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.

DSC08161

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

DSC08160
DSC08164
DSC08165

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

DSC08166

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

DSC08167

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

DSC08171
DSC08172

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

DSC08174
DSC08178
Arthur’s Pike

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

DSC08181

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,

DSC08184

dipping down a valley, passing this sheep fold,

DSC08185

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

DSC08187
Looking over Hallin and Place Fells with the Helvelyn range over the lake
DSC08192
I could see Skiddaw in the distance
DSC08190
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.

DSC08193

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

DSC08196
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.

Pining for the Lakes

DSC06904

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.

P3054016

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!

Cat Bells, the Newlands Valley and a short stroll along Derwent Water

The final day of my week off in March and, although we didn’t know it at the time, just over a week until the “lockdown”. The Government’s policy at the time was to develop “herd immunity” and and in an interview in the Sunday Times – behind a paywall! – the Health Secretary was talking about locking up the elderly and other vilnerable people for 3 months. Government policy seemed confused and uncler, but there didn’t seem to be any reason not to go up to the Lakes for a walk, where I’d be in contact with fewer people than I would have been back in Wigan.

I set off early and driving up the M6 traffic was noticeably quieter than normal, but it was far from deserted. Arriving in Keswick I found a place to park on the old road to Pontiscale – now a dead end for traffic but a popular free place to park. After donning my boots and rucksac I set off, crossing the footbridge over the river and walked through Portiscale village, passing the appartment where we stayed a couple of summers ago.

It was a relatively easy start to the walk but after about a mile and a half, during a short climb , I realised I’d left my walking poles in the car. They take some of the strain off my dodgy old knees when descending, but I’d gone too far to turn back to retrieve them so I soldiered on.

DSC07908

About 40 minutes after setting out I reached the foot of Cat Bells. It’s a smaller fell and in easy reach of Keswick, so it’s a popular climb and I expected to see a few other walkers on the way up. The sign told us it was an hour to the top. The last time I went up here it took me about 40 minutes, but as I hadn’t done a lot of fell walking of late I wasn’t sure I’d manage to equal that this time.

As expected there were other walkers making their way to the top, probably not as many as usual, although it was still relatively early. I wan’t the slowest by any means, although I stopped several times to take in the view (not just and excuse to pause for breath – honest!).

DSC07912

I arrived at the summit after 45 minutes, so not quite as quick as last time. It was a grey day so the fells didn’t look their best, but he views were still magnificent even with cloud covering some of the higher fells – it made them look atmospheric.

DSC07915
DSC07913
DSC07914

After a short break to take some photos I resumed my walk, heading south, downhill towards Newlands hawse. I could have carried on along the ridge up to Maiden Moor and High Spy or down to the shores of Derwent Water, but my plan was to descend down to Newlands Valley.

DSC07919
Old mine workings
DSC07920
DSC07929
Looking back down the valley
DSC07931

Newlands is something of a “secret valley” much less trod than the east side of the ridge and I passed very few people – just a handful of walkers and a mountain biker (older than me!)

DSC07934

There was some rain around and I spotted a rainbow

Reaching the bottom of the path up to Cat Bells, rather than retrace my steps back to the car, as it was stoll early in the afternoon, I decided to walk round to Derwent Water and take a gentle stroll part way along the lake shore.

DSC07940
DSC07942
DSC07945
Sculpture commemorating the 100th anniversary of the National Trust

I was half tempted to continue on all round the lake, but that was a bit ambitious! Time was getting on so I turned round and retraced my steps, along the shore, back towards Portinscale and then over the bridge to my car.

DSC07949
Another monument to the National Trust – a bench this time
DSC07952
There’s the launch – not many passengers today
DSC07956
I wandered lonely as a cloud …… (wrong lake, mind)
DSC07960

Arriving back at my car I decided to drive into Keswick and visit a favourite bookshop – just enough time to browse and make a purchase before closing time.

A walk up Sheffield Pike

I was keen to get out to break in my new boots. Fortunately work at the beginning of January is usually fairly quiet and as there was a “weather window” forecast for last Friday I was able to take the day off and drive up to the Lakes. Checking out the walking sites on the web I’d read that there had been some snow which was likely to still be up on the high fells above about 400 metres. But the going wasn’t expected to be too difficult, except, perhaps, on the higher mountains.

