Helm Crag or as it is also well known 'The Lion and The Lamb' and Gibson Knott were the fells to be scaled in MDB this month. Before I could tackle either I needed to get to them, a lengthy hike was needed from the A591 where I parked up and booted up in the well known lay-by opposite the Traveller's Rest pub. If I hadn't been lucky enough to get in there I would have the P&D car parks in Grasmere as a secondary option.
Map: Bing and Ordnance Survey
Helm Crag is a prominent feature from the A591. AW mentions in his Book Three, my accompanying guide for the day, the very sight of it being popular with coach trip tourist, all pointing it out as they whizz by exclaiming 'The Lion and The Lamb' in unison referring to the rocky outcrop on top that resembles a resting Lion and a small Lamb in front. It appears you can simply bound across the pastures and boom you're ready to rock but it's not that straightforward. I started my hike, looking at my OL7 map, towards the lovely Lakeland village of Grasmere, famed home of a good number of things, but mainly gingerbread and poets.
I headed down Pye Lane, and to get me off the road I bobbed down a little wooded path at Butharlyp Howe, the River Rothay flowing to my right.
As I popped out on Easedale Road I took a left and headed into Grasmere.
I then walked to the home of Lakeland poet William Wordsworth and laterly National Trust founder Canon Rawnsley, Allan Bank. As soon as I passed through the gate posts I find a finger post that sent me across the lower pastures beneath Allan Bank house.
Helm Crag then features prominently on the landscape. I make my way, on a well made path that runs parallel with Easedale Road until I pop out on the road..... At this point it does seem counter productive to have previously been on Easedale Road when walking out of Butharlyp Howe and then purposely head the wrong way, but a trip to Helm Crag is not complete without a tiny tour of Grasmere village which would have been missed if I had not.
I carried on walking along the road crossing Easedale Beck at Goody Bridge and then I came up against it. I get a stunning first glimpse of the silvery ribbon of Sourmilk Gill in the distance.
The road heads to a fork in the road right to Lancrigg, or the way to the a Fell to the left, I head through the gate.
Lancrigg, once the famous meeting house for the Lakeland Poets, now a beautiful and comfortable Hotel.
The tarmac track leads easily down to yet another fork, I took a right this time.
The path winds beside a drystone wall in a wood. I reached a gate, once through I was finally at the base of the Helm Crag. I would say the 'walk-in' to this fell exceeds the actual mileage to the summit.
The path then starts to steepen, initially following a timber fence, plateaus and then continues beside a wall.
Jackdaw Crag, Sourmilk Gill in view.
Grasmere and Loughrigg start to become visible as I climb.
Sourmilk Gill nestled between Blea Crag and Tarn Crag.
Directly to the right of Sourmilk Gill, the beautiful neighbouring Far Easedale Valley comes into view.
Just before I reached White Crag, Easdale Tarn, the tributary of Sourmilk Gill came into sight. This side of the Helm Crag ascent the soothing distant sound of Sourmilk Gill rushing down the fell is in evidence.....
As you pass around to the other side of the fell the road noise from the A591 is more audible. I thought this auditory interruption a shame, I doubt it would have been the same in AW's day even with all those coach parties going by. After a short rocky scramble I reached the first of two significant formations on this modest fell top, 'The Lion and The Lamb'. I scrambled to the top of the Lion's head and rested MDB overlooking Grasmere.
I swung round to view the second fabulous formation 'The Howitzer', the truest high spot on the fell. AW legendarily didn't make it to the top and sadly I didn't either, I only managed a partial ascent.
The Howitzer ascent.... Nearly, but not quite to the top!
Once I hade spent time exploring Helm Crag I moved off along the ridge towards Gibson Knott.
Stopping for a look back towards Helm Crag and Grasmere in the distance.
The Far Easedale Valley
I reached my 18th Wainwright, Gibson Knott summit fairly swiftly. I stopped, brewed up and enjoyed the views of Seat Sandal and Fairfield.
More of Easedale Tarn could be seen.
Dunmail Raise and Seat Sandal from Gibson Knott.
If daylight wasn't a huge issue I would have continued on to Calf Crag but I didn't want to be caught out so I chose, sensibly, to make my way back to Helm Crag and to back track to Grasmere.
I rounded the day off with a lovely dusk-lit trip to neighbouring Thirlmere. A great place to get off the busy A591, have a brew and reflect on the super day I had.
Till next time..... Tight laces. MDBx
Phil, thank you, as always.