Bowscale Tarn

The weather just seemed to be getting better every day, so on the Wednesday, when I was due to return home, I wanted to make the most of the time I had left. The B and B said it was OK to leave my car so I set off from the farm with the intention of walking up to Bowscale Tarn.

I walked through Mosedale village on towards Bowscale.

On the roadside I noticed an old sign

A nearby information board told me that it was a boundary sign for the parish dating back to the 1830’s. Before reorganisation in 1934, when they were merged to form the current Parish of Mungrisdale, there were four individual townships in the area – Bowscale, Berrier & Murrah, Mosedale and Mungrisdale. “Township stones” were placed to mark the boundaries and these have been located and preserved by local people. The locations were marked on a map on the information board and I was able to find another one close by

I walked through the small settlement of Bowscale

and then turned up the lane that would take me up into the fells and Bowscale Tarn.

The path climbed gradually up the side of the fell

becoming a little steeper as I got closer to the Tarn. But it was good, easy walking with excellent views on a sunny day up Mosedale and across to Carrock Fell

The tarn sits in a glacial corrie (the hole left after the glacier that sat here had melted) and kept in place by a morraine (a bank of earth and rock dumped by the glacier) on the north side of the corrie. The walk up here was very popular during Victorian times. The path up from Bowscale village that I’d taken is relatively gentle most of the way so not too difficult for ladies in corsets and long skirts! I bet a lot of the well to do visitors would have been taken up in a pony trap or on horseback, mind.

There’s a legend that there are two immortal talking fish that live in the tarn and they’re even mentioned by Wordsworth in his poem ‘Song, at the Feast of Brougham Castle‘.

And both the undying Fish that swim
Through Bowscale-Tarn did wait on him,
The pair were Servants of his eye
In their immortality,
They moved about in open sight,
To and fro, for his delight.

I didn’t spot them so can’t confirm whether they can talk on not. Mind you, I couldn’t see any fish in the tarn.

There are a number of routes up on to the summit of fell from the tarn, one of them climbing up through the rocky crags on the south side of the tarn. You can make it out in the following picture I snapped

It was such a nice day and I was in no hurry to set off for home, so I decided I’d pay another visit to the summit. I decided to take the path up through the grassy section between the crags.

It was quite steep and there was a little scrambling over some rocky sections , but wasn’t too difficult and it didn’t take me too long to get to the top of the path.

Looking down on the tarn as I climbed

I then had a walk up the grassy slope to reach the summit.

Blencathra seen from the summit
Skiddaw and Great Calva

There was one other walker who was already there when I reached the top. We had a chat, as you do, but I didn’t stop long and made my way back down. Initially following the same path but I carried on down the gentler slope rather than negotiating down to the tarn on the steep path.

The view of Carrock Fell as I descended

The final section of the descent of the mountain was steep enough mind and brought me down to a path below the tarn. Then another steep path took me down towards the River Caldew by Roundhouse farm.

Roundhouse farm

I crossed over the footbridge and past the farm to join the minor road down past Swineside and back to Mosedale.

It was only about 1 o’clock when I was back at Mosedale End farm and I wasn’t ready to head home so I decided that rather than drive back to the A66 and onto the M6 at Pensrith, I’d drive in the opposite direction down the narrow country roads and have a look at the village of Caldbeck. I’d never been there before.

It didn’t take long to get there and I parked and had a mooch around. It’s an attractive village with old houses that have been done up very nicely and a few shops.

I took a walk along the river

as far as the old church

The attractive church is dedicated to St Kentigern who is better known in Scotland as St Mungo. It was built in 1112 and still has some Romanesque (Norman) features. But like most old churches there’s been a number of extensions and modifications showing Gothic influences.

Romanesque doorway

I had a quick peek inside but didn’t take any photographs.

The old mill – now housing a couple of crafty shops
Village green and duck pond

It didn’t take long to explore the village but before I went back to the car I decided to have a brew in the little riverside cafe, the Muddy Duck. It’s a hut really with benches outdoors on the riverside. I got myself a coffee and sat on one of the benches enjoying the drink in the sunshine.

