Red Screes

A week last Sunday I fancied getting out to stretch my legs so headed up to the Lake District. At this time of the year the daylight hours are short so I wanted a route that would get me back to the car before darkness descended. I decided to drive up to Ambleside and walk up Scandale and then climb up Red Screes. It’s a route I’d done before and although not the most popular way up the mountain – most people seem to take the steep climb up from the Kirkstone Pass – I’d enjoyed the walk up the quiet valley. This time another solitary rambler was following the same route and we kept passing each other. We eventually walked together and chatted for a while, until I had to stop to top up my blood sugar.

I arrived around 8:30 and parked up in the main car park and booted up. There were quite a few other people also getting ready to head off onto the fells, either walking or cycling. I walked through the town centre and was soon setting off up the lane that led up Scandale Pass.

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Looking across the valley
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Carrying on up the “lonning” (the Cumbrian term for “lane”
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Looking across the valley – Rydal Water just about visible
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The picturesque Sweden Bridge – the subject of many photographs!
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Carrying on along the valley. The other solitary walker a short distance ahead.
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The lonely valley!
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Through the gate – not too far to the top of the pass now
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Looking back down the valley as I approached the top of the pass. From there there was a steep climb up to the summit of Red Screes. There was a path that followed along the side of a dry stone wall but after a while we (I’d teamed up with the other walker by now) strayed off and found our own way up the hill side.
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Looking down towards Patterdale and Brothers’ Water
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Getting close to the summit. The temperature had dropped and there were several patches of snow.
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The small un-named tarn at the summit had frozen over
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The summit with its trig point and shelter dead ahead. Time to stop, grab a bite to eat and a hot coffee from my flask while I admired the views
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Looking across to Dovedale and the Fairfield horseshoe
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The view over Middle Dod down to Patterdale
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Looking across the Kirkstone Pass to Hartsop Dod (I think!)
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Across to Ill Bell and the west side of the Kentmere fells

It was time to start making my way back to Ambleside down the long whale-back ridge of Red Screes. There were great views all the way as I descended.

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Zooming in on the Kirkstone Inn and the car park
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Ill Bell again – I can’t resist taking snaps of this mountain!
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A good view along Windermere opened up. The photo is rubbish, though as I shooting into the sun
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Looking across to Rydal Water and Grasmere
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Yet another shot across to the Kentmere fells – Froswick, Ill Bell and Yoke
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Looking across the “Struggle” to Wansfell
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A herd of Belted Galloways and Highland Cattle
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Windemere and Ambleside ahead – still shooting into the sun!
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Descending down the last stretch of the fell

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Through that gate is the steep road down from the Kirkstone Pass to Ambleside, known as “The Struggle”.
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Looking across to Wansfell from The Struggle
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Coming into Ambleside
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I made my way down to the town centre and had a mooch around the shops picking up a few items in the sales before returning to my car.

Passing Bridge House on the way to the car park – it’s obligatory to take a photo!

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Sunset on the Knott

So, I didn’t catch the 3:30 train. At this time of year it’s going dark at 4 pm and I thought I’d spend a little more time in Arnside and then watch the sunset over Morecambe Bay from the top of the Knott. I reckoned I’d still have time to catch the direct train at 5:30. It was a good decision.

I took a break for a while followed by a short walk along the shore. Then I turned inland and set up the hill towards the Knott. The sun was already starting to go down and the temperature was dropping but my down jacket was keeping me nice and snug.

Leaving the streets of Victorian houses behind, I walked through woodland and then, emerging on tot he open fell, looking behind me the views opened up over the estuary towards the mountains of the Lake District

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and to the east, there was Ingleborough on the horizon

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Reaching the top of the hill I walked along the ridge to a viewpoint overlooking the Bay. The sun was beginning to set

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The sun slowly slipping below the horizon

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Until the sky and the sea were on fire

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I made my way back down the hill and after a final look along the estuary

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walked back to the station in good time to catch my train back to Wigan.

What a marvelous end to the day.

Over the years Arnside and Silverdale and the Cartmel penisnsula on the other side of the Kent estuary have become favourite haunts when I fancy a moderate expenditure of energy and an easy (usually) journey on the train. It’s less well frequented area than the Lakes as visitors zoom past on the M6. I hope that doesn’t change as since my visit it’s turned up twice on the TV. Arnside was the subject of an episode of the BBC series “Villages by the Sea” and it also featured as a “Winter Walk” on BBC 2 last week. Both on iplayer for a few weeks, I suppose.