As the daylight hours are short at the moment, I decided to drive over to Ullswater and tackle one of the more modest fells close to the lake – Sheffield Pike. I parked up at the Glencoyne National Trust car park, donned my walking gear and set off to head towards the fells via the pretty valley of Glencoyne. I’d walked up the valley back in July when I took the path that passes through the garden of Glencoyne farm, right under the farmhouse window! This time I’d decided to take the track past the row of former miners’ cottages known as “Seldom Seen”. This entailed following the Ullswater way a short distance along the lake before crossing the road and then joining the old cart track up through the woods.

Walking through the fields from the car park I could see up the valley and across to Sheffield Pike. Yes, there was definitely snow up there, but it didn’t look too bad. Hopefully my normal gear would be adequate to cope with conditions. Fingers crossed!

Looking down Ullswater from the lakeside path

Setting off down the track towards Seldom Seen

Looking down to Glencoyne farm with it’s tradition Cumbrian round chimney stacks

DSC07767
DSC07766

Approaching the row of cottages

The cottages were built in the 19th Century to house lead miners who worked at the Greenside mine, near Glenridding. It would have been a long,walk to work to the mine, 3 km away across the fell. Just one aspect of the tough lives of the miners. Today the houses are holiday cottages (as any search for “Seldom Seen, Ullswater” will confirm).

Most Greenside miners would have lived in the village of Glenridding and it seemed odd that the houses were built such a long way from the mine when there must have been plenty of land available much closer. According to the following little video, they were built for miners who were Catholic and were housed here to keep them well away from the predominately non-Conformist fellow workers.

DSC07773

I carried on climbing up the path

DSC07774

Looking back there was a great view down to Ullswater

DSC07778

As I climbed I started to see snow on the ground

getting deeper

and deeper as I climbed

There was plenty of snow on the ground at the head of the valley

When I reached Nick Head at the top of the climb, I’d been hoping to get a view of Helvelyn, but the summit was covered with cloud.

I’d not seen another soul since leaving the car park, but now I could see a couple of walkers heading up the path towards Stybarrow Dodd, which I’d followed myself back in July. I hope they were well equipped as the snow would be deeper as they climbed higher. Zoom in on the next photo and you might see them, about two thirds up the hill

DSC07786

I turned in the opposite direction to start the climb to the summit of Sheffield Pike.

DSC07788

Still plenty of snow on the ground, obscuring the path. But there were footprints in the snow, probably from the two walkers I’d spotted who must have come over this way from Glenridding. I used their footprints as a guide. The snow was soft and it was possible to walk through it without the need for crampons (just as well as I don’t have any!) but it obscured the conditions, covering what was boggy ground. I soldiered on, passing another walker coming down the hill, and eventually made it to the summit.

DSC07789

It was cold up here, probably around freezing but with a stiff breeze adding to the wind chill. There was ice clinging to the rocks, but the snow was still OK to stand and walk on and only a couple of inches thick.

Time for a coffee from my flask and a bit to eat while I took in the views.

There was still cloud covering the summit of Helvelyn

DSC07791

and over St Sunday Crag and the fells to the south

It was clearer looking down towards Ullswater

A couple of walkers appeared coming from the opposite direction from myself. They stopped for a while to chat. They were from Newcastle way and were regular walkers in the Lakes. We swapped stories and I asked them which route they’d taken. They’d come up from Glennridding, taking in Glenridding Dodd and then coming up the steep climb to Heron Pike before walking over to the summit of Sheffield Pike. They confirmed that it was OK – with conditions similar to what I’d experienced coming up from Glencoyne.

After saying our goodbyes, I ploughed on through the snow, which once again was largely covering boggy ground, until I reached Heron Pike at the eastern end of the summit plateau.

I stopped to take in the dramatic view down to Ullswater and chatted with another solo walker who was sheltering while he had a bite to eat.

Looking down on Glenridding Dodd with Place Fell over the other side of Ullswater. The High Street Fells were largely obscured by cloud

DSC07796

It’s a sheer drop down over the edge here so a little backtracking was necessary to locate the path that would take me down into the coll between the Pike and the small hill of Glenridding Dodd.

