3rd May 2010

Seat Sandal, Alcock Tarn and Grasmere from Dunmail Raise

Walk Overview
Time 07.30 to 12.45
Duration 5 hr 15 min
Distance 9.5 mile
Ascent 3500 ft
Walking with On my own
Dunmail Raise - Seat Sandal - Little Tongue - Mill Bridge - Greenhead Gill - Alcock Tarn - How Top - Grasmere - Easedale Road - Underhelm - Helmside - Cotra - Dunmail Raise
Fells visited
Directory places visited

Starting Point Information Centre
Roadside, top of Dunmail Raise

There is lots of available parking along this stretch of road, and just as well. Anyone who has driven over Dunmail Raise will have noticed how many cars form the line on each side of the road. I'm tempted to say that this is somewhere you'll never fail to get a space. Simply leave your car at the end of the line.


Route Map

If you look at the route map for this walk and think "what on earth is he playing at", I should point out that the only plan I had today was to walk up Seat Sandal. I hadn't even thought about which route I was going to take when I left home, and it was only when I reached the top of Dunmail Raise that I decided to set off from here. Everything after the top of Seat Sandal was done "just because I fancied it" and not because it made sense as a 'normal' route.

7.30 at the top of Dunmail Raise and needless to say the place was deserted.

Thirlmere and the central ridge, taken from the steep route up Seat Sandal.

Seat Sandal summit.
The lake in the centre of the picture is Grasmere and the higher fells on the right are the Coniston fells.

From the summit I retraced my steps a short way before, , ,

, , , heading down the southern ridge.



Perhaps it was a strange route off Seat Sandal, but I just fancied heading across to this area around Little Tongue.

Looking up Little Tongue.

Now that I'm down here, I suppose I'd better start thinking of a route back to the top of Dunmail Raise. As I looked across to Steel Fell, I had the idea of walking half way up the ridge you can see here and then cutting across to the top of Dunmail Raise.
First of all I wanted to make the walk a bit longer, so after a few minutes trying to make up my mind where to head next, I eventually decided to walk up to Alcock Tarn.

Helm Crag and Steel Fell.

A fine view from the path up to Alcock Tarn.

I expected Alcock Tarn to be busy morning, but I was pleased to find I had the place to myself. Despite how far I'd already walked, it was still only 10.30, so I suppose it was still a bit too early for most folk to have made their way up this far.
The fells behind the tarn are Seat Sandal (back) and Stone Arthur / Great Rigg.

Time to refuel.

Looking down to the Vale of Grasmere.
To state the obvious, I'm getting an awfully long way from the car.


I take it someone likes flowers.

The obvious route from Grasmere to Steel Fell is to head along Easedale Road and then onto this minor road leading to Helmside. Along the route you pass through some lovely countryside on a road which is high enough to allow some views that rival those from many of the fells themselves.

From Seat Sandal I could have easily headed across and spent the day up on the higher fells, but the decision to head down hill was definitely the right one today. Yet again, a totally unplanned, make it up as you go along walk had given me a fantastic day out.


Time wise it wasn't really that long ago, but it still felt like ages since I was up there on Seat Sandal.

Steel Fell, seen from Low Mill Bridge.

Ghyll Foot Farm.

It looks like I'm heading up hill again!

Not far now and I couldn't believe how lucky I'd been yet again. It was on the last five minutes of the walk that I felt the first spots of rain. I don't suppose it was going to amount to much, but I can still allow myself a little bit of smugness for managing to walk almost all this way in sunshine.

David Hall -
Lake District Walks