Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Tarn Crag and Sergeant Man from Grasmere

After a long drive up the M6 motorway, I eventually arrived in Grasmere at around 11 am. The sun was shinning as I sat outside a tea shop to have a drink and study the route I was going to take. I was still undecided at how I was going to get from Easedale Tarn to Tarn Crag as there didn't seem to be an obvious path.

After I finished my brew I set off up the narrow road towards Easedale. Just before taking the path to Easedale Tarn I stopped to take some photographs of Helm Crag which seemed to be towering up in front of me at that point.

I crossed the footbridge over a fast flowing stream under the shade of some trees. The path then opened up as I passed through farm fields before starting to climb beside Sourmilk Gill.

Sour Milk Gill

The path wound it way up throught the braken slopes over rocky sections, and at one point passed close to the waterfall with its foaming white water. I pressed on up to the tarn where I got a fantastic view of Tarn Crag.

Tarn Crag

I crossed the stream where it flowed out of the tarn and made my way up the slopes on the other side. It was hard going through the bracken, but I eventually got to the top of the ridge just before the final ascent to tarn crag.

I headed for the summit on the left to begin with. I remember reading in Wainwrights Central Fells that this offered a good view down to the tarn - which it did.

Easedale Tarn

After taking the photo's of the summit cairn and view down to the Easedale Tarn, I made my way over to main summit where I sat down to have some lunch. The views from here were amazing. In one direction I was looking across Far Easedale, over the Gibbson Knott ridge between Helm Crag and Calf Crag. I could see Steel Fell behind, and the Helvellyn range behind that. The photograph that I took does not capture the full openess of the view which I found inspiring. In the other direction I was looking across Codale Tarn and over the ridge to Pavey Ark and the Langdale Pikes. Another great view to see.

Helm CragFar Easedale Ridge

There were also some great views of the Vale of Grasmere and Lake Windermere.

View of Windermer in distanceVale of Grasmere

From Tarn Crag I head up towards Codale Head and then on to Sergeant Man.

Harrison Stickle

This is the view from the summit of Sergeant Man looking towards Pavey Ark and Harrison Stickle.

I could also see over towards Great Gable.

Great Gable in distance

After stopping a while at Sergeant Man summit, I made my way down to Easedale Tarn on the direct path; then back to Grasmere.

Grasmere Village

Saturday, 11 July 2009

High Street

This was my first Lake District Walk of 2008. Apart from a short walk to Helm Crag the previous year, it was also the first walk that I did since Scafell Pike in 2006. After a pleasant drive over the Kirkstone Pass, I dropped down into the Patterdale Valley and parked in a layby close to Brothers Water.

I walked a short distance back along the main road before turning up a narrow lane which headed up to the small village of Hartsop. After crossing the stream I headed into the Pasture Beck valley between Hartsop Dodd on my right and the impressive ridge of Gray Crag to my left. The weather at this point was warm and sunny and the walk up to the head of the valley was very agreeable. Here the valley head was a steep rocky cove which I found suprisingly tiring to ascend. I think I had forgotten how strenuous fell walking in Lakeland could be. At the top of the climb I reached the ridge joining Stoney Cove Pike to Thornthwaite Crag. After a brief rest I headed east which involved an even steeper climb up a rocky slope towards Thornthwaite Crag. Although tiring, the scenery around here was fantastic.

When I eventually reached the top of the climb, I made my way across to the Summit Beacon at Thornthwaite Crag. To my right was the ridge that lead to Ill Belle where I had walked from Kentmere in 2006. Today though I was going to the long dome-like ridge of High Street. The view across from the Beacon was most dramatic, and I was pleasantly suprised at how magnificent the fell of High Street was. I followed the path which descended slightly before making a moderate climb onto the High Street ridge. The main path would have bypassed the summit so part way along I turn off and made my way up the gentle climb to the summit where I sat down to eat lunch admirring the fantastic view. At this point the sky which had started to look quite gloomy, brough a light shower of rain. This did not affect visibility or the great view across towards the Helvellyn range of fells that seemed so inspiring as I sat on the remains of a part fallen stone wall looking across the Patterdale Valley.

