After our visit to the Windermere Jetty we decided to spend the afternoon in Kendal, which is only a short drive from Windermere. Abbot Hall has closed for renovation and moernisation so we won’t be visiting as often as we have over the past 10 years, but it’s a pleasant town with some decent shops. We wanted to restock with some coffee beans and tea from Farrars and pick up some supplies from the Booths supermarket in Waignwright Yard (makes a change from Tesco) and we thought we’d walk up to the castle, as we hadn’t been there for a while.
The Castle was built in the early 12th Century on a glacial hill left behind from the last ice age, to the east of the town. It was more of a fortified manor house for the local barons, than a military stronghold, but it would have dominated the town, looking over it from it’s prominent high position. And it would have been a potent symbol of their wealth and power. The most well known family to be barons of Kendal were the Parr’s, whose most famous member was Katherine Parr, the sixth and last Queen of Henry VIII. Although some locals claim that Katherine was born in the castle this seems unlikely as it was no longer the family’s main residence at the time she was born. The castle was acquired for the town in 1896 to mark the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria and is currently in the care of English Heritage. Effectively a public park, it’s a popular spot for locals and visitors for a stroll and to take in the good views on a good day.
Although cloud had come in since the morning visibility was still fairly good and there was a good view from the castle over the town and across to nearby fells. There was still some snow up on the summits.
Afterwards we walked down into the town passing many interesting old buildings. I’ll have to make a special visit, I think, to take some photos.
After we’d done our shopping we decided that rather than head straight home and get stuck in traffic on the M6 we’d drive the short distance to Staveley and have our tea in the Royal Oak. We arrived a little early as they only start serving food at 7, but that wasn’t a problem as that gave us a chance to relax with a (non-alcoholic in my case) pint!
I was keen to get out to break in my new boots. Fortunately work at the beginning of January is usually fairly quiet and as there was a “weather window” forecast for last Friday I was able to take the day off and drive up to the Lakes. Checking out the walking sites on the web I’d read that there had been some snow which was likely to still be up on the high fells above about 400 metres. But the going wasn’t expected to be too difficult, except, perhaps, on the higher mountains.
As the daylight hours are short at the moment, I decided to drive over to Ullswater and tackle one of the more modest fells close to the lake – Sheffield Pike. I parked up at the Glencoyne National Trust car park, donned my walking gear and set off to head towards the fells via the pretty valley of Glencoyne. I’d walked up the valley back in July when I took the path that passes through the garden of Glencoyne farm, right under the farmhouse window! This time I’d decided to take the track past the row of former miners’ cottages known as “Seldom Seen”. This entailed following the Ullswater way a short distance along the lake before crossing the road and then joining the old cart track up through the woods.
Walking through the fields from the car park I could see up the valley and across to Sheffield Pike. Yes, there was definitely snow up there, but it didn’t look too bad. Hopefully my normal gear would be adequate to cope with conditions. Fingers crossed!
Looking down Ullswater from the lakeside path
Setting off down the track towards Seldom Seen
Looking down to Glencoyne farm with it’s tradition Cumbrian round chimney stacks
Approaching the row of cottages
The cottages were built in the 19th Century to house lead miners who worked at the Greenside mine, near Glenridding. It would have been a long,walk to work to the mine, 3 km away across the fell. Just one aspect of the tough lives of the miners. Today the houses are holiday cottages (as any search for “Seldom Seen, Ullswater” will confirm).
Most Greenside miners would have lived in the village of Glenridding and it seemed odd that the houses were built such a long way from the mine when there must have been plenty of land available much closer. According to the following little video, they were built for miners who were Catholic and were housed here to keep them well away from the predominately non-Conformist fellow workers.
I carried on climbing up the path
Looking back there was a great view down to Ullswater
As I climbed I started to see snow on the ground
and deeper as I climbed
There was plenty of snow on the ground at the head of the valley
When I reached Nick Head at the top of the climb, I’d been hoping to get a view of Helvelyn, but the summit was covered with cloud.
