Posts tagged 'Harter Fell'

Easter Around Eskdale – Part 2

Posted by on May 4th 2012 in Great Escapes, YHA

Tuesday was forecast to be a terrible day for family hill-walking - there would be county-wide driven rain and snow, icy strong winds and poor visibility even at valley-levels. Folk were being warned off the fells regardless of their ability and levels of equipment. Eskdale had decided to exempt itself from all that as the weather locally was dry, fairly warm and at times quite sunny. Nevertheless we knew that we'd be staying low and doing relatively easy stuff - Natasha still wasn't 100% and my rear-end was sore and raw after the exertions of the previous day.

After breakfast we decided to head for the coast on "La'al Ratty" with a view to walking some or all of the way back. The first objective was Dalegarth Station:


The "Lady Wakefield" waiting to take us away.


Compact, bijou and full of weirdos.


Anna looking smug after commandeering my Montane Lite-Speed H2O jacket and my gloves for the second day running.

The journey seawards was predictably bumpy and rattly but we still managed to nab some photos as we pootled along. Here's one that Anna took, I think the fact that it was shot through a rain-spattered window adds some sort of charm to it:

Nice work, Anna!

At Ravenglass Station I managed a few pics of the engines:


The "River Mite".


before being dragged off to sample the heady delights of the bustling village...


OK, so I lied.


We went into the sea-front tearooms to get out of the icy sea-breeze. And to use the loos. And to eat cake.

Suitably rehydrated and primed with tannins we headed off, wind-propelled, through the village and towards Muncaster Fell:



Testing the windproofs.


I took this one for Ian P, occasionally of this parish.


As we gained height the view seawards opened out and the weather improved:




The verges and adjacent woodlands had definitely decided that it was Spring - there were Ramsons, Violets, Cowslips, Bluebells and all sorts of other such things in bloom or nearly so:





Further up, on Fell Lane, the view seawards was even better - the Isle of Man was clearly visible and there were glimpses of the Irish coast. Sadly I've caught neither in the following pic 🙁

... driven rain and snow, icy strong winds and poor visibility...

At Muncaster Tarn we stopped for lunch and an arse-rest. It's a pleasant place with woodlands and Rhododendron thickets which proved quite handy when Nature called:


Logs #1.


Logs #2.



Logs #3.




Muncaster Tarn.


After lunch we headed down the slopes of Chapel Hill through some impressive Tolkienesque wooded areas:


Woods #1.


 Woods #2.


Can you see a Red Squirrel in there?

This pic doesn't convey the steepness of the path down between the huge trees.

We passed by this monument, the map doesn't give a name for it but it reminds me of the Tower of Cirith Ungol:


Monumental stuff!


Wood Sorrel.


Down at valley-level the views opened out as we headed further inland. Some parts of the place were beginning to look a tad Scottish:

Clouds over the Scafells.

We passed this aged sign indicating the presence of some Roman Tile Kilns. An expert may well have been able to tell us more and maybe even point out those elements of "national importance" but all we could discern was some mossy rubble and some fallen branches, so un-unusual that I didn't trouble the camera further. A field-trip specifically to see this alleged wonder of the ancient world would have been an utter disappointment:


Ministry Sign.


A short distance further on we turned northwards through the farmyard at Muncaster Head and were treated to a fine view of Harter Fell and Green Crag sitting under some brooding clouds:


Harter Fell and Green Crag.


We'd done enough walking so we headed to Irton Road Station to await the next train back to Dalegarth and to use the toilets!:



Platform peeps.


Sarah models the latest in outdoors attire, an over-the-head hard-shell garment designed to "shed" water 🙂


 Sarah models her invisibility cloak.




Those sheep really ought to cut down on the Woodbines.

Back at Dalegarth the view was immense - we could see TWO pubs!


The Boot and Brook House.

