Easter in Grasmere

Contributed by M-L

Somewhere in the region of 60 IOGers gathered around Grasmere for Easter this year – in the Youth Hostel, camping outside the Youth Hostel, in nearby Thorney How Hostel and also, I believe, Ambleside Youth Hostel. This was a challenging feat of organisation – compounded by rather resistant staff at the main hostel who did their best to block smooth proceedings – which our ex-Chair, Matthew, with help from Belinda, carried out with the unfailing cheer and humour we all know and love him for. Many, many thanks, Matthew – we are all looking forward to next year (no emojis available, but it would be someone rolling on the floor laughing), though fully understand if you think it is someone else’s turn.

We were hugely blessed with blissful, Midsummer Night’s Dream weather in the middle of April – incredibly beautiful days that England trots out occasionally to show that she can; sheep were lambing, birds nesting, vivid lime coloured leaves appearing on the trees, bluebells, blossom, daffs, and the intense green of new grass everywhere. For those of us who camped, the dawn chorus was breathtaking.

And then there were the activities! And they were many and various!

Thursday – Easedale Tarn

Contributed by M-L

One of the walks that started the trip for those who arrived early was a hike to Easdale Tarn on Day Minus One.  This was just a little stroll up to the tarn to the west of Grasmere and back, but it was the first day and it was a taste of treks to come. Most enjoyable.

Friday – Multi-generational Stroll around Grasmere

Contributed by Karen, Pete F.

Our group had a leisurely 5-mile walk around Grasmere, followed by a lovely cup of tea and then a boat trip on the mere…

Friday – Ambleside Return

Contributed by M-L

This walk was kindly orchestrated by Lou, who, I am sure, would rather have been tackling something more challenging, but, being the gent he is, happily escorted those who wanted to take it a bit easy. It involved a gentle stroll along the south side of  Grasmere (some recurring dispute about the definition of a ‘mere’ which got rather funny) and Rydal Water with a short rise to Loughrigg Terrace, a pretty view, and quite a long time sitting on a bench looking at it – exercising our wit rather than our legs.

A quick poke around Rydal Cave followed – nasty, dank-looking spot and I stayed in the sun where I could see if someone fell in while negotiating the stepping stones but was not given that treat – then onto Ambleside for, really,  a most undeserved pint, but enjoyable nonetheless. Then it was back home along the north side past Rydal Park and I suspect, but don’t exactly remember, that our ardours were rewarded by another pint in Tweedies’ welcoming beer garden, more of which anon.

Saturday – Rowing on Grasmere

Contributed by M-L

For those exhausted by Lou’s stroll around Grasmere and Rydal Water on Friday, there was the option of rowing across them on Saturday – and a hilarious hour was spent catching crabs and doing tight, unintended little circles. Raj, who had never held an oar before, quickly picked it up – picked two of them up, actually – and allowed the rest of us to admire how high we had climbed the day before.

Saturday – Rachael’s High Raise Walk

Text contributed by A. Non; pics by A. Non and Alan B.

[Now, I wouldn’t have anything to say about this – the very title ‘Rachael’s Walk’ striking chill into my slothful heart – but fortunately someone has recovered enough to send in a report – ed.].

Unlike the fair-weather, ambling (wimp) author of the above [the nerve – ed.] there are some who delight in anything with a hint of challenge. Challenge just about covers anything Rachael leads (except perhaps Morris dancing which is puzzling).

Actually I think she listed this walk as moderate but secretly thought doable on crutches. The route was generally upwards, passing Easedale Tarn en route. A good spot for a quick break.

Packs off at Easdeale Tarn
Prevaricating above Sickle Tarn

Easedale Tarn was about half way to Sickle Tarn where we rested again, prevaricating, until it became obvious that’s what we were doing, while others over-analysed the options to get up onto High Raise. There were only two, both of which scared off one stalwart who returned to the hostel.

Jake’s Ridge

In this picture, taken from above the tarn, there’s a Grade 1 scramble called Jack’s Rake. That was one of the routes and some of us climbed it. Not the younger ones surprisingly. They thought we pensioners had fewer years to lose. They opted for the longer, easier, safer walk to the top.

The bottom of Jack’s Rack
Someone’s rear making it’s way up Jack’s Rake

We all survived.

Someone heard that there was only one bottle of 6X at the hostel and sped off, leading the way along the ridges to Hel Crag and down to home.

Cloudless skies in the Lake District at Easter. Whoever heard of that?

Saturday – Grasmere to Little Langdale

[This walk was led by Andy and apparently it traversed the pretty lowland area of Little Langdale with a stop to explore the Cathedral Caves , then went onto Elterwater and back over a bit of a hill to Grasmere. Has anyone anything more to add? – ed.]

Saturday – Ghyll Scrambling

This would have been great fun to watch as Toby, Belinda and Pete indulged in jumping off rocks and sliding down waterfalls. Miraculously, all came home in one piece. There are some great ‘caption competition’ pics amongst these.

Saturday – Easedale Tarn – in a more challenging incarnation than on Thursday

Contributed by Lou

According to some IOG members, this was only half a walk, but in its favour it allowed for two lunch stops and an early finish at the pub.

