Walk 1671 - printer friendly version
Grike & Crag Fell Walk
Author - Nigel Armistead
Length - 6.6 miles / 10.7 km
Ascent - 1350 feet / 409 metres
Grade - easy/mod
Start - OS grid reference NY069158
Lat 54.5288930 + Long -3.4401157
Postcode CA23 3AN (approx. location only)
Nigel Armistead has painstakingly described many walks in his wonderful website Trails Less Trodden. Nigel's website notes that he often finds "a particular spot which evokes in me a sense of wonder and appreciation of nature, a spot that really does 'hit the spot'". This Lake District walk includes descriptions of one of these 'spots' enjoyed during this walk.
From Ennerdale Bridge, you could take the direct route up Ben Gill to the top of Crag Fell and return the same way but I prefer, whenever possible, to go up one way and come down another. So I took the roundabout route via Blakely Moss and Grike and came down Ben Gill. You start with 2k of pleasant road-walking, passing the Kinniside Stone Circle on Blakely Moss. This is not marked on OS maps because it has been 're-engineered'. The twelve stones had been removed but their holes were measured and the original stones recovered and replaced, having been used by local farmers as gateposts and cornerstones. Soon after the circle, turn left on an old mine track (preferable to the tarmac forest road which turns off lower down). Follow this to just below the summit of Grike.
Two incidents relieved the monotony of this 2.5k uphill trudge (actually the views are quite good towards Lank Rigg, Whoap and Boat How). First, there was a herd of horses being driven somewhat haphazardly down the fellside by a farmer on a quad-bike and on his mobile phone. The horses kept escaping but he eventually got off his phone, rounded them up and pushed them down the road. Then there was the distinct yelping of dogs passing through the forest. I passed a 'sentry' on the track and asked him what the dogs were so excited about. His terse reply: "Fox". So much for legislation.
A stile takes you over a forest fence to a path leading up to the summit of Grike, where a welcome wind shelter awaits you. The views are not that great but you can see past Crag Fell to Great Borne and the western end of Ennerdale Water is visible from just beyond the shelter. Further afield you can catch the summits of Grasmoor, the High Stile Ridge and the Pillar Ridge. To the west lies the coastal plain around Whitehaven.
Tear yourself away from the wind shelter and head across the col to Crag Fell - it can be a bit squelchy in the dip. The top of Crag Fell is a series of little humps with a cairn on the highest. However, my spot is considerably lower than, and to the north of, the cairn, in sight of Angler's Crag far below. From here, you get one of the best views of Ennerdale:
South-West - along the length of Upper Ennerdale with the eastern half of Ennerdale Water shimmering in the foreground; towards the south is the ridge leading past Haycock and Steeple to Pillar; Pillar Rock stands out on the northern slope of Pillar; beyond the forests of Ennerdale, the valley ends in the disappointing bump of Grey Knotts (where is Great Gable when you need it?)
West - across Ennerdale Water is the High Stile Ridge from Haystacks to Starling Dodd; this is the less attractive side of the ridge but it still rises impressively above the skirt of forest around its base
North-West - in the foreground, the top of Angler's Crag; on the other side of Ennerdale Water lies its partner, Bowness Knott, twin sentries guarding the entrance to Upper Ennerdale; above Bowness Knott rises the peak of Great Borne with its shoulder, Herdus, falling down to Floutern Pass
North - a bunch of lower fells that Wainwright calls the Loweswater Fells with Gavel Fell and Blake Fell prominent and ending with the perfect breast of Knock Murton; in the foreground, the western end of Ennerdale Water backed by the green fields around Croasdale
North-East - the coastal plain fading away towards the sea
East and South-East - the slope of Crag Fell you have just descended (the only poor view)
South - the summit of Crag Fell with its cairn
This is an exhilarating spot with the added frisson of an almost sheer drop nearby but try to come here on a balmy summer's day, not as I did on a blustery midwinter's one, when the wind was playing havoc with my efforts to record the merits of the spot.
To descend via Ben Gill, climb back up the slope and take the first turn right along a path that follows a line above Revelin Crag and then continues beside an embankment that leads to Ben Gill. If you detour to the right near the top you get a view of Crag Fell Pinnacles directly below you. The path turns right in front of a stile then crosses Ben Gill and goes down through a plantation to Crag Farm House and the car park at Bleach Green. From there it's a 2k road walk to Ennerdale Bridge, a walk I soon got fed up with at the end of every day's expedition.