Category Archives: Lake District

WHITBARROW SCAR – a day out with Poppy.

My diary records – 22 October 1988. Circuit of Whitbarrow, Chris and Matthew. Glorious day, sunny and warm. 6.5 miles. The weekend before I had been climbing on Castle Rock, Thirlmere, and the next I was off to Morocco, trecking in the Jebel Sahro. Those were the days.

Whitbarrow is a wooded limestone ridge towering above the Kent Estuary prominently seen from across the water on the road to Arnside and its crags driven under on the Barrow road. Wainwright gives it a chapter in his Outlying Fells book. I hadn’t been back since that day so I was pleased when Sir Hugh suggested it for today’s walk. I managed to persuade the Rockman and his dog to come along saying it would be a short trip as Sir Hugh is recovering from a broken elbow and is only just using his walking poles. The morning was dreadful with floods developing from the torrential downpour but by the time we met up at Mill Side, there was a glimpse of something better. The keenest member of the party was Poppy the Airdale Terrier.

What followed was a switchback route through woods, steep slippery slopes, glorious open ridge walking and first-class limestone scenery. The Rockman and I just followed the intrepid Sir Hugh who was obviously rejoicing in his newfound freedom, at times we all had to be careful not to suffer any further injury. Some paths I think were known only to him. Poppy jogged along contentedly and took all the considerable obstacles in her stride, though she seemed happiest when we stopped for lunch at the highest point, Lords Seat,

We completed a figure of eight course which included a close encounter with the base of Chapel Head Scar, a bastion of limestone hosting difficult sports climbs. I had never climbed here and I never will when I realised the grades. However, above the crag, reached by a precipitous path, is a beautiful meadow which seemed perfect for a summer bivi looking out to the west over the Kent Estuary. There are paths everywhere and the whole area is worthy of further exploration, I particularly would like to walk closer under the southern White Scar cliffs which we seemed to miss by being in the woods, hereabouts our legs and conversation were just beginning to drag for the last half mile.

 

LONG SCAR DILEMMAS.

“Lower me down” – I had reached my dilemma. I couldn’t figure a way directly up the groove which was threatening to push me off and I was having trouble pulling on the flake high to my right which was the alternative. I had only come for an easy day and that reach was paining my stiff shoulder, even stiffer later! Fortunately I wasn’t on the lead and had the luxury of a top rope which slowly deposited me back in a heap at the base of the climb which happened to be named Katie’s Dilemma, I know how she felt. Dave and Rod proceeded without me.

 

 

 

 

 

                                                         Dave solving Katie’s Dilemma.

 

I’m often accused of overusing the word super in my enthusiasm – well today was super. [excellent, first rate, remarkable, marvellous, wonderful, glorious, exquisite, perfect, splendid  —  I could try some of these in future.]  The sky was blue, the air clear, the sun was shining, the temperature was 24º and this is the English Lake District.

We had braved the tortuous narrow lanes up to the summit of Wrynose Pass and parked up next to the Three Shires Stone. This boundary stone marks the spot where historically the counties of Lancashire, Cumberland and Westmorland met. The stone has a history of its own. Cut in Cartmel from limestone in 1816 for a William Field, the Furness roadmaster but not erected until 1860. The front of the stone is inscribed with Lancashire and the reverse W.F. 1816, no mention of the other counties. Apparently it was smashed into four pieces in a car accident in 1997, restored and re-erected in 1998.  It shows its scars today and Cumbria has taken over.

A made up path winds its way up the fell across boggy ground on the skirts of Pike O’Blisco. This is an area where the carnivorous Sundew plant may be found, a fact I learnt one previous trip to Long Scar when botanists were scouring the ground on their hands and knees. We saw none today and I suspect they are quite rare. The crag soon comes into sight as an eponymous long scar below Black Crag. The rock looked clean and dry and we had the place to ourselves for most of the day. The volcanic rock is roughly textured although in the central popular area there is erosion, possibly from group use, and the climbs here are becoming a little shiny; nevertheless this is where like lemmings we started.                                                          Rod’s dilemma – which groove?

In the past we had climbed all these routes so we soon spread further along the crag and that’s how I found my dilemma. Anyhow we were basking in the sun and enjoying the views – the nearby Wetherlam range, Crinkle Crags, the far off Windermere, the hikers below us and the occasional plane flying low through the gap. More climbs were enjoyed and life was good.                                       Great Carrs, Wetherlam and Coniston Old Man.


                                                                      Crinkle Crags.

