Posts tagged 'Borrowdale YHA'

A few days at Borrowdale – Part 4 – Return and round-up

Posted by on April 28th 2011 in Great Escapes, YHA

It was our last morning at Borrowdale, the forecast was for more hot weather and we didn't fancy another walk in such conditions. After packing the cars we went into Keswick for some retail therapy. Gifts were bought for friends and family and we got caught up in a procession of folk carrying a wooden cross through the town centre to the Moot Hall. Amazingly we still managed to get away from the shops without buying more kit, but not until after we'd managed to refuel ourselves first at Java and Chocolate and then at the Lakeland Pedlar Whole Food Cafe.

Narrowly avoiding a round of "obstacle golf" (I suppose this is the PC version of what we used to call "crazy golf") we returned to the car and raced off to the A66 for the long haul back home.

I suppose that a few walking stats wouldn't go amiss...


  • Distance: 4.2 miles
  • Total ascent: 1652 ft
  • Wainwrights: 1 - Bessyboot 1807 ft (first ascent for all of us, first Wainwright for Millie)


  • Distance: 6.9 miles (including detour to Lonscale Fell)
  • Total ascent: 2361 ft (including detour to Lonscale Fell)
  • Wainwrights: 2 - Skiddaw 3053 ft (first ascent for the others, second ascent for me), Lonscale Fell 2344 ft (first ascent for me and for Geoff)

Illnesses and injuries:

  • Prickly heat (Chris and Anna)
  • Heel blister (me)
  • Rock/face impact (Jacob, who forgot to let go of the projectile that he had intended to whang into the stream)

So, two more Wainwrights knocked off the to-do list, only 20 still to do.  The Wainwrights and Routes map has been updated accordingly.

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...

A few days at Borrowdale – Part 2 – Short and steep

Posted by on April 25th 2011 in Great Escapes, YHA

Some of us were up bright and early next morning, outside taking pics well before breakfast...


Looking over the hostel grounds


The River Derwent from Longthwaite Bridge


High Spy and Castle Crag




Eventually the others surfaced and after we had breakfasted we headed off towards our objective - Bessyboot on Rosthwaite Fell. Even though it was still early a heat-haze was beginning to develop:


Heading for the crossroads


The first time I've ever seen this sign dry!


From the crossroads we headed for Stonethwaite, there were plenty of opportunities for the kids to lag behind looking at the newborn lambs:




Beyond Stonethwaite we took the lane above the fields to the crossing of Big Stanger Gill, from where a steep but well-tended and delightful path winds up through Bull Crag Woods towards the notch between Hanging Haystack and Alisongrass Crag. The steepness and increasing heat meant plenty of stops for the kids and hence some photo-opportunities:


First pit-stop


Alisongrass Crag and the fells above Watendlath


The path twists and turns between the trees


Looking down on Stonethwaite and the Borrowdale valley


After another pit-stop at the "very awkward stile" and another after the wall-crossing, we reached the open fell and made our way along the track to find a suitable place for lunch. By then the sun was beating down with some ferocity and the SPF50 had to be wielded:


Chris poses for scale


In search of a place for lunch


Curiously-weathered mineral veins


A peek at Eagle Crag


After lunch we crossed the marsh that is the standing source of Big Stanger Gill and made our way around to the perched boulder which marks the start of the easy short pull up to Bessyboot, the summit of Rosthwaite Fell. As you can see, Millie was quite chuffed to have reached her first ever Wainwright summit, so chuffed that I had to take two pics:


Millie and Anna atop Bessyboot




Although Bessyboot is a low summit, it has great views of  the surrounding fells:


The two Gables, Base Brown, Brandreth, Grey Knotts and Fleetwith Pike


Tarn at Leaves, Rosthwaite Cam and Glaramara


The Skiddaw group in the distant haze


We left the top and went down to the waterside to catch some rays or to dip toes in the cool clear water. Wainwright says "Tarn at Leaves has a lovely name but no other appeal". I beg to differ - it's a fine place, a wildcamper's delight:




Reeds and weeds


Muggins spoiling the view of the crags around Rosthwaite Cam
Anna took this pic


Anna and Millie after the toe-dipping


Offers to nip up to the Cam for a look-see were declined, so we shouldered the packs again and made off for the track down to Combe Gill.


Rosthwaite Cam and Glaramara again


We had intended to intercept the OS's green-dashed path but it turned out to be a map-maker's flight of fancy. Before long we were going down a worryingly steep grassy and craggy slope on the north side of Dry Gill. Some of the party found this section unpleasant, but our pathfinders were enjoying themselves:




Anna found and photographed some interesting pink rocks in Dry Gill. Not sure what they are but they're different to the other rocks outcropping thereabouts. I suppose I'll have to dig out the BGS map of the area to find out what they are:


Pink rocks in Dry Gill


One more view of Rosthwaite Cam and Glaramara


Eventually we crossed Dry Gill to easier ground and found a fair track that's not marked on the map:


Descending on the south side of Dry Gill, with a great view before us


Chris nearing Combe Gill


After crossing Combe Gill we had a breather. The kids amused themselves by throwing stones from our pathside perch to the gill below, with no other folk about we thought it was a bit of harmless fun until Anna accidentally let one go vertically instead of across and down. With no idea where it would land, we just hunkered down and hoped for the best. After what seemed ages, there was a loud thud and a shower of gravel in the small area around which we were sitting. Lucky, eh? The ensuing rollocking echoed around the fellside but soon we all saw the funny side of it and a course of proper stone-throwing was instigated.

