East of Ullswater

It’s wild and windy outside as I write this, not very summery. But a couple of weeks ago we had a mini heatwave for a few days, so I decided to abandon sitting staring at a computer screen for a day and get out for a walk.

Where to go? The Lake District was starting to open up – I’d seen plenty of posts on social media from people getting up on the fells – but I’d also seen reports of some popular spots getting crowded with day trippers, leaving litter and, potentially spreading something worse. So I thought I’d go somewhere I expected to be a little quieter and where I hadn’t been before, the fells on the north eastern side of Ullswater. I drove up to Penrith on the M6 and then along the country roads to Pooley Bridge – the bridge after which the village is named being reconstructed and so traffic can’t get across from the west side of the lake.

It was fairly quiet as I walked through the village with a few walkers and locals about, but it was only early morning. It was already warm and sunny, but with some cloud about. It would get busier later on but for now it was easy to avoid close contact. I took the minor road up towards Askham fell which soon turned into a track leading up on to the fells.

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I could see my first destination for the day, Arthur’s Pike, over the fields

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There’s Arthur’s Pike again over to the right

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Climbing higher, I reached a signpost that wasn’t that helpful.

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Had I travelled through a time portal? Not really. There used to be a Roman road, High Street, that ran over these fells than ran from the Roman fort at Brougham (Brocavum) near Penrith to the fort at Ambleside (Galava) and this signpost, and a stone bench, the Roman Seat, has been erected on the former route by the Friends of the Ullswater Way.

I carried on and then turned south towards the Cockpit, a Bronze Age stone circle

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carrying on, I diverted off the route of the Roman road taking the path towards Arthur’s Pike. It was a relatively easy, gradual climb up to the summit – just as well as I’d not dome much hill walking of late. After the heavy downpours we’d had in the preceding weeks it was boggy underfoot in places

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Arthur’s Pike

Reaching the summit I stopped for a while to refuel and took in the views

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My next objective was the neighbouring hill of Bonscale Pike. As the crow flies it’s only a short distance between the summits, but there isn’t a direct route so I had to take a “dog leg” to reach it,

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dipping down a valley, passing this sheep fold,

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crossing a stream and then climbing back up the fell side.

Reaching the summit, the views over Ullswater and the high mountains on the other side of the lake were pretty stunning

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Looking over Hallin and Place Fells with the Helvelyn range over the lake
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I could see Skiddaw in the distance
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Looking north over the flatter terrain towards Pooley bridge

Bonscale Pike, which overlooks the small settlement of Howtown, is well known for it’s two “towers” – tall stone structures

It’s a steep climb up from Howtown – my route was definitely easier.

Time to retrace my steps now and make my way over to the old Roman road route. the terrain was’t so interesting and it was boggy underfoot. But I carried on making my way to the next objective, Loadpot Hill.

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On the way up to the summit, on the hillside a hundred metres or so away, I spotted a red deer. it looked at me for a while and then skipped off. Nearby Martindale has the oldest herd of wild red deer in England. It’s the only pure red deer herd in the country, as, unlike other herds there’s been no cross-breeding with the imported Sika deer. I’d heard the deer during rutting season on a walk a couple of years ago, but this was the first time I’d seen one of them.

Loadpot Hill isn’t one of the most interesting Fells. The views from the summit aren’t that great compared to Bonscale Pike. No lake and only distant views of the mountains over the moorland.

I had a decision to make now – how to get back to Pooley bridge. I could have retraced my steps but instead I decided to extend my walk a little and descend down Fusedale to Howown and then make my way back on the flatter option of the Ullswater Way.

So I carried on, picking up the route of the Roman road again. There was a path shown on the map descending down Fusedale between Loadpot Hill and Wether Hill. Well, I’m not really a collector of Wainwrights, but as the path was not far from the summit, I though I might as well “tick it off”. I was taking a short break when another walker arrived, a young woman. We chatted for a while. She’d been following the same route as myself and was also going to descend down to Howtown. Neither of us had spotted the path that was shown on the map but we agreed it looked like it wouldn’t be too difficult a descent. I left before her, knowning she’d soon overtake me. I couldn’t trace the path so descended over the grassy slope – it wasn’t too difficult and it wasn’t that wet underfoot. My OS map app indicated I was on the line of the path. Then, a short distance over to my right I spotted the young woman walker who shouted over to me that’s she’s found a path, so I made my way over and then carried on descending down the hillside.

