An Easedale Circuit

A winter walk around Easdale in winter to find locations for The Wainwrights in Colour

On Location: 1st February 2012

Parking: Various Pay and display car parks available in Grasmere village.

Wainwright Fells: Blea Rigg, Sergeant Man and Tarn Crag (Central)

This route was one of the many walks which Andy undertook to obtain references for the Wainwrights in Colour project. As you will see, part of it, up past Yew Crag, is “off the beaten track”. This was essential to be able to get to exactly where Wainwright stood to gather his photographs for his pen and ink drawings. Even though this walk was completed some years ago the landscape doesn’t change that much so the route could still be followed. This route description gives you some idea of the complexities of Andy’s 10 year challenge. You may adapt the route for easier walking but hopefully this will inspire you to visit this area.

All images taken with a Samsung WB500 compact camera (before I owned a DSLR)

Route map: click on the arrow to play the route. Route files in various formats are available to download by clicking in the link at the bottom right.

Seat Sandal from near Grasmere. Wainwright Seat Sandal

A fine winter’s day beckons. As we leave the village heading north west along the Easedale road the high hills are capped in snow.

Seat Sandal from near Goody Bridge Grasmere

Seat Sandal beyond a classic Lakeland cottage.

Helm Crag and Easedale Beck near Grasmere

At a bend in the lane we take the footpath into the pastureland. Helm Crag comes properly into view.

Easedale from near Brimmer Head farm. Tarn Crag (Central) with snow

A good path leads us up towards the direction of Sour Milk Gill.

Brinhow Crag Sour Milk Gill Easedale

Continuing along the well worn path Brinhow Crag is the outcrop ahead of us.

Bailey and Lesley walking companions

We are not walking alone today. Lesley has come along for a day out.

Sour Milk Gill Easedale, Lake District waterfall.

This was the first reference I needed on today’s route. Sour Milk Gill waterfall. One of three gills of that name in the Lake District. Using the dark cracked rock in the foreground I was able to line up the scene exactly. This matched Wainwright’s drawing on page Tarn Crag 10 of the Central Fells Pictorial Guide. My sketch can be seen on page 148 of The Wainwright’s in Colour (WIC)

Recently Andy has produced a smaller pen and watercolour sketch (below) of the same scene for use in the Lakeland 365 project.

Sour Milk Gill sketch. Easedale waterfall
Easedale near Sour Milk Gill, Central Fells

With Easedale below us we headed up the slope away from the waterfall to regain the footpath towards the tarn.

Path to Easedale tarn with Tarn Crag ahead

Despite the bright sunshine it was still very cold, the path was iced over in places.

Tarn Crag across Easedale Tarn. Site of old refreshment hut Easedale Tarn

Once at Easedale Tarn we visited this boulder. In the Victorian era this was a very popular tourist area. So much so that butted up to this large boulder a small refreshment hut was built in the late 19th century. It fell out of use between the war years and only provided a “draughty shelter” when AW was writing the Pictorial Guide in late 1950’s. The hut was fully dismantled in the 1960’s and the stones were repurposed as a cairn and shelter which have since gone.

Close to this point though, and nearer to the outlet of the tarn was my next reference for Tarn Crag 1 (see WIC page 147). However I have since used the above image for a sketch in my Lakeland 365 project (see below) for the Tarn Crag chapter. (Available as an open edition print here)

Tarn Crag Easedale sketch by Andy Beck

On leaving the tarn we diverted off the main path alongside the tarn to ascend the slopes of fell to our south in the direction of Yew Crag. As with many of my walks I was going “cross-country” in search of an illusive reference.

Seat Sandal and Fairfield. Wainwright Seat Sandal, Wainwright Fairfield

Gaining height the view back towards Seat Sandal and Fairfield was impressive.

Blea Rigg winter, Easedale, Central Fells, Wainwright Blea Rigg

And to our west the craggy face of Blea Rigg rose above the moraine field of Easedale.

Hellvellyn range from Yew Crag. Easedale

The going was quite tough. Not only was it steep and pathless but we had to find a route between areas of dense gorse and juniper.

Juniper bush Easedale. Wainwright Yew Crag

There were some fine examples of Juniper. Easedale is an area well known for this species which is sadly succumbing to a fungal disease (see WIC p124).

We pressed onwards and upwards. I was constantly looking for my next target. The viewpoint of Yew Crag (Blea Rigg 5). After some detective work I was successful.

Yew Crag Easedale. Wainwright Blea Rigg. Lakeland 365 Yew Crag

As with many of his drawings, AW had omitted some of the subject in the scene. He left out the distant crag. That and the fact that the vegetation had increased made this a difficult reference to locate. But once again I was happy, the resulting sketch can be seen on WIC p121.

With another reference in the bag we skirted around the slopes of Little Castle How to gain the ridge near Great Castle How. The views below us were stunning today.

Helm Crag from Yew Crag. Fairfield range.

Fairfield from Yew Crag, Helm Crag and Easedale

Hlem Crag in the mid-distance with the Fairfield range forming the skyline.

Sergeant Man from Great Castle How. Wainwright Sergeant Man

Breaking the snowline Sergeant Man, one of our objectives for the day is over to our right.

Sergeant Man from near Great Castle How. Wainwright Sergeant Man

Nice to pose with the hounds in the sunshine.

Easedale Tarn from Great Castle How. Tarn Crag on the left

Tarn Crag and a great perspective of Easedale Tarn.

Blea Rigg from Great Castle How. Wainwright Central Fells. Wainwright Blea Rigg

We were not heading to Blea Rigg. The approach would be along the ridge to the left of the picture.

