So here we are in the midst of evening, post-work walking season and I’m not doing as well as I would like to, what with one thing and another – dodgy knee for a while, non-existent summer, various other commitments – conspiring to keep me safely at home. Here’s some photos though from an occasion when I did get out one evening in mid-May. I almost sabotaged the event before it got properly started however – I had, as usual when the opportunity presents itself, thrown some gear and a selection of maps into the boot of the car the night before. I generally take maps of the South Lakes, the Forest of Bowland, the Western Yorkshire Dales and the Howgills. That way I can jump into the car after work and head where the fancy takes me. On this occasion it took me to Tebay; I wanted to repeat a walk I did many moons ago on the western edge of the Howgills and enjoy a picnic tea on Fell Head high above the Tebay gorge. At Tebay I parked briefly to check the map and decide whereabouts I should park along the Fairmile Road. It was then that I discovered that I’d packed all the maps I’d intended to, and even one extra stowaway, except for the Howgill map I needed. I was a trifle annoyed with myself. Soon I was driving again, this time along the A685 towards Kendal, trying to work out how to salvage something from the evening. I stopped in a large layby, I can’t remember why now, and found an access map on a information board:
With this handy map stored away on my camera I was well equipped for a little outing up Grayrigg Forest I thought – especially since I could see a route to the top from the layby. The evening was saved!
The route of ascent was really pretty obvious – follow the slight ridge which separates Little Coum and Great Coum….
…giving a nice steady climb away from the gorge, surprisingly dry underfoot.
Lying outside the National Park, Grayrigg Forest doesn’t appear in either Wainwright’s or Birkett’s lists of Lakeland Fells, but it is really rather magnificent. It is a Marilyn – so it provides some reward for the dedicated list-ticker.
Where the ridges which enclose Little Coum meet there’s a smattering of cairns….
Even at this relatively modest altitude there was a surprisingly cool breeze blowing so I chose a sheltered spot to have my picnic and brew.
Grayrigg Forest summit – looking South: Arnside Knott and the Kent Estuary visible on the horizon (just about).
I’ve climbed Grayrigg Forest once before, many years ago. It stands above Borrowdale to the north and I walked a round of the lower end of the valley, starting with Grayrigg Forest, following the ridge to Combs Hollow and then returning via the ridge to the north of Borrowdale, culminating on Jeffrey’s Mount. It was a fine day which sticks in my mind principally because of the bird-watching it provided – I saw a number of stonechats and, I’m pretty certain, even though it seems unlikely, a single red kite, presumably one of the reintroduced population from Harewood over in Yorkshire.
Grayrigg Forest summit – looking West towards the Scafells and the Coniston Fells.
Rather than retrace my steps to the car, I decided to follow the northern ridge down to Birk Knott. A gateway would, I was sure, present an opportunity to cross the wall and then I could drop directly back to the gate from the road by which I’d entered the access land. Except a gate never did materialise. I followed the wall further and further northward and down into Borrowdale, eventually meeting a cross wall which took me down to the stream west of Birk Knott. Not to worry – there was plenty of light available to extend the walk. And if I hadn’t diverted I may never have spotted this neat little nest…
…belonging to a meadow pipit I think.
One to remember if you need a quick and quiet outing cheek-by-jowl with the M6.