Wainwright’s Favourite Lakeland Mountains

View after ascending Red Gill on the way to Grasmoor

View after ascending Red Gill on the way to Grasmoor

“I love the mountains of Lakeland. They have been good friends to me over a long life, always there when wanted, always reliable, always welcoming. I have often sung their praises in an attempt to repay the debt I feel I owe them.”

So said Alfred Wainwright in the introduction to his book “Wainwright’s Favourite Lakeland Mountains” an illustrated book with photos by Derry Brabbs. In the book he describes his favourite 20 (at least at the time) lakeland peaks. It’s not a guidebook, rather it provides some evocative text and photos for each of the mountains along with suggestions for various ascent routes.

The twenty peaks are as follows:

1. Blencathra

2. Bowfell

3. Coniston Old Man

4. Crinkle Crags

5. Dale Head

6. Eel Crag

7. Fairfield

8. Glaramara

9. Grasmoor

10. Great Gable

11. Haystacks

12. Helvellyn

13. High Stile

14. High Street

15. Hopegill Head

16. Langdale Pikes

17. Pillar

18. Scafell

19. Scafell Pike

20. Skiddaw

Walks to all of these can be highly recommended for any keen walker; do all 20 and you will a gain a great overview of, as well as probably a great love for, the Lake District, certainly one of my favourite corners of the world.

Fellwalking: Skiddaw

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“Skiddaw is the fourth highest peak in Lakeland and geographically the most important. Completely isolated by the Vale of Keswick and surrounded by lesser supporters which form a close-knit family group, it rises proudly in their midst like an old hen with a brood of chicks.”

Wainwright’s Favourite Lakeland Mountains

Yet another walk from the archives – and this is the last of my brief descriptions of ascents of Wainwight’s favourite 20 lakeland peaks. An appealing walk close to Keswick, for this walk I used the Pathfinder “More Lake District Walks” guidebook (note: the Pathfinder Lake District walk guides have been completely re-written since this post was first published and this route is now in the new guide The High Fells of Lakeland (Pathfinder Guides)).

The walk commences at a car park at the end of the Gale Road from Applethwaite. It follows a well worn path north-westwards that in contrast to most ascents, starts steeply and then eases off.

The summit of Skiddaw is labelled Skiddaw Man on the OL map and is marked with an ordnance survey marker and a view indicator. After visiting the summit you can return via the same route or alternatively descend the screes towards Carl Side and then follow the path to Millbeck (the Allerdale Ramble). The latter route requires a 2 mile walk along the road back to the car park.

My rating: A
Map: OL4 – The English Lakes: North Western area (1:25,000)
Wainwright’s guides: The Northern Fells (Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells): Book 5

Fellwalking: Coniston Old Man

View from summit of Coniston Old Man

“I once wrote, in a spasm of exuberance, that the Old Man is to Coniston as the Matterhorn is to Zermatt, a gross exaggeration of course. Yet there is the same affinity between mountain and village: one without the other is unthinkable, and both are integral to the public’s image.”

Wainwright’s Favourite Lakeland Mountains

Haven’t been able to get out recently, so yet another walk from the archives – this one I did several years ago. It’s an enjoyable day walk that takes in the summit of Coniston Old Man and finishes with a pleasant stroll on the western shores of Coniston Water.

For this walk I used the Pathfinder “Lake District Walks” guidebook. Commencing in the village of Coniston, the path soon starts climbing the eastern flank of The Old Man getting steadily steeper as it approaches the summit and passing considerable evidence of the mountain’s industrial history – particularly slate mining. While somewhat aesthetically unappealing, the old quarries are to me an important part of the history of the area and do add some interest to the walk.

After the summit, the path drops down and passes Goat’s Water before descending steadily towards Torver.  From here the way proceeds through some woods to Coniston Water, and thence back to Consiton.

My rating: A
Map: OL6 – The English Lakes: South Western Area (1:25,000)
Wainwright’s guides: The Wainwright Anniversary: The Southern Fells (50th Anniversary Edition): BOOK FOUR (A Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells)

Fellwalking: Eel Crag (Crag Hill)

Summit of Eel Crag (Crag Hill)

“The great feature of the mountain is the north-east flank, steeply descending in a wild confusion of crags and outcrops and runs of scree that repel exploration; the south face, too, is defended by a line of cliffs and only westwards is there a slope of easy gradient”

Wainwright’s Favourite Lakeland Mountains

Another day in the Lakes marred by rather poor weather – not much rain, but not much of a view either due to a very low cloud base, although the sun came out for long enough to give me a bit of sunburn! Notwithstanding this, an enjoyable walk that would be even better on a clear day.

We parked by the south of the narrow road that leads south from Braithwaite, just after a junction with Stoneycroft and took the path westwards along sleet Hause and over Causey Pike, climbing steadily to reach Sail and then across The Scar to Eel Head (Crag Hill on the OS maps).

From the summit you could return the same way, but we decided to drop down to the west and then loop around north-east towards Force Crag mine before taking the faint footpath south by Birkthwaite Beck to the footpath that passes High Moss and Outerside. Alas, the weather had closed in completely at this point and we ended up curving too far to the south-west, climbing the screes to meet the path close to Sail.

After this short detour, we picked up the correct path and headed eastwards past Outerside and then by Stonycroft Gill back to the start. The Swinside Inn is not far down the road and provides a good place to relax afterwards.

My rating: B+
Map: OL4 – The English Lakes: North Western Area (1:25,000)
Wainwright’s guides: The North Western Fells (50th Anniversary Edition): Book Six (A Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells)

c2c photo galleries

I’ve finally got around to sorting through my coast-to-coast photos and have posted two galleries:

c2c west (St Bees to Kirkby Stephen)
c2c east (Kirkby Stephen to Robin Hoods Bay)

[Galleries require a broadband connection and modern browser]