Arnside, Storth and the Fairy Steps

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At the moment, looking out of the window, Storm Barra is arriving and it’s wet and windy outside. Not a good day for a walk. But it was quite different a couple of weeks ago when I took the train to Arnside for the second walk of my long late autumn weekend.

Although I’ve been walking around Arnside and Silverdale quite a few times over the years, I’d plotted out a route where I hadn’t ventured before, to the east of the village following the old coffin road to Beetham. It was a beautiful sunny day, cold, but with no wind so I soon warmed up as I set off walking.

Leaving the station I turned left instead of turning right towards the prom. After a short stretch of road I turned left down a track and then over the level crossing.

There was reasonable path throught he fields, although a bit muddy underfoot.

The next stretch, however, was more than a bit muddy. The clue was in the name really – Arnside Moss. Although agricultural land this would once have been part of the flood plain of the River Kent and I found myself wading through boggy land, sinking at times so that the mud covered the top of my boots. Luckily I got across this stretch unharmed except for boots completely coated with muck. (Perhaps I should have got some advice from Mark of Beating the Bounds – this is his patch!)

I crossed a couple more fields, much drier underfoot, heading towards Hazelslack Tower, an old, ruined Peel Tower, one of several in the area (I’ve passed another, Arnside Tower, many times during my wanders around here)

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I walked past the tower, which is next to a farm, took the path across a field and then passed through a gate into the woods, following the signs for Beetham and the Fairy Steps.

I was in limestone country now so much drier underfoot.

After walking through pleasant woodland, I reached what looked like a dead end

but there was a way through – I’d reached the Fairy Steps – a flight of naturally occuring stone steps in a narrow passage between two sheer rock faces. Allegedly if you you climb or descend the steps without touching the sides of the narrow gully the local fairies will appear and grant you a wish.

Well, you’d have to be a lot slimmer than me to achieve that. It was a real squeeze – I had to take off my rucksack or I wouldn’t have got through! There is a diversion to avoid the steps for those of wider girth, or who otherwise don’t fancy the challenge. Amazingly the steps are part of the “coffin route” between Arnside and Beetham.

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Before Arnside had a church and graveyard, the dead had to be transported to Beetham for burial in consecrated ground. In those days there wasn’t a road alongside the river and this would have been the main route between the two villages. It seems impossible to get a coffin up through the narrow gap but I suppose that in those days the corpse would have been wrapped in a shroud rather than put in a wooden box. But I certainly wouldn’t have liked the job of carrying the body.

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I stopped for a bite to eat and a hot drink from my flask at the top of the steps with views through the trees across to the Kent Estuary and Arnside Knott on the other side of the moss.

Refreshed, I carried on through the woods, down the hill in the direction of Beetham

but turned off in the direction of Storth. I reached a minor road and followed it a short distance before turing onto a path through more woodland

eventually emerging near the small village of Storth

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I passed through the village arriving on the banks of the Kent Estuary.

It was still a glorious bright sunny day and the Lake District Fells from Coniston to Red Screes were clearly visible in the distance

I joined the path that followed an old railway line along the banks of the river towards Arnside. The bright sun was very low preventing me from taking photos in th edirection I was walking, but I grabbed a few snaps looking back towards Storth and across the river.

There were sheep grazing out on the marsh. Salt Marsh lamb is a delicacy yet, along with flounder and shrimps from Morecambe Bay, you never see it on the menu of the local hostelries in Arnside which serve up the usual formulistic “pub grub”.

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The path terminates behind the station and as it was about 3 pm there was a direct train back to Wigan due in less than half an hour. But I had an idea. So instead of waiting on the station, I crossed the footbridge and headed towards the prom.

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To be continued….!

Walla Crag, Bleaberry Fell and Ashness Bridage

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Last weekend Saturday was a washout but Sunday and Monday were looking promising, so I cleaned up my boots and planned a couple of walks.

Sunday, I was up early, defrosted the car and set off up towards Keswick. I’d decided on a not too demanding walk east of Derwent Water rather than heading out onto the higher fells. Daylight is short at this time of the year and I didn’t want to push my luck and have to end up coming down off the fells in the dark.

I arrived at the National Trust car park at Great Wood. There were a few other cars there when I arrived at around 9:15 and I was getting myself booted up, several more stared arriving. Not surprising as it was a fine, sunny morning.

Boots on, I set off on the path through the woods.

