Hardknott and Tongue Pot.

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Eskdale.

I enticed B out for a walk using the lure of Tongue Pot; he’s been campaigning for a return ever since his first visit, which was five summers ago. How time flies! My side of the deal was that he had to climb a hill with me first. We parked on the big section of grass verge just west of Brotherikeld Farm (you can make out the parked cars in the photo above) and then set off toward the Hardknott Pass, soon leaving the road for the path which cuts across to the remains of the Roman Fort.

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Arriving at Hardknott Roman Fort.

B has visited the fort once before, when we climbed Harter Fell with old friend X-Ray and came down via Horsehow Crags and Demming Crag (Birketts which needed ticking off, of course), which, astonishingly, was twelve summers ago. How time flies!

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Beyond the wall: Horsehow Crags and Demming Crag.
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Inside the fort. Border End beyond.
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The Roman Fort.
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The Roman Fort.

We left the fort on a path heading towards the pass – I guess the old Roman road.

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The pass, the fort and Eskdale.

By the time we hit the road, it was very hot. Fortunately, from the top of the pass it was only a very short climb to the Birkett of Border End, which turned out to be one of those Birketts which is well worth a visit, with superb views and nobody else about.

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On Border End, looking to the Scafells.
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On Border End: Esk Pike, Bowfell, Crinkle Crags and Hard Knott.
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Border End panorama.
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Border End summit.

As we dropped away from the top of Border End I noticed this moth on the ground.

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Garden Tiger Moth?

I think it’s a Garden Tiger, although it’s quite a way from any gardens. The wings usually seem to look more cream than yellow and the spots can vary in shape, but the general pattern looks right.

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Garden Tiger Moth?

Since the moth was dead, I could and should have looked at the underwings which should have been a spectacular red, but unfortunately that didn’t occur to me at the time.

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A view down on to Eskdale Needle.

I’d read that Border End has a good view of Eskdale Needle, and it does, although you may have to open a flickr copy of the photo above and zoom it to see it. One day I’ll have to come this way and drop down to have a proper look.

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Yew Bank Crag panorama.

The tarn on Hard Knott was choked with reeds and looked extremely shallow, I soon dismissed any idea I’d had of an early dip there.

We diverted off the path to take in the rocky knoll of Yew Bank, another Birkett (and a Tump and a Synge apparently). Dropping slightly below the summit gave absolutely superb views of the hills and crags around Upper Eskdale and of the Esk and Lingcove Beck.

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Slightside, Scafell, Mickledore, Scafell Pike, Broad Crag, Ill Crag, Great End. The river Esk and Lingcove Beck below.
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Descending from Hard Knott.
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Panorama.
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Another view of England’s highest – hard to resist!
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Lingcove Beck and Bowfell.
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Lingcove Beck and Crinkle Crags.

When we reached Lingcove Beck we immediately came upon an inviting looking pool.

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An inviting pool.

Me made our way down the beck, moving from pool to pool, B looking for places to jump in, whilst I settled for a swim. I think we found around five good spots. I thought Andy and I had made a pretty thorough exploration of the swimming possibilities of both the Esk and Lingcove Beck, but I don’t remember these delightful pools.

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Taking another plunge.

Tongue Pot was busy, busier than it looks here. I jumped in from the wimps side, by the tree on the right, but B had only one thing in mind: the mega-leap having not done it five years ago.

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Tongue Pot. Busy.
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The ‘mega-leap’. This is a video. If it won’t play, click on it to visit the flickr page and view B’s feat of daring.

No qualms this time.

Once he’d done it a few times, all that remained was the pleasant walk down the valley back to the car.

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Eskdale Needle from below.
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Heron Stones.
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The Esk and Bowfell.
Hardknott and Tongue Pot.

Around Threshthwaite Cove.

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Hartsop Dodd. My route followed the wall up to the ridge and then the skyline to the top.

A couple of weeks after my last outing, so mid-June, and I was out relatively early and parked in the small, free car-park in the hamlet of Hartsop. The car-park was already filling up despite the early hour. The earlyish start and my choice of route – short and not too far from home – were due to my plans for the afternoon.

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Colourful Lichen. Possibly Red Crest (or British Soldier) Lichen.
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Looking along Patterdale to Ullswater.
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Grey Crag (on the right).
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The long wooded ridge of Hartsop above How and Brothers Water.

After a very grey start, the clouds began to break-up and the sun could poke through, making for some glorious views.

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Pano. Ullswater, Place Fell, Brock Crags, Rest Dodd, Grey Crag, Hartsop Dodd.
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The hills around Dovedale: High Hartsop Dodd, Little Hart Crag, Dove Crag, Hart Crag, Fairfield, Cofa Pike, Dollywaggon Pike, and Hartsop above How.
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Patterdale Pano.

Once the sun appeared I started to see a number of what I thought were day-flying moths. In flight, they looked quite dark, and I thought they might be Chimney Sweeper moths, or at least something similar. But then I noticed one land and open it’s wings…

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Mountain Ringlet.

They were Mountain Ringlets! Not the most pre-possessing butterfly, I’ll admit, but very exciting none-the-less. In England, they are only found in the Lake District and are quite elusive. In many years of walking in the Lakes, I’ve never seen them before. Actually, this wasn’t the first one I saw, or attempted to photograph that morning. Despite the fact that the grass was very short, when they dropped down into it they seemed to disappear, and if I approached, hoping to spot them and get a photo, they were shy and would fly-off.

I was lucky with the change in the weather:

“The adults are highly active only in bright sunshine but can be disturbed from the ground even in quite dull weather. They keep low to the ground in short flights, pausing regularly to bask amongst grass tussocks or feed on the flowers of Tormentil or Heath Bedstraw.”

Source

There was lots of Bedstraw flowering, but my efforts to photograph the tiny white flowers weren’t very successful. I assumed that I would continue to see Mountain Ringlets during the rest of the walk, but I didn’t – they were prolific around the summit of Hartsop Dodd, but after that, no more.

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Caudale Head, Caudale Quarry and Red Screes.

Caudale Moor, John Bell’s Banner, Stony Cove Pike – are there any other hills in the Lakes which glory in three different titles? I always think of it as Stony Cove Pike whereas Wainwright goes with Caudale Moor. Although I’ve climbed it many times over the years, it has often been from the Kirkstone Pass, when time has been short. I’ve never had a poke around Caudale Quarry, or climbed any of the ridges which rise on the Troutbeck side, so plenty of scope for further exploration.

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Looking back to Hartsop Dodd.

I was supposed to be in a hurry, but the long steady climb to Stony Cove Pike followed a ramshackle drystone wall, perfect territory for Wheatears. I took lots of photos, all of females oddly, of which this was my favourite…

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Wheatear, female.

The sun had disappeared behind a cloud again, so the light wasn’t ideal, but by now I was in full ‘birding’ mode. There were Crows, Meadow Pipits and Skylarks about too to try to capture, although generally not as close at hand as the Wheatears.

Wheatears, Meadow Pipits and Skylarks will all sing in flight. I think that this songster was a Skylark…

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Skylark.
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Skylark.

This was definitely a Skylark, the crest is the giveaway, unusually singing from a perch.

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From Stoney Cove Pike: High Street and Thornthwaite Crag.

The sun was shining again, so I sat on the summit to enjoy the views and eat my lunch.

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From Stoney Cove Pike: Froswick, Ill Bell and Yoke.
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Thornthwaite Crag.
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Thornthwaite Crag pano.
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Threshthwaite Mouth and Threshthwaite Crag on Caudale Moor.

I had half-planned to include Thornthwaite Crag on my circuit, but the dawdling I been doing, photographing butterflies and birds, did not fit well with my plans so I took the lazy option, a small path which climbed very easily onto the ridge for Grey Crag.

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I’d run out of water, but found a tiny rivulet crossing the slopes here and refilled my bottle. For my birthday, TBH had bought me a water bottle which includes a filter….

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…the chunky white cylinder you can see inside the bottle. To be fair, I’ve been drinking water from Lake District streams with no ill effects for years, but the filter does give some added peace of mind.

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Threshthwaite Mouth, Threshthwaite Crag, Caudale Moor.
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Rest Dodd, The Knott, Rampsgill Head, Kidsty Pike.
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Along the ridge to Grey Crag.

The wind had really picked-up, and I had to stop to shove on an extra layer.

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Threshthwaite Cove.

Some hike stats: around 6 miles and 700m of climbing according to MapMyWalk.