Back on dry land we headed off down the road to read some menus. I didn't fancy Brook House because in years past I've been declined entry while in fellwalking attire. After reading their menu I dragged the others along the lane to the much-preferred Boot only to find that due to a staff-shortage they'd stopped doing evening meals. We went back to Brook House, booked a table for the evening and then carried on along the road back to the hostel. The sun was beginning to defeat the clouds again and we were treated to some fine scenes:

Harter Fell dominates the skyline.


Birker Force.


Back at the hostel we followed the usual plan - wash, change, play with the fire, rest the arse. The evening meal at Brook House was a tad expensive but the food was brilliant and the service superb, I'd now recommend it to anybody. After that we played with the hostel fire some more before retiring for the night.

Did I mention that it didn't rain on us? Three minutes of minor drizzle was all we got. While we'd been strolling in the sunshine the Scafells had been covered by a big dump of snow and Eskdale had been subjected to downpours and hailstorms. Jammy, eh?


To be continued...

Easter Around Eskdale – Part 1

Posted by on May 3rd 2012 in Great Escapes, YHA

It was a dull and damp Easter Sunday afternoon when we arrived at YHA Eskdale and met up with the Maynes...


YHA Eskdale.


The optimistic BBQ area.


The weather forecasts for the next few days were grim - storms, high winds and snow - but we were determined to make the best of it so we got settled in and started planning what to do. The plan started with us assuming command of the log-fire and the associated furniture. Maps and guidebooks were consulted, a fine hostel meal was consumed and the rest of the evening was spent shooting the breeze in front of the fireplace.

Monday morning started with a fine drizzle but nothing worse so after breakfast we set out for the old peat-tracks that lead up towards Green Crag. The further we went, the wetter it became and a short halt was called after the zig-zags at the derelict Low Birker peat-hut. Natasha was feeling a bit off-colour so a bit of rest was taken:


Natasha feeling a bit poorly.


Chris and Anna at the peat-hut.

We pressed on for a short distance but at the turn where the track heads off over the marshy plateau it was too windy for the young ones and Natasha decided that she'd had enough. We agreed a safe spilt in the party - I was pleasantly surprised when Anna declared that she wanted to carry on with me and Geoff while the others retired to the hostel. Goodbyes were said and then we were off across the soggy ground heading for Green Crag a mile or so away:

Heading for Green Crag.

Of course, as soon as we'd started off the weather got progressively worse, so much so that the camera wasn't brought out again for the rest of the walk. After passing Tarn Crag we gave Anna the choice as to whether we should proceed or turn back, amazingly she not only wanted to carry on but she took the lead, picking out an interesting (and damned steep) off-piste route that took us through the col just west of Great Whinscale Crag before we got better views of Green Crag through swirling clouds. We had a short breather in the lee of a small outcrop before pushing on up to a point within sight of the boundary stone where we dumped the packs and went up the final slopes unhindered.

The summit was an airy place, sometimes wreathed in cloud but with intermittent clear views of distant places, we did get a glimpse of the coast where the weather looked quite pleasant. This would be a fine place to be on a warm summer's evening but this day was somewhat different so we legged it back to the packs (after a minor detour which meant that actually finding the packs took longer than expected). After a quick snack we decided against nipping over to the clagged-in Harter Fell, instead we took the obvious path back to Foxbield Moss and from there retraced our steps back to the peat-hut and then to the hostel. It hadn't been a long walk but battling the wind and rain while not being hill-fit made it seem like a full day out.

We got washed, dried and changed and then hit the lounge where the others had set up camp. Natasha had had a rest and was feeling a bit better, especially after we'd got the fire roaring again 🙂


Fireside #1.


Fireside #2.


A proper fire 🙂


"Scawfell from Kirk Fell", a fine over-mantel painting.


The rain abated so we took a short stroll to The Woolpack for an evening meal and some liquid refreshment. The place had changed a lot since I last nipped in for a beer, I wasn't particularly impressed by the "improvements" but the food was good value and there was a fine range of beers and ciders on offer. After that we headed back to the hostel, chucked more logs on the fire and lazed the evening away.


To be continued... 