As I gained some height views of the lake and fells started to appear through the trees

I looped round through the woods past Castlerigg farm and then started the climb up to Walla Crag. I never tire of the views obtained on this route

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A short steep climb (a bit muddy underfoot) and I reached the summit of Walla Crag. Not so high, but a great viewpoint over the western fells, especially on such a bright late autumn morning. Time to take a break and for a coffee from my flask.

Looking west towards Cat Bells, Causey Pike, Grizedale Pike … and the rest!
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Looking over towards Bassenthwaite Lake – there’s Scotland in the distance.

After a short break it was time to get moving again. I set out for my next objective, Bleaberry Fell. An easy, gentle walk on a good path across the boggy moorland at first with a bit of a bite at the end.

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Looking back as I neared the summit

Reaching the top it was time for another brew break. It was cloudier over to the east, but there were still good views over to the Dodds and the Helvellyn range

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Clough head and the Dodds
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Looking towards Helvellyn
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Looking South West down Borrowdale – Scafell Pike, Great Gable, Glaramarra, Bowfell and Esk Pike all visible on the horizon

The last time I was up here I made my way over to High Seat, which is only a short distance from the top of Bleaberry Fell. That was in May a couple of years ago and it was something of a bog fest even then. I thought better of it this time – I didn’t fancy getting sucked down into the murky depths of the soaking peat! Even Wainwright reckons that “this is a walk to wish on one’s worst enemy“. So I retraced my steps down from the top and along the path heading back towards Walla Crag

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But part way down I diverted onto the path that descended to the popular beauty spot of Ashness Bridge.

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The old pack horse bridge, with the view over Derwent Water to Skiddaw, is a very popular “honeypot” and there were quite a few people, including a few “serious” photographers, all trying to snap photographs and selfies. I stopped for a brew and a bite to eat but you have to take a photo don’t you?

There’s a car park here but to reach it the cars had to cross the narrow bridge. It was fun watching all the overlarge “Chelsea Tractors”, which everyone has to have these days, trying to manoeuvre over the bridge without scratching their paintwork on the sides – no doubt with their parking sensors going into overdrive! Shouldn’t laugh though, I’ve a smaller car and would be cautious!

It was time to move on and I set off down the path through the woods back towards the my car.

passing Raven Crags

Before reaching the car park I cut off down a path towards the lake and then after a scramble down to the shore, I walked on the lake side path towards Calfclose bay

It’s become something of a tradition when I’m over this way to check out the Hundred Year Stones to see whether they’re submerged in the lake. They were dipping their toes in the water this visit!

The stones were created by Peter Randall-Page to mark the centenary of the National Trust in 1995

I made my way back to the car. It was clear that it had been full earlier on in the day but now it was later in the afternoon people had started to leave

Time for me to leave too. After debooting (is that a word?) I drove into Keswick to have a quick nosey round the town and pick up some treats from Booths’ supermarket.

It was busy in Keswick, so I didn’t stay long, but did pop into Bookends for a nosey

Returning to my car after picking up my supplies from Booths I could see Skiddaw lit up by the setting sun. The car park wasn’t the best viewpoint for a photo, but I snapped one anyway.

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The drive home wasn’t fun. It was fine until I got to around the Sedbergh junction on the M6 then I was stuck in slow moving (sometimes stationary) traffic all the way down the rest of the M6 and the M61. Not surprising as lots of people had clearly had the same idea as me and been out on a sunny day, setting for home at sunset.

But that was a minor inconvenience. I’d had a great day out. The forecast was sunny for Monday too and I’d decided to take the day off!

Staveley to Bowness – and 3 smaller fells

Commenting on my post about my walk around Kentmere from Staveley, John Bainbridge recommended the leg of the Dales Way from the village to Bowness. I thought that sounded like a good option for a car free ramble, so as last Saturday promised to be a good day for walking I took the train to Staveley and set out. It turned out to be an excellent lower level walk, and I was able to divert off the “official” route to climb up three smaller fells with superb views over the South Lakes. Good call John!

I took the quiet road from the station and was soon out amongst the fields. The route took me through fields and undulating heath and moorland. It followed some quiet lanes initially, but I encountered one car, before taking paths through the fields. It was a bright, sunny, late Autumn day with really good visibility.

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Good views of the fells of the Kentmere Horseshoe across the fields. Some low cloud covering the summits.
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Funny looking sheep around here! 😂

I deviated from the Dales Way up to the summit of Grandsire, the first of the three small fells I’d climb during my walk. There’s no path marked on the OS map but it’s open access land and there were a number of paths on the ground. There were views across to Windermere and the bigger fells to the north and west and east. School Knott (my next destination) is in the foreground towards the west.

