Tag Archives: Lake District.

WAINWRIGHT’S WAY. 14. HONISTER TO BUTTERMERE.

  Haystacks.

Haystacks didn’t make it into A Wainwright’s top ten fells but he loved the place so much that he had his ashes scattered by Innominate Tarn on its flanks. And so our journey through his life and works comes to an end. Looking back on Nick Burton’s Wainwright’s Way, from Blackburn to Buttermere, I can say every day has been enjoyable and would highly recommend it to anyone regardless of the AW associations. A journey through northern hills as varied as any.

The car park at Honister is packed, people having left early to reach the summit of Great Gable for the Fell and Rock Climbing Club remembrance service. We have the track up into the abandoned mines virtually to ourselves. At 11am we hear the atmospheric bugle call from Gable.

Across the way are more abandoned levels and inclines next to the rather spooky climbing venue of Buckstone How, in centre of the picture. Looking back snow-topped Helvellyn shone out.

Our way came past an MBA bothy in an old mine building, Dubs Hut. We wondered if it had been occupied the night before. We did meet one chap who had spent the night camped atop Fleetwith Pike, seen going down the track. As we followed the old mine tramway we got our first glimpse of Haystacks with Pillar and High Crag behind.

There was a drop in height to cross Warnscale Beck and then begin the winding path up the flanks of Haystacks. Top of Haystacks arrowed.

From time to time to distract us, there were stunning views down to the Buttermere valley.

A Wainwright. 1973.

The way was rough and undulating until suddenly we were on the shores of Innominate Tarn, AW’s last resting place, his ashes having been carried up by his widow, Betty, with Percy Duff and his two sons. March 22nd 1991. A beautiful place with Gable and Pillar as a background. His famous quote from Fellwanderer reflecting his often hidden humour – “And if you, dear reader, should get a bit of grit in your boot as you are crossing Haystacks in the years to come, please treat it with respect. It might be me.”

A Wainwright. 1973.

Cleaning our boots we scrambled up onto the summit ridge of Haystacks to be joined by many more enjoying the splendid clear November day. There were paths everywhere through the rocks and there was, surprisingly, a tarn almost at the summit. An unexpected view down Ennerdale from the top. Most people had come up from the Buttermere Valley via Scarth Gap and several scrambles to the top. We were now faced with this steep dropoff which Sir Hugh’s two mechanical knees objected to. As stoical as ever he made the descent slowly but surely, onlookers were impressed.  Once down the worst, we stopped in Scarth Gap for a bit of lunch.

Crowds going up.

Sir Hugh coming down.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The long descent from Scarth Gap, across the side of High Crag, went on forever but our route around the west side of Buttermere Lake was a joy. Eyes kept looking back to the rocky Haystacks and its neighbour Fleetwith Pike.

Our final destination was to be the little church of St. James to view the Wainwright Memorial window but we were thwarted by a remembrance service taking place.

VisitCumbria image.

VisitCumbria image.

We were content to stand outside listening to that evocative bugle call –

*****

WAINWRIGHT WAY. 13. ROSTHWAITE TO HONISTER.

A wintery interlude.

This was a short walk, not necessarily in sequence, bridging a gap in our WW progress through the Lakes. It had been a wild night with snow falling on the tops and we were in full waterproofs when we left the tiny village of Rosthwaite following AW’s Coast to Coast Walk. 

Field paths soon had us alongside the River Derwent at Longthwaite. All these ‘thwaites’ in the area derive from the Norse meaning of clearing or meadow. In the meadow here were some camping pods alongside the YHA as well as a collection of boots.

There was a short stretch of rocky scrambling by the river protected by chains, not quite a Via Ferrata. You have to go up to Honister for a full Via Ferrata experience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Autumn colours accompanied us to Seatoller. We passed above the Glaramara Hotel where we had spent a very comfortable night. In the background were Glaramara Fell itself and Seathwaite Fell leading to Esk Hause in the clouds.