The views were really opening up now

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Steel Knotts

Descending down Fusedale

Looking back up the valley

Approaching Howtown

The small lakeside settlement is one of the stops for the Ullswater Steamer. They weren’t running due to the Covid 19 restrictions still in place, but there were plently of people on the lake side and enjoying the cool water. I kept my distance but could resist cooling myself off with some of the water from the lake

I now started to follow the Ullswater Way. It’s a popular route in more normal times and is well signposted. It was quiet today, though. I’d decided on the low level option – the main, higher level route would have taken me back onto the fells near the Cockpit stone circle, but there were quite a few miles back to Pooley Bridge and I didn’t wan’t to overdo it on a hot day.

getting closer to Pooley Bridge

There were quite a few groups of people enjoying the sunshine by the lakeside, but it wasn’t difficult to keep my distance.

I was pretty tired when I reached my car as I’d walked much further than I’d originally intended. But I felt pleased and de-stressed after a great walk over a variety of terrains with some superb views. I treated myself to an ice-cream from a local shop before getting back in the car an setting off on my journey back home. Only an hour and a half away.

Limestone Pavement and a Romano-British Fortress

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Last Sunday (14 June) I decided I needed to get out to clear my head after what had been a stressful week. After the experience at the start and finish of my last walk starting from Rivington on a Sunday I decided I’d stray a little further afield to somewhere where I’d be much less likely to encounter crowds of day trippers. The Westmorland Dales near to Orton looked like a good bet. It’s just over an hour’s drive away, usually very quiet and the countryside, dominated by an extensive limestone pavement, is quite different to the peat moorlands and pleasant woodland closer to home.

The Westmorland Dales became part of the Yorkshire Dales National Park in 2016 (although they’re in Cumbria) but are still relatively unknown. The area has the most extensive area of limestone pavement in the UK outside the Ingleborough area in Yorkshire. They would have been more extensive at one time as the limestone has been exploited in the past. Former limestone kilns, used to create lime for construction and agriculture, are dotted across the landscape – I spotted one in the distance during my walk – and limestone has also been removed for use as garden ornaments. As an important site for a variety of wildlife and plantlife the area is now a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

I drove up the M6, turning off an Tebay and then up the quiet road through Orton and parked up in a small rough parking area a couple of miles north of the village. There were another three cars parked up there, but nobody in sight.

I set off on a path heading north east across the moor and soon encountered the first traces of the limestone pavement

It was almost silent other than the call of the birds, including a couple of curlews circling overhead. It was good, too, to hear the song of the skylarks.

I carried on along the lonely path, passing a herd of long horned cattle

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There were the high Pennine fells – including Cross Fell and High Cup Nick – in the distance

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reaching a dry stone wall

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I followed its course until I reached a minor road. My route took me along the tarmac for a couple of miles. It was quiet, although I was passed by three cars as I sauntered down the lane

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I had a peek over the wall at some of the locals munching on their breakfast

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As I carried on down the lane, there was more evidence of the limestone in the landscape

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I turned right off the tarmac and took a track through the fields heading towards Sunbiggin

then after about a kilometre I took the path to the right through the fields. The OS indicates that there used to be some sort of settlement here, but I didn’t stop to look. There was a herd of cows with their cattle standing by the path and, although they moved out of my way, they stood close by looking at me rather suspiciously.

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The path carried on along the edge of the fields, running parallel to the wall

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Eventually the landscape became dominated by the slabs of limestone

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I was now on open access land so diverted off the path to explore the limestone pavement which meant hopping over the clints while avoiding getting my foot stuck in one of the grykes.

Clints (sometimes called by their German name, flachkarren) are the blocks of limestone that form the pavement. They are chemically weathered so that their surface is covered by a series of pits and hollows (called karren).

Grykes are fissures separating the clints in a limestone pavement. They may be well over a metre in depth, and formed when the joints in the limestone were widened by chemical weathering.