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I descended down the path until I reached the tarn at the foot of Scout Knott and then climbed to the top of the fell

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This small hill is quite close to Windermere village and is a popular destination, but although I wasn’t the only person at the summit, it was still quiet.

More views across to Windermere and the high fells

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Descending the hill I re-joined the Dales Way which took me through fields and some rougher country, passing another small tarn on the way to Cleabarrow.

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The route went beside the B5284 (a road I know well as we often drive down here going from Kendal to Blackwell) before turning off and heading north west towards Matson Ground

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Another tarn near Matson Ground

Then, another deviation off the Dales Way to climb my final hill of the day, Brant Fell.

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This small fell is close to Bowness and popular with visitors to that honey pot so it was busy at the summit compared to the previous two hills I’d climber. But I can understand why as it’s a great viewpoint. I stopped for a while to soak in the panorama.

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Looking over Windermere village towards the Eastern fells
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I descended the hill and was soon in Bowness, the Lake District’s minature version of Blackpool! On a sunny day it was heaving with visitors so I walked down to the Lake to take a few snaps but didn’t linger.

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I needed to get up to Windermere village and the train station, about a mile and a half away. I had a choice – either walk or catch the bus. The bus seemed the best option as I didn’t fancy a walk along the busy main road, but off-season, they only run one an hour and I’d have a 45 minute wait. I wanted to get away from the crowds so decided to walk, but looking at the map spotted that I could avoid the main road by taking Longlands Road, a minor road passing the rugby club and then up through what looked like woodland. It turned out to be a private road passing a number of houses (cars not allowed, except for residents) and was a pleasant walk, so it was the right option for me!

Reaching Windemere, I stopped off to re-energise and refuel with a brew and a tasty cake before picking up a few treats at the Booth’s supermarket by the station. Then, a short wait on the platform before boarding the 4 o’clock direct train back to Wigan. The sun was already starting to set and it was dark by the time we pulled in at Preston.

I’d enjoyed the walk immensely. The countryside was beautiful and, until I got close to Bowness, very quiet. And the views from those small fells, on a bright Autumn day with good visibility, were exceptional – once again confirming, as Andy of surfnslide has pointed out more than once, that you don’t have to climb the highest fells for a good view.

A walk around Kentmere valley

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The week after our holiday in Whitby I managed to get a couple of walks in over a long weekend. For the first one, I caught a train to Staveley, from where I had planned a route around the Kentmere Valley. One day I’ll tackle the Kentmere horseshoe, taking in the high fells, but this walk was lower level starting from Staveley train station, wlaking towards Skeggle Water and then on to Kentmere village, before returning via the higher level route to the west of the valley

Leaving the station I went to the Old MIll Yard and then crossed the River Kent over the modern Bridge.
then along a stretch of road through the fields to Barley Bridge.
After another short stretch of tarmac I was soon on the paths through the fields. It wasn’t too bad underfoot considering that we’d had a fair amount of rain over the previous few days
but the river was certainly in spate.
I joined the narrow road that led to Park House farm
which soon turned into a rough track
and then a path through the rougher moorland.
A lonely tree showing signs of autumn
Approaching Skeggles Water. I turned off on the path towards Kentmere a short distance before I reached the lonely tarn.
Carrying on – the higher fells starting to become visible.
Going through the gate I met a couple of mountain bikers the first people I’d encountered since I’d left the outskirts of Staveley.
The views of the fells were really opening up now – and there were clouds obscuring the summits.
Looking down to Kentmere village
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I made my way to the small village, diverting to take a look at the property where we’d enjoyed a short break a few years ago
The house we’d stayed in back 2017 used to be the vicarage so the path now took me towards the old church of St Cuthbert. There’s a small car parking area next to the church hall. It soon fills up mainly with walkers who start from the village to tackle the horseshoe. No room left today! I had a look inside the church where there was a small exhibition about the history of the village and it’s valley.
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I carried on, taking the path past Kentmere Hall, an old farmhouse incorporating a Pele tower. We need to watch out for those Glasgow Gallivanters! Peeking over the wall it looked like the barn had been converted into holiday accommodation since our stay in the village. A quick check on the internet when I got home confirmed my suspicion. Looks nice, but I bet it’s not cheap to stay there.
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I started to climb up the path towards the moors. This shot looks back down towards Kentmere village.
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A shot of the village looking back as I climbed.
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And a shot down to Kentmere tarn. The original tarn was drained to try an create extra agricultural land, but it was poor quality. Mining for diatomite, the remains of small creatures that had lived and flourished in the former tarn and the workings then flooded to create a new tarn. The diatomite was mixed with asbestos in a factory a short distance from the tarn to manufacture insulation but worked stopped in 1971.
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I was up on the moors now, bypassing a couple of lower fells. I encountered a few cyclists but otherwise it was quiet up here.
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Plenty of sheep, mind.
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It was very wet and muddy underfoot in places. The sheep didn’t seem to mind, though.
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Another lonely tree.
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Some of the higher fells were visible over to the west
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I passed an old shepherd’s hut.
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Starting to see signs of civilisation now as I descended down towards the road
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After a short while i reached the single track road that links Kentmere to Staveley and after a while reached the edge of the village.
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A shot taken as I crossed the bridge over the fast flowing River Kent