Looking over the river as I drank up my coffee

Then it was time to return to the car and set off for home. I’d had a good short break and could have stayed up in the Lakes for longer. I’d done the walking I’d planned but there was the possibility of going up Blencathra from Mungrisdale. However, if I had stayed longer I would have wanted to move on to a different part of the Lakes. But that was academic. I had some commitments the next day.

The good weather continued for a few more days, but then a cold front came in leading to a significant drop in temperature and bringing in rain and even some snow. Well that’s the British weather for you!

Carrock Fell, High Pike and Knott

Another fine day was promised as I set out from Mosedale End farm, heading up the quiet road to Stone Ends where I’d start my ascent up Carrock Fell.

The fells “back o’ Skiddaw” are, in the main, rounded, grassy hills. Carrock Fell is the exception. According to Diana Whaley’s A Dictionary of Lake District Place-Names, it’s name derived from the Cumbric carreg (rock, stony place), means “rocky height” and that is a good description of this fell composed of volcanic rock, including, uniquely for Lakeland, gabbro, an igneous rock that’s also found in the Black Cuillin mountains on the Isle of Skye. The fell is also known for the ruins of an iron age fortress that surround its summit and was climbed by Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins, an adventure described by Dickens in The Lazy Tour of Two Idle Apprentices. (I managed to download a Free Kindle version from Amazon)

I’d had a good night’s sleep and ready for a good walk. The owners of the farm were busy, it was lambing time, and the fruits of their labour were clearly evident in the fields

The farm stood at the foot of Carrock Fell and I’d considered a number of routes up, including a direct ascent from the village. However, talking to my landlady I decided that the more popular route from Stone Ends, about a mile up the road, was a better bet. Talking to someone later who I met on the summit who’d come up from the village, I think I’d made a wise decision.

Approaching Stone Ends

Reaching Stone Ends the path up the fell, skirting the crags, was visible.

I started to make my way up. The path climbed gradually at first but became steeper as I ascended, skirting the rocky crags.

As I cimbed I could see someone else coming up behind me. He was making good, steady progress and I wondered how long it would take for him to catch me! Well, catch me he did about three quarters of the way up, and we stopped to chat. He’d retired early from local government in the south of Scotland, living just over the other side of the Solway, and was now working as a walking guide. Lucky fellow! he was originally from Hull and was a Rugby League fan, so we had quite a lot in common and had plenty to talk about as he joined me on our journey towards the summit.

It was windy on top, but the temperature was pleasant and it was warm in the sun.

On a good day it’s possible to see for miles over the Solway to Scotland. However, long range visibility was poor so our northern neighbour was hidden in the murk.

Looking towards Skiddaw

The remains of the fortress, the foundations of the walls, were clearly visible, though. It would have been a hard existence up here, wild wet and windy for much of the year but it would have been a commanding position, on the edge of the fells overlooking the coatal plains. The fort is supposed to have been built by the Celtic inhabitants of this region – the Brigantes. It’s also supposed to have been attacked and destroyed by the Romans. It would have been hard work charging up the steep sides of the mountain so they must have been pretty determined to defeat and dislodge the inhabitants of the fort.

After a rest, sheltering from the wind behind the handy rocky ruins, I set off for my next destination, High Pike – there it is, in the distance.

I knew what to except. I’d watched a youtube video where Ed Byrne and my fellow Wiganer Stuart MaConie walk in the opposite direction, so I wasn’t surprised to find that I needed to do quite a bit of bog hopping . (The Ed Venturing videos, where he interviews comedians / personalities during a walk, are worth watching).

Looking back to Carrock Fell.

Fortunately I didn’t get swallowed up in the peaty depths and it didn’t take too long to reach the summit of High Pike – as well as being the most northerly Lakeland summit over 2000ft, it’s also the only Wainwright on the Cumbria Way, so the final stretch to the summit was on a good path as I joined the route.

On the summit there was a very convenient memorial bench to park myself while I had my sandwiches.

Long range visibility was still poor so no sight of the Solway, Scotland and the Isle of Man ‘😢

But I could make out a murky Blencathra

and Skiddaw

Looking over to Carrock Fell, I didn’t like the look of the dark skies over to the east.

