Tag Archives: Lake District

Wriggling around Riggindale

Following on from my recent walking successes – see, you go out not with the Ramblers and start to enjoy walking again, I’d already asked Karl to include me in his next Lake District walk and I didn’t care where we might go. He informed me that our next adventure would involve the fells above Haweswater, I dared to ask if this would include High Street and was delighted when this was duly confirmed. The backstory to this was that in 2015 with the Southport Ramblers group, a walk from Pooley Bridge was meant to take in High Street – it didn’t and culminated at the not very high or impressive Arthur’s Pike. (Excuse me whilst I go and cancel my Ramblers membership!)

We arrived at unknown location next to Haweswater – that doesn’t really narrow things down for anyone who hasn’t been to the area, shall I just say that we parked on a small car park next to the reservoir / lake. For the record, I have to say that my first impression of Haweswater was that it was stunning, the reflection of the fells went a long way towards influencing this opinion, but it is a beautiful stretch of water and very difficult to believe that mankind has hand an active hand in creating it.

A Hawthorne tree - one of many.
A Hawthorne tree – one of many.

For a very pleasant change we actually started the walk by going downhill first, this is unprecedented with Karl and Sue walks that nearly always involve a monumental assault up the face of this fill or that fell, why, this was almost civilised. Not many people know this, but my favourite tree is…the Hawthorne tree, we used to have one which killed cheap footballs in our front garden so it was a case of admiring something that I’ve known all my life. Anyway, there was a lot of Hawthornes on the side of the crag that we were now yomping across, the crag was Riggindale and the area was the wonderfully named Dudderwick. I’m not sure who had planted the Holly tree, even though it was less than six feet in height, on this hillside it stood out more than some Ash trees that dwarfed it. Walking alongside the water was an absolute joy, alas all good things come to an end and within less than ten minutes of gentle ambling, we turned left and began a phase to which I shall refer as ‘the big up!’ The name of this route is ‘Long Stile’.

 

 

Blea Water comes into view.
Blea Water comes into view.
Small Water
Small Water

Karl had warned me that we would be attacking High Street via the ridge which is the Riggindale Crag and what an incline it was. I am toying with an idea of deploying a grading scale for hills that I ascend…this would be around a three to four, if we think of a crown green bowling green as a 10 and Steel Fell (whatever God awful route we took) as being a 1 then this should serve to indicate the incline, for anyone who has had the misfortune of climbing Steel Fell! It was steep, but more of a slog than a major climb…and seemingly relentless. On the plus side, the terrain and indeed the scenery changed frequently. The major mountains adjacent to us of course stayed the same but the environment through which we were walking changed quite dramatically. At times I had to stop myself from looking up as the summit – the point at which our ridge collided with High Street proper, seemed to be getting no closer. On the positive side there was many distractions like the stunning Blea Water and its smaller neighbour the appropriately named Small Water.

We stopped for lunch around three quarters into the climb…I was feeling pretty much exhausted by this time and the views back over to the other side of the valley made the decision very hard to contest. For a nice change, the normally omnipresent wind decided not to blow our socks off and we had a nice fifteen to twenty minutes worth of rest and relaxation. I checked my altimeter which reported that we had still around six hundred feet to climb – in my head that equated to around two thirds of a standard Pendle Hill climb…so nothing to worry about then!

The giants of the lakeland, the Scafells and Gable are noticeable.
The giants of the lakeland, the Scafells and Gable are noticeable.
The eastern fells greet us
The eastern fells greet us

In time we set off once again, the gradient worsened – as indeed it does on most climbs until you are within reach of the final crest of the hill or mountain or fell. I found it very hard to believe that we had just bolted up around six hundred feet in less than half an hour – take that Naismith! As I took the final crest of the slope I kept expecting there to be more…and there wasn’t, I’d made it, to the top of High Street…at last! And the views were spectacular! For once we were treated to a full panorama from Great Mell Fell and Blencathra, across Grizedale Pike, Helvellyn, Great Gable, the Scafells and even the Coniston range. This was our reward for something of a hard push up this giant. Nobody had expected the ascent to be easy, but by the same token no one would have hoped to have such a ‘who’s who’ of Lake Distract fells sprawled out along the horizon. And it wasn’t even windy!