I carried on down the road into the village. There was a wait for the next train so I called into the Mill Yard and stopped at the Hawkshead brewery where i was able to rest my feet and grab a coffee. Then I sauntered through the village back to the train station. A good days walk. No strenuous climbs but a good 12 miles.

Here’s a link to the route.

Yewdale, Holme Fell and Tarn Hows

The second day of my mini break in Coniston I’d decided on a lower level walk. I checked out of the hostel at about 9 and walked the short distance to Shepherd’s Bridge to set off down Yewdale. It was a gey start to the day, with low cloud up on the high fells, but the weather forecast looked promising for later in the day.

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The walk down this very scenic valley is one of my favourite low level walks taking me through pleasant fields and woodland with good views over to the fells to the north.

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The Yewdale fells over the fields to the left
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Holme Fell ahead
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through the woods
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Holme Fell
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Cloud over Wetherlam
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I turned down towards Yew Tree Farm. Owned by the national Trust the farm featured in the film Miss Potter about Beatrix Potter starring Renée Zellweger. In the film it stood in for Hill Cottage where the author lived, but, although she owned the farm, she never actually lived there. The current tennants sell their Herdwick Hogget (young sheep between 1-2 years old) and Belted Galloway beef. They’ve been on TV a few times recently (including Countryfile on the BBC) – a good advert for their business I bet! We’ve bought their meat several times via the internet and I have to saya that we all think that their “Beltie Burgers” are the best burgers we’ve ever eaten.

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Yew Tree farm – a very picturesque setting

Here’s some of their Herdies!

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I took the path behind the farm and began the climb up Holme Fell

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a couple of curious Herdies!

It’s not one of the bigger fells – just over 1000 feet – but it was a sharp, steep ascent.

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but there are great views from the top. It was still grey and overcast but there were still 360 degree views

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There was some peeking out over Wetherlam

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Holme Fell is probably one of the best viewpoints for looking over Coniston Water

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I stopped for a while, taking in the view and trating myself to a snack and then I started to make my way down the other side of the fell. This is the second time I’ve been up here but I still haven’t worked out the best way down. The path I took metered out and whichever way down I’ve taken inevitably results in some bog hopping.

This used to be slate quarrying country and there was plenty of evidence of the industry between the fell and Little Langdale.

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My route followed a track that eventually headed east, over High Oxen fell (which isn’t very high!) back towards the Ambleside to Coniston road. The views over to the fells from this road was outstanding, especially as the cloud was clearing and the sun beginning to appear.

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Reaching the main road I crossed over and took the track following the Cumbria Way towards Tarn Hows

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Looking across to Holme Fell

I had considered walking over to Black Fell – another small fell that’s a great viewpoint – but decided against it for two reasons. My knee was starting to give me a bit of trouble and I was also keeping my eye on time as I had to catch the bus from Coniston back to Windermere at 4:30 to make sure I connected with my train back home. So I carried on following the Cumbria Way to Tarn Hows where I stopped for a bite to eat.

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I deviated from the Cumbria Way following the western side of the tarn with the extensive views over to the Coniston Fells

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At the end of the Tarn I followed the metaled track back towards Yewdale. The weather had really changed now with plenty of sunshine, and it was getting warm.

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Making my way back down Yewdale I passed through a field on unusual Dutch spotted sheep

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Carrying on down Yewdale Coniston Water came into view

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Reaching Shepherd’s Bridge on the edge of Coniston, I had a couple of hours before my bus was due so I decided to walk over to the lake

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Looking across to the fells from the path to the lake

On a sunny afternoon there were a lot of people enjoying themselves out on the lake

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Time for a brew and a slice of cake in the lakeside cafe!