I would have loved to have stopped at the summit longer, but had to leave this special place as time was pressing on. I followed the wall as it it slopped downwards to the Straights of Riggendale. To my right there were some fantastic views down the valleys leading to Haweswater. Past the Straight there was a junction of ridges leading in different directions. I headed north east back towards Hartsop. Before I descended though I climbed a small hillock know as the Knott to look back along the High Street ridge. A stunning view well worth the small climb.

From here the path descended to the reservoir of Hayeswater before heading back down the valley to Hartsop and then back to the layby near Brothers Water. This had been a most enjoyable walk.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Windermere Swim

Last year I was lucky enough to stay at Ambleside Youth Hostel on the banks of Lake Windermere at Waterhead (see Windermere Map for location). There is a fantastic view from the grounds YHA right across the lake to the western shore. After my evening meal on the our day of arrival there were a number of fellow guests swimming - some practicing for Windermere's Great Northern Swim that was due to be held later on in the summer.

Since the grounds of the Youth Hostel bordered the Lake I descided to take a swim in Windermere myself. My main concern was how cold it was going to be, but once I was in and started to swim it didn't feel too bad at all - although I wasn't complacent about the possibility of getting cramp due to the waters temperature. The water seemed very still and calm as I set out towards the center of the Lake, much easier to swim in than a crowded swimming pool where water splashes up into my face. Being able to swim at my own pace seemed really relaxing.

Towards the centre of the Lake I passed relatively close to a man in a rowing boat stood up fishing. Further on I floated on my back to rest my arms. I could see the Fairfield Horseshoe over to my left. Normally I only get to see it from this view point when I am comming back to Ambleside on the Windermere Ferry. It seemed much more satisfying seeing it from in the water! I pressed on untill I reached the far side of the Lake, not far from where the River Rothay enters Windermere.

I climbed half way out onto the rock before pushing myself off for the return journey. I could hear voices travelling across the Lake from the Youth Hostel and from the pub gardens at Waterhead. It was a warm still summers evening and everything seemed very peaceful. As I pressed on the Hostel got closer and I could hear some music being played by a group of people in the grounds. Eventually I arrived back. It had been a remarkable experience. I hope I will be lucky enough to do it again one day soon.

Friday, 17 April 2009

Langdale Pikes and Pavey Ark - Summer 2008

I started this walk from the New Dungeon Inn in Great Langdale. Driving into the valley earlier in the morning, I could see a cloud hanging over the Langdale Pikes just below Stickle Tarn. By the time I had parked and set off walking, this had dispersed and the previously wet sky was now relatively clear.

I followed the path up beside Mill Gill, crossing over to the eastern bank part way up. The path was steep and became rocky the further up I got. Eventually I decided to cross over again to the western bank stepping over the rocks in the stream. I was near the top now, and could see the dam that contained Stickle Tarn in the hanging valley above.

Arriving at the top of the climb, I caught my first glimpse (on this walk at least) of Pavey Ark. It was an amazing view across Stickle Tarn, something that, in the words of Wainwright "...bursts upon the eye with dramatic effect". I sat on the east bank of Stickle Tarn for a while admiring the view as I rested from the climb.

Reluctantly I set off for my next destination which was Sergeant Man. This involved walking alongside the east bank to the far end of the tarn where I started the ascent out of Stickle Tarns hanging valley. I passed the turn off for Pavey Ark's North Rake which I was very much tempted to take. It looked like rather an exciting climb to its summit. I carried on, however, across the grassy slopes as they took me closer to the ridge that joined Blea Rigg with Sergeant Man. When I reached this point it was just a short climb to the west to reach Sergeant Man's summit. This is quite a facinating area of raised rock surrounded by grassy flat land. I sat there for a while looking across Pavey Ark and the Langdale Pikes towards the Coniston Fells. It was an inspiring view.

High Raise was my next destination. So I set off across the flat moorland that gradually sloped upward towards the summit shelf. It didn't take long to reach High White Stones which was one of the summit areas. The view across to Honister Pass was quite dramatic. There was also a great view over towards Bow Fell to the south. I walked a little further north easterly to reach the main summit of High Raise which wasn't quite as summit-like as High White Stones, but did provide excellent views over towards the Helvellyn Range.

Next I headed south towards the Langdale Pikes. The ground dropped down before rising to Thunacar Knott which I passed on the north side to reach the summit of Pavey Ark where I stopped to have lunch overlooking Stickle Tarn. I then followed the path which skirted the top of the ridge that led to Harrison Stickle. As I approached the climb to this fell, I looked back to the rock face of Pavey Ark. It was an awe inspiring being there between these two classic Wainwright fells. They just seemed so gigantic. It was an amazing experience.