Here are some more pictures:

As far as the I can see.
As far as the I can see.

Great Gable arises
Great Gable arises
The Knott as seen from the descent of High Street.
The Knott as seen from the descent of High Street.
Rampsgill Head is the central fell as viewed from the mighty 'The Knott'
Rampsgill Head is the central fell as viewed from the mighty ‘The Knott’

After taking more photographs probably than what I needed. We discussed our next objective. Sue and Karl were happy to factor in a visit to High Raise, I was not so sure of this as it looked like a lot of descending and ascending. But then Karl reasoned that it was not that far away and compared to what we had already done…it was nothing. So of we set in the direction of a fell that I had heard of from two weeks ago, ‘The Knott’. I think it’s fair to say that unless you were avidly ticking off the ‘Wainwrights’ then you probably wouldn’t visit this fill / lump. Yes it has a commanding position, but that hardly singles it out for special treatment in this environment where this characteristic is widely shared. We spent no more than five minutes here and then climbed back over the wall and onwards up another path to Rampsgill Head, a fell of which I had never heard.

We were not that sure of which part / cairn actually signified the highest point of Rampsgill Head…Karl touched all three, I did two and I think Sue just did the one, I’ll go with Sue as she is generally right about these types of things. With the benefit of hindsight I could have just used my altimeter and referenced the reading with the fell’s Wiki entry! By this time – which was around one thirty, the sun was fairly beating down on us. The walk over to High Raise did not look as bad from this aspect as it had from High Street – it had looked like a right odyssey, and we set off downhill and then up a steady but not at all severe climb. In all honesty I don’t think that it took us twenty minutes to get to the top of our second biggest fell of the day.  High Raise had a quite extensive summit cairn and a wind shelter of sorts – a bit like the ones at Pen-y-Ghent and Whernside but on a day like today it was cloaked in shade and would serve no purpose so we declined to use it and ate the rest of our lunches here in the sun.

Vertigo sufferers look away!
Vertigo sufferers look away!
The view across the valley from Kidsty Pike.
The view across the valley from Kidsty Pike.

The penultimate stage of the route was now upon us, to sort of ‘wriggle’ (hence the name of the walk) back to Kidsty Pike, our last summit. From this aspect, the pike looked like any other mound of earth attached to a hillside soaring into the sky. The point in visiting this peak is not to see it, moreover, it is the the view from the pike itself. It was phenomenal! As it was still a lovely day and Shap chippy doesn’t open until 16:30, we stopped at spent some more time taking in the amazing views down into the valley. Sue spotted some deer down below and try as I might I could not focus on them. This was made even more envy-evoking when Karl managed to get a fix on them. I persisted however and eventually after scouring the valley for a good five minutes I glimpsed something wandering around. And then there they were, I could not tell you how many of these shy creatures were roaming around but I’d guess at around thirty or so. My camera and my photography in general, was not good enough to capture a piccie of them so I’ll put a link to Karl’s website (if he’s edited it) later.

Eventually, we began our descent into Riggindale. The day had been exceptionally good, the weather had proven most of the met’s forecasters wrong and the company had been as splendid as ever, I just wanted to be sure of making it two consecutive walks where I hadn’t fallen over. And on that gradient this was going to be no mean fete. After some distance our path divided into two very distinct routes – stoney or grassy. We opted for grassy guided by the logic of ‘this will be easier on the knees’. I’m sure we were correct in our thinking but the backs of my legs are still hurting now two days later! Our last stop before rejoining the car at Haweswater car park, was to take a few moments basking in the sun aside Riggindale Beck where I refilled my water bottle (with a filter) as what water I had left was running low and quite warm. The beck’s water was a good few degrees cooler which made a nice difference.

We reached the car and were presented with Sue’s GPS statistics 8.6 miles and 3,800 feet of ascension. Of course Sue immediately advised us to ignore the ascension figure as it’s prone to over reporting (damn) and that in all honesty we would probably done more like just three thousand feet. That’s good enough for me. This was a thoroughly enjoyable walk over one mountain that I had been eager to take in for years, one iconic viewing platform and some fells that I’d never heard of!

Distance walked – 8.6 miles

Ascension – 3,000′

Song of the walk: Zayn Malik and Taylor Swift, I Don’t Wanna Live Forever from the woefully awful film: Fifty Shades Darker.