Three Wainwrights: Hartsop Dodd, Caudale Moor, Grey Crag.

My plans for the afternoon? To settle down in front of the googlebox and watch Leicester Tigers trounce Saracens in the Premiership Final. It was a bit tense for a while there, but the result came out right in the end.

Around Threshthwaite Cove.

Kentmere Horseshoe

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Looking back down towards Kentmere from near the top of the Garburn Pass.

An early start to get one of the few parking spaces by the church in Kentmere. It had been raining, but was clearing rapidly.

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Red Screes.

It was another windy day, but sunny, and warm if you could get out of the wind.

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Troutbeck and Wansfell. Coniston Fells beyond.

These days I rarely take my camera with me, but with less warm gear in my bag, regrettably as it turned out, I could fit it in on this occasion. I’m beginning to think I shouldn’t bother. The photos I took of Butterwort flowers weren’t in focus, and I prefer my phone’s camera’s pictures of the scenery. So where possible that’s what I’ve used here.

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Yoke. Ill Bell ahead.

The problem with using both is that that seems to confuse Flickr so that the pictures end up out of sequence. I’ve tried to put these in order, but I’m not sure I have it completely right.

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Looking back to Yoke.

Anyway, it’s a cracking route, which I’ve done many times before, although I think the last time I did the route in its entirety would be over twenty years ago when I was preparing for the London Marathon and I ran it, in about three and a half hours if memory serves me right. I didn’t include Thornthwaite Crag or High Street back then. This time it took me more than twice as long, but I wasn’t in a hurry.

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The head of Kentmere from Ill Bell. Froswick, Thornthwaite Crag, High Street, Mardale Ill Bell.

I was very taken by the top of Ill Bell with its many tidy cairns and superb views. Ill Bell has a steep north-east ridge which I keep promising myself I will climb. Next time.

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Windermere from Ill Bell.
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Looking back to Ill Bell.
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Thornthwaite Crag from Froswick.
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High Street and Mardale Ill Bell. The headwaters of the River Kent.
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Kentmere Reservoir.
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Looking across the Fairfield Horseshoe ridges to the Coniston Fells.
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Troutbeck Tongue, Wansfell, Windermere.
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Froswick and Ill Bell.
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Thornthwaite Beacon.

I have a real affection for Thornthwaite Crag, I think it’s at least partly to do with the huge architectural cairn. The view’s pretty good too…

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Froswick, Ill Bell, Windermere and Wansfell from Thornthwaite Beacon.

I sat here for quite some time, whilst a few parties came through from various directions.

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Grey Crag, Hayeswater, Rest Dodd, The Knott, Rampsgill Head.

Once you’ve made it to Thornthwaite Crag all of the hard work is behind you. Its a long, steady plod up to High Street and then it’s nearly all downhill. Well, aside from the steady climb onto Harter Fell.

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The path up High Street.
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High Street pano.
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Haweswater and Selside Pike. The Pennines across the Eden Valley.
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Rough Crag, Blea Water and Kidsty Pike.
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Blea Water.

Unlike nearby Small Water, I’ve yet to swim in Blea Water, something I shall have to rectify. The crags at the back of the tarns are renowned for the alpine species which cling on in that remote, inaccessible locality.

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Yoke, Ill Bell, Froswick.

I should warn you that most of the remaining photos, well, a lot of them anyway, are of Yoke, Ill Bell and Froswick from various vantage points. I make no apologies, I think they looked magnificent.

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Looking across the Nan Bield Pass to Harter Fell
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Yoke, Ill Bell, Froswick across Kentmere Reservoir.
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Piot Crag, Rough Crag and Kidsty Pike.
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Looking back to Mardale Ill Bell, Thornthwaite Crag and High Street.
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Yoke, Ill Bell, Froswick.
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Yoke, Ill Bell, Froswick, and my gradual descent route.
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Pano.
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Looking down towards Kentmere Pike. Long Sleddale ahead. The Kent Estuary just about visible in the haze on the right. Forest of Bowland also seen in the haze.
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Looking down into Kentmere. Windermere on the right. Kent Estuary much clearer now. Arnside Knott stands out.
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Cocklaw Fell, Green Quarter Fell, Skeggles Water. Brunt Knott and Potter Fell beyond. Forest of Bowland on the horizon.
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Yoke, Ill Bell, Froswick.
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Yoke, Ill Bell, Froswick.

Somewhere on the way down I lost the path completely. I thought for a while I would end up traipsing through acres of bracken, but actually my route worked out well and I just cut a corner.

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Yoke, Ill Bell, Froswick. Pano.

As I got down towards the valley it was actually quite hot, a novelty after a very cold spring.

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Yoke, Ill Bell, Froswick.
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Germander Speedwell.
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River Kent.
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Big boulders!

Now, I just needed to cross some flower-filled and boulder-strewn meadows back to the village and my car.

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Kentmere Farmhouse.
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Kentmere Church.

MapMyWalk gives about 13½ miles and 1074m of ascent. Previous experience would suggest that the latter will be an underestimate, but I can’t be bothered to check!

Wainwrights: Yoke, Ill Bell, Froswick, Thornthwaite Crag, High Street, Mardale Ill Bell, Harter Fell, Kentmere Pike, Shipman Knotts.

Another nine ticked off!

Kentmere Horseshoe

Skiddaw and its Satellites

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Sunrise from Latrigg.

I woke up at around five, with an urgent need to get out out of my bivvy and sleeping bags. Once out, despite the many layers I was wearing, I began to shiver quite violently. I decided that the best thing to do would be to get moving, so hastily packed up.

Sleeping on the ground on a hilltop might not lead to a perfect, restful night, but it does have its compensations, chief among them being a hilltop view when the sun rises.

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Keswick and Derwent Water. The sunlight catching Cat Bells.

It was spitting with rain, and still a bit breezy, but I didn’t get far before I was thoroughly warmed-up and needed to stop and rethink my layers. It felt a bit odd to be stripping-down when it was raining on me, albeit only in a very half-hearted fashion.

Having already abandoned my ambitious plans to romp home over the Dodds, Helvellyn, Fairfield etc, it seemed logical to continue upwards from Latrigg and climb Skiddaw and its satellites. After all, I could just as well catch the 555 from Keswick as from Grasmere or Ambleside.

These days, I’m generally happy to be going uphill. I’ve long since rid myself of the illusion that I can climb hills quickly, so I just settle into a steady plod which feels comfortable. On the broad motorway which sweeps up the slopes of Skiddaw, I just couldn’t seem to find that tempo, however many rest stops I threw in. I shouldn’t be at all surprised to discover that Purgatory consists of an endless slope on just such a broad, stony featureless track. Or perhaps I was just tired after the exertions of the day before? I half contemplated turning back, but fortunately, I eventually reached the point where the angle eased and I could strike-off the main path for Lonscale Fell.

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Little Calva, Great Calva and Knott from somewhere in the vicinity of Lonscale Fell.

There was still plenty of climbing to do, but the gradient was more conducive, or I’d had a second-wind, or both, or something else; whatever it was, the slow-plod mode was working just fine again. It was still very early, but I had seen a couple of other walkers, both of whom had a ‘steady-plod mode’ which was at least twice the speed of mine.

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The route ahead: Skiddaw Little Man and Skiddaw.
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Derwent Water and surrounding hills from Skiddaw Little Man.
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Blencathra and Lonscale Fell from Skiddaw Little Man.
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Skiddaw from Skiddaw Little Man.

On my unhurried ascent of Skiddaw, I met a guy coming the other way who was wrapped up in winter gear: big down jacket, cagoule, warm hat as well as hoods, many layers etc. It was pretty windy at this point, but his attire seemed completely over the top.

“You’ll be the second person up there today”, he greeted me, with a broad grin.

I didn’t have the heart to tell him about the two people who had overtaken me on my way up, or the couple I’d just seen coming down ahead of him, since he seemed inordinately chuffed with his supposed status as ‘first summiteer of the day’.

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Derwent Water and surrounding hills from the southern end of the Skiddaw summit ridge.

When I reached the long summit ridge it became immediately clear why the down jacket, cagoule etc had been necessary – it was ridiculously windy up there. I was soon fighting with my own cag, trying to get my arm into a wildly flapping second sleeve. I even put my balaclava back on. It was the kind of wind which has you staggering about and leaning onto the wind at a weird angle in an effort to stay upright.

