Monthly Archives: April 2016

Two classics on Raven Crag, Langdale.

 

We have seen better days.

As You Like It.   W Shakespeare.                                                                                                                     400th anniversary of the Bard’s death today.

The Old Dungeon Ghyll car park had a space for us despite a relatively late arrival. Whilst sorting the gear a man approaches me with a confident ” I know you” I look puzzled and he adds “Bradford climbing”. Still no recollection on my part I suspect mistaken identity but I add that by chance I had been out walking the day before with Conrad, who started his climbing days with the Bradford crowd. That brought an immediate response from this pleasant fellow – “not Conrad Robinson”  It transpired he knew him well and our conversation broadened to all things Yorkshire and days gone by. I still don’t think we had any connection but the other coincidences were strange and I later discovered even stranger as Conrad had the day before been talking of climbing trips past and how one friend was a great joker – the very man we were now talking to. Sadly neither climb any more.

Up at the crag several groups were on the main face so we went round the corner to the prominent buttress which hosts  Centipede. 90m S **   Rod made short work of the steep start up which I struggled to join him at the giant flake. I knew I was not performing well on this my first route of the year, missing out on the climbing walls in favour of walking had me ill-prepared. Nonetheless I grabbed the gear and poked about on the flake. One has to achieve a standing position on its top and then make an unprotected hard pull into a steep groove before a mantelshelf move. After time spent faffing trying to throw a sling over the flake my resolve had vanished and I backed off. Rod made it all look very easy and joined the next two pitches together. I was glad nobody witnessed my subsequent nervous attempt on that flake, knees playing a big part. I think I would have taken a fall if I’d continued at the sharp end.  My complete lack of confidence had thoughts of never climbing again in my head, definitely had seen better days. After a traverse there is a lovely slabby arete and I began to think more clearly, relax, place my feet more precisely on the rough rock and almost enjoy the situation.  Having calmed down I went on to lead up the much easier long last pitch of mainly scrambling and enjoyed the belay perch high on the crag with views down Langdale, looking resplendent in the Spring sunshine.

Centipede buttress - the obvious overhang is les than halfway up the route.

Centipede buttress – the obvious overhang is less than halfway up the route.

 

After lunch the main face provided The Original Route. 60m. S ***  I was all too happy to second the whole climb and see if my form had returned. No – I found the first pitch was steep and awkward with poor gear and the pillar above even trickier. I must have climbed this route many times in the past and never been troubled, when have severes seemed so hard. Rod climbed the magnificent steep top wall all in one pitch and I coped better. All we had to face then was that awkward down climb by the tree on the descent, more faffing by myself but I’m still alive.

High on the last pitch of The Original Route.

High on the last pitch of The Original Route.

We reflected on the perfect warm day for climbing on this commanding crag with these two superb routes. In the past I wouldn’t have been content without another route or two but now I was happy to descend and lick my wounds. Hopefully there are better days to come.

 

 

 

OPEN SKIES OVER SWINDALE.

Today’s fells really need to be experienced in person, preferably in the gorgeous weather we were blessed with. Photographs hardly do justice to the feeling of the wide open spaces which we even compared to the skies over the Broads. There are endless miles of undulating hills sitting on the very edge of the Lakes.  AW writes – “a worthwhile expedition on a clear day, not so much for the views, which are dreary and uninspiring, as for the exhilaration of new territory, solace of solitude and beneficial exercise”    Exactly.

Sir Hugh’s choice of parking proved to be fortuitous as other approach roads seemed blighted by works. A simple climb over our first Outlier – Langhowe Pike – with its views down Swindale, where we picked up the corpse road which climbed its way from Mardale into this valley and then on to the church in Shap and consecrated burial ground. I was on another corpse road last week which came from Wasdale, past Burnmoor Tarn to Eskdale.

NW Water are undertaking a lot of work in the Swindale catchment area and things are a bit of a mess still. The last time  I was here to climb on Gouther Crag the footbridge was being lifted away in front of our eyes,   [ https://bowlandclimber.wordpress.com/2015/06/12/getting-better-gouther-crag-climbing/ ]   its replacement is completely out of place. Thankfully higher up the original stepping stones are still there. Chatting to a local man it seems that not everyone is happy with the Swindale works, the two higher farms have been bought by the waterboard and are now unoccupied, there has been a lot of fencing erected on open ground and much tree planting on the fells. I would have thought that the latter is good for the environment and should visually be of benefit in a few years.