British Geological Survey
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The vegetation is very different than on the acid peat on the Pennine moors nearer to home

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I made my way, carefully, until I reached my objective – the former Romano-British settlement at Castle Folds, where I stopped for a bite to eat.

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It didn’t look much on the ground – limestone blocks surrounding more open ground – but it’s a historic site, the location of a defended position used by members of a Romano-British tribe

The monument is an unusual example in Cumbria of a heavily defended Romano-British stone hut circle settlement. Unlike many Romano-British settlements which were enclosed or ‘defended’ in such a way as to protect both inhabitants and stock from casual marauders, Castle Folds appears, by the very nature of its inaccessible location and strongly defended stone enclosure wall, to have been constructed in response to a threat of much greater proportions. 

Historic England

In Medieval times it was used as a shieling – a place for shepherds to stay in grazing season. and some of the ruined structures reflect the modifications made during this period.. 

It’s difficult to make out much from ground level, but the outline can be more clearly seen from the air, as in this photo sourced from Wikipedia (looking south with the Howgill Fells in the background)

By Simon Ledingham, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=13152478

After a break, I carried on hopping over more limestone

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I clambered over a drystone wall to the summit of the hill to take in the views towards the Howgills

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and the Shap Fells to the west

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My next objective was Beacon Hill, across the valley

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I set off down the hill to join the path down intot eh valley and then up the hill towards the monument at the summit of the hill

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The monument at the summit had been erected to mark the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria

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I stopped for a break and took in the 360 degree views

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then it was to head back across the moor to the car.

The car park was busier than when I arrived, but wasn’t full. There were three people sitting next to their cars in fold up chairs eating a picnic. I’m always amazed by people who do this. Drive to a car park an sit there having a picnic. There was a decent view from their seats, albeit surrounded by cars. It they’d only walked a few metres they’d have had an even better view.

Here’s a shot I took looking north west from the car parks. there’s the distinctive shape of the saddle back of Blencathra in the distance

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Anglezarke

The last Sunday in May was another hot and sunny day so I decided I should make the most of it and get back up the moors before the rains arrived and turned the currently dry blanket bogs back into a quagmire!

I decided I’d park up n the outskirts of Rivington and then walk round the Upper Rivington and Anglezarke reservoirs before heading up on to the moors. I set out early but when I arrived at my intended destination the car parks were all pretty full even at 9 o’clock in the morning. I parked up on the dam separating the two Rivington reservoirs and set up along the path on the west shore. It was very busy with cyclists, runners and dog walkers, none of whom seemed to think it was necessary to move over to keep 2 metres apart. I was glad when I reached Anglezarke reservoir. It was considerably quieter walking along the shore.

Looking over towards Black Coppice and Great Hill

At the top end of the reservoir by Healey Nab I walked along the minor road across the top end of the reservoir and then took the path along the eastern shore.

About a third of the way along the lake I took the path up the hill towards the moors. Past the old farmhouse

A short walk along Moor Road and then I climbed over the stile onto the moor.

As I climbed higher I could see cloud in the sky over in the east beyond Great Hill. That wasn’t forecast.

As I got closer I realised that it was, in fact, a cloud of smoke. The barbecue brigade had been out and set fire to the peat over on Darwen Moor.

The moorland up here is a classic “Blanket Bog” of peat covered by sphagnum moss, heather, bilberry and cottongrass. With the recent long sunny dry spell the peat has dried out and it doesn’t take much to set it alight leading to the sort of highly damaging fires we witnessed a couple of years ago up on Winter Hill.

The fire did, indeed, appear to have been started by a disposable barbecue. It’s incredible to think that people are stupid enough to think that it’s appropriate to use these things up on the dry moorland. Luckily the local fire brigades managed to get the fire under control so it didn’t spread too far. There’s been a fire the day before up on Winter Hill and Rivington Pike. again the Fire Service managed to put it out before it spread too far.

The view towards Winter Hill and Rivington Pike

Anyway, carrying on along the moor I walked over Hurst Hill and on to Round Loaf, believed to be a Neolithic or Bronze Age bowl barrow or burial mound – the first of three prehistoric sites I’d visit during my walk.

