28th February 2013

Seat Sandal to Stone Arthur


Walk Overview
Time 08.00 to 12.30
Duration 4 hr 30 min
Distance 7 mile
Ascent 3200 ft
Walking with On my own
A591 - Mill Bridge - Seat Sandal - Grisedale Hause - Fairfield - Great Rigg - Stone Arthur - Brackenwife Knotts - Tongue Gill - Mill Bridge - A591
Fells visited
Directory places visited

Starting Point Information Centre
Roadside parking, A591 outside Grasmere

I've described this spot as roadside parking, but it is actually a rather long lay-by found between Grasmere and the bottom of Dunmail Raise. It is quite a popular spot, so latecomers may arrive to find it full. If this turned out to be the case the best alternative would be to try one of the car parks in Grasmere itself. It all depends on where you're going of course, but the distance this would add onto your walk is not much at all.


Route Map

With another gorgeous day on the cards I headed out for a walk up Seat Sandal, Fairfield and then returning by Great Rigg and Stone Arthur. Here you see Grasmere in shade and still showing the result of a frosty night.

From this side, the famous Lion and the Lamb on Helm Crag takes on the shape of what has always been described as an old woman playing an organ. You can't argue with that I suppose. I should also point out that for the sake of inclusion and not wishing to offend any minority groups out there, it could actually be a man dressed up as a woman, , , well you never know these days.

I wonder what she / he is playing.

and a wider view of Helm Crag.

Despite there being another frosty night and it still only being about quarter to nine it was already really warm walking up here. The jacket was off, the sleeves were rolled up and it stayed that way for the rest of the walk. The weather guy on TV has just told me that it was -5 in Keswick last night and +13 this afternoon.

A view back down Seat Sandal shows the valley is almost completely in sunshine now.

Seat Sandal summit in front of St Sunday Crag and Fairfield.

Still at Seat Sandal summit. Looking in this direction you see a big chunk of the Lake District on one go, from the Coniston fells on the left to Great Gable on the right.

Rather than heading straight down to Grisedale Hause I followed the wall down to the Raise Beck side of Grisedale Tarn. Ahead of me all the way was Dollywaggon Pike with the zig-zag path clearly visible on the right.

A partially frozen Grisedale Tarn below Fairfield.
I headed a little further down from here and then turned off to the right to traverse above the tarn. The path(s) up Fairfield aren't that easy to see in this picture, but they (it) follows a zig-zag route in and out of the large area of snow on the left hand side of the fell (actually most of it was ice).

And now a picture of the Tarn in front of Dollywaggon Pike.

A view back to Seat Sandal. You can see the path I took running across the side of the fell.

Looking ahead to Fairfield.

Another view back to Seat Sandal. Notice the north / south difference in the amount of snow.

Although the path up (or down) here follows a straightforward enough scree run, I can't help but notice it's becoming a little wider in places. On the wider sections the path itself splits and it really is a case of following whichever one takes your fancy at the time. I know it's human nature, but trying to take what looks like the easier option is a bit of a fruitless exercise as it all seems to balance itself out in the end.

Not far now and the route isn't quite as steep on this final section before reaching the top.

Looking across to Helvellyn.


A very icy Fairfield summit.

Time to head down to Great Rigg; the pointed snowy fell straight ahead..

Hazy Lakeland, , , and beyond.

You can just see part of Grisedale Tarn in the centre of the picture below the snowy side of Seat Sandal. Notice in the far distance that there isn't any snow on the north western fells.

Looking back to Fairfield.

After turning off the main ridge I make my way down to Stone Arthur.

I thought I'd take a different route off Stone Arthur today. Instead of the normal path down towards Greenhead Gill, I headed off path down to Brackenwife Knotts and then down to Tongue Gill. I found a nice comfortable stone to sit on while I had a bile to eat and to say the very least, it was absolutely magical.

Lunch with a view.

Looking across to Seat Sandal, Tongue Gill, Grisedale Hause and Fairfield.

A close up of Town Head; the smallest of hamlets found at the bottom of Dunmail Raise.

That's the path I'm aiming for but it didn't matter at all at what point I joined the path. It's not too steep down here and with the bracken being dead, I had the luxury of pleasing myself which way to go. Had this been the middle of July the route would have been a little different but still not impossible.

This is the ford over Tongue Gill. You have three choices here and all of them are dependant on how much rain we've had recently.
1) Lots of heavy rain for weeks = use the bridge
2) A little heavy rain or longer spells of light rain = Use the stepping stones (or the bridge)
3) No rain for weeks = Walk straight through the beck (or use the stepping stones or the bridge)

I saw no need to use the stones or the bridge today.

Well that was a great walk turned into a fantastic walk by near perfect conditions. As far as the end of February goes it simply doesn't better than this.

David Hall -
Lake District Walks