More Far Eastern Fells Wildcamping

Posted by on October 15th 2011 in Annual Wildie, Great Escapes, Testing for review, Wildcamping

After the Friday drag up the M6 and the traditional fill-up at the Ings Little Chef we nabbed a roadside car-parking space at Church Bridge, Troutbeck. Having changed into our scruffs we hoisted our packs and set off past the church and along field-paths past High Green and Town Head, using Ing Lane to access the fells via Hagg Gill.


Church Bridge church.

On the field-path heading towards High Green.

Ing Lane with the lowering Sun lighting up the tops of the Ill Bell Ridge.

As before.

The view from Ing Bridge.

The white sheep of the family.

Looking back down the Troutbeck Valley from Hall Hill.

We had intended to nip up to the top of Troutbeck Tongue and to walk off the ridge northwards to find a suitable pitch near the sheepfold. Unfortunately we were losing the light and Chris wanted to get settled for the night, so we continued up along Hagg Gill and found a nice place to set up camp. While setting up we noticed that we weren't alone - there was a small tent set up a bit further up the Gill, so I went off to ask if the owner minded if we set up where we had chosen. The owner was Linda, she said that she didn't mind where we pitched and we had a fine chat about fellwalking and other stuff. After a while I returned to finish setting up camp while Chris went off for a chinwag with Linda.

After dark we stood outside watching the sky before turning in for some sleep - although there were a few small clouds about, there were prolonged clear spells during which the stars were amazingly bright. We could see fantastic detail in the Milky Way, much better than we can see at home in the light-polluted Midlands.

The night was quiet and uneventful but the first light of dawn was heralded by the echoing roars of rutting deer - we couldn't see them but we were fairly certain that the commotion was coming from high on the slopes of Ill Bell, directly East of us.

After breakfast we headed off packless to bag Troutbeck Tongue before sun-up.

Looking towards Threshthwaite Mouth from the low ridge along Troutbeck Tongue.
Mouseover the pic if you want to see where our highly-conspicuous bright orange landscape-defiling tent was pitched.

Some way along the ridge Nature called so we ducked away from the track for some privacy. Attending to one of the most basic human needs, Muggins here made a stupid mistake that was to cause intense pain for quite a while, and ongoing stinging and regret for the rest of the day - I decided that, in the interests of good hygiene, it would be a good idea to use the water-free hand-cleaning gel on my arse. Trouble was, it wasn't the alcohol-free sort that I usually carry, it was the heavy-duty solvent-laced stuff that I use at work. Of course, by the time I found out, it was too late - by then I was jumping around the fellside like a madman, trousers and kegs around ankles, shouting expletives that echoed around the hills and imploring the powers above to make the burning stop! I don't know if Linda heard the commotion, but if she did I've no idea what she would have thought was going on.

Eventually I could walk again (albeit like John Wayne) and we reached the top after a few more minutes:

Chris on Troutbeck Tongue, mist in the valleys.

At the the top of Troutbeck Tongue, Chris was still giggling at the hand-gel incident.

We strolled back down to the tent to start packing up. Linda was up and about, she struck her camp and was away up Scot Rake well before we set out.

Lone tree on the slopes back down to the tent.

Striking camp next to Hagg Gill.
A bit further up is Linda at her pitch.

Nearing the top of the harder-work-than-expected Scot Rake we paused for a snack-break where there was a fine view of Froswick.

Froswick from the Scot Rake path.

Although we would be going that way later, we were going to Thornthwaite Crag first. As the weather improved the crowds grew - at one point I counted 56 people around the summit. We settled behind a wall a short distance from the crowds and had our main meals.

Buff-adjustment, Thornthwaite Crag

The Sun lighting up the beacon atop Thornthwaite Crag.

A busy place.

Easy slopes heading towards High Street (L) and Mardale Ill Bell (R).

Suitably fed and watered, we set off along the Ill Bell Ridge in increasingly-good weather.

The Kentmere Valley, Froswick and Ill Bell.


Froswick, Ill Bell and Yoke.

Muggins atop Froswick, with Thornthwaite Crag in the background.

Ill Bell from Froswick.