I made the climb to Harrison Stickle summit where I admired the views all around. As I looked back to Pavey Ark I could just make out people ascending by Jack's Rake as well as climbers on the crags. After a while I descended to the mashy land where the path crosses the Dungeon Gill before it makes its descent down the ravine between Thorn Crag and Harrison Stickle. I headed over to the Pike of Stickle, the second highest of the Langdale Pikes. This involved a scramble to reached the top, but wasn't too difficult. The view across to Bow Fell and up the valley towards Great End was fantastic.

Reluctantly I came back down and headed back towards Thorn Crag where I was going to make the descent to the valley below. I would leave Loft Crag for another day. I remember that the descent back down the New Dungeon Gill provided great views of the Pike of Blisco. It was a fantastic day.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Scafell Pike August 2006

I started this walk from the free car park at Wasdale Head after a long journey though the lake district via the Hardknott Pass. The weather was overcast and cloudy, but early on in the walk it was above the tops of the fells. My route to Scafell Pike started up the Moses Trod path that took me up the side of Great Gable toward Sty Head. Looking up I could see Napes Needle with wisps of cloud blowing across as I ascended the rock strewn path.

At Sty Head I took the path between the cliffs of Great End and Sprinkling Tarn to reach Esk Hause. When I looked back towards Styhead from higher up the path, Great Gable was now covered in cloud. When I reached Esk Hause I stopped for some lunch and watched the cloud pour over the ridge between Great End and Ill Crag. The top of this ridge was obscured in cloud, which then blew across the valley of upper Eskdale to my left.

I set off along the path which took me onto the cloud covered ridge, where visibility was severely limited by the mist. Towards the top of the ridge, the path disappeared as I crossed the boulder strewn plateau, relying on the stone cairns for navigation. The terrain here was extremely tough to cross.

The ground dropped to a col before rising again to traversing the boulders of Broad Crag. The path bypassed the summit of this crag by a relatively short distance, but the terrain and conditions did not make this additional ascent seem very appealing at that time. The ground then fell away steeply to another col where it then made the final ascent to Scafell Pike summit.

The ground here climbed steeply over loose rocks and stones before leveling out. The summit cairn came into view, and I headed over. I had eventually made it to Scafell Pike. Although I had passed many people along the ridge and through the cols, the summit itself was almost deserted. I climbed the steps of the cairn structure to reflect on what it was like being on the highest ground in England. For a short time I had the Cairn all to myself. Cloud and mist was all around. Just then it seemed to brighten up slightly, and I hoped it was going to clear. But unfortunately it didn't, and I could not see anything further than the plateau of the summit around me.

Reluctantly I left this amazing area, and head down towards Mickledore. The weather had been more or less dry up to this point, but just then started to pour down heavily. This was possibly the heaviest rain that I have ever experienced in my life. Despite this, it seemed to just make the walk more special. When I reached Mickledore, the rain seemed to ease off, and I stood talking to a walker watching the clouds swirl around the rocks of Broad Stand. I will always remember looking up at those towering cliffs in the middle of this wild weather.

As I climbed down the scree slopes below Mickledore I caught a glimpse of Waste Water through a tunnel like opening in the clouds. Eventually I dropped out of the cloud altogether around Hallow Stones, and the day had turned rather sunny. I looked back towards Mickledore but could not tell whether the Stormy weather was still going on, or had completely passed across Upper Eskdale. There was certainly some cloud about, but it was difficult to believe that I had experienced such stormy condition no more than half an hour before.

I followed the path down to Brown Tongue where I crossed Lingmell Gill. Shortly after I turned off the main path, and headed north across the lower slopes of Lingmell back down to Wasdale Head where I had started this 'tour' of Scafell Pike. It was the last lakeland walk that I did that year, and it seemed particularly special, like all the other walks had led up to it. The walk was an amazing experience, and I hope to return there again.

Friday, 20 February 2009

Bowfell & Esk Pike from Great Langdale July 2006

I started this walk from the car park near the New Dungeon Gill Hotel. As I set off along the path toward the Old Dungeon Ghyll, I looked up to the Langdale Pikes. I remember thinking how interesting this area looked and how I wanted to return to do this walk some other time. My destination today, however, was the magnificent Bowfell. I could see Bowfell in the distance further down the valley. It looked rather spectacular along with Crinkle Crags.