On top of Round Loaf

From Round Loaf I headed south over the Moor, crossing over Devil’s Ditch which is thought to be the remains of a Neolithic boundary

Looking back over the moor to Round Loaf

and across to Redmond and Spitlers’ Edges

reaching Lead Mine’s Clough, rather than walk down besides the brook I took the past heading east back up onto the moorland

and made my way towards Pike Stones, the third Prehistoric site up on Anglezarke

The site comprises a collection of stones that used to be a Neolithic burial mound. There are several large slabs of millstone grit which at one time would have stood upright to form a burial chamber. Its a scheduled Ancient Monument

The stones themselves don’t look much, but it doesn’t take too much imagination to picture what they looked like when they were upright. Originally they would have been covered over with earth to form a mound and the stones themselves wouldn’t have been visible. However, the mound must have been a fairly impressive sight when it was standing, especially given the prominent location on a high ridge overlooking the South Lancashire Plain.

From Pikestones I set off towards Jepson’s gate

then cut back east along the track

then took the path south across the fields

towards Yarrow Reservoir

Reaching the road, I crossed over Allance Bridge

and took the path through the fields on the east side of the reservoir

passing a few locals

It had quiet for most of my walk – I’d seen few people – but reaching the track at the end of Yarrow Reservoir it became very busy. There were groups of people, many who didn’t seem to be concerned about maintaining “social distancing”. I was glad to finally get back into my car.

Overall it had been an enjoyable walk, but I’d learned a lesson. keep away from Rivington on a fine day

Great Hill and Anglezarke Moor

This period of good weather continues and trying to make the most of it I decided to take a day off work and head up back on to the moors. I drove over to White Coppice arriving around 10 o’clock. It was already busy, but there was no problem keeping my distance from other people out exercising and enjoying the sunshine.

I set off along the path that would take me up to Great Hill

Looking back towards Chorley and Healey Nab from the top of the slope.

and looking ahead to the summit of Great Hill. A familiar sight. I’ve walked up here too many times to count, but never get tired of it.

Millstone grit!

Reaching the ruined farm at Drinkwaters, a couple of walkers had beat me to the bench. I carried on walking,

passing a couple of “locals”.

Looking across to Winter Hill and Rivington Pike across Anglezarke Moor.

the view to the north east from the summit with Pendle Hill just about visible in the distance

I turned south to follow the path along Redmond and Spitler’s Edges

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and, just before reaching Belmont Road I turned south.

As I carried on along the path I heard a familiar bubbling cry and then 2 curlews appeared circling above me in the sky and across the moor. I tried to get a shot of them. This was my best effort – zoom in on the black blob in the sky. (if you can’t see it so well, perhaps a trip to Barnard castle is in order!!!)

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I carried on across the moor towards the ruined farms of Lower and Higher Hempshaws

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From there I decided to try a path I’d never walked down before, towards Sims, another ruined farm. Normally I’d follow a dirt track used by farmers but this route was more direct across the moor.

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It wasn’t a very distinct path, not well trod. That wasn’t surprising really as it waas across peat and if we hadn’t had such a long dry spell this would have been very wet underfoot and a quagmire in winter. Even so, the going wasn’t so easy in places.

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Reaching Sims I cut across the moor to Lead Mine Clough and then back up onto the peat to walk across to Round Loaf, which I’d visited only a week before.

There were two couples having a break on top. Keeping my distance I stopped for a bite to eat, taking in the view. This is a panorama of the ridge from Great Hill I’d traversed.

Leaving Round Loaf I carried on towards Hurst Hill, walking through a sea of bog cotton in bloom on the peat.

On the summit of Hurst Hill looking over the moors to Winter Hill

and over to Great Hill

After a short break I was off again, this time down a path that, despite many years spent up here, I’d never walked down before. It took me across the moorland in the direction of Anglezarke reservoir. The wooded hill in the mid ground is Healey Nab.

The path was faint in places as I made my way through the heather. I took a short diversion to take in the top of Grain Pole Hill – another first.

I carried on towards the minor road where there were a couple of cars parked up in a layby.

Leaving the moor

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I walked down the hill and then took the path to the left of the Goit (a watercourse linking the Roddlesworth and Anglezarke reservoirs

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back towards White Coppice.

