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A Lake District Corpse Road – A Day of Inversions

February 9, 2015

In my last blog I mentioned that we had walked part of the Corpse Road or coffin trail running from Ambleside to Grasmere.

The Langdales from Elterwater (c) John Bainbridge 2015

The Langdales from Elterwater (c) John Bainbridge 2015

The Coffin Trail descending towards Grasmere, with Heron Pike and Seat Sandal in the distance (c) John Bainbridge 2015

The Coffin Trail descending towards Grasmere, with Heron Pike and Seat Sandal in the distance (c) John Bainbridge 2015

Yesterday, we walked a variation treading in the steps of the route taken by people bringing the dead for burial from Elterwater to Grasmere.

Given that Elterwater was a quarrying village I suspect there were a great many deaths, from accidents and lung disease.

Yesterday was yet another beautiful Lake District day, with some snow still clinging to the highest tops, the Langdale Pikes looking particularly dramatic.

We set out from Elterwater in bright and sunny weather, though inversions had concealed Windermere on our way over.

It was to be a day’s tramping with some beautiful inversions along the way.

This coffin trail is a very well delineated route as it climbs steeply up from the village to its own little bealach through a gap in the hills just below the dramatic Huntingstile Crag. The route then plunges down alongside the woods at Red Bank to Huntingstile House. The route then follows the present lane into Grasmere.

The Coffin Trail near to Red Bank (c) John Bainbridge 2015

The Coffin Trail near to Red Bank (c) John Bainbridge 2015

However, having been into Grasmere only last week, we took a steep and rocky public footpath uphill through Wyke Plantation and out on to the open hillside which still bore something resembling a snowline.

We trudged through the white stuff to the summit cairns on Dow Bank, which deserves better attention that it probably gets as a Lakeland summit. As a viewpoint it is superb.

A slight mist sank into the valleys, leaving us on an island summit with a cloud inversion over Elterwater, Rydal and Grasmere.

Summit Fever is often at its utmost when you find yourself in this seemingly god-like position.

It’s what you climb mountains for.

The Langdales beyond the clouds (c) John Bainbridge 2015

The Langdales beyond the clouds (c) John Bainbridge 2015

We took a traversing path off Dow Bank back to Huntingstile Crag, descending now into the inversion itself and returning to a very misty Elterwater.

What tough lives the working people of Elterwater must have lived in the days when they had to bury their dead at Grasmere. I wouldn’t want to have to carry a body over those steep and rocky paths.

The view from Dow Bank (c) John Bainbridge 2015

The view from Dow Bank (c) John Bainbridge 2015

Looking up from the village it was hard to imagine that the fell tops were still in bright sunshine.

Another view from Dow Bank (c) John Bainbridge

Another view from Dow Bank (c) John Bainbridge

Welcome refreshments then in the thoroughly recommended Maple Tree Cafe.

Summit Fever (c) John Bainbridge 2015

Summit Fever (c) John Bainbridge 2015

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One Comment leave one →
  1. February 10, 2015 7:43 am

    Some more great photos – I’m a bit disappointed that the snow couldn’t have waited a week for us though 😦
    Carol.

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