 

For the usual record —

Platt Gang Groove. VD. Rod had his own dilemma as to which groove was which.                             Direct Start Old Holborn VD.                                                                                                                Katie’s Dilemma MVS.                                                                                                                               Billy’s Climb MS.                                                                                                                                      Green Treacle HS.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Warton Pinnacle Crag.

On the border of Lancashire and Cumbria is a wooded hillside, Warton Fell, prominently seen from the M6. A great gash of the fell has been taken out by a large quarry, a scary place to climb. Above in the woods are limestone outcrops which dry quickly and give short climbs on some quality rock. It has rained most of this week but the forecast is improving so it was time for a revisit. The Pinnacle Crag was our aim. The paths seem to be disappearing under vegetation and it is not till the last minute that any sign of cliffs appear.

We are back up to a team of three as Rod has returned from the States and also we are joined by Sir Hugh as an interested spectator, bits of his body having curtailed his climbing. Talk about last of the summer wine but we did about 10 routes so not a bad effort. They were all in the VD-S range but each one was steep and cruxy.

Rod, Dave and Sir Hugh.

Rod, Dave and Sir Hugh.

The first buttress we arrived at was a bit gloomy but the rock was excellent and we squeezed three lines out of it; Simian VD, Free Stile HS, and Ming S.

Simian.

Simian.

We moved over to the main area, Plumb Buttress, to get some sun and eat lunch. Above us reared The Big Plumb, HVS 5c, tackling a large bulge and then steep rock, I could only ever do it by constructing a cairn of stones to start, not today thanks. After a couple more minor lines Rod worked out the sequence to start Lone Tree Groove which gave steep climbing on clean rock which has become polished on the crucial holds. I then enjoyed a couple of severes on the left wall climbed mainly on perfect flakes, Flake and Wall and Clare’s Crack. The descent route down a gully is becoming very polished and care is needed.

Heading for the Lone Tree.

Heading for the Lone Tree.                               [Credit Sir Hugh]

Clare's Crack. Credit Sir Hugh.

Clare’s Crack.                                                     [Credit Sir Hugh.]

Another pair of local climbers and their friendly dog were in the area and added to the sociability of the day.

Team X on Flake and Wall.

Team X on Flake and Wall.

We finished off with two nice short routes round and down to the left, the arete Gremp S and the flaky Skutch VD, and never made it to the actual pinnacle.

The day had been sunny and warm, the views to the Lakes across Morecambe Bay were clear, there was as much chat as climbing and at the end of the day we were well satisfied wandering back down to the village. Simple pleasures.

 

Sir Hugh’s account may be found here – https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=1365582190126322848&postID=5013355740371114281

LANGDALE CLIMBING – first visit to White Crag.

From time to time my friend Mark phones for a day’s climbing whilst his school pupils sit exams or he is ‘officially’ marking papers – these outings have become known as ‘Marking Days’. So it was this week when we met up late morning in the carpark of a local curry house.  He had just acquired a camping van and proudly showed me round. The forecast was for thundery rain in the afternoon but we risked a trip up to Langdale to have a look at White Crag. I must have walked above this outcrop so many times on my way up to Gimmer without being aware of its existence. The valley was quiet with only one team on Raven Crag when we passed under it and then followed a level track to the lower of the two White Crag buttresses, a gentle 15mins.

Approaching the lowest White Crag.

Approaching the lowest White Crag.

Immediately two lines stood out  – the grooves of Bee Line and the Bumble Arete.                   Mark set off up the grooves which were cleaner than they appeared to a small overlap where a neat step up and left gained a wall with smaller holds, we didn’t think Bee Line, HS, warranted  a 4c grade.

Mark onto the arete of Bee Line.

Mark onto the arete of Bee Line.

Bumble Arete, VD, was pure joy – a little wall brought me suddenly onto the arete which had the best of holds all the way to the top, 60ft up. Worth the two stars.

Bumble Arete on the right.

Bumble Arete on the right.

Well satisfied we were having a snack when the boom of thunder filled the valley, the sky darkened and ominent  large rain drops splattered the rock. We sat tight for a while and thankfully the storm rumbled off to some other unfortunate Lakeland valley. So it was time to have a look at the upper crag which has only recently been  developed.

Once again obvious  lines on excellent rock promised good climbing.  Left Trouser Leg People, MVS, was brilliant, Easy rocks soon had Mark at the cruxy  move onto a slab and up into the left groove and a lovely finish round the overhang on jugs.We found a sneaky chain abseil which greatly eased the evenings climbing.

Move onto slab.

Move onto slab.

Juggy finish.

Juggy finish.

I couldn’t wait to get onto  Val Ferret, HS, just left, a groovy groove, a spicy layback and juggy finish. A grade easier but also worth two stars.

