#235 – The Grasmoor Hills – a quiet corner in the North-Western Fells of the Lake District

Grasmoor (left) and Whiteless Pike

(Left click images to zoom in, use browser return arrow to go back)

Having a Border Collie means a decent walk for the dog, every day.   Most of the time I’ll go with Chris, and we do a good number of hillwalking dog-walks together, but every now and then I’ll go off with ‘Mist’ for a solo day as on our Scottish trip in May (see posts #224 and #230).   August saw us back in the Lakes and on Day 1 our dog walk had been on Rannerdale Knotts (see post #234) – the views across to the Grasmoor Hills had been good enough to tempt me back there for a solo day, so that was the Day 2 dog walk sorted.

The route (in red – blue route is Rannerdale Knotts, post #234)

Grasmoor and the North Western Fells

The North-Western Fells of the Lake District are hills for serious walkers, the hills that the tourists don’t bother with.   The Grasmoor Hills are part of this neglected corner, a complex set of linked ridges with Grasmoor the highest at an altitude of 852 metres, but nearby Crag Hill (839 metres) is the hub where the ridges come together.   It’s a group of hills I don’t know all that well, so a route including Grasmoor and Crag Hill would tick a couple of boxes.

The start of 730 metres of uphill

Looking back towards Crummock Water and the Rannerdale Knotts Ridge

200 metres higher at the start of the Lad Hows Ridge

One obvious fact about Grasmoor becomes obvious the more you look at it – It’s steep from just about any approach!    I was starting from Crummock Water, and the previous days outing on Rannerdale Knotts had been a good recce – the wide, heathery ridge of Lad Hows looked like being a more gradual and pleasant approach route than some of the alternatives, so that was the plan.

Looking back, it looks as though we’ve gained some height ….

…. but there’s still plenty more ahead!

Getting near the top

Looking back down the ascent route to the Lad Hows Ridge below

As Last! Heading for the summit of Grasmoor

Although Lad Hows was probably a less strenuous alternative to some of the other options, the route wasn’t taking any prisoners!    Starting from about 120 metres altitude, I had an ascent of 730 metres over 2.5 kms.   That averages to about a 30% slope, around 1 in 3.  It’s one of those routes that looks like a long way up as you start, and still looks like a long way up when you are halfway there!    Then, suddenly, you are at the top.

Looking north towards Whiteside and Hopegill Head

Time to backtrack a short distance, heading for Crag Hill

Whiteless Pike in the middle ground with Buttermere beyond and the Scafell Range in the distance

Crag Hill ahead, our next destination ….

…. but a bit of downhill followed by some more uphill

The view to the north from Grasmoor summit gave the first and only views of Whiteside and Hopegill Head, but as I backtracked to head towards Crag Hill I had a great preview of my intended descent route along Whiteless Edge and Pike, with the Buttermere Hills beyond and the Scafell Range in the distance to the south.   To the west the view was dominated by my next target, Crag Hill.    This involved a 130 metre descent followed by 120 metres uphill to gain the height lost – the gap between the two seemed a good spot for a wet* of coffee, with a biscuit for Border Collie ‘Mist’.    (* wet = Royal Marines speak for a drink!)

Looking back to Grasmoor from Crag Hill with Wandope (on my descent route) on the left

On the summit of Crag Hill looking down the Coledale valley, with Skiddaw and Blencathra in the distance to the left and the Helvellyn Range on the skyline from the centre running to the right.

On the move again, it was just a question of heading upwards on a not particularly steep slope.   The view back to Grasmoor gave a different perspective on the hill I had slogged up from Crummock Water, but the best outlook came on the summit of Crag Hill, with great views out to Skiddaw, Blencathra and the Helvellyn Range.   I guess that’s the whole point of the Grasmoor Hills – they aren’t much to look at from a distance, but the views from them to the other hills are amazing.

Looking back to Crag Hill on the way to Wandope

The author and ‘Mist’ on Wandope ….

…. and new buddy for the day – Brendon from New Zealand

I had already had a couple of chats to other walkers on the way down to Wandope – the Grasmoor Hills seem to attract friendly characters.   Then on Wandope I met Brendon from New Zealand – I’ve never met a New Zealander I didn’t like, but Brendon was a gem!  He was knocking off the ‘Wainwrights’ and having a great time in the Lakes – it turned out that we both knew people in Glenridding (Patterdale), and ‘the craic was mighty’ as they say in Ireland.   By the time we parted company we had been nattering for over half an hour!