I’d not seen another soul since leaving the car park, but now I could see a couple of walkers heading up the path towards Stybarrow Dodd, which I’d followed myself back in July. I hope they were well equipped as the snow would be deeper as they climbed higher. Zoom in on the next photo and you might see them, about two thirds up the hill
I turned in the opposite direction to start the climb to the summit of Sheffield Pike.
Still plenty of snow on the ground, obscuring the path. But there were footprints in the snow, probably from the two walkers I’d spotted who must have come over this way from Glenridding. I used their footprints as a guide. The snow was soft and it was possible to walk through it without the need for crampons (just as well as I don’t have any!) but it obscured the conditions, covering what was boggy ground. I soldiered on, passing another walker coming down the hill, and eventually made it to the summit.
It was cold up here, probably around freezing but with a stiff breeze adding to the wind chill. There was ice clinging to the rocks, but the snow was still OK to stand and walk on and only a couple of inches thick.
Time for a coffee from my flask and a bit to eat while I took in the views.
There was still cloud covering the summit of Helvelyn
and over St Sunday Crag and the fells to the south
It was clearer looking down towards Ullswater
A couple of walkers appeared coming from the opposite direction from myself. They stopped for a while to chat. They were from Newcastle way and were regular walkers in the Lakes. We swapped stories and I asked them which route they’d taken. They’d come up from Glennridding, taking in Glenridding Dodd and then coming up the steep climb to Heron Pike before walking over to the summit of Sheffield Pike. They confirmed that it was OK – with conditions similar to what I’d experienced coming up from Glencoyne.
After saying our goodbyes, I ploughed on through the snow, which once again was largely covering boggy ground, until I reached Heron Pike at the eastern end of the summit plateau.
I stopped to take in the dramatic view down to Ullswater and chatted with another solo walker who was sheltering while he had a bite to eat.
Looking down on Glenridding Dodd with Place Fell over the other side of Ullswater. The High Street Fells were largely obscured by cloud
It’s a sheer drop down over the edge here so a little backtracking was necessary to locate the path that would take me down into the coll between the Pike and the small hill of Glenridding Dodd.
It was a very steep descent and I needed to take care where I placed my feet as if I slipped it was long way down! I came out of the snow about a third of the way down, but I was aware that the rocks would be slippery with ice and, where it had melted, water. No scree though! I passed a couple of groups of walkers coming up the path – keen to get their boots into the white stuff.
Looking back from near the bottom of the descent.
Reaching the coll I decided to take in the modest hill of Glenridding Dodd. This small fell was very popular with Victorian visitors as there’s an excellent view down to Ullswater.
Looking back to Heron Pike from the path up Glenridding Dodd
It didn’t take long to make my way up the path to the summit of the small fell
but I had to carry on a little way across the top of the hill to get the view over Ullswater. (You’ll need to click on the panorama to get a better appreciation of the view)
and looking in the opposite direction back towards Heron Pike
Looking south east there was a lot of cloud over High Street and the nearby fells
There’s Glenridding and the Steamer pier
I made my way down towards Glenridding, which didn’t take too long. Looking back up to the Dodd from the village
I didn’t stop in Glenridding but passed through the village before joining the path along the lake shore, part of the route of Ullswater Way., for the walk of a mile or so back to the Glencoyne car park.
Getting close to car park I looked back over to Glencoyne and Sheffield Pike
Back at the car I changed out of my boots. They’d had a good christening – gravel paths, rock, mud, bogs, snow, ice and a little tarmac!
Driving back along the lake I stopped a mile up the road at the National Trust Aira Force car park. There’s a cafe there which was still open.
Time for a well earned brew with a view of the fell I’d climbed
So, after completing my 1000 miles challenge in 2019 (hurrah!!!) I made a start for 2020 with a local walk around the Plantations on New Years Day. But I was still itching to get out into the hills, so as Friday looked like it was going to be a decent day and I was still on holiday from work, I decided to head off up to the Lakes and tackle Seat Sandal, the mountain that dominates the view to the north from the western and southern shores of Grasmere.
Rather than scrabble for a parking space in one of the lay-byes on the A591, I parked up in Grasmere. Some walkers are reluctant to pay the parking fee but I don’t think £8 for the day is unreasonable – especially when you compare it with what you have to pay in central Manchester. Starting from Grasmere added 2 or 3 miles along a rough road to my walk, but that wasn’t a problem.
