Eastern Martindale Fells

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Steel Knotts / Pikeawassa

This was the day after my Holme Fell and Black Fell outing with TBH. After that modest affair this was much more ambitious. I think I was frustrated that the first week of the Easter holidays had only yielded three Wainwrights. In my defence, the weather hadn’t been much cop and we had also been decorating our living room. I say ‘we’, but in honesty TBH had been decorating the living room and I had been ferrying the boys about to give her the time to do that. I did put a coat of paint on the ceiling I suppose. I had to really, I’d told the kids that anyone who didn’t contribute would lose their TV privileges. Anyway, over the next three days I made an effort to make up the deficit (of Wainwrights bagged, not decorating).

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Hallin Fell

I parked by the ‘new’ church, below Hallin Fell, dropped down to Howtown and then climbed steeply towards White Knotts.

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Steel Knotts / Pikeawassa and Martindale.

I don’t know who made the path, or why, but it was very cleverly done.

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Ullswater.

Having hit the ‘ridge’ – it’s neither a ridge, nor a plateau, so I’m not sure what to call it – I had to descend slightly to reach Bonscale Pike. From Easter onwards (and quite often in the winter) I habitually wear shorts. It was very windy and very cold this day and I wondered at times whether I would have to turn back, but I found that by layering up on my top half, with a couple of fleeces, hat, gloves and at times my cag too, my legs didn’t seem to be an issue.

Bonscale Pike has lots of humps and hollows – thinking, quite rightly as it turned out – that shelter would be at a premium, I stopped for a cuppa.

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Skiddaw and Blencathra. Gowbarrow and the Mell Fells in the middle distance.
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Arthur’s Pike (on the right) from Bonscale Pike.

From Bonscale Pike the route drops into a hollow and then climbs out to Arthur’s Pike.

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Bonscale Pike from Arthur’s Pike.

From there, it’s a long series of very gradual ascents, over Loadpot Hill, Wether Hill, Red Crag, and Raven Howe to my high point for the day High Raise.

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The route ahead.
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Cross Fell catching the sun on the other side of the Eden Valley.
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The Trig Pillar On Loadpot Hill.

Clearly the showers we’d watched the day before shrouding the long ridge from the Dodds down to Fairfield had fallen as snow on the higher parts of the range.

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The snow-capped hills on the western side of Patterdale.
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Red Crag (on the right) and Low Raise and High Raise ahead.

I had my eye on the wall in the photo above from quite some distance away. It looked like it might offer some shelter. It did, and it was most welcome. I sat behind the wall here for quite some time, ate my lunch and had another hot drink (Pink Grapefruit squash – a tip from old friend the Hairy Oatcake).

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The hills across Patterdale again.
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High Raise, Rampsgill Head, The Knott and Rest Dodd.

It seemed to take a long time, but I was gradually reeling High Raise in.

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The shelter and the cairn on High Raise.

I didn’t have high hopes for the little stone shelter, but in the event it wasn’t too bad. I finished off the Grapefruit cordial and enjoyed the views over the Eden Valley.

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Looking across Low Raise from High Raise to showers over the Eden Valley.
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Kidsty Pike and Rampsgill Head. High Street beyond.
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High Street.
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Kidsty Pike from Rampsgill Head.

There’s a high ‘ticks to effort’ ratio here, with not much energy expended to grab Kidsty Pike, Rampsgill Head and The Knott.

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Harter Fell, Mardale Ill Bell, High Street, Thornthwaite Crag.
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Looking back to High Raise and Raven Howe.
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Catstye Cam stands out in this view of the fells west of Patterdale.
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Huge Cairn on The Knott.
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Rest Dodd – showers behind.

Rest Dodd is not such a push-over, with a steepish re-ascent to be overcome.

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High Raise and The Knott.

It looked like frequent showers were tracking south along Patterdale and I thought it was only a matter of time before I got a drubbing, but aside from a few flurries of snow, they never materialised.

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Two cairns on Rest Dodd.
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Icicles on Rest Dodd.
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Raven Howe and High Raise.
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The Nab.

The ground between Rest Dodd and The Nab looked like it would be very heavy going, but although there was a fair bit of bog and some big peat hags, it was surprisingly easy to circumvent.

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High Raise and Rest Dodd.

I knew, from a previous visit, that there’s a superb path which spirals down the western flank of The Nab. Again, I don’t know who made it or why, but it’s a great bit of work. In places the slope is extremely steep, but the path, narrow at times, keeps on contouring and descending very gently. Perfect.