I had my rain jacket in my pack but I wasn’t expecting to use it. The weather forecast definitely had not mentioned rain, but, then, this is the Lakes. I crossed my fingers and hoped the dark clouds wouldn’t come my way. I was reasonably optimistic as the wind was blowing from the south, but you should always be prepared for rain up on those fells.

Where to next? It wasn’t long after midday and I wasn’t in a hurry so I decided to carry on and head for Knott. I took the Cumbria Way which traversed the flanks of Great Lingy Hill. I could always drop down into the Mosedale valley if it started to bucket down.

As I walked over the quiet fellside I spotted what looked like a garden shed perched high up on the fell. What was that doing there? On reaching it, I found that it was the Geat Lingy Hut a bothy maintained by the Mountain Bothy Association.

I had a peek inside

It wasn’t very big or substantial, but would be a welcome resting place for walkers crossing these isolated fells, perhaps when walking the Cumbria Way in rain, hail or snow. Providing it didn’t get blown away, that is. It was windy and the wind could be considerably stronger at times, particularly like during the storms we’d recently encountered. I did notice, however, that the hut was secured by guy ropes so, hopefully, anyone taking shelter during a storm wouldn’t find themselves lifted up into the clouds.

This was the view down to Mosedale from the hut

Unsurprisingly, some bog hopping continued to be the order of the day as I made my way down the valley and then onwards up to the broad, featureless, grassy summit plateau.

Carrying on, I could see my next destination, Knott. Surrounded by other grassy fells, it’s a long way from a road and requires a long walk across the rough ground to reach it. So it made sense to include it in my walk, taking in the summit while I wasn’t too far away.

High Pike and Carrock Fell from Knott
The view towards Great Calva and Skiddaw
The back of Blencathra
A murky view of Lake Bassenthwaite

Time to set back down towards Mosedale. I retraced my steps through the bogs down to Grainsgill beck, crossing over and joining the Cumbria Way. Most people following this trail would be walking in the opposite direction, but I descended down the path towards Mosedale valley.

As I reached the valley floor I passed the remains of the old Carrock Mine, a Scheduled Monument.

Ruins of the mill and processing plant
One of the mine adits that’s been preserved.

Mining for lead and copper had taken place hereabouts since the 16 th century, but early in the 20th Century tungsten was discovered here. Tungsten is a hard metal and when alloyed with steel creates alloys with a number of applications, including armour plating. In 1906 the mine was taken over by two Germans and it’s likely that a lot of tungsten was sent to Germany and used in armour plating on German warships. The mine closed in 1911 but was reopened during the First World war when the need for the metal justified the cost of the ore’s extraction and processing. It closed after the war but was reopened in 1942 again closing after the war. The viability of the mine depended on the price of tungsten and mining began again in the 1970s and continued until it finally closed in 1981. There’s a detailed chronology of the mine’s history on the Cumbria Amenity Trust Mining History Society website.

It was easy walking now along a gravel track which eventually turned into a metalled road

which took me back to Mosedale

After a long walk I was glad that I didn’t have to drive back down the busy motorway. After showering I settled down for a relaxing evening in my comfortable B and B.

https://explore.osmaps.com/route/11993569/carrock-fell-high-pike-and-knott-from-mosedale?lat=54.693916&lon=-3.060628&zoom=13.3002&overlays=&style=Leisure&type=2d

Souther and Bowscale Fells

DSC01103

With good weather forecast in late March, I decided I’d take advantage of my new working arrangements and head up for a short break in the Lakes, booking a room “back o’ Skiddaw” at Mosedale End Farm. I fancied tackling Carrock Fell and had a route planned that would be a good day walk, but I wanted to save that for a day when I wouldn’t have a drive home at the end. So, after driving up to the Lakes on the Monday morning I parked up in Mungrisdale and set off for a walk up a couple of fells I’d been up before – Souter Fell and Bowscale Fell, but reversing the direction of my previous ramble.

The bridge at Mungrisdale

It wasn’t too busy when I arrived in Mungrisdale, so I didn’t have any trouble finding a parking space opposite the Village Hall. I put paid my £2 voluntary donation and set off. There was a walk along a quiet road, which leads to Scales, before I turned off up the path up Souther Fell. It was a fine day with blue skies, but with a strong breeze, particularly higher up on the fells.