I set off on a bright sunny morning with bright blue winter sky. A little chilly but I was wrapped up and you soon warm up walking.
Leaving the car park there was a good view of my objective.
I walked into the village, stopping at Lucia’s takeaway to buy one of their Cumberland sausage rolls to make sure I had fuelled up ready for my walk. I then set off down Easedale Road before turning north up Helm Close, a rough road (a track in places) which took me up past fields and isolated houses, passing to the east of Helm Crag
Steel Fell dead ahead
and there’s Seat sandal with a glimpse of Fairfield to the right
My route would take me up the gill (valley) between the two mountains up to Grisedale Hause.
I crossed the busy main road – it was a bit of a blind corner so I had to take care not to get run over by the cars that speed up the road between Grasmere and Keswick – and then set off along the path up the gill
Looking back across to Helm Crag
There are two paths up towards the hause, one to each side of a minor hill, the Great Tongue. I crossed over the beck to take the right hand path, which is part of the Coast to Coast route
I was climbing up through rougher country now
Climbing up towards the hause
I eventually reached the hause and was greeted by a view of Grisedale Tarn and Dollywagon Pike
While I was walking the wind had been picking up and the cloud stared to appear covering what had been a beautiful blue sky. Here’s the view back down the gill
Time to stop for a break, shelter from the wind and grab a bite to eat, and a hot coffee from my flask.
Over to the left was my Seat sandal and a steep climb up the scree (not a route for Anabel, then!)
It certainly was a steep climb and hands were needed in a few places. But it wasn’t too bad and it didn’t take me too long to reach the top of the slope. Pausing part way a took a few snaps back down towards the Tarn and Dollywagon Pike
St Sunday Crag and the slopes of Fairfield with Ullswater just about visible in the distance down Grisedale
It was windy when I reached the summit and there was thick cloud over the fells to the west and north
Looking across to St Sunday Crag and the mighty Fairfield
After a short break to take in the views I set off down the ridge towards Grasmere – a much more gradual descent renowned for great views down to Grasmere and over to the fells to the west. Unfortunately the thick cloud rather obscured them today.
More and more cloud came in as I made my way down the ridge, but I managed to snap a few atmospheric shots (spruced up with a little manipulation with Snapseed!)
The path along the ridge eventually joined the track down the gill and I retraced my steps back towards Grasmere
The rain finally arrived as I walked along the lane back to the village. Looking back over to Seat Sandal and Fairfield looks like I got back down just in time to avoid a downpour.
I called into the village, had a browse in Sam Read’s bookshop (and was tempted to purchase a slim volume) before heading back to the car. It was just after 3 o’clock so I decided to drive up to Keswick and a visit to the Keswick Boot Company – after all the walking I’ve been doing I needed a new pair of boots
I’ll need to get out on the fells again soon – these boots are made for walking!
After looking round the Scottish Colourists exhibition at Abbot Hall, and picking up some shopping in Kendal town centre, we decided to drive over to Blackwell as we’d not been for a while. It had been a beautiful, sunny, winter’s day and, although some cloud had come in, I caught some rather nice shots of the house and Lakeland fells illuminated by the winter light.
After several weeks of grey and damp conditions we finally have had a few days of sunny, but cold (!) weather. I had to take advantage of it to get in at least one walk.
I decided to avoid driving so took the train over to Grange over Sands for a walk I’d planned that would take me to Cark via Cartmel, where we’d stopped earlier in the year. From the train station in Grange I set off up the hill towards Eggerslack woods.
In the past, these old decidious woodlands – with Ash, Hazel, Sycamore, Birch, Larch and Yew – were coppiced to provide bobbins for the textile mills and wood for charcoal burning.
“Eggerslack” comes from the Norse word ‘eiger’ (which means ‘bore’, or incoming tide) and ‘slack’ highest point reached by the tide – and this was the case before the railway embankment was built in 1857, when Grange became developed as a seaside resort.
I carried on through the woods and then passed through the stile onto Hampsfell
with it’s stretches of limestone pavement.
I soon approached the Hospice – a folly that the Pastor of Cartmel had built in 1846 “for the shelter and entertainment of travellers”.
