Far West Wainwright Bagging
THREE Wainwright circular walk: Grike, Crag Fell, Lank Rigg.
Time: 4 hours
Parking: Roadside at Kinniside Stone Circle (free)
|Kinniside (or Blakeley Raise) Stone Circle|
The three fells that Wainwright selected on the far western fringes of Lakeland - Grike, Crag Fell and Lank Rigg - are not going to be the top choices for any hiker. True, the rocky faces of Crag Fell make for an interesting walk up from Ennerdale Bridge but behind its summit lies the open featureless moorland shared by the other two fells.
So, in all likelihood, a walker heading out this way may well be simply looking for a route that 'bags' these three Wainwrights with the minimum fuss. The route below achieves that - but also offers a fine view down Ennerdale and a surprise at the top of Lank Rigg for which Alfred Wainwright is responsible.
1. Park your car by the side of the Coldfell Road near to the Kinniside Stone Circle (Grid Ref : NY 060 140). This 'restored' stone circle may well be just a modern creation but its twelve stones still make an interesting sight on the moorland. Start the hike on the track that heads out eastwards from the tarmac main road, starting a few hundred yards to the south of the stone circle. It heads through what remains of what was far more extensive tree planting before joining the old mine road as it bends around a corner of a fenced field.
2. Don't go into the fields yet but walk on along the road with the slopes of Grike ahead. When you get closer to the fell, leave the road via a stile to your left and take the path in the grass going up the hillside, over a further stile, and then on to the top of Grike. For such a gently sloping low fell, a surprisingly large summit cairn and wind shelter are to be found at its top.
3. Continue eastwards across the sometimes marshy grassland. You walk past a small radio mast on the other side of the fence, then cross a stile to walk up to the grassy top of Crag Fell. After such a featureless stroll, it's a pleasant surprise to be met with such fine views down over Ennerdale Water.
4. These will be the best views of the day so take a while to look around before taking the grassy route south, back to the fence, crossing the old mine road and then a second fence by a stone wall. Walk uphill by the side of the wall then veer right to walk up the next grassy hill, named Whoap. A great name for a small hill! To take the shortest route, keep to the left of the rise and then, as you go over the brow, you'll see your final destination, Lank Rigg, in front of you to the south-west.
5. Keep on straight along the grassy ridge and then walk up to the top of Lank Rigg (at 1775') to find its triangulation column and a small summit cairn which may require your attention. Why? Well, without giving too much away, because Wainwright managed to spice up this sometimes dull walk with a tale of 'buried treasure' to be found on Lank Rigg. Wainwright left a two-shilling coin "under a flat stone four feet from the column". The original coin was quickly found but the tradition has remained of leaving a coin under the stone for others to find. Over time, I think the distance has increased from four feet but, if you find the stone, the coppers underneath it when I was there in 2021 certainly won't make you rich!
|The column on the top of Lank Rigg|
6. To return to the stone circle takes another hour's sometimes boggy walking via the valley made by the Whoap Beck. Start by returning to the grassy ridge between Lank Rigg and Whoap, then descend left into the valley, keeping to the right (northern) side of the Whoap Beck. The radio mast on the side of Grike will be seen up to your right as the path now follows alongside the River Calder, starting on its way to the sea at Sellafield. The path fords another beck then climbs up the rise ahead, coming out on the tarmac road above. Turning right, some final road-walking is required to complete the circuit, back at the Kinniside Stone Circle.
|Looking down into the valley of the Whoap Beck|
Worth knowing: If you've got the time, it's worth heading a couple of miles south towards Calder Bridge to park at a road junction by a cattle grid where a track heads left, in the direction of Lank Rigg, down to the River Calder. A short walk down the track, across the river, and then slightly upstream brings you to the Monk's Bridge aka 'Matty Benn's' bridge. This fine example of a mediaeval packhorse bridge was used by the monks of Calder Abbey. It is also named after a nineteenth century local woman who used the bridge, reputedly often riding home worse the wear from the pub after a successful day at the market!