This path is regularly used by hang glider enthusiasts who launch themselves from the summit of the modest fell, but there were none around today, and I didn’t see anyone else as I made my way slowly up the fell, dodging the occasional boggy section.

Reaching the summit plateau, there was a good view over to Bannerdale Crags and Blencathra. From this angle it was clear why the latter is also known as Saddleback.

Sother Fell is a whaleback hill so I turned north and walked over to the high point, before turning south, retracing my steps for a short distance before making my way to the summit which marks probably the best viewpoint on the plateau.

Zooming in on Blencathra with Sharp Edge clearly visible

I carried on down the path heading off the hill and towards Blencathra, but that wasn’t my destination today. Instead, reaching the hause between Souther and Scales Fells, I descended towards White Horse Bent, crossing over the Glenderamackin and then following the path on the north side of the river with Blencathra and Sharp Edge dominating the view.

It was quiet today – I encountered only a few people during my walk – and I couldn’t see any brave soles making their way along the narrow arête.

I carried on climbing up to the col between Bannedrale Crags and Blencathra. I could have turned left now, and made my way up Blencathra via Foule Crag, a steep climb but a route up the mountain I’d like to try. However, time was getting on so that would have to wait for another day. Instead I turned right and followed the path up Bowscale. The ground was soggy underfoot and quite a bit of bog hopping was required, but I managed to keep my feet dry.

Looking across the valley to my right, I could see across to Souther Fell

I reached the summit with good views all round, although longer range visibility was poor.

Blencathra – lit looks different from the top of Bowscale Fell
Looking east over the fell
Zooming in on Carrock Fell
Looking over towards Knott

I walked down the hill a little in a northerly direction, peering over the drop down to Bowscale Tarn

Bowscale Tarn and Carrock Fell

and then retraced my steps back to the summit. I took a short breather before starting my descent, bog hopping down and joining the path that descends down the side of the Tongue to the Gleneramackin

A view of Bannerdale Crags as I descended

Reaching the bottom of the valley I followed the river back to Mungrisdale. After changing out of my boots I drove the short distance through the village and on to Mosedale and my home for the next couple of days – Mosedale End Farm at the foot of Carrock Fell.

Mosedale End Farm is, as it name implies, a real working farm which has three comfortable, rooms let on a bed and breakfast basis plus a Glamping pod. I stayed in the Grainery Suite. All the rooms have basic cooking facilities which meant I didn’t have to go out to find somewhere to eat when I was tired after a good day’s walk – especially as the farm is rather isolated in a very small and quiet village with no facilities (although the pub in Mungrisdale isn’t so far away). After a refreshing shower I made myself a brew and something to eat before settling down for a relaxing evening reading and watching a bit of TV. I turned in early, looking forward to another good walk the next day.

Sour Howes

St David’s Day promised to be a fine day, so, taking advantage of my change of circumstances, I decided to travel back up to the Lakes for another wander. Rather than battle through the traffic on the M6 on a week day, I decided I’d take advantage of the morning direct train to Windermere. I’d planned a walk through back lanes to the north and north east of Windermere town I’d never explored before. No really high fells and quite different terrain than deeper into the valleys, but it turned out to be a most enjoyable walk through pleasant countryside with a steep climb up a smaller fell.

Leaving the station and crossing the road, I turned up the lane that would take me up to the modest hill of Orrest Head. Doing this I was following the footsteps of one Alfred Wainwright, originally from Blackburn, not far from where I grew up. Many years later he wrote in his autobiographical Ex-Fellwanderer:

“…quite suddenly, we emerged from the trees and were on a bare headland, and, as though a curtain had dramatically been torn aside, beheld a truly magnificent view. …”

https://www.walklakes.co.uk/walk_192.html

The view inspired him to walk on the fells and write the guidebooks that inspired many others to do the same.

Amazingly, I’d never been up to Orrest Head before and wondered whether it would live up to the hype.

On a bright, sunny late winter’s day (or is 1st March the first day of Spring?) it did!