From there it was a simple but delightful walk back to the hostel via Mountain View, over Folly Bridge and along the short via ferrata riverside chain-walk section just as we entered the hostel grounds.

After we'd got ourselves showered and changed we booked in for a superb meal at the hostel and chilled for the rest of the evening before turning in early again to get some rest in preparation for the expected rigours of the next day.

To be continued...

A few days at Borrowdale – Part 1 – Tuesday drive-in

Posted by on April 23rd 2011 in Great Escapes, YHA

This was our third trip away with our hostelling friends. Another bargain break, courtesy of Tesco Clubcard tokens and YHA Borrowdale.

The Tuesday journey up the standard A5/M6 route was again trouble-free, apart from a minor diversion near the start-point. Breaking with tradition, we bypassed the Little Chef at Ings and pulled in at Windermere for an excellent late-afternoon meal at The Elleray.  After a couple of hours there we pushed on to Borrowdale, stopping for a while at Derwentwater's Cat Gill car-park to give the kids a chance to play at the waterside. Apologies for the speckly pics - this time it's not down to sensor-dust or grubby lenses, it's a midge thing...


Cat Bells and Kids


Towards Skiddaw


A few minutes of driving later and we were at the hostel. After decanting from car to room we spent part of the evening chilling out in the hostel grounds bird- and bat-spotting beside the river, then we retired to the lounge for chats, brews and route-planning before turning in for an early night.

To be continued...


Posted by on April 18th 2011 in Great Escapes, YHA

Walking opportunities have been limited so far this year - indeed, I haven't had a day of proper fellwalking since December last year.

No matter, that's all about to change... we're off to stay in Borrowdale for a few nights. Nothing too strenuous, though, as four of our party of eight are kids, and one of them is a complete newbie to this sort of thing.

It looks like we'll be lucky with the weather - the MWIS Planning Outlook this morning says "High pressure will dominate the weather, bringing extensive fine warm weather on the run up to and over Easter..."

So, in theory, there'll be no more of this:



For the others, packing for this outing continues apace. My stuff is ready to go, all I have to do now is sell a kidney so as to be able to afford petrol for the journey.

See you later!

Doing a one-eighty-one?

Posted by on November 20th 2009 in Great Escapes, Illness and injury, YHA

I'd had an early night so I was awake well before breakfast. I got up and looked out of the window - good, it wasn't raining. Grabbing the map, I mulled over the options for a three-hour walk... Rosthwaite Fell was just over the road, I've never been up there so it seemed ideal. The hostel warden had said it was OK to leave the motor in their car-park after checking out as long as it wasn't an overnight thing, so there was no need to drive-and-hike.

After washing and dressing I got the pack ready and headed for the stairs down to the kitchen, being in need of a cuppa before breakfast, but there was a problem. I'd been walking about just fine on the flat, but the knee that I twisted the day before while descending the Lining Crag cascade just didn't want to go down any steps - it was most peculiar and most painful, although there was no visible damage. After I'd hobbled down, it was fine on the flat again, and after another good three-course hostel breakfast I went back upstairs to the dorm and all seemed OK, so I collected my gear to take it out to the car. Yes, you guessed it - the stairs beat it again.

So that was the day scuppered. Going up and along would be OK, but descending would be a nightmare and I didn't want to risk making things worse.  Ibuprofen would kill the pain but it wouldn't make the knee work, so I packed the car, said my goodbyes and started headed home, just as the heavens opened again. I was annoyed to the point of distraction, and didn't even yield to the temptations of the Ambleside gear-shops.

Suffice to say that it's all fixed now - just a couple of days of rest and the knee seems to be fighting-fit again. Even so, I'll give it a couple of weeks before I take it to the fells, just to be sure that all's well.

One-eighty-one can wait for a bit longer. How much longer depends on my injury/Wainwright ratio, which has been pretty dire this year.

Hopefully the season will end with some decent winter-walking - I can't remember ever falling or slipping in frozen conditions.

Doing a one-eighty

Posted by on November 18th 2009 in Great Escapes, YHA

The usual battle on the M6 didn't happen - the drive up was a sedate and rainless affair, mainly due to those excellent "average speed" cameras set up along the many miles of carriageway-widening scheme works which aims to provide us with four lanes each way by first cutting us down to two. Borrowdale YHA was reached at a reasonable time, and I got the pick of the bunks in the dorm - needless to say, I nabbed the one by the radiator. While I was sorting the gear the rain started and became so strong that I decided to stay in the hostel for the evening meal instead of paddling to the nearest bar. This turned out to be a shrewd move, as the three-course hostel fare was excellent, the lamb hot-pot being the best I've had for a long time.

