The Coledale Horseshoe


Walking with; Al

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The Lakeland horseshoes are some of the best walking that England has to offer. I have long loved the Fairfield and Kentmere versions, and can safely say that the Coledale has now joined this illustrious list. Al and I had spent the night camping in Braithwaite and partaking of the food and Jenning’s ale at “The Royal Oak” and so were a little sluggish as we left the carpark at the foot of the Whinlatter Pass and started to slowly climb out of the valley and up on to the ridge line. The rain eased as we climbed and the cloud slowly dissipated to give us a fantastic panorama taking in Bassenthwaite, Skiddaw and Keswick. We made our way onto the Sleet How ridge and the horseshoe opened up in front of us with views West and looking down into Coledale itself.

We continued to climb along the edge with Coledale Beck a long way down to our left and the vast pine plantations that separated us from Lord’s Seat on the other side. The wind was blowing hard, but the patches of blue sky were expanding and by the time we summitted Grizedale Pike the wind was cold but the sun was out. We pushed on to Hopegill Pike for great views along Whiteside and across to Grasmoor which was our ultimate objective for the day. The route was quite popular for a weekday but the groups were well spaced and we made our way over Sand Hill and down to Coledale Hause before the long climb onto the vast plateau of Grasmoor. I’ve often enjoyed the forbidding face Grasmoor offers from Buttermere, it has an intimidating bulk from that side and atop of it the views to the sparkling waters of Buttermere and Crummock Water were magnificent. We had lunch on the top there and then retraced our steps back towards the horseshoe. We climbed up onto Eel Crag and continued onto Sail before dropping down the wiggly, new looking raised path to Sail Pass.

Another break there, looking down on the Coledale Cobalt mine (the last working mine in the Lake District which closed in 1991) before we decided to cut down onto High Moss and then climb back to Outerside and on over Barrow andthen down the long, grassy tongue and back into Braithwaite under blue skies with the sun gently warming our necks.

The Coledale Round is a cracking walk. The rollercoaster ups and downs keep the legs and lungs working hard. The views in all directions are truly magnificent, I’ve never seen Skiddaw looking so good and the vistas stretch for miles over Catbells and Maiden Moor and (from Grasmoor) over towards Honister and beyond. Braithwaite is a great base with a couple of pubs and campsites and Keswick on your doorstep. There is also the satisfaction of the horseshoe, of ending up where you started after six and a half hours of varied, interesting and challenging walking!