After enjoying people watching for a while by the lake, I headed back towards the village

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had a mooch around and then joined the group of people waiting for the bus back to Windermere. It was running late but I had a chat with a couple of liverpudlians who were heading back to Bowness via Ambleside.

I arrived back in Windermere an hour before my train was due (I’d bought an advance ticket for the last direct train) so bought a few supplies from Booth’s supermarket and then sat and ate my purchases on the platform. The direct train ended up not being so direct. It was due to terminate at Manchester Airport but signalling problems (had somebody been nicking the copper cable again?) meant it would now terminate at Preston. Luckily it was only a short wait there before I was able to find a connection which got me back to Wigan only 15 minutes later than originally scheduled.

I’d had a good couple of days in Coniston and despite the slight delay on my way home using public transport was a welcome change from sitting in traffic. I’d have liked to stay another night given the fine weather, but I had a meeting the next day. September’s going to be busy, but I have a family holiday to look forward to at the end of the month

https://osmaps.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/route/10078471/Yewdale-Holme-Fell-Tarn-Hows

A lower level walk in Borrowdale

Thursday was my last day in Borrowdale. I wasn’t leaving the Lakes quite yet, though. When I’d checked the weather forecast the week before my break it llooked like the weather would continue to improve as the week went on (it did indeed) so I’d checked out availability in hostels and mangaed to get a room for one night in Grasmere. But I still had another walk planned in Borrowdale before I moved on.

The mini heatwave had definitely arrived and after two days of heavy walking amongst the high fells I decided on a lower level walk. I left the hostel and drove the short distance to Rossthwaite and parked up in the small National Trust car park in the village – free to NT members, of course. I was amazed when I arrived before 9 o’clock to find it was almost full, but I managed to grab one of the last available spaces.

After booting up I set off, walked through the village, crossed the road and took the path that headed across the fells to the remote village of Wattenlath.

It was already beginning to heat up so I took it slow up the hill looking back several times up Borrowdale towards the high fells.

There definitely wasn’t any cloud on Great Gable today – but it would have been hoard work climbing up the steep slopes on a hot day. The route to Watendlath involved some climbing but nothing like the previous two days.

Zooming in – not a cloud in sight anywhere near Great Gable – but you could probably guarantee if I went anywhere near the mountain the cloud would suddenly descend!

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Here’s the view across the valley to High Spy and dale Head

The terrain was different than the previous two days, grassy moorland instead of bare rock

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Approaching Watendlath

It’s a small hamlet nothing more than a farm with a small collection of other buildings, standing next to a small tarn. Almost hidden in a valley between Borrowdale and Thirlmere, besides the pass from Rossthwaite and paths over the fells from Thirlmere, it can be reached by driving up a narrow road from Ashness Bridge.

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The National Trust cafe was shut due to you know what and there were very few people around other than a group walkers arriving at the car park, and some contractors working on a new hydro-electric scheme.

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Oh, and a couple of fishermen on a rowing boat in the middle of the tarn.

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After a brief rest beside the tarn I set off past the pack horse bridge and followed the path along the beck. What a glorious day!

Reaching a bridge over the river, rather than cross to the other bank I turned left down the path that descended through woodland past the popular Lodore Falls.

Passing the falls (i couldn’t get a decent shot) the path started to descend steeply down towards Derwent Water. I caught glimpses of the lake through gaps in the foliage.

I emerged near the Borrowdale Hotel. After a short walk along the road I took the path across the flat fields towards the lake.

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I approached and crossed the bridge over the River Derwent

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and then took the path along the south shore of the lake. It was certainly a glorious day but getting hot as midday approached.

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This part of the route often flood in the winter when the lake level rises

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Reaching the minor road that runs along the west side of teh lake, there was a shortish walk along the tarmac until I reached the village of Grange. The village orignates from a farm (that’s what Grange means) built by the monks of Furness Abbey in medieval times. The Abbey owned a lot of land hereabouts and sheep farming was a major income source for them. One of the ways the monastic houses accumulated vast wealth which Henry VIII eyed up and got his hatchet man Thomas Cromwell to confiscate for him.

I passed this interesting little church – the Holy Trinity – which dates back to 1861.

The design of the stonework above the windows and door was particularly striking

I was flagging a little so stopped at a nice little cafe by the old bridge. My blood sugar had dropped so some food was needed and a baked spud with trimmings and a slice of Dutch style apple pie was just the ticket – made a change from sandwiches!

After finishing off my meal I set off again following the course of the River Derwent through woods below Castle Crag on the path towards Rossthwaite.

