Silver How from Grasmere round

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Cumbria is a large county in North West England and contains the Lake District and Lake District National Park. It is bounded to the north by the Scottish Borders, Dumfries and Galloway, to the west by the Irish Sea, to the south by Lancashire, to the south east by North Yorkshire, and to the east by County Durham and Northumberland. Cumbria is very mountainous containing every peak in England over 3,000ft above sea level with Scafell Pike being England’s highest mountain at 978 m (3,209ft). Cumbria is also one of England’s most outstanding areas of natural beauty attracting mountain climbers, hikers and walkers, cyclists, runners and tourists and holds a source of inspiration for artists, writers and musicians. Cumbria consists of six districts Eden, Carlisle, Allerdale, Copeland, South Lakeland and Barrow-in-Furness.

The Lake District is an area with stunning scenery located within in the County of Cumbria. Commonly known as The Lakes or Lakeland it was granted National Park status on 9th May 1951 less than a month after the first UK designated National Park, The Peak District.  It is the largest of thirteen National Parks in England and Wales and the largest in the UK after the Cairngorms. The Lake District National Park itself covers an area of 885 square miles and stretches 30 miles from Ravenglass in the west to Shap in the east and 35 miles from Caldbeck in the north to Lindale in the south. Crammed with so much natural beauty the Lakes attract visitors, tourists and holiday makers from all over the world. As the name suggests there are many lakes each with their own uniqueness, amenities and activities such as lakeside walks, sailing, waterskiing, boat trips and ferries. All of the lakes except Bassenthwaite Lake are named by water, tarn or mere and are surrounded by stunning scenery and magnificent fells. There are some wonderful towns to explore such as Keswick, Windermere, Ambleside, Kendal, Hawkshead, Grasmere and Cockermouth all with a splendid mixture of shops, cafes, pubs, bars and restaurants. There are also many museums, theatres, historic homes, gardens and many easy walks for the not so energetic visitor wishing not to climb the fells. William Wordsworth the famous British poet was born in Cockermouth and later lived in Grasmere where he wrote some of his best works before moving to Rydal Mount near Ambleside for his last 37 years. Both places are open to visitors and so is Brantwood home to John Ruskin until his death. Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Robert Southey and Thomas de Quincey all followed Wordsworth to the Lake District. Arthur Ransome, author of Swallows and Amazons, also grew to love the lakes and settled in the Winster Valley near Windermere. The painters Thomas Gainsborough, JMW Turner and John Constable were early visitors to the lakes but it was John Ruskin who settled here at Brantwood on the shore of Coniston Water. Farming and especially sheep farming has been historically and still is the main industry of the Lake District. The tough Herdwick breed with their stocky build and distinctive grey coat are especially hardy for the Lakeland fells and its weather. Sheep farming has probably been here since Viking times and is an important factor both to the economy of the lakes as well as in preserving the stunning landscape which attracts visitors and hence income to the region. Walking is a big attraction in the Lake District whether strolling around the low lying lakes or climbing up into the mountainous fells whichever is undertaken the scenery is magnificent. Alfred Wainwright’s famous hand written book, The Pictorial Guide to the Lake District, published in 1955 is a collection of seven books each illustrated with his unique style and charm of the 214 fells inspiring many visitors and tourists from all over the world.

Grasmere village is a very pretty and popular tourist destination. It is situated on the River Rothay which flows into Grasmere Lake from where the village takes its name. Surrounded by hills the village is overlooked from the north-west by the rocky hill of Helm Crag also known as “The Lion and the Lamb” or the “Old Lady at the Piano”. These names are derived from the shape of rock formations on its summit depending on which side you view it from. To the east it is overlooked by Heron Pike and Great Rigg on the western ridge of the Fairfield horseshoe. To the south-east by Loughrigg Fell and to the west the long ridge comes down from High Raise. There are a number of walks that start from Grasmere and the village is also on the route of Alfred Wainwright’s Coast to Coast Walk. Grasmere is home to Sarah Nelson’s Gingerbread and the famous Grasmere Gingerbread Shop can be found at Church Cottage tucked away at the corner of St Oswald’s churchyard. Church Cottage which was built in 1630 was originally the village school. William Wordsworth who described the village as “the loveliest spot that man hath ever found” lived in Grasmere for fourteen years. Dove Cottage located on the main road just outside the village was once an inn and became the home of the famous poet William Wordsworth for 8 years in 1799. He married Mary in 1802 and three of his five children were born there. Dove Cottage, the Wordsworth Museum next door and Dove Cottage Garden, which has been restore to the half wild state that William and his sister Dorothy created, are all open to the public.  Wordsworth moved to Allan Bank in Grasmere village to accommodate his growing family and finally in 1813 to Rydal Mount in Rydal until his death in 1850. He is buried in St Oswald’s Parish Churchyard alongside his wife Mary, daughter Dora and other family members. Next to the church is a Daffodil Garden in memory of the poet. Grasmere Lake, one of the Lake District’s smaller lakes, is both fed and drained by the River Rothay which rises close to Rough Crag above Dunmail Raise and flows through the village of Grasmere before entering the lake and then exits downstream into Rydal Water then continues south to merge with the River Brathay.  The rivers then continue into the northern end of Windermere. The lake containing a single island known simply as The Island is leased by the Lowther Estate to the National Trust.