These perhaps weren’t the windiest conditions I’d encountered this year, but they were the most striking, because as soon as I left the top, the wind abated considerably, leaving off just as suddenly as it had started when I reached the ridge.

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Looking out to the Solway Firth. Criffel just about visible.
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Longside Edge and Ullock Pike from Skiddaw and the first bit of sunshine for quite some time.

On the way down the very steep and loose path towards Carl Side, I met a couple of ladies going the other way.

“Is it very windy up there?”

This question was presumably prompted by the fact that I was, in my turn, now wearing far too many clothes for the immediate conditions. When I confirmed that it was extremely windy on the ridge, the reply was:

“Yes, always seems to have its own wind.”

I’ve heard this said of Cross Fell in the Pennines, but never of any hill in the Lakes before.

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Longside Edge and Ullock Pike again.
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A Violet Ground Beetle, probably Carabus problematicus.

The ability of my phone camera to take close-ups seems to have improved enormously. Updates to the software I suppose?

From Carl Side I took the path heading down to the south, heading for Dodd.

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Derwent Water and the surrounding hills from the long path down.
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And again from White Stones, which were very white. I thought Maiden Moor looked quite striking from this direction, with its very steep sides.
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Derwent Water again, from Dodd.
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Bassenthwaite Lake from Dodd.
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The North-Western Fells from Dodd.

It’s now that I have to confess to a bit of utter muppetry. On my way up Dodd, I’d seen no sign of the right-of-way I needed which follows Scalebeck Gill and which I ought to have passed. So when I saw a footpath sign saying something like ‘Dodd Route’, I optimistically followed it. I think I was attracted by its very easy gradient: it descended very gently, or contoured around the western slopes of Dodd. I hoped that it was a very lengthy zig and that eventually there would be an equally long zag taking me back in the direction I needed. When I finally had to admit that this wasn’t going to happen, I felt like I’d come too far to turn back. Unfortunately, the path, good though it was, was heading for the car park to the north-west of Dodd, in completely the wrong direction for Keswick.

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It was a long walk on the permission path beside the main road, then through Dancing Gate (what a terrific name for a hamlet!), Millbeck, Applethwaite and Thrushwood back to Skiddaw. In complete contrast to earlier it was hot. I was very conscious of the fact that I was already a bit sunburned from the previous day, and so stuck to the shade wherever I could.

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Skiddaw, Skiddaw Little Man, Jenkin Hill.
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Latrigg.

When I arrived in Keswick, it was early afternoon, but I’d just missed a bus, so, with an hour to kill, I stocked up on refreshments and waited in the sun. I didn’t get the seats at the front on the top deck – I couldn’t compete with the sharpened elbows of the bus-pass brigade. I shall be happy to join their ranks in the not too distant future, if using the buses yields trips like this one.

Some stats: MapMyWalk gives 14 miles and just a little over 3000′ of ascent.

Wainwrights ticked-off: Lonscale Fell, Skiddaw Little Man, Skiddaw, Carl Side and Dodd. Can I count Latrigg again?

Skiddaw and its Satellites

Highest Point – Grasmere to Keswick

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Easedale.

After all that waffle, in my last post, about my aspirational hare-brained schemes, here’s the evidence of what happens when one of them comes to fruition. Or not.

I’d been planning this one for a while. When I say planning, I mean that in the vaguest of ways. ‘Thinking about’ would be more accurate. Attention to detail was completely lacking.

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Sourmilk Gill.

My family had all bought tickets for Highest Point, an outdoor music festival in Lancaster, not to be confused with Lancaster Jazz Festival, or with The Lancaster Music Festival which is mostly staged in pubs. Why wasn’t I joining them? Well, I was tempted by Kaiser Chiefs and even more so by Basement Jaxx, but the latter were playing a DJ set, and frankly, whatever the attractions, they couldn’t compete with the prospect of a weekend of early summer walking.

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Tarn Crag

So, TBH very kindly dropped me off in Milnthorpe, with about 30 seconds to spare, and I caught the 555 bus through Kendal and Windermere to Grasmere.

I must use the bus more often. It’s a bit slow. And we did sit in Kendal Bus Station for quite some time, for no apparent reason. But I enjoyed being a passenger, and taking in the views, especially after the front seats at the top became available in Kendal, and not having to worry about parking.

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Easedale Tarn.

Anyway, when I finally arrived in Grasmere, it was bright and sunny and warm for once, much more so than the photos suggest. I popped into Lucia’s for some extra provisions (highly recommended) and then set-off up Easedale in the company of two gentlemen from the North-East, one of whom was very keen to ask for directions (“Is that Helm Crag?”) and tell me about his route, their accommodation in Keswick and so on. The other gent was as taciturn as his companion was garrulous, which made me feel like I was intruding.

Over the years, I’ve looked at maps of the Lakes (particularly my colourful old inch-map, which has a lot to answer for) and thought that I ought to walk along the broad central spine of hills from the Langdale Pikes northwards. I’ve also often thought that it would be brilliant to walk the long ridge from Threkeld to Ambleside over the Dodds and Helvellyn and Fairfield etc. So, here was my madcap scheme – to (sort-of) combine those two, with a bivvy in between, probably on High Rigg I thought.

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Dor Beetle.

Since I was using the 555, a start in Grasmere would be easier than trying to get to Langdale, and it would also make it convenient to include Tarn Crag.

It was a really glorious day and on Tarn Crag I sat for quite some time, enjoying the pasty I’d bought in Grasmere and video-calling my mum and dad, to share the views with them.

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Tarn Crag.
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From Tarn Crag Helm Crag, Heron Pike and Nab Scar, Loughrigg and Silver How.

Since I’d already climbed High Raise earlier in the year, I contemplated trying to contour around from Tarn Crag to Greenup Edge, hopefully visiting a remote little tarn on route, but in the end I couldn’t resist the temptation to climb High Raise again.

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High Raise from Tarn Crag. Codale Head is the prominent pimple in the centre.
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Codale Tarn.
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Bilberries in flower.
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Pavey Ark, Harrison Stickle and Sergeant Man.

I had another stop on Codale Head, and sat for while.

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Newlands Fells, North-western Fells and Skiddaw.

And then another bit of a sit on High Raise. The views from High Raise are expansive. On this occasion I was sharing those views with quite a few people, most of whom seemed to be participating in some sort of organised challenge walk, with people in teams; I wondered whether it was a corporate bonding exercise, based on some of the conversations I overheard.

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Bowfell, Esk Pike, Scafell Pike, Great End, Great Gable across Langstrath.

Not to worry, they were all heading down to Grasmere from Greenup Edge, having started, I gathered, in Langdale. In fact, the remainder of the day was very, very quiet, at least until I reached Keswick.

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Ullscarf, with the Helvellyn etc ridge behind.
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Looking back to High Raise.
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Helvellyn and Fairfield from near the top of Ullscarf.

It took a while to reach the top of Ullscarf, so another rest and a sit-down seemed appropriate. I have a bit of a soft spot for Ullscarf. Years ago I bivvied a couple of times with friends on the slopes above Harrop Tarn and would then climb Ullscarf via its eastern hinterland early the following morning, often in thick mist. In the days before sat-nav, I was chuffed when I actually managed to arrive on the summit. Those empty slopes above Thirlmere always seemed to be a good place to spot Red Deer.

I finished the last of my water on Ullscarf and then dropped into the top of Ullscarf Gill to refill my water bottle.

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From Ullscarf: High Tove, Raven Crag, Skiddaw and Blencathra beyond.
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The cairn on Standing Crag. Last time I was here there was a fence.

Standing Crag is a Birkett, but not a Wainwright. It’s well worth a visit in my opinion. I didn’t stop for a sit here. It was well into the afternoon, and it was becoming clear that I’d probably bitten off more than I could chew.

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Blea Tarn and High Tove. I think the lump beyond the tarn must be Grange Fell, which I don’t think I’ve ever been up.
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Looking back to Blea Tarn and Ullscarf.
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Shivery Knott, Shivery Man, Middle Crag, High Tove.
It doesn’t look all that boggy does it? Compared to some of the treacherous mires lurking in wait to swallow unsuspecting walkers in the Pennines, for example, it was a walk in the park. If the park is mostly about 6 inches under water, with occasional deeper sections for added fun.