Swindale from Langhowe Pike.

Swindale from Langhowe Pike.

Anyhow on with the walk up beautiful Swindale. A cyclist was masochistically pushing a bike up the corpse road as it climbed to Mardale. We entered a world of drumlins at the head of the valley before a brutal 1000ft climb up to Nabs Moor and onto Howes.  My altimeter ran out of juice at this point so I couldn’t confirm the days total, I suspect about 3000ft. From up here we had views down to Mosedale and its MBA cottage. A lazy lunch was taken by a playful stream, the sunshine delaying our departure.

Drumlins at the head of Swindale.

Drumlins at the head of Swindale.

Mosedale.

Mosedale.

Looking back to Howes.

Looking back to Howes.

 

The next group of hills High Wether Howe, Fewling Stones, Seat Robert and Great Ladstones proved a tiring round with many boggy depressions but the blue skies made up for it and we chugged along but were nonetheless pleased to see the car in the late afternoon.

Onwards from Higher Wether Howe.

Onwards from Higher Wether Howe.

Contemplating past glories from Seat Robert.

Contemplating past glories from Seat Robert.

 

'The Road goes ever on and on' Lord of the Rings.

‘The Road goes ever on and on’   Tolkien  Lord of the Rings.

 

Longridge Fell – then and now.

There is a stream coming off Longridge Fell crossed by a small bridge.  I often walk this way. When my two oldest grand children were young this was an ideal spot for a bit of ‘damn building’ and became a favourite of theirs.

This weekend I had staying my youngest grandchild and he was keen to follow suit.  His father took a picture of us, then remembered back to previous times and low and behold there on his phone was April 2002.

Uncanny coincidence. Wish I had evidence of visits with my boys when they were that young in the 70s.

2002.

2002.

2016.

2016.

Crookdale Horseshoe to the west of Shap summit.

From the Crookdale Horseshoe looking north yo the Longsleddale fells.

From the Crookdale Horseshoe looking north to the Longsleddale and Mardale fells.

 

More Wainwright Outliers with Sir Hugh.

I refer to the Shap summit on the old A6. This was the major route up to Scotland on the west coast before the Motorway opened in 1970. On our drive up from Kendal we recalled the infamous Jungle Cafe once popular with the HGV drivers, I think the site is now a caravan sales. The ‘Leyland Clock’ which stood by the roadside nearer the summit has also gone and is now restored in the Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal. I hadn’t realised that it stood at the halfway point from Land’s End to John O’Groats. We parked up in a layby, near the summit, where there is an interesting memorial mounted on a substantial lump of pink Shap granite.

 

 

 

 

 

Pictures taken from http://www.trucknetuk.com

 

 

My diary from 1974 shows that on August 26th I did a similar round as today’s but also including the more distant Harrop Pike. 12 mile in 4 hours in cloud and showers, I have no recollection whatsoever. Our more leisurely 6 hours today must reflect on the 40 odd years I’ve accumulated.

The walk today was in sun with clear views. The going could only be described as heavy most of the way. We combined AW’s Wasdale and Crookdale circuits which effectively was a true Crookdale Horseshoe. The northern leg was Whatshaw Common, Little Yarlside and Great Yarside, the latter just under 2000ft. We then had an interesting traverse across the head of Crookdale successfully avoiding the worst of the bogs. This brought us on to the southern ridge of Lord’s Seat, Robin Hood and finally High House Bank. Vast expanses of grass with the odd little crag to break up the monotony. Good conversation filled in the gaps. Views into the Lakes were restricted by the closer Longsleddale and Mardale Fells  but there were extensive views to the Pennines and Howgills. Most interesting were birds’ eye glimpses into the hidden valleys of Wasdale, Crookdale and the larger Borrowdale.

Great Yarlside from Little Yarlside.

Great Yarlside from Little Yarlside.

Unusual Trig. Point on Great Yarlside.

