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 is 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, 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.
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.
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.
The best day of our Outlying campaign so far.
Close call with that Devoke Water day?
Lovely walk. Apparently, there were advanced plans to flood Swindale a few years back to supplement the Haweswater and Wet Sleddale water schemes. So viewed in that context, your local man has little to grumble about.
Yes the valley was saved and is looking good, one of the best [and quietest] in the Lakes. I was pleased to see the tree planting and will make a mental note to drag my body up there in 2026 to check their progress. John.