The Lake District Guide

Lake District Mountain and Fell Walks 14


Seat Sandal

Seat Sandal, rising above Dunmail Raise, is an enticing grassy hump with a flat summit and a plunging east face, just waiting to be climbed. A good path, much restored, climbs delightfully through Tongue Gill. It passes below a fine waterfall and continues towards Grisedale Hause. Then follows a short steep climb, left, up through a scree-filled gully, guided for most of the way by a tumbledown wall. This leads to a grassy stroll gently upwards to the summit cairn on the other side of the wall.

From the car park at the Travellers Rest, remain on the same side of the A591 and walk north to take, on the right,a signposted track. This was once part of a busy pack-horse route between Grasmere and Patterdale and today is part of the Coast to Coast walk. Look on the gable end of the second house, beyond the wall on the right, to see a plaque which tells walkers that St Bees Head lies 40 miles ‘right’ and Robin Hood’s Bay 140 miles ‘left’. Continue on up the lovely way with, on your right, Tongue Beck hidden in the depths of its deep, sheer-sided gill.

Pass through a gate to come to the side of Little Tongue Beck, which you wade or cross by stepping stones. Or you can take the footbridge, then walk ahead to go over another footbridge which spans Tongue Gill Beck, just before the two becks unite. Then walk up the slope to join a good wide path, where you bear left.

The way climbs easily, well above the beck, with Great Rigg towering overhead to the right, and, the gentler lower slopes of The Tongue to your left, with the shattered steep side of Seat Sandal beyond. Soon two fine waterfalls come into view and the path leads on up to pass above one fall and below the other.

Go on climbing above Hause Moss. Look right to see the glacial humps guarding what is believed to be the bed of an ancient tarn. Stroll on to the collapsed wall crossing the hawse.

Beyond the wall, bear left along a narrow path and then begin the ascent of a steep narrow gully, which is rough underfoot and scree-covered - it requires a pleasing bit of hands and knees scrambling. Once at the top you arrive once again beside the derelict wall. Stride on parallel with it, over the grassy dome of Seat Sandal. When you spot the summit cairn (735m/2415ft), cross the wall to stand by the mound of slate and enjoy the incredible view, especially of the fells to the west.

With your back to the wall, walk ahead through the circle of teeth-like outcrops of rock and on to a second cairn, with a small shelter. Then begin to arc left, south of west, steadily bearing more left but keeping to the right of a boulder field. Go on descending over the easy slopes, from where you can spot, far below, the A-road into Grasmere. Aim for the ‘pimple’-shaped hillock below and walk a good path, which suddenly appears. This takes you across the hillock and downhill along a small spur to come to a hurdle in the fell wall.

Do not cross the wall but turn left as directed by the sturdy waymarked post and follow a good terrace-like path through the bracken and high up above Little Tongue Gill. The path leads you to the waymarked wall corner. Pause here to look at the fine exposure of red haematite, and look up a small gill to see patches of the red earth, with spoil heaps close beside them. Follow the wall round right and descend through bracken to cross a small stream. Go along a right-slanting path opposite, up on to the spur of Little Tongue. This leads you steadily downhill to cross two becks, one of which you crossed earlier. Go ahead down the gated walled track to come to the A591. Turn left to return to the Travellers Rest.


Start / finish: The landlord of the Travellers Rest, grid ref 336089, welcomes walkers and asks that they let him know that they have parked in his car park.

Distance: 8 km / 5 miles

Time: 3 hours

Height gain: 646 m / 2100ft

Terrain: Good fell walking country. Take care scrambling up the gully after rain. Do not attempt in the mist.

Refreshments: Travellers Rest

Toilets: South side of Grasmere’s village green

Public transport: Stagecoach 554/555/556/557

Map: OS Outdoor Leisure 5 and 7.

Copyright Mary Welsh, © 2008. All rights reserved. No reproduction without permission.