 

The walk of fluctuating temperatures

 

This was the walk on Sunday 9th of April, 2017

It had been simply too long since last winter’s walk of no redeeming qualities, the Steel FELL route with Sue and Karl in December last year. Although I had been to Cumbria this to year to do a woefully boring walk with the Southport Ramblers, a trip to the Lake District itself was in order. Having missed out due to injuries on the Conniston round and through life events (can’t honestly remember which ones) on the Kentmere Horseshoe, it was with great pleasure that I finally managed to meet up with my walking buddies from Bolton (and Darwen) to take on two summits that to be honest, I’d never heard of – Angle Tarn Pikes and Brock Crags.

As usual we left Karl’s place at around 8:00 and before 9:30 we’d arrived at the tiny hamlet of Hartsop – I had only heard of Hartsop with regards to the fell named after it! The weather was beautiful, not exactly photography weather as the sun was hazing everything out. but, it was so good to be back in this lovely area. My inner ‘Wainwright’ came to the fore, no, I didn’t start smoking a pipe! What I mean is that I’d say for the record I share the late great AW’s fondness for the eastern fells over all the others. There’s just something extra nice and quaint about this quadrant of the lake district, for me, anyway!

We meet at last. The lovely April and 'Beefy' along with Sue and Karl.
We meet at last. The lovely April and ‘Beefy’ along with Sue and Karl.

We set off on route and I was beginning to get into the flow of the walk, even after fifteen minutes it was already more difficult and taxing that anything I’ve done this year with the Southport Ramblers. It was at this point that we were spotted by April and Beefy. April and Beefy are of course Walking Forum members who have accompanied Sue and Karl on many walks and essentially can be found in this area most weekends, wild camping and that kind of stuff. We stopped for a short while and got all caught up about where we going and where they had been. It was great most enjoyable and I hope to bump into this pair more often in the future. We bid our separate farewells and carried our way up the slope on which we had begun some fifteen minutes earlier.

A rare shot of the posing goat...at the top of Brock Crags with Fairfield over my right shoulder.
A rare shot of the posing goat…at the top of Brock Crags with Fairfield over my right shoulder.

I had expected this to be one of our quieter walks, my reasoning being that if I had never heard of the two peaks we would be climbing then maybe they were not that well known. After twenty minutes we had probably seen twenty people, my theory was in tatters on the floor with many holes blown in it! Not that I  minded at all the fleeting company of other walkers. The views never really picked up during the day, the haze was in for good, but all the same we did get many glimpses of the local giants: Helvellyn and Catstyecam – which would prove to be an excellent beacon all day long. Fairfield (my favourite) and Raise all stood proudly on our left hand side throughout the day, whilst Grey Crag practically came up and shook our hands once we had reached our first summit at Brock Crags, where I posed for a summit photo.

Before ascending Brock Crags we had our lunch…it was only something like 11:05 but sometimes it’s just nice to stop in a nice environment and enjoy your immediate environment as opposed to freezing your ass off at the trig point / summit cairn. As this was only a short walk – by Karl and Sue standards, we could afford to take in the local and take lots and lots of photos. I think I may need new batteries in my Canon camera, but as I had my Iphone with me as well I was never stuck without the ability to take the odd snap, or seventy!

Okay, Angle Tarn is gorgeous, but Place Fell has worked its magic on me too!
Okay, Angle Tarn is gorgeous, but Place Fell has worked its magic on me too!

We eventually summited Brock Crags, had a look around then set off for Angle Tarn – the highlight of the walk. It has to be said that I’m sold on this body of water. Although not the largest stretch of water in the lake district – it is 1,600′ up the side of a hill – actually more like in a col, it’s stunning and on a slightly warmer day, I could easily spend a good hour or two here. But that wind did not let up! Every time that we found a great viewing spot, the wind howled down at us. Karl and Sue are seasoned Lakes walkers and as such are used to this. I was still out of my comfort zone and still held on to the belief that only Darwen Hill and Rivington Pike ever has such cyclonic wind…who knew that the word naiíve was spelled M-E?

Place Fell...I will return!
Place Fell…I will return!

