Posts tagged 'Blencathra'

A few days at Borrowdale – Part 3 – Long and gentle

Posted by on April 27th 2011 in Great Escapes, YHA

Thursday morning and yet again some of us were up bright and early. Some of the others were reluctant to part company with their duvets, until they were informed of the possibility that they might miss breakfast.

Fed and packed, we loaded the cars and drove indirectly (I made a few wrong turns) to the free-for-all that is otherwise known as the Gale Road car-park. After spending some time finding a less-boggy and less-pot-holed bit of verge for the car, we started to make our way up the zig-zag path towards Jenkin Hill for our ascent of Skiddaw:

 

Looking back to Latrigg and the Gale Road car-park from the Skiddaw zig-zags

 

Again, the youngest members of the party needed a fair few pit-stops on the steeper sections, as the sun was beating down again and the temperatures were higher than the previous day. Truth be told, the older members were glad of the rest too.

After the last steep section the path almost levels out across Jenkin Hill and we made good progress to the gate and stile below Little Man where we stopped for elevenses.

 

The gate and stile below Little Man

 

The un-barbed fence that runs towards Lonscale Fell

 

There was much discussion as to whether to go up Little Man before heading for Skiddaw proper. I'd been up these fells already and didn't mind either way, and eventually the decision was made to head for the main top and then decide about Little Man on the way back down, based on how the kids were faring. Looking back from the upper slopes of Skiddaw, it did seem a shame to be bypassing the lesser Wainwright. No matter, onward and upward!

 

Outflanking Little Man

 

After pausing for the application of a little blister-prevention strapping, Anna made good speed up the final slope:

 

Home-made all-terrain personnel

 

The worst bits over, it was just a short stroll from the South Top across the top to the trig point

 

From the South Top the view westwards opens up, bringing back memories of a great walk along Longside Edge a few years ago, back when the route was a delightful thin trod winding through the heather. Looking down at it now, it looks like somebody's bulldozed a road along the crest:

 

Long Side, Longside Edge and Ullock Pike

 

A few minutes later and we were at the summit, restocking with carbs and rehydrating. The views would have been outstanding were it not for the haze:

 

At the top

 

Geoff makes it to the North Top as Natasha returns to the trig point

 

After a suitable amount of loitering we started to head back down, declining the option to take the Little Man path. As we passed by we noticed many of these critters defending their territories:

 

One of the many Wheatears that lay claim to the upper slopes

 

Back at the gate and stile me and Geoff veered off to make a beeline for Lonscale Fell while the others continued down the original route of ascent. After a leisurely 30-minute stroll we were sat at the small cairn trying to identify distant fells through the haze:

 

Blencathra from the top of Lonscale Fell

 

Panorama - Blencathra to Skiddaw

 

Panorama in a scrolly-thing

 

From there we took an indistinct track that led through grass and then heather in the rough direction of Gale Road. After a bit of meandering down steepening ground we found a distinct marker post (part of the "gateway" in Wainwright's Pictorial Guide, the fence being long-gone) at the head of a dry stream. We followed the straight line of that stream until it reached a new fence that prevented us from negotiating the ravine of Whit Beck, so we had to follow the fence across very steep and slippery ground until it reached the broad Cumbria Way trail that leads to Skiddaw House. After crossing Whit Beck at the ford and having a good bellyful of the cool clear water there we strolled the short distance up the ravine-side track to the junction with the path that we'd started on only a few hours before.

Five minutes later the rest of the group got down to us and after a short break we all headed back to the cars. Back at the hostel it was the same routine as before - showers, another great YHA meal, deal with the sunburn and a chill-out before bedtime.

All in all it had been another great day, most of the others hadn't walked as high as Skiddaw before and there's something special about someone's first 3000-footer, all the better because of the distinct lack of the customary rain. The only downer was the persistent haze - I'd been telling them all about the magnificent views to be had from the top, only to be banjaxxed by ironically good weather. Never mind, it's an excuse to go up there again sometime.

To be continued...

