LAKELAND 600 DAY 12 PHOTOGUIDE: HAWKSHEAD TO SATTERTHWAITE (via Grizedale Forest)
Occasionally, with the passage of time, some of the walks you’ve done tend to become a bit of a blur and one day out on the fell can merge into another. Not this one though – as a walk pure and simple it’s fine but not outstanding, but what sets it apart are the Grizedale Forest sculptures, nine or ten of which we pass on this most excellent outing. Some of these artworks are made of stone, one or two are of metal but most are wooden structures. Being an unreconstructed ignoramus, I can’t pretend to understand what many of them represent, but I do know that spotting them is fun and wondering what they’re all about keeps the brain ticking over as you plod on through the trees. Another great day out awaits us so, as the words of the old song have it, “Hey Boy, Hey Girl, Superstar DJs, Here we Go!”
From the southern end of the village centre, near the bus stops, take the gated path to the church and old grammar school.
The grammar school is well known not because it’s a quaint old building but because of its association with William Wordsworth, who spent his formative years here.
Along with those at Bowness and Crosthwaite (Keswick), Hawkshead church is one of the largest in the national park: it is – also along with Crosthwaite and Bowness – one of the oldest, and it appears to take its seniority very seriously, squatting atop its own little hill while it keeps an eye on everything going on around it. On a warm spring day, with the churchyard daffs and bluebells in full bloom, there may be a temptation to find a comfortable place to sit and abandon the idea of walking to Satterthwaite completely…but just think what you’d be missing.
Leave the churchyard at its south-west corner along a field path with a well kept line of stone flags marking the field boundary.
At a junction by a gate – great view back to the Fairfield Horseshoe, Red Screes etc – go left (signposted to Roger Ground) and follow the excellent path for a few minutes to come out onto a small road at the hamlet of Roger Ground. Turn right and, where the road bends sharp right, go left (signposted Howe Farm) along a tarmac drive that descends past houses. When you come to what looks like a dead end with a wide gate in front of you turn right through a smaller unwaymarked gate…
…onto a field path that runs down to Howe Farm. It’s all obvious when you’re there. Turn left down the farm access road and then, at its end, turn right for 250m or so along the road with Esthwaite Water just a field away to your left.
Before reaching the YHA look out for two parallel tracks going off to the right and take the second one of these (signposted Grizedale Forest).
Pass left of the left-most house (Elder Ghyll) and cross a stream. A very nice path in trees…
…soon leads to open country. Drop down to cross a footbridge…
…and follow the path left uphill (waymark). The path bends right to climb more steeply…
…and goes through a waymarked gate in a wall.
The path continues to rise and bends left at a fence corner in wetter ground (waymark post) to follow the fence/ hedge on your right. In less than 100m the path heads right through a gate/ stile and passes between buildings at High Barn.
We are now on a good, surfaced track that goes straight on at a signposted crossroads and brings us to a quite busy tarmac road. Turn right along the road and in just 60m go left and take the forest road through the Moor Top car park. Very soon come to a fork: go left (signposted Grizedale)…
…and follow the forest road which descends a little and bends left (ignore the road going off right here). Pass a gaily coloured spotted mushroom (possibly – see note below photo)…
…and then walk by a small pool in the trees on the left…
…to reach a multi-branched junction of track and path.
Ignore the forest road going off left downhill (not shown on the photo above) and the first waymarked track on the left: this is a cycle route and there is a No Pedestrians sign, so don’t take that one. Instead, take the second waymarked option – a nice, narrow footpath in trees that makes a welcome change from the forest road. This narrow, stony footpath descends to meet up with a forest road – actually the one we left at the last junction: we are now just south of where it says China Plantation on the OS map. Turn right onto the forest road (ignore the waymarked footpath going sharp right), cross Grizedale Beck and, where the forest road bends left to follow the beck downhill, leave it by bearing right uphill on a stony track. This climbs for about 400m and merges with another track coming in from the right. Now broader and climbing very gently the track/ road offers plenty of daylight but not much in the way of views.
After what may seem like a long time, and not far after passing a small pool by the side of the track, arrive at a junction. This is the major “Letter X” crossroads north-west of Park Plantation and south of spot height 253m on the OS map. Go left/ straight on (signposted to Parkamoor in 2013 but signpost broken in 2015), and then almost immediately left again.
In 100m a public bridleway goes off left: ignore this and stay with the main forest road as it bends away to the right (white waymark arrow). (This is the first time on today’s walk that we are not walking on a public right of way). In a couple of hundred metres we come to the first sculptures of the day – an artwork consisting of two tall poles standing a few paces apart and going by the name of Columns.
The photo above was taken in 2013: two years later there were small conifers growing around the columns and two years after that, quite large conifers so, by the time you go and do this walk, they may be hardly visible from the track. Still, they were created in the middle of forest all those years ago and would have to have been searched for – there’s a photo on the sculptor’s own website if you’re interested. Keep trundling on as the track crosses recently cleared ground with now excellent views across the Coniston Fells. Keep straight on where another forest road joins ours from the right and then, exactly where the road makes a sharp turn to the left, take a narrow footpath on the right that maintains our southerly direction. (NB if you stay on the forest road for a further 50m there is a bench with a super view of Grizedale – an ideal spot for a cuppa).
The narrow path starts to climb almost immediately, passing a forlorn-looking wooden animal, behind which is a cubic stone structure called, apparently, Pyxis.