A closer look at the path up Ill Bell.

Ill Bell's North Cairn.

Ill Bell's Main and South Cairns.

Having a breather at the Main Cairn.

The Main Cairn.

From Ill Bell we could see one of the options for our next tent pitch - the tarn on Rainsborrow Crag, the western spur of Yoke.

Rainsborrow Crag and Yoke.
Mouseover the pic if you want to see the location of the tarn.

At Yoke's summit-cairn we paused for a while to consider our options. We could carry on down the ridge to the Garburn Road, reach the car by twilight, find a mild-camping site and walk more fells in the morning, or we could pitch early at Rainsborrow Tarn, have a leisurely evening and, if the night was clear, maybe see the Aurora Borealis that was tentatively forecast to be on show in the small hours. We took the lazy option and headed for the Tarn.

Chris heading towards Rainsborrow Tarn.

The tarn is a jewel in the hills - surrounded on three sides by long steep drops, it sits in a rut almost at the end of Rainsborrow Crag. The views from there are immense and there's a real feel of wilderness about the place. Needless to say, we saw nobody else there - it was our own little bit of Lakeland. After pitching I went walkabouts with the camera:

Looking southwards.


Looking north towards Harter Fell.

Looking east towards Kentmere Pike and Shipman Knotts.

From Ill Bell to Shipman Knotts, with a view of Kentmere Reservoir.

After a leisurely evening meal we sat up waiting for the sky to put on a display but late on it clouded over and started drizzling. Even so, it was warm and calm, and we slept well.

On Sunday I woke just before dawn and ventured outside. The drizzle had stopped and the valleys were full of clouds being driven up and over the ridges and cols by the light breeze. It was utterly silent for an hour or so while I sat there watching in wonder and taking pics that don't do the scenes any justice whatsoever. It's times like that when I pity the folk at home in their beds:

Ill Bell, Mardale Ill Bell and the Nan Bield Pass wreathed in cloud.

Cloud being driven up and over the eastern arm of the Kentmere Round.

Breakfasted, we shook the dew from the tent and packed it away with the rest of our kit. After trudging back up the damp grassy slope to reach Yoke's cairn again we were overheating in the still, warm air so we stopped for a breather:

The summit of Yoke, with Ill Bell in the background.

A few pics later we headed down the newly-repaired path that leads to the Garburn Road. From there it was an easy downhill stroll all the way back to the car, followed by retail therapy at Windermere's Lakeland shop, another Little Chef at Ings and a manic drive back down the M6 and A5.

Looking back towards Yoke from the gate at Garburn Nook.



Distance: 13.9 miles
Total ascent/descent: 3879 ft
Wainwright tops reached: Troutbeck Tongue (1191 ft), Thornthwaite Crag (2569 ft), Froswick (2359 ft), Ill Bell (2476 ft), Yoke (2309 ft) twice. Those in bold were first-ascents for me.
Number of Wainwrights still to do: 12

Yes, I know that this was a walk that many folk would easily do in a day, but I'm happy that we took our time about it. I'll never forget the overnight at Rainsborrow Tarn, it's a place that few one-dayers bother to visit and I'd have regretted omitting it during a walk against the clock. Indeed, it was Wainwright himself that said "Time is intended to be spent, not saved".

Regarding gear taken for test-and-review... I took two items supplied by Adam Smith representing Go Outdoors. While the Lifeventure Downlight 900 sleeping bag didn't have to contend with low temperatures, the mild nights meant that it had to put up with a fair degree of condensation and sweat. I'm happy to report that it fared well, at no point did it feel clammy or damp. As for the windproof, I still maintain that the mere act of carrying that Montane Lite-Speed H2O jacket is enough to deter inclement weather! I'm sorry, Adam, yet again I took it and never got the opportunity to wear it!

Far Eastern Fells Wildcamping – Day 2 – Ups and downs

Posted by on June 3rd 2008 in Annual Wildie, Great Escapes, Wildcamping

We woke at 04:30 but it wasn't fully light so we decided to have a lie-in. Well, why not? It was the weekend!

