2 Hopegill Head
This round of high, craggy summits is a fine way to explore Lakeland’s forested north-west, reckons Dan Aspel.
Whinlatter Forest Park can be an easy place to overlook as a hillwalker. After all, it’s perhaps most famous for its mountain bike tracks and its local branch of a popular tree climbing amusement park. But head south of the rather glorious Whinlatter Pass and beyond the plantation tracks you’ll find an appealingly diverse way to explore some of the most pleasing summits in the Lake District’s north-west.
These come in the form of Grisedale Pike, Crag Hill and Hopegill Head – with the bonus tops of Sand Hill and Ladyside Pike (and perhaps even Grasmoor too, if you’re feeling ambitious) thrown in to keep you entertained along the way. That main trio make for a choice 14km-or-so of walking. Grisedale Pike’s summit is dramatically positioned above the forests, overlooks Keswick and Skiddaw, and feels well-earned after the slog up its north-east ridge. The prow of Crag Hill opens up fresh views across the rippling sea of the Central and Western Fells. And, finally, sharply sculpted Hopegill Head adds drama and airiness to the walk’s latter stages.
Beginning and ending within the folds of an evergreen treeline adds a soothing and perhaps even slightly primal flavour to the experience - something even the un-wild reality of a managed plantation fails to dispel.
The surprisingly smooth summit of Crag Hill, giving little indication of its more sheer aspects. The easterly track from Hopegill Head. The edge of the NorthWestern Fells (middle distance) dip towards Keswick.