I can’t say I was overly fond of this section. I’d originally thought I would do an out and back to tick-off Armboth Fell, but with time marching on, decided to leave that particular delight to another day. When hell freezes over. Or the bogs on Armboth Fell freeze over, at the very least. It will give me an excuse to climb Fisher Crag. That’s what I’m telling myself anyway.

I think I was thoroughly underwhelmed by High Tove. I don’t seem to have taken any photos anyway.

When I arrived at some flagged sections of path I was mightily relieved.
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High Seat.

It seems that a consortium of charities have been restoring the peat bogs here. As well as flagging the paths (sadly with some very soggy gaps between the flagged sections) they’ve also created little dams to create some really wet areas…

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It was lovely, in a very wet kind of way.

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The trig pillar on High Seat.
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Bleaberry Fell from High Seat. Skiddaw and Blencathra beyond.

If I hoped that reaching the rocky top of High Seat would spell an end to the bog, I was destined to be disappointed. But it was drier, at least. And after Bleaberry Fell, the bog-snorkelling comes to an end.

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Skiddaw, Keswick and Bassenthwaite Lake from Bleaberry Fell.
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Bleaberry Fell from Walla Crag.
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Derwent Water and the surrounding hills from Walla Crag.
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Keswick and Skiddaw from Walla Crag
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Derwent Water and Bassenthwaite Lake from Walla Crag.

I had a long overdue rest on Walla Crag. I must have looked all-in, as a bloke who walked past asked me if I was okay. Which I was, of course. The light was lovely.

I did briefly contemplate a bivvy on (or near) Walla Crag, but I’d been promising myself a take-away tea in Keswick all day and the draw of a greasy, high-calorie meal won out.

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Keswick and Skiddaw and the setting sun from my descent route.

It was still light, just about, as I arrived on the outskirts of town, but it was also almost 10 o’clock, and I was striding out whilst using Google Maps in an attempt to work out where the nearest open shop was. Fortunately, I found a little grocery store which was still serving and stocked up on water and ginger beer. It had been thirsty work!

One of the pubs near the Moot Hall had a live band who were playing an excellent selection of covers. (Heart of Glass, Take Me Out, Maggie May, for example, if memory serves me right.) It was very loud out in the street, lord knows what it was like inside the pub. The town centre was extremely busy with revellers, I suppose I probably stuck-out like a sore-thumb. Or a sun-burned, muddy, sweaty, but very happy hill-walker. Anyway, I found a bench where I could listen to the band and tucked into my well-earned donner and chips. So I got my live music in the end, on top of a day’s walking.

I’d already decided by now that High Rigg (where I envisaged a soft heather bed and a very comfortable night) was much too far away. I was also having doubts about my proposed return route – it would be both longer and with more up and down than the walk I had just done. Too much, I thought.

I opted instead for a midnight ramble on Latrigg.

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It was dark, but the moon was bright and it’s a wide, well-made path, so I didn’t really need my headtorch. After a warm day, there was now a cooling breeze. Actually, it was pretty windy and quite cool.

I found what seemed like a reasonable spot, overlooking the town, put on every item of clothing I’d brought, including a balaclava, and climbed into my sleeping and bivvy bags.

How did I sleep? Well, better than I’d expected, which is to say – some. The ground was a bit hard, without a cushioning of heather. Also, at some point during the night, the wind changed direction and I woke up to find that it was blowing over my shoulders and directly into my sleeping bag. I’m usually reluctant to completely seal my bag over my head, it’s a bit claustrophobic I find, but I did that now and then slept much more soundly.

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Keswick and Derwent Water from Latrigg.

The app gives just over 20 miles all told, and almost 1300m of climbing (which is a bit of an underestimate I think, but maybe not too far out).

Wainwrights: Tarn Crag, High Raise, Ullscarf, High Tove, High Seat, Bleaberry Fell, Walla Crag, Latrigg.

Birketts: all of the above, plus Codale Head, Low White Stones, Standing Crag, Watendlath Fell, Shivery Knott, Middle Crag (I narrowly bypassed Blea Tarn Fell, but, fortunately, I’ve been up there before).

I’m grateful to Mr Birkett for all of those extra ticks: fourteen tops feels like a better return on the effort than eight. Some of them are a bit underwhelming however, but if you like walking in the Lakes (and why wouldn’t you?) I would recommend checking out Codale Head and Standing Crag, I think they should be in everybody’s lists.

And my new plan for the morrow?

You’ll have to wait!

(A short playlist for this post: ‘Higher Ground’ Stevie Wonder, ‘Gotta Keep Walking’ Willy Mason, ‘May You Never’ John Martyn.)

Highest Point – Grasmere to Keswick

Fairfield Horseshoe with Various Digressions

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Rydal Park. Nab Scar and Heron Pike on the left, Low Pike on the right.

Much as I’m enjoying all of these peak-bagging days out in the Lakes, you may have noticed that I’m finding the write-ups a bit tricky. My local rambles often throw up something in the way of flora or fauna which I can waffle on about for a bit, but I’m finding it hard to know what to say about these box-ticking excursions without endlessly repeating myself.

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A Horse-chestnut festooned with candles in Rydal Park.

So, this rather lovely trot around the Fairfield Horseshoe is a good case in point. Let’s get the usual nonsense out of the way from the off….

Start: pretty early by my recent standards, but hardly Alpine.

Parking: free! Because even Ambleside has free parking, if you’re there reasonably early and you’re prepared to walk just a little bit further.

Weather: windy, obviously. Started bright and sunny, even got a bit warm climbing Nab Scar. Cloud came in from the South, so that when I was on Fairfield the sun was still shining on Helvellyn, but I wasn’t benefitting from that sunshine. Stayed cloudy for a while, then brightened up again towards the end of the walk.

Stops: yes, I realise that I can be a bit obsessed with my hot cordial breaks. One of the ironies of this game is that the best bits of a day’s walking are often the bits when you aren’t walking. So: found a nice spot on Rydal Fell, looking up towards Great Rigg and Fairfield; then a not very sheltered, rocky perch on Fairfield which at least had good views; and then, just below the top of High Pike, a little hollow which had some protection from the wind, but also sun and a cracking view.

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The Grot and Rydal Beck Lower Falls.

There are, of course, interesting things to be said about Rydal Hall, and its Thomas Mawson designed gardens, and The Grot. However, Rydal Hall has already featured in several posts, so I’d definitely be repeating myself.

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Rydal Hall.
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Art in the garden.

I suspect that there was lots of artwork dotted about the gardens and in the surrounding woods and if I hadn’t been in a hurry they would no doubt have given me lots more grist for my mill.

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From Nab Scar. Rydal Water and Grasmere. Coniston and Langdale Fells.

But I had the steep path on Nab Scar to climb, and I’m glad that I did, because as I climbed the views got progressively bigger and better.

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Rydale Water and Loughrigg – you can pick out the ‘cave’ (former mine) above the woods in the centre of the picture.

I was talking to a colleague recently about, amongst other things, my recent spate of Wainwright related activity, and my currently-on-hold exploration of the Lune Catchment area and about the fact that the lack of a protracted warm spell had meant that I hadn’t been out swimming as yet this spring (I have since).

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Wansfell Pike and Windermere from Nab Scar.

Which prompted N to tell me that this summer she plans to cycle between the Lakes, in a single trip over three days, and swim in each one. I was very taken with this idea, and have frequently found myself drawn back to thinking about the logistics of such a trip and about a potential walking route which would visit each of the lakes.

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Coniston Fells, Langdale Fells, Loughrigg, Silver How and Grasmere, from Nab Scar.

Now, I have a bit of a book buying habit, and books accrue in our house at a rate far exceeding my capacity to read them. This applies to quite a wide variety of books, but is particularly true of books about walking and especially so of books about walking in the Lake District. So, could I find, amongst all the neglected tomes, a book about a route which takes in all of the Lakes?

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The ridge ahead: Heron Pike from Nab Scar.

Of course I could. In fact, so far I’ve found two.

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The ridge ahead: Rydal Fell, Great Rigg, Fairfield, Hart Crag and Dove Crag from Heron Pike.

‘The Ancient Ways of Lakeland’ by Richard Sale and Arthur Lees, describes just such a route. It has the subtitle ‘A circular route for walkers’. Marvellous. Except it isn’t. It’s a circular route with little diversions, heading off to take in awkward outliers like Bassenthwaite Lake, Crummock Water, Loweswater, Grasmere and Rydal Water. And since the route is broken down into sections, each of which has an alternative return route, you could argue that it gives two different possible circuits around the Lakes.