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The well-made path on The Nab.
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Hallin Fell and Steel Knotts / Pikeawassa looking down Martindale.
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The Nab.
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The Bungalow.

“Constructed in 1910 as a shooting lodge for Hugh Lowther, Earl of Lonsdale, in a colonial style to host a visit from the German Kaiser”

Nowadays, it’s self-catering accommodation, sleeping 10, so the likes of you and I can rent it out and see what kind of luxury was laid on for ol’ Wilhelm.

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Looking up Martindale.

The long walk down the valley on the road was…well, long. I was getting a bit worn out by now.

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Martindale Old Church, St. Martin’s.
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The Nab and Beda Fell.
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Cotehow – Grade II Listed of course.
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Hallin Fell.

But then the sun came out and I was quite tempted to tag on Hallin Fell. It was already pretty late however, so I decided to leave that for another day.

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Martindale New Church. St. Peter’s.

Some hike stats: MapMyWalk gives 14½ miles and 980m of ascent (which is bit of an underestimate I think).

Wainwrights: Bonscale Pike, Arthur’s Pike, Loadpot Hill, Wether Hill, High Raise, Kidsty Pike, Rampsgill Head, The Knott, Rest Dodd, The Nab.

Birketts: those ten, plus Red Crag. I could, and should, have revisited the top of Swarth Fell while I was at it. But I didn’t. Never mind.

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Eastern Martindale Fells

Black Fell and Holme Fell

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Tom Gill Waterfalls

Two days after my birthday, and time to climb some actual hills, although, in truth, quite diddy ones. I can’t remember why, but it was already well after midday when we parked in the car-park just off the busy A593 which runs between Ambleside and Coniston. We were in the little car park near Glen Mary Bridge which has the dual advantage of being a National Trust carpark and of being beside Tom Gill, the stream which drains Tarn Hows.

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Tom Gill Waterfall

We’ve been this way before, and knew that the walk up through the woods, besides the many waterfalls in Tom Gill would be delightful.

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Tom Gill Waterfall
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In the woods.
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Tarn Hows

When we arrived at Tarn Hows, the sun was shining and it was really very attractive. I could almost understand why the crowds flock there. It was a bit too cold and a bit too busy to strip off for a swim, so we decided to have a very early, at least in terms of the walk, lunch stop by the shore of the tarn.

Inevitably, away from the tarn, it was much quieter as we headed steadily up through Iron Keld Plantation towards Black Fell. (The OS have both Black Fell and Black Crag, but since I am currently obsessing about ticking off Wainwrights, I’ll stick with the name the old curmudgeon used.)

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Looking towards the hills around Langdale and Eskdale.

It was no surprise that the views from Black Fell are superb, but fabulous to have such fine conditions to enjoy them. I was disproportionately chuffed that Lingmoor, where I’d been earlier in the week, featured prominently in those views.

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Ambleside and the head of Windermere.
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Wetherlam.
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Looking towards Helvellyn and Fairfield.

The weather looked a bit grim over the long ridge of hills which runs north-south between Clough Head, the Dodds, Helvellyn, and the Fairfield Horseshoe. It looked grim over those hills all day. Curious how that can happen and how localised the weather in Cumbria can be.

Below the top of of Black Fell there’s a very substantial cairn. We decided to investigate.

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And then decided to have a second lunch stop just below the cairn from where there was an excellent view along Windermere…

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The weather still looks grim towards Helvellyn and Fairfield.
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On our descent, Coniston Water in the distance.

We were on the same path we had followed when we walked from Coniston to Ambleside last summer, although we would divert off to the left fairly soon.

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The weather still looks grim towards Helvellyn and Fairfield.
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Low Arnside Farm. Grade II listed. Property of the National Trust. The gift of Beatrix Potter.

I’m beginning to wonder if there are any old buildings in the Lake District which Beatrix Potter didn’t buy and give to the National Trust.

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The weather looks even grimmer towards Helvellyn and Fairfield.

We still had sunshine, but it wouldn’t last much longer. We soon had the first of several short showers, with a little hail mixed in. We didn’t see much sun after that, but it generally stayed fine at least.

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Only Lingmoor has the sun.

Although I’ve climbed Holme Fell quite a few times over the years, I’ve never used this route before, up the long broad ridge from Oxen Fell via Man Crag. It’s a terrific route which I discovered in one the Aileen and Brian Evans Cicerone ‘Short Walks’ guides.

