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Date & Time: Wednesday 15th October 2008. 11.15 am start.

Location of Event : Ghyll Foot Bridge, Grasmere, Cumbria, Uk ( NY 332 097 )

Places visited : Steel Fell, Calf Crag, Gibson Knott, Helm Crag, and back across the Greenburn Beck.

Walk details : 6.4 ml, 2050 ft of ascent, 5 hours 20 mins.

Highest point : Steel Fell 1811 ft ( 553m)

Walked with : Ros, David, Douglas, Ann and the dogs, Rosie, Holly, Harry and Bethan.

Weather : Very variable, it was supposed to clear but didn't.

Ros, Douglas, Ann and David at the start of the walk


A classic Greenburn Round starts with an ascent of Steel Fell and ends with a descent of Helm Crag.

We join David Leslie, Ros and Douglas on this fine but not so fine walk.

Through the gate by Helmside Cottage and the only way is up !

Wispy clouds hang in the valley as we pass through the first gate.

Almost level with Helm Crag, we're climbing steadily now.

To our right, the road passes over Dunmail Raise. Behind, Helvellyn has a thick layer of cloud covering its peaks.

Douglas and Ros had to turn back at this point so they made their way back to the car. David was able to continue on, so we continued our climb.

David and I starting the last part of the climb.
A few moments later he appears above the crag.

The weather had taken a turn for the worse and a large rain shower approaches, skimming over the top of High Raise.

It's time to drag out the waterproofs.

The magnificent view of Thirlmere from the top of Steel Fell

. . . is missing today !

But it's not all doom and gloom.

The route ahead is clearly seen despite the poor weather.

As we walk the ridge parallel to the Wythburn Valley the cloud rises slightly

and our view looking north up the Thirlmere Valley definitely improves.

Ahead are the tarns, half way along the ridge.

Behind is Greenup Edge and the path up and over to Borrowdale.

What's this . . . sunshine ?

The weather has improved significantly and there's even some blue sky about.


Soon the summit cairn of Calf Crag is reached.

We turn here and leave the Edge for others to cross. Our route doubles back towards Helm Crag.

Half way through the walk it's time for lunch, so we find a sheltered spot near the top but out of the breeze.

Rosie and Holly looking a little damp due to the boggy paths.
Harry and Bethan sit patiently for their lunch for a change.

David taking in the view before we move off.

Wet paths underfoot characterise the day.

This section has been paved with stepping stones.

Ann negotiates the slippery stones with a real look of concentration on her face.

Two more summits to go . . . Gibson Knott and Helm Crag ahead.

Occasional breaks in the cloud send small patches of sunshine racing across the landscape.

This one gave Grasmere village a few seconds of brightness.

Bethan stands close to the edge of the crags, looking down into the Far Easedale Valley.

Behind is Grasmere and Loughrigg Fell.

Her view down was of the bridge on the path from Easedale Tarn to Lancrigg as it crosses Far Easedale Gill.

Gibson Knott and the view across to Easedale Tarn.

Harrison Stickle and Pavey Ark are the two small but prominent summits on the skyline.

. . . but watch out . . . there's another grey cloud coming our way !

The same view just minutes later as the sun bursts through a gap in the clouds.

Helm Crag ahead.

Looks like I'm leading the way.

The Howitzer, the true summit of Helm Crag.

We walk straight past this time as we want to show David the Lion and the Lamb at the far end. We'll be back in a few minutes though.

The double rock structure known as " The Lion and the Lamb "

David is about to join myself and the dogs on the top.

He's got the camera out . . . looking for Ann ?

She's down there, below you !

The view from the top, looking south over Grasmere to distant Windermere and beyond.

The cloud has risen but still forms a thick cloud base at about 2,500 ft.

Just occasionally there are gaps in that cloud and the sun streams through, bringing bright patches of colour to the scene.

Walking back to the Howitzer again we leave " The Lamb and the Lion " behind.

The rough, rocky summit of Helm Crag.

Would some geologist please explain this summit landscape, it is most unlike the other fells around here.

Easedale Tarn again as another shaft of sunlight breaks through.

We would miss a lot of spectacular sights if we only walked on fine days.

That's what I keep telling myself as my foot disappears into yet another boggy puddle on the path.

I thought the poor weather

would make the climb to the top rather slippery

but in fact the breeze had dried the rock

and the last twenty feet were

satisfactorily climbed.

A feint rainbow as another shaft of sunlight meets a bank of rain over Dunmail Raise.

Helvellyn has been in cloud all day.

Steel Fell and the climb that started our day.

We've chosen to cut down the steep slope to Greenburn Gill to reduce the length of the walk as Ros and Douglas will be waiting for us in the car.

Helm Crag above as Ann starts the descent . . .
. . . closely followed by David.

The steep descent is slippery due to the large amount of water that has chosen the same route as us.

The safer route was down through the bracken.

The falls on Greenburn Gill.
Looking down from the bridge.
Clean dogs after encouraging them in for a swim.
One last muddy footpath alongside the fell wall.

Autumn colours in the grounds of Helmside House bring our walk to a close.

- - - o o o - - -

Recent addition . . . Many thanks Peter.

Just seen your Helm Crag pictures and your request for the summit ridge to be explained. Basically it's the result of an ancient landslide. The side overlooking the Keswick road has slipped a short distance - hence the slightly lower ground with numerous boulders and hummocky rock masses. If you descend slightly you will come to a rather narrow ridge - unseen from the summit ridge. When it happened - nobody knows. Wainwright devotes a page to it in Book 3, but it was earlier recorded and described by geologist Clifton Ward in an article in 1873 and by physiographer Thomas Hay in 1942.

There are actually quite a lot of ancient landslides in the Lake District. Another one, not too far from Loweswater, is on Robinson. Hackney Holes and the unusual terrain on the south side of Littledale Edge are the main features - the hillside has parted company and descended slightly.

Hope this helps, Peter.

Dr Peter Wilson BSc, PhD, DSc (Reader)
Environmental Sciences Research Institute
University of Ulster

- - - o o o - - -


Technical note: Pictures taken with with my Cannon G7 or Ann's Ixus 75 Digital cameras.

Resized in Photoshop, and built up on a Dreamweaver web builder.

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