Archive for the ‘Lake District’ Category

Sale Fell and Ling Fell   12 comments

The day after the sunshine before. Waking to strong winds and rain battering the windows. A leisurely breakfast and several aborted attempts to get out while the rain hammered down. Eventually time to head out while it was just a steady drizzle, heading for a couple of smaller summits.


Showers on and and off while we climbed the bracken and grass slopes of Sale Fell.


Despite the gloomy and wet weather I enjoyed the walk up. Its a fine summit of grassy ridges and bumps with its steep sides affording expansive views – albeit of mostly cloud covered summits.


Quite a group of us on the top but several decided this was enough for one day and went down for Sunday lunch in the pub.


The intrepid remainers carried on and after another very heavy shower things took a massive upturn.


Summits cleared and then the sun came out, tentatively at first and then quite gloriously.


We followed the old corpse road around and up towards Ling Fell, looking for a lunch spot. It was mild and warm enough that we felt the need to find a spot with a cooling breeze.


Carrying on to the summit of Ling Fell – another exceedingly fine small hill – it was clear this was a merely a short break in the wet weather and the dark clouds began to gather around us again.


Skiddaw vanished back into the gloom.


The last of the days sunshine on Ling Fell.


Feeling pleased with our luck having been on Ling Fell for the best weather of the day we set off back along the lanes and fields to the Guest House.


The gloom got darker and the clouds lower as we got back and just as we reached the cars the heavy rains came again. Still considering a pretty poor start and forecast a really great days walking on the lesser known fells.


We bid farewell to all our friends as we head off for places as far apart as Aberdeen and Hereford. A cracking weekend to finish off the warmer seasons. Winter was coming – well a very wet autumn anyway.


A Return to Skiddaw   12 comments

One week after my last post and we were all the way back up north again for another of our grown-ups only weekends that seemed to have dropped away in recent years. The Saturday was, as you can see, a quite breathtaking day. We were staying at the north end of Bassenthwaite Lake and as Skiddaw was looking down on us it was the obvious target.


Skiddaw is one of the Lakes four big 3000 feet peaks but I’ve not climbed it since my university days back in he 80’s. It has a reputation of being something of a dull, grinding plod from Keswick to the South but much better from the North. We were taking the circuit of Southerndale over Ullock Pike and Longside Edge and thence onto Skiddaw.


A large group of us which always slows down the walk but on a day this stunning that hardly matters. Waiting for friends to catch up, and chatting to people I don’t see all that often is part of the pleasure of these gatherings


What the photos don’t show is just how windy it was – difficult to stand up at times. Always feels odd to have such a clear cloudless day combined with such strong winds that would normally herald stormy weather.


The grey stony mass of Skiddaw itself.


Yours truly.


Across the pastureland to the Solway Firth and the Galloway Hills


Topping out on Ullock Pike


Looking back on our route of ascent.




The flat top of Carl Side gives a cracking view across Derwent Water to the central Lake District.


West over Blencathra to Cross Fell and the Pennines.


The climb to Skiddaw Man is steep, stony and brutal – seemed to go on forever. A rest was therefore much in order.


The summit ridge of Skiddaw. I was pleased to find such a fine summit and extensive views. It had been a dreary and dismal day when I’d last done it. I was a keen and fit walker in those days – we did Blencathra as well!


This day was a day to chat and admire views so despite having had a rest on Skiddaw Man we had another rest on the summit itself!


Our route down took us over the excellently named eminences of Bakestall and Cockup.


The wild and quiet hills to the north, another area I’ve never explored.


The distinctive hill of Binsey.


Out to the west the first signs of the following days wet weather was on the horizon and advancing.


But as we dropped back down the slopes to the car the late afternoon clear light was just stunning.


Once out of the wind its positively hot and humid and felt more like July than late September. A view taking in most of our circuit.


We strode back across the fields in very high spirits and looked forward to a few beers and a slap up evening meal in the local pub. A Carlsberg day.


