All the Fells: Grey Crag


Grey Crag – The Far Eastern Fells 2,093′ (109)

Date: 9 May 1989

From: Sadgill

Way out east, the farthest east you can get and still be in Lakeland, and that’s not just Wainwright’s Lakeland, because it really is as far as you can get from the centre and still know where you are, Grey Crag stands on the north-eastern flank of hidden, shy, quiet Longsleddale, the last outpost before that uncertain line where the Lake District fells turn slowly and unnoticeably into northern hill country. Grey Crag used to absolutely fascinate me in the days when I would obsessively read the Wainwrights, dreaming of valleys and fells and even a whole lake I never imagined I would get to see and, if confined to tagging along with my family, would never have done so. What drew my imagination were the long lines of ascent from outside, names that appeared nowhere else, like Huck’s Bridge and the Jungle Cafe, that didn’t feel like Lakeland, quiet valleys and country where it seemed unimaginable that another walker might be seen. I was only ever going to get there on my own: the north-east of the Lakes was too far for us to go, except once, and it immediately proved to be an anathema to my mother, but the south-east… there were some Pales outside which things were unthinkable. Gray Crag is not a particularly high fell, nor are its summit and flanks particularly memorable, but it was there and I wanted to see it for myself: I always wanted to see it for myself. From the bridge by Sadgill where limited parking was available and there was still no chance of being squeezed out, the route from the gate into the fields to the stile in the upper wall was visible as much as it was in the Far Eastern Fells. Above, and out of sight, I turned to the right, rounded the upper ridge and reached the top. Farthest East. Not much to see, just flat, even ridges stretching out to a middle-distance that was all that was visible anyway. Nor was there much to see outside Longsleddale when I looked back in, but on the other side of the valley, below Shipman Knotts – which I’d ascended on my only other visit to the valley – there was a wonderfully attractive zigzag path, winding its way upwards above the farm. It wasn’t in Wainwright, I couldn’t see where it started and finished, above and below, but I immediately wanted to climb it. Another never-did.

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