Northern Fells Wildcamping – Part 3 – Rises and Falls

Posted by on May 21st 2010 in Annual Wildie, Great Escapes, LMAO!, Wildcamping

So there we were, on Carrock Fell, trying to figure out which way to go next. As I saw it, we had three options:

  • Stay up high - take in Knott and Great Calva, drop down to Skiddaw House, cross the Caldew dryshod at the bridge, head East up Mungrisdale Common;
  • Take a middling route - ascend Knott, drop down Snab, ford the Caldew, head South up Mungrisdale Common;
  • Take a direct route - descend the flank of Carrock Fell to the bottom of Grainsgill Beck, follow the Skiddaw House service-road to the base of Snab and then proceed as per the middling option.

Predictably we couldn't agree, so we delayed the decision and took a short-cut back to the bothy-shed, where we made a brew and reassessed the situation.

Chris didn't fancy slogging up Knott and Great Calva, and I'd been up them before, so we resigned ourselves to backtracking down the beck and fording the Caldew at some convenient point. At least I had the opportunity to grab some pics on the way down, and we met a couple of walkers heading up the Cumbria Way. These were the first folk that we'd met, and by strange coincidence the bloke worked for the same company as Chris, albeit in the Netherlands not the UK. A bit later on we met another bloke sweating his way up the beck, we didn't chat for long as he seemed intent on gaining the ridge. Anyway, back to the beck pics...

 

Falls in Grainsgill Beck

A beautiful watersmeet

Passing the old mines, we decided to read the sign that we'd disregarded on the way up:

Don't disturb the rocks!

 

On reaching the Caldew we walked along the service-road looking for a place to ford the river. I was dismayed to find this stash of empties at the side of the road - FFS, if some twats have gone to the trouble of driving all the way up there for a session on the vodka, it wouldn't have been much extra effort to have taken their empties back down in the same car, would it? These lazy inconsiderate arseholes should be banned from the fells, IMHO. If we'd been heading down, we'd have carried the rubbish out, but we had to leave it.

 

Evidence of arseholes


Shortly after that we found a suitable fording-place. I rock-hopped to the middle and balanced on a slippery flat rock, looking for the next dry step, but there was none. With a quick two-step in the calf-deep water I was soon on the far bank, with damp boots and socks but no other ill-effects. I warned Chris about the slippery rock and advised an alternative, but she stepped on it anyway and it got the better of her. In slow-motion she leaned too far, her pack dragged her over even more and she ended up lying in the water. She was fairly-well drenched. I didn't dare to laugh. OK, OK, so I did laugh. Lots. And loud. Being a decent, caring sort of chap, I raced off downstream to retrieve the dropped water-filter bottle and left Chris to find her own way to dry land. She was wet but uninjured, so we sat in the warm breeze and had lunch while she dried herself and her kit. Oh, and we laughed a bit more, just for good measure:

Chris drying off

We were at the bottom end of Long Gill, and looking at the map we figured that the best thing to do was to go straight up to Bowscale Fell. Redressed and fit to go, we had one last look up the Caldew towards Skiddaw House. A bit further up the river we could see something that looked like a bridge, and Chris gave me some stick based on that impression. Luckily for my reputation, subsequent investigations indicate that there isn't really a bridge at that point, so the soaking wasn't in vain:

 

Looking up the Caldew

The walk up to Bowscale Fell was a real hard slog with no paths through the tussock-grass and mossy ground on the unremitting slope. Over an hour later we reached the top:

Chris approaching the viewpoint cairn near the top of Bowscale Fell

Bannerdale Crags and Blencathra from Bowscale Fell

A rare picture of me

From there the next objective was a rather more easy proposition, with gentle paths skirting the drop-off and leading up to Bannerdale Crags:

Bannerdale Crags

The view from the edge of the crags was worth the effort:

The viewpoint cairn on Bannerdale Crags

Blencathra beyond the summit of Bannerdale Crags

From there it was a simple and straight descent to the col at the source of the Glenderamackin...


Heading for the col

and onwards to a nice dry pitch on the north-west side of the col, looking down Blackhazel Beck.