Looking towards the dinky Wainwright, Castle Crag

Not surprisingly there were a few people splashing about in the river.

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I diverted off the path to take a look at a disused slate mine

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The path eventually emerged from the woods and continued through fields back to Rossthwaite

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over the bridge and past the stepping stones

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Arriving back at the village, before returning to my car, I stopped off at the Flock Inn cafe for a brew and slice of tea loaf to refuel before my journey to Grasmere.

Here’s a map of the route

Third time lucky?

The weather had continued to improve so on the third day of my little break in the lakes I decided to tackle a favourite mountian – Great Gable. It’s a big, distinctive lump of rock that stands out from the surrounding fells. It’s not “pretty” like some – using a French term I’d describe it as “jolie laide”. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder but you can’t fail to be impressed by it’s ruggedness. And it looks very different depending which side you’re viewing it. It’s prettiest face being the one viewed from Wasdale where it appears as a classic pyramid. But for me, whatever the angle, Great Gable remains a favourite fell.

The summit is one of the best viewpoints in England with views across to the Scafells and down Borrowdale, Wasdale, Ennerdale and Buttermere. If succesful (not garanteed!) it would be the third time I’d have climbed this great hulk of volcanic rock. The first time was when I was 16 or 17 (with a party from school organise dby our maths teacher who was the spitting image of Bob Harris, the presenter of The Old Grey Whistle Test). It was not a fine day to say the least. It rained all the way up and the summit was enveloped in cloud and we couldn’t see a thing. The second time was when I had a short break in early May a couple of years ago. I reached the summit with heavy snow falling and the views completely obscured. Would it be third time lucky?

It was fine day as I set off up the valley towards Seathwaite. Although I could see fairly thick cloud up above the fells, given the forecast I was optimistic that it would “burn off” and disperse.

I took the path on the east side of the river to Seathwaite and then it was on to Stockley Bridge

and up the Sty Head Pass

Looking back to take a photograph down the pass was a good excuse for a short rest!

Casrrying on the cloud was clearing and it was getting seriously warm.

Reaching Styhead Tarn the water looked very inviting and several people had accepted the invitation.

I stopped for a short break for a bite to eat and then set off again towards the brand new stretcher box.

There’s Great Gable. It doesn’t look so high – but looks can be deceiving!

I started my climb. It definitely wasn’t as easy as it looked! So several brief breaks were required as I made my way up the steep path.

Looking back down to Sty Head Tarn.

and down Sty Head Pass

I eventually reached the summit, to be greeted with

cloud!

I decided to hang around for a while with the hope that it might clear.

I took alook at the monument dedicated to the members of the Fell & Rock Climbing Club who died in World War I. The club bought 3,000 acres of land including Great Gable which it donated it to the National Trust in memory of these members. An annual memorial service is held here on November 11th, Remembrance Sunday.

My patience paid off, at least to some extent, as some gaps appeared in the cloud. For the first time I was able to experience the classic view down Wasdale and Wastwater,

and down Ennerdale and the Buttermere valley

Unfortunately the cloud reappeared.

Anyway, although a little disappointed I started to amke my way down the very steep path to Windy Gap ready to climb the neghibouring fell of Green Gable.

It wasn’t any easy descent and in some places more than feet were required!

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But I eventually made it to the hawse in one piece to be greeted with the view of Ennerdale

and the Buttermere valley

The climb up Green Gable, although up scree in places, was considerably easier than the ascent of the fell’s bigger sibling! Being lower down the views weren’t obscured by cloud.

There was a definite difference in the weather between the western and eastern fells, with thick high cloud above the former while the latter were experiencing blue skies and sunshine.

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I descended down Green Gable ready to climb my third fell of the day, Brandreth.

Looking back towards Green Gable and Great Gable from the hawse

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Then a steady climb up Brandreth

I was getting drunk on the views by now

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After Brandreth a relatively easy, although boggy in parts, bimble over to the final fell of the day, Grey Knotts followed by a long, steep descent towards the Honister pass. It was tricky in places and difficult underfoot.

Feeling tired, I was glad to reach the Slate Mine car park.

But I was far from finished. I had to get down the Honister Pass to Seatoller and then make my way back to the hostel. So a few miles to go.

There was a short section of tarmac to endure

but the route soon diverted on to the old toll road, walking on a track, gravel and stone initially but then on grass.

The path emerged at the hamlet of Seatoller and then my route took me along a short stretch of road, passing Seatoller Farm where I’d stayed during my last visit to Borrowdale.