Another great day up on the moors. It had been relatively busy, but I’d passed fewer people than I’d encountered when I’d been shopping at the Marks and Spencers food store a couple of days before – and it had been a lot easier to keep my distance from them.

Return to the Moors

Like most people – but unlike a certain Gollum like Government advisor – as best as I can I’ve been sticking to both the letter and the spirit of the Government’s requirements and advice to try to control the spread of the Covid-19 virus. That means I’ve been working for home and sticking to local walks in the Plantations, respecting best I can “social distancing”. However, since last week we’ve been “allowed” to travel further for exercise and as Wednesday was a hot and sunny day, I decided to bunk off work during the afternoon, drive 7 miles over to Rivington and get out for a walk up on the Moors.

The car parks around Rivington were jammed, to say the least, but I avoided the crowds around the “honeypots” and rather than head up the Pike, which would have been heaving with people, set off down a quiet path heading towards Anglezarke.

I took the path to the east of Yarrow reservoir, passing only a handful of people

and quite a few sheep

including a number of a black breed (not sure what they were).

At Allance Bridge, rather than take the track up Lead Mine Clough I cut up the track up across the rough fields

with great views over the moors

and towards Winter Hill.

Over the stile onto the open access land.

Passing more sheep.

I cut across the peat, covered with cotton grass, heading towards the modest summit of Hurst Hill. With all the dry weather we’ve had while we’ve all been locked down the ground was dry (it’s usually a quagmire) but as there wasn’t a definite path the going across the rough ground was hard work.

Reaching the summit I stopped for a chat with a couple of other walkers (keeping 2 metres apart), one who lived very close to the house where I lived during my teenage years.

Long range visibility was poor

but there were good views over the moors

My next objective, along a more definite path, was Round Loaf, a prehistoric (Late Neolithic or Bronze Age) bowl barrow burial mound, which is a Scheduled Monument.

There’s a number of prehistoric relics in the area, including Pikestones, a collection of stones that used to be a Neolithic burial mound, which is only a short distance away.

Climbing to the top of the tumulus there were good views over the moors to Rivington Pike and Winter Hill

and, in the opposite direction, towards Great Hill.

I had a number of options of routes to follow but I decided to make my way back over the rough peat towards Lead Mine Clough,

where I crossed over the river and then cut across on the path heading east.

I walked a short distance along the track used by the local farmers towards the ruined farm known as “Sims”

and the took the path towards Rivington

Looking back.

I crossed the young River Yarrow

Looking back again.

The path took me across rough ground and then through a field of horses before I reached the road.

It was only a short distance to the start of the path I’d walked along earlier on the east side of the Yarrow Reservoir. I retraced my steps back towards Rivington, passing the dam where there were a few small well separated groups sun bathing.

I took the path back to Rivington village, past the Chapel and then across the fields back to my car completing a 9 mile circuit.

After being restricted to walking through woodland for the past couple of months it had been good to get up on some rougher, open country. I’ll definitely be back up on the moors again a few times over the next few weeks.

Pining for the Lakes

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Like everyone else, my plans for getting out and about this Spring and Summer have been torpedoed by the Covid-19 situation. I had originally intended to spend a few days in the Lake District at the beginning of May again this year, having enjoyed a short solo walking break up there for the past two years. It helps to spend some time getting away from things, relaxing (if you can call fell walking relaxing!) and clearing my head. But, alas, not to be this year, which is made even more frustrating that the weather was so good.

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Even though our Clown Minister and the host of second raters “running” the country have now declared we can drive off anywhere we like for exercise (in England only, as the Scots and Welsh administrations are taking a more cautious approach), I’m going to respect the wishes of the locals and stay closer to home for a while. So, I’ve had to get my “fix” of the Lake District in other ways. Work has kept me busy (busier than it would have been without the virus – although with less income) but I have managed to spend some time looking at my photos from previous trips, reading books and blogs, watching videos and listening to podcasts about the Lakes, and some other favourite mountainous regions. Not as good as being there, of course, but, you have to take your pleasures the best way you can!