We met some other IOGers at Easedale Tarn who had strolled up earlier.

After lounging around for a while, we proceeded further uphill to the ridge behind Blea Crag. Some discussion was had about the origins of the grassy mounds. Theories included glacial deposits, fallen rocks, and mining slagheaps. Where was our geologist when we needed her? The two lunch stops were taken on the ridge, which met with some ridicule due to the short distance between them.

Approaching Easedale Tarn
Reflections in Easedale Tarn
View from the ridge

A short stroll later and we were at the tarns just south of Lang How. These were recommended as a prominent navigational feature and so they were, being surrounded by rather boggy terrain. Due to either good luck or good planning, the bogs were drier than usual and we managed to follow the path without getting wet feet. As previously mentioned, we were back at the pub in good time and enjoyed a couple of pints before returning to the hostel.

Sunday – Helm Crag at a Steady Pace

Contributed by Peter F.

Helm Crag – The Lion and the Lamb from the south

This walk was led by Karen – with son Bruce, Maria and writer-  using  IOG map 4 and the Grasmere map from the village shop.

From Thorney How we gently climbed past Lancrigg and Whitecrag. After that it became tougher. We climbed very slowly and reached the summit after 2 hours. There were beautiful views all round and it was good to watch the traffic on the A591 a mile away.

From the summit we decided that going back the same route would be too steep so we proceeded towards Gibson Knott until we found the footpath down into Easedale. That was also quite steep in places, with some boggy areas, but in Easedale valley we found a stream to bathe our feet in, and relax for while. The footpath into Grasmere was very pleasant so we had delicious shandies in the village .

The toughest mountain I have ever climbed… [you put me to shame, Pete – ed.]

Sunday – Simon’s Walk

[About this one I know nothing , beyond what can be seen in Francis’ pics – green, green, green. Francis appears to be a wildlife whisperer, or has something tempting in his rucksack – ed.]

Sunday – Steel Fell and Helm Crag Ridge

This was another of Lou’s  walks – with absolutely smashing scenery, as can be seen from the pics.

Pete E. reports:

I had spent the first day of our Lake District adventure on an epic trek led by Rachael, with many familiar faces. It was great fun, though plenty exhausting. After a day’s respite, jumping in and out of ghylls, I was ready to dive back into a group walk but decided that the more leisurely tramp around Steel Fell, Calf Crag and approaching Helm Crag that Lou had proposed seemed just the ticket. Having heard stories of the scary scrambling the elites had done the previous day, I was now too scared to volunteer for the tough walk of the day. Clearly I made the right call, as we were joined by Steve who must have been thinking along similar lines.

It was a pleasant circular route, starting from the hostel in Grasmere, though things took a very downward turn initially when one of our number sustained an incredibly painful ankle injury on one of the roads leading to Fairy Glen. After looking it over, and being threatened by some mean-looking cows who wandered over out of curiosity, it was decided best not to push on with an injury and so a return trip to the hostel was embarked upon … our number was reduced by one, therefore, before we even made it to the first hill.

Fortunately, the rest of the day was much less exciting … Lou led us carefully and confidently up on to the ridge and onward to Steel Fell. The views were sublime and the walk was a dream – Steve and I spent most of it agog at the idea of multiple rest stops up the climb. Lou continued the theme by bringing us along to Calf Crag and providing not only two separate lunch stops, but a tasty dose of Easter chocolate to boot! The views were spectacular and by the time we reached Helm Crag, we had plenty of energy for climbing to get some epic selfies from the top of the peak.

Of course, no walk with Lou is complete without a trip to a pub, so we eventually ended up coming down to Tweedies in Grasmere, for a tasty dinner and some refreshments. Loved it!

And finally – an activity to which we could all relate


Anne has kindly contributed a few lines of praise for what became an institution, a spot to gather after walks – taxing or trifling – queue endlessly for a drink (though Anne suggests Trevor’s solution for that one) and then deconstruct the day. Great times!

Wonderful weather, stunning scenery, walks galore,
What other delights could one ask for?
“Brilliant beers”, I hear you say,
“Well-deserved after trekking all day.”
We all worked up an avid thirst,
But who would arrive at Tweedies Bar first?

Even with ludicrously long queues,
It was well worth the wait to sample their booze.
Beers to suit every taste,
As long as we were not in haste.
Well, out of the many drinks to rave about,
My favourite was Mokka Milk Stout.

At 6.8% a tipple to be sipped,
Yet the first pint too easily downwards slipped.
Then came the dilemma: what next?
The thought of the bar queue left me quite vexed.
A valuable lesson soon learnt from Trevor:
Buy two pints at a time. How clever!

That solution worked well for my favourite stout
Until, shock horror, the Mokka ran out!
Pleased to report other beers were soon on sale
To ensure a happy end to my tale.
My final treacly, chocolatey beer
Was a fine way to end our sessions of good cheer.

Delightful company, chilled chatter,
There’s nothing like having a good natter
With outdoor friends who made the weekend such fun
Be it hiking up mountains or just enjoying the sun.
Gathered round a pub table at the end of the day
Beer in hand and in mouth, an excellent IOG trip away.

Thanks again to Matthew and Belinda!