Once I reached the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel I walked past the car park then onto the road before joining a farm track leading to The Band. After walking through the farm yard I came to the junction in the path where I could turn off to The Band, or continue to Oxendale Beck. Taking the turn off for The Band, I started the long ascent up the ridge leading to the col between Bowfell and Crinkle Crags. As the land rose the views across to the Gills running down from The Pike of Blisco and Crinkle Crags, impressive channels cut into the fell side.

The path up Band is predominantly on the southern side of the ridge. There is one point in the ascent, however, where the path rises onto a flat part of the ridge where there are good views over to its northern side overlooking the Langdale Pikes, and the Pike of Stickle in particular. As I continued, though, the wall of the ridge rose on my right hand side as it joined with the southern crags of Bowfell itself. I followed the curve in the path around under these crags as it rose to the col at Three Tarns.

From here I turned right to ascend the main mass of Bowfell up a steep rocky Gully. As the land levelled out onto a plateau, I could see the rugged peak of Bowfell rising over to my left. I followed the short path leading off up to the summit where I sat down on a rock to eat my lunch and observe the view all around. Bowfell summit is 902 meters and gives views into multiple valleys separated by high fells. As I sat there eating my sandwich I found myself looking for the Langdale valley from where I had ascended. There was something quite disorientating about not being able to see this huge valley straight away. The view on to the west was truly outstanding. I could see the whole of the Scafell range unobscured. My attention was drawn to Mickledore and Broad Stand with it's vertical cliffs. Once again I thought how much I would like to visit those fells.

From Bowfell summit I set off across the ridge towards Esk Pike. I passed the northern edge of Bowfell on my right and descended down into a dip in the ridge before making a relatively gentle ascent to the rocky summit of Esk Pike. I continued passed without stopping as the path fell away suddenly on it's far side, descending to Esk Hause. This was a flat plateau between the base of Esk Pike and Great End. In the middle of this area there was a crossroads where five footpaths met. One of these went up onto the Scafell Pike ridge. Although my next destination was back towards Angle Tarn and then down to Great Langdale, I went down the path which is used as a short cut by walkers ascending Scafell Pike from Grains Gill in Borrowdale. When I came to the path going down towards Sprinkling Tarn I got a great view of Great Gable across Sty Head. Turning right, however, I walked up to the shelter below Allen Crags and realised that I had just taken a very long route from Esk Hause, adding on about 20 minutes to my walk. It did, however, provide an inspiring view of Great Gable that was certainly worth seeing.

From here the path descended and then rose over a brow before descending once again to Angle Tarn below the Bowfell to Esk Pike ridge. A very scenic Tarn. The path then rose to the gap between Rossett Pike this ridge. At the top of this rise, the path then dropped sharply down Rossett Gill to the valley floor of Mickleden. I followed the path beside the Mickleden Beck underneath the Pike of Stickle to the Old Dungeon Gill Hotel. It was then just a short distance back to the New Dungeon Gill where I had parked my car.

Helvellyn via Striding Edge July 2006

I started this walk from the village car park at Patterdale. I headed down the main road turning left up a lane just before the stream. The lane headed upwards passing through woods before reaching the open valley. Crossing the bridge over the stream, the path started to traverse the lower slopes of Birkhouse Moor. It had started to rain at this point, and the summits of the Helvellyn range of fells were covered in cloud.

It seemed a long haul up this path before reaching the "gap-in-the-wall". This was a stile at the top of the ridge joining Birkhouse Moor with Striding Edge and the summit plateau of Helvellyn itself. From here I got a good view of Red Tarn, Swirral Edge and Catstycam as I passed the gap in the wall and headed towards Striding Edge. I made the mistake of taking the path which bypassed the top of Low Spying How at the start of the ridge walk. As such I ended up missing some impressive parts of the ridge. It was not until I reached the middle of Striding Edge that I actually scrambled onto the top of the ridge itself. It was still very wet and misty as I progressed along. Before long I approached the far end of the ridge and the final ascent onto Helvellyn itself. As I waited to descend the rock chimney at the end of the ridge, I got chance to look around. Although it was misty I could see the steep ascent of Helvellyn ahead of me which looked awesome, and to my left I looked down into a misty Nethermost Cove. Once I descended the chimney, I started the scramble up to the summit plateau of Helvellyn. This was very steep and the loose rocks made the going somewhat difficult. The mist got thicker as I ascended.