I’ve accumulated a decent little library of books about the Lake District, Snowdonia and other favourite areas for walking, but am always adding to it (I can’t help myself!) and just a few days ago this arrived through the letter box.

I’d pre-ordered this book a short while ago and had been looking forward to it being published and arriving. The blurb from the publisher (a small Lakeland company) tells us that

In Life on the Mountains Terry presents more than 100 exclusive photos from a decade on the fells, and speaks candidly about his troubled early life, a disowned father, depression and his love of real ale before revealing the tricks and techniques of his craft and detailing the landscapes he’s grown to love.

Terry has produced marvellous documentaries about two iconic mountains, Scafell Pike and Blencathra, and is about to release a third about Helvellyn, although the premiere, which was due to be held at the Rheghed Centre near Penrith, has had to be postponed. I’ve enjoyed both of his films, edited versions which have been shown on BBC 4. The book contains some marvellous photographs of the Lakeland fells – I wish mine looked half as good – and it was interesting to read about his early life and insights about the making of the films.

There are clips from Terry’s work on Youtube, but I also discovered that he’s been streaming on Facebook too, where he talks about his work and shows clips from his films, including the upcoming one about Helvellyn. I’ve particularly enjoyed watching his Facebook streams – he’s quite a character!

Included with the book was a leaflet advertising a podcast, Countrystride, which is produced by Dave Felton, who runs Inspired by Lakeland, the company that’s published Terry Abraham’s book, and presented by Mark Richards, whose written guidebooks about the Lakes, including the eight-volume Lakeland Fellranger series, published by Cicerone. I’ve started listening to the podcasts, including one featuring a walk up Wetherlam from Tilberthwaite with George Kitching, the author of the Lakeland Walking Tales blog, which I follow. George has commented on my little blog a few times, so it was good to hear him talking on the podcast. The Countrystride blog is also worth visiting, for as well as the links to the podcasts it features some excellent line drawings, one for each episode, in a style similar to Alfred Wainwright, by Mark Richards.

I’ve found a few programmes to listen to on the BBC Sounds App too. Recent programmes include a walk along the Miner’s Way in the Wicklow Mountains by the Irish poet Jane Clarke, an old episode of Clare Balding’s Ramblings from Radio 4 in Glendalough in the Wicklow Mountains, and a series of essays about mountainous areas in Wales which had been aired on Radio 3.

I’ve also been watching a few videos by Abbie Barnes, a very enthusiastic young female film maker who has filmed her walks in the Lake District and elsewhere. She has a her own production company, Songthrush Productions. I’ve enjoyed “accompanying” her on her walks – not as good as actually being there, but not a bad substitute in these strange times.

Recommendations of other videos, podcasts and the like, gratefully received!

Along the Buttermere ridge

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!

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The lake was as still as a mill pond (the sun in the south east made photography difficult)

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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.

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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.

Looking up

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The view back towards the Grasmoor group

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and down to Buttermere

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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.

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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.

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Crummock Water and Grasmoor
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Down into Ennerdale
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Zooming in – the Isle of Man is just visible on the horizon
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Looking north
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Zooming in over the Newlands Valley towards Keswick, Skiddaw and Blencathra
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High Stile – my next objective

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.

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Looking towards Pillar and the fells to the west of Ennerdale

The view back towards Blea Tarn (it looks a long way down) Buttermere village and the Grasmoor range

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Looking back to Red Pike as I neared the summit of High Stile

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Looking south west from High Stile I could see the Scafells

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Looking back towards Red Pike from the summit of High Stile

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Carrying on along the ridge and looking back at the crags below the summit of HIgh Stile

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and looking over Fleetwith Pike and the Honister Pass – there’s the Helvellyn and Fairfied ranges in the distance

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The ridge terminates at another peak, High Crag. I’m going to bore you with some more views now from its summit

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Looking south towards Great Gable at the end of Ennerdale with the summits of Scafells visible in the background
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Looking back along the ridge towards High Stile with Ennerdale Water visible to the left
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Looking north west
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Looking over Haystacks with Great Gable and the Scafells in the background
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Looking South East over the Honister Pass
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Fleetwith Pike

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.

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Looking down I could see Buttermere

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Looking over Haystacks to Great Gable

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I carried on over Satir and then descended to Scarth Gap – there’s Haystacks ahead

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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!