My sandwich box with  its tasty quiche was missing when we sat down to rest, left at lower crag no doubt, so my weight loss diet had a jump start.

Next was  Right Trouser Leg People, VS, a tricky wall lower down and  an absorbing groove higher up. A quick abseil and onto the thin slab of Langdale Ferrets, VS, with its steep finish.

Awkward slab on Lakeland Ferrets.

Awkward slab on Lakeland Ferrets.

Finishing Lakeland Ferrets.

Finishing Lakeland Ferrets.

As we gazed out over the green fields and rough hillsides opposite we seemed to be the only people in the valley.  A perfect end to a great days climbing. I will definitely return to these lovely unknown crags.

By the time we were back in Preston I was too weary for a curry but thanked them for the parking.      Roll on the next ‘Marking day’.

 

Wainwright’s Outlying Fells – The Final Chapter.

The Bannisdale Horseshoe.

Lonely tramping.

By pure serendipity Sir Hugh and I had left this circuit to finish off our Winter tramps around these fells, it was AW’s last chapter also…  “take a companion who is agile enough to run for help… God be with you.”

With careful planning we parked up the hidden Bannisdale valley at Dryhowe Bridge reducing the day’s mileage. But six hours later we had tramped across eight and a half miles of grass with 3000ft of ascent. The ridge was broad and tussocky but the ground is thankfully drying out. A few cairns marked the indistinct tops and our view most of the day was northwards to the higher Kentmere fells. On the return leg a trig. point appeared on White Howe and from here were views over Kendal to the coast at Arnside, I think I could spot Sir Hugh’s house. These are remote fells and will not see many walkers. At last the temperature has improved and we enjoyed sunshine all day, you wouldn’t want to be here on a rainy or misty one.

Bannisdale.

Bannisdale.

Longsleddale and the distant Kentmere skyline

Longsleddale and the distant Kentmere skyline.

"agile enough"

“agile enough to run for help”

South from White Howe.

South from White Howe.

A few words about Sir Hugh – a good friend of several years initially climbing together, a fanatical long distance walker, dependable and enthusiastic to the end,  despite his dodgy knees I just manage to keep up with him. The Outlying Fells have been  a worthwhile project and given us good times out together, my appreciation of the area has been definitely broadened. May I have a rest now?

 

The completed Wainwright Outlying Fells.

The completed Wainwright Outlying Fells.

 

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 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.

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.

 

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

 

 

A subsequent visit to The Brewery, Kendal, produced these two pictures.

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.

Wainwright’s Outliers – three courses in Eskdale.

Eskdale with Scafell behind.

Today was another of motoring and quick isolated summits, so I went alone. After last week’s snow there was sunshine and warmth, the birds thought it was Spring.

Starter – Muncaster Fell.

I walked along Muncaster Fell in December 1997 on a two day Ravenglass – Shap walk but I had no idea whether I visited the trig point or not. So from the convenient parking for the  Castle, I was soon up the bridleway and at the stone OS trig. point.  Obvious views down to the coast at Ravenglass were far outweighed by the mountains to the north.

Muncaster Fell from the south.

Muncaster Fell from the south.

From Muncaster Fell to the coast.

From Muncaster Fell to the coast.

Main course – Boat How. 

The hamlet of Boot in middle Eskdale doesn’t lend itself to parking, There are two pubs, parking for clients only, and I won’t go into one of them ever since Tony [tea drinker extraordinaire] and I were refused a top-up of hot water to our afternoon teapot after a day climbing on the immaculate pink granite of the area. So that left The Boot Inn, Stuart the owner was only too happy to let me park. I used the crunchy pink granite bridleway signed Burnmoor Tarn as far as an isolated barn, until here my running shoes were perfect but once heading up to the fell top on the decidedly boggy ground I had doubts. What I thought was the summit turned out to be the distant Illgill Head and I was soon on the actual rocky top of Boat How. Scafell and Wasdale dominated but Harter Fell and surrounding rocky fellsides of Eskdale were dramatic. There was a peep into the secretive Miterdale – how many have walked that valley? Continuing west along the squelchy [this year’s favourite adjective] ridge what I thought were people turned out to be a stone circle, in fact, there were several. Was this land as barren in their time or was it forested? On the way down a group of abandoned barns were passed reminiscent of a Swiss scene. To put some money into the local community and as a way of thanks, I enjoyed a pint and some homemade soup in The Boot Inn, my sandwiches remaining in the rucksack.

The old corn mill at Boot.

The old corn mill at Boot.

Boat How's rocky crest.