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The weather looks marginally less grim towards Helvellyn and Fairfield.
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Black Fell. Not black. Unlike the skies behind it.
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Yew Tree Tarn and Coniston Water.

We had another brief drink and snack stop on the ridge, but it had become a bit cold and windy to stop for very long.

This is an extremely lumpy ridge with lots of rocky little knolls. Fortunately, we found a series of little paths which wound around the bumps.

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Ivy Crag on the left, the top of Holme Fell on the right.
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The disused reservoir over TBH’s shoulder is reputed to be a good place to swim. It’s on my list!
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The top.
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This painted stone was on the summit cairn. I wish I knew what it was commemorating? The writing just says Africa, Europe, Asia, Aust so I’m not sure that helps. Curious that the Americas are omitted.

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Coniston Water.
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On the descent. Holme Fells impressive crags behind.
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Yew Tree Farm and Barn. Grade II listed. Property of the National Trust. The gift of Beatrix Potter. Inevitably. I liked the open gallery along the front of the barn.

Some stats: MapMyWalk gives 7½ miles and 360m of ascent. The Evans say 6¼ miles, but their (excellent) route drops down from Uskdale Gap and so misses the top of Holme Fell which probably accounts for the difference.

If you’re looking for a half-day walk in the Lakes I reckon you’d be hard-pressed to beat this one for variety and views.

Black Fell and Holme Fell

The Langdales and Lingmoor

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Blea Tarn. Side Pike on the far side and the Langdale Pikes obscured by clouds behind.

B had a shift in the cafe at Brockholes; since I was dropping him off there, I decided to stay in the Lakes and make the most of it, despite a fairly ropey forecast. I had a fine time, even though it rained on and off most of the day.

I parked up by Blea Tarn, another National Trust carpark, although the joy of ‘free’ parking was tempered by high winds and driving rain which weren’t terribly encouraging. I rarely set-off for a walk in full waterproofs, I’m a fair weather walker, as much as I can manage to be.

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Looking back towards Blea Tarn. The plug of rock in this photo is Tarnclose Crag.

Fortunately, my route started downhill into Little Langdale and I hadn’t walked far before both the wind and the rain had abated a bit.

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Farmhouse at Fell Foot
When the skies are grey and the weather is rotten, I always think the white-washed stone buildings still look attractive. I’ve often thought that the porch over the door here is unusual. Turns out this is a Grade II listed building.

“At the foot of Wrynose Pass. C16 north wing, the main block C17. A long, low house, white-washed stone rubble, flag roof, 2 storeys. The door is under the overhang of a slate-hung upper storey, gabled, and without windows, the timber beam ends showing in the gable.”

Source.

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This shows the entire farm complex at Fell Foot with Castle Crag behind, itself a scheduled monument because of it’s suspected history as a hill-fort. By the farm there’s the Ting Mound where the Norse inhabitants of the valley had council meetings.

Behind Castle Crag you can see Lingmoor which is out of the cloud and would remain so all day, unlike any of the surrounding higher hills. I assume these very rocky lumps – Side Pike, Tarnclose Crag and Castle Crag are volcanic in origin, but would love to find out more.

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Bridge End Cottage.

The National Trust own both Fell Foot Farm and Bridge End Cottage, in the latter case at least, gifted to them by Beatrix Potter. Bridge End Cottage is another grade II listed building.

I had half an idea that I might be able to bag Holme Fell and Black Crag as well as Lingmoor, but I needed to collect B from Brockholes at the end of his shift, and even I could see that I would be pushing it to manage all that and still arrive on time to pick him up. On the other hand, just climbing Lingmoor would undoubtedly leave me with quite a bit of time to kill, so I decided to extend my walk along Little Langdale as far as Skelwith Bridge and then come back up Great Langdale before bagging Lingmoor.

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Lingmoor and Little Langdale Tarn.
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High Hall Garth – you’ve guessed it, Grade II and property of the National Trust.
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Low Hall Garth. Owned by the NT, gifted by Beatrix Potter, Grade II.
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Lingmoor and Slater’s Bridge.

I didn’t divert, as I usually have, to photograph the marvellous Slater’s Bridge – it was very busy. It has appeared on the blog many times before. (Here for example, or here). It’s an amazing structure, in a low-key picturesque sort of way. I’ve never thought to look up it’s protected status before, but it turns out that it trumps the other local properties by being Grade II*.

