Classic Lake District Circuits – unusual approaches
Some of the best approaches to the higher Lake District peaks are not necessarily the most popular. Whereas Scafell Pike via the Corridor Route is both popular and the best route, Skiddaw direct from Keswick is just popular, coming from the north considerable more enjoyable.
I have listed below some of my favourite alternative’ approaches to the Lakes highest fells, one of my challenges over the winter is seek out a few more.
Click on the name of the walk for the full details of the walk.
This is Seathwaite in the Duddon Valley, a walk from the other one would be challenging. From Seathwaite the route takes you past Seathwaite Tarn, on to the col between Dow Crag and Coniston Old Man then over Dow Crag and down via the Walna Scar Road.
Add to the day by including more of the main Coniston ridge by heading north from Seathwaite Tarn to Grey Friar.
Starting at Ennerdale this is a rare and lonely walk in to the valleys heart. Take the direct path up Steeple and on to Scoat Fell before returning by the rarely visited Haycock
Pillar and views across Wasdale and the southern Lakeland giants are only 1/2 an hour from the summit of Scoat Fell.
Any climb out of Buttermere is steep but they are also rewarding. Grasmoor direct from Rannerdale simply gets better the higher you are. Complete the walk and the back end of the traditional Newlands Round by carrying on to Hopegill Head and the wonderful ridge to Whiteside.
Scafell is difficult to get at and not much fun as a climb from Wasdale but venture in to the Upper Esk Valley and it becomes a great day out. Very few people will attack the fell from the south and the safe route via Foxes Tarn.
The return via Burnmoor Tarn and Eel Tarn, particularly in Autumn colours is exquisite.
A long day striding out along the Roman Road on High Street and an interesting return on the banks of Haweswater are part of the enjoyment of the day. In total contrast the climb to Nan Bield past Small Water is more typically rugged Lakeland.
Near Bassenthwaite village the path zig zags pleasantly up the slopes of Ullock Pike, initially graceful and then increasingly rocky. However it is on Long Side and Carl Side that the views open up superbly and the northern fells spread out in front of you.
The many walkers who have slogged up from Keswick will be astonished as you head north in to trackless country to the north when exiting the summit area.
The track up to Stickle Tarn can be unpleasant for many. a much better route goes west up the long valley of Mickleden and then ‘cuts back ‘ along the grassy shoulder of Pike O’ Stickle from Stake Pass.
After Pike O Stickle as many or as few of the remaining Langdale Pikes can be climbed depending on the weather and how you feel.
Little Langdale is the start point for an alternative route up the northern fells of the Coniston massif. A long graceful ridge ascends to Great Carrs and Swirl How before dropping on to the rugged slopes of Wetherlam, one of my favourite Lake District fells.
Grey Friars is worth the extra time (3/4 an hour there and back) for the views south and west to the sea and beyond. Don’t bother if it is raining
9. Great Gable
Iconic mountain but climbing it can be a slog (unless you cheat by starting from Honister Pass). However from Sty Head Tarn do not take to the unremitting slopes ahead and skirt round the back. At Napes Needle pick the route near the needle and scramble on to the summit plateau after an ‘interesting’ climb
The return via Green Gable and Base Brown is excellent, easy walking after climbing Gable
10. Cross Fell
Normally Cross Fell is approached from the east via Garrigill. I suggest the west and the tiny village of Kirkland. The route is straightforward, the summit a fine place to linger (in good weather) and the descent provides some great views over the eastern Lakes and the Eden Valley.
Great Dun Fell is a little inconvenient to include but the walk to it is easy and anyone who has spotted the golf ball from the M6 will want to investigate.
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