May Day Weekend – Buckbarrow   12 comments

A very short post from the final day of our excellent weekend. Takes a while to eat breakfast and pack down the trailer so no time for a full day walk. No problem, as the delight of this campsite is plenty of high quality short walks on the doorstep.


Today it was Buckbarrow, the prominent rocky summit at the back of the site. A very nice stroll over the fields leads to the base in 20 minutes and then a short but very steep climb (with the odd rest) has you on the summit rocks.


The views across the lower reaches of Wasdale open out as you climb (the campsite is centre right in the photo below).


There are plenty of rocky outcrops to tempt the scrambler. This rather greasy looking ramp looked beyond my skills but in fact turned out to be much easier than it looked.


I picked my own route on the less dramatic outcrops.


Its a cracking spot to look across Wast Water at Illgill Head and the screes.


And across the lake to the Scafell Pike and Scafell range.


We had another long stop on the top to enjoy lunch followed by a very brisk walk down so we could hit the cafe in Seascale for another huge ice cream based evening meal! Who says you shouldn’t finish the day with waffles and ice cream. Great end to a classic weekend packed with quality walks and good company.


May Day Weekend – Irton Pike   8 comments

Something a little more relaxed and easy paced after the exertions of the previous day in the high mountains. Irton Pike was a popular spot a couple of years ago so we decided to repeat that – after another leisurely morning of indecision.


The walk across the pastures at Flass is one of my favourite spots.


The view across the huge green meadow studded with trees is wonderful.


Another bright and dry day albeit with less sunshine than the previous day.


Latterbarrow Crag always looks impressive but its on private land with plenty of warning signs to keep out. One day I’ll trespass up there….


After the steep climb to Irton Fell we bade farewell to keener members of the group off to Illgill Head and Mitredale while we tured and headed down down the ridge towards Irton Pike.


Its a very impressive, small, rocky and steep sided peak with expansive views out to the coast.


As is our want we stopped for a long while for brews, lunch and in some cases a snooze.


We took a long way back via the pub in Santon Bridge for a cheeky pint and back along the River Irt although I don’t seem to have taken any photos after Irton Pike. Trust me it was fine walk, beer and evening back at the campsite with more camp fire fun.


May Day Weekend – Lingmell   14 comments

Most of our happy band had arrived and we woke to a glorious morning of clear blue skies. Warm enough – just – to cook breakfast outside. What could be better.


After quite a momentous amount of faffing about we were ready to head to hills. We agreed that a repeat of the walk up into the Scafell range by following the path along Piers Gill was in order. Most of the gang had done this last year when we missed the weekend and I’ve never done that route. No-one seemed to mind doing it again.


The views in Wasdale as parked up and began the walk were sublime. Classic views to Kirk Fell and Great Gable and back down Wasdale towards Wast Water.


Despite the sunshine there was a keen gusting wind and it was pretty cold. However the forecast was primarily dry and I’ll always settle for cold and dry over warm and wet. The Pony Path route towards Styhead has become a real favourite of mine. A grass trod with lots of interesting stream crossings and scenery. Infinitely preferable to long main drag that flanks Great Gable that the masses seem to take. I’ve walked up this path a few times recently and rarely seen anyone on it.


We made brief lunch stop just before the main climb before tackling the hard work of the day.


It’s a steep route that follows the line of the deep and dark ravine of Piers Gill. As you climb, the rock scenery becomes ever more impressive.


About 2/3 the way up there is a short and quite steep scramble. Nothing too difficult with plenty of holds but worth bearing in mind if you follow this route and find rock work to be a little daunting.


TBF poses with the impressive bulk of Great Gable behind.


The path from here to where it joins the Corridor Route is just superb. The cliffs of Lingmell tower above and there are numerous spots where you peer over the edge into Piers Gill.


Looking ahead the dramatic corries and peaks of the Scafell Pike range come into focus.


Most people up here are heading for Scafell Pike and you could see the crowds on the top and surrounding paths. Our target was the smaller and quieter Lingmell.


As we climbed the dramatic crags of Scafell really caught the eye as well as dark and dramatic views out over Wast Water to the coast.


If we all look a bit chilly sat on the top that may be because it was perishingly cold and a little snowy at this point.


A cracking little summit though, superb viewpoint for Englands highest range and Great Gable and we had it to ourselves.


DB Jr doing what DBs do best, scrambling around in dangerous places giving me unsettling moments.


You can probably tell from the photos that Great Gable is the real eye catching peak from this walk.


No walk up here would be complete with following the Corridor Route. Its a magnificent path through some wild and rocky terrain but apart from one short scramble a well made and very easy path.


A couple of photos from my phone in a sunnier interval to give a flavour of what you can expect if you tackle it.


Time for another stop (a good route deserves time to appreciate it)


We managed to pick out Napes Needle across the valley on Great Gable and some people stood at the bottom in blue jackets. Not sure if they were just admiring it or planning to climb it.


As we turned to head back down the sun came out in glorious abundance. Another sit down on the grass was in order. Mostly to rest and sunbathe. For me and the DBs a chance to behave like kids and fill each others pockets and packs with rocks.


The views back from the last stretch to the car were wonderful in the evening light. Great Gable.


And Kirk Fell.


Superb day of great walking in great company.

What better way to finish off than a BBQ and a roaring fire.


It was a bit chilly for sitting outside but everyone had a fun time. The campsite hire out fire pits made from old washing machine tubs. Nothing better for kids and adults who pretend to be kids than playing with fire on a campsite.


May Day Weekend – St Bees Head   18 comments

Our annual trip to the Lake District for May Day was upon us (we missed it last year but who’s counting). We headed up a day early (me and TBF) to make a longer weekend. Seemed a rash decision as it was grey, dreary and raining when we woke up on the Friday morning. Luckily it stopped just before lunch so rather than head to the hills we headed to the coast. First stop, Mawsons Cafe in Seascale for a sandwich and huge plate of waffles and ice cream. Then onwards to St Bees for a coastal walk (feeling rather bloated it has to be said.


We’ve only ever been to the coast hereabouts on wet and dreary days so this made a nice change. In fact the weather had turned quite rapidly from rain to glorious sunshine.


St Bees Head is well known to long distance walkers as the official start of the Coast to Coast walk and also home to some fine cliffs, hidden beaches and a seabird colony. It’s also home to an expensive car park by the beach. Note that in Seascale down the road the car park is free!


The grass was green, the sky blue, the gorse flowering yellow and all was right with the world.


It’s a splendid grassy romp along the cliff tops and on a Friday very quiet.


Fleswick Beach is a couple of miles in and looked a wonderful place to explore.


And just beyond is the colony of seabirds. I’m not an expert but they looked very similar to the Razorbills and Guilliemots that we’ve seen in Pembrokeshire so I’m assuming that’s what they were. The largest colony of cliff nesting seabirds in NW England said the sign. On reflection probably the only colony of cliff nesting seabirds in NW England. As far as I know there are no cliffs any further north before you hit Scotland and heading south you’d have to reach Somerset before the next band of cliffs (excluding Wales of course)


Still it was an impressive, numerous, noisy and smelly colony and were pleased to be able to see it.


We turned tail and headed back to the car. No time explore the beach as we were on a timetable to meet TJS off the train from Lancaster.


The coast was just as enjoyable on the return.


As we approached St Bees we received a message telling us he’d missed his train the hopeless git. No time to return to Fleswick Beach but we now had an extra hour to kill.


We admired the views across St Bees beach and to the Lake District. Very different to see the mountains from this direction.


And we did have time for a potter on the beach and a sit down on the sea wall.


Not a bad day after such a dismal start and a superb bit of coast that is well worth seeking out. Its not all about mountains!


The day was finished off with a pub meal and a few beers in the excellent Strands Inn at Nether Wasdale with our friends as they arrived. The mountains were calling for the next day.


Easter Sun – Harter Fell and Birks Bridge   19 comments

I forgot to mention another day out on our Easter weekend. We decided the weather was good enough for a day out in the Lakes. After our swimming exploits we fancied another dip and walk.

We needed a small but interesting peak with a river swim. Dunnerdale and Harter Fell seemed to fit the bill.


On a hot sunny Bank Holiday weekend the Lake District can be swarming with people. Dunnerdale is a stunning place but awkward to get to and off the radar so we found it relatively quiet by Lake District standards. Our route up Harter Fell was heading for the obvious outcrop of Maiden Castle in the photo below.


We stopped off at Birks Bridge, our chosen swimming hole on the way and it looked excellent.


We were excited for the swim later but first there was a mountain to climb to earn our right to a swim.


The route up was brutally steep and mercifully quite short.


We still needed a rest halfway up. It was a pretty hot and hazy day.


Maiden Castle was fine rocky outcrop with some scrambling opportunities.


It looks dramatic from most angles but in fact you can pretty much walk to the top around the back.


From here to the summit is a scramblers delight. There are small rocky outcrops littering the slopes. A playground for budding and semi-retired rock athletes.


Me and the DBs had enormous fun picking a route and finding some serious short challenges to test our skills.


The summit itself is even better with several significant outcrops and superb views.


We ate lunch, drank tea and played around on the rocks.


Smiles and laughter were in abundance. Scrambling around on perfect warm rock under a blue sky is a pretty damn good feeling.


I’m still surprised that this is my first ascent of this rocky peak, most likely the best known and largest of Lakelands major fells I’ve never climbed. I’m glad I saved it for such a superb day.


Despite the fun we were all eager to head down and enjoy a different kind of fun.


As we headed down the haze seemed to clear a little and the views were increasingly dramatic.


Our happy group finishing the hike part of the day.


And into the water!


This early in the year I expected the water to be bitingly cold and the swim refreshing but short.


In fact the water was no colder than in the height of last years heatwave and we spent a good hour playing, swimming, jumping and generally messing about.


The river runs through a narrow and deep gorge with a waterfalls at the upstream section. We had enormous fun squirming our way up the waterfalls, some more ungainly than others!


We sat on the sunny banks to warm up, thanking our luck to have such glorious hot weather at Easter. I’m pretty sure this is the earliest point in the year I’ve ever been wild swimming. Still seems surreal to have such hot weather 7 days after I shivered in winter cold in the Brecon Beacons.


We headed home a very happy and contented bunch. Sadly TBH had a very bad case of dizziness that left her in pretty bad way hardly able to move or open her eyes the previous day. Whilst much improved on this day she decided to rest at home in the sunshine. Such a shame she wasn’t able to join us but it was great to her up and about and looking much better for a day in garden when we got home 🙂

An absolutely top notch day of scrambling and swimming in the sunshine.


A Quick Stride Over Farleton Fell   18 comments

The Monday of our visit was Xmas Eve and most of us were either travelling home to see family or in our case for a brief visit home before our next trip. Right on cue the British weather transformed overnight from dark, damp and gloomy to cold clear and frosty!


Whilst its a little frustrating to have such a stunning day when most of us couldn’t make use of it, you can’t really complain about a glorious morning like this or in fact a weekend that had delivered some great walks regardless of the weather.


I managed to reel off a few photos and set my mind working to to a way to cram in a short walk on the way home.


Inspiration struck in realising that Farleton Fell is but a short detour from our route home. Not only that it’s small and perfectly formed and you can drive pretty much to the top. Add to that the fact that its a superb area of limestone with great views and we had our walk. TJF kindly agreed to wait in the car for an hour while the three of us took in some cold December air.


It was stunning. If anything the skies were even clearer. A stunning pin sharp clarity to the air and the sky the deepest blue.


Walking in these conditions is a sheer delight and I took loads of photos with views in all directions.


The light on the crags and trees was just amazing.


The summit is crossed by numerous paths and we just wandered with a sort of aim for the highest point following the edge around.


Looking back towards Yorkshire and Ingleborough


Across to the high summits of the Lake District.


And north to the Howgills.


I really love this angled Limestone Pavement near the top with its almost perfect slope and deeply incised features.


Th views from the top were immense.


A panorama to take it all in.


Across Morecambe Bay.


And down towards Arnside and Silverdale – we wave at our friends from the neighbourhood.


This dead tree made an unusual subject.


TBF finding crossing the pavements something of a challenge.


We followed a number of wide grassy promenades across the limestone and fields and back up to the car.


We’d only been out an hour but it was a truly memorable walk. A three hour journey in the car suddenly didn’t seem so bad.


Back on the road for home for a Xmas day without turkey, trimmings, presents and all that.


We needed to focus on washing and re-packing for our next trip.

A Damp Day in the South Lakes   20 comments


TJS had only been away at University for 3 weeks but as it was his Birthday we decided to go and see him. Mark and his family were kind enough to let us stay, mess up their house and eat all their food – again! The forecast for Saturday had looked pretty decent but alas it dawned grey, dreary and overcast with a light drizzle in the air. Not a day for a high level walk as I’d planned and it was left to just me, Mark TBF and TJS to form a hike party


We planned a route around the small hills and pastures near the south end of Windermere to take in the small but very prominent summit of Gummer’s How which despite hundreds of visits to the Lakes, I’d never been up. As it was in the cloud when we parked up near the base we decided to save it for the end of the walk hoping it would be out of the cloud


Despite the gloomy conditions it was a really good walk. What the area lacks in mountainous peaks it more than makes up for with interesting stuff.  The forest is packed with small tarns like this one, Middle Tarn


Whilst this may look like a barn it is in fact a Quaker meeting-house, Heights Cottage




From there its a short walk across to Raven’s Barrow and its prominent cairn overlooking the valley of the Winster river and down to Arnside, Arnside Knott and beyond to Morecambe Bay. The line of brightness shows the split in the weather beyond which all was blue skies further south and east. Despite our hopes it never reached us



On our way to a lunchtime stop we passed the church on the slopes of Cartmell Fell (Mark will step in and give out its real name when he reads and comments I hope. He knows the area very well and is a useful companion on these walks to take you on a tour of the interesting sites like this.)


Its been rendered on the outside and looks quite plain but on the inside its stunning. It’s very, very old and the stained glass contains fragments taken from other churches


I particularly liked the wooden roof beams


The area is packed with wonderful converted farm buildings and cottages and wanted to live in every one. This one in particular caught my eye although I suspect I’d need to perform a Hatton Garden style robbery to afford it


Of course its proximity to one of Lakelands finest pubs had nothing to do with my enthusiasm to live here. The Masons Arms is an old favourite serving a range of beers that includes Belgian fruit beer (raspberry today). Very tasty it was too.


The food was also very good and we enjoyed a light lunch of Black Pudding, Poached Egg and Potatoes. We sat outside under cover and our stay coincided with a spell of heavy drizzle that stopped as we packed up to leave.


From there a steep climb up Whinny Knott


And into the Birch Fell Forest (or should that be Fanghorn Forest, home of the Ents)


From there we had to bash through the undergrowth and very wet grass and Bracken to reach the top of Gummer’s How


We were just out of the cloud so its famed views were somewhat limited. Still, there were great views down over the southern end of the lake.


