Through The Viewfinder and What Alice Found There
A few weeks a go I decided it was time to venture into less familiar territory and go for a walk somewhere in the Lakes that I don't often go to. The west side of Cumbria and the far northern areas aren't places I visit regularly, mainly because it can take a while to drive to some of these places. However, if I'm ever going to walk all the Wainwrights I'm going to have to venture further afield some time! So I decided to head towards Crummock Water and have a go at Whiteside, Hopegill Head and Grisedale Pike...
Leaving Keswick towards Whinlatter Forest, we followed Whinlatter Pass until we reached Lorton where we then headed south on the B5289. Crossing the cattle grid Crummock Water becomes visible in the distance with the mountains to the left and some buildings on the right. Just past the buildings is a small car park at Lanthwaite Green Farm where we began our walk. The plan was to start with Whiteside, follow the ridge to Hopegill Head and then on to Grisedale Pike, coming back the same way. So, we headed up across the grassy fields to the left where we crossed a little wooden bridge over a stream. On the other side there were 3 paths - 2 heading up the mountain side and one following the wall below. Either of the upper paths will take you the right way - we followed the left hand side one which took us up a small valley between the peak of Whiteside on our left and the small mound of Whin Ben to the right. After a short, steep climb we joined onto a proper gravel path which wound it's way up the flanks of Whiteside, giving beautiful views back down towards Crummock Water below.
The climb then got steeper and rockier, at some points having to use our hands to help pull us up the sharp outcrops. Eventually we reached the summit of our first Wainright of the day - Whiteside. From there we had beautiful views of the ridge leading to Hopegill Head with the summits of Grasmoor and Crag Hill to our right. We had a brief snow shower or two while on Whiteside but compared to other recent walks the weather was brilliant, with good visibility for a change!
The ridge itself was pretty easy - there were a few spots where we had to scramble over rocky outcrops again but on the whole the path was good and easy enough to walk on. As we got further towards Hopegill Head more and more mountains began to emerge until we could turn a full 360 with peaks on all sides of us! It was beautiful - I can't wait to head back to this area some time to explore more of the stunning landscape! Eventually we reached the summit of Hopegill Head with views towards our next target of Grisedale Pike, and a smaller ridge over Ladyside Pike (not a Wainwright but looks a really good walk!). Both the summit of Whiteside and Hopegill Head didn't really have much of a cairn but it was pretty easy to tell where the tops were as they were quite obviously the highest points on the ridge. After a quick pause we then set off for the final summit of the day on Grisedale Pike.
The walk to Grisedale Pike wasn't too difficult either - a clear path led along the tops of the mountain, passing by frozen ponds with spectacular views of the Skiddaw range in the distance. After a quick picnic just below the summit, we headed up, took in the views then decided it was time to head back. Going back the way we came seemed like an easy idea to begin with, but because the ridges were so up and down it felt like we were climbing all the summits for a second time! By the time we reached Whiteside and started heading down our legs were beginning to ache, and the steep rocky path which kept slipping underfoot wasn't making our descent any easier! Eventually we reached the place where our path at the beginning joined the real path but instead of going back down the valley we walked over the top on Whin Ben, dropping down and meeting up with the other path by the little wooden bridge on the stream.
Although the route back was a little bit tough, the overall walk was great! It's an area neither of us really know very well so it was exciting to discover new landscapes and we both can't wait to go back for more walks in that area! The views are beautiful - I would definitely recommend this route to others! It was also very peaceful - we saw a few other walkers but because there are so many different trails around there we only passed people briefly before all going off our separate ways. If you'd like to try the walk yourself, my route is below:
Landscape & travel photographer from Cumbria, UK.