Seatoller was sleepy and the 17th Century Yew Tree Inn seems to have become holiday accommodation. Cottages here were occupied by German miners back then digging for graphite seams.

A Wainwright. 1973.

We were to join the old toll road leading to the Honister Green Slate mines. A steep stepped path gained height quickly and we were then above the modern road making good progress against the wind and rain.

The old road was intact for most of the way and lead us straight into the quarries at the pass.

Honister Mine still produces green slate but has diversified into an ‘adventure experience’ with mine trips and Via Ferrata. That steep track ahead is our way up to the final day on Haystacks.

*****

WAINWRIGHT’S WAY. 12. LANGDALE TO ROSTHWAITE.

Zigzagging to Borrowdale.

I walked the Cumbria Way with one of my sons in 1988. It follows a mainly low-level route for 70 miles through the Lake District from Ulverston to Carlisle. We had enjoyed a traditional, comfortable night in the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel and then the next day walked over the Stake Pass down into Borrowdale and on to Keswick. The route passes from what was Westmorland into Cumberland and that is what we had in store for today, albeit only as far as Rosthwaite. The clocks have gone back and day light is getting short. Add to that we have created for ourselves an awkward drive for two cars – one at either end of Borrowdale and Langdale. Sir Hugh loves to be up and away before light but I’m a night owl and like my mornings to start slowly, preferably after a cup of coffee at 9am. So it was a shock for my system to be getting out of bed at 5am and on the road 30minutes later.

Once again beautiful early light shone on the Langdale Pikes as we started the route up the valley.

The last time we were both here was the sad occasion of scattering our friend Tony’s ashes. A little ‘ceremony’ involving flasks of tea and muesli bars with family and friends in the valley bottom below Gimmer Crag had some of his ashes duly scattered. This was followed by myself and Sir Hugh taking Tony’s son, Robert, with the remaining ashes in his rucksack, up a climb on Gimmer, Tony’s favourite Lakeland crag. I chose what I thought was an easy route for the occasion, a three-star VD, Oliverson’s Variation and Lyon’s Crawl. A long rising traverse in a superb position. We placed Robert in the middle and set off on what turned out to be an exciting exposed and in parts tricky climb right across the West Face. To help progress Sir Hugh says he had to pretend he wasn’t frightened as we coaxed an ashen-faced Robert across and up. Nevertheless, we accomplished our mission, and Tony is up on the top of Gimmer looking down upon us today.

Pike O’Stickle with Gimmer Crag further right.

Our route continues along the valley floor for about two miles and then starts a zigzagging ascent alongside the beck on a well-reconstructed stone path, Stake Pass.

Great Langdale with Bowfell up left, Rossett Gill centre and our route Stake Pass in mist right.

Heading to Stake Pass.

Looking back down Langdale was a geology lesson – U-shaped glacial valley with moraine debris.

A Wainwright. 1974.

We reached what we thought was the top just as clouds piled in from the west. There followed a strange endless hummocky plateau before we finally crested the pass and looked down into Langstrath. Down we went on a series of superb zigzags taking us right into the valley bottom. I have no recollection from the Cumbria Way of this unique path.

Alongside the path, as we descended was the lively Stake Beck cascading down rock slabs.

Sitting on rocks, enjoying lunch, we tried to make out features across the valley, there were crags everywhere but we only identified Cam Crag Ridge correctly. The track down the valley was rough and we made slow progress, enjoying the scenery and reminiscing. I had forgotten how much of a slog up the hillside on the right it was to reach Seargent Crag Slabs and lower in the valley BleakHow Buttress seemed to be disappearing under vegetation.

Bleak How.

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A Wainwright. 1973

Another enjoyable day on our Wainwright Way, not so many AW connections today but he would have appreciated those zigzags.

 

*****

WAINWRIGHT’S WAY. 11. MILL BRIDGE, GRASMERE TO ODG, LANGDALE

Into the heart of Lakeland.