At 05:30 the sun was about to rise above the bank of low cloud far away in the North-East, so we went walkabout among the crags, peering down gullies and taking more pics. The views into and across Riggindale were immense, with the bonus of this being one of the best points of vantage for seeing the shy hanging valley of Sale Pot just beyond Short Stile. Riggindale Beck's twists and meanders glistened in the early light, being visible all the way from the source to the mouth at Haweswater. I could have spent another hour or so at this place, but we needed to be away.


Riggindale from Caspel Gate


Breakfast was a lengthy and leisurely affair - the day promised to be hot and sunny, so we wanted to take in a lot of fluids to cut down on the amount we would need to carry up, knowing that the flat top of High Street would be dry. We managed to cut the carry-up water to 1l each.

We struck camp and finished packing by 09:00 then started up Long Stile towards High Street, pausing now and again to take more pics. We made the summit at 09:40 just as the sun started to make itself felt.


Looking back down Long Stile


Muggins on the High Street plateau


After a few minutes at the top, we headed off towards Mardale Ill Bell, a gentle stroll that took all of 35 minutes, during which time we met a few folk walking up to the High Street plateau. We found a tadpole-infested small pond about 20 yards from the summit of the Bell, it was full of peat-stained water but we trusted our filter-bottles and processed enough for a quick brew. The Jetboil was eyed jealously by the few folk that passed the summit outcrop, comments like "I see you've got the kettle on" were met with offers of a free cuppa but there were no takers. Oh, well, it was their loss, it tasted good!


The Ill Bell Ridge from Mardale Ill Bell summit

Next on the list of objectives was Harter Fell. We were unsure of water availability at the Nan Bield Pass, so we made our stock back up to 2l and made our way down to the shelter in the pass. After a short breather, we carried on up the slope to Harter Fell, partly in shade but mostly in sunshine. Predictably, the small ponds at the top were dry, thus justifying the carrying up of those 2 litres.


The top of Harter Fell


At this point we had to make a decision. We had planned for the option of nipping down to Kentmere Pike and Shipman Knotts before carrying on around the head of Mardale. The sun was now really strong, so we elected to play safe and just go down to the Pike for lunch, and make another decision about the Knotts later, depending on water availability. The walk down to Kentmere Pike was soon done, and the Jetboil was soon steaming away boiling up for food and another brew. I wandered off packless to get a view of the Knotts but decided to leave them for another day.


Kentmere Pike trigpoint


We spent some time sitting in the sun but it was soon time to move on. We trudged back up to Harter Fell, pausing there only for a photo-opportunity, and strode around the Mardale edge of the wide curving ridge to Little Harter Fell before descending to the top of the Gatescarth Pass.

At the pass we were down to 0.5l each, so we had to scout around to find more before going on. With water we would carry on to Branstree, without it we would retire back to the valley. Eventually I found the spring that is the source of Gatescarth Beck, it was a cold and crystal-clear pond, no more than 3ft x 2ft and home to at least one splendid newt. We refilled and started up the dull, steep, straight grassy track next to the boundary fence, knowing that it led directly to the top of the fell. This was the third significant ascent of the day and our legs were really feeling the strain, but we made the top in good time - indeed, we stayed only for some pics, then carried on to the magnificent cairns on Artle Crag, situated in a strange area of naturally-standing rocks.


Cairns on Artle Crag


From there we could see our next pitch - the two tarns (one full, the other dry) just beyond the Manchester Corporation Water Works survey post, which we reached at about 17:00. I toyed with the idea of nipping off packless to nab Tarn Crag and Grey Crag but decided that the more-or-less pathless 6km there and back would be too much, so we pitched early so that Chris could get some rest. We spent a leisurely evening waiting for the sun to set the skies alight, but it turned out to be a bit of a let-down - nice, but nothing spectacular.


M.C.W.W. Survey Post






After a hearty meal and a well-deserved wash, it was time for some shuteye. It had been a tiring day, but well worth the effort.

To be continued...

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