Walking: Raise

Archive: July 2012, by Mary Welsh

The exterior of The Thornhill Arms, located in Yorkshire's Calverley

START/FINISH: The car park at Stanah Village Hall (GR: 317189) where there is an honesty box. The fine, white-painted building stands at the foot of Sticks Pass

MAP: OS Explorer OL5, English Lakes, northeastern area

DISTANCE: 6.5 miles /10.5 km

TIME: 4-5 hours

HEIGHT GAIN: 2,400 ft/730 m

TERRAIN: This is a challenging walk with some easy paths and some very tough paths, both up and down. Wide sweeps of pathless grass

REFRESHMENTS AND FACILITIES: Grasmere and Ambleside. Toilets at Legburthwaite car park

Raise stands high on Helvellyn’s main spine and lies between Ullswater and Thirlmere, both of which can be seen in the distance on this walk. It is rather overshadowed by all the other magnificent mountains around and yet it is a delight as it stands alone and proud. Its viewpoint makes it very special. The route starts at the western end of Sticks Gill; the top of the pass at 2445 feet / 745 m makes it the highest pass in the Lake District.



1 Start up Sticks Pass, ignoring a right turn. Where the narrow road turns sharp left, take the signed stile over the wall ahead and continue up the slope. Follow the indistinct path as it bears right to a gate in the top right corner. Stand on the small bridge over the aqueduct, which takes water from the fellside becks and diverts it into Thirlmere. Continue on the path to cross the footbridge over the spectacular waterfalls that tumble down tree-clad Stanah Gill.

Head on a short way to a signpost and start your climb, left, uphill, with the gill away to your left. The way is rocky and sometimes requires the use of hands but the route is never in doubt. Once it was the only route between the communities on the shores of Ullswater and Stanah. Eventually you reach a fine sheep pen and high open ground. Perhaps this is the place to collapse after all your efforts and take a break.


A series of small waterfalls tumble down Stanah Gill

2 Follow the path as it sweeps across a flatter area and then the climbing begins again, easier this time, onto the ridge. Carry on the distinct way, with fine views across the deep trench through which flows Sticks Gill, its fluted sides catching the sunlight. And then ahead you can see other walkers negotiating the Pass. Approach with care as the way gets lost among several pools of water. Beyond is the cross of tracks – the top of the Pass at last. The track to your left climbs onto Stybarrow Dodd, the one going ahead is the continuation of the Pass down to Glenridding. Your route to Raise turns right and it is a pleasure to walk directly ahead to its rocky summit in a sea of grass.

3 After less than half a mile (1 km) you reach the foot of the rocky summit. The track leads you up the short well-trodden way through lava-like rocks to the sturdy cairn (2,889 feet / 883 m). Here the view is superb so don’t forget your camera. Continue on and descend gently a wide area bereft of plant life but with several cairns to guide you to the foot of the wide way up to Whiteside Bank (2,796 feet / 863 m). This is another pleasing climb and the view beyond is very fine of Lower Man, Swirral Edge, Helvellyn and Striding Edge.

A view north towards Skiddaw from Raise

4 Descend steadily the ongoing track towards the ‘wall’ of Lower Man and then, at about the 850m contour line bear off right. Here you have a choice, either to arc round below Whiteside Bank to pick up a stony cairned path over White Side, or to descend lower before curving round its slopes and going on for about a mile (1.5 km) until you can pick up the path coming down from White Side. Though there is no path or cairn on the lower route, the turf is springy to walk.

5 Follow the path, distinct but wet in places, towards prominent Brown Crag (1983 feet / 610 m) and its pillar. A narrow path goes off left to its cairn and then it is better to return to the main path and continue winding left and down, below the very rocky steep side of the Crag. The stony path drops steadily and eventually reaches a grassy junction of paths. Though you feel that you want to head right, don’t. Follow the path left and then on down to a grassy track. From here you can see the fell wall below and need to take an indistinct narrow path that descends steeply to its side. Turn right and walk on.

6 Pause as you cross the bridge over Fisherplace Gill to look up at the elegant waterfalls. Beyond, follow the track over the low fell slopes to come beside the fell wall once more to reach the signpost almost at the start of your walk. Cross the bridge over Stanah Gill and then the aqueduct. Go though the gate, strike right to the far lower corner and climb the ladderstile to the narrow road. Descend to your parking area on the left.

Walking can be strenuous, and it is up to you to approach it with caution and if you are inexperienced to do so under appropriate supervision. You should also carry appropriate clothing, equipment and maps, and wear suitable footwear. The details given here were believed to be correct at the time of going to press but neither the author nor Country Publications Ltd can accept responsibility for inaccuracies.


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