Pitched above Blackhazel Beck

 

After another good meal and a lot of rehydration, Chris settled down early while I went out for an easy evening stroll to the cairn atop Mungrisdale Common:

Approaching the Mungrisdale Common cairn, with Skiddaw in the background

The back of Blencathra from Mungrisdale Common

Losing the light

After spending a while there appreciating the utter quietness of the place, I headed back to the tent, pondering the fact that we'd only seen three other walkers during the day. I was hoping for a sunset worthy of our efforts, but this was the best that could be mustered:


The sun setting over Great Calva

To be continued.

Winter-walking around Ullswater – Part 1

Posted by on January 28th 2009 in Great Escapes, YHA

Friday saw us battling the traffic on the A5 & M6 to reach Patterdale Youth Hostel at a reasonable time. After skirmishes with feckwit drivers who have somehow achieved "Highway Code Not Applicable" status, and hold-ups due to temporary road-closures (due to accidents, no doubt caused by more feckwits in the aforementioned category), we managed to miss the evening meal. Fan-bloody-tastic.

Friday night was a cold night in the hostel, I would have been warmer sleeping in the car. In the morning we found out that the warden had forgotten to turn on the heating. Fan-bloody-tastic again.

Saturday's breakfast was a downer - it seems that the standard YHA breakfast no longer features bacon. It does, however, feature a strange yellow mulch that is reputed to be scrambled egg. It wasn't. It was shite. Fan-bloody-tastic yet again.

The weekend was beginning to turn sour. We dressed for action and made our way to the quarry car-park just outside Dockray. A final check of the gear before heading off revealed that Ella had forgotten to fill her water-bottle... Fan-bloody-tastic in spades.

It wasn't going well, but we made peace and set off up the track towards Hart Side...

(click the pic for more bigness and a lightbox-type thingy. Be advised that the panoramas take a while to load.)

Ella on the stepless stile

Looking up towards Common Fell and beyond

Looking back towards Great Mell Fell

Just beyond Round How we found a source of unfrozen water. While Ella repacked her filled bottle, the clouds over Glenridding started to break, allowing the sun to reach the ripples on Ullswater:

The head of Ullswater

Ullswater panorama

We pushed on through the deepening snow at a good pace until we reached the section between Swineside Knott and the wall, where the the snow was waist-deep in places. Care was needed to avoid breaking through the slab into the soft stuff beneath:

Slow progress below Swineside Knott

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At the corner of the wall we made snow-seats and took a snack-break. The view over the wall merited a few more pics:

Place Fell

The head of Ullswater again

We trudged up to the small top of Brown Hills where we deployed the Bothy4 and sat in the snow to make a brew and cook lunch. While we were there, the clouds cleared and the sun lit up the landscape:

Sheffield Pike

The approach to Hart Side

Glenridding Fells panorama

After lunch we made our way over to the summit of Hart Side. Ella managed to find most of the snow-covered pits:

Ninja Lemming

A helping hand

Lengthening shadows from Hart Side summit


We stopped at the top to play in the snow and to chat to a family who had arrived a while before us, but before long it was time to leave:

Far Eastern Fells panorama


Leaving the top of Hart Side


Our return route took us over the tops of the hills that we had skirted on the way up. On the way, we found some impressive areas of wind-sculpted snow:

After that, the clouds returned and the view back towards Helvellyn was a tad gloomy :

Looking back towards Helvellyn

but there was still some clear sky about on the way to Common Fell:

Ella on the route to Common Fell

and the sunlight on Blencathra was a stunning sight:

Blencathra


That was the last time I used the camera that day, but the fun didn't stop there. After crossing Common Fell we decided to leave the ridge-path and take a more direct route back to the car. We found many steep iced-over drifts which were perfect for practicing self-arrest, glissading or just rolling down the slopes. Some of the cornices were fun - quite low and safe, so we just jumped through them and slid down to the bottom. When we reached the car we were frosted-up, but we were happy.

Back at base we found that the heating was on, so I didn't have to "sort out" the warden. We dried our kit, made ourselves presentable, and booked an evening meal at the hostel. A tad expensive, but it was good food. Ella was too knackered to go to the pub, so we dossed in the common-room, warmed by the open log-fire and by hot chocolate, before having an early night in preparation for Sunday's walk...

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