A long and very fine walk indeed. Having put a lot of energy into the ascent this walk makes the most of it by meandering over the six Wainwright fells making up the Grasmoor range. If that was all it would still be an excellent walk, but narrow ridges at each end provide a spectacular way onto and off this high level massif.
The traveller who is fortunate to be out on this walk in late spring can, with impeccable timing, also add a massive carpet of bluebells to the attractions. The Rannerdale bluebells are rather famous. Legend has it they proliferate in the 'secret valley' of Rannerdale due to the blood of Norman warriors, as told in the historical fiction by local writer and character Nicholas Size.
There is parking in a few spots along the east side of Crummock Water. The largest is just over the cattle grid from Lanthwaite Green Farm at the foot of Grasmoor and makes a handy start point for this walk.
This walk takes you to the top of the following hills: Whiteside, Whiteside East Top, Whiteless Pike, Wandope, Thirdgill Head Man, Sand Hill, Hopegill Head, Grasmoor, Gasgale Crags, and Crag Hill; and includes 6 Wainwrights, 10 Birketts, 8 Nuttalls, 6 Hewitts, 1 Marilyn, and 2 HuMPs.
Walk height profile
note that gradients are usually grossly exaggerated
From the parking area cross the road onto the common and follow the path bearing left across grass towards the foot of Whin Ben. A new footbridge over Liza Beck will appear in view only when you are almost on top of it. Cross the footbridge and bear left up the bank, at the top bear right and shortly after bear left to start the ascent of Whin Ben. Through heather, zigzag up the nose of the ridge. An occasional rocky step is there to provide a little interest though none of them require much effort to overcome.
Having taken a breather on the minor top of Whin Ben, continue down to the little col, and then up through more heather. As you climb higher the way becomes more rocky with some terraces to clamber up. Below to your right is the deep cleft of Gasgale Gill with Grasmoor beyond. Out to your left eventually the sea sparkling on a clear day.
From the summit of Whiteside bear right onto the ridge.
Now the ridge narrows and undulates but keeps a comfortable footing with crags on the right and more gentle grass slopes to your left. Sometimes the path drops to just below and left of the crest to avoid a precarious rocky step.
The ridge ends abruptly at the summit of Hopegill Head.
From the summit of Hopegill Head turn right to first drop down a little and then up over the rounded minor top of Sand Hill. On the far side follow the path through scree to the wide grassy col of Coledale Hause.
Continue across the Hause, keeping right, aiming roughly south for the pass between Eel Crag on the left and Grasmoor on the right. The path to the top of the pass is rough, but don't go that far. In 400 to 500m (550 yards) from the edge of the hause cross the beck to your right, skirt left of the boggy patch if you're a bit keen, and look for a faint path climbing the grassy slopes. You are more likely to see it once you have passed it. If you have just climb the slopes anyway to join the path along the top of the crags on the northern face of Grasmoor. Bear left.
Don't continue rounding Dove Crags but follow the faint path bearing away left, westwards, across the rounded grass top. The summit is yet to be in view. Only when within a few metres will the windshelter at the summit of Grasmoor be revealed.
From the summit of Grasmoor turn very sharp left, bearing slightly south of east on the wide path. Pass the exit of the Lad Hows ridge, keep to the wide path. Crag Hill comes into view across the col. The path follows the edge of the plateau with spectacular views down to Rannerdale, Crummock Water, and the High Stile range across Buttermere.
Staying on the path, drop down to the crossroads on the col.
Continue up the other side initially eastwards, then bearing slightly left to the trig point of Crag Hill.
From the trig point on Crag Hill retrace your steps back towards the cross roads, but before reaching it bear left to pick up a narrow path along the top of Addacombe heading round to Wandope.
From the cairn on Wandope turn right, slightly south of west, onto a path across the grass above the head of Third Gill to the cairn at the top of Whiteless Edge - it is important to get this right so take a compass bearing if in doubt or poor conditions.
At the cairn bear left onto the very obvious path down Whiteless Edge to Saddle Gate - as its name suggests it is a saddle or col, and climb up the other side to Whiteless Pike. After the airy edge the summit of Whiteless Pike is a disappointing, indeterminate grassy area that doesn't quite live up to its grand setting.
Continue over the summit of Whiteless Pike. The path bears left, south, to meander gently and drop down to the head of Rannerdale and Squat Beck.
Reaching Squat Beck, with the long ridge of Rannerdale Knotts ahead and to the right, turn right to continue descending now gently into the pretty and relatively hidden valley of Rannerdale. Follow the path as it crosses the beck, and later alongside the wall.
Approaching the footbridge go through the gate in the wall and cross the bridge over Squat Beck once again.
The area above the bridge here is covered with bluebells in late spring, with the contrast of bright yellow gorse flowers the sight is rather spectacular.
Please do not walk amongst the bluebells as they are becoming damaged with over 25% of them lost between 2015 and 2018.
Follow the wide terraced path, continue above the pastures of Rannerdale Farm until eventually the road is reached. Turn right and walk along the roadside back to the car park.
Those people with energy left may wish to seek out one of the paths along the common, as we did. However, unlike us, the astute will not try crossing boggy ground back to the car park until having crossed a stream to find the pleasant grasslands of Lanthwaite common to turn left across!
If you like this walk then why not try one of our other nearby walks:
|Lanthwaite Wood and Crummock Water||1.2km (0.7 miles) away|
|Hen Comb from Loweswater village||1.6km (1.0 miles) away|
|Mellbreak and Scale Force||1.7km (1.1 miles) away|
|Grasmoor via Lad Howes ridge||2.4km (1.5 miles) away|
|Gavel Fell and Blake Fell from Maggie's Bridge, Loweswater||2.5km (1.5 miles) away|
|Fellbarrow from Thackthwaite, Lorton Vale||3.2km (2.0 miles) away|
|Rannerdale Knotts||4.1km (2.6 miles) away|
|Bleaberry Tarn above Buttermere||4.1km (2.6 miles) away|
|Bleaberry Tarn, Red Pike, and Dodd||4.2km (2.6 miles) away|
|The Buttermere Edge||4.2km (2.6 miles) away|
|Around Buttermere||4.2km (2.6 miles) away|
|A Journey from Buttermere to Keswick||4.2km (2.6 miles) away|
|A stroll to Holm Wood beside Loweswater||4.4km (2.7 miles) away|
|Burnbank Fell, Holme Force and the woods||4.4km (2.7 miles) away|
|Knott Rigg and Ard Crags||4.6km (2.9 miles) away|
|Moss Force on Newlands Hause||4.6km (2.9 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