5th July 2013
You'll hear the name Gray Crag twice in the context of the Lakeland Fells, the other one commonly spelt "Grey" and not as appealing as this one. Gray Crag rises from Low Hartsop and shoulders on to Thornthwaite Crag.
Gray Crag from Brock Crags
(on a different day)
Scroll down for photos and a description of the walk....
Gray Crag from Low Hartsop
Start time 13:40hrs from the "donations welcome" car park in (Low) Hartsop village. My intention is climb this fell for the first time, having reached the summit twice previously in a general downward direction from Thornthwaite Crag. Climbing mountains and "summit bagging" are not one and the same!
Pasture Beck flows from Threshthwaite Mouth at the head of the valley, down to Hartsop and onto Ullswater via Goldrill Beck.
Gray Crag Ascent
I crossed Wath Bridge - much newer than the one in Wainwright's book - and started the steep ascent of Gray Crag. AW suggests avoiding the steep path and skirting round to Hayeswater and then taking the less demanding route, but I have a small set of "Hartsop Steep Ascents" to complete and thus it's straight up.
I can't speak for others, but on steep ascents like this, I set small targets. Maybe a rock or a twist in the path, or a sheep, possibly just a clump of grass. Reach the target and take a breather, it's hard work! The expanding view reveals the pointy peak of Catstycam.
There comes a time when the direct route meets the one from Hayeswater and we can all walk together to the summit. Three walkers passed me going downhill, but nobody else was climbing GC at this time.
Brock Crags from Gray Crag
The opposite view from the one at the top of this page, but Brock Crags is less well defined from here. BC has the large shadow on the south-western slopes, Place Fell is further away - as are lots of other fells.
Gray Crag Summit 2286ft asl
Peace and quiet on one of Lakelands less-loved fells. If Gray Crag was on Facebook, it would have less friends than "say" Place Fell or neighbouring Thornthwaite Crag. However, what more do you need on a day like this? There is an abundance of good seats on the first wall that you meet on the way to TC. "Like"
To Thornthwaite Crag
A simple stroll on grass, safe in mist (I know, I've done it t'other way in low cloud).
Thornthwaite Beacon on Thornthwaite Crag. One of the most frequented summits in this part of Lakeland, this being my ninth recorded visit and I have a feeling I've been here a few more times than that.
And so to Threshthwaite Mouth, for a steady descent down Pasture Beck.
Waterfalls in Pasture Beck
There's always more interest in the close detail of these long Lakeland valleys. Two sheep looked slightly guilty for being found at this location, I think they were supposed to be somewhere else.
Raven Crag belongs to Hartsop Dodd (to the right).
Disused mineworkings in the location of Hayeswater Gill, as the streams descend to meet Pasture Beck.
A clear track leads back to Hartsop car park.
Walkers: Just Me
Time taken: 3hrs 20mins over a distance of about 5.5 miles.
Route: Hartsop Car Park, Gray Crag (steep route), Thornthwaite Crag, Threshthwaite Mouth, Pasture Beck, Hartsop.
Weather and Conditions: Sunny and warm.
Greetings Count: Three coming down Gray Crag and then two runners and a walker at Thornthwaite Beacon.
This completes my "Hartsop Steep Ascents" set. Caudale Moor from Brotherswater was the first, followed by Hartsop Dodd, High Hartsop Dodd & Middle Dodd. Gray Crag completes this little project of mine. These fells all display similar characteristics with their noses facing north and a demand to be conquered by determined fellwalkers.
All photos copyright Richard Ratcliffe 2013 ©
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