On a clear day like today there were extensive views in every direction – over to the Coniston Fells
(here’s a close up)
The Eastern fells of the Lake District
Over to the howgill Fells, across Morecambe Bay (there’s Ingleborough in the distance)
I stopped for a brew and a bite to eat and then carried on along the fell. Looking back towards the Hospice
and then started to make my way down the hill to Cartmel
I walked through the pleasant, small village passing the Priory
through the main square
and across the Race Course.
Walking through the fields – the ground in the shadows was still frosty
There’s my next objective, the modest hill of Howbarrow
Reaching the summit
more magnificent views over very attractive countryside to the Lakeland Fells
and Morecambe Bay
After a rest to soak up the views I set of down the hill.
Then I took the path through the woods
Looking over the fields to the Bay
I followed the path and the minor roads until I reached the small village of Cark
I made my way through the village towards the train station. There was a little time before the train was due, so I walked a little further along the road to Flookburgh
then back to the train station. There’s a direct train from Barrow to Manchester airport every couple of hours which stops at Wigan North Western, so I didn’t need to change at Lancaster. That was handy on a cold day as there was no need to wait on a cold platform for the connection.
I grabbed a few shots from the train over Morecambe Bay as the sun started to set
On the west side of Buttermere there’s a wall of rock that looms over the lake, keeping it in the shade for much of the year. There are three main summits and once you’re up there there’s a great walk along the ridge. I’d been itching to get up there since I arrived in Buttermere and the Wednesday during my short break looked like conditions would be perfect for tackling it. What a difference a day makes!!
I checked out of the Youth Hostel and drove the short distance to the National Trust car park, which is just to the north of the village. There were only a couple of cars parked up, but it would get much busier as the day went on. I got kitted up, locked the car, stowed my car keys safely inside the security pocket in my rucksack and set off walking. It was chilly – there had been no cloud cover over night – but the sun was shining and I knew it would warm up later on.
An easy stroll at first through the village and on to the lake
Looking back towards Whiteless Pike and Grasmoor – what a beautiful morning!
The lake was as still as a mill pond (the sun in the south east made photography difficult)
I crossed the river and then a few yards later, just inside the woods, I took the path that climbed up to Blea Tarn and the summit of Red Pike.
An “engineered” path has been created most of the way up to Blea Tarn, but it was steep and hard work for an old bloke and I was overtaken by a few more agile walkers. The views ahead and looking back down on a sunny morning were outstanding.
The view back towards the Grasmoor group
and down to Buttermere
After the hard climb I reached Blea Tarn where I stopped for a short break and to grab a bite to eat to get my blood sugar up before I tackled the final stretch up to the summit of Red Pike, which had now come into view.
The initial stretch of this final leg up to the ridge, along an engineered path, wasn’t too bad but then it ran out and there was a difficult scrabble up a steep scree slope. The scree was very loose and it was difficult to stop myself from sliding back down at times. It rather reminded me of the final stretch of the Watkin Path on Snowdon, although it didn’t go on for quite as long. Using my walking poles helped, although they got in the way a little on some stretches where I needed to use my hands.
I eventually made it and it was worth the effort for the views over Crummock Water, Buttermere and Ennerdale. I could see over the Solway Firth to Scotland and to the Isle of Man sitting on the horizon in the Irish Sea.
After a break to soak up the views, rest my legs and have a bite to eat, I set off along the ridge towards High Stile. It was relatively easy going now for a while in good conditions.
The view back towards Blea Tarn (it looks a long way down) Buttermere village and the Grasmoor range
Looking back to Red Pike as I neared the summit of High Stile
Looking south west from High Stile I could see the Scafells
Looking back towards Red Pike from the summit of High Stile
Carrying on along the ridge and looking back at the crags below the summit of HIgh Stile
and looking over Fleetwith Pike and the Honister Pass – there’s the Helvellyn and Fairfied ranges in the distance
The ridge terminates at another peak, High Crag. I’m going to bore you with some more views now from its summit
I almost felt drunk with the magnificence of it all. Conditions were just perfect. Sunny, blues skies, but not too hot and with minimal wind and superb visibility. I could have stayed put for longer, but it was time to carry on. And having had a long steep climb to get up on to the ridge I now had to descend down a VERY steep scree slope. Luckily in recent years a lot of work has been done on the path but it was still hard going, initially down a zig zag path through loose scree, before reaching a steep engineered path that took me to the foot of, Stair, a small fell that was crossed to take me to the Scarth Gap – the top of the pass I’d climbed on Monday on my way up to Haystacks.