The line of brightness had crept a little closer but not close enough



Despite that, I enjoyed our visit to the summit and look forward to a return sometime in sunshine. It is only a 15 minute walk from the car after all


Gummer's How


A fine walk regardless and one where we never donned waterproofs which seems pretty miraculous considering the weather. Back home for a slap up takeaway curry to finish the day

Belated Birthday Weekend – Coniston Fells   17 comments

Another day in Lakeland but this one without the glorious blue skies of the previous day. Still a fine day though, high cloud, watery sunshine and no sign of rain or mist shrouding the summits. We planned a walk from the door of our hotel in Torver up on to the Coniston Fells. Nice to do a walk without using the car (if you don’t count the 4 hour drive home at the end of the day)

We followed what looked like a little used but rather nice path out over Torver High Common, following Ash Gill Beck (plenty of nice wild camp spots) and then off piste cutting up to the Walna Scar Road. Our first peak of the day, Brown Pike, gave us some fine views of the first part of our route for the day.



I don’t recall ever seeing this small tarn before, perhaps that’s why it’s called Blind Tarn. Perhaps it meant that I’ve never been up Brown Pike before and I had another new summit bagged



Onwards to Dow Crag, another classic Lakeland peak and another of my favourites from my youth


A dark and brooding set of sheer cliffs cradling Goats Water below, the Old Man of Coniston on the other side



The crags and gullies are impressive and I’ve had a few adventures in my youth trying to find a way up some of the ravines in both summer and winter conditions. Most of them ended in scary situations I seem to recall. Probably why I never went up Brown Pike. Probably why I should have done. I also recall a day in wild winter conditions when I was blown clean off my feet and deposited several yards further along the path, the only time I’ve ever been picked up by the wind. Mind you I was a couple of stone lighter in those days. Need more than a gust of wind to do it now! 🙂


The summit of Dow Crag is impressively rocky and it takes a little scrambling to reach its top perched on the edge of the crags. TBF enlivened proceedings by stumbling over her feet and poles – twice just to set me on edge again



A fine spot for lunch, so good that several annoying black flies came to join us at our table




There was much walking to do so we were off again to climb the Old Man. Fine views back across the cliffs of Dow Crag as we went



Ask we approached the top the sun came out and we were treated to some fine views along our next ridge and the lakes of Levers Water and Low Water and across to Wetherlam



We didn’t linger long as it’s a popular and busy summit but the views from its relatively isolated position are superb


What’s also superb is the long ridge that runs out to Swirl How. An undulating passage the offers a grand high level stroll with not much effort


Views over Great Carrs to our route in Langdale the previous day and the Scafell range



The descent down Prison Band to Swirl Hawse is a steep and rocky one and needs a little care in places to avoid a tumble and places where certain hikers stopped in full view of the col to have a pee


Levers Water is, I assume, an artificial creation of the copper mining industry but still a grand spot for a rest and a brew (if you haven’t run out of gas of course)




Said copper mines are extensive and deep and I’ve read reports that the area around is undercut with monstrous caverns ready to collapse at any time. I never linger long by the massive holes in the landscape



We were still facing a lengthy walk home but the old mine tracks make for a steady and easy gradient to eat up the miles while the mountains receded behind us


I took this photo as it seems to indicate mining is still very much active here. I’m sure this is a recent change as I don’t recall seeing these new-looking scars on previous visits. It seems to me to be something of a contradiction to have working heavy industry scarring the landscape inside a National Park



Back to finer views as the day started to draw too a close. This fine rocky peak above the lush and verdant farm-land caught my eye


We still had a few miles over the moorland below the Walna Scar Road to cover to reach Torver


It was a lovely peaceful stroll along some paths that I suspect see’s few visitors. The late afternoon brightened by flowering gorse, always a pleasure to see and smell


A last lingering look back to the Old Man and Dow Crag before dropped in Torver to finish off a long and highly rewarding walk


Another 14 miles and 4,500 feet of ascent to add to the rest of the weekend


An amazing weekend of long walks numerous summits, great weather, nice pubs and excellent food. Now That’s What I Call a Birthday Weekend

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