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Braithwaite, Hobcarton, Grisedale Pike, Hospital Plantation, Cumbria.
[ 15.0 km] Thu 12 Jan 2012

NY 2272 2378
There was a strong westerly wind as I drove north along the M6 but by the time I’d reached Braithwaite it had died down. I left my car in the small car park by the access track to Force Crag Mine then walked along the road and over Whinlatter Pass to a forestry track just before Swinside Houses. My objective was to find a way through Hobcarton Plantation to the west side of Hobcarton End. I was using the Wainwright guide and it showed a way up the fell through a fire break in the pine forest. I reached the point where the gap should be but there was no sign of a way though.

nothing left of the fire-break

I had no alternative but to continue along the forestry track to get round to the next firebreak. At the next one there was still no sign of a gap but I noticed a faint path heading into the pines. I followed it and managed to get through the dense pines but this was definitely no longer a firebreak, even though it is clearly shown on the map. I got clear of the trees and on to open fell but there was no sign of the good sheep track that Wainwright mentions. I climbed up to the 500m contour and followed it along the fell side to the head of the valley. From a distance Hobcarton Crag looks like an impenetrable barrier but Wainwright’s guide mentions a grassy bank that climbs to the left.

looking down Hobcarton Gill

distant view of the Langdales from Grisedale Pike

Sure enough the grassy route up was there and I followed it up to the summit ridge just below Grisedale Pike. The clear weather had been forecast and was just beginning to arrive. Some sun started to reach the surrounding fells, but none where I was. There were plenty of people about now and Grisedale Pike summit had about a dozen people wandering around. I didn’t stop but headed down to the north while several people approached form Sleet How to the east. Just below the summit there is a choice of descent routes. Ridges to the NW and NE were before me. I’d been to the NE before but not NW to Hobcarton End. So that’s the route I took. There was no discernible track for the first part of the descent but as the ground levelled out a distinct path appeared and followed along the ridge passing a couple of small cairns on the way. On Hobcarton End I noticed a lone pine tree a short way to the west. It seemed so out of place and as I took a closer look I noticed it had been festooned with Christmas decorations. Many of the glass globes had been blown off and were strewn around on the ground.

Outerside and Causey Pike from Grisedale Pike

Christmas tree on Hobcarton End

Christmas decorations on Hobcarton End

Sunshine reaches Hospital Plantation

the track through Hospital Plantation

Skiddaw from above Briaithwaite

The path soon descended steeply to the NE and then in to the pine forest to emerge to join one of the many forestry tracks. I was now on the same track I’d followed last week so I stayed with it to the east, thought Hospital Plantation, to emerge on to open fell above Braithwaite. The sun was now out but it was still cold. It had been 2degC on the summit. A short descent took me straight back to the car.