Stone Arthur, the first peak on this circular walk, looms over the village of Grasmere. It is a steep climb and in summer bracken encroaches on the already narrow path making it awkward. The views are worth every bit of effort. Many of the central fells can be seen and identified. Alcock Tarn, requiring another steep climb, is well below you. Tiny figures may be seen perhaps dipping weary toes in the cool waters. Already you are higher. Carry on to Great Rigg and the big vistas of the Lake District really excel. Another tarn; Grisedale, can be seen below Dollywaggon Pike and the Helvellyn ridge partially hidden by the bulk of Fairfield. The Coniston Hills too, and many more.
This walk takes you to the top of the following hills: Stone Arthur, Nab Scar, Heron Pike North Top, Heron Pike (Rydal), and Great Rigg; and includes 4 Wainwrights, 5 Birketts, 3 Nuttalls, and 1 Hewitt.
Walk height profile
note that gradients are usually grossly exaggerated
From the centre of the village, head north towards the Keswick exit and the A591. At this major road, cross it and head up the lane alongside the Swan Hotel. Then take the second turning on the right. This narrow lane is signposted Greenhead Gill and Alcock Tarn. Go through the NT gate at the far end and turn left.
Follow this path alongside a wall on your left as it climbs steeply and gradually swings to the right. In summer the fell side is covered with substantial amounts of bracken. Much of the path is engineered steps. Twice it seems as if the path goes through the wall, but it does not, bear right and remain on the public footpath.
There is a slight respite in gradient as the path climbs more gently with a low wall on your right. A lower track on the fellside may look appealing, but remain on the higher. An erosion control fence reassures you are on the right track: it has public footpath markers.
Pass a lone tree. At the end of this (zig)zag the path seemingly goes straight up the ridgeline. It does! Although this isn't for long before the gradient eases again and the rocks known as Stone Arthur can be seen.
Bear right on the path away from the wall across slightly wet and boggy ground. Then nearing the crags bear left onto a faint path weaving its way through and up to the crest of the ridge.
To continue to Great Rigg, continue following the path bearing north east along the ridge. It swings past many small outcrops, and more boggy bits. Great Rigg can be seen slightly to the left of straight ahead. Reaching a large cairn which marks the end of the Stone Arthur ridge, bear left and climb the rocky steps to the summit cairn only another 250m (275 yards) on.
Retrace your steps to the cairn at the end of the Stone Arthur ridge, now bear left, onto the ridge slightly east of south. The path here is typical high mountain fare, rough and eroded! Also passing some handy puddles, a few of which may not dry out in a warm summer. Heron Pike is the second bump on the ridge, the first not deemed worthy of a name.
Continue on the path as it now drops away from the crest, missing Lord Crag on your right if you aren't paying attention. The same goes for Nab Scar, the summit of which is the large cairn on the other side of the broken wall. Another wall, better maintained appears and is crossed by the stone stile. It's only three steps and most dogs should negotiate it without trouble.
The path down the nose of Nab Scar bears left shortly after leaving the wall.
Drop down, cross a short flat bit, and continue descending. Rounding the crag look to the right of the path, far below is Grasmere lake, and notice the improbable square rock set into the ground with a bit of a tilt. It's the aqueduct stone, the only hint that below is a tunnel which is part of the Thirlmere reservoir scheme.
Bear right and drop down onto the zigzags. Climb the ladder stile, with dog tunnel alongside, and drop down between stone walls to the bottom by the farm.
Go through the kissing gate, and the farm driveway gate, and down the concrete drive.
Just above Rydal Mount is a lane, signposted coffin road to Grasmere. Take it and bear left to the gateway. Go through, and follow the wide track to the next gate. Go though and continue on the path beyond.
Reaching the tarmac road at How top, go straight on, past the overgrown tarn and down the hill to Dove Cottage. Carefully cross the roundabout, bearing left for Grasmere. This is Stock Lane, and comes into the village near the church.
If you like this walk then why not try one of our other nearby walks:
|A circuit of Grasmere||same start point|
|Alcock Tarn||same start point|
|Helm Crag||64m (70 yards) away|
|Steel Fell, Calf Crag, Gibson Knott and Helm Crag||114m (125 yards) away|
|Grasmere and Rydal Water||141m (155 yards) away|
|Easedale Tarn||200m (220 yards) away|
|Silver How||223m (245 yards) away|
|Easedale Tarn, Codale Tarn, and Tarn Crag||316m (348 yards) away|
|Allan Bank Woodland Walk||473m (520 yards) away|
|Loughrigg Fell from White Moss||1.5km (0.9 miles) away|
|Red Bank from White Moss near Ambleside||1.6km (1.0 miles) away|
|Seat Sandal||1.8km (1.1 miles) away|
|An Elterwater Stroll||2.8km (1.7 miles) away|
|Waterfalls and the Cathedral Cavern, from Elterwater||2.8km (1.7 miles) away|
|Nab Scar and Alcock Tarn||3.0km (1.9 miles) away|
|Loughrigg Fell from Rydal||3.1km (1.9 miles) away|
|Grisedale Tarn||4.3km (2.7 miles) away|
|A Journey from Dungeon Ghyll over the Fells to Ambleside||4.4km (2.7 miles) away|
|Cumbria Way - Dungeon Ghyll to Keswick||4.4km (2.7 miles) away|
|High Raise, Sergeant Man, and Blea Rigg from Langdale||4.4km (2.7 miles) away|
|The Langdale Pikes: Pavey Ark, Thunacar Knott, Pike of Stickle, Harrison Stickle||4.4km (2.7 miles) away|
|The Fairfield Horseshoe||4.8km (2.9 miles) away|
|An Ambleside Waterfalls Wander - Stockghyll Force and Blue Hill Wood||4.8km (3.0 miles) away|
|Loughrigg Fell from Ambleside||4.9km (3.0 miles) away|
|Loughrigg Tarn||4.9km (3.0 miles) away|
|Wansfell, and Wansfell Pike||4.9km (3.0 miles) away|
|Stockghyll Force - Ambleside||4.9km (3.0 miles) away|
|High Sweden Bridge Circular||4.9km (3.0 miles) away|
|Red Screes and Middle Dodd from Ambleside||4.9km (3.0 miles) away|
|Wansfell Pike, Troutbeck, and Skelghyll Wood||4.9km (3.1 miles) away|
|Lily Tarn above Ambleside||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