2 Hopegill Head

This round of high, craggy sum­mits is a fine way to ex­plore Lake­land’s forested north-west, reck­ons Dan Aspel.

Trail (UK) - - Contents -

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.

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