Today was like a walk down memory lane as the Great Langdale Valley is one of my favourites. From early days camping at the head of the valley, long hot summer days circling the fell tops, hours on the crags and leisurely pints in the Old Dungeon Ghyll pub – it all came flooding back. I’m sure that Sir Hugh and my reminisces would have been utterly boring to most of you.

What has changed over the years is the amount of traffic and people. Every car park and grass verge was full of vehicles and the villages packed with tourists. AW was complaining about the crowds back in his day and advised going out of season, the season now apparently extends throughout the year.

We started the sparkling day with a gentle stroll down lanes alongside the River Rothay passing whitewashed Lakeland cottages.

In Grasmere, we joined the throngs of people on a Wordsworth pilgrimage. Sir Hugh headed straight to Sarah Nelson’s Gingerbread shop which has been trading since 1854, the shop was previously a small school where incidentally the Wordsworths had taught in the early 19th century

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Alongside is the parish church and in the graveyard are buried William Wordsworth and his family under the shade of a yew tree, one of eight planted by William,

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A Wainwright. 1974.

A lane out of the village leads to Allan Bank. This was the home of Wordsworth from 1808 to 1811 and later Canon Rawnsley, cofounder of the NT in 1895.

A Wainwright. 1974.

Our thoughts were now on the fells and the steep climb above us to reach the summit of Silver How. AW devotes a chapter to ‘a delightful’ fell in his Central Fells, Book Three of the Pictorial Guides. [my 1969 copy cost 15/-]

A Wainwright. 1958.

Silver How from Elterwater earlier in the day.

The path is well-trodden and goes through bracken and then a band of twisted juniper trees.

There are ample opportunities to rest and admire the views down into Grasmere, with Helm Crag and the Grisedale fells of yesterday in the background. A scramble into and out of a miniature rocky gill leads to the summit cone, there are more walkers approaching from several directions.

The blue sky from this morning has dulled and the sun disappeared but the views south over Grasmere, Rydal Water and Windermere and then round to the Lakeland Fells are outstanding.

It’s too cold to linger on the summit so we set off, rather too hastily, on our descent. This whole upland area is a confusion of humps and bumps with paths in all directions, we were not taking the long high-level route but the valley alternative suggested in the Wainwright Way guide. Nick Burton’s instructions, normally very clear and accurate, are a little vague and in the mist would be useless. Before long we had lost the path supposed to be besides Megs Gill and were on a compass bearing down a steep rocky hillside to pick up the path going into Langdale. The views up the valley with the Langdale Pikes were appreciated more once we were back on the way.

“All humps and bumps”

Our steep way down in red.

Great Langdale Valley.

 

What followed was a lovely stroll up the centre of the Great Langdale Valley away from the busy road with time to take in all the views and what’s more, the sun had reappeared.

As I said our attention was taken by the climbing venues above, tales of past climbs from years ago were related and no doubt repeated. Raven Crag Walthwaite, Scout Crags, White Ghyll, Pavey Arc, East Raven Crags, Raven Crag, Middle Fell Buttress, Gimmer and Bowlell all were revisited.

A Wainwright. 1974.

Scout Crags, there are climbers on the upper crag.

Dramatic White Ghyll.

East Raven Crags with Harrison Stickle behind.

Raven Crag.

To cap it off we popped into the Climbers Bar at The Old Dungeon Ghyll for a drink. Not much has changed in this room with its warming open range and wood-panelled walls. We were envious of two climbers just setting off for a couple of routes on Raven Crag directly above the pub.

The drive home through Ambleside and Windermere will be glossed over – there is no ‘out of season’ anymore.

*****

 

WAINWRIGHT’S WAY. 10. PATTERDALE TO MILL BRIDGE, GRASMERE.

A taste of A Coast to Coast Walk.

