Seat Sandal

ONE Wainwright circular walk: Seat Sandal

Walk Rating:⭐⭐

Time: 2 - 3 hours 

Parking: At the lay-by to the side of the A591 to the south of the 'Traveller's Rest' (room for about 25 cars, free). Alternatively, take a bus to Grasmere.

Seat Sandal and Great Rigg from above Hammerscar

The curved shape of Seat Sandal, often occupying the space between the Fairfield and Helvellyn ridges in distant views, is easily recognisable. 

Rising up to the eastern side of Dunmail Raise, it's a good fell to climb when you have a few hours to spare to go for a shorter walk in the Grasmere area.

Strava estimates a walking distance of 7 km

1. The route starts a short way beyond the Traveller's Rest Inn amongst the houses at Mill Bridge, about a mile north of Grasmere. Head up the old bridleway away from the main road, between stone walls and through a gate. The track heads up the hillside, passing the building housing the newly built "Tongue Gill Hydro" local hydro-electric power installation on your right. Ignore a green painted footbridge over the stream to your right and continue up the track until it levels off shortly before meeting another gate. Go through the gate, walk along the wall on your left, and then across the footbridge crossing Little Tongue Gill.

Cross over this footbridge

2. There is now a choice of routes. One route goes right across another bridge and climbs up the far side of the larger Tongue Gill, passing by a cascade higher up the valley. Another route goes straight up through the bracken over 'Great Tongue', the little ridge ahead of you. A third choice heads left after the first footbridge, following the route of the old bridleway up the valley of Little Tongue Gill. Each route has its own merits, but our preference is for the route on the left, up 'Little Tongue'.

After the footbridge, choose one of three routes

3. For the 'Little Tongue' route, after the footbridge, head up the bank then left along the clear path that runs above the Little Tongue Gill, until crossing it at a small ford.

Walk towards Seat Sandal, above Little Tongue Gill

Cross over Little Tongue Gill at the ford

4. Now go up the grassy path that ascends the 'Little Tongue' between two gills coming down from Seat Sandal above.

Take the path up the 'Little Tongue'

5. The alternative route from 'Great Tongue' joins the path from the right. Then, at the top of the tongue, the path turns right to contour across the side of the fell. It continues around the fell, heading towards the top of the deeper valley of the Tongue Gill, which you will see below you on the right. You will also see the cascades crossed by the third choice of path, which comes up this valley.

Contouring across the fell on the Little Tongue route

4. Both routes now converge, and an obvious path continues up to the col at the top of the valley, Grisedale Hause. To your right, the ridge heads up to the summit of Fairfield. Ahead of you, across Grisedale Tarn, is the rounded outline of Dollywaggon Pike.

Fairfield and St Sunday Crag from Grisedale Hause

Dollywaggon Pike across Grisedale Tarn

5. Seat Sandal rises steeply to the left. A crumbling stone wall running up from the hause provides a direction that walkers used to follow. However, as the start of the climb is steep and rough, it is easier to make the initial climb a little to the right of the old wall. Through frequent use over recent years, a stony path curving up the slope about twenty metres away from the wall is now clearly defined.

Climb up to the right of the old wall

Loving the scramble up Seat Sandal?

6. As you climb steeply up the side of Seat Sandal, there are spectacular panoramas of the fells behind you, reflected in the waters of Grisedale Tarn.

Looking back over Grisedale Tarn

7. As the fell starts to level out, the path continues up more gently next to the broken wall.

Continue upwards next to the broken wall

8. There are various different cairns and a small tarn near the top of the fell (2415').

The tarn and one of the summit cairns

Looking at the view to the west

9. You can either descend by the way you came or, better, continue ahead (west) towards the south ridge.

Walking towards the south ridge

10. Bear left and descend along the south ridge, back to Mill Bridge and Grasmere.

Heading down the south ridge towards Grasmere

Worth knowing: The route over Grisedale Hause is part of the Coast to Coast route that begins in St.Bees, on the Irish Sea, and finishes at Robin Hood's Bay, on the North Sea.

The Lake District section of the route goes through Ennerdale, up to the Honister Pass, then down to Rosthwaite. It then heads south-east to climb over Greenup Edge, between High Raise and Ullscarf, before descending to Grasmere. Coast to Coast walkers then take the route above, up to Grisedale Hause, but then continue along the Grisedale valley beneath Saint Sunday Crag down to Patterdale. The route continues over the Far Eastern fells, climbing up to Kidsty Pike (the highest point on the Coast to Coast walk) and onwards to Haweswater and Shap. 

The Coast to Coast route heading along the side of Grisedale Tarn

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