Walks in the Lake District – 2003

Great Gable by Barrie

Causey Pike and Scar Crags – Monday 15 December – as it was probably going to be our last walk of the year, we were hoping for good weather. We weren't disappointed – it was a perfect winter day with bright blue skies and sunshine, just beautiful! We were in Ambleside just after 9 intending to drive over Kirkstone Pass (we'd come the long way round by Windermere to see the superb views from Low Wood across to the Langdale Pikes) to do Place Fell. But we hadn't been further north than Dunmail Raise for a long time and while it makes it a longer journey, we decided to drive on and do Causey Pike and Scar Crags. It was a great decision and a perfect day. We parked by Stoneycroft Gill and set off up steep Rowling End it's a lovely twisty turny rocky path followed by a flattish stretch before the short sharp pull and scramble to the summit. The views were magnificent, words couldn't describe them so I won't even try! Causey Pike from Rowling End with Scar Crags to the left and Grisedale Pike to the right

It's a lovely summit and we ate lunch sheltering from the bitter wind. It was strange though – if you were out of the wind it was quite mild. We carried on to the slightly higher top of Scar Crags and then had to decide which way to return. We'd both been down the north way from Sail Pass which is a wide track down Stoneycroft Gill but neither of us had been down to Rigg B So that was the way we took and were glad we had. It's a straightforward path and slants down to join Rigg Beck from where it is a long walk back down the gill reaching the road at the purple house which to me, is now a more pleasant shade of lilac!! Then a short walk back along the road where we picked a couple of sprigs of holly complete with berries, so now I have my own bit of Cumbrian Christmas decoration. We were walking about five and a half hours at a very leisurely pace because it was just too good to rush Not that we ever do. And apart from three people in the distance and a few figures silhouetted on distant ridges, we saw no-one.

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A wet day in Mardale looking down to Haweswater

Small Water from Mardale and Dunmallet – Monday 1 December – the weather was leaving a lot to be desired as we drove along by Haweswater and arrived at Mardale Head at 9.15. It was very strange but not surpirsing to find ourselves the only people there – apart from the farmer setting off up the fells. The cloud was down well below the tops and we didn't want one of those walks where you can't see anything so decided to walk to Small Water and see if things improved. They didn't, but it was a lovely walk and worth it just to see how much water there was in the becks with some impressive waterfalls. And it was lovely to see Mardale so quiet.

After that, it only being lunchtime, we drove on through Askham to Pooley Bridge and after a quick look round the village decided we had enough energy to walk up Dunmallet. Dunmallet (Dunmallard on some maps and signposts) is the prominent wooded hill behind Pooley Bridge. It's only 775' and because of the trees there is no view from the summit. But because of the time of year, there were glimpses of Ullswater through the naked trees and we watched – and heard the tannoy – the steamer setting off back to Glenridding. And we still had time for a visit to Rheged! A lovely meal at the Maypole Inn at Long Preston to celebrate my promotion rounded off yet another super day in the Lakes.

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Holme Fell from Hodge Close – Sunday 16 November – a later start to the day and this time Sophie was with us. The good weather was with us too – it was a beautiful clear morning, perfect for walking. We were looking for a shortish walk but I wanted to be on the fells, not down below! Holme Fell just fitted the picture – it was the first walk Barrie and I did together 3 years ago and Sophie's first Wainwright in 5 years taking her total onto 117. We parked at Hodge Close and even from there the views, especially across to Wetherlam, were stunning. The route we took passes by a couple of pretty tarns which were originally small reservoirs for the quarries – now, they are a very pleasant place to sit and enjoy the beautiful surroundings.

One of the pretty tarns on Holme Fell

It's a lovely fell to wander about on and the summit is rocky set on slabs of naked rock. And a perfect walk for what we were looking that day. It was a circular route, which I always prefer, coming back down by Holme Ground. The old quarries at Hodge Close are very impressive too, but not a good place to stand on the edge of if you suffer from vertigo! We ate our tea by Yewdale Beck then a look at the shops in Coniston and another lovely day in the Lakes was over. But lots more happy memories to take home with us!