Then it was back along the riverside path to the hostel. I was ready for a shower – and just made it in time for my allocated slot!

So was it third time lucky? – sort of, I guess.

Irrespective of that I’d had an excellent, if exhausting day. I had managed brief climpses from the summit but was also able to savour the views from 3 other fells I’ve never tackled before on the return journey.

Here’s a link to the route

Glaramara and Allen Crags

After a good night’s sleep I was up fairly early and during breakfast was checking the weather forecast for the day ahead. Warm dry conditions were promised and I was looking forward to a good day up on the fells. I’d decided to try my luck tackling a couple of the bigger hills within walking distance of the hostel – Glaramara and then on to Allen Crags. I’d been working up to a more challenging walk in the months since I went under the knife so this would be the moment of truth.

I followed the path along the banks of the River Derwent and then cut across the field past the Mountain View row of cottages

Looking up the valley there was plenty of grey cloud, but I was hoping it would clear during the day.

Crossing the road, I took the track towards Thorneythwaite Farm, turning off soon after onto the path that would take me up Glaramara via Thornythwaite Fell.

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Looking back down Borrowdale as I climbed

The route was taking me up a very typical bowl shaped glacial valley

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I was making my way slowly up the path and was passed by a much more energetic, and younger, walker, but I was happy to take my time making gradual progress and enjoying the views across upper Borrowdale (there’s the distinctive shape of Fleetwith Pike peeking over the Seathwaite fells)

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and looking back down the valley towards Derwent Water and Skiddaw

Carrying on climbing

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There’s Great Gable in the background over the valley – a great hunking piece of volcanic rock

The summit of glaramara finally came into view – still a little way to go

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Close to the summit I was faced with a wall of rock and some scrambling was required. I veered a little to the right taking a slightly easier route.

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A couple of walkers were already at the summit as I arrived. I said hello but they weren’t so friendly and were soon on their way heading towards the next objective. There’s Bowfell, Esk Pike and Scafell Pike in the distance.

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Time to stop now for a bite to eat while enjoying the views. The cloud hadn’t cleared but it was high level and didn’t obscure the views of he surrounding fells. It was warm though

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Another couple of walkers arrived and we chatted for a while. But overall it was a quiet route – I didn’t encounter too many people until I reached Esk Hawse. These fells are are not far from Scafell Pike which acts like a magnet leaving other smaller fells to those of us who like to avoid the crowds.

Time to move on so I set out heading towards my next objective – Allen Crags. It looked a little further than I expected! The summit is only slightly higher than that of Glaramara but to reach it entailed a descent before climbing to regain the height. The route took me over some marshy ground and past a number of small tarns. Fortunately, after a dry spell, the ground wasn’t too boggy. It would be harder going during the winter, no doubt.

After a brisk climb I reached the summit. Time for another short break. Visibility wasn’t bad and there were extensive views as far as Derwent Water and Skiddaw to the north and Windermere to the south

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Looking back towards Glaramara

Looking over Sprinking Tarm towards the great bulk of Great Gable

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Great End

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and across to Scafell Pike

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I descended down towards Esk Hause. I now had two choices – strike left, down to Angle Tarn and return to base via the Langstrath Valley or turn right and return down Grains Gill with the hordes returning from climbing Scafell Pike. I decided on the latter as it was a shorter route – I was begining to feel tired and sapped by the heat – and because I felt that the views would be more dramatic.

The latter was certainly true!

The path was relatively easy going at first, but soon started to descend steeply down the rugged Gill.

The path was busy too which wasn’t a surprise as this is a popular way up and down Scafell Pike. I kept overtaking and then being overtaken myself by several people as we stopped to take breaks.

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The sun had started to break through as I made my way down the valley and the temperature consequently was rising. I was glad when I reached Stockley Bridge. I stopped for a rest by the water but I knew that it would be flatter and easier going down towards Seathwaite and beyond.

Reaching Seathwaite Farm I turned off to take the path to the east of the river, a quieter route back to base as the walkers who’d been up Scafell Pike returned to their cars parked up on the narrow road on the other side. However, I wasn’t alone as another walker had the same idea. We exchanged pleasantries as we held gates open for each other and soon got chatting properly, walking togther back along the path. He told me that he’d been up Esk Pike from Stonethwaite via Langstrath and was returning via Grains Gill creating a circular route. He’d retired early and as he lived in Penrith was able to get out onto the fells whenever he felt the urge. I was quite jealous! We parted when we reached the road near the Mountain View Cottages and I retraced my steps back to the hostel along the river.

Click here for a map of the route