Archive for the ‘North Western Fells’ Category

Sale Fell and Ling Fell   11 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.

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

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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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.

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Skiddaw vanished back into the gloom.

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The last of the days sunshine on Ling Fell.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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A Return to Skiddaw   11 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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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The grey stony mass of Skiddaw itself.

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Yours truly.

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Across the pastureland to the Solway Firth and the Galloway Hills

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Topping out on Ullock Pike

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Looking back on our route of ascent.

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Southerndale

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

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West over Blencathra to Cross Fell and the Pennines.

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

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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!

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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!

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

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

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The distinctive hill of Binsey.

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

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

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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.

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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.

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Newlands Valley and the North Western Fells   14 comments

Another weekend away and another regular calendar fixture. The kid free weekend when the grandparents have a chance for some quality time with the younger generation and the parents have a weekend without worrying whether the kids are bored, hungry or general need of attention, medical or otherwise.

Back to the same place as last year the excellent Littletown Farm who as before did us proud with home cooked food and comfortable rooms at a reasonable price – very hard to come by in the Lake District.

The Saturday was grey and blue in equal measure, one of those days that could go either way. Sadly it went the wrong way

newlands valley, littletown farm, bull crag, maiden moor, high spy, tongue gill, castle crag

Rather than follow the masses we trusted in Mark, our Birketts man to find us a lesser known route to the top. He duly provided High Crags, a nondescript looking spot on the map but a fine viewpoint overlooking the Newlands Valley.

newlands valley, littletown farm, bull crag, maiden moor, high spy, tongue gill, castle crag

newlands valley, littletown farm, bull crag, maiden moor, high spy, tongue gill, castle crag

There was a path to start with but it soon petered out and the going was rough but worth the effort to lose the trail of hikers on Cat Bells. Lost in catch up chat we were up on Bull Crag on the main path to Maiden Moor in no time.

newlands valley, littletown farm, bull crag, maiden moor, high spy, tongue gill, castle crag

newlands valley, littletown farm, bull crag, maiden moor, high spy, tongue gill, castle crag

Tradition dictates that even though we’d not long had breakfast it was time for a stop. Stoves came out, brews were made and an hour sped by while the clouds descended and we were soon lost in a swirling mist

We pressed on through the murk and over High Spy. We were supposed to be heading up Dale Head but some navigational carelessness left us at the top of Tongue Gill. I really couldn’t be bothered with another long climb up Dale Head to not see the view from the top having not seen the view several times before. I made a bid for a return via Castle Crag and surprisingly got a vote of confidence. We descended through the mine workings and onto Castle Crag. I’m pretty sure I’ve never been up before and I can’t fathom why as it’s a superb little craggy eminence with a classic view down Borrowdale and over Derwent Water. The high fells were still swathed in cloud but lower down it was quite bright

newlands valley, littletown farm, bull crag, maiden moor, high spy, tongue gill, castle crag

newlands valley, littletown farm, bull crag, maiden moor, high spy, tongue gill, castle crag

newlands valley, littletown farm, bull crag, maiden moor, high spy, tongue gill, castle crag

It was a long stretch down past Grange to make the climb to Hause Gate and back down to Littletown but I really enjoyed it in the fast fading light. The crowds had gone and lights of Keswick and the surrounding villages were beginning to twinkle. I like being out at dusk as the mountains take on a completely different feel.

newlands valley, littletown farm, bull crag, maiden moor, high spy, tongue gill, castle crag

newlands valley, littletown farm, bull crag, maiden moor, high spy, tongue gill, castle crag

There is a price to be paid however. It was almost dark when began the climb to the col and pretty much dark when we got to it. Walking down a steep and rocky hillside in the dark can be tricky but luckily we’ve had lots of practice as a dark finish is a feature of these weekend strolls.

newlands valley, littletown farm, bull crag, maiden moor, high spy, tongue gill, castle crag

A very fine day indeed.

Castle Crag

The Sunday forecast hadn’t been good and like the day before it was largely grey at first light. There was a very prominent clear patch over the Solway Firth. One of those days that could go either way. Fortunately it went the right way

newlands valley, littletown farm, newlands beck, dalehead tarn, skiddaw, blencathra, dale head, hindscarth edge, hindscarth, little dale

By the time we were ready for the off it was glorious, blue skies prevailed and it was sunny and almost warm. We followed the deep valley, Newlands Beck I think, up past the waterfalls to Dalehead Tarn, a really wonderful walk.

newlands valley, littletown farm, newlands beck, dalehead tarn, skiddaw, blencathra, dale head, hindscarth edge, hindscarth, little dale

newlands valley, littletown farm, newlands beck, dalehead tarn, skiddaw, blencathra, dale head, hindscarth edge, hindscarth, little dale

newlands valley, littletown farm, newlands beck, dalehead tarn, skiddaw, blencathra, dale head, hindscarth edge, hindscarth, little dale

newlands valley, littletown farm, newlands beck, dalehead tarn, skiddaw, blencathra, dale head, hindscarth edge, hindscarth, little dale

Dalehead Tarn was splendid. Sunny and warm with a perfect spot for a long relaxing rest. It would make a fine wild campsite.

newlands valley, littletown farm, newlands beck, dalehead tarn, skiddaw, blencathra, dale head, hindscarth edge, hindscarth, little dale

newlands valley, littletown farm, newlands beck, dalehead tarn, skiddaw, blencathra, dale head, hindscarth edge, hindscarth, little dale

newlands valley, littletown farm, newlands beck, dalehead tarn, skiddaw, blencathra, dale head, hindscarth edge, hindscarth, little dale

They have improved the path quite impressively making for a relatively easy staircase climb to the summit of Dale Head. For the first time I had a view from the summit and a very fine one it is too. The valley we’d walked up being perfectly laid out below us. The classic glacial valley

newlands valley, littletown farm, newlands beck, dalehead tarn, skiddaw, blencathra, dale head, hindscarth edge, hindscarth, little dale

newlands valley, littletown farm, newlands beck, dalehead tarn, skiddaw, blencathra, dale head, hindscarth edge, hindscarth, little dale

newlands valley, littletown farm, newlands beck, dalehead tarn, skiddaw, blencathra, dale head, hindscarth edge, hindscarth, little dale

We ambled off down Hindscarth Edge to Hindscarth itself for another stop.

newlands valley, littletown farm, newlands beck, dalehead tarn, skiddaw, blencathra, dale head, hindscarth edge, hindscarth, little dale

newlands valley, littletown farm, newlands beck, dalehead tarn, skiddaw, blencathra, dale head, hindscarth edge, hindscarth, little dale

newlands valley, littletown farm, newlands beck, dalehead tarn, skiddaw, blencathra, dale head, hindscarth edge, hindscarth, little dale

It’s not a particularly long walk but already the light was fading again. That’s walking in a large chatty group for you. Another dark finish coming on but the light was just glorious, all sunlight and shadows

newlands valley, littletown farm, newlands beck, dalehead tarn, skiddaw, blencathra, dale head, hindscarth edge, hindscarth, little dale

newlands valley, littletown farm, newlands beck, dalehead tarn, skiddaw, blencathra, dale head, hindscarth edge, hindscarth, little dale

newlands valley, littletown farm, newlands beck, dalehead tarn, skiddaw, blencathra, dale head, hindscarth edge, hindscarth, little dale

newlands valley, littletown farm, newlands beck, dalehead tarn, skiddaw, blencathra, dale head, hindscarth edge, hindscarth, little dale

There are some pretty steep rocky steps on these ridges and we picked our way down the damp and slippery grass and rocks. The ridge levels out at mid height. We and Mark abandoned the path in favour of an off piste route along the edge high above Little Dale. There were some airy little spots and it’s well worth the detour.

newlands valley, littletown farm, newlands beck, dalehead tarn, skiddaw, blencathra, dale head, hindscarth edge, hindscarth, little dale

newlands valley, littletown farm, newlands beck, dalehead tarn, skiddaw, blencathra, dale head, hindscarth edge, hindscarth, little dale

newlands valley, littletown farm, newlands beck, dalehead tarn, skiddaw, blencathra, dale head, hindscarth edge, hindscarth, little dale

newlands valley, littletown farm, newlands beck, dalehead tarn, skiddaw, blencathra, dale head, hindscarth edge, hindscarth, little dale

As we descended the last of the tricky rocky bands the sky gave us a final light show with pink tones touching both the clouds and the distant summits of Blencathra and Skiddaw.

newlands valley, littletown farm, newlands beck, dalehead tarn, skiddaw, blencathra, dale head, hindscarth edge, hindscarth, little dale

newlands valley, littletown farm, newlands beck, dalehead tarn, skiddaw, blencathra, dale head, hindscarth edge, hindscarth, little dale

newlands valley, littletown farm, newlands beck, dalehead tarn, skiddaw, blencathra, dale head, hindscarth edge, hindscarth, little dale

That just left us the traditional final walk back to the cars in the dark to head home.

Dale Head

Another wonderful weekend with good company. You can read an alternative take on the weekend from Marks blog here and here.

And I did miss the kids. No, really, I did 🙂

A life without kids – Newlands Valley November 2013   5 comments

It was time for the annual and somewhat pathetically named “adults only” weekend when we all leave our kids to the tender mercies of grandparents and carers while we live it up in the Lake District as well as 40 (and now 50-somethings) can. You can check out previous adventures from September 2011 and November 2012.

Time for a change of scene this year and on recommendation from the Hardman and his missus (blog-name needed) we headed for Littletown Farm Guest House and what a cracking recommendation it was. We pretty much took over the place, a proper old converted farm-house with lovely rooms and they looked after us exceedingly well with some superb and filling meals at a stunningly reasonable price for the Lake District. The location is right in the heart of the Newlands valley with walks aplenty and car keys left firmly in the rooms.

Newlands Valley, Newlands Beck

Newlands Valley & Newlands Beck

Forecast wasn’t great but without kids in tow you need to make the most of it. ED had what looked line a fine route in mind to Dale Head via a high corrie west of Dalehead Crags.

Newlands 1

8 Miles

You can see the route in the photo below, traversing first right into the high corrie and then back left to pick up the ridge above the crags

Newlands Valley, Newlands Beck, Dale Head

Dale Head

It was grey overcast and very windy but dry, refreshing you could say, as we walked up Newlands Beck.

Newlands Valley, Newlands Beck

Resting already

We crossed the beck to pick up the high traversing path although we had early drop-outs as UF and TBH headed to Dalehead Tarn and return via Borrowdale. I waited patiently for a fall but as always no one obliged. People can be selfish sometimes

Newlands Valley, Newlands Beck

“One for the Crowd?”

They missed a splendid route with an easy angled path gaining height easily and quickly into the confines of a wild high corries that I guess sees relatively little traffic for the Lakes.

Newlands Valley, Newlands Beck

Newlands Valley & Newlands Beck

After a first lunch we traversed above the crags in spectacular style with the views even on such a grey day, magnificent.

Dale Head

Lunch 1

Unfortunately our arrival on the summit coincided with a spell of windy, miserable drizzle so we didn’t linger. Enthusiasm dropped and we thought about a quick return back over Hindscarth. Just as we started down it stopped raining and brightened up a little with even some very faint signs of sunshine.

Hindscarth Edge

Hindscarth Edge

Littledale Edge

Littledale Edge

Skiddaw, Little Dale

Skiddaw & Little Dale

Skiddaw, Little Dale

Skiddaw

Re-invigorated we decided to extend the day to take in Robinson. As we descended the tops appeared and whilst not exactly glorious it was a whole lot better than we’d thought. The dark clouds were impressive and sunshine on Skiddaw gave promise. We found a hollow out of the wind for lunch 2, a stop we paid a price for later.

Littledale Edge

Lunch 2

Robinson was playing in the cloud with shafts of brightness. Quite impressive in a “it’s about to get dark sort of way”.

Robinson

Robinson Summit

Robinson

“What time is it?”

Yes, the usual dallying, chatter and extended stops had left us high on the fells with the light fading rapidly. Just like last year in fact. We manged to negotiate the steep tricky and rocky sections on the NE ridge in the last of the light and had to walk the last section along Blea Crags, High Snab Bank and back to the Guest House in the dark. No real problem and at least we’d made the most of the day. High quality food and some music quiz malarkey finished off a fine day

Forecast for day two was a decent start with a rapid deterioration and everything was delivered right on schedule. We took a the simple option of circuit along Rowling End and Causey Pike returning over Ard Crags or via Rigg Beck

Newlands 2

6 Miles

The views were superb while we were packing up but it was clear it wasn’t going to last.

Causey Pike

Causey Pike

Skiddaw

Skiddaw

Robinson, Littletown Farm

Robinson and our route down from the day before

Ard Crags, Rigg Beck

Ard Crags & Rigg Beck

By the time we’d reached the steep slopes of Rowling End the rain had started.

Luckily whilst it was pretty grey and overcast the weather never really broke down with nothing worse than spots of drizzle. It was a wild and windy walk along the ridge, in and out of the cloud before dropping down to the col below Ard Crags

Helvellyn, Derwent Water

Helvellyn north ridge across Derwent Water

Helvellyn, Derwent Water, Blencathra, Keswick

Helvellyn, Derwent Water, Blencathra & Keswick

Rowling End, Causey Pike

Rowling End & Causey Pike

A few hardy souls climbed it’s summit but the rest of us opted for an easy stroll down Rigg Beck, a wild valley that again I guess, sees few visitors and all the better for it.

North Western Fells

Wet!

So that was that. Precious little sunshine but less rain than the pictures would have you believe. The North Western Fells are always much quieter than the rest of the Lakes and well worth seeking out. Fine high ridges and grand corries and valleys. Cracking weekend as always and great to catch with everyone. Already booked in a for a repeat visit next year

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