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The ridge ahead: Great Rigg, Fairfield and Hart Crag from Rydal Fell.

Meanwhile Ronald Turnbull’s ‘Big Days in Lakeland’ has a chapter on a walk which visits some of the Lakes. He gets around the Bassenthwaite problem, by just omitting it. Likewise Brother’s Water (which isn’t on Sale and Lees route either). This being Ronald Turnbull (of ‘The Book of the Bivvy’ fame) there are some eccentricities. He has the brilliant idea of combining the walk with a trip on the Lake Steamers, wherever they are available. But then describes walking the route in February when the only boat running is the ferry across Windermere. His low-level route takes in Levers Hawse. And Coledale Hause. Oh, and Helvellyn and Striding Edge.

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Looking back: Heron Pike and the Coniston Fells from Rydal Fell.

He’s made of sterner stuff than me. I’m not sure I could cope with winter bivvies. But I do like the look of his route (or substantial bits of it anyway). I’ve stored that idea away for future reference and shall probably enjoy thinking about it from time to time.

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The ridge ahead: Great Rigg, Fairfield, Hart Crag, Dove Crag.

Of course, I’d want to devise my own route. I think I would want to include some of my favourite tarns too. Since you’re not supposed to swim in Thirlmere, you could substitute Harrop Tarn. Likewise Small Water for Haweswater. But what about Ennerdale Water?

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Looking back to Rydal Fell and Heron Pike. Windermere, Esthwaite Water, Coniston Water and Grasmere all in view.

I have a few of these ideas for long walks, or exploratory projects mentally filed away.

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From Fairfield: Cofa Pike and St. Sunday Crag.

Of course, I haven’t finished the Wainwright’s yet, although I’m making good progress. (Just don’t mention the Western Fells). And I ran out of steam a bit with the Birketts. And the Lune Catchment project was doomed to failure from the off, since how can you possibly track down all of the rills and trickles which drain a water-shed?

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From Fairfield: Dollywaggon Pike, Nethermost Pike, Helvellyn and Striding Edge.

But frankly, it’s the anticipation as much as anything which keeps my happy.

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The ridge ahead: Hart Crag.

The worrying prospect with the Wainwrights is that sometime next year, or perhaps the year after, I will actually finish and then I shall be needing a fresh idea to give me impetus.

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Looking back to Heron Pike and Great Rigg.

Turnbull suggests a slow version of bagging the Wainwrights: only counting the ones you’ve slept the night on. I’ve camped on Tarn Crag (the Longsleddale one) and on Black Combe (but that’s only an Outlying Fell). I bivvied on Bowfell, with Andy, many, many moons ago. And, more recently, on Skiddaw and on Latrigg. (The latter so recently that it hasn’t appeared on the blog yet. Next post I think.)

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A panorama from much the same spot.

So, on that basis, four down and two hundred and ten to go. Might take me a while!

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Dove Crag from Hart Crag.

Then there’s all the Tarns to bag – using either the Nuttall’s excellent guides or the venerable Heaton Cooper one. Or both. Could make that a slow affair too by swimming in each of them before it counts.

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The long broad descent ridge.

So, plenty still to go at. A cheery thought!

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Gradually narrows! High Pike and Windermere.

In the meantime, I shall continue to enjoy the straightforward version of just visiting each of the Wainwrights, without any stipulation about sleeping on, parascending from, skiing on a single ski down, taking a geological sample of….each summit.

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Low Pike and Windermere from High Pike.
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Scandale from Brock Crags. Little Hart Crag on the horizon.

One part of that process which I’m really enjoying is seeing fells from several different directions in relatively quick succession: “Oh look – there’s Little Hart Crag again. I was near there just a couple of weeks ago.” In the past, when I’ve been in the southern Lakes at least, I’ve been on the lookout for views of Arnside Knott or Clougha Pike. Now, I’m keen to find Lingmoor, or Grasmoor, or Harrison Stickle, or Helm Crag etc in the view because I was on that summit only recently.

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Windermere and Ambleside from Low Sweden Coppice.

Oh, and the Fairfield Horseshoe? Highly enjoyable.

So, finally, some hike stats: MapMyWalk gives 11 miles and 960m of ascent. However, you can see from the straight line most of the way down from High Pike, that I forgot to restart the app after pausing it for a stop. Last time out it gave 14 miles and 957m of ascent. Can’t fault the consistency where the ascent is concerned! That last trip was in very different conditions, and I walked it widdershins, anti-clockwise, whereas I tackled it in the opposite direction this time.

Wainwrights: Nab Scar, Great Rigg, Fairfield, Hart Crag, Dove Crag, High Pike, Low Pike.

Birketts: the same with the addition of Rydal Fell.

Fairfield Horseshoe with Various Digressions

Silver How and Loughrigg

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A few years ago*, TBH and I had a spring wander around the Grasmere area which finished along Loughrigg Terrace. The slopes below the path were clothed in bluebells, the scent was heavenly, and TBH has been very keen to repeat the experience for a while now.

(*I checked. It was eleven years! Where did the time go?)

The bluebells had been out around home for a week or two at least, but my gut feeling was that we were a little early in the season, it being the last day in April. But, once TBH has conceived an idea, it’s hard to deflect her from her course.

We weren’t early in the day, I can’t remember now what the hold-up was, but I was concerned about finding parking on a sunny Bank Holiday Saturday. I vowed that we would park in the first convenient spot that we found, which turned out to be the White Moss car park between Rydal Water and Grasmere. There were loads of spaces there, hardly surprisingly, since, operated as it is by messers Teach, Morgan and Kidd we were obliged to leave a kidney each to cover the cost of a few hours parking.

Anyway, as you can see in the photo above, we’d barely left the carpark before my misgivings were waylaid – the bluebells were out in all their glory.

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River Rothay.
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Grasmere, looking toward Helm Crag.
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Grasmere – Seat Sandal and Stone Arthur rising beyond.
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Looking across Grasmere to Stone Arthur, Great Rigg and Heron Pike.

We walked along the western shore of Grasmere as far as the footpath allowed and then along the minor road, looking for the path which climbs through Wyke Plantation. Of course, I’d managed to manipulate TBH’s desire for a walk in the Grasmere area into a convenient opportunity to tick-off a couple more Wainwrights.

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Silver How from Wyke Plantation.
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Silver How from just beyond Wyke Plantation.
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Grasmere and Rydal Water.
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Loughrigg and Spedding Crag.

When we’d done most of the climbing onto Silver How, and reached the little col seen from below a couple of photos above, I felt that we’d probably got the best shelter we were going to find, and that a lunch stop was in order. I suggested this to TBH, but she was very much against the idea.

“No. I’m intermittent fasting. Only water before three o’clock.”

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Steel Fell, Helm Crag, Helvellyn etc, Seat Sandal, Fairfield, Great Rigg.

This was news to me, but I reckoned I could manage. So, press on till three o’clock then.

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TBH approaching the top of Silver How. Lingmoor, Crinkle Crags, Bowfell and the Langdale Pikes behind.
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Grasmere, Rydal Water, Loughrigg and a glimpse of Windermere.
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Loughrigg, Spedding Crag and Elter Water.

Our route would take us along the ridge over Spedding Crag and then up Loughrigg.

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Lang How. Quite imposing. A Birkett, but not a Wainwright.
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Looking back to Silver How.
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Lingmoor.
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Elter Water. Black Fell beyond and Holme Fell on the right of the photo.

I’m always surprised, when I see it from above, by just how big Elter Water is. The path beside the lake only allows partial glimpses and you can never get a feel for its proper size.

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On Spedding Crag. Langdale Pikes and Silver How behind.
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Spedding Crag and Silver How.
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Loughrigg and a partial glimpse of Loughrigg Tarn.
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High Close Estate.

We walked through the grounds of High Close Youth Hostel. The grounds belong to the National Trust, are open to the public and well worth a look. I’m afraid the photo just doesn’t do them justice. We stayed at High Close for a very wet weekend a mere seven years ago.

The first part of the ascent of Loughrigg was unnecessarily unpleasant, because I insisted in believing the OS map. The path shown doesn’t exist on the ground, but there is a good track setting off from the road junction further north.

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TBH climbing Loughrigg. It was trying to rain.
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And again. Langdale Pikes, Silver How and Grasmere in the backdrop.
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Black Fell, Holme Fell and Elter Water.
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Lingmoor and Great Langdale. Clouds looking a bit ominous.
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Loughrigg summit. Langdale pikes and Lingmoor behind.
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Wansfell Pike and windermere.
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Ewe Crag, Rydal Water, Heron Crag and Nab Scar.

