Many refer to High Raise as High White Stones and although AW uses the word 'wrongly' to those who do, you can be forgiven, for the summit has an adornment of 'white stones' nearby and for me on my last visit, everything was white in an early March snow storm! The top of the fell is a broad plateau and is adorned by a large stony cairn and an OS survey pillar about 150 yards west of an old fence line. With a literal translation the name can become High Cairn and the fell is often regarded as Lakeland's most central peak. Although many may suggest other peaks in the neighbourhood, High Raise's claim to the title has become the opinion of most. Sadly, the mountain isn't regarded as the most spectacular, so its appearance on this site is an attempt to fulfill an aim of trying to give it better exposure and to encourage you there away from the more popular peaks!
AW Says:Lakeland's most centrally situated fell..... a tumultous skyline.
This walk has its start in Grasmere and for the Wainwright 'baggers' amongst you includes 7 of his 214 - quite a count for one day's walking. The walk is about 11 miles and in that respect is a little longer than the average for a Lakeland outing, so please make note of that. Geographically the fell's altitude gives it seniority over its neighbours with many valleys having it as their watershed, although oddly for its position you can only see short sections of two lakes, namely Bassenthwaite Lake and Derwentwater. The bonus however, is the fell's ideal location to see all of England's 3000' mountains, so try to get a good day of visibility for your ascent.
Parking at any convenient location in Grasmere, the first part of the walk is to ascend Silver How. This is the first major objective but you can bypass it if you feel you don't want to ascend the peak. However, Silver How is a Wainwright itself and you may be out on this walk with the intention of bagging it for your 214 tally. Essentially the climb ascends the col making a bee-line for Chapel Stile in Langdale. This is a less frequented fell top but deserves an ascent on a clear day just for its sweeping views across Grasmere and Rydal Water. As a kid I remember watching A-10 'tank busters' banking over, their underbellies exposed, as they flew low level between Ambleside and Dunmail Raise enroute for some war game, Cold War, target.
Did you know?The Old Norse, 'hjalmr' means 'a helmet' and gives its name to Helm Crag, the crag which looks like a helmet.The last time I traversed the ridge from Silver Howe to High Raise I met not another soul. In good weather it is an easy parade with features which give it the air of a less craggy, Crinkle Crags. The path has a strange habit of turning to and fro, so take care in hill fog conditions and navigate well. On clear days though, the views swing from vistas over the Coniston Fells, glimpses of the Langdale Pikes and Bowfell and to your right magnificent outlooks onto the Eastern Fells including Helvellyn and Fairfield. I won't deny that there are some boggy sections on this ridge, but you can easily circumnavigate them although think carefully and don't exaggerate path erosion. On a sunny summer's day you would do no better to take your time and find a quiet space to view the higher fells - make it a good one though, as in holidaytime it could well be busy.
After traversing Blea Rigg you do have the option of returning to Grasmere via the crest of Eagle Crag which brings you down onto the Easedale path just west of Belles Knot. This is a good way down if you need to get off the fells quickly or you want to make this outing a little shorter than the published itinerary.
The summit of High Raise is, unlike other fells hereabout, more akin to the tops of the eastern fells. The top is a broad grassy dome where the sheep love to roam and which presents the walker with a fine vantage point for the rest of the district. Although few might claim High Raise as one of their finest peaks, the summit affords fine panoramas and due to its central position at the hub of the Lake District, may claim to have one of the best all round views. What's good is you can reach it from the main radial valleys of Lakeland namely Langdale, Borrowdale and of course the main north-south axis through the district which includes Grasmere, although today's route does make it a more challenging and longer mountain day.
North-north-east to High White Stones, leads you on your return leg to Grasmere village. Joining the Coast-to-Coast footpath on Greenup Edge, your next objective is the traverse of the ridge from Calf Crag to Helm Crag. This fine little ridge, incorporates 3 Wainwright summits terminating in the ascent of Helm Crag. Depending on the weather conditions and your mettle, I'll leave it to you whether you climb the 'Howitzer' to top the true summit of Helm Crag. Wainwright gives Helm Crag lots of merit and famously on 'Helm Crag 8' leaves a small corner reserved for the announcement when he would one day climb the highest point. A glance at Jesty's updates will confirm AW never did!
As you descend Helm Crag for the Easedale Road near Kitty Crag you might be glad you didn't ascend this way. It is a steep descent, but if you do only have half a day to spend it's a short, sharp way up and down Helm Crag. Depending on your parking location in Grasmere it's a simple stroll down Easedale, although the tarmac may be less than welcome at this latter stage of the walk. Just for information, a tearoom connoisseur recommends Baldry's at the end of the walk with great tea - tealeaf tea, extra water, china cups - what more would you want to finish an excellent Lakeland day?
The Route Map and Path Profile: