Let me take you back to May Day Bank Holiday – yes the first one, still a long way behind with posts :). The annual gathering of my old university friends and their kids at our now spiritual home at Church Stile campsite in Nether Wasdale. We’ve been here for the last couple of years and had a right royal time. There was a change of owner over the new year so there is always a worry that things may change but the new owners proved to be extremely welcoming and friendly. They have kept the site just as it was, not too crowded with immaculate facilities and fantastic location with it’s own play area and footy pitch for the kids. Being away from the main walking hotspots it retains a very quiet family orientated atmosphere. In short, everything I want from a campsite. I’d like to think we can continue coming here for many years to come. We had our own little corner of the campsite near the football pitch and the woods, just perfect. We’ve already booked for next year.
Church Stile Campsite & Buckbarrow
The weather wasn’t very spring-like and I had to put the tent up in the pouring rain on the Friday night. The next day was bright and cloudy and Mrs Hardman very kindly offered to escort the kids to the May Day fair in the village so the rest of the adults went for a walk. I’ve often been told how wonderful Mitredale is so we fashioned a plan to take in Irton Fell and Mitredale and then back over Illgill Head
On the way through the splendid pastureland that holds Flass Tarn we came across this tree that looks like it had been torn asunder in a storm leaving a great view of its innards
Storm damaged tree near Flass Tarn
After a short steep climb over Irton Fell we dropped down the other side to pick up Mitredale. Never one to turn down some R&R, I enjoyed a short rest and first lunch on this handy bench with fine views across to the Black Combe above Barrow
Old Timers on Irton Fell
View south-west from Irton Fell
We entered Mitredale and I have to say my first impressions were not favourable. It was heavily farmed with a succession of untidy fields, reclaimed forests and soggy, muddy paths. I wasn’t all that impressed.
Then we passed through a gate and suddenly the real Mitredale was revealed. A narrow twisting valley with a small stream, absolutely stunning and a pleasure to amble into it’s hidden confines. It gave the impression of being little walked, unsurprising as it’s not an obvious route to a well know summits which is where most visitors to the Lake District head.
Uncle Fester in Mitredale
It saved the best till last. The valley ends abruptly in a small rocky cwm with several tumbling waterfalls. The sun came out and the spot was magical. A lengthy stop was in order to take in the scene. It would make a cracking campsite if you could find a dry spot – t was a little soggy underfoot!
Head of Mitredale
We headed off towards Illgill Head, scrambling past the waterfalls onto the open fellside above
GM atop the waterfalls
The views across Esdale Moor, Burnmoor Tarn and to the Scafell range were superb but it was clear the cloud was bubbling again
Scafell, Burnmoor Tarn and Eskdale Moor
It was a long climb to the summit over the tussocky grass, always tough without a path. By the time we had all reached the summit it was cloudy and cold and I was starting to regret the optimism that had driven me to wear shorts for the day. Time to press on along the edge of the cliffs that tumble into Wast Water leaving the famous Wasdale Screes behind them
Whin Rigg from Illgill Head
The path along the edge gives some sensational views and several eyries perched out above the cliffs and ridges. Most people seem to wander the lower path across the screes. I’ve been up here a couple of times now and it’s always deserted. It a superb route and one I urge you to try when in the area. Preferable to sharing your day with the massed hordes on Scafell Pike
Illgill Head & Wast Water
We took our time sticking to the edge and peering down into all the gullies and admiring the rocky ridges. One ridge looked especially tantalising, like an alpine ridge but getting to the bottom of it would be another matter entirely
Illgill Head & Wast Water
Hardman looking hard
We didn’t linger on the second summit of Whin Rigg too long, partly because it was flippin cold and partly as time was pressing on and we all had hungry kids to feed. We strolled briskly back to the campsite and took part in that quintessentially British activity of having a BBQ when it’s really far too cold to do so 🙂
Seriously it wasn’t too bad, it stayed dry and there is nothing I like more than eating outside (and playing with fire). It was a very sociable evening and we were up until it got dark which coincided nicely with the time when it really was too cold to sit outside
Too cold to eat outside?
The Sunday was a pretty miserable and cold day interspersed with numerous showers. We made the most of things by loads of high quality football games full of keen tackling, one-touch passing and incidents (I was never offside!). Those kids not interested in such madness were given the treat of feeding the lambs on the farms – huge than-you to the campsite owners for inviting the kids – they absolutely loved it
Feeding the lambs
TJF and her new family
The rest of the day was taken with a stroll by the cold and windy shores of Wast Water but it was pretty grim so no photos I’m afraid. The Monday looked set for much of the same with a dark grey sky and the threat of rain in the air. I played the usual game of trying to time the taking down of my big family tent before it got wet – it’s a bugger to dry out at home. Then around midday and out of nowhere the sun broke through and within the hour we had a clear blue sky above us. We decided to take the kids on a stroll through the fields and woods that mark the ground between Nether Wasdale and the lake
It’s another joy of this spot that the local walks are just as stunning as the tops. These paths around the fields are marvellous for a quiet ramble with the kids. Plenty of stiles, streams and bridges and the views along Wasdale and of the local hills are enchanting. Sometimes when you’re on a big walk you become too focused in clocking the miles, bagging the next peak to really enjoy your surroundings. A walk like this gives time to enjoy the company, look at the wildflowers, enjoy looking up at mountains rather than down from them. Sometimes a walk just needs to be a walk
Nether Wasdale, Mill Place
Nether Wasdale near Scale Bridge
Whin Rigg & Illgill Head
Whin Rigg & Illgill Head
We stopped at Greendale Gill and under the now warm sunshine it was magnificent. The kids took their shoes and socks off and scrambled about in the stream while the adults relaxed in the sun. It was the highlight of the weekend for me, as you know I’m a big fan of mountain streams and waterfalls
EWO and OGS
Taking things easy while the kids get wet
It was a shame the afternoon was already slipping away and we all had long drives home. We reluctantly packed up and headed back towards the campsite after an hour of happy play and chilling out.
Fun in the sun
Young Indiana Jones
The fields between the Gill and the Campsite were equally enchanting. Bright green fields under a deep blue sky is an alluring combination.
Over the green fields
Looking back to Wasdale
It was just a delight strolling across the grass and looking up at Buckbarrow. This is one of my favourite views anywhere
Buckbarrow really seems to hold my attention when we’re hear. It’s crags always look ready for some scrambling and it’s summit rocks and hollows are a delight. Proof that mountains don’t need to be high to be big.
All too soon we were on the final leg and heading back to the campsite. After some pretty unsettled weather, we finished on a real high.
All that remained was to say some goodbyes but on a whim, rather than a soul-less meal on the Motorway we went to The Strands pub for a mighty fine meal in their sunny beer garden. A fitting end to another cracking weekend. If Carlsberg did Lake District weekends……
Still playing catch up with the blog. Been busy planning a major family trip for next summer so I’ve been neglecting my blogging duties. This one is from mid April after the cold weather from Easter had gone for good. Me and TJS stole an afternoon for a quick jaunt into the Black Mountains from Llanthony Priory
5 Miles, 1,250 feet of ascent
It’s a splendid spot situated in the fine Vale of Ewyas. In my humble opinion it’s one of the finest valleys in Britain and deserves to be better known. I’d neglected to pack my camera so the photos are taken with my iPhone. I know that people claim that phones take as good a picture as most compact camera’s but I’m not convinced. I rarely take photos with the phone but one thing I would say is that they are very handy fall-back for muppets like me who forget their camera when out walking!
The climb to the ridge is through open fields, woodland and then up over Loxidge Tump and onto the open fellside. It’s been such a while since I did this walk and due to the limited photos I only have a vague recollection of the finer points of the day. I do recall hearing birdsong near the ridge and thinking it was the first I’d heard this year and how perhaps winter was now officially over!
The stroll along Offa’s Dyke and down the ridge was as always pleasant and easy going. I’ve walked part of this section on many occasions from the opposite side to take in the Black Darren landslip (the most recent walk is here).
It was hard to imagine that only a few weeks previously the whole area was blanketed in snow. Despite it being a sunny day there was a chill wind blowing and we had to drop down to the NE slopes to find some shelter for the usual routine of packed lunch and fresh cuppa.
We continued along the ridge towards Hatterall Hill and then turned sharp right back onto the Brecons Way. The path is another of those high level and gently traversing paths above the valley that I love so much. You can cover the ground with ease while still taking in the expansive views. The summit ridge is so broad that the views are a little restricted but on these paths the views are much more open and interesting.
We chatted about the possible plans for our big holiday next year (more to follow when I’ve sorted it) and almost before we knew it we were heading over the fields back to the priory. A short day, but a good one – from what I remember anyway.
We had to head home between the two Easter weekends, me to go back to work, the rest of the family to tend to a poorly Guinea Pig who sadly died during the week. We returned the following weekend but the cold, clear weather had been replaced by milder, cloudier conditions. On the Saturday we took a short stroll from the village of Furnace in the Dyfi valley.
The village is named after the small Iron furnace powered by a large water wheel. It’s free to wander about and the wheel is an impressive size, used to drive the bellows that basted air onto the fire smelt the iron from the rock.
The waterfall behind the furnace is also rather good.
From Furnace we took a stroll around the green lanes above the village. The views across the Dyfi estuary were nice but the sky was leaden grey with the threat of rain in the air all morning.
Dyfi Estuary & the Tarrens
The walk took us through pleasant woods down to the Afon Einion.
TBF and TJF
TBF & TJF
We then picked up a path that traversed across the lower slopes of Foel Fawr. Even though it was windy and grey it was a fine path with uninterrupted views across the estuary to the Tarrens that we climbed last Easter. Rain kept spitting and with the wind it wasn’t a day to dawdle.
TJS and the Tarrens
Tarrens from Foel Fawr
TBF & TJF on Foel Fawr
It would a great walk with several spots for a linger on a warm day. Today the feeling was that we were racing the bad weather. We wandered back along the lane and through the Ynys-hir bird watching area to the car. By the time were back at the van it was raining and it continued through the rest of the day and night.
Wind and rain always fetches up some big waves so the next day me and TJS had a very wet and windy walk along the promenade in Aberystwyth. With the tide full in the waves were crashing against the sea wall and throwing spray over the road and passers by. When I was a kid watching the waves “bounce” was a favorite and I enjoyed sharing this with TJS
He was enjoying the spectacle even though we were wet through. The power of the waves is hard to ignore when you get so close to the action. It really is a great way to pass an hour or two when the weather is wild and wet
Waves on the Promenade
After lunch it stopped raining and we headed over to Borth for a wander on the beach. It’s a rather drab little place but it has a cracking beach. By the time we got there the sun was out and the views excellent
We clambered onto the rocks to watch the waves crashing. There were several surfers out and I regretted not having my kayak with me as the waves looked superb
Sunshine after the storm
We strolled across the beach enjoying the unexpected burst of sunshine. There are a couple of man-made breakwaters to protect the beach, consisting of huge boulders that you can scramble on and under. The kids love it although I suspect going into the dark gaps is a tad risky
TJS & TJF enjoy the beach
Across the beach looking south
To finish off the day we walked up to the headland that overlooks the beach. The views across the beach, town, the marshland behind, the Dyfi estuary and the Tarrens was cracking. The wind that had whipped up the waves was still blowing hard so we didn’t linger long
Across Borth towards the Tarrens
On the South Headland
Borth, the Beach and the Tarrens
Our appetite for fresh air after a day of rain satisfied, we headed for home contented and hungry. Always a pleasure when out of a cold, wet and windy morning springs some surprise sunshine. Easter had delivered a real mix of fun from frost and snow to wind and waves. Time for summer…..
After my little jaunt up Plynlimon it was appropriate to spend some quality family time with TBF and the kids. It was another splendid day and we opted for some beach and coast activity down at Llangrannog on the Mid-Wales coast. It’s a splendid little place with a coast and beaches to rival anywhere in the UK. I wanted to explore the headland of Ynys Lochtyn just up the coast which has always looked enticing on the map.
We got lucky with a spot on the small pub car park near the beach, and we were straight onto the sand as the tide was out. The sun was beaming down and the sky a clear blue but it was extremely cold, a combination of the still cold easterly air flow and proximity to chilled winter sea
The views on the beach and up and down the coast were amazing and we spent a happy hour just pithering about and clambering on the rocks, enjoying our first proper beach day of the year
Sunny and Cold
South towards Aberporth
Sand and Sky
We sat on the rocks on the beach around the corner from the village. The kids like this spot as it gets cut off by the high tide so it’s considered a secret beach 🙂
Cold Lunch on the Beach
View from the Coast path
It was pretty chilly down on the sand so we warmed up with a steep climb up the 100 plus steps at the back of the beach to the coast path. Away from the sea it was markedly warmer, almost spring-like and were soon down to shirt-sleeves.
North towards Ynys Lochtyn
The stroll along the cliffs was splendid in the warm sunshine. We gained a new friend with an old dog from the village who seemed to be adopting a variety of people to walk with on the path, stopping to wait for us whenever we dallied. The views across Cardigan Bay and down to more secret and isolated beaches below was superb and the sea crystal clear
The path then carries on north towards the Welsh Newquay and we pitched down onto the grassy headland of Ynys Lochtyn. Away from the easterly wind it was pleasant and warm and we settled down onto the cropped grass for a long laze in the sun
Relaxing on Ynys Lochtyn
It’s a superb spot with a grassy spread a golf green-keeper would be proud of. We snoozed, brewed up, strolled, watched the sea birds and tried to spot some dolphins and seals that the coast is known for but without any success. It was still a cracking place to while away an afternoon, something of a contrast with my adventures in Ardgour the previous weekend
Pen Dinas Hill Fort
As always with a perfect afternoon you have to head back. TBF and TJF headed back to the beach while me and TJS walked to the top of Pen Dinas Hill Fort for an elevated view of the coast and an exceedingly steep descent back down again
Pen Dinas Hill Fort
View north along the coast
The sun was casting its golden road across Cardigan Bay, leading to the Preseli Hills and Pembrokeshire
We had time for another play on the beach, watching the tide come in, skimming stones and dodging the waves as it pushed against the cliffs
End of a good day
Happy with our day out we headed to our caravan home for a chippy tea – marvellous!