I liked the look of the path which dropped down beside Ewe Crag. I didn’t think that I’d been this way before and I thought the route would offer plenty of shelter for a long overdue lunch stop. It was past three o’clock so no more impediment, surely.

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Ewe Crag, looking towards Helm Crag and Dunmail Raise.

I found a lovely, comfy looking spot, dug my lunch, my flask and my sitmat out of my rucksack. It started to rain. TBH was unmoved by my protestations of imminent starvation: you simply can’t stop when it’s raining, apparently, even if you are hungry.

All the way down the slopes of Loughrigg we could see dense patches of bluebell leaves, but the flowers weren’t out yet, so I was partially right about that after all. Next year we shall have to try a couple of weeks later. That way we might spot some Bog Bean and some Butterwort flowering too. At least the woods were full of bluebells when we got back to them…

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Bluebells in the woods.

The following day we were in Eccles for the Colts final against Stockport. It was a close game, which made this spectator tense, but the boys prevailed in the end 15 – 7. (And yes, Eccles is a lot, lot closer to Stockport than it is to Kirkby).

My career as a sports photographer is not destined to be a glorious affair.

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Here’s B lifting his captain in the lineout. In the 16 shirt. With his back to us.
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And here he is in a kick-chase. Obscured by the flag.

I have other photos – of him in a scrum, or making a tackle, or buried in a ruck. Generally, it’s very hard to tell that it is B in the photos. Oh well, it was a very happy day out.

I don’t have a map of the route, MapMyWalk started to play up again. This seems to happen from time to time. Eventually, I end up uninstalling it and then reinstalling it and it’ll work fine again. For a while.

Anyway, two Wainwrights – Silver How and Loughrigg. Not all that far. Not all that much up and down. How’s that?

Silver How and Loughrigg

A Langdale Round

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White Stones – The Band. Crinkle Crags and Bowfell hidden in the cloud, but Rossett Pike is clear on the right of the photo.

Easter Monday. The forecast was a bit mixed, but generally for improvement throughout the day. I had big plans, so I’d set off early and was parked up in the National Trust carpark by the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel while there was still plenty of room.

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Pike of Blisco.
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Side Pike.

As I walked up the road towards Blea Tarn the cloud lifted off the Langdale Pikes, but it was cold and pretty gloomy.

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Langdale Pikes.

The Langdale Pikes would dominate the view for much of the early part of the walk, and then again towards the end. I took a lot of photographs of the iconic crags.

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Redacre Gill.

My route up Pike O’Blisco curls right behind the stand of trees and then follows the gill into the obvious deep cleft right of centre.

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the incredible standard of the paths in the Lakes. This was an easy one to follow at a lovely gradient. somebody did a very fine job of making it.

It was spitting with rain now and again and my cag went on and off a few times.

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A well constructed path.
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Kettle Crag, Langale Pikes, Side Pike.

I seem to have stopped taking panorama shots for a while, without really deciding to, but I took loads on this walk. If you click on them, or on any of the other pictures for that matter, you’ll see a larger version on Flickr.

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Side Pike and Lingmoor.
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Side-streams, in often quite deep ravines, with lots of little waterfalls, abounded. This area would definitely repay further exploration.
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Pike O’Blisco.

As I reached the top of the gully and the angle levelled off, the weather turned temporarily a bit grim. I have several photos obviously taken in the rain. Fortunately, it was short-lived, and when the sun appeared once again, it had wet rocks to sparkle on.

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The Langdale Pikes again!
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Lingmoor with Fairfield Horseshoe beyond and a glimpse of Windermere.
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Pike O’Blisco summit.

The wind was blowing from the west, so those large slabs just below the summit offered superb shelter. I settled down, leaning against one of them, poured myself a hot cordial and video-called my Dad to wish him a happy birthday.

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Langdale Pikes and a rainbow.

It was soon raining again, but I had a well-sheltered spot and it didn’t seem to matter too much somehow.

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Rainbow panorama.
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Red Tarn and Cold Pike.

Cold Pike was my next target. I decided to take the path which angles up towards the head of Browney Gill, but then strike left when the angle eased.

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Red Tarn again. Wet Side Edge behind, which is heading up to Great Carrs, hidden in the cloud.
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Looking back to Pike O’Blisco. The broken crags on the left look like they might give a good scrambling route.
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Pike O’Blisco disappearing into the cloud, from near the top of Cold Pike.

I found another sheltered spot on Cold Pike for another quick stop. The clouds blew in once again. The weather was changing very quickly.

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Pike O’Blisco from Cold Pike. The Helvellyn and Fairfield range behind.
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Looking back to Cold Pike.
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Pike O’Blisco and Cold Pike. Wetherlam behind.
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Panorama from the same spot.
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The many tarns of Stonesty Pike. The Duddon Estuary, Harter Fell, Whitfell and Black Combe behind.
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Crinkle Crags.
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Upper Eskdale and the Scafells.
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The ‘Bad Step’. There were a couple of guys standing beneath it, having quite a lengthy discussion before deciding to follow the path around to the left. I went round too. I’ve been both up and down that way in the past and I don’t remember it being all that difficult.
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Bowfell just about out of the cloud.
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Lingmoor and Pike O’Blisco. Windermere beyond.
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The Duddon Valley and Harter Fell.
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Langdale, Lingmoor and Pike o’Blisco.
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Panorama – Scafells, Bowfell, Langdale Pikes, Langdale, Pike O’Blisco, Windermere, Coniston Fells.

There are a lot of ups and downs on Crinkle Crags. The scenery is fantastically rocky, but it does mean you really have to concentrate over where you are putting your feet to avoid taking a tumble.

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Scafells.

If the Langdale Pikes had kept drawing my eye during the early part of the walk, it was now Scafell and Scafell Pike which were hogging my attention.

The weather hadn’t been too bad, but it was getting bluer and brighter…

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Scafells again.
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Bowfell.
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Scafells and Bowfell panorama.
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Pike O’Blisco and Wetherlam.
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Pike O’Blisco, Crinkle Crags and Three Tarns.
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Langdale Pikes from Bowfell. Helvellyn and Fairfield range behind.
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Esk Pike, Grasmoor, Allen Crags, Glaramara, Skiddaw, Blencathra.
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Scafells.
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Langdale Pikes, Langdale, Lingmoor, Windermere.
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Pike O’Blisco, Wetherlam, Coniston Old Man, Crinkle Crags, Dow Crag.
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Esk Pike.

I know that the geology of the Lake District is quite complex, with some igneous rocks, lots of slate, periods when the area was underwater and sedimentary rocks were laid down, three separate periods of orogeny lifting the hills, glaciation etc – but I don’t often feel like I know what I’m looking at. The rocks on this walk seemed to change quite often.This large boulder, in Ore Gap had lots of parallel striations which make me think it must be sedimentary. And yet we’re in the central part of the hills, close to Borrowdale, where I thought the rock would be volcanic?

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Sedimentary, my dear Watson?

I have a book on the shelf in front of me, ‘Lakeland Rocky Rambles’, which I’ve never really dipped in to – hmm, could be a new project.

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Dale Head, Maiden Moor, Allen Crag, Glaramara, Derwentwater, Skiddaw, Blencathra. (And Many more!)
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Looking back to Bowfell and Crinkle Crags from Esk Pike.
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Great End, Great Gable, Green Gable, Grasmoor and more of the North-western fells.
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Langdale Pikes,Rossett Pike, Bowfell.
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Angle Tarn panorama.
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Panorama from Rossett Pike.
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Langdale Pikes, Langdale and Lingmoor from just below the summit of Rossett Pike.
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Buck Pike and Black Pike – my descent route.
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Another panorama.

I think it’s 11 years since I was last on Rossett Pike. Back then, I didn’t get too much of a view, but I did have my one and only (so far) close encounter with a Dotterel. That was also towards the end of a walk, and thinking back, I’m pretty sure that whilst I may not be particularly fit, I am at least fitter now than I was then.

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Buck Pike.
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Pike O’Stickle and Mickleden.

I picked up a path which skirted below Black Crag and kept me in the sun for a bit longer. It was a great way down, never too steep, and deposited me on the path down from Stake Pass which has superb zig-zags. Once down in the valley I followed two walkers, one of whom was barefoot. I met another barefoot walker a couple of weeks later. I quite like the idea, but I think I would probably stub my toes roughly every five minutes.