Boat How’s rocky crest.

Scafell dominating Burnmoor Tarn

Scafell dominating Burnmoor Tarn

Stone circle.

Stone circle.

Derelict barns.

Derelict barns.

Dessert – Irton Pike.

A quick drive and I was parked under this little fell. Tree felling was in progress everywhere because of the fungus Phytophthora ramora and the place looked a mess. After a few false starts, I found a little path winding up, this must be the steepest way onto any of the outlying fells. The surprisingly open top again highlighted the mountains of Wasdale,  I noticed how close I was to the infamous Ponsonby Fell. From below came the whistle of the steam train chugging up Eskdale to Boot.

Irton Pike above the forestry chaos.

Irton Pike above the forestry chaos.

Lovely Wasdale vista.

Lovely Wasdale vista.

By the roadside is this sobering memorial……

Home for coffee.

 

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, 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 around 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?

Wainwright Outliers – back of beyond.

Flat Fell and Dent.

I’m sure the residents of Cleator Moor don’t consider themselves ‘back of beyond’ but that was my impression when I passed through this morning. It had taken me nearly 2 hours to drive to this side of The Lakes, the streets looked empty and forlorn, festooned with TV satellite dishes. This is probably a popular local walk, however everyone now seems to park at the top of Nannycatch Road as I did to walk a shortened version of AW’s route.

Cleator Moor with Dent above.

Cleator Moor with Dent above.

Flat Fell was flat.  But had the benefit of a sudden revelation of the Loweswater, Ennerdale and Scafell ranges, poor conditions for photos.

When I was back down into the hidden if not exactly remote, Nannycatch Valley signs for the Coast to Coast route appeared and took me up the steep side of Dent. Can’t remember climbing up here fully laden on the penultimate day of our east-west crossing in 1979, must have been a struggle. My diary tells me that we wild camped in the woods above Cleator Moor before finishing the next morning. Also, it states that the average charge for a farm campsite was 30p.  I took a direct moss cushioned hillside to my car and drove to Coldfell Gate. On the way, at Egremont,  passing Florence Mine the last working deep iron ore mine in Europe until closed in 2007 and now an arts centre. The miners were known as The Red Men from the haematite dust.

Nannycatch valley.

Nannycatch valley.

From Dent looking over Flat Fell to Ennerdale.

From Dent looking over Flat Fell to Ennerdale.

The mossy way.

The mossy way.

Florence Mine.

Florence Mine.

Cold Fell.

Cold Fell was cold and had no merit whatsoever. What was I doing here Mr AW?

Cold Fell summit?

Cold Fell summit?

Back at the car the weather was changing, cloud and dampness, and I was losing my resolve. It was only the thought of the petrol costs to get here that had me drive through lanes to my next objective. My radio told me England we’re collapsing in the world T20 final against the W. Indies, Leicester were winning again in the Premiership, and European agricultural pollution was affecting the SE. [May not be that easy to exit from Europe after all]

Ponsonby Fell.

For convenience, I chose a way up from Stakes Bridge in the Calder Valley. This is sheep country and the farmers were out on lambing duties. Enclosed fields reminiscent of the Dales took me to the open fellside leading to the plain top. Scafell crag appeared briefly. The weather had improved, could the rise in temperature have anything to do with nearby Sellafield?  From up here you see the full size of the complex.

Heading off the hill I was impressed with the enclosing walls made of sandstone with a capping turf full of ferns and moss.

In a field was a Larsen magpie trap, these are legal in appropriate circumstances, complete with a live magpie as bait. The logic is simple – another bird is attracted and trapped – shoot the first and start again. A friend of mine employed one in his garden and quickly caught a bird. He didn’t have the heart to kill it so drove it ten miles away and released it, I wonder who was back first.

Ponsonby Fell.

Ponsonby Fell.

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Distant Wasdale from Ponsonby Fell.

Distant Wasdale from Ponsonby Fell.

I was back at the car as the rain started, mission accomplished.

AW states “there are no fells not worth climbing, but Ponsonby  Fell is very nearly in this category…” Actually, I quite enjoyed my circuit and found much of interest. Methinks he doth protest too much and should have directed his comments to Cold Fell.

Ever present Sellafield.

Ever-present Sellafield.

 

 

 

Wainwright Outliers – get your five-a-day.

I realised I was well north when Radio Lancs transformed into Radio Scotland. There was a lot of fresh snow and judging from the puddles it had been a wild night. I arrived at my first objective after an hour and a half driving and waited in the car whilst a sleet shower passed through. I was planning a day mopping up five scattered Wainwright outlying fells in the Northern Lakes to save motoring mileage, none of them really justified separate trips.  Seven hours later, and in far better weather, I had completed the task and was on my way south.