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Looking toward Hartsop from Dove Crag

Dove Crag, Hart Crag and Hartsop above How – Sunday 26 October – what a choice I had! A book fair at Buxton or a day in the Lakes. I'd only have spent lots of money if I'd chosen the book fair so naturally the Lakes won! The weather forecast was reasonable as well so by 10.30 we were parked at Cow Bridge car park at Brotherswater and setting off up beautiful Dovedale. It's a lovely level mile or so along the lake shore and into the valley before you cross Dovedale Beck with its waterfalls and sylvan beauty then start to climb toward the rugged grandeur of Dove Crag itself. There is a steep rocky stretch which passes under the awesome crag before you reach the open fell and are soon on the main Fairfield horseshoe ridge path. And for a while it got noticeably busier!

From Dove Crag summit it's only a short stroll and 350' of ascent to Hart Crag. We walk at a leisurely pace and stop many time to soak up the atmosphere and admire the views. We could have made it a longer walk and continued to Fairfield but knowing that most of the daylight would be gone by 5 we returned down the ridge of Hartsop above How. There's a steep scramble to get down off Hart Crag and the ridge of Hartsop above How looked long – but it's an easy path and it was lovely looking down into Dovedale and seeing where we'd walked earlier in the day. We were back at the car for 5.15 and even though it was dark, it was lovely sitting there with a welcome cuppa – it's always lovely, just being there.

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Old Man of Coniston, Brim Fell and Dow Crag – Monday 13 October – well, we managed to find some dry weather but as we drank our coffee in the car park on Walna Scar road we couldn't see the top of the Old Man and nearly changed our plans to go for something lower. But we decided to go for it as the forecast had said the cloud would lift later in the day. We took AW's favoured route which leaves the Walna Scar road by Boo Tarn – it's a steep start but much pleasanter than the usual main drag up through the quarries. We had our lunch at the summit with a view of practically nothing! A short stroll (when the clouds did lift briefly to give us a super view down to Low Water) and we were at Brim Fell summit – still no views!

Looking back to the summit of Dow Crag

From Brim Fell summit we cut down across the fell to Goat's Hause as the cloud lifted completely to give stunning views across to Dow Crag and further afield to Harter Fell, Eskdale and the Scafell range. From Goat's Hause it's only a short climb to the rocky summit of Dow Crag. It's a wonderful airy perch with views down the precipitous crags to Goat's Water. There are also impressive views down the vertical rifts of Easy Gully and Great Gully – not if you suffer from vertigo though! The ridge south from Dow Crag is easy walking passing over the lesser summits of Buck Pike and Brown Pike before reaching the Walna Scar road from where it was easy walking back to the car and a welcome cuppa. I'm glad we went for it – it was a great walk with impressive mountain scenery but nowhere too steep. And it was good as we walked along the Dow Crag ridge to look back across to the Old Man and see where we'd walked earlier. Another walk I can fully recommend.

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Short wet walk up Mickleden – Monday 29 September – well, as usual it's always lovely being in the Lake District whatever the weather but the weather this time was rather wet! But we managed a short walk from the Old Dungeon Gill car park up Mickleden to the sheepfold where the paths diverge, one going up steep Rossett Gill and the other continuing on over Stake Pass. But even in those conditions – it didn't rain all the time we were walking – it was good to sit and have our lunch in those impressive surroundings and feel the peace. A look round the shops in Grasmere and a visit to Hayes Garden Centre in Ambleside and then we headed home. But as I said, a trip to the Lakes is always enjoyable whatever the weather!

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Sheffield Pike and Glenridding Dodd via Seldom Seen – Monday 15 September – it was quite a while since we'd walked in the eastern part of the area and by 10.15 we were parked by Ullswater and setting off up through the trees to Seldom Seen (aptly named) and onto Sheffield Pike. It hadn't been our first choice but the cloud was well down and the higher hills were invisible but Sheffield Pike actually had the sun shining on it. The path follows the wall gently upwards and nowhere is it steep. Turning east at Nick Head it is only a short stroll to the summit. Wainwright didn't think much of the summit saying that 'even on a sunny summer day the top of the fell seems a dismal, cheerless place'. All I can say is that he must have been having a bad day! We were loth to leave it – there are lovely views all round and with some of the cloud having lifted, Helvellyn looked rather impressive.