C01FAA6E-ACF9-4B94-AA12-EC69B04C6401
039324E6-B4B8-48B6-9417-09655E8A315C
DSC00696
DSC00689
The Coniston Fells
DSC00695
DSC00698

It was busy at the summit, mind. The National Park have created a winding, mild gradient path to the summit up from Windermere village, increasing accessability so that more people can enjoy the views.

After soaking up the views I made my way down the steep but short descent on the north side of the hill.

3299D4DB-F2D8-4ACA-AF91-FDFD70AA3EDF
At the bottom of the hill crossing the fields towards “The Causeway” farm. My destination visible of the right of the horizon
DEC7F177-2DE1-418B-90DC-5792E60DF8FB
After crossing some fields and walking along a couple of short stretches of tarmac on minor roads, I set off up Dubbs Road, a rough track that is accessible to “off road” vehicles that have been controvesial in the Lakes. There were none about today, mind.
D79A4827-FDF6-4217-A3AF-3CE8C16D0EAF
My objective, Sour Howes, ahead.
73F1C48D-C512-4B40-B58B-752BF2A29A22
I passed the small Dubbs Reservoir
EC24CF6E-6C04-4CA2-A149-6A4C57E71B18
Carrying on allong the lane – much rougher underfoot after the reservoir
094823B3-1FDA-4CE4-A684-D6F411680301
The village of Troutbeck under Wansfell
161707E1-E498-4684-AA44-F6A6DCEFBF68
Looking over to Windermere and the Coniston Fells

Just before a copse on the left I passed through a gate onto the fell. There are no paths up the fell marked on the OS and Harvey maps, but it’s Open Access land and there are a number of access points – with a stile a short distance after the gate.

DSC00705
8D6522F0-D7C3-4A65-9B6C-BC222AB3508B
F9A6DE91-BCBF-4D65-A69B-E49E59157708
It was a steep climb but I was rewarded with superb views over to the western arm of the Kentmere horseshoe.

Part way up I found I was having great difficulty putting one step in front of another. I guessed what was happening so I stopped and tested my blood sugar. Oops. I hadn’t been eating enough and my blood sugar had dropped and I was verging on a hypo. Time for a rest and something to eat to boost my sugar. But as I munched on some dried apricots I felt something hard and metallic in my mouth. Blast, a filling had come loose. Standing up I could see I just had a signal on my phone, time to make a call. I didn’t think that the Mountain Rescue would have been too keen on coming out to fix my filling, but I managed to get through to my dentist and, very fortunately , was able to book an appointment for the next afternoon.

After the snack had done it’s job I continued on up the fell. It’s not so high, just 483 metres (1,585 feet), mainly grassy slopes with some rocky outcrops. The summit consists of a number of lumps and bumps making it difficult to locate the highest point. The views on a bright sunny day were extensive

8AF42CD5-6AC8-4205-9635-9EE6A191879B
A panorama snapped with my phone
DSC00723
To the south west there was an extensive view over Windermere
DSC00714
A close up of the Coniston fells
DSC00715
Zooming in a little on the fells to the west including Pike O’Blisco, Crinkle Crags, Scafell and Scafell Pike (peeking through from behind), Bowfell, Great End and Great Gable
DSC00716
Red Screes
DSC00717
Thornthwaite Crag, Froswick, Ill Bell and Yoke

Looking eastwards Kendal and the Howgill Fells were visible in the distance

Now why is the fell called “Sour Hows”? Who knows? However

Sour Howes ‘Poor, wet’ plus ‘bumpy hill top’ is the straightforward explanation

LDWA Website

Seems to sum it up!

I could have stopped up there for longer but decided to continue on my way. I was tempted to carry on the ridge to Salllows, another modest peak. It was possible to add that to my iteniary and still get back to Windermere before dark and catch a later train. But after my little incident I decided against doing that. I didn’t think that I had enough food left in my rucksack and I didn’t want to risk a hypo up on the fells, so, somewhat reluctantly, I started my descent down the fell.

Reaching the Dubbs road, rather than retrace my steps I turned right and carried on up the track a short distance before turning down another rough track, the Longmire Road, which headed back in the direction of Windermere.