Faulds Brow, Caermote Hill, Clint Crags, Watch Hill and Dunmallet.

This area is a quiet backwater – ‘do you ken John Peel’  the huntsman, not the DJ, born and buried in Caldbeck.  From Faulds Brow, I had views over farming land down Bassenthwaite, past Skiddaw into the snowy central fells and to the north the Solway Firth with Crifell prominent. I parked up next to Caermote Roman Fort but could see little of it and was soon on the top of the Caermote Hill with its ‘memorial boulder’. Two local families are remembered. Routledge and Dean.  An extension to St. John’s Hill revealed little.

Undistinguished Faulds Brow.

Undistinguished Faulds Brow.

Caermote Hill.

Caermote Hill.

'Memorial stone' with Crifell in the background.

‘Memorial stone’ with Crifell in the background.

Bassenthwaite from Caermote.

Bassenthwaite from Caermote.

I was in need of a coffee and was pleased to find by the roadside the excellent Great Escape Cafe in Moota Garden Centre – a seasonal hot cross bun was a boost.  This place has an interesting history – a former second world war German prison camp. It is not mentioned as to whether any did escape. Apparently, there was a chapel on-site with paintings from the prisoners, what a shame nothing has been saved.

Next, I was on Clint Crags but couldn’t be sure of the highest point which seemed to be on the edge of a limestone quarry. More interesting were the limestone pavements below – they were obvious but covered in moss to give them a unique atmosphere. Why are other pavements elsewhere cleaner? On this hillside, there were several, what looked like new, shake holes possibly as a result of all the rain.

Mossy clints.

Mossy clints.

'New shakehole'

‘New shakehole’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My drive to the next group of hills took me past the Norman St. Michael’s Church at Isel, unfortunately, it was closed because of flooding. The daffodils in the grounds were at their best. It is unusual for a church to be situated so close to a river liable to flooding. There are signs everywhere regarding red squirrels but I didn’t spot any.  More of a problem the lane I was taking was signed as closed due to work on the bridge over the River Derwent – more flood damage. But luck would have it that at the very moment I arrived they took down the barriers having completed the repairs thus saving me a lengthy detour.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The walk up Watch Hill and onto the higher Setmurthy Common was the best of the day. A delightful grassy promenade in the sunshine with Cockermouth and the coast behind and views into the Loweswater Fells. I managed to find a quick way back to the car using mountain bike tracks down through the plantations.

Watch hill to Setmurthy Common with a brooding Skiddaw.

Watch hill to Setmurthy Common with a brooding Skiddaw.

These quiet backwaters would be worth exploring in a more leisurely fashion. But today the busy A66 took me down Bassenthwaite, past Keswick and to Pooley Bridge. Here the destroyed bridge, dating from 1754, has been temporally replaced with a Bailey one, just completed last week and bringing life back to this community. The floods this winter have been devastating and Wainwright’s sketch of the old bridge now has added nostalgia. It cost me £2 to park which seemed expensive for the 30mins walk up and down Dunmallet. Surprisingly I saw deer grazing in the woods and a woodpecker was spotted close by. That was the only plus as the summit is completely tree covered so what would have been fine views down Ullswater are now denied.

Wooded Dunmallet.

Wooded Dunmallet.

My Winter project to visit all the Outlying Fells in Wainwright’s book is proving interesting but is now running into Spring, too many other distractions.

A long day and unfortunately a long post.

 

 

Naddle Forest Circuit.

The sun is shining once more as I collect Sir Hugh for another Wainwright Outlying day. I turn up in my new car which has the letters MCV on the tailgate, I couldn’t explain them so he quickly googled and came up with – Manoeuvre Combat Vehicle (機動戦闘車 kidou-sentou-sha) is a wheeled tank destroyer of the Japan Ground Self-defence Force!  We hadn’t destroyed anything when we parked on the lonely road at the entrance to Swindale. There is no easy access into the Naddle Valley and we never saw another person all day. we were soon on the first top, Scalebarrow Knott, with clear views back to the Cross Fell group and the closer limestone Knipescar. I think underfoot we had crunchy granite. Tracks led up to the cairn on Harper Hills on the very edge of the deciduous trees creeping up from Naddle Valley. Our next landmark was supposed to be a chimney over the wall, we were lucky to spot it in the trees. Probably has been the gable end of some long-forgotten building.

Our first summit - Scalebarrow Knott.

Our first summit – Scalebarrow Knott.

Distant High Street.

Distant High Street.

