going in the opposite direction. Further on there are great views of Grasmere and Easdale Tarn.


We can also see the path we will be taking en route to Patterdale in the distance.

The top of Helm Crag is quite windy. Just as we turn downwards, on a steep exposed corner, 2 fighter jets roar ear splittingly beneath us. My God! We are higher than a ‘plane. Avery queer feeling. Going down is sooo painful. By the time we have got well down towards Grasmere I am in tears. “I won’t be able to walk tomorrow…” Then we meet the woman who has broken her wrist, so I shut up.


Life takes on a whole new aspect in the centre of the village, with a pint of Hawkshead and a Cumberland sausage in prospect.


Post recovery we go on a tour around the village. It is pretty much rocking. Cars, tourists, tourist shops. A Herdy shop. Wordsworth’s grave. Standing respectfully in front of Mary Wordsworth’s grave, decorated tastefully with a carved sheep, we are rasped out of our reverie by a loud insistent American female voice.

“Is that a FERRET?? On the grave. Is it a ferret?”

There is a pause while her English male companion mentally deals with this.

“It’s a sheep,” he answers deadpan.

She is undeterred, however.

“Well it looks like a ferret. Its long and lean like a ferret.”

Just then a bus load of Japanese tourists stride into the graveyard towards us, moving as one. Its time to go. Poor old Wordsworth. “He would’nt mind. He’s dead.” Ray points out, but I can’t help feeling that he would.


Our B&B tonight, Chestnut Villa, is a long way out towards the main road. We walk past many other establishments to get there, many with vacancies too. When we do make it though, no complaints. It’s a great place. Three story house, stylishly furnished by its friendly and helpful gay owners. Our room has a bay window with a fabulous view over the fells, and, that most prized of comforts, a BATH. Nuff said.