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.