Rough walking then took us up to the sprawling Hare Shaw, a cairn and my altimeter suggested we were at the summit. From here Gouther Crag could be seen down in Swindale, memories of The Fang and Bloodhound climbs. Ahead were remnants of snow gullies on High Street and Harter Fell. The triangular Kidsty Pike was prominent and brought forth our reminiscences of the C to C walk done many years ago.

Distant Gouther Crag with Truss and Fang Buttresses visible.

Distant Gouther Crag with Truss and Fang Buttresses visible.

Now down to the navigational ‘handrail’ of a wall which led us onto Naddle Forest ridge. A high hurdle gave us food for thought, climb it, pole vault it, lift off the top section or more simply just open the lower section.

There was no defined ridge and we wandered about on sheep tracks. Remnants of the forest were all around us and it was gratifying to see much new planting which should change the appearance of the fell in 10 years time. We need these trees and more to combat our flooding problems. A couple of small cairns on nameless summits 435m and 433m were passed and we headed through the difficult trackless heather to a high point, 426m, Ignored by AW.  Close by on the edge was the well cairned Hugh’s Laithes Pike giving views down to Hawsewater and its dam. A sheltered spot out of the wind gave us an ideal lunch spot. One more top, 395m, was easily reached. I’ve lost count of our tops by now. We found a lovely winding track down into the wooded Naddle Valley, Birch, Oak and Alder were prominent.  On our way out of the valley, we spotted a group of deer next to Frith Crag.

View back from the last top = Hugh's Laithes Pike, Haweswater and Measand Beck.

View back from the last top – Hugh’s Laithes Pike, Haweswater and Measand Beck.

So not the most of interesting fells but we enjoyed good weather and views. The woods were delightful. It was a strenuous round with a lot of ascents and we reflected that it was far better than spending time in the gym – not that I have ever.

Extended Devoke Water Circuit.

Eight fells in one.

This was a grand day out, everything seemed to fit – good weather, excellent walking with views and interesting companionship, Sir Hugh. I had concocted an extended circuit of the Wainwright Outliers surrounding Devoke Water and wondered whether we would be up to it not knowing the terrain.

Devoke Water is the largest tarn in the Lakes and boasts a two storey boathouse and a tiny island. The first two summits, Rough Crag and Water Crag, to its north were reached with little effort and acted as a warm up for the day. Looking back three men were on the same circuit. Having dropped down to the stream coming out of the tarn there was a tedious climb up to the much higher White Pike and its columnar cairn. From this lofty height we gazed into Eskdale and reminisced on walking over Muncaster Fell on the classic Ravenglass to Shap walk. Muncaster Castle could be seen in the trees, I have a couple of Rhododendrons purchased from there which are about to come into flower in my garden. Nice connotations for me.

The three men on Rough Crag.

The three men on Rough Crag.

The other three slowly followed but we came off the ridge, plunging down the crags [Sir Hugh resorting to the ancient art of bum-sliding] to visit the volcanic pimple of The Knott. From here we worked out a traverse across the moor before a steep ascent up to Stainton Pike. We were still out of breath when the three gents joined us and wondered at our erratic course, mutual group photos were taken with the Scafell Range and Great Gable in the background. Lunch was taken in the warm sunshine.

The Knott and White Pike from Stainton Pike, Muncaster Fell in the background.

The Knott and White Pike from Stainton Pike, Muncaster Fell in the background.

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An exhilarating high march across Yoadcastle and Woodend Height, lovely triangular cairn, provided the best views of the day into central Lakeland. From there it was a direct line down to the boathouse. Gaining our last summit, Seat How, proved more difficult as it was ringed by broken crags breached only on the eastern side.

Yoadcastle and Woodend Height along the ridge.

Yoadcastle and Woodend Height along the ridge.

Cairn on Woodend Height.

Cairn on Woodend Height.

Seat How on the right.

Seat How on the right.

Last view down onto Devoke water.

Last view down onto Devoke water.

Hopefully Spring is here but I’ve known it snow at Easter.

Lonely Skylark Fells.

The Pike, Hesk Fell and Great Worm Fell.

The Pike from the Duddon Valley.

The Pike from the Duddon Valley.

After a couple of sunny afternoons bouldering at Craig y Longridge my shoulders screamed out for a rest, so I headed back up to the Lakes.  I parked up on the Birker Fell road mid-morning just as mist descended on Great Worm Fell, something about early bird catching the worm came to mind. The Pike however was clear so I climbed the boggy slope to its summit first. From this aspect all was dull hillside but once on top you realise how steep it rises from the Duddon and hence the bird’s eye view.