Glenridding Dodd and Ullswater from the south east ridge of Sheffield Pike

We skirted Heron Crag and from the top of the impressive sounding south-east ridge looked down on our next summit, the diminutive looking Glenridding Dodd. It's a lovely path, a bit rocky and steep in places but with wonderful views down to Glenridding and the valley. It's only a short hop from the col to Glenridding Dodd summit (to get the best views over Ullswater you need to walk a bit further east of the summit). We decided to try the path to the north of the fell which would save us a couple of miles. It started off as a very clear path but soon disintegrated into a slippery fight through trees and high bracken. However, we were soon through it coming out into the daylight by the road at Stybarrow Crag. A swim in the lake for Sam and a short roadside walk and we were back at the car. Not a long or difficult walk at all but certainly a very pleasant one.

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Looking over Tilberthwaite Gill to the slopes of Wetherlam

Wetherlam via Tilberthwaite Gill – Tuesday 26 August – now while I can truthfully say I have enjoyed all my walks in the Lake District, obviously some are better than others. This was definitely one of the better ones! I've only been on Wetherlam once before and then it was from Walna Scar road via Levers Water and Swirl Hause – rather a long way. From the car park at Tilberthwaite quarry we took the path on the north side of the gill which starts behind the cottages at Low Tilberthwaite. It's a lovely path but soon turns east and onto the open fell. There are numerous old copper mine workings all over the fellside but most are fenced off. There are a couple of short steepish bits but a new path is being laid over the scree before Birk Fell Hause and then Wetherlam Edge is the final rocky scramble to the summit. The views from the summit are extensive all around – especially across to the Scafells – and while it was a bit cloudy, we could see to the distant Pennines and Morecambe Bay. Many lakes and tarns can be seen too.

From the summit we made our way south down Lad Stones joining the Tilberthwaite/Coniston path after about a mile which we followed back down the south side of Tilberthwaite Gill past the old quarry and back to the car park. It's a lovely walk of contrasting scenery – the sylvan beauty of Tilberthwaite Gill, the rocky Wetherlam Edge and lovely open fellside. Yet another walk I would love to do again sometime.

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Camping at Nether Wasdale – Sunday 3 August to Friday 8 August – and what a hot few days they were! But we weren't complaining! We decided if it was going to get too hot and uncomfortable for strenuous walking, we'd get a good walk done sooner rather than later. So Monday found us plodding up Brown Tongue and onto Scafell – to me, a much more interesting mountain than the higher Scafell Pike and quieter too. Our route this time was up the West Wall Traverse and Deep Gill which today was the coolest place to be and very welcome after the heat of Brown Tongue. Deep Gill is an impressive place to be, surrounded by awesome crags and the path is rocky but straightforward. There is a final steep slippery pull which brings you out into the open about 250 yards from the summit. We returned by Green How which we thought would be fairly easy but turned out to be steep and longer than expected – a loose scree path to start followed by grass but not pleasant on the knees at the end of a long hot walk. But ice creams from the Wasdale NT campsite soon revived us! Tuesday was a rest day with the morning in Gosforth and Seascale and spending the afternoon relaxing by Wastwater and enjoying a paddle.

Scafell Pinnacle and Pisgah from Deep Gill

The classic mountain view and Wastwater By Wednesday the mountains were beckoning again and we set off for Harter Fell starting from Jubilee Bridge at the bottom of Hardknott Pass (Eskdale end). The weather was slightly cooler and at times there was a pleasant breeze but the mist was hovering about and we didn't get the super views across to the Scafells that we'd hoped for. On Thursday we had a short walk to what AW describes as 'Lakeland's loveliest waterfall' at Stanley Gill – a very pleasant walk especially as most of it was in the shade.

And Friday we came home. We'd spent another enjoyable few days in the Lake District and while the weather had been a bit too hot for me, I certainly wasn't complaining!

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Helm Crag, Gibson Knott and Calf Crag from Grasmere – Monday 7 July – the plan had been Coniston Old Man and Dow Crag from Boo Tarn but as we drove north from Torver we couldn't even see them! The cloud was right down so we drove on to Grasmere where the only fell we could see clearly was Helm Crag – and that became Plan B. It was rather windy on the summit of Helm Crag (no, we didn't actually climb onto the highest spot) but after lunch sitting sheltered by rocks we carried down the slightly unpleasant and steep path to the col and on up Gibson Knott. It's a lovely ridge once you get on it and as the weather wasn't too bad we decided to carry on to Calf Crag and then return down Easedale.