My copy of AW’s Coast to Coast Walk is dated  1973, I backpacked it with two of my cousins in April 1979. We started on the East coast finishing through the Lake District and having lots of fun along the way:  lost tents, freezing nights. dodgy pork pies etc. I noted that our three nights camping on farm sites cost 95p in total, the rest were wild. Today’s walk follows a section of that C to C and there were plenty of people out on the footpaths enjoying the sparkling weather. It is difficult to know how many of them are walking the C to C as many now use a luggage transfer system so the sight of heavily laden backpackers is rarer. AW was keen to point out that the route was an example of what can be achieved linking public rights of way and open country to create a route of your own choice. Most people opt for ‘official’ long-distance routes but Sir Hugh and I concur with his premise, both of us having completed many miles of our own device.

There was a ground frost, snow on the tops and not a cloud in the sky as we left Patterdale before most people were about. The Post Office has the following plaques …

Round the corner was the imposing Patterdale Hotel where Sir Hugh had spent his honeymoon, he couldn’t remember which room but says he has the receipt still. Perhaps he will show it on his blog of today. Next was the church with its unusual clock tower and its new banner.

A Wainwright. 1974.

The little lane leading into Grisedale where we used to park whilst climbing or walking in the area is now a no parking zone. Pay up in the pay and display carparks. We walked on past Elmhow Barn deeper into the valley. On the left is St. Sunday Crag where I once climbed Pinnacle Ridge pursued by mountain rescue dogs thinking I was lost or dead. On the right is Eagle Crag, which I’ve climbed on several times, with some good solid middle-grade multi-pitch routes. On one occasion I left a bunch of large ‘hexes’ [pre friends] on a belay ledge and had to go back a week later to reclaim them.

Dollywagon Pike and Eagle Crag below Nethermost Pike.

Eagle Crag.

We started ascending more steeply to the old climbing hut of Ruthwaite Lodge, once I think it belonging to Sheffield University Mountaineering Club, but now restored after a fire [1993] in memory of two climbers from Outward Bound Ullswater, who lost their lives climbing Mount Cook, NZ. Up above on the slopes of Dollywagon Pike was a cliff [?Falcon crag] with a dramatic looking chimney.

Falcon Crag.

Pausing for a break we had a perfect view down Grisedale with Place Fell in the distance.

A Wainwright. 1973.

By now more people were appearing all heading to Grisedale Tarn.

There was more climbing to reach the high point of the hause, now in a bitter wind. Dropping down the other side we found a sheltered spot in the warm sun for lunch. An assortment of walkers kept passing us on the way to the top.

The route onwards was rocky and awkward but with great views to the west. Morecambe Bay and the lower end of Windermere glistened in the sun. Looking back was equally scenic with the waterfalls we had passed a feature.

We slowly reached the road as the sun dipped early with the clocks having changed this weekend. Grasmere was glimpsed our next port of call.

*****

WAINWRIGHT’S WAY. 9. TROUTBECK TO PATTERDALE.

A splendid Lakeland day.

We now embark on a climb from AW’s Book Two of the Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells – The Far Eastern. This book was published in 1957 and my copy is well used from my days tramping these fells in the early 1970s, ‘Doing the Wainwrights’ was high on my list of activities.  He dedicates his Book Two to “The men who built the stone walls” and we saw plenty in evidence today, walls that’s to say.  AW followed this route with friends on the second day of his first holiday in the Lakes, 1930.

A Wainwright. 1957.

Our objective, High Street, was way up in the clouds as we left Limefit Park on the bridleway in Troutbeck Valley.

We had walked two and a half miles, passing The Tongue, before we were faced with any significant ascent and then the climbing began up the fellside to reach a grooved track, Scot Rake. We were now in the cloud and is was heads down for a mile of climbing with little to detract from our exertions but the skidding tyre marks of some kamikaze cyclist.

Scot Rake, much steeper than it looks.