View from The Pike, Dunnerdale and the Coniston Fells.

View from The Pike, Dunnerdale and the Coniston Fells.

It took forever to trudge across the depression and climb over several false tops to Hesk Fell. A few stones possibly marked the top. I realised I was overdressed for this hot sunny day and was in danger of sun burn. The sky was alive with the sound of bird song, the Skylarks waking up from Winter.

Lonely Hesk Fell.

Lonely Hesk Fell.

By the time I was back down to the road the mist had lifted from my original objective so I set off up again following Wainwright’s description. This was a great little circuit of craggy hill tops before reaching the rather desolate Great Worm Crag [no crag]. I spent some time at the base of Great Crag tracing out new climbs up the 40ft faces of good rock, unfortunately I discovered later on the FRCC site they have all been done before. Ah well – there can’t be many unclimbed bits of rock left on this Island.

Great Crag.

Great Crag.

As I reached Great Worm ‘Crag’ I had the strange vision of a JCB wandering across boggy ground flattening it with the bucket. ?a new track or some strange form of land management. I didn’t make the effort to go across and question the driver. Nearby views of Green Crag and Eskdale with the Scafells and Bowfell as a background.

The Pike and Hesk Fell from Great Worm.

The Pike and Hesk Fell from Great Worm.

On my direct descent I came across a couple of Ravens talking to each other in a series of clicks and squawks.

The farm near my parking place was selling free eggs and I couldn’t resist, looking forward to my breakfast tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve just realised there has been an unintended bird theme to this post.

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Remote stones.


Whit Fell, Wainwright outliers.

Would you tramp across the fells to locate this pile of stones …..DSC00200We, Sir Hugh and I, were on a mission to complete Wainwright’s chapter 35 in the Outlying Fells book – Buck Barrow, Whit Fell, Burn Moor and Kinmont Buckbarrow. These stones are on Burn Moor, there is nothing else here. Sir Hugh is concerned he is becoming obsessive about list ticking – thank heavens I’m not!

The day is sunny and fairly clear for our little circuit of these tops, from the highest, Whit Fell, I was sure we could see Scotland, the IOM, Ireland and Wales. Sellafield Nuclear Fuel centre was prominent on the coast below.T here was the usual debate as to which high tops we could identify. We happily wandered from one pile of stones to another, navigation not being a problem in the clear conditions. In the meantime, we sorted out the forthcoming EU referendum and criticised today’s budget. Generally, the going was good but there were boggy areas where fancy footwork was needed.

Deep in Beatrix Potter country.

Distant Latterbarrow.

Distant Latterbarrow.

Claife Heights, Latterbarrow and an important other.

Early morning mist hadn’t cleared when I set off so I changed my direction of route to hopefully have better views later. Wandering through the forests up to Claife Heights there was no view anyhow. The trig point, occupied by a family, was barely above the trees and I soon plunged back into the forest musing on what this area looked like prior to planting. There was no sign of Peter Rabbit.

A mirky Claife Heights.

A mirky Claife Heights.

House of cards.

A House of Cards.

The sequestered summit.

The sequestered summit.

National Trust Land. With my ability to misplace keys this would be a nightmare.

National Trust Land.
With my ability to misplace keys this would be a nightmare.

Plenty of people were out and about on the well signed tracks and when I arrived at the prominent tower on Latterbarrow it seemed crowds were gathering. There was some brightness by now and there were views to the bigger fells, Bowfell and the Langdale Pikes being prominent. A dog was chasing a Frisbee with great skill and his owners were interesting to chat to. A drone then appeared at great speed and started aerobatics which looked decidedly dangerous for the assembled crowd, a definite intrusion into the day. They are apparently becoming a big problem, in Holland the police are training eagles to snatch any from the sky that maybe of criminal intent.

Distant Bowfell and Langdale Pikes.

Distant Bowfell and Langdale Pikes.

Frisbee champion.

Frisbee champion.

Unwelcome drone.

Unwelcome drone.

The track back to my car was delightful, through birch and alder much nicer than those conifers. It was a shock facing the traffic through a busy Ambleside. As the day was perfect by now I drove up a minor lane above Windermere and parked at Causeway Farm for a quick ascent of Orrest Head. The footpath mentioned in AW’s chapter was closed since 2007, it would have helped if there was some clue as to its successor. Further down the lane I found a signed route up to the summit. If I thought Latterbarrow was busy I wasn’t expecting the number of people up here. Some were struggling up the path from Windermere in the classic hill going high heels. All the benches were occupied. The view finder recalls the fact that this is where Wainwright first set foot in Lakeland – the rest is history.