The path steepens and soon comes to the summit of Carron Crag which, at 314m (1025ft), is the highest point in Grizedale Forest. Unlike many fells two or three times the height, Carron Crag can boast a fine rocky summit and one which, thanks to felling operations, provides the walker with a huge view. There is also a trig point.
Take the path leading away south from Carron Crag, pass left of the circular 17 Degrees South…
…and follow the path as it dives into a dark tunnel of closely packed conifers.
The path descends to reach a forest road – the one we left to climb Carron Crag. Turn right and in 50m come to a crossroads. Go left here (red-topped waymark post) onto a good, stony path that leads steadily downhill to reach a wider forest road just at the end-point of the difficult mountain bike route called The Black. Go straight across the forest road and, with the Visitor Centre etc now in sight, follow the path down past a metal sculpture called Torment of the Metals, which may or may not “explore the fine line between order and chaos”.
At the foot of the slope cross Grizedale Hall Bridge – one of the few bits of visible evidence that Grizedale Hall ever existed. The Hall was built in 1905 for the Brocklebank family who lived there for just over 30 years. It was then used as POW camp in the Second World war and was demolished in 1956-57. Walk past the gardens, car parks, tea rooms and all that kind of malarkey to come to the valley road and turn left past Grizedale Hall Lodge to reach a stony track climbing away to the right. Take this (signposted Esthwaite) and soon come to another art work, this one called Quarry Structure (because it is located in an old quarry).
The track climbs steadily and four or five minutes after the Quarry Structure we pass another creation, this time on our left: this is Larch Wave Seat, and it can, indeed, be sat upon.
There is a view to the right down Grizedale hereabouts…
…and, as the track enters trees again, the gradient eases. Just stay with the main track which eventually swings right to meet another forest track. Turn left (white and green waymarks), pass three small pools to the left of the track and arrive at a junction with a bench and a splendid sandstone fox with an inscrutable smile.
Follow the main forest road as it makes a big bend to the right and climbs gently. Tree-height permitting you should get views left towards Fairfield and in three or four minutes from The Fox, where the road bends right again, ignore a public bridleway going off left. Stay on the main forest road which soon passes Romeo, a fairly new sculpture that looks a bit like a totem pole. Romeo apparently was/ is (?) an urban fox who used to frequent the Shard in London.
The forest road winds about a bit, climbing gently to reach its highest point at about 230m. Now more or less level the road leads us past the entrance to a zip wire and, on the left, marked by a small wooden animal is a narrow path leading to the artwork known as Picket Fence/ Please Close the Gate. This has recently been refurbished and is worth the small detour to see it.
A few minutes further on is the stone artwork called Living Space…
…and just after that, also on the left, a waymark post indicates the start of the short path to Grizedale Tarn.
Although not especially remarkable, Grizedale Tarn is worth seeing just as a change from all the trees. The last time I was here there was a mystery object floating/ swimming(?) in the middle of the tarn – fish or frog possibly. Maybe Grizedale Tarn has its own minuscule version of the Loch Ness Monster. It also has ducks – and there is a bench to sit on.
From the water’s edge return to the bench and turn left to reach the forest road at a junction. Turn left (east) and, in a short while, pass another of those small wooden animals that mark the presence of a sculpture. My investigations led me along a narrow woodland path to the shore of another sheet of water (apparently nameless) and this rather amusingly engraved stone…
I have been unable so far to find any information about this and you may decide that it’s not worth deviating from the main route for: the un-named pool is nice though. Back on the forest road we soon arrive at a T-junction. Turn right onto another broad forest road. Ignore footpaths going off right and then left as the road soon crosses a stream and look out for a wooden sculpture in the trees on the left. This is called Seed.
Stay on the forest road for a further ten minutes or so, enjoying views across the secretive Dale Park valley to the left, and ahead to Morecambe Bay – both views dependent upon tree growth and foliage.
Look out for a lilac-topped waymark post and turn right onto a much narrower path.
In a short distance pass a wooden caterpillar…
…but better is to take the there and back diversion up the narrow path on the left behind the caterpillar to find one of Grizedale’s iconic sculptures – Taking a Wall for a Walk by Andy Goldsworthy (the same chap who designed the sheepfold at Tilberthwaite on Day 9).
Back at the caterpillar, turn left to continue gently uphill (west) on a sometimes very muddy path. Soon pass The Passage over to our right…
…and continue to climb until we reach an un-named summit just to the right of the path. This used to provide a fine view over to the Coniston fells but not any more – trees in the way. Descend now and, just before reaching a tall gate in a fence go left (sign with its back to us saying Bogle Crag Short Route and lilac-topped waymark post). Now on another muddy path, climb again and pass through a gap in an old wall to get a view ahead towards Morecambe Bay. Descend to a forest road at an abandoned quarry and go straight across still following lilac waymarks. Soon arrive at what looks like a T-junction: the left branch appears to peter out so turn R and follow the path into glorious mixed woodland.
Take care as the path wends its way between rocks and tree roots to pass above the astonishing sculpture of Mea Culpa.
The path swings sharp left to a junction with another path, where a right turn would take us to the Bogle Crag car park. Instead, turn left to get a close-up view of Mea Culpa…
…and continue in that direction (south) on a sometimes rough path through the trees with the valley road just down to your right. Things get easier underfoot as we meet up with a public bridleway exactly at a house called Old Breasty Haw. Follow the tarmac access road down past the entrance to Pepper House B&B and turn left along the road for Satterthwaite church and the Eagle’s Head pub.