Hiding behind the eastern village of Patterdale, a long ridge climbs south west from the parkland of Glenamara. The first summit top is the simple rounded grass top of Birks, which as it happens on this walk we'll bypass on an airy terraced path with fantastic views. Another 1¾km south west is the summit of St Sunday Crag. Its rocky north west face nearly 1.0km (0.6 miles) long is a haven for climbers with many dramatic gullies and ridges including the infamous Pinnacle Ridge. To the east it throws out a ridge across the shallow saddle of The Cape to Gavel Pike. Gavel is an old word for gable which, unsurprisingly, is its appearance from the east across Deepdale. Continuing south west again from the summit of St Sunday Crag, the ridge narrows to Deepdale Hause before a steep climb over Cofa Pike to Fairfield.
In the depths of Deepdale Hause, at the narrowest part of the ridge, a path takes its leave to descend steeply westwards for a short way and then continues south west to Grisedale Tarn. High mountain tarns often deserve their legends and stories, this one is no exception. Legend has it that the crown of King Dunmail, whose body lays under the large cairn in the middle of the dual carriageway over Dunmail Raise, was thrown into the 100ft deep waters of the tarn so it could not be taken by the Romans. For us it is a fantastic place to sit. Following the outflow, Grisedale Beck, through its valley and back to Patterdale is just over another 6.0km (3.7 miles). On the way the path passes Ruthwaite Lodge and, a little earlier, above the Brothers' Parting Stone where John and William Wordsworth last saw each other on 20th September 1800. John's ship later sank in the English Channel with the loss of 300 lives.
Parking is severely limited in Patterdale and fills quickly at weekends and holiday times due to this also being the start point of a classic round of the Helvellyn ridges. It is largely limited to the overflow car park of the Patterdale Hotel where a charge is made. Bus services from Penrith call at the village.
If you need accommodation we have details of 10 properties offering rooms near the start of this walk. Here are some examples:
Walk height profile
note that gradients are usually grossly exaggerated
From the car park entrance turn left along the road and through the pinch point between the White Lion Inn and the cottages. Just after the village shop turn right up the track signposted "public footpath". In a few metres swing right, and then turn left onto the footpath. Keep left to go through the gate into Glenamara Park. Follow the path round the bottom of the parkland, you may want to watch for the cattle that live here for much of the year.
Cross the ford. In another 300m (330 yards), opposite the gateway coming up from the Grisedale Road, turn left to climb the steep ridge.
Through the summer bracken, the path meanders a little, some is old pitched stone path and the rest of it is just rough mountain path. Climbing steeply upwards catch a breather occasionally and look behind you to the beauty of Ullswater, Place Fell, and beyond. Below the steepest part of the ridge the path rises to the right and then turns left to the knoll of Thornhow End just below the intake wall.
Go through the gate in the intake wall and follow the path along the right hand side of the towering ridgeline. This climbs steadily, and apart from a small rocky step is without difficulty. At the top of this rise the view opens ahead to the dramatic combes and ridges of Dollywaggon Pike on the southern end of the Helvellyn range, and down to the floor of Grisedale valley.
The path now largely traverses along the fellside which is boggy in places. Keep left and climb steadily to the saddle between Birks and St Sunday Crag. Ahead the crag looms dramatically. Follow the path over the grassy bumps to the small cairn where the path splits.
Ahead the path climbs through outcrops of rock to the summit of St Sunday Crag directly. Our route bears left to visit the little summit of Gavel Pike. This narrow trod rises steadily again, around the head of Gavel Moss and Cold Cove. Keep left and follow the diminishing path to the small summit cairn on an outcrop of rock. Here the view eastwards is fantastic. Perhaps also it is the only place to really see the ridge of Hartsop Above How just across Deepdale. Beyond are the Hartsop fells and High Street.
From the little cairn on Gavel Pike, about turn to face St Sunday Crag. The summit is only a little over 400m (440 yards) away hidden by the curvature of the rough slopes.
Meander over the few little outcrops - where the actual highest point and arguably the summit cairn of Gavel Pike should lay. Cross the saddle and climb the easy and increasingly rocky slope. Here the path is easily lost but just keep westwards for 300m (330 yards). Bear left, now WSW, for about 100m (110 yards) to the southern most cairn on a rough outcrop.
Bear left from the summit cairn of St Sunday Crag and then keep right on a well used wide path. The ridge descending to Deepdale Hause quickly comes into view, and the great bulk of Cofa Pike and Fairfield tower above you. We'll miss those out on this walk!
Descend over the knolls and bumps into the very bottom of the hause. At the small cairn turn right onto a narrow and slightly implausible path. This crosses the ridgeline and then drops in a series of small zigzags steeply down the fellside. Mostly the path is good and only a little loose.
At the bottom of the zigzags turn left to meander on a gently mostly descending path to Grisedale Tarn which is now visible ahead. This narrow path undulates a little, and then the last bit of the descent to the tarn gets quite boggy.
Turn right to cross the tarn outflow and bear right again to climb a little, then keeping right descend on a clear and rocky path above Grisedale Beck. There are a few rocky steps to negotiate but nothing that's really going to make you break step.
Keep to the path, with Grisedale curving away to the north east and dark crags to the left, descend to Ruthwaite Lodge. Bear right and continue descending, surprisingly on a short section of pitched path.
Ignore the bridge on the left over the beck coming down from Ruthwaite Cove, but continue ahead and cross the bridge over Grisedale Beck further on. Beyond it, follow the track as it meanders amongst firstly the hummocks, past the plantation and then through the intake gateway near Elmhow.
Leave Elmhow still on the track through a succession of gates through fields to the tarmac road.
Follow the road all the way to the A592 and turn right back to Patterdale and the car park.
If you like this walk then why not try one of our other nearby walks:
|A visit to Place Fell overlooking Ullswater||14m (15 yards) away|
|Birks and Arnison Crag||36m (40 yards) away|
|Place Fell and a stroll alongside Ullswater||220m (242 yards) away|
|Glenridding Dodd||1.3km (0.8 miles) away|
|Lanty's Tarn, Keldas, and Patterdale Circular||1.3km (0.8 miles) away|
|Lanty's Tarn, Birkhouse Moor, Red Tarn, Catstycam||1.4km (0.9 miles) away|
|Helvellyn, The Classic Ridges of Striding and Swirral Edge||1.4km (0.9 miles) away|
|White Side and Raise, from Glenridding||1.4km (0.9 miles) away|
|Glenridding Dodd, Heron Pike and Sheffield Pike||1.4km (0.9 miles) away|
|Greenside Mine and Glenridding Beck Circular Stroll||1.5km (0.9 miles) away|
|The Dovedale Round: Hartsop above How, Hart Crag, High Hartsop Dodd||2.6km (1.6 miles) away|
|Around Hayeswater Reservoir||3.3km (2.0 miles) away|
|Rest Dodd and The Nab||3.3km (2.0 miles) away|
|Brock Crags and Angletarn Pikes circular walk from Hartsop||3.3km (2.0 miles) away|
|Pasture Beck Round, from Hartsop||3.3km (2.0 miles) away|
|Aira Force and Gowbarrow Fell||4.2km (2.6 miles) away|
|A short walk to Hart Side from Park Brow||4.6km (2.8 miles) away|
Unless otherwise stated the text in this walk is the copyright of Hug Solutions Ltd trading as The Hug and the photographs are the copyright of Elizabeth Oldham. Hill data is derived from Database of British and Irish hills which is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. Maps contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2011 and paths © OpenStreetMap Contributors,CC-BY-SA, 2011