Coledale Horseshoe

Coledale Horseshoe

One of the Lake District's most iconic and challenging horseshoe walks located in a surprisingly quieter corner of the busy Lake District National Park. Locals rave about the North Western Fells as they are often foolishly ignored by the masses due to their geographical location at the furthest corner from the popular south eastern approaches to the national park. This challenging walk takes in no less than eight Wainwright's so is ideal for those wishing to bag several Wainwright's in one walk. A large part of the walk is ridge walking and at high altitude so the views are awesome. Other than the easy scramble up Grisedale Pike at the start there is nothing too technical. Great walk!

Route Directions

  1. This walk starts at the small car park on the B5292 Whinlatter Pass road just north of Braithwaite Village. It is a small parking area that only fits around a dozen cars so get there early. The car park is at grid reference NY 227 237.
  2. Do not head south along the track out of the car park, instead head north to the top end of the car park area and you will find a path with steps that takes a steep ascent then switches back on itself to head south up to Kinn skirting the forest now to its right.
  3. Once up on the grassy ridge of Kinn the path leaves the forest and then flattens out for a kilometre before turning right and heading up hill again.
  4. The path tops out at the foot of the Sleet How ridge on the south eastern side of Grisedale Pike, from here you can now look down in to the wide valley of Grisedale Gill..
  5. Start ascending the exciting ridge of Sleet How. It will slowly get steeper and more rocky each step. The final scramble is great fun and gets you on to Grisedale Pike summit quicker than you would expect. There are great views from this summit over to the Irish Sea, the Solway Firth and of course the surrounding fells.
  6. From Grisedale Pike summit head in a south westerly direction down to a col then ascend slightly to the small and fairly insignificant rocky summit of Hobcarton Head.
  7. Head in a westerly direction from Hobcarton Head sticking to the path skirting above the impressive cliffs of Hobcarton Crag. The path heads right and leads yo up on to the airy summit of Hopegill Head. This is a fantastic summit with incredible ridges going off in all directions. The Hobcarton Crags below are equally impressive and worth a peek though take while doing so.
  8. From Hopegill Head take a south to south easterly direction and go over the round bump of Sand Hill. Keep heading down in a southerly direction to the obvious mountain pass of Coledale Hause where you will find a cross road of paths and some lovely fresh mountain stream water in the waterfalls of Liza Beck.
  9. From Coledale Hause head south following the stream up stream in to a wild valley wedged between Eel Crag and Crag Hill on the left and Grasmoor on the right. Follow the path through this wild valley for just under a kilometre until you eventually reach a crossroads with the major path between Grasmoor and Crag Hill.
  10. Head left in an easterly direction towards Crag Hill. After a fairly gradual ascent you will eventually reach the wide open plateau of Crag Hill with its lovely stone trig pillar. This is the highest point on the walk and the views are pretty incredible.
  11. From Crag Hill ascend The Scar in a south east then easterly direction to reach the summit of Sail. Then from Sail head in a north east then easterly direction along the wide grassy ridge to a col. From the col head in the same direction now and ascend to reach the summit of Scar Crags then continue from there along the ridge to reach the fantastic summits of Causey Pike.
  12. Causey Pike is a real Lake District icon. Looking at this summit on the end of its long ridge head on from Keswick it takes on a unique pyramid shape that makes it a favourite view of mountain lovers. The summit has a few knobbly rocky summits, the last one you reach is the highest.
  13. From Causey Pike head west back on yourself to descend the way you came up. Once you get down to the col on the ridge again head right descend north westerly then north towards a track and sheep shelter in the valley below.
  14. Once at the track in the bottom of the valley head cross over it and up the south western side of Outerside. An easy ascent will soon gain the summit. From the summit head in a north easterly direction on a faint path through heather and grass in the direction of Stile End. The path will cross the boggy Low Moss then reach the summit of Stile End.
  15. From Stile End head right or south easterly to reach the obvious path that then heads east to reach the summit of Barrow.
  16. From Barrow descend in a north easterly direction on a steady and lengthy descent of a wide grassy ridge with great views ahead over Braithwaite to Skiddaw and Derwentwater.
  17. The path will eventually head down to a farm. The path goes through the farm and is well sign posted. Head through the farm then out the other side along its service road through fields until it reaches a tarmac road.
  18. When you reach the tarmac road turn left and head in to Braithwaite Village. Once in the centre of the village head left along the B5292 road sign posted to the Whinlatter Pass and follow it bending up hill out of the village back to the car park. When in Braithwaite you could check out the Royal Oak for local ales and good food.

Maps for this walk

Paper maps for this walk

Click to buy OS Explorer OL4 Map Click to buy OS Landranger 89 Map Click to buy Harvey Super Walker Lakeland West Map Click to buy Harvey Lake District Mountain Map

GPS files for this walk

Route map of this walk

Photos & Trip Reports

Planning for a walk

Check the weather

The weather is a very important part of hill walking. Weather conditions and daylight hours will dictate where you walk, what gear you will need to carry, how far you walk, and may even decide if you go at all. The following links will help you gather information on weather conditions for areas of Britain...

Plan your journey

Planning your journey before you set off for your walk can save you vital hours on the day. You need to make sure you know the area surrounding your starting point as many factors can influence or change the place you park. Don't forget change for parking meters and fees.

Maintenance of your vehicle and being ready for breakdown situations when driving to remote areas is also vital. Pack a full spare petrol can in your boot, and take de-icing tools in winter, including a shovel. The Transport Direct website below is a great resource for anyone wanting to get to the start of their walk using public transport...

Pack the right gear

Carrying and wearing the right gear is essential for walkers to remain comfortable and safe while hill walking in Britain. However, the best gear in the world is of no use to anyone who doesn't know how to use and care for it. Knowing how to use your gear will give you a much more enjoyable experience. The following items are, in my opinion, the essential items to wear and carry for a hill walk in Britain. It would be foolish to head into the hills and mountains of Britain without these essential items and the knowledge of how to use them. Check out the gear section of this site for techniques and gear lists...

  • Footwear
  • Clothing
  • Rucksack
  • Warm Clothes
  • Waterproofs
  • Map & Compass
  • Emergency Kit
  • First Aid Kit
  • Food & Drink
  • Seasonal Gear

Know what to do in emergencies

It is good practise to tell someone where you are going, and when you expect to return. If you don't get in contact when you said you would on your return, and those you told can't get hold of you, at least they will be able to provide the search party with your general location.

Emergency equipment in the check list above means items such as a survival bag, whistle, and emergency food rations. This isn't anything special; any whistle will do, the orange emergency bags only costs a few pounds, and basic food rations can consist of a couple of chocolate bars. Carrying a head lamp is also an important component and a vital piece of kit used for signalling when you require rescuing.

You should always try and get out of a difficult or emergency situation using your own gear, knowledge and energy. If you cannot do this, then you should dial 999 and ask for the police. Use all the gear you have to keep any unwell or injured members of your party or yourself safe and warm, and use your signalling devices to let the rescuers know your whereabouts. To do this blow six good long blasts on your whistle, or flash six flashes of your torch. Stop for one minute. Repeat. Carry on with the whistle blasts until someone reaches you, and don't stop because you've heard a reply.

Never contact mountain rescue unless absolutely necessary, but on the other hand don't ever feel guilty for having to do so, especially if you are a prepared walker. The Mountain Rescue teams are full of fantastic like-minded souls who love nothing more than people who are prepared for being safe in the mountains.