Walk 1111 - printer friendly version
High Raise & Helm Crag Walk
Author - Lou Johnson
Length - 9.5 miles / 15.4 km
Ascent - 2500 feet / 758 metres
Grade - mod/hard
Start - OS grid reference NY335078
Lat 54.461205 + Long -3.0273694
Postcode LA22 9QE (approx. location only)
This Lake District walk visits two fells of contrasting character. High Raise is a substantial fell just reaching an elevation of 2,500ft. With a featureless summit, High Raise is usually only seen by fell walkers, which contrasts sharply with Helm Crag. Often called the "Lion and the Lamb", Helm Crag is not as lofty although its summit is much more memorable even to the hordes of car-bound tourists passing through Grasmere each year. Considering the terrain, this is a hard walk with a considerable amount of ascent. However it is an excursion where your efforts are well rewarded with a variety of scenery with views over much of the Lake District.
The walk can start from any of the main car parks in Grasmere village although the most convenient is the small "pay and display" on the right hand side along the Easedale Road (grid ref. NY335078). From here continue west along the lane until you reach a bend where you take the footpath signed Easedale Tarn. The path starts level but soon climbs providing an excellent prospect of Sourmilk Gill as it tumbles down to the valley from its outlet in Easedale Tarn. The Tarn was once a popular place for Victorians and even today many visitors make the effort to reach this tranquil spot. Following the south shore of the Tarn the path resumes its ascent leading to Belles Knot, a rather attractive "mini-fell" on the right hand side if the path. From here a short detour takes you to the even quieter shores of Codale Tarn, which nestles in the lee of Ling Crag and Tarn Crag.
The path steepens and becomes rougher as you continue to a col. This important crossroads (grid ref. NY292084) provides your first sight of the Langdale Pikes and Stickle Tarn with Pavey Ark prominent in the view. Turning right (north-west) the next objective is the rocky summit of Sergeant Man which although lower in altitude than High raise is a much more interesting place to linger.
Having taken your fill of the scenic panorama continue north-west to the summit cairn of High Raise, which in itself is eminently boring although it does provide good views to the north and north-west. Turning north to Low White Stones the path veers north-east as you head down the peaty slopes of Greenup Edge to meet the path coming up from Watendlath. The next section is often horribly wet and boggy with a slight descent and re-ascent to the col at the western end of Far Easedale.
If time is tight or your energy levels are falling then an easy escape id to drop down into Far Easedale and head directly back to Grasmere on the valley path. Infinitely more interesting is to keep to the high ground and follow the ridge linking Calf Crag to Gibson Knott and Helm Crag. This an excellent ridge walk although it can be boggy with many diversions necessary to avoid the worst of the soggy peat. However the view more than compensates for this annoyance as you twist and turn along the ridge. Ahead lie the high fells of the Fairfield Horseshoe with Sleet Fell dominating the view to your immediate left.
Your arrival at Helm Crag seems to take longer than the map might suggest although the summit is instantly recognisable from upstanding rocks, which are easily visible from the road and Grasmere. Deciding which is "the Lion" and which is "the Lamb" is a hard task and even with much deliberation I am still not sure if we got it right! Care needs to be exercised around the summit as there are some serious crags to contend with on both the northern and southern flanks of the fell. Descend by the main path, which has seen considerable work in recent years to emerge in the valley. Turn left onto the lane and follow this back to Grasmere.