Great Castle How tarn. Harrison Stickle beyond

The shapely top of Harrison Stickle over Great Castle How tarn, frozen today.

Harrison Stickle from the path to Sergeant Man. Wainwright Harrison Stickle

Bailey waits ahead for us.

Blea Rigg shelter. Wainwright Blea Rigg

Nearing the summit of Blea Rigg we pass by the Shelter Stone. This was a reference which I had obtained on a previous visit so there was no need to linger here. But on reaching this point by looking over to the right, and over the two small pools you can see the Wainwright summit of Blea Rigg.

Fairfield and Blea Rigg summit. Wainwright Blea Rigg

The actual summit of Blea Rigg can a little confusing. Above and below is the Wainwright summit, a small cairn perched on pyramid of sharp, rough bedrock. However, true highest point of the fell is some 3.6m higher. It is 80m south west of this point. Roughly the high rock above the Shelter Stone in my photo above. This wasn’t an error on AW’s part, he was following the maps of the time. (See the Blea Rigg page)

Blea Rigg Wainwright summit. Wainwright Blea Rigg

Moving westwards from the summit we follow the ridge towards Sergeant Man.

Sergeant Man from Blea Rigg. Wainwright Sergeant Man

Passing by several unnamed frozen pools.

The Langdale Pikes snowscape. View from near Blea Rigg

Over to our left the Langdale Pikes look very tempting in their winter cloak.

Harrison Stickle and Pavey Ark. Stickle Tarn. Wainwright Langdale Pikes

Another few hundred meters and Stickle Tarn comes into view.

Pavey Ark in winter. Wainwright Pavey Ark

This is a great angle of Pavey Ark, the snow clarifies the sloping gully of Jack’s Rake. A fine profile of Pavey Ark which I will use in the Lakeland 365 project.

Pavey Ark sketch. Pavey Ark The langdale Pikes, Wainwright Pavey Ark

This is the pen and watercolour sketch produced from that photograph.

Helvellyn and Fairfield from the Blea Rigg ridge

Returning to the height of the ridge past more frozen pools.

Codale Tarn from near Eagle Crag (Blea Rigg). Fairfield range

Codale Tarn lies far below but we are not ready to descend just yet. Not on a day like today.

Miniature Pool Blea Rigg. Wainwright's miniature pool.

We visit another location which I have been to on previous occassions. Wainwright’s “miniature pool”.

Coniston Fells from near Blea Rigg. Harrison Stickle on the right

We were blessed with alomst perfect winter skies today, sunshine broken regularly by patches of cloud. Here looking towards the Coniston Fells.

Sergeant Man in winter. Wainwright Sergeant Man, Central Fells

We followed the route up to Sergeant Man. We were not the first along this way after the recent snowfall.

Great Gable from Sergeant Man. Wainwright Great Gable

From the summit of Sergeant Man Great Gable is 5 miles distant.

Sergeant Man Summit, Sergeant Man Central Fells

On the summit of Sergeant Man in the afternoon sun. No time to hang about so we headed off in the direction of Codale Head.

Sergeant Man from the tarns. Wainwright Sergeant Man

Looking back to Sergeant Man over the tarns as we begin our descent to Tarn Crag.

Skiddaw and Blencathra from near Codale Head. Blea Rigg.

Skiddaw and Blencathra away to the north as we pass through the lines of the old boundary, maked by a few old iron posts, all that’s left of the fence.

Helvellyn and Fairfield from near Codale Head

Beautiful light as we head to Tarn Crag.

Fairfield range beyond Tarn Crag (Easedale)

The hounds are just ahead of us as we make our way to Tarn Crag, still in the sunshine.

Coniston Fells from Tarn Crag. Winter sunset

We drop down the gully into the winter shadows. Soft light over the Coniston Fells.

Helvellyn range in winter. Helvellyn panorama

A pink glow now colours th snows of the Eastern Fells.

Coniston Fells and Codale Tarn from Tarn Crag

From Lang Crag we look down on Codale Tarn and the ridge that we traversed earlier. Sadly now the light was fading fast. From this point the gloom made the taking of photographs impractical. After reaching the summit of Tarn Crag we continued east down over Greathead Crag, over the footbrigde at Styhead Steps to then pick up the lane back to Grasmere.

In all it was a great afternoon to explore an Easedale Circuit . By ticking off several references for the project I was happy with the day. Good company and great winter conditions. It ticked most of the boxes.

Until next time, thanks for reading.


  1. Really enjoyed following your route with some superb photography. Makes me want to get back up to the Lakes! Thanks. Ed.

    • Hi Ed,
      Thanks for reading and then taking time to comment, it is appreciated.
      Yes, I to am itching to get back onto the fells in the very near future.

  2. Hi Andy

    Blimey , can’t believe how long ago that was.
    Will never forget that walk, it was truly stunning in the snow.
    Loved every minute. I’ve been very lucky to join you for a few of your walks for references.
    Not sure folk realise how hard it was to find the exact spot where AW stood by comparing the spot to his drawings .
    The extra miles & ups and downs on your routes to find them was just unbelievable & fascinating , making your walks much longer & harder as like you said about this walk, lots of off piste climbing & descending which I experienced….
    Twas soooo hard at times!! but am so lucky to have been there

    • Hi Lesley,
      Thanks for taking a look and for commenting. Yes, where does the time go? Happy memories from a great walk. Always a joy to have your company on these walks and thank you for your patience whilst I wander around.:)

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