I couldn’t help but keep looking back to take in the views of the Kentmere Fells

DSC00729
DSC00733

But eventually, I left them behind me as I made my way past farms and through fields back towards Orrest Head.

06E98946-7E11-4BFE-BBE5-40DC397AD4D1

I carried on towards the top of Orrest Head

DSC00687
DSC00736
Looking back towards Troutbeck

I didn’t linger too long. Looking at my watch I realised that I had a good chance of making the next train back to Wigan. So I set off down the hill and reached the station with enough time to remove my gaiters (they were a blessing after crossing a lot of boggy ground) and reorganising myself before the train pulled in.

There are pros and cons to taking the train – the walking route options are restricted somewhat by the timetable, but it’s better for the environment and I didn’t have to battle through traffic when I was tired after my walk. So I settled back, took in the views from the window and listened to some podcasts. I was back in Wigan in just less than 90 minutes, less stressed than if I’d driven. A 20 minute walk later and I was back home with the kettle on. It would have been good to stay longer in the Lakes, but the weather was due to turn the next day (and it did!) plus I had that visit to the dentist to look forward to 😬

Glencoyne with a diversion to Sheffield Pike

Just a couple of days after a very significant birthday and the weather looked promising. What would be a better way to celebrate by a walk in the Lake District?

I’d been listening to a programme on Radio 3 of a “very special poetic pilgrimage to the Cairngorms” by Robert MacFarlane, inspired by Nan Shepherd’s The Living Mountain. One of the central ideas in the book is that we ‘should not walk “up” a mountain but “into” them’. The summits aren’t the be all and end all of the mountains – there is much to enjoy and savour at lower levels.

“Often the mountain gives itself most completely when I have no destination but have gone out merely to be with the mountain as one visits a friend, with no intention but to be with him.” (Nan Shepherd)

BBC website

Bearing this in mind I decided on a walk I’d had on my list of possibilities for some time – a walk around Glencoyne – an example of a hanging valley, formed by a glacier thousands of years ago during the last Ice Age – from Ullswater. I’d been up the south side of the valley a couple of times heading up to a summit and greatly enjoyed the scenery and peace and quiet

I parked up at the National Trust car park at Aira Force. I’d set out early so there were plenty of spaces available, which is not always the case at this popular car park which serves the “honey pot” waterfall of Aira Force. I followed the path climbing up beside the river, and after a quick look at the waterfall from a distance, cut across to the Dockray road. Crossing over the latter I took the path towards Glencoyne

C01E957B-C407-47F6-8573-67A282F7014A

The path, occasionally boggy (not surprising during the recent persistent rain) traversed the hill side, climbing gradually.

FC763F8D-01A2-43E7-8D6F-7C451FEE845C

with excellent views along the lake in both directions.

DSC00629
DSC00634

I passed through a gate and then walked through a stretch of woodland before the path began to climb steeply,

DSC00638
170355D6-9400-42C5-94C3-AE3EFFA3BA64
826487E7-7CBB-4A74-8B79-2B1BC6755087

Soon the views of the lake behind me were replaced ahead by mountains, the higher fells still showing remnants of recent snowfall.

DSC00642

The path took me along the north side of the valley. It’s a quiet route and I only encountered 3 other people until I reached the junction with the path up Greenside.

DSC00643
DE3AB541-5AD4-4E33-928F-73215A3CED2C
The view down the valley towards Ullswater
DSC00646

Reaching the head of the valley I decided to divert up to Sheffield Pike – a relatively short climb but over boggy ground.

9DBDEF6A-4B5A-42EA-8EA0-F9D48887FACA
Helvellyn and Catstycam visible from the head of the valley
DSC00659
Looking back as I started to climb up to the summit of Sheffield Pike
566C5926-E677-44BB-8A20-0C9BB996538B
The summit of Sheffield Pike
DSC00666
Looking down on Ullswater from the summit

It was windy at the top as I grabbed a few snaps. I settled down behind some rocks for some shelter while I had a bite to eat and a hot coffee from my flask. Reenrgised I retraced my steps back through the bogs down to the path that would take me down the south side of Glencoyne.