It was a very steep descent and I needed to take care where I placed my feet as if I slipped it was long way down! I came out of the snow about a third of the way down, but I was aware that the rocks would be slippery with ice and, where it had melted, water. No scree though! I passed a couple of groups of walkers coming up the path – keen to get their boots into the white stuff.

Looking back from near the bottom of the descent.

Reaching the coll I decided to take in the modest hill of Glenridding Dodd. This small fell was very popular with Victorian visitors as there’s an excellent view down to Ullswater.

Looking back to Heron Pike from the path up Glenridding Dodd

DSC07807

It didn’t take long to make my way up the path to the summit of the small fell

DSC07821

but I had to carry on a little way across the top of the hill to get the view over Ullswater. (You’ll need to click on the panorama to get a better appreciation of the view)

and looking in the opposite direction back towards Heron Pike

Looking south east there was a lot of cloud over High Street and the nearby fells

DSC07813

There’s Glenridding and the Steamer pier

DSC07814

I made my way down towards Glenridding, which didn’t take too long. Looking back up to the Dodd from the village

DSC07823

I didn’t stop in Glenridding but passed through the village before joining the path along the lake shore, part of the route of Ullswater Way., for the walk of a mile or so back to the Glencoyne car park.

DSC07828
DSC07835
DSC07825
DSC07829
DSC07830
DSC07833

Getting close to car park I looked back over to Glencoyne and Sheffield Pike

DSC07838

Back at the car I changed out of my boots. They’d had a good christening – gravel paths, rock, mud, bogs, snow, ice and a little tarmac!

Driving back along the lake I stopped a mile up the road at the National Trust Aira Force car park. There’s a cafe there which was still open.

Time for a well earned brew with a view of the fell I’d climbed

A walk up Seat Sandal

So, after completing my 1000 miles challenge in 2019 (hurrah!!!) I made a start for 2020 with a local walk around the Plantations on New Years Day. But I was still itching to get out into the hills, so as Friday looked like it was going to be a decent day and I was still on holiday from work, I decided to head off up to the Lakes and tackle Seat Sandal, the mountain that dominates the view to the north from the western and southern shores of Grasmere.

Rather than scrabble for a parking space in one of the lay-byes on the A591, I parked up in Grasmere. Some walkers are reluctant to pay the parking fee but I don’t think £8 for the day is unreasonable – especially when you compare it with what you have to pay in central Manchester. Starting from Grasmere added 2 or 3 miles along a rough road to my walk, but that wasn’t a problem.

I set off on a bright sunny morning with bright blue winter sky. A little chilly but I was wrapped up and you soon warm up walking.

Leaving the car park there was a good view of my objective.

I walked into the village, stopping at Lucia’s takeaway to buy one of their Cumberland sausage rolls to make sure I had fuelled up ready for my walk. I then set off down Easedale Road before turning north up Helm Close, a rough road (a track in places) which took me up past fields and isolated houses, passing to the east of Helm Crag

DSC07699

Steel Fell dead ahead

DSC07700

and there’s Seat sandal with a glimpse of Fairfield to the right

DSC07696

My route would take me up the gill (valley) between the two mountains up to Grisedale Hause.

I crossed the busy main road – it was a bit of a blind corner so I had to take care not to get run over by the cars that speed up the road between Grasmere and Keswick – and then set off along the path up the gill

DSC07702

Looking back across to Helm Crag

DSC07703
DSC07760

There are two paths up towards the hause, one to each side of a minor hill, the Great Tongue. I crossed over the beck to take the right hand path, which is part of the Coast to Coast route

DSC07704
DSC07706

I was climbing up through rougher country now

DSC07708
DSC07711
DSC07712

Climbing up towards the hause

DSC07714

I eventually reached the hause and was greeted by a view of Grisedale Tarn and Dollywagon Pike

DSC07716

While I was walking the wind had been picking up and the cloud stared to appear covering what had been a beautiful blue sky. Here’s the view back down the gill

DSC07719

Time to stop for a break, shelter from the wind and grab a bite to eat, and a hot coffee from my flask.

Over to the left was my Seat sandal and a steep climb up the scree (not a route for Anabel, then!)

