From the sublime to the mysterious, TGO‘s contributors share their favourite Wainwright fells.
We love the Lake District here at TGO, and we always try to give our audience a taste of the fells throughout the magazine – whether it’s a couple of Wild Walks or a feature or two. To celebrate our Wainwright-themed September issue, here’s our team’s selection of the very best Wainwright fells.
Ronald Turnbull thinks Rosthwaite Fell deserves a little more attention from hillwalkers. “It’s covered in rocky knolls, steep on all sides and awkward to get to, and it’s so wild and untrodden nobody even knows where the top is,” explains Ronald. “But it features a great Grade 2 scramble, Cam Crag, and Lakeland’s only underground rock climb, Attic Cave. It’s well worth a trip.” Begin your walk at Stonethwaite and head up past the campsite to get started.
Situated between Grasmere and Thirlmere on the west side of Dunmail Raise, TGO Wild Walker Roger Butler thinks Steel Fell is unjustly overlooked. “I’ve never (ever!) met anyone else at the top, and there are fine contrasting routes to the summit: the long undulating ridge all the way from Helm Crag or the steep russet slopes from the foot of soggy Greenburn Bottom.” Steel Fell offers views of Skiddaw and Blencathra to the north, and you can begin from the nearby village of Grasmere.
Fiona Barltrop argues that climbing Lingmoor Fell via Loughrigg makes for the perfect day out. “Surrounded by higher and better known fells – the ever-popular Langdale Pikes, Bowfell and Crinkle Crags – Lingmoor seems largely ignored by most. Yet its position – separating the two Langdales, and with no connecting ridges to other fells – makes it one of the best viewpoints in the area. Alone it provides no more than a few hours walk at best, not long enough for a satisfying day’s expedition. That’s where adding Loughrigg Fell comes in!”
“Castle Crag is undoubtedly the most unlikely inclusion in Wainwright’s Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells,” says contributor Andrew Galloway. “But, it’s also perhaps the most interesting. A Sunday morning stroll from Rosthwaite along the wooded banks of the River Derwent to the memorial stone on the top of this unpretentious little hill – maybe followed by afternoon tea at the Lodore Falls Hotel – is the perfect counterpoint to a more strenuous day on the high fells. Castle Crag is to my mind the perfect synecdoche of the Lake District as a whole.”
Online Editor Hanna Lindon loves a mountain with secrets, and that’s why she’s chosen Great Gable as her favourite Wainwright: “The legend of moonshine-maker Moses Rigg, the mysterious rock statues of Napes Needle and Sphinx Rock, the connections with climbing history… The approach from Wasdale Head is a classic, but I have long-range ambitions on the Ennerdale Skyline circuit which links Great Gable with a whole host more of the Lake District’s finest peaks.”
“I’ve got a soft spot for Skiddaw,” says Wild Walker Tim Gent. “This isn’t because of its height, position, unimaginable age or fine views, but simply because it’s the mountain my grandfather took me up. I’m not even certain we reached the top, although I do remember a lot of scree. I also recall, with vivid clarity, the enjoyment bubbling from this man of the north as he strode up, eyes sparkling, into the blue.” Walkers can start from the centre of Keswick, or if you have a car then Latrigg car park may be your best bet.
“Bowfell can’t be beaten,” says Vivienne Crow. “Together with Crinkle Crags and the Scafells, it forms the most rugged ring of mountains in England – the Eskdale Horseshoe. Whichever way you approach it – from Borrowdale, Langdale or via the connoisseur’s route up Eskdale – it never disappoints. Its pyramid peak is identifiable from all over the National Park and, once you’re up close, you’re treated to a landscape of boulder-filled gullies, gnarly buttresses and the Great Slab.”
Gear Editor Chris Townsend opts for High Street as his top choice, named for the Roman road that once ran over the summit. “High Street Fell is a long, flat-topped hill that’s great for striding along,” he says. “The sense of wide open space and vastness is exhilarating. The highest point in the Far Eastern Fells, it has wide-ranging views of both the Lakeland hills and the Pennines.” There are various paths to ascend High Street from Mardale, the Small Water path considered the easiest one to follow.
The ‘Lion and the Lamb’ is a popular fell that looms over the village of Grasmere, and Editorial Assistant Chiara Bullen has fond memories of an early morning climb. “This was my first hill walk in the Lake District, and walking up from picturesque Grasmere as the sun began to rise set the tone for a special day. I remember laughing when I heard the rock outcrops were also known as ‘the old lady playing the organ’ – but the smile was wiped off my face when I came across that haunting figure!”
“How many peaks can you look down from, spot a pub, and nip down for a quick pint?” asks Paul Richardson when considering his top choice. “Not many, and Red Screes has a lot going for it too. Looking north from the trig point, you see the hills flanking either side of the Kirkstone valley to Brothers Water and beyond, and a glance to the west will bring the mountains leading to Fairfield into view.” Start your climb from Ambleside, and end your day with a well-deserved drink at The Kirkstone Pass Inn.
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