Coniston to Black Crag via Yewdale and Tarn Hows

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Last Wednesday promised to be a fine day, so we drove from our cottage in Cartmel over to Coniston. A couple of miles from the village I had to stop to snap a photo of the Lake.

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We parked up on the edge of Coniston, donned our boots and set off on the path up Yewdale.

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There’s the Old Man – no cloud on top today!

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A good view of Holme Fell ahead

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Carrying on up the valley through pleasant woodland

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Looking across the valley to Wetherlam and Tilberthwaite

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Helvelyn and Fairfield in the distance

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Looking back towards Wetherlam

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and there’s the Langdale Pikes appearing over the top of Holme Fell

After an hour or so we reached Tarn Hows which was created in the 19th Century by James Garth Marshall, at that time the owner of the Monk Coniston estate, from a number of smaller tarns. Today it’s a popular tourist spot with a car park that makes the relatively easy walk around the tarn accessible, and, especially as it was a fine day during the school holidays, so there were quite a few other people around

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We stopped for a bite to eat before setting off along the path that skirts the western shore of the tarn.

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At the top end of the lake we made the decision to carry on and climb up onto Black Fell.

After walking up hill through scrub land and through woodland

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Black Crag, the summit of the modest fell, came into view

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We climbed to the summit which is reputably one of the best viewpoints in the Lake District. And on a day like last Wednesday I would definitely not argue with that!

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The views in every direction were astounding. I snapped a panorama with my phone. You’ll have to click on the photos to get an idea of what we could see, even if a photograph really can’t do the views justice.

Looking towards the Coniston Fells, the Langdales, Helvelyn and the Fairfield Horseshoe

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and towards the Eastern Fells, and four lakes (Windermere, Esthwaite Water, Coniston Water and Tarn Hows)

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No question it had been worth the effort to walk up to here.

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We stopped for a while, soaking it all in before turning round and retracing our steps back down to Coniston, taking the path along the eastern side of Tarn Hows this time

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and then back down Yewdale

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Getting close to Coniston

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Reaching the village we decided to grab a meal before driving back to Cartmel and, although it was busy (school holidays, remember) we managed to bag a table in the Yewdale Inn. A bit of a wait for our food, but worth it.

We were lucky to have arrived just before rush hour!

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What a great day!

A walk around Cartmel

Our first full day staying in Cartmel, we decided to get out for a walk. Our cottage was at the foot of the limestone ridge of Hampsfell, so we set out on the path which ran right past our front door and which would take us across the fields and up the hill.

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As we climbed, looking back, we could see the group of buildings where we were staying

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It didn’t take too long before we started to approach the top of the ridge which is covered by an expanse of limestone pavement

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It was windy on top of the ridge and given the ways the trees had grown, it clearly usually is!

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Walking along the ridge Hampsfell Hospice came into view

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The building of the folly was commissioned by the pastor of Cartmel “for the shelter and entertainment of travellers” in 1846.

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It commands 360 degree views over to the high Lakeland fells to the north and Morecambe Bay to the south, particularly from the roof, which can be accessed by climbing some rather precarious stone steps.

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We stopped for a while, sheltering from the wind while we had a bite to eat and taking in the views. Long range visibility wasn’t too good but we could still make out the fells in the distance.

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and over the Bay – although the tide was out revealing the extensive sands and mudflats

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Looking down to Cartmel

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After our break we set off again walking along the ridge. Passing other walkers, as is usual, we exchanged greetings with other walkers and a couple of fell runners. Then I heard a shout a short distance away. Someone wanted to speak to us so we waited and were joined by an elderly lady. She asked where we were heading and as we were taking the same path she asked whether we minded if she joined us and if we might help her to climb a difficult stile on the descent. Of course we agreed. As we walked we chatted and it transpired that this sprightly lady was 86 years old. She had always been a keen walker and was still getting out and about, today having walked up from Kents Bank, a good few miles away. When we reached the stile she got over without any assistance but we were there to provide reassurance and help to arrest a fall in case she slipped.