I wasn’t quite dark when I arrived back at the car, but it wasn’t far off.

Around the head of Langdale.

Some hike stats:

MapMyWalk gives a little over 13 miles (although once again, confusingly, the numbers on the map make it look closer to 25 km i.e. well over 15 miles. Who knows.) The app also suggests 1162m of ascent, which is definitely an underestimate. For a slightly different route, over exactly the same hills, Walking Englishman gives 12 miles and 1466m of ascent. I think the truth, for the climbing at least, lies somewhere between those two figures. The fact that they differ by around a 1000 feet is a bit shicking!

It was far enough, at least, to leave me feeling pleasantly tired by the end.

Despite all the effort, there are ‘only’ six Wainwrights, to wit: Pike O’Blisco, Cold Pike, Crinkle Crags, Bowfell, Esk Pike and Rossett Pike.

There’s lots more Birketts because all of the Crinkles are on the list. And some of the bobbles on the ridge down from Rossett Pike – but I wasn’t very careful about which of either of those I actually visited, so I shan’t list them on this occasion.

Leaving aside all of the stats, it was an absolutely superb day which will live very long in the memory. All day long I was thinking that this area is definitely the best bit of the Lakes. But I was thinking much the same thing when I did the Coledale Horseshoe, so I think all we can conclude is that I’m fickle!

A Langdale Round

Red Screes, Middle Dodd and Scandale

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Roundhill Farm and the start of the Red screes ridge, taken from above Stock Ghyll.

Easter Saturday. I’d been thinking that when I’ve climbed Red Screes in the past, I’ve almost always done it from the top of the Kirkstone Pass. What’s-more, I’d never climbed it via the long ridge which extends southwards towards Ambleside.

I’d dropped B off for a shift at Brockholes again, which meant quite a late start, and a reasonably early finish, so Ambleside, close to Brockholes, and with many parking options, seemed like a sensible place to begin my walk. The forecast had suggested low cloud initially, soon clearing, and I was quite surprised to see that the surrounding hills were still mostly enveloped.

There’s a track out of Ambleside which heads towards the Kirkstone and I took it as far as the farm house at Low Grove, where I dropped a little to cross Stock Ghyll and then through another farmyard at Roundhill Farm before walking a little way up the Kirkstone Road to find the path onto the ridge.

The ridge ahead was still cloaked in cloud, but at least there were views of Ambleside and Windermere opening up behind…

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Loughrigg, Rydal Water and Nab Scar.
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The path ahead.
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Wansfell Pike and Windermere.
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Flesh Crags.

It’s a long steady plod up the ridge, never very steep. Of course, it was another windy day, but nothing like as windy as many other days have been lately. The path skirted around to the left of the crags ahead and somewhere in amongst the crags I found a lovely sheltered spot for a drink, a snack and to admire the views.

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Brock Crags, Low Pike and High Pike on the Fairfield Horseshoe.

Whilst I sat there, the clouds continued to lift. At first the Coniston Fells appeared, then Crinkle Crags and Bowfell. Bizarrely, I could see the Scafells before the Langdale Pikes appeared. Closer to hand, most of the Fairfield Horseshoe had cleared, but it looked like Red Screes itself was stubbornly clinging on to a blanket of clouds.

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Coniston and Langdale Fells, Loughrigg and Rydal Water.
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Frogspawn.
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Red Screes. Taken from the vicinity of Snarker Pike (great name, I thought).
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Looking back to Snarker Pike.

Messers Wainwright and Birkett both decided to omit Snarker Pike from their (arbitrary) lists, but it is a Synge, with it’s magnificent six metres of prominence. Apparently there are 647 Synges in the Lake District. I think the Wainwrights and the Birketts are enough to keep me occupied for now, but I do like a list, so who knows?

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Looking down to the Kirkstone Inn.

I’d seen very few people on the ridge until I was almost at the top, when it suddenly seemed to get quite busy, with several groups heading down the way I had come up and also quite a few people arriving on the top from various directions at much the same time as I did.

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Middle Dodd. Patterdale beyond.

I’d decided to bag Middle Dodd whilst I was in the neighbourhood. Rude not to. It was a slightly strange way to do it, since I essentially descended to the top!

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Brothers Water and Place Fell from Middle Dodd.

There are some quite odd little hollows near to the top of Middle Dodd, where I was once again able to get out of the wind for more refreshments.

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Little Hart Crag and Dove Crag from Middle Dodd..
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Red Screes from Middle Dodd.

I’d felt pretty sure that there would be a path contouring around from Middle Dodd towards the top of the Scandale Pass, which did prove to be the case. It wasn’t a very major path, and there were odd sections of crag and bog to negotiate, but it was reasonable walking.

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Thack Bottom Edge, Scandale Head, Low Bakestones and Dove Crag. More great names.
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Little Hart Crag. Nearer to Dove Crag than to Hart Crag which has always seemed a bit odd to me.

Originally, I’d planned to walk down Scandale, because I’d been looking at it on the map and thinking that I’d never been that way before. But then, looking at the map again, it had occurred to me that I could ‘nip up’ Little Hart Crag, and then ‘nip up’ Dove Crag and come down via High Pike and Low Pike and thus turn a Two Wainwright Day (not bad) into a Six Wainwright Day (stellar). However, when I reached the top of the Scandale Pass the former option seemed much more attractive. It had turned quite grey again, the wind was howling through the pass and the thought of the substantial re-ascent onto Dove Crag was not appealing to me at all. In truth, I’m not sure that different conditions would have made any difference: my heart just wasn’t in it. And I wanted to walk down Scandale.

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Scandale.
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Looking back up Scandale to Little Hart Crag.
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And how was it? Well – the track took me too far from Scandale Beck for my liking. The map shows a path on the other side of the beck – I think I’ll give that a go the next time I come this way. I did enjoy the views though.

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Low Pike and High Pike.
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High Brock Crags and Low Brock Crags. I’m intrigued – I wonder how these parallel lines of crags were formed?
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High Pike again.
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Brock Crags, Low Pike, High Pike pano.
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High Sweden Bridge.

Around High Sweden Bridge there were loads of Primroses flowering. The sun began to break through. I took off a layer. What followed was definitely my favourite part of the day.

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Primroses.
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Wood Sorrel.
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Golden Saxifrage and Common Sorrel leaves.

Wood Sorrel and Common Sorrel are not related, or even in any way very similar, except their leaves both have a pleasant citrusy flavour. Since they were growing cheek by jowl in the woods here, I was able to compare – for my money, the Common Sorrel edges it, but both are very refreshing.

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As I came down the track, approaching the outskirts of Ambleside, a Jay dropped to the ground not far in front of me. I watched it for a while, then turned to take a photo of Loughrigg and Nab Scar again…

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When I turned back, the Jay was boldly displaying itself in a fallen tree. Normally such a shy bird, the Jay didn’t seem very bothered by my presence. Briefly, it was joined by a second Jay. It was very frustrating that I didn’t have my ‘birding’ camera with me. By using the digital zoom, I managed to get shots on my phone which are at least recognisably a Jay, even if they are very blurred. I was able to watch the Jay for quite some time before it eventually flew away.

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The fallen tree.
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Coming down into Ambleside.

It was a bit of a shock, on reaching Ambleside, to find that the usual crowds were there, tucking into ice-creams, which seemed incongruous on what had been another cold day in the hills.

MapMyWalk gives a little over 10 miles and almost exactly 800 metres of ascent (I would that think that 700m is nearer the mark).

Red Screes, Middle Dodd and Scandale

Coledale Horseshoe

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Braithwaite and Skiddaw from the lower slopes of Barrow.

This as the day after my Steel Fell – Helm Crag circuit and my fourth consecutive day in the hills. It’s a long time since that happened. We have an electric car these days, and I’d driven up to Braithwaite nervously watching the charge dropping, since this was the furthest I’d been in it. I needn’t have worried.

I’d been looking at websites, this one in particular, which detail routes enabling the dedicated bagger to knock off all of the Wainwrights in no time flat. That’s where the idea for my route around Martindale came from and that’s what put me on to the Coledale Horseshoe.

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Swinside.

