‘Killing two birds with one stone’ is not only a favourite saw of mine, but at work virtually a modus operandi. If I can achieve two targets at the same time, or use an unwelcome initiative to promote my own agenda, then so much the better. Unusually, on Sunday, I managed to adopt a similar tactic away from work, by combining a third Wainwright bagging trip with X-Ray and a fifth walk along the Kent. (Previous trips are recorded here and here respectively.)
We parked in Kentmere near to an incongruously sited factory, crossed the river and wandered downstream to the attractive Sawmill cottage. From a footbridge over the mill stream we watched a heron in the shallow margins of the river – which after the precedent of the red deer in Grasmere last time out, maintains the record of our best wildlife encounter in the first few minutes of the walk. The mill stream is Park Beck and our route would take us uphill parallel to that stream before a round of the horseshoe watershed which Park Beck drains. We followed a good bridleway, soon snowy in places. We were overtaken by two pairs of mountain bikers, although they weren’t really making much faster progress than us. Through the day we would see several more bikers on this and other bridleways – clearly a popular area. Fords over Black Beck and twice Park Beck had excellent stepping-stones which made them easier for us than for the cyclists. After the second ford we left the bridleway and struck off following a very faint path, obscured by snow, up the slopes of Capple Howe.
There was a total cloud cover, but the cloud was high and the views very extensive – to the Coniston Fells and Black Combe in the west, Windermere, Morecambe Bay and the Forest of Bowland in the South, the Howgills and beyond to the east, and more immediately, to the north the fells of the Kentmere Horseshoe.
Capple Howe is a decidedly insignificant pimple, but although it isn’t a Wainwright, it is a Birkett – so another box ticked. I was reminded about Birketts reading Mike’s account of ‘Squelching Around the Dodds’, and once reminded remembered that I have Bill Birketts book ‘Complete Lakeland Fells’. Yet another list of hills, just as arbitrary as Wainwright’s it has the advantage of having 541 hills – or many more excuses for messing about in the fells.
From Capple Howe its a very short climb onto Sour Howes with several knobbly tops. We decided that the middle knobble was highest.
Sour Howes Knobbles with…….in the background? (Could be Red Screes?)
I was surprised that on the short walk round to Sallows, our highest ‘peak’ of the day at an unimpressive 516m, we met several other walkers. There was more snow than this photo suggests and some patches of older snow were frozen pretty hard. Since X-Ray doesn’t own any crampons and I generally walk in glorified trainers these days, we felt justified in our decision to stick to low, gentle lumps for today’s walk.
Looking back to Sour Howes from Sallows.
Sallows – the obligatory summit photo. (I forgot to take one on Sour Howes or Capple Howe.)
Blog product placement – X-Ray angles for a sponsorship deal from New Balance.
Our descent route followed a series of grouse butts…
…and briefly the sun even made an appearance, although this soon transpired to be a bit of kidology on the part of the weather which was soon to take a turn for the worse. The proliferation of hill lists makes our modest round sound a little more impressive – two Wainwrights and three Birketts bagged. And a pleasant saunter down the valley still to come (in another post).