It did rain – not heavily though – and the way back down Easedale seemed a lot longer than it actually was but even so, it was another enjoyable walk.

The Lion and the Lamb on Helm Crag

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Helvellyn, Catstycam and Striding Edge from Nethermost Pike

Helvellyn and Nethermost Pike from Wythburn – Monday 16 June – I've always liked starting from Wythburn because you soon get into the fells and even though it is steep to start with, the scenery is impressive and it soon becomes just a pleasant steady walk. It was warm walking though and we stopped many times to admire the views back down over Thirlmere and across to the western fells. Lunch was taken on Nethermost Pike where we watched the masses picking their way across Striding Edge. As usual, the summit of Helvellyn was pretty crowded so we continued on to Lower Man and made our way down over Browncove Crags to Swirls car park and very welcome ice creams.

The walk back along the forest track to Wythburn seemed to be neverending and after a long hot walk not as pleasant as it should have been. But the weather had been perfect, the walking had been for the most part easy and another wonderful day in the Lake District had been thoroughly enjoyed.

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WAINWRIGHT 214 – MELLBREAK – Thursday 29 May – and what a marvellous day it was. It was also my birthday and the 50th anniversary of Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing reaching the summit of Everest! The weather promised to be on our side too and we were on the road by 6.45am and having bacon butties at Braithwaite campsite just after 9am. We parked at Loweswater near the Kirkstile Inn and set off up the steep scree path on the north side of Mellbreak – taking our time as it had turned into a warm and sticky day. Mellbreak from near the Kirkstile Inn, Loweswater
Liz and Barrie on Mellbreak summit, Liz's 214th Wainwright

And I had some lovely surprises from Barrie at the summit – my favourite tipple of Tia Maria, an engraved medal and a lovely 'Congratulations' card. We carried on toward Scale Knott and made our way down to the shore of Crummock Water following the rather wet path back along the lakeside. It was a super fell to finish my Wainwright round on – and perhaps now I'll start them all again!

Refreshing cold drinks with friends at Loweswater and a lovely meal at the Maypole at Long Preston completed a really super day and one I shall never forget.

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Short walk from Kirkstone Pass – Monday 5 May – a later start to the day and unsettled weather found us (plus Sophie) having a varied day out starting with a flea market at Gargrave followed by a craft fair at Ingleton. The weather started to brighten and early afternoon found us parked at the top of Kirkstone Pass where we had a short walk along St Raven's Edge. A visit to the National Trust properties of Town End at Troutbeck and Sizergh Castle rounded off a varied, but again, very pleasant day.

Sophie and Liz on St Raven's Edge above Kirkstone Pass

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Seatallan from Caw Fell

Camping at Nether Wasdale – 14– 18 April – we couldn't have picked a better few days to be there – the weather was beautiful and the campsite was nearly deserted. A long walk the first day (9 hours but at a very leisurely pace) saw 3 of my remaining 7 Wainwrights done – Buckbarrow, Seatallan and Caw Fell. The weather was perfect for walking, sunny but with a pleasant breeze. Two pints of Guinness as we recovered later sitting outside the pub and a lovely meal back at the tent rounded off a lovely but exhausting day.

The next day dawned just as pleasant and while we had intended having a leisurely touristy day, it was too good to miss so we headed off to Loweswater and Hen Comb. It turned into a very hot and sticky walk but the views were good and the sky was blue and I got another Wainwright done – only 3 to do now. The photo on the right is of Mosedale Beck where we stopped to cool down on our return and Sam had a long swim.

And at 8.30 it was still warm enough to sit outside the pub to eat our meal. Just beautiful.