Epiphany!

Epiphany!

Modern day AW.

Modern day AW.

A popular view point.

A popular view point.

 

 

Cor blimey what lovely weather.

CAW FELL – Dunnerdale.

 

Coniston vista early in the day.

Caw is the peak far left.

The shapely summit of Caw has been a prominent sight from many of the Outlying Fells in the SW Lakes I’ve been exploring this winter. By chance, we parked up on this frosty morning at the exact point that our route set off up the fellside. Seathwaite in the lovely Duddon Valley, I remember staying here on a Ravenglass to Shap walk, the Inn was serving extra-large steaks on the eve of the Beef Ban as a result of BSE. Wallowbarrow Crag above Seathwaite is a favourite climbing venue, low lying, sheltered and catching all the sun going.

Wallowbarrow Crag above Seathwaite.

Wallowbarrow Crag above Seathwaite.

Caw Fell rising above kept us in cold shadow, a mine track made the initial accent easy but it was life-giving to emerge into the sun at the remains of buildings and an ancient dripping adit. Already the view towards the icy peaks was outstanding.

The start of the useful mine track.

The start of the useful mine track.


Approaching Caw summit.

There was a group of happy walkers at the trig point, 529m, when we crunched up the summit snow, they had been staying at the Inn. They had picked a good weekend and the previous day had been able to see Wales, Ireland, the Isle of Man and Scotland from the summits. Today we only managed the Isle of Man, but the Lakeland peaks were striking once we had orientated them. Haycock, Pillar, Scafells, Esk Pike, Bowfell, Pike O’Blisco and the Conistons. We toyed with the idea of continuing up the Walna Scar ridge towards the bulk of Coniston Old Man but being old men we were satisfied with scrambling up the nearby Pikes and the smaller Green Pike. Lunch was taken, then took an old weaving path found heading downhill, when this was lost we just took a direct route back to the valley.

The Lakeland skyline.

The Lakeland skyline.

Rough going to Pikes.

Rough going to Pikes.

One of those magic days – did we really only walk 4 miles?

                   

 

FINSTHWAITE HEIGHTS and thereabouts.

High Dam.

High Dam.

Where is my compass when I need it?  I’m stood on top of Rusland Heights, 244m, which is in the middle of nowhere, see the map below. I’ve arrived here by extending one of Wainwright’s Outlying Fells walks, Finsthwaite Heights, one that strangely didn’t actually reach those heights. So from the Low and High Dams, he described I’ve struggled through bog and rough pathless ground over Finsthwaite Heights, c230m, and up to the highest point around here. Having emerged from the trees there is, at last, a view,  the Coniston Fells, a distant Windermere and the Leven’s Estuary. My way off is complicated and I realise that compass is still in my other rucksack which I haven’t unpacked since arriving home. This is where the 1:25000 OS maps come into their own – marked walls, hillocks, streams and woods all were navigational aids to see me safely to Boretree Tarn and then down to the road. This whole area would make a tricky orienteering course even with a compass. Not many people come up here though it is marked as Open Access, a new idea since Wainwright’s days.

Finsthwaite Heights.

Finsthwaite Heights.

Rough going.

Rough going.

Coniston Fells from Rusland Heights.

Coniston Fells from Rusland Heights.

Levens Estuary from Rusland Heights.

Leven’s Estuary from Rusland Heights.

There have been other changes since the ’70s, the start of the walk up Summer House Knotts goes through woods managed by the Woodland Trust who allow good access. The Tower on the summit, 185m, is now surrounded by mature trees and there were no worthwhile views. The inscription on a high tablet gave me thought as the political battle, lies and disinformation commence as to our status and future in the European Community.

Erected to honour the officers, seamen and marines of the Royal Navy whose matchless conduct and irresistible valour decisively defeated the fleets of France, Spain and Holland and preserved and protected liberty and commerce.      1799

 

The hamlet of Finsthwaite, with its squat church, was visited and I wished I’d had a look at the nearby bobbin mill for which the dams were constructed. An inscription in the car park was evocative of another era –                                                                                                                        This is the water that turns the wheel, that spins the lathe, that shapes the wood, to make the bobbin, to wind the thread, that wove the wealth of Lancashire. These are the trees, that cut by men will sprout again, to make the bobbins, to earn the pay, that fed the folk of Finsthwaite.

Finsthwaite with the Heights above.

Finsthwaite with the Heights above.

I arrived back at my car parked next to the weir on the River Leven which had devastatingly flooded the Swan Inn two months ago. It will be a long time before it reopens.

Wainwright wrote “but this is not fell walking” – well today it was.