Our longest and highest walk of the week. Grasmere, Steel Fell, Calf Crag, Gibson Knott and Helm Crag. The forecast was for rain and cold temperatures on the tops, so we dressed for the worst. We were very fortunate for most of the walk and, owing to the continuing mostly dry weather, the ridge from Steel Fell to Calf Crag that Wainwright said one could consider oneself lucky to cross with dry boots, was as dry as a bone. However, we had cause to wish we’d set off an hour earlier, as the rain and hail caught up with us at Gibson Knott, and then some!
On the level walk from Grasmere to the base of Steel Fell we find more bluebells.
From the base of Steel Fell, the distinctive rock called the Howitzer on Helm Crag – its true summit.
From the same spot, Steel Fell rises up before us.
Looking across to Helm Crag again, the stone walls rise up the fellside regardless of the gradient.
Half way up Steel Fell, we stop for a snack. Looking up the weather is much clearer.
Jon, very relaxed with his sandwich!
Harry, in similarly relaxed pose, with Helm Crag behind.
The Helvellyn fells rise above Dunmail Raise
Helm Crag and some of the ridge we’ll walk on the way to it from Steel Fell summit.
The Coniston fells tower in the distance to the west.
With the Steel Fell summit cairn in the foreground, the view north up Thirlmere with the Northern Fells in the distance.
Zooming in on Thirlmere with the distant fells, Lonscale Fell to the left, Blencathra to the right and Great Calva (I think) in the middle. Latrigg in part sun and part shade in front.
Skiddaw and Skiddaw Lesser Man.
As we leave the summit of Steel Fell behind and head along the ridge to Calf Crag, the top of the Greenburn valley (which lies between Helm Crag and Steel Fell) comes into view.
A Herdwick ewe and her lamb cuddling up on the ridge.
A flower in one of the tarns on the ridge, bowing its head before the wind.
Looking across one of the tarns to Ullascarf and the High Raise plateau.
The weather is closing in and creating strong contrasts of sun and shadow on the fells.
The whole Greenburn valley has opened up before us now.
Zooming in on the valley, a wonderful mix of colours, light and shade.
Looking up, the clouds continue to gather, moving swiftly across the sky.
Looking back along the ridge we’ve followed as we approach Calf Crag.
To our left, these large exposed ridges of peat are marked on the map as Peat Hags. This area is well known for being wet and very boggy, but today is as dry as dry can be. Not even a wet toe and no requirement to follow the fence line. We walk in amongst stepping stones which are obviously usually the only way to cross the bogs.
From our snack spot just below Calf Crag, into the distance. Grasmere, Loughrigg Fell behind and a glimpse of Windermere beyond. Even farther, the Pennines getting a fair dose of very bad weather for most of the day.
Spots of bright light on the fells as the sun finds tiny gaps in the clouds.
We spot three red deer hinds just below us. I’d just noticed that the crags opposite under Tarn Crag are called Deer Bields too!
Proving how quickly the light changes – the same view and the spots of light have changed dramatically after only a minute or two.
The Pennines are definately getting rained on now.
Looking down into Far Easedale from our snack spot.
The red deer are still pretty much unfussed by our presence above them. Perhaps they’ve worked out that the rock face below us is not something we could scale before they’d be off and gone!
Sun on Tarn Crag
A rainbow ahead along the ridge to Helm Crag.
A heavy shower passes over Grasmere.
And then Far Easedale (with Grasmere at the end) is in sunshine.
Round to the right, Tarn Crag rises above Far Easedale. The crags on the right are called Deer Bields – a bield is a local name for a shelter.
Along the edge of the ridge, Gibson Knott and then Helm Crag.
Somehow, we’ve managed to get in between a Herdwick ewe and her lamb. She looks on worriedly, so we pass by as quickly as we can.
Jon searching for something in his camera bag.
From below Gibson Knott, looking back into Far Easedale.
Behind us, the skies are darkening and the temperature is dropping quickly.
Very quickly the Langdales are obviously under rain and it will be minutes before it reaches us. We start getting ready for the weather we’d been expecting for the whole walk.
Easedale Tarn comes into view, but not for long with the weather coming in so quickly.
The Coniston fells now disappearing under the heavy clouds.
The showers hit Easedale, we soon find out that it isn’t rain, but hail – ow!
On Helm Crag, a brief opportunity between hail showers to get the camera out again and capture the Howitzer close to…
…and there’s the hail shower heading for Fairfield.
The rest of the walk was completed in heavy rain!