Posts tagged 'Ullswater'

The Keeltappers and Grunters Social Club 2011 Wildcamp Weekend – Part 3 – Sunday

Posted by on July 14th 2011 in Great Escapes, Testing for review, Wildcamping

Saturday night was dry but a little more chilly than Friday, with a cool breeze coming from over the tarn. I woke briefly at first light and saw some Red Deer on the slopes above us, but unlike back in 2007 they didn't wait for me to get the camera out. I'd been warm enough with the flysheet open all night, but Mike had been cold again despite being fully-dressed in his bag. Again, sitting in the sunshine while demolishing a decent breakfast and lashings of tea was the cure.

 

Almost ready for action

 

One last shot of the island

 

By the time we'd struck camp the sun was well up and it was clear that it was going to be a hot day. The short pull up to the eastern shoulder of Angletarn Pikes afforded us a fine view of the tarn:

 

Angle Tarn

 

Once over the shoulder we got great views - on one side Heck Crag and Bannerdale, on the other Place Fell and Glenridding:

 

Bannerdale and Heck Crag

 

Glenridding and Place Fell

 

We plodded on past Heckbeck Head and up to the first cairn where the view of the ridge ahead opens out. Mike was clearly afflicted with some sort of madness, maybe the thought of going home had caused delirium:

 

The ridge to Beda Head

 

We parted company where a good path led off and down to the right - Mike had to be back at the car by noon and so would take the valley route, I wanted to walk the rest of the ridge. After our farewells the walk along the saddle and up the final rise to Beda Head was a doddle:

 

Looking back along the saddle to Heck Crag and Angletarn Pikes

 

Beda Head and the last bit of up

 

Beda Head cairn

 

Hallin Fell and Eastern Ullswater from Beda Head

 

That was enough high stuff for me. I descended the craggy northern ridge until I got to Nickles where a track led off to the right, down a steep bracken-clad slope. I was almost back at valley level when I noticed Mike dawdling along the Howe Grain road so I yelled to him and he waited a few minutes for me to reach the road.

We finished the walk together and after reaching the cars just before noon Mike reached into his car-boot and played his aces - he had a boxful of beers that had stayed ice-cold all weekend, thanks to the superb cool-box that he was testing/reviewing for Adam Smith / Go Outdoors. Needless to say, I had to help him to consume them, it's what friends are for.

Goodbyes were said again and we went our separate ways. It had been an excellent adventure - I'd had a great time in good company. 14.3 miles, seven Wainwrights visited (four that I can tick off the to-do list) and a couple of nights out might not be much for some folk, but it's good in my book.

Thanks, Mike.

 

Scots Pines at Knicklethorns

 

To be continued...

The Keeltappers and Grunters Social Club 2011 Wildcamp Weekend – Part 2 – Saturday

Posted by on July 13th 2011 in Great Escapes, Testing for review, Wildcamping

Friday night was uneventful - some light breeze and some occasional drizzle but not enough to warrant closing the flysheet. I'd been snug as a bug, the Lifeventure Downlight 900 bag on test being on the warm side of comfy. Mike said that he'd been a bit cold and was regretting having left his down bag in Wales the previous weekend. Nothing that a good breakfast couldn't cure, though.

 

Drying the gear in the morning sunshine

 

Looking back at Brownthwaite Crag and Pikeawassa from the overnight pitch

 

By the time we'd packed up and checked that we'd left no lasting trace the morning was heating up nicely and it was only a matter of time before the sun would break through the clouds. We wanted to be on the High Street before it got too hot so we crossed the shoulder of Gowk Hill to intercept the track to the Keasgill Groove, scattering many moths and Small Heath butterflies from the grass as we went:

 

Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus)

 

On the track to the Groove we stopped for a breather and were rewarded with great views behind and below us:

 

The Gowk Hill - Steel Knotts ridge, our first-night pitch is in the dip below centre

 

Looking down on The Bungalow that was built for Kaiser Wilhelm

 

After reaching the ridge we headed southwards and after drawing water at Redcrag Tarn we sat in the sunshine in the lee of the deer-wall. Snacks and tea were consumed while I strapped my heels. Refuelled, we struck out for High Raise to find some rocks for Mike to walk on:

 

Mike strides out towards Redcrag Tarn

 

High Raise summit

 

A mushroomy thing

 

Snapping him snapping me

 

