Length 15 Kilometres | Highest point 841 metres
St Sunday Crag 841m, 2756ft, GR 369134
Birks 622m, 2040ft, GR 380144
St Sunday Crag dominates the head of Ullswater. Its summit lies on the long ridge which strikes NE from Fairfield and its craggy northern face forms the south side of Grisedale. From its lofty height, fine views are available over Ullswater.
This walk takes you up the full length of Grisedale and returns over St Sunday Crag and its outlier Birks. The starting point is in Patterdale (GR 398158) where parking is available opposite the Patterdale Hotel. Follow the track from the centre of the village westwards around the fellside to Grisedale. This track eventually reaches the Grisedale valley road which is followed. Nethermost Pike is at the head of the valley with Helvellyn on the right. The road gives easy walking along the valley floor as far as Elmhow.
Towering above, the slope of St Sunday Crag rises 600m to the summit and dominates its side of the valley from here onwards. A track now continues into the upper reaches of the valley. On the right stands Eagle Crag with signs of man’s endeavours around its base. The track pleasantly ascends the left side of the valley before crossing the beck to gain Ruthwaite Lodge. This was originally used as a smithy and bothy for miners but is now a climbing hut. Continue up the valley to Grisedale Tarn nesting between the slopes of Dollywagon Pike and Fairfield. Our route avoids a direct ascent of these slopes by aiming for the col of Deepdale Hause between Fairfield and St Sunday Crag. Cross the outflow of the tarn and gain a track which ascends to this col; here the upper reaches of the valley of Deepdale can be seen – a relatively unfrequented place deserving attention on another day. The ascent of the ridge to St Sunday Crag’s summit is straightforward (10km, 725m, 4hr).
Continue along the ridge dropping quickly to a col. The path bears left here but continue upwards along the ridge to the summit of Birks. The fell drops away and the view over Ullswater is worth contemplating. Follow a path downwards through craggy Thornhow End to rejoin the approach path from Patterdale (15km, 5hr 30min).