Wednesday, 16 May 2012

The Lion, the Lamb & an Intrepid Climber

Helm Crag - "The Lion and the Lamb"
Helm Crag is a popular mountain near the beautiful village of Grasmere and is recognisable for the two rock formations that sit on either end of the summit, namely “The Lion and the Lamb” and “The Howitzer”.  I have climbed it before but it was misty and I had no idea what the views were like so I set forth this time with high hopes although variable weather (more of that later).

View to Grasmere Village & Lake
The stroll along the road and path towards the Easedale valley was lovely – mountains in the background and the cascades of Sour Milk Gill twinkling in the occasional bursts of sunshine.  The Lion and the Lamb beckoned me from above the trees to hurry up and get to the top and given the state of the clouds, I thought it had a point so I pressed on.  The path at the beginning is steep – make no mistake that whilst at 1,329 feet this is a low fell, it lets you know it is a true mountain.  At the top of the steep bit I was rewarded by the most amazing views towards Easedale Tarn, Silver Howe, Blea Rigg, the Coniston Fells behind, Grasmere village and lake and on the opposite side, Seat Sandal, Stone Arthur and the beginning of the Hellvelyn range.  Even though the sky only had patches of blue, it was a beautiful sight.  The weather was making for many clothing decisions though – ski jacket on or off?  Just a t-shirt or a fleece as well?  Is it raining enough for waterproof trousers?  Here I should point out that it has to be raining pretty heavily for me to resort to waterproof trousers.  There is nothing elegant about them, particularly when you are trying to put them on when it is windy.
Distant Coniston Fells

The Lion & the Lamb
From the view stop there was nothing particularly challenging until I got to the rocky summit.  Now here you can take the easy path to the side and make your way along the summit without adventure.  Or you can scramble up the Lion rock.  Never one to pass up a challenge, I chose to climb the lion and using hands, feet and knees, got to the top without incident.  What a view!  An unsuspecting retired couple approached the Lion just as I got to the top.  They told me they had no intention of climbing it this time round but they used to when they were younger.  I felt I needed history to record this moment so I hopped down from the rock, handed them the camera and asked them to take a photo of me on the top.  As I scaled back up the Lion I turned around and the man had walked really far away...his wife told me he took his photography very seriously and wanted to take a good photo.  I rose to my full height, struck a pose and waited for the photo to be taken.  His wife was right – he took his photography very seriously and my arms were flagging by the time he lowered the camera.  I think he has missed his calling as David Bailey’s apprentice!  I thanked him profusely as I absolutely loved the photo and it will capture the moment for me forever.  Thank you again whoever you were.
Me Striking a Pose on the Lion

Next I walked to the other end of the summit and eyed the more difficult proposition of the Howitzer.  Mmmmm....this looked a little larger for sure.  There were two men standing at the foot of the rock who had just decided not to attempt it.  I have never been and never want to be a rock-climber and grappling irons do not feature in my rucksack (I could not fit them in with all the clothes and lipstick anyway) but I thought I would give it a go.  So I walked around the path-side of the rock (there was a drop the other side) and tried to find a route up.  Nothing looked obvious so I tried from one position, then another.  On the third attempt I got about two-thirds of the way up and thought I could probably make it with a burst of bravery.  However, at this point the hail started and combined with the wind stepping up a gear and an absence of the required burst of bravery, I decided retreat was the better part of valour and headed cautiously back down to terra firma.  I will try it again but preferably in sunshine and with more advice on the proper route!
The Howitzer (still on my "to do" list)

The onset of hail meant the weather pattern for the day was sun, cloud, sun, rain, cloud, sun, hail and then ended on the way down with much more sun.  In other words a typical spring day in the Lake District!  After getting back to Grasmere, discarding the walking boots, donning heels and topping up my lipstick, I headed to the Drunken Duck for lunch – potato and chervil soup and a glass of something sparkly.  A perfect walking day.
The Drunken Duck Inn

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16 comments:

  1. Ha spot on Tanya, have been up there over 10 times & love the route from Grasmere, it's a mountain in miniature. And like you have I've had the same Howitzer experience....but one day eh !

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    1. One day indeed! It is a mountain in minature - a good description..I love it :)

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  2. A great report Tanya, Silver How is a lovely walk, one which I have enjoyed doing a few times.

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    1. Hi Sherran...I loved Silver How...I did that with Blea Rigg, Sergeant Man, Thurnacar Knott, High Raise and Tarn Crag...a mammoth day! :)

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  3. Helm Crag - totally underplayed but a great walk with some great views. A challenging ending if you climb the Howitzer. I did that on a sunny day a few years ago. Great blog.

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    1. Thanks Peter - I would like your advice on the Howitzer route! :)

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  4. great account Tanya , i havnt climbed it yet. did look at it this afternoon/evening from top of fairfield :)) at least i think i was looking at it haha
    met an aussi bloke at the summit, he said " bloody freezing here mate! " so funny:))

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    1. Very warm at Stickle Tarn this morning...the hail made Helm Crag a bit chilly!
      Thanks for comment :-)

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  5. Great post Tanya.
    You described it so well I felt I was there with you.
    Loved the would-be David Bailey too!

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    1. Thanks Chloe! And yes - he was fabulous... :)

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  6. Great read. And oh the indignity of waterproof trousers..! Smearing mud way up legs from your boots.. Worth all the effort for that photo though - you look pretty triumphant! I love the folks you meet out on walks - they're generally so friendly & helpful; I think it's something to do with being drawn together in adversity! :-)

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    1. Thanks Karen - I was triumphant! If only there has been someone to take a photo of my at the top of Jack's Rake as that was my finest hour!
      People are very friendly...you are probably right about shared adversity :)

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  7. You have conquered the Lion! lol Please be careful putting on your rain proof trousers...stay away from rocky edges. I'm a fan of the Drunken Duck. ;) Thanks again for a beautiful & entertaining post.

    ~ Aithne

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    1. I promise to be careful with the waterproofs...wish someone would design a more elegant pair though!
      Thanks for commenting :-)

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  8. Great blog as usual. Been up there quite a few times but never managed the Howitzer either. Combination of wind and wet rock have stopped me in the past. On the right day, I'll go for it.

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    1. Thanks Simon :)
      I am going to try it again too...hard to see how it is possible but peope have managed it...dry weather only for me too though.

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