We considered a detour to Kidsty Pike but opted for the direct track to Rampsgill Head instead. After that we headed for the Straits of Riggindale and after a good look down the valley we made our way to the easy summit of The Knott:

 

Mike contemplates the scenery

 

The summit of The Knott

 

We made our way down to the wall near Sulphury Gill where Mike had a doze while I nipped up to the top of Rest Dodd:

 

The three cairns on Rest Dodd

 

Rampsgill Head crags from Rest Dodd

 

A glimpse of Angle Tarn

 

I had intended to bag The Nab from there but I wasn't sure that I had enough water or energy for the return trudge. The day was hot and I didn't want to get Mike worried if I got myself into hassle, so I retraced my steps back down. The Hayeswater valley looked particularly good in the dappled sunlight:

 

Thornthwaite Crag, Gray Crag and Hayeswater

 

Another Small Heath

 

R & R

 

From the wall we made our way down the track towards Angle Tarn:

 

Mike crossing Cheesygrin Beck

 

From the track there were fine views back towards High Street:

 

Hayeswater and surrounding fells

 

We paused for a while on Satura Crag, and even contemplated overnighting there. It's a curious place with good views, small tarns, outcrops with interesting geology and quite a few secluded places to pitch small tents:

 

Bannerdale from Satura Crag

 

Gray Crag from Satura Crag

 

Outcrops

 

Small tarns on Satura Crag

 

From there it was a simple stroll down to Angle Tarn. We could see two other tents set up there but it's a big enough place for pitching without encroaching on anybody else's privacy. On the way down I took a small detour for a look down into Bannerdale:

 

Bannerdale

 

Down by the tarn we were soon set up for our second night. Before long we were fed and watered, the rest of the evening was devoted to sitting in the sunshine, shooting the breeze and a little exploring with the camera:

 

Pitched at Angle Tarn

 

Towards Angletarn Pikes

 

A big cloud with fuzzy little cloud on top - quite an odd thing. A pileus cloud, perhaps?

 

Camo bird

 

Down by the waterside

 

Rock

 

Moon over Tracy Island

 

To be continued...

The Keeltappers and Grunters Social Club 2011 Wildcamp Weekend – Part 1 – Friday

Posted by on July 12th 2011 in Great Escapes, Wildcamping

I managed a reasonably early getaway on Friday but still arrived at the M6 in time to be caught up in a major snarl-up near J12. After being backed off the slip-road by the Feds I lost a lot of time detouring cross-country to J14 so it was still a race to get to J40 before mid-afternoon. After a stop for a quick bite at the Penrith Little Chef I set off again for Howtown and eventually parked up near the church at the top of the twisting road:

 

The Church of St. Peter, Martindale

 

With Mike not due to arrive for an hour or so I grabbed the camera, stowed the rest of the gear in the car and strolled up the easy slopes of Hallin Fell. I started off in warm sunshine but within minutes it was hemping it down and I was thoroughly soaked. No matter, I spent a while at the top rain-dodging and taking a few pics. I'd imagine that on a clear day the views from the top would be excellent but this wasn't such a day. I did have the place to myself, though, which was unexpected as the fell-top is usually a popular place:

 

Rain over Martindale

 

Looking along Ullswater towards Pooley Bridge

 

Looking across Ullswater towards a distant Little Mell Fell

 

Moody skies over Angletarn Pikes

 

The Obelisk atop Hallin Fell

 

On the way back down the rain eased a bit and the southwards view opened up. My camera-skills don't do the vista any justice whatsoever:

 

Martindale, Boredale and surrounding fells

 

A few minutes after I'd returned to the car Mike signalled his arrival with a two-fingered salute. After a more customary handshake I changed into proper (dry) walking attire and we shouldered our contra-lightweight loads to head for the hills.

Passing the church we skirted crags and waded through sodden bracken along a thin trod that led towards Gowk Hill. The rain had set in and Mike was soon regretting his decision to wear shorts. At the first wall we stopped for a breather before nipping up to the neat top of Pikeawassa, the summit of Steel Knotts:

 

Pikeawassa

 

Me "bagging" Pikeawassa

 

Despite him not being a "bagger", Mike was pleased to get to the top

 

Back at the wall Mike started acting a bit strange. I think he needs professional help:

 

"Look! Up there! Two Swedish blondes!"