DSC07718

It certainly was a steep climb and hands were needed in a few places. But it wasn’t too bad and it didn’t take me too long to reach the top of the slope. Pausing part way a took a few snaps back down towards the Tarn and Dollywagon Pike

DSC07724

St Sunday Crag and the slopes of Fairfield with Ullswater just about visible in the distance down Grisedale

DSC07725

It was windy when I reached the summit and there was thick cloud over the fells to the west and north

DSC07734

Looking across to St Sunday Crag and the mighty Fairfield

DSC07727

After a short break to take in the views I set off down the ridge towards Grasmere – a much more gradual descent renowned for great views down to Grasmere and over to the fells to the west. Unfortunately the thick cloud rather obscured them today.

DSC07730
DSC07739
DSC07738

More and more cloud came in as I made my way down the ridge, but I managed to snap a few atmospheric shots (spruced up with a little manipulation with Snapseed!)

The path along the ridge eventually joined the track down the gill and I retraced my steps back towards Grasmere

The rain finally arrived as I walked along the lane back to the village. Looking back over to Seat Sandal and Fairfield looks like I got back down just in time to avoid a downpour.

DSC07762

I called into the village, had a browse in Sam Read’s bookshop (and was tempted to purchase a slim volume) before heading back to the car. It was just after 3 o’clock so I decided to drive up to Keswick and a visit to the Keswick Boot Company – after all the walking I’ve been doing I needed a new pair of boots

I’ll need to get out on the fells again soon – these boots are made for walking!

A winter afternoon at Blackwell

After looking round the Scottish Colourists exhibition at Abbot Hall, and picking up some shopping in Kendal town centre, we decided to drive over to Blackwell as we’d not been for a while. It had been a beautiful, sunny, winter’s day and, although some cloud had come in, I caught some rather nice shots of the house and Lakeland fells illuminated by the winter light.

View towards the Kentmere Fells from the window in the White Drawing Room
A close up of Yoke and Ill Bell
Christmas installation in the main hall
The White Drawing Room

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!

DSC07478

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

DSC07477

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.

DSC07479

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

DSC07480

The view back towards the Grasmoor group

DSC07482

and down to Buttermere

DSC07483
DSC07486

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.

DSC07492

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.

DSC07497
Crummock Water and Grasmoor
DSC07498
Down into Ennerdale
DSC07499
Zooming in – the Isle of Man is just visible on the horizon
DSC07502
Looking north
DSC07503
Zooming in over the Newlands Valley towards Keswick, Skiddaw and Blencathra
DSC07500
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.

DSC07501
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

DSC07505

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

DSC07508

Looking south west from High Stile I could see the Scafells

DSC07512

Looking back towards Red Pike from the summit of High Stile

DSC07513

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

DSC07515

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

DSC07522

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

DSC07525
Looking south towards Great Gable at the end of Ennerdale with the summits of Scafells visible in the background
DSC07527
Looking back along the ridge towards High Stile with Ennerdale Water visible to the left
DSC07529
Looking north west
DSC07532
Looking over Haystacks with Great Gable and the Scafells in the background
DSC07531
Looking South East over the Honister Pass
DSC07535
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.

DSC07539

Looking down I could see Buttermere

DSC07541

Looking over Haystacks to Great Gable

DSC07542

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

DSC07547

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!

DSC07550
DSC07551
DSC07553

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

DSC07555
DSC07559
DSC07562

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!

DSC07442

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!

DSC07444

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

DSC07448

and looking back towards Buttermere

DSC07446

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.

DSC07465
DSC07451

Looking over to the right there was Whiteless Pike

DSC07453

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

DSC07452

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

DSC07457

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

DSC07458

and looking back towards Buttermere.

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

DSC07461

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

DSC07464

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.

DSC07462

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!

DSC07467

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

DSC07469

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

DSC07468

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

DSC07470

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!

DSC07472

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

DSC07400

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

DSC07401

I decided to pop inside and take a look.

DSC07402

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

DSC07403
DSC07405

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

DSC07408

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

DSC07410

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

DSC07438

Looking across towards High Snockrigg (great name that!)

DSC07411
DSC07412

I continued down the path . Another view of Fleetwith Pike

DSC07417

and to my right High Stile visible through the cloud

DSC07424

and High Crag

DSC07423

Getting near to the top of the lake

DSC07426

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

DSC07427

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.

DSC07440

Looking across to the waterfalls of Sourmilk Gill and Red Pike

DSC07441

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.