Here she is on the left of the photo

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We continued down hill with her, enjoying her company, chatting and exchanging experiences. Reaching the bottom of the hill we continued in the direction of Cartmel and parted company when we reached a cemetery where her husband, who had died only 2 years before, was buried. She was going to visit his grave. We said our goodbyes and continued on. A chance encounter on the hills which had been a rather lovely experience. I hope I’m as efit and energetic as this lovely lady and able to get out on the fells when I’m 86 (no! I’ve a few more years to go!)

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Another mile or so along a quiet road and we reached Cartmel in the early afternoon and we decided it was a good time to stop and have a brew! Refreshed, we decided to continue our walk, heading across the racecourse and along the tracks through the woods and fields towards another hill, Howbarrow to the west of the small town.

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After a stiff climb we reached the summit of Howbarrow

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It’s a modest hill, only 558 feet high, but we were again greeted by extensive views over the Bay (the tide now in) and over to the Fells

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Looking over the Leven estuary

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My photos across the bay didn’t come out so good as the light had turned flat and grey and we were looking into the sun.

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We had several options to return to Cartmel, all a little convoluted, which tested my rusty map reading skills. Our route took us through pleasant countryside of green fields and woodland

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and small groups of farms and other buildings

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Eventually returning to, and crossing, the racecourse

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(not sure I’d have been able to clear the fences!)

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We returned to the village to pick up a few supplies from the small, but well stocked, convenience store, before heading back to our accommodation.

A good “figure of 8” walk, about 10 miles in length but not too taxing.

A walk around the “little Lake District”

The weather over the last few weeks has been up and down – some days warm and sunny and then a return to winter. Last Friday came at the end of an unseasonably warm week. I was able to finish up work early and get out for a walk so I decided to drive the few miles over to Rivington and go for a wander around the reservoirs.

With its string of reservoirs and moorland hills, when I was young my mother would refer to Rivington as the “Little Lake District” and although the lakes are man-made and not as large as those in Cumbria, and the hills aren’t as high and rugged, it’s a fair point.

I parked up on the car park near Rivington High School and set off for a walk that would take me around the chain of reservoirs that stretch from Horwich over to the bottom of Healey Nab near Chorley, The route wasn’t as strenuous as my walk up on St Sunday Crag the week before, but it had plenty of interest.

I headed over to the replica of Liverpool Castle

A good view over to Rivington Pike

Following the path along the reservoir

with a short diversion to have a look at the Great Hall Barn

I crossed over the dam that divides the Lower and Upper Rivington reservoirs

and then took the path along the west shore of the lake. Unlike when I was here on a misty morning a few weeks ago, there was a good view over to Rivington Pike and Winter Hill

Carrying on along the quiet country lane

At the end of the Upper Rivington reservoir I crossed the road over the dam and took the path along the west shore of Anglezarke reservoir

The route veered away from the lakeside for a while, but not too far.

Looking over to Anglezarke Moor and Great Hill

Diverting from the reservoir for a while I took the path up towards Healey Nab, passing an old, flooded quarry

up through the woods

When I was a teenager we lived in at house at the bottom of the hill, on the other side, and this was my stomping ground. The trees were young then, but some 40 odd years later they’ve grown to the extent that they block the view over the town.

Heading back down towards Anglezarke, this used to be a favourite view in my youth (the photo doesn’t do it justice)

I passed the flooded quarry we knew as Bluewaters

and then made my way back to the shore of Anglezarke reservoir

I crossed over the dam to the east shore, walkng along a short stretch of road past Waterman’s cottage

and then took the path through the fields along the eastern shore

Part way along I cut across the path past High Bullogh reservoir (the smallest in the string of the man-made lakes it was the first to be created)

and climbed the hill emerging on the road opposite High Bullough farm

After a short walk along the road I reached Jepson’s Gate

and took the path through the fields and on to the moors

I passed the monument to the aircrew that died when a Halifax bomber crashed on the moors near here during WWII

and then descended down the hill to Lead Mine Clough

I followed the path down the valley to Allance Bridge, until I reached Yarrow reservoir. I then took the path through the fields on the the east side of the reservoir and then along the small river

eventually emerging at Rivington village. A small group of buildings, it’s a hamlet, really – but has two churches!

I cut across through Lever Park up to Rivington Hall Barn

I walked round the back of the barn and took the path through the woods

and after about another mile was back at the car park.

A good walk on a beautiful afternoon! And after a 20 minute drive I was back home. Time for a brew!

