TAKE the 555 bus to Wythburn, climb two Wainwrights (Steel Fell and Calf Crag) and walk down the beautiful and interesting Far Easedale to Grasmere, writes JOHN EDMONDSON. On a clear day, this walk is easy to follow and offers splendid views of Thirlmere and the surrounding fells.

Start from the Wythburn bus stop, which is by the junction of the A591 and the road to Armboth at the southern end of Thirlmere Reservoir, map reference NY 324 129, nearest postcode CA12 4TP.


Distance: 7 miles with 1,800 feet of ascent

Time: 4 hours

Terrain: fell paths (boggy in parts) and a mile of quiet roads

Maps: OS Explorer OL5 and OL7


1 From the bus stop walk along the Armboth road for 360 yards. Turn left at West Head Farm onto the cycle path signed Grasmere via Dunmail Raise. Go through the gate next to a barn and continue up the tarmacked cycle path. Immediately after the next gate turn right and follow the grassy path climbing steeply to the ridge of Steel Fell. As the ascent continues the view back over Thirlmere Reservoir becomes increasingly impressive. Go through a gateway and continue climbing up the ridge past two metal posts and over a fence stile. Fork right and walk alongside the fence on the right to the 1,814 feet summit, named on the map as Dead Pike. This is the highest point of the walk and most of the climbing has been completed.

2 Continue to the right along the fence-side path. After three quarters of a mile you pass two small tarns on the right and go past the head of Greenburn valley. The path then ascends gently, following the line of metal fence posts and then bears left to the 1,762 feet summit of Calf Crag. From the summit, continue westwards past a third small tarn (Brownrigg Moss) at the head of Far Easedale. Turn sharp left and descend into the valley, initially on recently built stone pitched path.

3 From here, the remaining 3.5 miles of the walk is straightforward and downhill practically all the way. Far Easedale is a delightful valley and much quieter than the popular walk to nearby Easedale Tarn. Few places better demonstrate the feature called a gill, which means a ravine with a stream. Take time to view the pretty waterfalls and hidden gill pools that appear quite unexpectedly. Easedale may have been named after the ancient Viking-Scottish family of Asi, from which the English name Oswald is derived. A Scottish influence accounts for the naming of becks as burns in this area. Helm Crag can be viewed on the left. A mile before Grasmere the path merges into the tarmacked Easedale Road, the last half of which can be avoided by following a footpath on the right going past Allan Bank.

Next week: Ulverston and Pennington Reservoir

NB: restrictions on space mean that this article provides a general summary of the route. It is advisable for anyone who plans to follow the walk to take a copy of the relevant Ordnance Survey map.