Silver How which stands over the village of Grasmere is 395m (1,296ft) high and forms part of the Blea Rigg ridge. The ridge gains height westward to Blea Rigg over a series of tops which includes Lang How, Swinescar Pike, Little Castle How and Great Castle How. South and then east of the summit the ridge narrows and drops to the wooded depression of Red Bank before rising to its end on Loughrigg. Above Grasmere the eastern slopes of Silver How seen from Grasmere Lake are steep and wooded up to the intake wall about half way up then it becomes craggy to the summit making it popular with walkers and photographers. There are also crags on the southern side overlooking Chapel Stile in Great Langdale. Although there are many paths and rounded tops on the summit which can make navigation confusing the true summit is marked by a large tumbled cairn and sits directly above Grasmere providing wonderful all round views especially of the Grasmere valley backed by the Fairfield Horseshoe. The Langdale Pikes and the Coniston Fells can also be seen. Ascents to Silver How can be made from Grasmere providing the best scenery throughout, Chapel Stile is the shortest route, Elterwater starts in more dreary surroundings, and High Close. Silver How can be combined with Blea Rigg to give a longer walk. Silver How’s parent peak is Harrison Stickle.

The walk

At the end of the lay-by on the A591 we cross over the road and go through the gate and follow the path into Grasmere coming out at the church. We turn right and follow the road through the village to the sharp right hand bend where we head forward onto the no-through road at the side of Miller Howe Cafe. We continue forward along the tarmac road to cross a cattle grid into Allan Bank. When we come to the house on our left we turn right. We head forward continuing round a sharp left hand bend until we come to some farm buildings.  We turn left, sign posted Silver How, to go through a gate into a field. We head forward uphill following the wall on the left. At the end of the field we head into the trees and the path becomes a rough stone path. When we come out into the open we go through a gate and keep heading forward uphill on the clear path next to the wall you can see in front of you. We soon cross over a little stream and continue uphill on the other side.  When the path splits we bear left and keep following the path though the mounds following the little cairns until we reach the large cairn on the summit of Silver How. We continue in the same direction, ignoring a little path going off to the right, until we come to a cairn, we can see a quarry and Elterwater in the distance.  We turn left here and make our way downhill towards the wall at the bottom. Once we reach the wall we turn left keeping the wall on our right. After passing through a second gate we turn right and follow the path which becomes a track to the road. We turn left and follow the road back into Grasmere then retrace our steps back to the car park.


This is a moderate walk on grass, gravel and loose stone tracks / paths and some minor tarmac road. There are some steep inclines and declines.

Elevation: approx lowest point 65.30m (214.24ft) approx highest point 393.80m (1292ft) approx ascent 343.60m (1127.30ft)

Distance and Start Point

Approx 4 miles allow 2 to 3 hours using OS Explorer Map OL7, The English Lakes, South-eastern area, Windermere, Kendal and Silverdale. This walk is done anti-clockwise.

Start point: lay-by on the A591.


Grasmere is located just off the A591 in the Lake District, Cumbria.

Directions and Parking

From the A66 at Threlkeld take the B5322 on the left. At the t-junction at Legburthwaite turn left onto the A591 which runs by the side of Thirlmere. At the roundabout turn right into Grasmere. The pay and display car park is just on the right. The free parking lay-by is on the left before the roundabout.

Parking: There are three Pay and Display car parks in Grasmere and limited free road side parking.  There is also free lay-by parking on the main A591.

Toilets and Refreshments

There are public toilets in the pay and display car park on the right just before the village and also in the village near the police station. For refreshments in Grasmere there are three pubs the Red Lion, the Wordsworth Hotel and Spar and the Grasmere Hotel plus there are many cafes and other places to eat and drink. There are also plenty of shops to browse round. There are three more pubs nearby on the A591 the Travellers Rest, the Swan Inn and the Daffodil Hotel and Spar. The nearest town is Ambleside.

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