For the first time, people were met on the ridge from Froswick to Thornthwaite Crag. Omitting the latter we wandered a bit aimlessly towards High Street with hounds sprinting surreally out of the mist. Once a wall was reached it was a simple matter to follow it to the trig point, not a place to linger with a cold wind blowing and complete cloud cover.

Only when we were further down the north ridge in the Straits of Riggindale did views start to appear and the rest of today’s walk was spread out in front of us and what a scene. Lakeland at its best. At one time I knew every fell in the Lakes but today we struggled to identify many of them.

Coming out of the clouds towards the Straits of Riggindale.

Down to Haweswater.

Hayeswater.

AW would not have approved of this ‘improved’ path.

Seclusive Martindale.

It was late when we found a semi-sheltered spot for lunch around the back of The Knott, Sir Hugh still struggling with his ill-fitting gloves. The onward track was awkwardly rocky and the strong gusts of wind made things worse so I think we made slow progress to Angle Tarn.

Angle Tarn, one of AW’s favourites.

By now most of the clouds had lifted and we could see back up to High Street and our descent route.

There were flashes of sunshine onto Brothers Water and Harsop but we kept to the higher path which weaved around rocky outcrops and along a delightful balcony path to Boardale Hause, a meeting of paths. A popular well-reconstructed path took us down into Patterdale where our car was parked opposite the White Lion.

Boardale Hause and Place Fell.

A truly enjoyable eleven miles in the footsteps of AW.

Patterdale with Grisedale, our next valley, heading into the fells.

A Wainwright. 1974.

*****

 

 

WAINWRIGHT’S WAY. 8. MITCHELLAND TO TROUTBECK.

Into Lakeland.

Autumn has come overnight with the bracken dead and leaves falling as we followed the rough moorland track towards Crag House. The infant River Gilpin is crossed on its way down to the Lyth Valley, famous for its Damson blossoms, to join the Kent into Morecombe Bay.  I’ve been here before on the final day of the Dales Way,1981, but I don’t remember or like the gaudy signs.

Next, we were heading for a group of little hills above Windermere which we last visited as part of mopping up Wainwright’s Outliers. Today we only summited School Knott. Passing on the way Schoolknott Tarn.

A Wainwright. 1974.

A rainbow heralded our arrival.

Up here one is directly above Windermere, town and lake, for a bird’s eye view but the Lakeland hills have a cloud covering.

All paths lead down towards the town which we skirt near the railway station and Windermere Hotel for a brief brush with the traffic.

WW’s next objective is Orrest Head which gave AW his first glimpse of the Lake District on the 7th June 1930 on a visit from Blackburn. “the first time I had looked upon beauty, or imagined it, even”  So this was the inspiration for his Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells.

There were plenty of people climbing this hill today to look upon that beauty, unfortunately, the clouds marred the view. There was a glimmer of brightness way down in Morecambe Bay, most of Windermere was visible but the tops of the Coniston Hills, Langdale Pikes and the Kentmere ridge were obscured. Still, it was a good spot for lunch with its AW viewfinder. 

A Wainwright. 1974.

Grass slopes, cropped by the sheep, lead down onto a backroad near Crosses Farm. Looking at the map we realised there was no need to drop to Troutbeck Bridge as here was a  footpath signed Troutbeck. This gave easy walking via Far Orrest, where in a barn, a lad was tuning up his hillclimbing motor.

More fields passed and we were back on route at Longmire Lane heading into the hills. The tops of Coniston and Langdale were almost visible as was the western branch of the Kentmere Horseshoe. Parallel to us were the scattered white houses of Troutbeck across the valley, many sketched by AW in Westmorland Heritage. Once above Limefit Park, [seen in the above photo], we came down to the car we had parked earlier this morning. This is a luxury chalet park with all facilities, it was a farm caravan park in AW’s days. My last picture shows our way next time into the fells proper, passing the small rounded Troutbeck Tongue on its right to gain the HIgh Street ridge.

A Wainwright. 1974.

*****