St Sunday on Saturday

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Still determined to make some progress on my 1000 miles challenge target, last Saturday I headed up to the Lake District of a walk up on the fells. I decided to start out from the small village of Patterdale, which is close to Ullswater, and walk a route along Grisedale, climb up from Griseadale Tarn up onto the hill known as St Sunday Crag and then follow the ridge over to the rounded grass hill of Birks and then back down to my starting point. Saint Sunday is a local name for Saint Dominic, and why the hill is named in his honour, nobody really knows!

I set off early and drove up the M6, past Kendal and over the Kirkstone pass to Patterdale. There’s very limited street parking but the Patterdale Hotel has a reasnably sized car park for which they charge £4-50 for a day’s parking. Browse the walking blogs and bulletin boards and you’ll find plenty of people moaning about the charge. Personally I think it’s quite reasonable – in Manchester that wouldn’t get you two hours in the city centre!

A short walk along the (not so major) main road, past the pleasant St Patrick’s church, with daffs blooming in the churchyard.

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Just after the church I turned down the lane that would take me down Grisedale

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Views of the Helvellyn range, to the north of the valley, soon opened up. Snow was clearly visible on the tops.

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I carried on up the valley, initially on a tarmaced lane but eventually this ran out and I was on a rougher track

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heading into wilder, more remote countryside

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looking back down the valley

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The crags of Dollywagon Pike ahead. The building underneath the crags is Ruthwaite Lodge, a climbing hut owned by the Outward Bound Trust

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Carrying on up the valley it wasn’t long before Ireached Grisedale Tarn, which I’d passed last year after I’d set out from Thirlmere and walked along Helvelyn, Nethermost Pike and Dollywagon Pike.

Here’s the Tarn with Seat Sandal in the background

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Looking back down the valley I could see my next objective,the ridge and summit of St Sunday Crag

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A brief stop for a brew and I set off along the path taking me uphill towards Deepdale Hause, the point on the ridge between St Sunday Crag and Fairfield

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Looking back down to the tarn as I climbed

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Looking across to Dollywagon Pike and Nethermost Pike with Helvellyn in the background

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It was a clear trail at first but at some point I lost the path and had to scrabble up the steep slope for a short while to reach the clear path along the ridge.

Looking west along the ridge to Fairfiled

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Looking across from the ridge over to the Helvellyn range on the other side of the valley.

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and looking east over Deepdale

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and looking back along the ridge

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Soon, I was approaching the stony summit of St Sunday Crag

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from where I got my first glimpse of Ullswater

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Looking across to Helvellyn and Striding Edge

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I carried on rapidly descending the very steep slope down from St Sunday Crag – hard work on the knees!

Looking back to St Sunday

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The next objective was Birks, a modest flat topped fell. One path skirted the hill but I decided on the relatively easy climb up to the summit.

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Even on a grey day, there were excellent views of Ullswater and Place Fell and the surrounding hills and mountains.

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Looking east towards High Street

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Another steep descent and I was back down in the valley. I took the path through the fields and woods, arriving by the Patterdale Hotel. Time to stop for a brew before heading back to the car.

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A walk from Staveley

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The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men, Gang aft agley,
(To a Mouse, Robert Burns)

Last Saturday I was due to travel up to Scotland to spend a few days walking and chilling out on the the Isle of Arren. My bags were packed. I was expecting rain and perhaps a little snow but, hey, that’s Scotland. When I got up I turned on the TV and watched the BBC weather forecast for the week ahead. It wasn’t good. A storm was forecast for Tuesday and Wednesday (the latter being the day I was due to travel home). So besides being unlikely to get in any decent walking there was a good chance I wouldn’t be able to get home as planned. So, regrettably, I decided that the most sensible option was to cancel. This turned out to have been the right thing to do as when the storm hit the ferries to the mainland were cancelled on Tuesday and Wednesday. It was disappointing to miss out but I knew it was a gamble when I came up with the idea a few weeks ago. Arran will still be there in a few months when I’m looking at rearranging my trip.