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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

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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!

Rannerdale Knotts

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!

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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!

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Looking down into the valley and the National Trust car park, with Mellbreak, on the other side of Crummock Water, in the distance.

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and looking back towards Buttermere

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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.

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Looking over to the right there was Whiteless Pike

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and a little further to the north, the great bulk of Grasmoor, with some cloud still lingering on the summit.

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Getting nearer to the summit now and a little scrambling over rock required, but nothing serious.

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Reaching the summit, this was the view over Crummock Water with Loweswater a little further on in the distance.

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and looking back towards Buttermere.

The view over to Red Pike and High Stile the other side of Buttermere.

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The cloud had dispersed now from the top of Grasmoor (well, more or less) as the skies brightened.

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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.

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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!

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At the end of the ridge, this was the view over towards Newlands Pass

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and beyond Haystacks the summit of Great Gable was beginning to emerge from the cloud.

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By the time I was back in Buttermere it had really brightened up

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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!

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It was looking promising for Wednesday.

A wet morning in Buttermere

I woke up on Tuesday to be greeted by, as expected, a wet and windy day. It was forecast that conditions would change mid afternoon, but most of the day looked like it was not going to be conducive to getting up on the fells. So after breakfast I had a decision to make about what to do. I hadn’t come up to Buttermere to spend the day in a Youth Hostel and working on the principle that there’s no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing, (I don’t actually agree with that statement) I donned my waterproof coat and prepared to get wet!

I decided that my best option was to spend the morning taking a stroll around the lake and decide what to do in the afternoon later on, depending on how things were looking.

As I set out, this was the view over the valley towards High Stile

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Approaching the small picturesque Church of St James at the end of the Newlands Pass,

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I decided to pop inside and take a look.

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Under this window, which looks towards Haystacks (not visible today, alas!), there’s a monument to Alfred Wainwright

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Leaving the shelter of the church, I set off through the village towards the lake, passing the Fish Inn

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which, in the 1790’s, used to be the home of Mary Robinson, the landlord’s daughter, who was known as “The Beauty of Buttermere“. In 1802 she was swept off her feet by a visitor to the Inn, calling himself “Colonel Alexander Hope” and they were married. It turned out, however, that he was in fact John Hatfield, an undischarged bankrupt, who was already married. After conning some local residents out of money, he scarpered, but the law caught up with him and he ended up being tried in Carlisle and hanged. More detail can be read on the Fish’s website.

Famous visitors to the Inn have included the Lake Poets, Wordsworth, Southey, and Coleridge.

The circuit of the lake is very popular as it’s quite an easy walk, but very scenic, so on a fine day the route gets busy. It was quieter today, but I wasn’t the only one braving the wind and rain.

Carrying on I soon reached the lake to be greeted by choppy waters and an atmospheric view down towards Fleetwith Pike.

The waterfalls of Sourmilk Gill were in full spate

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I carried on through the woods down the west shore of the lake

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Looking across towards High Snockrigg (great name that!)

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I continued down the path . Another view of Fleetwith Pike

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and to my right High Stile visible through the cloud

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and High Crag

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Getting near to the top of the lake

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There’s Haystacks. Glad I wasn’t planning on going up there today!

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An atmospheric view of Fleetwith Pike and Haystacks

I crossed over, past Gatesgarth farm, to the east side of the lake. A walk down a short stretch of road and then back on to the path along the lakeside.

Looking across the lake to High Crag and High Stile

Getting closer to Buttermere village, the path goes through a tunnel excavated through the rock.

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Looking across to the waterfalls of Sourmilk Gill and Red Pike

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It had taken me just over a couple of hours to circumnavigate the lake . My coat had kept me dry but it was time to get out of the rain. There are 2 cafes in the village. Unfortunately one pf them was closed for the week for renovation but the other, at Sykes Farm, was still open, so I popped in for a brew and a nice bowl of hot pea soup. In fact, I ended up having a couple of brews as I whiled away the time for an hour and a half, drying out and deciding on what to do in the afternoon. There were signs that the cloud was beginning to clear, so there was a chance of a drier walk in the afternoon.