Now, to be clear, I realise that the Coledale Horseshoe is an obvious route, and I’ve walked it several times before over the years. But in the past, I wasn’t remotely aware of which tops were Wainwrights and which weren’t. Foolishly, I would begin with the steep climb up Rowling End and ignorantly bypass two potential ticks on Barrow and Outerside. (And that’s still the best approach to Causey Pike, in my opinion). So, it was seeing just how many Wainwrights I could take-in which brought me this way. In the event, I got greedy and even added a couple of tops to the route suggested on Walking Englishman. I truly have tick-fever!

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Cat Bells.

Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself. There’s a fair bit of street parking in Braithwaite. I was walking a little after nine, popping in to a little local shop to supplement my pack-up with a homemade pasty. It’s a long steady pull up Barrow. There were a handful of other walkers about. Actually, the same applies all day: I saw a few people, but it was never busy and later on it seemed like I had the hills to myself.

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From Barrow: Causey Pike, Scar Crags, Sail, Eel Crag, Outerside, Stile End, Hopegill Head, Grisedale Pike.

Just down from the top of Barrow, I found a little hollow in the heather which was quite well sheltered from the wind for the first of several hot grapefruit barley-water stops.

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Looking back to Barrow.

From Barrow the main path skirts around Stile End, but it’s a Birkett, and gripped by tick-fever, I thought I would include it in my circuit. Come to that, I think the main path misses Outerside too.

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Braithwaite, Skiddaw and Blencathra.

It was on the steep nose of Outerside that I got the first hint of just how windy my walk was going to be that day. It had been fairly breezy up till then, but now I found myself having to pause occasionally to get my balance.

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A ‘hash’ trail? I saw a number of piles of sawdust on the path over Outerside. I suspect this was a ‘hash’ trail for runners to follow, although my impression was that hashing involved following a trail laid down by ‘hares’ and stopping at pubs for a quick round of drinks. This location seemed a bit unpromising on the booze front.
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From Outerside: Stile End and Barrow, Blencathra, Keswick, Great Mell Fell, The Dodds and Derwentwater beyond.

In fact, it was so windy that I was wondering whether I would have to cut my route short. In the bizarre way that this can happen in the hills, on top of Outerside there was virtually no wind at all. My next move would be to take the path which traversed up toward Causey Pike. Since the wind was coming from the south and this path crossed a north-facing slope, it would surely be sheltered? I decided to continue and find-out how difficult the going would be on the ridge.

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Causey Pike – note the easy-angled path on the right of the picture.

In the event, this slope wasn’t protected from the wind at all, which seemed to have decided to reverse it’s direction and blast this path with great venom. But then, on the ridge, which you would think would be really exposed, it was relatively calm.

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Sail and Eel Crag.
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Sand Hill, Hobcarton Head and Grisedale Pike.
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Pano: Grisedale Pike, Outerside, Skiddaw, Stile End, Barrow.
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Scar Crags, Sail, Eel Crag, Coledale Hause, Sand Hill, Hopegill Head, Hobcarton Head.
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Causey Pike.

Just to the left and slightly below that final knobble on Causey Pike I found a small crag with a perfectly flat patch of ground beneath it which was almost entirely out of the wind and stopped for my lunch.

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From Scar Crags, looking at the zig-zags on Sail and Eel Crag beyond.

The going was quite easy along the Scar Crags ridge and although, disappointingly, you can’t tell from my photographs, the clouds began to thin and break up, the sun came out, and most of the rest of the day was much brighter.

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Sand Hill, Hopegill Head, Hobcarton Head, Grisedale Pike.

The Fix-The Fells people, presumably, have done a superb job with the path on Sail, which is slightly raised above the surrounding hillside and which glides up the hill in seventeen gentle zig-zags. (Okay it may not be seventeen, I’ve forgotten, but I did count them from the bottom, so that I could use them to measure my progress as I climbed).

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From Sail: the ridge onto Eel Crag.

The OS, and Mr Birkett, call this fell Crag Hill, and down to the right, there’s another Birkett, which, confusingly, he calls Eel Crag. Had I done my research in advance I could have diverted to include it, but I didn’t, and anyway this walk was quite long enough as it was. I shall have to come back, but a walk around the edge of this combe looks an enticing prospect, so that’s no hardship.

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And again, from the Coll.
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Looking back to Sail and Causey Pike.

I’d had a brief chat with the chap in this picture, mostly about the wind, who cheerfully told me that it was ‘much worse’ on Grisedale Pike and that he had thought he was going to be blown off the hill.

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Sand Hill, Hopegill Head, Hobcarton Head, Grisedale Pike.
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Skiddaw and Blencathra from Eel Crag.
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Grasmoor from Eel Crag.

I hadn’t really decided to definitely include Grasmoor in my loop until this point. But the sun was shining, I was feeling good and making reasonable time, so why not? And while I was at it, I might as well have a wander out to Wandope too.

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Wandope.
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Wandope again.

I don’t know why, but for some reason, this section of the walk was particularly wind-blasted. Briefly I was leaning sideways and staggering about.

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Looking back to Scar Crag on Crag Hill.
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Grasmoor.

On Wandope Moss I was staggered to see three walkers completely open out their large map. I expected to see them sail away toward Coledale Hause clinging to their map, but somehow they managed to keep it under control and even refold it neatly. I was half tempted to ask them where they wanted to go, but then they set off toward Whiteless Edge, without needing my assistance.

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The Solway Firth and Criffel (I think) from Grasmoor. A bit hazy!
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A host of hills from Grasmoor.

You can just see the edge of the rough stone shelter on Grasmoor. It offered a little protection from the wind, so I stopped for another drink and to admire the expansive views.

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Sand Hill, Hopegill Head, Hobcarton Crag, Grisedale Pike. Skiddaw and Blencathra beyond.

The route down, skirting the edge of Dove Crag, was lovely, but required a bit of care, with the wind blowing hard over the edge.

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Dove Crag on Grasmoor.

In fact, further down a gust caught me as I was off balance, and I do go over, but only on to my behind and fortunately I wasn’t hurt.

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Grisedale Pike.
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Sand Hill.

I’d been thinking that the top of Liza Beck would probably present another opportunity to get out of the wind and that proved to be the case, so I stopped both to drain the last of the cordial in my flask and to refill my water-bottle, a birthday present from TBH which has a built-in filter for precisely this sort of eventuality.

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Dove Crag on Grasmoor.
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Eel Crag – I definitely need to come back to traverse that edge..
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Grasmoor again.
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From Hopegill Head: along the ridge to Whiteside.
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From Hopegill Head: along the ridge to Whiteside. The northern end of Crummock Water visible down through the valley.
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From Hopegill Head: Grisedale Pike and Hobcarton Crag.
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Hopegill Head and Ladyside Pike.
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Sail and Eel Crag.
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Grasmoor, Hobcarton Crag, Grisedale Pike and Whiteside. In reality, the sky looked much blacker than this.

Disappointingly, you can’t tell at all from this photo, but when I reached the top of Grisedale Pike the skies to the south and west were really black. It looked like it was probably raining on Grasmoor. The ridge is quite defined at this point and by bobbing down on the north side of the top I could get into a fairly well sheltered spot. My first thought was that the very dark skies would make for some dramatic photos and I snapped away gleefully. Then it occurred to me that the wind would bring the showers this way and that I was about to be engulfed in some very heavy rainfall. So I used the shelter to hastily pull on my waterproofs (in the case of my trousers, full of holes and more duct-tape than trouser, that name can only be used ironically).

None-too-soon, as I finished getting them on it started to chuck it down. It was a fierce shower which lasted around 40 minutes. The first, steep, part of the descent slithering down wet, slippy rocks and loose scree in horizontal rain, was really not much fun. But when the gradient and the rain eased I could reflect on a very satisfying day on a magnificent range of hills as I plodged down into Braithwaite.

Some walk stats: MapMyWalk gives a little over 12 miles, although, as you can see, I paused the app on Grasmoor and didn’t restart it until Coledale Hause, and the numbers on the map seem to show a little over 22 km, which is close to 14 miles and might be nearer the truth. The map and the figures given often don’t tally, which is a bit weird. The app also gives a little over 1300m of ascent, but that’s definitely a bit short of the mark.

Wainwrights: Barrow, Outerside, Causey Pike, Scar Crags, Sail, Eel Crag, Wandope, Grasmoor, Hopegill Head, Grisedale Pike.

Birketts: all of those (although Eel Crag is Crag Hill as noted), plus Stile End, Sand Hill, Hobcarton Head.

Coledale Horseshoe