Seat Sandal and Grisedale Tarn

Seat Sandal and Grisedale Tarn, seen from Deepdale Hause

Height: 2415 feet above sea level.

Volume: Book 1 (The Eastern Fells)

Date climbed: First visit: 19th August 2010 (walk 23). Second visit: 13th July 2016 (walk 113).

Bagged as number: First round: 72 out of 330. [ << Heron Pike (71)   (73) St Sunday Crag >> ]

View from the ascent

Dramatic clouds over Morecambe Bay, looking south from the ascent. Seat Sandal is the fell on the left. Picture taken on walk 47, December 2011.

Second round: 51 of 330. [ << Dollywaggon Pike (50)  (52) Black Fell >> ]

Route of ascent and descent: First visit: Ascended from Dunmail Raise by way of Raise Beck. Descended to Grisedale Tarn and went on to St Sunday Crag.

Second visit: Came up from Grisedale Tarn. Descended by the south ridge to Grasmere.

What Mr Wainwright says (from page 2 of his chapter): “Prominent in the Grasmere landscape is the lofty outline of Seat Sandal, soaring gracefully from Dunmail Raise to the flat-topped summit and then suddenly falling away in a steep plunge eastwards. This view reveals its character well: the western flanks are smooth curves of grass and bracken, but the eastern face is a rough slope of shattered cliff and tumbled rock and loose scree… Seat Sandal is a simple straightforward fell, uninteresting except as a viewpoint, with no dramatic effects, no hidden surprises.”

What I say: Seat Sandal sits between the Helvellyn and Fairfield ranges, but doesn’t feel particularly like it belongs to either one. As Wainwright says, it’s not an exciting fell, but it does have a good view, feeling right in the centre of things.

Seat Sandal summit

Seat Sandal summit cairn, looking west

This central status is more than just a metaphor. Seat Sandal’s main claim to fame is not apparent on the ground (unless you know your geography well) but Wainwright makes this observation on page 1 of his chapter (and see also p. 261 of Hutchby’s Wainwright Companion): that on Seat Sandal the three main drainage basins of the District all converge, and the fell’s water reaches the sea at more widely diverging points than any other fell in Lakeland:

  • Water that ends up in Grisedale Tarn flows east into Ullswater, the Eden valley and then into the Solway Firth;
  • South, Tongue Gill flows into Grasmere and on to Morecambe Bay;
  • North, Raise Beck goes into Thirlmere, the Derwent and the sea at Workington.
Looking north to Seat Sandal

Seat Sandal in the snow, pictured on walk 105

So arguably Seat Sandal, unassuming though it is, is the most pivotal watershed in the whole District. Even if it did only secure this distinction after engineers re-routed Raise Beck in the 19th century.

Only one more thing to note, which is that descent to Grisedale Hause is steep, slippery and unpleasant; far better off is to go down via the south ridge, which has superb views of the Vale of Grasmere dead ahead. Climbing up the Grisedale Hause path is not as bad, and is the one rugged part of the fell, so I’d go that way.

[ << Seat Robert    Seatallan >> ]

One Response to “Seat Sandal”

  1. […] the heart of the Lake District, from Patterdale to Grasmere via the summits of Dollywaggon Pike and Seat Sandal. Dollywaggon Pike was my main target as it was five years ago that I went up its neighbour […]

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