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Grange-in-Borrowdale, High Spy, Minum Crag, Cumbria. (3 day backpack)
Wed 25 - Fri 27 Jan 2012

Sun 19 Feb 2012

Sun 19 Feb 2012

Mon 20 Feb 2012

Tue 21 Feb 2012

Wed 22 Feb 2012

I set off north up the M6 heading for Keswick. It was just after 7am and daylight was starting to appear under a clear sky. By the time I was passing Lancaster the sun way just coming up above the horizon. The distant peaks of Cumbria were clearly visible, covered with a dusting of snow. Being Sunday the motorway was almost deserted. Weekdays at this time would be very busy with masses of large vehicles. This morning there were hardly any. I wanted to get to Keswick as soon as possible to be able to park my car on Briar Rigg Road before it gets busy with weekend walkers.

The bus shelter at Grange Bridge

I needn't have worried, the place where I'd parked before was still clear. I parked up, changed in to my walking boots and set off with full back packing gear towards the Bus terminus. The road was still closed to traffic due to extensive works by the road to construct what looks like a river overflow barrier and strengthening the road. I was aiming to catch the first bus out from Keswick to Grange Bridge. It's the 79 bus and during the week it leaves at 9:25. Just 5mins before the bus pass start-time of 9:30, meaning that pass holders have to pay. Today is Sunday and passes are valid all day.

looking south towards Castle Crag

view towards Derwentwater


So for some inexplicable reason the timetable says the first bus leaves at 9:35. However, the timetable on the bus stop says 9:40. When the bus opened its doors it was soon almost filled up with walkers of all ages and didn't actually leave the stand until 9:45am. We reached Grange Bridge just before 10am and I set off through the village towards the path up to Swanesty How and Nitting Haws. Through Grange I passed the empty red phone box over the wall, presumably a feature someone thought would be a good idea. Where the path leaves the road a large party of walkers were just parking their cars and congregating with associated dogs and loud conversation before setting off.

Blencathra in the distance

I left them chatting, left the road and set off across Swanesty How. Instead of following the main path up towards Nitting Haws I headed straight up the fell side to explore a possible future camp pitch. I found one and sat for a while, taking in the scenery and watching the snaking line of walkers heading up the main path. I crossed the fell side to join the path and passed them all as they stopped for a long rest. The path goes diagonally up to Nitting Haws then becomes less distinct as it climbs to the main ridge below High Spy.

Breaking the ice to get at the water beneath

It was still clear and cold. Many areas were sheet ice so I had to make quite a few detours to avoid them. Id planned to camp somewhere near the summit of High Spy and the map shows a small tarn to the SE of the summit. However, being Sunday and nice weather there were many people about and the planned camp would be too busy. I looked around the more secluded Minum Crag area and found a small frozen tarn and a good spot to pitch the tent. The afternoon continued with good weather.

Derwentwater and Blencathra from Minum Crag

High Spy summit cairn and crowds

Impressive view from Minum Crag