Unusual Trig. Point on Great Yarlside.

Upper Crookdale.

Upper Crookdale.

View into Borrowdale from the last summit - High House Bank.

View into Borrowdale from the last summit – High House Bank.

We never met another person.

P.S.  16 to go.

Wet Sleddale Horseshoe – the clue is in the name.

 

Sleddale Hall and reservoir.

Sleddale Hall and reservoir.

Sir Hugh and I were  the first on the carpark next to the damn of Wet Sleddale Reservoir. Thankfully the day was bright and clear, this would be a miserable place in the mist or rain. At one time there was a plan to flood the whole valley – I can see why. Forget about any tracks shown on the OS map the way up to Wasdale Pike was one long squelch. Grouse butts accompanied us and a ‘lunch hut’ passed to relieve the monotony. The summit of Wasdale Pike had a decent cairn and views over Shap to Cross Fell and in the other direction to High Street, the snow melted from these slopes as the day wore on.

Pathless to Wasdale Pike.

Pathless to Wasdale Pike.

Shap with Cross Fell behind.

Shap with Cross Fell behind.

Over the bogs to High Street.

Over the bogs to High Street.

Our next objective was a prominent pink granite block – named Gray Bull. It was duly mounted in recognition of our distant bouldering venue of Great Bullstones in Bowland.

Gray Bull.

Gray Bull.

 

More squelching and Sleddale Pike, Great Saddle Crag and Ulthwaite Rigg were ticked off, it was that sort of a day.

Bog hopping in WET Sleddale.

Bog hopping in WET Sleddale.

 

You don't fall in here, it really was that colour.

You don’t want to fall in this, it really was that colour.

Then with some relief we quickened our pace on the bridleway coming out of Mosedale and heading down to Sleddale Hall. Below here were walled deer enclosures [according to AW]  a packhorse type bridge over a lovely narrow gorge and a clapper bridge from older times.

Old Deer Enclosures?

Old Deer Enclosures?

New packhorse bridge.

New packhorse bridge.

Old Clapper Bridge.

Old Clapper Bridge.

AW’s Outlying Fells was “written primarily for old age pensioners” yet this was a tough walk for anybody. About 9 miles and 1700ft ascent.  I can hardly believe that Sir Hugh used to run round this circuit in days gone by – but he has the evidence…                                                               http://conradwalks.blogspot.co.uk/2016/04/wet-sleddale-horseshoe-plus-wasdale.html

In my evening bath I thought I could discern webbing developing between my toes.

 

Green Quarter – walking the calories off.

Today’s news had ‘experts’ calling for food packaging to be labelled stating how much exercise a person would need to do to burn off the calories. Packet of crisps 30mins walk, piece of cake 1hour walk etc. How long for a fish and chip supper? I can’t see the food industry backing this proposal, they never do. As I drove up Kentmere for today’s walk I wondered how you equate these times to a strenuous fell walk, I’d had a bowl of cereal – 25mins. There is a proliferation of no parking signs throughout the village now, apparently a victim of its own popularity. I managed to squeeze in by the village hall and contributed to their funds. As most walkers headed up the valley I turned and headed the other way using a bridleway to circle Green Quarter, a featureless hill overlooking the village. This brought me a view over Skeggles Water, a totally tranquil scene with only skylarks and a buzzard for company. Not having been here before I settled on a convenient boulder for morning coffee.

Green Quarter above Kentmere.

Green Quarter above Kentmere.

Isolated Skeggles Water.

Isolated Skeggles Water.

Morning coffee.

Morning coffee.

An easy climb up to the summit of Green Quarter [Hollow Moor] in bright sunshine but with the Kentmere Horseshoe ahead already in threatening clouds. [a little later I was in unpleasant but short lived sleet] A group of fell ponies grazed the subsidiary top and provided good foreground for Kentmere photos. The farmer appeared with his trailer full of hay and he cheerfully chatted about his no doubt hard life up here.

The Kentmere Horseshoe.

The Kentmere Horseshoe from Hollow Moor, Green Quarter.

Lunch arrives.

Lunch arrives.

Kentmere farmstead.

Kentmere farmstead.

I was back down within two and a half hours – now what can I have for lunch?