At this point I have to mention Place Fell. Never has a hill or mountain weaved its magic on me as much as this captivating monolith. We didn’t ascend, there was no way I was going up that with no carbs or coffee upon which I might rely, but it is there, in my ever-increasing ‘to-do’ list. I am more than happy to make this a single-summit walk if only to get my feet on that spell-binding, snaking path to the summit which looks to me like a stairway to heaven! All too soon we began our way back to Hartsop, we saw cloud gather on the neighbouring giants – for a few moments the quasi-ubiquitous (yes, I know that’s a contradiction in terms) Catstyecam very nearly vanished! We were never really close to being rained upon, thankfully.

The slope which would lead us back down to Hartsop was frighteningly steep in parts – and I’ve dropped off Great Gable – so perhaps it wasn’t that steep! That being said, ‘watch where you put your feet’ was the order of the hour and thankfully I only fell over once. The terrain then levelled out for some distance before descending another even steeper but more arid slope which ultimately would lead us back into the centre of Hartsop (if it’s big enough to have a centre!) and from there back to the car park, but not before pausing to wait for a controlled stampede of sheep.

All in all this was a wonderful return to the lakes and in great company and no rain. What could be better? Karl has talked of how this route might easily be extended to a fantastic day out taking in Grey Crag, arcing around Heyeswater, traversing the mighty High Street and taking in the route that we did today…sounds like hard work to me, but we’ll see…

Total distance: – 6.63 miles

Ascended / descended:- 1,968 feet

Time taken: around four hours but I really have no idea

Song of the walk: My good friend Joanna Koziel’s collaboration with Chris Nahorny: Late Night Talk – sorry no, video so I’ll try and upload the song onto a clickable link here.

 

Oh, My, Dodd!

The walk of Sunday, May 22nd, 2016

I had texted Karl in the week to ask if he was doing a lake District walk at the weekend as it had been a while since we last visited the district together. He rang me up with details of the walk, apparently we would be doing Clough Head, Great Dodd, Watson’s Dodd, Stybarrow Dodd then Birkett Fell, Hart Crag and Common Fell. He even proffered a name for the post walk blog – “Doddering about!”.

Sunday came and unfortunately Karl was unable to join us which left just the three of us, Sue – the walk leader, Lynn – the driver and me…I didn’t have a role!

We arrived at the Lake District equivalent of four lane ends at ten to ten, so good progress really from Darwen to here. The weather was lovely, well it was when the sun was directly above us, I have, so far this year, had problems keeping warm. This walk would highlight this situation. The first mile was a gentle amble in a general westerly direction with the mighty hulk of Blencathra filling out the horizon. This was too easy, something was going to change, I knew it!

Some distance away, Clough Head beckons.
Some distance away, Clough Head beckons.

And thus after the landmark (which I forgot to photograph) of an old, abandoned railway carriage, we traversed a  stile and set off on the relentless slog up to Clough Head. What a hard slog this was. I’ve done steeper inclines, but not for so long…the terrain was not rough or uncomfortable, but it just kept on keeping on! After many moments we hit our first false summit which brought us more or less parallel with White Pike – 1,370 feet above sea level. At the time I was not aware of its lack of inches! this would be one of the few walks where the count of the number of people I saw was less than thirty. Yet when we finally reached the summit cairn at the top of Clough Head, there was already a couple there who looked like they were going to stop, thus we did not stay long at the top and after having climbed up for ages…dropped back down a couple of hundred feet on route to our next mountain…Great Dodd.

Great Dodd, living up to its name.
Great Dodd, living up to its name.

On the day Sue was equipped (as always) with map and compass and lessons on how to use them. I can honestly say now that I’ve cracked it as at regular intervals myself and Lynne would take turns at getting a bearing. At first I was a little reluctant – some of the easiest procedures in life are a mystery to me, by the end of the day I had picked up the habit of taking bearings…I just need to start using this before I forget it again. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the haul up Great Dodd was almost as tough as the preceding one up Clough Head. Given that the former is over five hundred feet higher…it was only to be expected. Fortunately this meant that at the top we were as lofty as we were going to be for the day. However, that didn’t mean that we had finished our ascending for the day as next  (having had a break for something to eat at the excellent shelter atop Great Dodd) we dropped over three hundred feet to Watson’s Dodd.

Helvellyn, Catstye Cam and Watson's Dodd.
Helvellyn, Catstye Cam and Watson’s Dodd.

Sometimes I am tempted to imagine personalities of fells. Yes, that does sound a tad insane but hear me out. Of this locale Hevellyn is the almighty, undisputed star attraction. One can see it from everywhere and (at times) from atop the summit – it should be possible to see the whole of the Lake District. This glory, this limelight would then disseminate on a lessoning scale throughout the rest of the neighbouring fells, with the smaller ones sharing in the limelight in a diminishing scale. Thus, Watson’s Dodd would command less attention than a lot of the fells in its immediate environment. At just about two and a half thousand feet, in the company of others closer to three thousand feet, why would one even bother to wander over to its summit?

Because the views from Watson’s Dodd, overlooking the beautiful Thirlmere, offer a much more enhanced sense of depth and scale than the views from the much loftier surrounding mountains. Watson’s Dodd maybe one of the smaller of Helvellyn’s clan, but its views make it an undisputed star – in this author’s opinion anyway!

The 'dark' fell in the middle is Stybarrow Dodd (or at least it should be!).
The ‘dark’ fell in the middle is Stybarrow Dodd (or at least it should be!).
Raise with Helvellyn and Catstye Cam.
Raise with Helvellyn and Catstye Cam.

We only stayed at Watson’s Dodd for a few minutes, long enough to take some photographs, then headed off in a South East direction towards Stybarrow Dodd. In all honesty, although I was in no way sick of mountains, I can’t really remember much about Stybarrow Dodd and its summit.It has to be said that the tops of the summits all were now sharing a common theme, rounded and a little rocky, thus in the memory it’s hard to remember which one was which.We took to the map once more and set a course for our final Wainwright of the day…Hart Crag on Hart Side.

 

It never impressed Wainwright, Birkett Fell.
It never impressed Wainwright, Birkett Fell.

Next we headed off piste as we took in another summit over two thousand feet but one that the late, great Alfred Wainwright had decided not to include in his Eastern Fells pocket guide – Birkett Fell. At 2,379 feet this was no baby fell though, the summit cairn was large and impressive and the views to the Hight Street ridge and the Kentmere Horseshoe upper reaches were captivating. I have to admit that by this time with all of the ups and downs, my knees were getting a bit jelly-like.

We then had something of a get together on which route to take back to the car – via the Royal Hotel at Dockray, we could either do a really steep drop down to the valley below which would then result in an onerous ascent back up to the car, or we could cross the ridge and take in the lesser summit of Common Fell, another hill with an mightily impressive cairn and drop in to Dockray via Watermillock Common. Either way would result in a climb back to the car, but one the one featuring Common Fell we knew for definite would offer us a guaranteed route back into the village, the same could not be said for the lower level route. We opted for the ridge walk.

The summit of Common Fell, our last fell of the day.
The summit of Common Fell, our last fell of the day.

Common Fell is a fine hill in its own right, Wainwright never took to it and I’m not sure if it’s a ‘Birkett’. As can be expected from any top in this area, the views are all encompassing, with the neighbouring tops of Round How and Bracken How adding a certain ‘cute’ picturesque quality which only little hills can administer. And so, at around five thirty, we left the fells and dropped into Dockray where we called in at the Royal hotel for a much needed drink stop. After half an hour we headed up the hill back to the car after what had been a thoroughly enjoyable walk in the eastern fells.

The eastern fells, to me, all look very similar, For Great Dodd see Stybarrow Dodd in turn add a few rocks and you have Raise, the summit of Fairfield is similar to that of Clough Head…only Helvellyn and Catstye Cam stand unique in their appearance…to those who don’t profess to being a concessioner of the Lake District.  What does attract the visitor is the views from these majestic fells, all around is notoriety from the loftiness of the neighbouring Kentmere Horseshoe to the adrenalin of both Swirral and Striding Edge. I do hope to visit the Eastern fells again, but then there are some major summits to tick off my list including the four which remain from my top ten of England:

  1. Great End
  2. Bow Fell
  3. Pillar
  4. Nethermost Pike

I’ve always wondered what it would be like to do the complete linear walk over the Helvellyn massif – from Dollywaggon Pike to Clough Head (or the reverse way), now I have an insight – bloomin’ hard going!

Thanks to Sue and Lynne for making it such a great day, especially to Sue for the map and compass lessons.

Song of the walk: Coldplay – Hymn For The Weekend (Official video) – YouTube

Video of the walk:

A stroll around Staveley

This was a walk with Southport Ramblers on Sunday February 28th.

A view across the valley.
A view across the valley.
We need a 'Karl' to name all of these peaks.
We need a ‘Karl’ to name all of these peaks.

We arrived at Staveley, a place I had never heard of until around two weeks ago, at around 11:00. Technically we (the A-walkers) were dropped off at the side of the A591 and had been informed via Linzi’s helpful walk description that we would be climbing pretty much straight away – up a muddy field. The Ramblers, a muddy field? Yeah I know, the two go together like salt and pepper, more or less inseparable. Fortunately, apparently the field had dried out a lot since Linzi’s reccy trip and we managed to get a good old pace going through an only moderately bumpy field in not much time at all. All was plain sailing and the views to the Coniston Fells and the Crinkle Crags opened up spectacularly. I wished that Karl and Sue were with us in order to put a name to each of the myriad of summits that we could see before us.

We’d successfully navigated one stile (perhaps more, I wasn’t keeping count!), normally these are contentious articles with Ramblers – when they’re not breaking up the walk by being superabundant within a short distance, they can be downright dangerous because of how rickety they can be. The one that caught-out poor Tim was not that rickety – it was of the wall-type, However, anyone above a size six in feet (38 in European nonsense) would have struggled – I felt like I was doing a lovely pirouette with my dainty little size eights getting stuck in the top of the wall – the act of manoeuvring without A: Falling off the wall and B: Yanking a hamstring or C: Collapsing the wall was precise affair! Somehow Tim managed to fall off the wall – ironically enough he had already been to the area a number of times this year and had managed to fall over three times on his last visit. I’d have given up with Staveley by now if I were him!

The tarmac path leading to the spot where we had lunch.
The tarmac path leading to the spot where we had lunch.

But by this time Linzi informed us that we had done pretty much all of the climbing, I took this with a pinch of salt – there’s always more climbing and the very second that one starts to believe there isn’t…is when you come face to face with an unexpected mound to be ascended. The unwritten rule of ‘Rambles’, any hill at the end of any walk is infinitely more insurmountable compared to the start of the walk. We then began to drop in altitude…quite rapidly it has to be said as we sped our way across the landscape. The weather was far nicer than what we had any right to experience – given the time of year, whilst the skies were not entirely blue, there was sunshine to be basked-in. It was now getting near lunch time, a point rammed home to me in particular as my stomach was growling like a brown bear (or at least what I imagine they sound like, having never had the pleasure of interacting with a brown bear!). We made our way up a delightful tarmac climb and I perched myself upon a rock and tucked into my McColls chicken sandwiches.

Grand Design?
Grand Design?

After lunch we eventually made our way along good tracks which led us onto the open moorland. We had been warned by Linzi that on her reccy this section featured a section where because of the torrential rain of late, the crossing of a stream had been rendered as impossible. Fortunately enough for us the weather had been kind and had dried out the moor a lot, and the river that was had now returned to being a stream, we all crossed safely…even Tim! We dropped downhill even more, I didn’t recall going up that much to come down from. At the end of a stretch which would have been a real old slog to ascend, we arrived at Kentmere Hall.

Water
Water

Over the next five and a half miles (roughly) we edged closer to the River Kent having first spied the gorgeous Kentmere Tarn (my photography really took a back seat today) just after Kentmere Hall. Our pace quickened – as if we could suddenly smell the pub! It was notable that Staveley seemed to be more or less draped in Snowdrops, Linzi commented that the local garden centre must have over-ordered and given out a packet of them to all of the village such was their omni-presence, it was delightful to see but at one point I would have gladly sacrificed a clump of the little white wonders for practically any other bulb! Finally at around four o’clock we made it back to the awaiting coach and for ‘boots off’ having traversed for eleven miles (or thereabouts) and over six hundred and sixty feet – not a major walk compared to some that I’ve done recently, but still more than a leisurely stroll.

Our route:
StaveleyRoute

 

 

 

 

 

 

Song of the walk: Zayn Malik – Pillowtalk.