“Slater’s Bridge II*. Over River Brathay. C17 packhorse bridge of slate and natural boulders. Huge boulder in mid-stream supports segmental arched bridge of 15 ft span with 3 1/2 ft voussoirs, and a flat causeway of a single slab on slate supports.”

Source

Voussoirs? A wedge-shaped or tapered stone used to construct an arch, obviously. Learn a new thing every day! (And forget it the next sadly.)

The obvious knobble on Lingmoor with a prominent gully on its right, is Busk Pike, of which more later.

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No sign of any voussoirs at the next bridge down the Brathay, but still quite a handsome footbridge I thought.

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Little Langdale and Lingmoor.
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Colwith Force.

At Chesters, at Skelwith bridge, I managed to buy a nice lunch* from their takeaway counter and then was lucky to get a picnic table under the eaves and so out of the rain. (*Pricey, but very tasty.)

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Elter Water. Lingmoor on the left. This should be one of the iconic views of the Langdale Pikes, but they were still lost in the cloud.
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Bridge over Great Langdale Beck in Elterwater. Rebuilt 1702. Grade II listed of course.

Judging by Historic England’s map, just about every building in the village of Elterwater must be listed. I shall have to come back to investigate some time. Since one of those listed buildings is the Britannia Inn, that should be an enjoyable experience!

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I left Elterwater on a steep and stony track and was amused by this cycle route sign at the bottom, since ‘challenging’ seems like a huge understatement to me.

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This path leaves that track at around its highest point. I think it must be an old mining track, it has fabulous zig-zags and clearly someone has gone to a lot of effort in constructing it.

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I’ve become a bit obsessed with being able to put a name to every hill, hump and hollow in the view. I blame Andy. The wooded hill in the middle-ground here doesn’t have a name on the OS map and there’s no path to the top, but the wooded slopes on it’s northern and eastern flanks are access land, Fletcher’s Wood, so it would be possible to get at least close to the top. The higher ground to the right, meanwhile, is the end of the Black Crag ridge. TBH and I traversed those slopes on our walk between Coniston and Ambleside last summer.

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A day of contrasts – the Coniston Fells are lost in what I suspect was foul weather, whilst the sun is trying to shine on Little Langdale Tarn.

The weather had brightened up enough for me to take a short stop and drink some of the contents of my flask. The view was limited by the dense, low clouds, but still pretty good.

After the initial steep climb, somewhat eased by the marvellous zig-zags, a much steadier ascent ensues. There were still a number of broad grassy tracks, testament to this areas quarrying history. I took the lower path, intending to take in Busk Pike.

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Looking down on Little Langdale Tarn. Holme Fell visible through the rain. Spoil heaps and small, tumble-down walled structures like this were dotted about the hillside.
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Busk Pike.
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Busk Pike again.
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I’d like to revisit Busk Pike when the views are less curtailed by clouds.

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Brown How – the summit of Lingmoor – from Busk Pike. Notice the ruined buildings between the two tops.
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This was the biggest of the many derelict buildings I saw on Lingmoor. It provided a sheltered spot for another drinks stop. The sun even shone a little, although it also started drizzling again, just in case I was getting complacent about the weather.
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Looking back to Busk Pike and the the old mine buildings.
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And again.from a little higher up.

On the summit of Lingmoor, I met a family party of three, the first walkers I’d met since leaving the track near Dale End. We congratulated each other on the fact that it was “Not too bad”. As soon as our conversation ended, I realised that it was indeed ‘too bad’: the weather was back to how it had been when I first set-off from Blea Tarn – a howling gale and very heavy rain. It seemed highly plausible that closer to the higher hills around the head of Langdale, the weather had remained this way all day.

I was keen to get out of these conditions and back to the car, but I did divert slightly to include Lingmoor Tarn on my route…

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Side Pike – it had been my intention to include this on my route, but with the weather now so foul and with time running short, I decided to keep it for another day.
MapMyWalk gives a little over 11 miles and 560m of ascent (the latter might be a bit of an overestimate)

B had told me his shift finished at 6.30, but when I arrived to pick him up (and two friends who had also been working at Brockholes that day), it turned out that, because the cafe had been so quiet, they’d been ‘sent home’ an hour early. B was furious that I hadn’t been answering my phone (it had been on flight mode, preserving the battery whilst I probably didn’t have a signal anyway). Unfortunately for B, beggar’s can’t be chooser’s, and he soon calmed down when I offered to leave him behind, if he didn’t like the free taxi-service on offer.

The Langdales and Lingmoor