Once at the top I made my way past the summit shelter and looked for the summit cairn in thick mist. After I found it, I returned to the shelter to eat some lunch. Because of the mist there were only fleeting glimpses of what would have been spectacular views towards the east over Ullswater. However, on the western side of Helvellyn, the weather was starting to clear, and I could see something of the central fells.

My next destination was Grisedale Tarn on the other side of Dollywaggon Pike. As I set off I noticed the cloud swirling above Nethermost Cove. The weather on the east of the main Helvelyn ridge was considerably different to that on the west which continued to brighten up. The path bypassed the actual summits of Nethermost Pike and Dollywaggon Pike, but not by far. In retrospect, they would have certainly been worth a visit. By the time I reached the zig zag path going down to Grisedale Tarn, the weather had completely cleared all around. It had turned into a sunny day, although there was still a strong wind.

I had not yet decided on my route back to Patterdale. It would have been easy for me to take the direct route down the Grisedale valley, but in the end I chose to walk around the tarn and ascend Fairfield returning via St Sunday Crag. It was a steep climb to the summit of Fairfield and my legs just about took me up after plenty of rests on the ascent. When I reached the plateau on the top, the views all around were very rewarding on what was now a bright fine day.

I descended the north east ridge towards Cofa Pike which involved some light scrambling. At Deepdale Hause the ridge started to rise again to St Sunday Crag. The view across the eastern side of the Helvellyn range was quite spectacular. The Striding Edge ridge was now completely clear. The north wind felt almost gale force though, with strong gusts, one of which nearly ripped the glasses off my head.

The climb to St Sunday Crag along this brilliant ridge seemed never ending due to the fatigue which I was feeling. It was a fascinating fell to which I would like to return one day soon. Eventually I reached the summit, and began the descent towards Birks and then down into Patterdale where I had began my walk. Once down in the valley there was no gale force wind which I had experienced near Deepdale Hause. The weather was now bright and warm like a typical July day. There was no suggestion of the wet windy conditions earlier in the day.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Kentmere - Yoke - Ill Bell - Froswick - Mardale Ill Bell. April 2006

After my last walk on Great Gable, I wanted to try something easier; something less of a climb or scramble. The fells around Kentmere seemed a good choice. In addition to being a easy place to drive too, the fells around that area, although high, are much more gentle compared to the same steep gradient of Great Gable.

After finding somewhere to park in a field near the village, I set off towards the Garburn Pass which would take me to the top of a ridge. This was a nice gentle track which gained height gradually. After half an hour of walking I reached the summit of the pass, where I got a fantastic view down into the Troutbeck Valley with Wansfell on the far side. I turned off the stoney track, and headed north over peaty ground which eventually turned into a path along the ridge.

The first summit I reached was Yoke. I pressed on. The path went downwards, loosing considerable height before rising again to the summit of Ill Bell. This was a facinating fell with two summit Cairns. I eat my lunch here looking south where I got a great view of Lake Windermere. On the other side of the valley to the west, there was a clear view of Red Screes.

After lunch I continued north. The height of the ridge descended, loosing height, before once again rising to the summit of Froswick. Looking back I got a great view of Ill Bell which I had just left around fifteen minutes earlier.

After Froswick the ridge started to merge with High Street range of fells at the head of the Kentmere valley. I decided to follow the contour around towards Mardale Ill Bell. I later regretted not paying High Street summit a visit. It would have added at least another hour onto the walk, but I am sure it would have been worth it. I was new to this area at that time, so this is just something that I have learnt with experience.

The path took me round to the ridge that joined Mardale Ill Bell with Harter Fell. At the shelter I looked down to the small tarn on the north side of the ridge. It was very picturesque. However, I was heading down the path on the opposite side
of the ridge back towards Kentmere.

From here I could see Kentmere Reservoir and the Ill Bell ridge that I had walked along earlier in the day. The path descended steeply at first and then started to level out slightly. I noticed that there were loose rocks of marble scattered here and there. Eventually the path became a low level walk and joined with a tarmac lane after passing some picturesque country scenery. I followed this lane back into Kentmere.