 

From the wall the view up the valley was excellent with clouds grazing the fell-tops and ridges:

 

Looking over Martindale and into Bannerdale

 

We continued along the path towards Gowk Hill, skirting Brownthwaite Crag and heading for the derelict buildings at the watersmeet at the head of Fusedale. After squelching around for a while we found a fairly well-drained level area and set up camp for the night as the rain started to ease. We shot the breeze as evening fell and the midges rose... there was much talk of Sudocrem, Swedish blondes, sea-kayaks and work (or lack thereof) - basically, we put the world to rights. After watching the clouds obscure a fine sunset we retired for the night:

 

The first pitch

 

Mike's crapper 🙂

 

To be continued...

The Keeltappers and Grunters Social Club 2010 Patterdale Meet – Sunday

Posted by on February 11th 2010 in Great Escapes, YHA

After a good sleep we woke to overcast skies and low cloud. Frank and Mike left soon after breakfast - Mike needed to be home for his Sunday dinner, and Frank was on a promise.

I considered my options... I didn't have time for the walk that I had intended to do on the Saturday, and I wasn't entirely sure that the steamer would be sailing anyway, so I headed to the north side of Ullswater. Approaching the NW corner of the lake I spotted a familiar campervan in the car-park - it was Phil, chilling with a newspaper and a smoke, and considering what he would do with the day. As I left him he seemed intent on getting on the water to do some pike-fishing.

I said my farewell and drove a short way up the Dockray road to get a feel for the weather. It was going to be a grey day...

Ullswater and St. Sunday Crag from the Park Brow on the Dockray road

 

Gowbarrow fell was the obvious target. I left the motor in the NT car-park and made my way up to the open fellside above Aira Beck, with the bands of cloud clearing occasionally to allow more views back to Ullswater and Glenridding:

Ullswater from the slopes of Gowbarrow Fell

 

Further up the clag was constant and the tangle of paths was confusing so I needed to pay more attention to navigation. After finding many a false summit I reached the top and managed a pic just before the sleet started:

 

The top of Gowbarrow Fell

I beat a hasty retreat down to High Force where I mingled with the sightseers to get a snap of the falls before getting back to the car:

 

High Force, Aira Beck

It was nearing time for lunch, and I just didn't fancy sitting in the car to munch the remains of the food-stash. I studied the map and took a chance on a little top that I'd noticed before but had never considered visiting - The Knotts, just outside Watermillock. I parked up on roadside to the west and scrambled (trespassed?) up a steep wooded slope for five minutes to reach a barrier of gorse and a barbed-wire fence. No matter, I just walked alongside the fence until I found a section that collapsed, and then it was a two-minute stroll to the top.

And what a fine top it is. Not so low as to feel surrounded by fells, and not so high as to feel detached, it has soft grass, a significant cairn and is a fine place from where to view the fells around Howtown:

 

Hallin Fell and Ullswater from The Knotts

 

After lunch I descended northwards on a fair track that led me to a caravan park, so I legged it down their driveway to the road to avoid trespass hassles. It was an hour well-spent.

I was feeling good and I still had time for one more short walk. The only other Wainwright nearby and still to be ascended was Little Mell Fell. It's not the most photogenic of places, so the only pic I took was of the top which is fairly devoid of features. I walked a small loop around the summit, searching for views, but there was little to see through the mist. The whole round-trip from The Hause took just under an hour:

The top of Little Mell Fell

 

And that was it. I changed my boots back at the car and went home.

It had been a great weekend, in good company, and I was pleased that everybody got to do a bit of what they liked. Bagging-wise, I'd been up four Wainwrights, of which two were new to me.

Unlike the others, my Sunday dinner wasn't waiting for me, and I wasn't on a promise 🙁

The Keeltappers and Grunters Social Club 2010 Patterdale Meet – Saturday

Posted by on February 10th 2010 in Great Escapes, YHA

The morning was bright and sunny with a low mist when we prepped for our days out. Mike was going out on the water, having brought his self-built sea-kayak "Tootega". Phil would be joining him on the water. Frank was happy to accompany me on a walk from Howtown back to the hostel via Hallin Fell and Beda Head (Wainwrights that I'd not been up), so we made off to the Glenridding boat-landings to catch the first steamer to Howtown. Somehow we managed to pass the pub without going in, despite the enticing aroma of another cooked breakfast...