This is the view looking back after I’d got to the bottom of High Crag – you need to look carfeully to make out the path.
Looking down I could see Buttermere
Looking over Haystacks to Great Gable
I carried on over Satir and then descended to Scarth Gap – there’s Haystacks ahead
It would be feasible on a good day to carry on over the fell and then back down to Buttermere taking my route from Monday, but I turned left and carried on down Scarth Pass. It seemed longer and steeper going down than it had going up it on Monday!
I eventually reached the bottom of the pass and the west shore of Buttermere. I then had a pleasant, easy walk of about 2 miles back to the village
Looking back up the lake towards Fleetwith Pike
I needed a brew by now, so before returning to the car I called into Skyes farm cafe for a pot of tea
and then treated myself to an ice cream for the final stretch back to the car.
It had been a superb walk in perfect conditions and I wished I could have stayed longer. But I had to visit a client the next day so it was time to set off for home. I packed my kit in the boot and set off home by a different route. Rather than tackle the Newlands Pass (it was closed and there were diversion signs, although some vehicles were ignoring them) I headed north along Crummock Water. I’d intended to drive through the Whinlatter Pass but missed my turning resulting in an unintended diversion through Cockermouth. It’s not so easy to make a U-turn on those narrow country lanes!
It had been a great few days up in Buttermere. The weather had been mixed but I’d more or less done what I’d planned. And that walk along the ridge in perfect conditions will remain in my memory bank for a long time!
After drying out in the cafe and revitalising myself with some soup and cups of tea, I decided to brave the elements again. The weather was definitely picking up. The rain was much lighter, although the wind was still blowing. So what to do? I contemplated walking round Crummock Water, but I fancied getting up a bit higher. I ruled out climbing up any of the big fells due to the wind, so decided to climb the modest fell of Rannerdale Knotts.
A short distance from the village, just before the National Trust car park, I turned right just after a row of houses on to a path which climbed up towards Whiteless Pike. One of the locals was keeping an eye on me!
The Pike wasn’t my destination (perhaps another day) but after a shortish, moderately steep climb up a grassy slope, my route veered off to the north, up towards the long ridge of Low Bank and Rannerdale Knotts. The rain had stopped and there was blue sky ahead. Much more promising than the morning!
Looking down into the valley and the National Trust car park, with Mellbreak, on the other side of Crummock Water, in the distance.
and looking back towards Buttermere
I carried on along the grassy ridge, getting buffeted by a strong wind. It seemed to be flowing through the valley and then rising up and sweeping over the ridge. Other than that, it was fairly easy going.
Looking over to the right there was Whiteless Pike
and a little further to the north, the great bulk of Grasmoor, with some cloud still lingering on the summit.
Getting nearer to the summit now and a little scrambling over rock required, but nothing serious.
Reaching the summit, this was the view over Crummock Water with Loweswater a little further on in the distance.
and looking back towards Buttermere.
The view over to Red Pike and High Stile the other side of Buttermere.
The cloud had dispersed now from the top of Grasmoor (well, more or less) as the skies brightened.
I could have descended now and walked back via the shores of Crummock Water, but I was enjoying being higher up and as the views towards Buttermere were so stunning I decided to turn round and retrace my steps along the ridge.
Before descending back down to Buttermere I diverted slightly to have a look down Rannerdale itself with the Knotts dominating the left side of the pleasant valley. In the spring the sides of the valley are covered with a mass of bluebells. But not in October!
At the end of the ridge, this was the view over towards Newlands Pass
and beyond Haystacks the summit of Great Gable was beginning to emerge from the cloud.
By the time I was back in Buttermere it had really brightened up
I passed the small church of St James, where I’d sheltered from the downpour for a short while in the morning, on my way back to the hostel. Look at the blue sky!