Helm Crag, Gibson Knott and Calf Crag from Grasmere

Helm Crag
The 'Old Woman', Helm Crag summit rocks

Walk Overview:

Helm Crag should not be defined by its modest height, for it is a ‘giant’ among summits. This is a wonderful circular walk through magnificent Lakeland scenery. On reaching the top of Helm Crag you will be rewarded with a dramatic rocky summit worthy of the highest of mountains. It is spectacular and worthy of a visit.

The ridge walk to Gibson Knott and Calf Crag offers further interest, as does the return route down the valley of Far Easedale, a valley of interest and ever-changing beauty.

The ridge is easy walking, all three summits are ‘Wainwrights’ and the return leg along the beautiful Far Easedale valley is part of AW’s ‘A Coast to Coast Walk’, there is plenty of interest along our way.

On the ascent of Helm Crag is a grassy patch on the ridge where we gain our first view of the A591 as it climbs Dunmail Raise on its way north to Keswick, and strangely I remember this view from my first ascent of Helm Crag over fifty years ago. I remember that young boy focused on the dotted white line marking the centre of the quiet road, as I reached the spot, the memory was vivid. I also remembered scrambling on the summit rocks, as children do. But today I will leave such scrambling for younger generations, I hide behind the pretense that dignity is a noble quality. Secretly, I wished I was ten years old!

For me, researching this walk was also a pilgrimage; to Helm Crag, Gibson Knott and Calf crag was a walk I took my children on over 35 years ago (see photo’s), a little younger than I was on my first visit but i'm sure, just as able.

I hope my grand-children will embark upon this walk soon.

Leaving Helm Crag summit by an excellent, obvious path to Gibson Knott then Calf Crag, overlooking Far Easedale, I was accompanied by occasional ‘pi-pip’ calls of parachuting meadow pipits arcing over the ridge, the rocky path interspersed with springy peaty ground is a joy to walk on.

After Calf Crag is the hause at the top of Far Easedale, a junction of paths where the ridge from Calf Crag continues to Sergeant Man, two other paths cross; one heads ‘about west’ for Greenup Edge, our route descends ‘about east’ into Far Easedale. The hause is obvious, marked by remaining iron stakes of the historic Westmorland-Cumberland boundary, the fence was broken years ago.

Far Easedale is a charming valley full of interest, the path follows Far Easedale Gill, its tumbling waters are comforting:

I rested on a flat rock by a pool constantly filled by bubbling waters cascading down a rocky cleft in a ravine. Hirundines darted overhead feeding on insects, my drifting mind momentarily captured by bleating lambs of early summer, bracken rustling in a cooling breeze causes me to shiver from this idyll. My wandering thoughts were grabbed by the formidable steep rocks of Deer Bield Crag overlooking the valley, like a guardian, ever present, Distant ravens soared on the freshening breeze. No other human being could be seen or heard. The tsee of a meadow pipit caused me to turn, just for a moment it controlled all my thoughts.

I got to my feet and continued down Far Easedale, to Goody Bridge then Grasmere village.

Gibson Knott summit cairn
Gibson Knott and Helm Crag, from Calf Crag
Calf Crag summit cairn
iron fence posts at the hause
Far Easedale Gill
descending Far Easedale

Fly-by Video:

Watch the Fly-by video of the walk

Walk Details:
Start: Grasmere village, NY337076
Distance 13km (8 miles)
Ascent: 640m
Grade: Difficult
NB: grading is based upon normal conditions and can be subjective
Countryside Code for the public:
be safe - plan ahead and follow any signs
leave gates and property as you find them
protect plants and animals
take your litter home
keep dogs under close control
consider other people
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Recommended maps are OS Explorer map sheets OL6 and OL7.

Paper Map
All Weather Map
Paper Map
All Weather Map
Route Description & Basic Map

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