DSC00657
Lookings towards the high fells on the way back down
DSC00669
Descending back down to Glencoyne
DSC00670
DSC00671

Towards the end of my descent I passed the lonely terrace of cottages known as Seldom Seen. They’re holiday lets now, but at one time they were the homes of Catholic miners, who to were housed here to keep them well away from the predominately non-Conformist fellow workers who lived in Glenridding.

DSC00673
DSC00676
Looking down to Glencoyne farm.
DSC00675
Zooming in on Glencoyne Farm

At the bottom of the vally I joined the Ullswater way path which I follwed back to the car park at Aira Force.

DSC00679
DSC00680
The view back up Glencoyne from the Ullswater Way
DSC00681
Looking over the lake from the Ullswater Way path
DSC00683

The National Trust cafe near the car park was still open so I treated myself to a brew and a cake (needed to boost my blood sugar before the drive home!). Afterwards I crossed the road and walked down to the lake to take in the views before returning to my car and the drive home.

In the end, I did visit a summit, but I think the walk around Glencoyne confirms Nan Shepherds contention that a walk through the mountain valleys can be a very enjoyable and satisfying experience.

Fairfield Ridge

Walking opportunities during mid February have been limited due to visits from Dudley, Eunice and Franklin, but the week before the storms I managed to take a day off work and drove up to Grasmere to head off up the fells.

For once I managed to bag a free space on the outskirts of the village – mid week in February meant there weren’t as many people out and about. I booted up and set off. I’d decided to tackle Fairfield taking the route up to the ridge via Stone Arthur. It’s a steep climb up to the rocky prominence, which is really an outlier of Great Rig, one of the peaks along the western ridge of the Fairfield Horseshoe.

DSC00548
Good views looking back down towards Grasmere
DSC00552

The RAF were out in force that morning. Part way up two Typhoons zoomed allong the valley. They were followed by a stream of more aircraft at intervals as I climbed, disturbing the peace and quiet for a couple of hours.

The wind picked up as I climbed – it was blowing a hooley when I reached Stone Arthur.

DSC00556
DSC00557

I stopped for a short while, sheltering from the wind behind the rocks, for a brew and a bite to eat before continuing the climb up towards Great Rig

DSC00560
DSC00558
Cracking views back over the valley
DSC00562
DSC00563
and over Grisedale to Dollywagon Pike and Helvellyn
DSC00564
The summit of Great Rigg ahead

Reaching the ridge and the summit of great Rigg I was battered by the wind but stopped to chat with some other walkers and to take in the views

DSC00569
Looking over to Fairfield
DSC00566
Down the ridge to Windermere
DSC00567
Looking west over Grasmere toward the Coniston Fells, with Coniston Water visible in the distance
DSC00571
Looking north to Seat Sandal, Grisedale Tarn and Dollywagon Pike with Helvellyn just about visible

Onwards now towards Fairfield

DSC00575

It was cold and windy at the summit

DSC00582

and I stopped at the small shelter to warm myself up with a coffee from my flask. Last time I was up here, the summit was covered with cloud, but today there were good views all round.

DSC00578
Looking north towards the Helvellyn ridge with Skiddaw and Blencathra visible in the distance
DSC00580
Cofa Pike and Saint Sunday Crag above Grisedale
DSC00581
Looking across to the eastern fells

I now had to decide on what route to take for the return leg of my journey. One option was to take the steep path down from Fairfield to Grisedale Tarn. I decided against this, choosing to stay high on the ridge despite the wind and head back over Great Rigg to Heron Pike.

DSC00596

Cloud was drifting over but every so often the sun broke through leading to some dramatic lighting effects

DSC00602
Looking back towards Fairfield
DSC00601
Dramatic light over the Coniston fells
DSC00605
Herdies on the hillside
DSC00607
Looking back along the Horseshoe from Heron Pike
DSC00609
The east side of the horseshoe

To descend from the ridge back to Grisedale I took the VERY steep path down from Heron Pike. I managed to keep upright for most of the way down – thank goodness for walking poles – only landing on my backside once!

DSC00613
Looking across to the north as I descended

I eventually reached the path to Alcock Tarn and then turned right for a slightly easier route back down to the valley.