On the descent to Whiteless Edge with Whiteless Pike beyond – ‘Mist’ ahead as usual!

Looking across to the ascent route up the Lad Hows Ridge with Crummock Water beyond

On Whiteless Edge ….

…. with Whiteless Pike ahead – last summit of the day

Heading back to the valley with the Rannerdale Knotts Ridge and Crummock Water ahead

Brendon still had some mileage to get in before the end of the day, but my route back to Crummock Water via Whitless Edge and Whitless Pike was almost all downhill.    From the Edge there was a great view across to my ascent route up Lad Hows Ridge before my final descent to the ridge of Rannerdale Knotts and a steady walk back to the camper for the usual happy conclusion to a walk – dinner for the dog (slightly overdue) and a cold cider for me.

Heading for home on the path below Rannerdale Knotts ….

…. with one last look up to Grasmoor

Text and images © Paul Shorrock


About Paul Shorrock

I've been mucking about in the mountains for longer than I care to mention. I started out by walking my local hills, then went on to rock climbing, mountaineering and skiing. Still doing it, and still getting a buzz. I'm now sharing the fun, through my guided walking business (Hillcraft Guided Walking) and by writing routes for other publishers, mainly Walking World and Discovery Walking Guides. Just to make sure I keep really busy, I am also currently a member of my local mountain rescue team.
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10 Responses to #235 – The Grasmoor Hills – a quiet corner in the North-Western Fells of the Lake District

  1. Grasmoor’s one of my favourite viewpoints looking across Crummock Water – rows and rows of great mountains. It was my Dad’s favourite Lakes Fell. The NW fells are my favourite area anyway which is partly why I’ve moved to where I have.

    I like Lad Hows in ascent but once descended it and found it too steep and loose and ‘orrid. That was in earlier days – it probably wouldn’t scare me now but I’d still probably step down really slowly and carefully like an old lady!

    I’m not mad on Whiteless Pike for some reason (although I love that ridge to it from Wandhope) – I think I just find the summit uncomfortably small. I was once sneered and tutted at by some dressed-to-the-nines walkers in ‘all the gear’ because I had old, scruffy clothes on and most of them tied around my middle (my usual garb really).


  2. Well, I think you and your Dad have good taste Carol! I don’t know this area as well as I know the Eastern and Central Lakes – I obviously need to get out more 🙂

    Had to smile at your ‘sneery types’ attitudes – takes all sorts, doesn’t it?!!


  3. LensScaper says:

    The joy of walking ‘outliers’ is that you get superb views towards the heart of the mountains – I’ve loved that feeling in Snowdonia especially walking along the long Nantlle ridge – you feel like you are walking into an amphitheatre. Superb images, Paul, and beautiful light.


  4. Great photos and writing. It’s interesting to me the people you meet hill walking, or exploring any wilderness, they’re almost invariably interesting in one way or another. It’s odd that there should be more community where there are less people and where the people you meet are likely never to cross your path again…


    • I guess the people we meet in the hills are, literally, fellow travellers, whereas we probably have little in common with the people we brush past in the city streets – either that or perhaps the fact that we have more time to spare to interact with those we meet.
      Whatever, I know where I would rather be 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Me too. I think its to do with a psychological quirk of humans in modern society. You pass so many people on a day to day, you literally, in terms of psychological resources, can’t dedicate much interest or concern in them. When you’re in remote places with few people, you must expend those resources… Social animals back in our element. Even those of us that love the wilderness struggle with distance from people, I think.


  5. treksandtors says:

    I’ve stayed in Braithwaite so often now that I have only 2 of the NW fells to do, considering I’m only on 121 shows how much I’ve got stuck into that area. I did the Lad Hows ridge up to Grasmoor the same as you and I think I’ll always do it that way, along with Wandope and then down to Whiteless and Rannerdale Knotts, Crag Hill for me can stay on the Coledale Horseshoe. As you say some of the best views are in the NW fells, Dale Head leaps to mind along with the classic ridge between Whiteside and Hopegill Head. Great area


  6. Some typically beautiful scenery for a dog walk…


    • Well, the “dog walkers” need to be uplifted as well 🙂

      Personally, I don’t think ‘Mist’ cares were we go – just as long as I’m there as well 🙂


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