Mosedale Beck below Hen Comb
Mellbreak, my final Wainwright, from Starling Dodd

Thursday dawned as another beautiful day! The campsite was slowly starting to build up for the Easter holiday and we couldn't stay after Friday so decided to make another walking day of it. We parked at the large car park at Bowness Knott by Ennerdale Water and set off for Great Borne and Starling Dodd. It was a hot walk and a windy one too – we could hardly stand on the summit of Starling Dodd which was a shame as the views toward the Pillar group and Great Gable were stunning. A walk back along the lake shore (and a swim for Sam) with a lovely cooling breeze ended another pleasant day.

We couldn't have picked better weather – it was more like July than April – and I got 6 of my remaining 7 Wainwrights done. And one of my favourite memories is sitting outside the tent in the evening watching the moon come up over the Wastwater screes and listening to the owls hooting. Just beautiful!

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Pike O'Blisco – Monday 24 March – the usual unsettled weather was with us as we parked just beyond the Three Shires Stone but it wasn't raining so off we set up one of my favourite paths – I love it when you can leave the car and be straight onto the fells. There is an electric fence now with stiles to climb – an after effect of the Foot and Mouth epidemic of 2 years ago. Low cloud stayed with us and turning right just beyond Red Tarn we were completely enveloped in it – it's quite a spooky feeling when you can't see more than 20 feet around you yet know that you're surrounded by mountains. The low cloud was still with us as we reached the summit but suddenly cleared to give stunning views into Langdale and across to the Pikes.

As we made our way back down the rocky path to Red Tarn we watched some interesting cloud formations on Crinkle Crags and some sunshine accompanied us rounding off another pleasant walk in the Lake District.

Great Knott and Crinkle Crags from Pike O'Blisco

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Place Fell and Ullswater from Gowbarrow Fell

Gowbarrow Fell – Monday 10 March – the weather again wasn't promising but I wanted to be up on the tops again and it was a toss up between Sheffield Pike and Gowbarrow Fell with Gowbarrow winning. We parked at the NT car park at Aira Force and set off up the steep grassy path to the ridge – it soon becomes a gentle ramble and if you detour to the east the views over Ullswater are more extensive. We made straight for the windy summit (it was just as windy the last time I was there) then found the path which contours the side of the fell and is mostly level and takes you right back to the start of the walk. It's a delightful path skirting small ravines and crags with some of the best views over Ullswater.

The rain held off until the final stretch – it looked very threatening over St Sunday Crag and to the west. While shopping in Ambleside later we found out they'd had a short but spectacular thunderstorm.

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High Rigg from Legburthwaite – Monday 17 February – it had been quite a while since I'd been north of Dunmail Raise and this time the weather was on our side – cold but a brilliant blue sky and perfect for walking. It's a lovely and easy ascent winding through the trees and the views all round on reaching the ridge were stunning even though it was hazy to the south. We took our time along the ridge and ate lunch sheltering below the summit looking across to Blencathra and Skiddaw. The descent to the church is steep but short and though the sun was warm we knew it would be a different matter in the shade so decided to take the track to the west of the fell and stay in the sun – a good decision, I think. On High Rigg looking north to Skiddaw

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Snowy scene near Settle, North Yorkshire

Grasmere (shops) and Coniston (shops) – Monday 3 February – another not very pleasant day weatherwise – this time, snow! We didn't walk far at all apart from the car to the shops – and ending up spending more than I should have done buying a lovely Paramo Teiga fleece.

But whatever the weather it's always lovely to be in the Lake District and to see it in all its moods so once again, I have no complaints – it was a lovely day. The photo, however, was taken in Yorkshire on the way back near Settle.

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What to do on a rainy day in the Lake District! – Monday 20 January – it was going to be another of those wet wet days but we were determined to make the most of it and not spend all day in the shops! We parked first in an empty NT car park at New Dungeon Ghyll and walked up Stickle Ghyll – an impressive sight after all the rain. The photo doesn't do it justice – pity I can't put on the sound effects of the water thundering down the ghyll. We went as far as the footbridge, took several more photos then decided to have a short walk somewhere else – always the chance that the weather might improve.

And it did improve – not brilliant sunshine but it stayed dry. After a quick stop in Grasmere we parked at Pelter Bridge, Rydal and walked to the big cave returning by the lake shore. Nothing strenuous but two walks in one day after such an unpromising start – I wasn't complaining!

Stickle Ghyll in spate

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Updated 30 April 2015