White Lion, Patterdale

 

At the landings we hit a snag - the first sailing was cancelled due to fog on the water. If we had waited for the next sailing then we'd have been short on time for the walk, so Frank suggested going up either Sheffield Pike or Birkhouse Moor (or maybe even both) instead, as he'd not been up them before. Sorted. We started the long trudge up towards YHA Helvellyn and the old mine-works, with me listening intently to Frank telling more tales of climbing and of shagging.

Very occasionally Frank stopped (walking) to draw breath, so I took advantage of such opportunities to take some pics from the zig-zag path:

 

 

Views of Catstycam +/- Frank

After taking a deliberate detour up the spoil-heaps we found a nice spot for a breather and a brew, at some old mine-workings near the dam just above the Swart Beck ravine:

 

 

The view from the top of the ravine

 

After a dryshod crossing and a trudge through some virgin heather on Lucy's Tongue we gained the ridge-path where the views were superb:

 

Glencoyne Head

More views of Catstycam -/+ BG!

 

From there it was a gentle stroll to the summit, as demonstrated here by Frank:

 

Frank strolling on up towards Sheffield Pike summit

The views from the top were impressive, so the camera came out yet again. Here's a 300-degree panorama, you'll have to click it to see it in detail:

 

Ullswater - Hart Side Panorama

 

We counted many folk on Helvellyn and its satellites:

Folk on the tops and ridges

 

but despite getting a nice view of Ullswater, we couldn't see Mike:

Ullswater from Sheffield Pike

On the way down to Glenridding Dodd we passed a potentially-good wildcamping spot:

A quiet, sheltered place

 

before getting a good look at the Dodd itself:

The High Street range above Glenridding Dodd

 

After more talk of climbing and of shagging we reached the top of the Dodd which gave us views forwards to Patterdale and backwards to Sheffield Pike:

Patterdale and Sheffield Pike from Glenridding Dodd

 

The rocks of the summit-cairn are obviously volcanic in origin...

🙂

 

The final pic of the day was of the view over Glenridding:

Glenridding, Place Fell and the Head of Ullswater

We descended The Rake above Blaes Crag and steeled ourselves for the road-walk back to the hostel, but got side-tracked while trying to pass the Traveller's Rest pub. A cool drink, a real fire in the bar and the Six Nations on the telly were just too tempting. As we were leaving, Frank spotted Mike and Phil in the lounge, so we had to stay for another drink. Just to be sociable, of course. The delay of our departure had absolutely nothing to do with Frank detecting the presence of a fine young lady who surely must be the one-and-only Melanie Frontage.

Anyway, I digress. After the beers/leers Mike gave us a lift back to the hostel where we collaborated to produce a hearty meal for the four of us. Frank cooked a seafood pasta dish and provided some nice wine, I provided a toffee pud with custard, boil-in-the-can caramel stodge and Jaffa Cakes, and Mike brought snacks, dips and beer. Top stuff! Frank retired early in preparation for his planned Sunday activity (I bet you can't guess what that was), while the rest of us stayed up chatting until it was time to sleep.

To be continued...

The Keeltappers and Grunters Social Club 2010 Patterdale Meet – Friday

Posted by on February 9th 2010 in Great Escapes, YHA

First up - an apology for the choice of post-title. Mike nabbed the best one for his blog. My only other alternative was "The Good, The Bald and The Ugly" and I didn't want to go offending anybody...

Anyways, late afternoon saw me, Mike Bell and Frank Adams meeting up at YHA Patterdale for a weekend of doing "stuff" around Ullswater. I'd had an earlier start than usual which meant that I had time to grab some pics on the way up from Windermere to Patterdale via the Kirkstone Pass. There wasn't much snow on the tops but they were quite picturesque despite the failing light:

Looking towards Threshthwaite Mouth

The Ill Bell Ridge

Middle Dodd

After we'd got ourselves sorted at the hostel we headed off to the village in search of vittles. A glance through the window of the White Lion revealed a few folk inside enjoying fine food, but we pushed on to the Patterdale Hotel to see what they had to offer. The beer was OK but the place was eerily quiet and the food a tad pricey, so we supped up and went back to the Lion where we had good meals and fine beers. We had a good moan about all sorts of things, and Frank entertained us with his tales of climbing and of shagging. Mike's paddling-friend Phil joined us for some beers before we rolled back to the hostel for more chinwagging and to sample various breeds of alcohol before lights-out.

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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