After an evening of chilling and route-planning, I'd decided that the objective for Saturday would be Ullscarf via Greenup Edge, with the option of doing a one-eighty and extending the route to include High Raise if time and conditions were favourable. I packed the kit accordingly and hit the sack early.

Next morning I was up bright and early. The rain had stopped and things were looking good. After a hearty three-course YHA breakfast I donned the pack and ventured outside, just as the rain started again.

The walk through Stonethwaite, across the bridge and up Stonethwaite Beck, was sodden underfoot but for that first half-hour I was comfy using the Rab VR Climb as defence against upper-body wetness. It all changed as I passed Galleny Force, however, as the gods put the weather-machine into overdrive. The rain suddenly got much heavier and an evil wind started chucking it down the valley. As predicted, the Rab Corrie jacket had to be wielded in anger for the first time. I've never seen so much water running down the fellsides...

The run-off had submerged the path in many places, which meant that crossings were dodgy affairs, not so much because of the depths but more because of the force of the water. I waded the worst of the crossings as I slogged up the Greenup Gill path as far as the confluence of Greenhow and Mere Gills but there I found the water impassable without both danger and loss of dignity. After heading upslope alongside one of the two Mere Gill tributaries and finding no better options for crossing, I decided that my best option would be to change the plan and attack the fell directly, rather than via the Edge. It didn't look too steep on the map - just a few bits of 45 degree stuff, easy to zig-zag. So up I went.

Well, it was a knackering experience, all the better for the ground being slippery enough to ensure that the adrenaline never stopped flowing. I found just one small level place, near the top of the steep stuff, where I dared to stop and take some pics. I'm glad that I went up that way though, as it's a great place from where to view the glacial features of the hanging valley and the proper proportions of Lining Crag without it all being distorted by perspective:

The view down to Eagle Crag and Borrowdale wasn't too bad either:


From there on it was a marshy trudge to find the ridge's line of wireless fenceposts, which crosses the summit and hence was a good guide in what was now the base of the clouds. After 20 minutes of alternating clarity and wind-whipped clag I found the summit-cairn and stopped to take pics:

Then I did a one-eighty and headed back towards Greenup Edge, into the wind-driven stinging rain and weighing-up in my mind the option of extending to High Raise. Occasionally I could make out the path up there from the Edge, but it was mostly clagged up and didn't look appealing. As I neared the decision-point deep in the flooded marshes atop the Edge it started hailing big-time, which made the decision obvious - a dignified retreat to Lining Crag and a descent from there seemed much the more sensible thing to do. After slopping and wading to the big cairn overlooking the way down to Greenup Gill I found the path and set off to Lining Crag.

The views from the Crag were impressive during occasional breaks in the cloudbase, and I took some pics, but soon it was time to continue the descent. And that's where it all started to go bad...

There's a made-path down the side, where the crag meets the fellside. It's near-enough a straight-line down at a severe angle and due to the incessant rain it had become a cascade (it's the stream that you can see in the first pic of Lining Crag above). The rocks used for the path have been set at a slight angle downslope so that they don't retain water, but that just makes a slip more likely in descent. And that's what happened, several times, straight into the cascade. One particular slip ended in a twisted knee which I thought was going to be a day-wrecker, but it held together quite well and didn't cause any major hassle. By the time I got to the base of the crag, I was utterly soaked and the pack was full of water. Luckily all of the important kit was in roll-top liner-bags.

At the base is a small grassy flat where two couples were having a breather before their attempt to go up the path. They didn't have much of an option as they were practising their "Coast-to-Coast" route, bound for Grasmere via Greenup and Far Easedale, but I'm sure that they thought twice about this section having watched my antics. We chatted for a few minutes, during which I told them about the conditions on the path and up on the Edge. After a few more minutes I left them to it and started off towards the valley just as the rain started to ease.

The descent was uneventful until I got to the stream that had blocked me on the way up. The level had dropped by a couple of feet and I judged it safe to cross,  but I underestimated the force of the water and was swept off the submerged stepping-stones and ended up standing in three feet of white water. It was a very effective way to clean the mud off me boots. Walking further, I grabbed a few more pics in the improving conditions:

I was beginning to think that I would make it back to the hostel with no further hassle, as the wind had dropped and the rain had stopped, so I paused for a breather at the bridge just above the confluence with Langstrath Beck, where there is a magnificent view of Eagle Crag. My poor camera skills don't do it any justice whatsoever:

I started back down the easy last few miles just as the weather kicked in for the last time. The wind had done a one-eighty and was now full in the face, and the rain started stinging again.

And did I care?

Not one bit.

I was wet, yes, but I was warm and happy. There was no point in avoiding the streams and flooded paths, so I just waded and splashed through them, just like a big kid. Great fun! Even the livestock seemed to be enjoying the weather:

Right at the end of the walk I dragged the camera out again for a few more pics before the light failed. The views from the hostel grounds are quite good - much better than shown in these shots :

Back at the hostel my gear took up a good chunk of the drying-room. I even had to get the warden to put my camera and lenses in a safe place to dry, as they were wet through. Later, while sat in front of the open fire, I put a tick against Ullscarf on my Wainwrights list and then double-checked the total number visited so far.

The number?

One-eighty, of course.

To be continued...


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