DSC00611
Looking over Grasmere
DSC00615
DSC00617
DSC00618
Looking over to Stone Arthur – I could see the route I’d taken during the morning
DSC00625
Back down at the bottom of the fell now. I crossed the bridge and then took the path heading down into Grasmere

I wandered into the village and had a brief mooch before returning to my car and setting off back home. Another good day in the fells .

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.

7AD0222F-1543-4E8C-A628-AE365A5C164B
A5F2BF27-FD21-4EF8-AB7C-D29C1797B022
Looking across the valley
D4D53715-6A36-4E5E-8F14-5A6CA2B08193
Carrying on up the “lonning” (the Cumbrian term for “lane”
514C222D-FD48-4A99-97E2-77BD8895BEDF
Looking across the valley – Rydal Water just about visible
DSC00477
The picturesque Sweden Bridge – the subject of many photographs!
4F0B1F03-75C6-46D9-9F85-64C34A3F1991
Carrying on along the valley. The other solitary walker a short distance ahead.
EF6B277C-7D0C-4066-976B-1BFFD3D78F1E
The lonely valley!
090BA0BE-293F-4424-9B30-CE667542E7F4
Through the gate – not too far to the top of the pass now
3A4657B5-FB56-4508-A450-8B6A2E192992
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.
DSC00487
Looking down towards Patterdale and Brothers’ Water
DSC00489
Getting close to the summit. The temperature had dropped and there were several patches of snow.
DSC00495
The small un-named tarn at the summit had frozen over
DSC00496
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
DSC00493
Looking across to Dovedale and the Fairfield horseshoe
DSC00492
The view over Middle Dod down to Patterdale
DSC00491
Looking across the Kirkstone Pass to Hartsop Dod (I think!)
DSC00497
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.

DSC00498
DSC00500
Zooming in on the Kirkstone Inn and the car park
DSC00501
Ill Bell again – I can’t resist taking snaps of this mountain!
DSC00502
A good view along Windermere opened up. The photo is rubbish, though as I shooting into the sun
DSC00503
Looking across to Rydal Water and Grasmere
DSC00509
Yet another shot across to the Kentmere fells – Froswick, Ill Bell and Yoke
DSC00510
Looking across the “Struggle” to Wansfell
DSC00531
A herd of Belted Galloways and Highland Cattle
DSC00535
Windemere and Ambleside ahead – still shooting into the sun!
DSC00538
Descending down the last stretch of the fell

DSC00541

B1798172-3215-4944-AEFC-51AF678F7713
Through that gate is the steep road down from the Kirkstone Pass to Ambleside, known as “The Struggle”.
DSC00543
Looking across to Wansfell from The Struggle
DSC00544
Coming into Ambleside
DSC00547

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!

928FB8A0-4B91-48D0-B2C4-35568B9AFCBD

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

DSC00429
DSC00423
DSC00424
DSC00427
DSC00428

and to the east, there was Ingleborough on the horizon

DSC00425

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

DSC00434
DSC00435
DSC00436

The sun slowly slipping below the horizon

DSC00440
DSC00453

Until the sky and the sea were on fire

DSC00455

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

DSC00465

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.

Walla Crag, Bleaberry Fell and Ashness Bridage

DSC00340

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

DSC00334
Skiddaw
Blencathra

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!
DSC00343
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.

DSC00351
DSC00352
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

DSC00356
Clough head and the Dodds
DSC00358
Looking towards Helvellyn
DSC00359
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

DSC00361

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

DSC00364
DSC00365

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.

DSC00371

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.

DSC00253
DSC00257
Good views of the fells of the Kentmere Horseshoe across the fields. Some low cloud covering the summits.
DSC00265
DSC00268
DSC00271
DSC00272
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.

DSC00275
DSC00280
DSC00276
DSC00277

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

DSC00287

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

DSC00291
DSC00292
DSC00294

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.

DSC00300

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

DSC00303
Another tarn near Matson Ground

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

DSC00304
DSC00322

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.

DSC00305
DSC00306
DSC00310
Looking over Windermere village towards the Eastern fells
DSC00324

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.

DSC00325

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.