I changed my plans, only taking a couple of days off work. The first of these, the Monday, looked like it might be a reasonable day, a lull before the storm hit. So I decided to the take the opportunity to get out for a walk. I took the train up to Staveley and set out for a wander on the low fells at the bottom of Kentmere. On the train from Oxenholme I could see that there had been a snowfall overnight, but there were signs that it was thawing. I wasn’t planning on going up on the high fells, so I wasn’t expecting any difficulties.

Leaving the train station I cut across to the old Mill Yard and stocked up with some goodies from the artisan bakery before crossing and then walking along the river to Barley Bridge.

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A short walk along the quiet road and through a gate and I was on the path that took me steeply up the hill heading towards the fells.

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I’d decided to make Brunt Knott my first objective. I’ve climbed it a couple of times before and on a clear day there are great views up the Kentmere Valley, over to the Coniston Fells and the Langdales in the west and towards the Howgill fells to the east.

It was several degrees above freezing so the snow was rapidly disappearing, although there was a smattering of the white stuff on the top of Brunt Knott and Potter Fell

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After passing Brunt Knott farm,

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I took a steep, direct route up to the summit and was pleased to be able to get my boots into some snow. Reaching the trig point I was greeted by a good view of the snow clad fells of the Kentmere horseshoe

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I took a more gradual route back down. It was wet, muddy and slippery so I had to be careful to stay upright. Luckily I had my walking poles with me.

I retraced my steps along the quiet road and made my way back up Potter Fell towards Potter Tarn

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The skies were clouding over, but, looking back to the west, I could still make out the Langdale Pikes and Coniston Fells in the distance

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I took the path around the tarn and then headed up the hill towards my next objective, another tarn, Gurnal Dubs

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Like Potter Tarn it’s a natural water feature that was dammed to create a small reservoir for local industry. In the case of Gurnal Dubs three smaller natural ponds (or “dubs”) were swallowed up to make one larger lake.

It was blustery on the exposed fell and I took shelter behind the boathouse while I had a warm drink of coffee from my flask

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I walked along the lake and then retraced my steps back towards Potter Tarn

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I followed the path parallel the stream from the tarn down the valley towards the River Kent

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A short walk along the country lanes

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and then I cut across the fields down to the River. Crossing over, I followed the path back towards Staveley

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Back at the old Mill Yard, I had time for a brew in Wilf’s Cafe before heading back to the station to catch my train back home.

It had been a good walk and helped me forget my disappointment at missing out on my planned trip to Scotland.

A walk on the moors

On Saturday I decided to get out for a walk up on the moors. I’d plotted a circular route from near Horwich, along the Rivington and Yarrow reservoirs, along Lead Mine Clough, then skirting Anglezarke moor before cutting across to Rivington Pike and then back down to the reservoir.

It was a grey, misty morning but the weather forecast predicted that it would clear up around midday for a couple of hours before the rain came in.

I parked up and set off along the muddy path from the car park

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passing the replica of Liverpool castle Lord Leverhulme had built

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and then reaching the path along Rivington lower reservoir

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I carried on to the end of the artificial lake, crossing the dam and then following the road along the western shore of the Upper reservoir. Rivington Pike and Winter Hill were hidden in the low cloud.

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At the end of the lake I crossed over to the eastern side and climbed up to Yarrow reservoir, following the path along the water and then along the minor road until I reached Allance Bridge

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then I took the path along the River Yarrow up Lead Mines Clough. The name gives away what used to go on around here. At one time there were mine workings along the river and the waters were used to process the ore.

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I took the path that headed east up on to the moor, following the track used by the local sheep farmers. There had been quite a few people enjoying the paths along the reservoirs – walking, on their bikes and on horseback – but it was very quiet on the moor – I only saw a couple of mountain bikers in the 4 or 5 miles before I reached the Belmont road.

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It was grey and misty, but as I walked over the moor, passing the ruined farms at Simms and Hempshaws, the mist began to clear

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The mist hadn’t cleared on Winter Hill – the main mast was still obscured in the low cloud

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I crossed over the Belmont road and took the old track that would take me up across the moor to the top of Rivington Pike

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It looked grey and desolate, but it was brighter looking back over to Anglezarke

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After a relatively easy, gradual climb I reached the pigeon tower that has been undergoing renovation along with the paths, gardens and other structures that make up the “Chinese Gardens” created for Lord Leverhulme on the slopes of the Pike.

