Standing over the small village of Braithwaite near to Keswick, Grisedale Pike has a distinctive profile. Its north east ridge climbs from the village in three steps. Initially a grass path climbs steeply through bracken and shrubs to gain the ridge at Kinn, above Heavy Sides plantation. Along to Sleet How it is wide, grassy with increasing amounts of heather. Then climbing the last steep section the ridge narrows appreciably to become a rough clamber up loose stones and rocky steps. Whilst the ascent is not difficult it is perhaps best reserved for a day of good conditions: climbing that last bit wouldn't be much fun if it was wet and besides you would miss out on the stunning views.
Reaching the summit of Grisedale Pike the views really open out to the Western Fells, with the onward journey over the subsidiary top to Hopegill Head clearly laid out. It is also a grand viewpoint for the Skiddaw fells to the north, and east to the Dodds and Clough Head.
Returning via Coledale there is the opportunity to wander around the remains of Force Crag Mine before using its access road as an easy way back to the car park or Braithwaite village. Force Crag Mine is a now a Scheduled Monument and Site of Special Scientific Interest. At various times galena (lead), sphalerite (zinc), and baryte (barium) were mined from deep within the fellside below Grisedale Pike and Force Crag. Baryte was particularly saught after during the Second World War as it was used in the manufacture of explosives. Later it became useful as part of the "mud" lubricant for drill tips on oil rigs. Other uses include medical imaging. Closing in 1990 after a roof collapse, the last mineral mine in the Lake District, it is now owned by the National Trust. The Trust opens the mine buildings a few times a year for guided tours.
The walk starts from a small and very convenient parking area near the bottom of the Whinlatter Pass opposite Hope Memorial Park. This is not signposted as a car park although there is a "car park 1/2mile" just beside the entrance. Parking is also available in Braithwaite village, where at weekends the village school allows parking otherwise it is just on-street.
This walk takes you to the top of the following hills: Sand Hill, Kinn, Hopegill Head, Hobcarton Crag, and Grisedale Pike; and includes 2 Wainwrights, 5 Birketts, 4 Nuttalls, 3 Hewitts, 1 Marilyn, and 1 HuMP.
Walk height profile
note that gradients are usually grossly exaggerated
Take the small path next to the entrance signposted "public footpath Grisedale Pike" which immediately climbs steeply up steps. Bear right to climb above the Whinlatter road. In 150m (165 yards) swing round to the left and gain the northern spur of the ridge. Reaching the fence cross at the stile, and continue on the path as it bears right climbing all the time.
Just after the fence to the right bears away from the path, the minor prominence on the ridge is the Birkett of Kinn.
Keep on the ridgeline, along the slight depression, bear right as the path steepens to climb a grass bank with footholds cut into it. Pass Lanty Well to the left of the path, then bear left to gain the ridge of Sleet How.
This gradually narrows to a much steeper section - the last climb to the summit. Care is required here as the surface is a mix of rocky steps and loose stones. The ground drops away steeply on both sides, to either Grisedale or Coledale.
At the top of the climb bear left to the rocky outcrop of Grisedale Pike's summit.
Cross the summit area and follow the tumble-down wall with occasional fence posts. The path is wide and easy to follow. Just down from the summit is a shallow windshelter. Continue down towards a rocky knoll, bear left just before to avoid a steep bit of loose scree the other side of the knoll.
Follow the path keeping right, don't head left to the hause yet, bear right to go over the subsidiary top of Hobcarton Crag. Keep right above the edge of the crags.
As the path climbs again towards the peak of Hopegill Head stick to the main, wider, path slightly away from the edge - the crags here are precipitous. Bear right to the small summit cairn atop the rocky outcrop of Hopegill Head.
Retrace your steps from the summit for 50m (55 yards), where the path splits bear right south eastwards towards the rounded grass top of Sand Hill. Drop down to the col and up the other side to its summit.
Continue over Sand Hill, drop through scree down to the wide grassy col of Coledale Hause.
Reaching Coledale Hause follow the narrow path bearing left, it climbs a little to a small cairn and joins the path coming up from Coledale. Turn left to descend into Coledale on the rough path. There is a good view down into the valley. After veering left again there is a short section of well engineered zigzags before it reverts to rough mountain path.
The old buildings of High Force mine can be seen high on the fellside from the path where the old track used to be - the path crosses a short flat area with a peat hag and boggy ground to the left just where the track went alongside. Further down the path Force Crag Mine itself comes into view with Force Crag and its waterfall towering above.
The path is easy to follow and eventually drops to a ford and stepping stones across Coledale Beck.
Cross the beck and continue on the track up to the mine road.
If you have time then turn left to go to visit the mine buildings - which are fascinating but largely rusting hulks. You cannot go in the buildings or mine workings as they are secured.
Then follow the mine road all the way back to the car park.
If you like this walk then why not try one of our other nearby walks:
|Force Crag Mine||10m (11 yards) away|
|The Coledale Horseshoe||248m (273 yards) away|
|A Shorter Coledale Round||456m (502 yards) away|
|To Force Crag Mine - a Coledale Low Round||456m (502 yards) away|
|Words In The Woods||0.8km (0.5 miles) away|
|Whinlatter Forest - Heavy Sides Walk||0.8km (0.5 miles) away|
|Causey Pike and Scar Crag||2.1km (1.3 miles) away|
|Whinlatter||2.4km (1.5 miles) away|
|Barf, Lord's Seat, Ullister Hill and Seat How||2.8km (1.7 miles) away|
|Catbells and the Newlands valley||3.2km (2.0 miles) away|
|Catbells||3.3km (2.0 miles) away|
|Catbells, Maiden Moor, High Spy - A Half Newlands||3.3km (2.0 miles) away|
|Cumbria Way - Keswick to Caldbeck||3.9km (2.4 miles) away|
|The National Trust Centenary Stone from Keswick||3.9km (2.4 miles) away|
|A short walk to Friar's Crag from the Moot Hall, Keswick||3.9km (2.4 miles) away|
|Castlehead Viewpoint from the Moot Hall, Keswick||3.9km (2.4 miles) away|
|Around Derwent Water||3.9km (2.4 miles) away|
|The Old Keswick Railway Line and Latrigg||4.3km (2.7 miles) away|
|Robinson, Hindscarth and Dale Head - A Half Newlands||4.4km (2.7 miles) away|
|Robinson and Hindscarth from Little Town||4.4km (2.7 miles) away|
|Skiddaw - Dodd||4.5km (2.8 miles) away|
|Ullock Pike, Longside Edge, Carl Side||4.5km (2.8 miles) away|
|Graystones, Broom Fell, and Lord's Seat||4.9km (3.1 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