Day Three: Stonethwaite to Patterdale
Our projected route, once more shown in the palest of green colours.
This is the day that Toby is really looking forward to! Mountain climbing!
Helm Crag is a fell in the English Lake District situated in the Central Fells to the north of Grasmere. Despite its low height it sits prominently at the end of a ridge, easily seen from the village. This, combined with the distinctive summit rocks which provide the alternative name 'The Lion and the Lamb', makes it one of the most recognised hills in the District.
Alfred Wainwright wrote of Helm Crag that "The virtues of Helm Crag have not been lauded enough. It gives an exhilarating little climb, a brief essay in real mountaineering, and, in a region where all is beautiful, it makes a notable contribution to the natural charms and attractions of Grasmere."
At either end of the highest ridge are the rock outcrops that ensure Helm Crag's fame. Only one can be seen from any point in the surrounding valleys, and they have a variety of names depending upon the profile seen from the particular vantage point. The northwestern outcrop is the true summit of the fell, a tricky little scramble being needed to stand on the top. It is variously called "The old lady playing the organ" when seen from Mill Gill, "The howitzer" from the summit of Dunmail Raise and "The lion and the lamb" or "The lion couchant" from a point in between. The southern outcrop is prominent from Grasmere and this is the traditional "Lion and the lamb".
After battling with the "Lion and the Lamb" (Tobes can battle the Lion, my facial hair is only qualified for battling lambs) we'll be in desperate need for an ale. So we'll be toddling into Grasmere for a swift pint.
The poet William Wordsworth, who lived in Grasmere for 14 years, described it as "the loveliest spot that man hath ever found." If Grasmere can act as the muse to such a celebrated poet then I am sure that I'll be able to make some immensely profound posts on my social media apps. So please keep a look out for any updates on my Grindr profile.
The village is on the river Rothay which flows into Grasmere lake, which lies about 0.5 km to the south. The village is overlooked from the north-west by the rocky hill of Helm Crag, popularly known as The Lion and the Lamb or the Old Lady at the Piano. These names are derived from the shape of rock formations on its summit, depending on which side you view it from.
One of the famous residents of Grasmere is William Archibald Spooner who invented spoonerisms. Sadly this has nothing to do with spooning - of which my technique has been described as "enthusiastic yet terrifying".
In case you were wondering...
A spoonerism is an error in speech or deliberate play on words in which corresponding consonants, vowels, or morphemes are switched (see metathesis) between two words in a phrase. These are named after the Oxford don and ordained minister William Archibald Spooner, who was famous for doing this.
Notable Persons from Grasmere:
- William Wordsworth (1770–1850), poet, lived in Dove Cottage with his sister Dorothy Wordsworth (1771–1855), in the hamlet of Townend, on the outskirts of Grasmere, from 1799. He occasionally breakfasted with Sir Walter Scott at The Swan, a 17th-century coaching inn on the A591 road, whose sign still quotes a line from him: "Who does not know the famous Swan?" In 1808 he sold Dove Cottage to Thomas de Quincey (1785–1859) and moved to the larger Allan Bank, where he remained until 1811, moving to Rydal Mount in 1813. He is buried in the churchyard of St Oswald's, Grasmere, alongside his wife, Mary, their family, and his sister Dorothy. A friend, the writer Lady Maria Farquhar, lived at Dale Lodge.
- Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772–1834), poet, spent time at Dove Cottage and is said to have muttered stanzas for The Rime of the Ancient Mariner while walking across the nearby fells.
- Paul Frederick de Quincey (1828–1894), New Zealand politician, was born at Grasmere.
- William Angus Knight (1836–1916), Scottish academic, compiled an 11-volume Wordsworth's Works and Life (1881–89) and presented his library of Wordsworth materials to Dove Cottage.
- William Archibald Spooner (1844–1930), Oxford University academic and instigator of spoonerisms, was buried here, near the house of his wife's family, How Foot.
- John Haden Badley (1865–1967), progressive educationalist and founder of Bedales School, spent time with his sisters the Misses Badley, at their Grasmere home Winterseeds.
- Charles Morris (1898–1990), philosopher and Leeds University vice-chancellor, died at Grasmere.
- The husband-and-wife artists William Heaton Cooper (1903–1995), landscape painter, and Ophelia Gordon Bell (1915–1975), sculptor, lived and are buried at Grasmere.
- Fred Yates (1922–2008), painter, was living at Cote How near Grasmere (1900–06) when he painted the future United States president Woodrow Wilson and John Haden Badley.
- Robert Woof (1931–2005), academic, was the first keeper of the collections of the William Wordsworth Museum at Dove Cottage.
- Bob Barratt (1938 or 1939–2004) was the founder of the Grasmere Records label for brass band and organ music.
Grisedale Tarn is 538 metres (1,765 ft) in altitude and has a maximum depth of around 33 metres (108 ft). It holds brown trout, perch and eels. The outflow is to Ullswater to the north-east, picking up all of the rainfall from the eastern face of Dollywagon Pike.
The Tarn is the subject of a poem by the Rev. Frederick William Faber printed in 1840.
Helvellyn is our first true mountain being over 3k ft in height, before today we've only scaled large hills, annoying as some of them are only a few feet off being a mountain. Depending on how dead we are from the previous days we may walk around the mountain instead of over it. That is a decision we'll make on the day.
Toby of course will probably just fall into his natural instincts and mine through it collecting lead, silver, mithril and adamantium ore on the way.
Helvellyn is the third-highest point both in England and in the Lake District, and access to Helvellyn is easier than to the two higher peaks of Scafell Pike and Sca Fell. The scenery includes three deep glacial coves and two sharp-topped ridges on the eastern side (Striding Edge and Swirral Edge).
The volcanic rocks of which the mountain is made were formed in the caldera of an ancient volcano, many of them in violently explosive eruptions, about 450 million years ago during the Ordovician period. During the last ice age these rocks were carved by glaciers to create the landforms seen today.
Since the end of the last ice age, small populations of arctic-alpine plants have survived in favourable spots on rock ledges high in the eastern coves. Rare to Britain species of alpine butterfly, the mountain ringlet, also live on and around Helvellyn.
Mineral veins, some with deposits of the lead ore galena, do exist within Helvellyn's rocks, but attempts to find sufficient quantities of lead to be worth mining have not been successful.
Tourism has been a more successful industry in the area. For over two hundred years visitors have been drawn by the lake and mountain scenery of the Lake District, and many have made their way to the top of Helvellyn. Among the early visitors to Helvellyn were the poets Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth, both of whom lived nearby at one period. Many routes up the mountain are possible so that it may be approached from all directions. The view from the top is one of the most extensive over the Lake District, and on a clear day the view can also stretch from Scotland to Wales.
However, traversing the mountain is not without dangers; over the last two hundred years there have been a number of fatalities. The artist Charles Gough is more famous for his death on Striding Edge in 1805 than for what he achieved in his life.
Among many human feats upon the mountain, one of the strangest was the landing and take-off of a small aeroplane on the summit in 1926.
Finally we'll rock up to Patterdale where we are staying at the White Lion Inn. A perfect place for a quick six pints and an amount of chips that could only be described as 'grotesque'.
Patterdale was also badly affected by Storm Desmond in December 2015. So they should be pretty well prepared for when we end up going on a drunken rampage around the village.