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I continued along the track and, although I hadn’t originally planned to climb to the top I can never resist climbing a hill!

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I took in the views over to Winter Hill (now free of mist)

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and back down to the reservoirs

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After taking in the views, I made my way down the hill through the terraced gardens

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Reaching Rivington Hall Barn I headed along the path through the woods, making my way back towards the car park I’d left a few hours before. 5 minutes before I reached the car it started to rain – the Met Office had got it right.

A good 10 mile walk only a few miles from home.

A walk from Grasmere

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On Sunday I drove up to Grasmere for my first more challenging walk of 2019. I had a couple of options in mind for my route, leaving the final decision until I arrived and had a better idea of what conditions were like. After I’d parked up the going looked generally good with only a relatively light covering of snow on the high peaks so I decided on the route that would take me up Stone Arthur, a summit which looms over Grasmere village to the east, up on to Great Rigg, then south along the ridge over Heron Pike, down into Rydal village and then back to Grasmere via the “Coffin Route”.

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View of Stone Arthur from Grasmere village

The route up to Stone Arthur is well trod – it’s a popular climb up from the village, and most of the path was “engineered”. It was a steep climb, though up the side of the hill.

As the temperature was just above freezing, I was well wrapped up, but the energetic climb meant I was heating up, so the hat and gloves came off and I opened up my coat.

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The view back down to Grasmere
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Approaching the summit
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The view from the summit of Stone Arthur

On reaching its summit, it becomes clear that it’s really just a rocky outcrop at the western end of the ridge that continues to climb up to Great Rigg, a more significant peak that’s hidden when viewed from the village. After a coffee from my flask and a bite to eat I carried on. It was getting cold now on the exposed ridge with a fairly strong breeze blowing and the air temperature had dropped. Snow was clearly visible on the summit of Great Rigg

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as well as Fairfield and the other summits at the head of the Rydal valley. So I fastened up my coat and the hat and gloves went back on!

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I climbed up the ridge – and easier walk than the climb up to Stone Arthur and made the final ascent up the snow covered summit of Great Rigg using my walking poles to stop myself slipping.

Reaching the top there were great views, although cloud over to the east obscured the Coniston and Langdale fells to some extent.

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View towards Fairfield
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Looking over to Dove Crag
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Looking west
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Looking south towards Windermere

Great Rigg is one of the summits on the Fairfield Horseshoe I’d walked in quite different conditions last summer, but this time I wasn’t going to attempt the full circuit. Instead I set off south along the ridge heading towards the village of Rydal. The walk wasn’t too strenuous, at least until the steep descent off the ridge.

Looking over towards Dollywagon Pike and Helvelyn in the distance.

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The next peak was Heron Pike and looking backwards as I neared it’s summit there was an excellent view back to Fairfield and the other snow covered peaks at the head of the valley.

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Carrying along the ridge there was a good view over to Red Screes in the east

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Windermere was spread out before me to the south

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and Grasmere to the west, with the mountains above the Langdale Valley beyond

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Carrying on, there was Rydal Water

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I descended steeply down towards Rydal village (using my poles to try to save my knees from too much agony), following a group of walkers, one of them carrying a baby in a sling in front of his body; an early introduction to the fells!

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Reaching the small village of Rydal, I passed Wordsworth’s final residence, Rydal Mount

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I took a short diversion to Rydal Hall, strolling through the gardens.

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They have a very excellent cafe where I was able to top up my flask with a strong coffee – a shot of caffeine to re-enegerise for the last 2 or 3 miles along the Coffin Route back to Grasmere.

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Many years ago, before the road along Rydal Water and Grasmere had been constructed this is the route that the dead would be transported from Rydal, which didn’t have it’s own church and graveyard, to be buried in the grounds of St Oswald’s in Grasmere village.

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Coming into Grasmere village, I passed another of Wordsworth’s former homes, Dove Cottage

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and while I was passing St Oswald’s, I thought I’d pay homage by visiting his final resting place

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as almost next door there’s the Gingerbread shop. It’s compulsory to take home a sample – a good way to earn Brownie points!

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I had a mooch through the small community and then made my way back to the car for the drive home. 10 miles done according to the pedometer. And hard ones at that.