Black Fell and Holme Fell

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.

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.

Tom Gill Waterfall
In the woods.
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.)

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.

Ambleside and the head of Windermere.
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.


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

The weather still looks grim towards Helvellyn and Fairfield.
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.

The weather still looks grim towards Helvellyn and Fairfield.
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.

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.

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.

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

Ivy Crag on the left, the top of Holme Fell on the right.
The disused reservoir over TBH’s shoulder is reputed to be a good place to swim. It’s on my list!
The top.

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.

Coniston Water.
On the descent. Holme Fells impressive crags behind.
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

Chucking Stones

Chucking stones

We were out again on Sunday. It was overcast and gloomy. We were joined by some friends for a potter around to the Cove, where we bumped into some more friends. Rocks were scaled, the smelly cave was visited and many, many stones were thrown: some were slender, smooth and rounded, perfect for skimming elegantly across the pond-calm surface of the water, but most were great lumps of rock lobbed high to provide maximum splash. Beached detritus, flotsam and jetsam, was refloated and comprehensively bombed.

A couple of herons remained primed on the rocks nearby, despite the hullabaloo. A trio of red-breasted mergansers rowed serenely past, understandably steering a course that kept them well off-shore.

A welcome return of the photo project series of posts over on must be this way, has seen Andy discussing the merits of figures in (mountain) landscapes. Clearly, this isn’t a mountain scene, and I make no claims for it as a photo, but it will serve to remind me of a cold and potentially dreary couple of hours which the kids enjoyed enormously.

Chucking Stones

Sea Wood, Aldingham, Birkrigg Common

In the car we’d been listening to Michael Hordern read ‘Prince Caspian’. I suspect that Michael Hordern could have made almost anything interesting to listen to, but the kids are quite Narnia obsessed at the moment. A has begun to read the books, the kids have all seen the films – in fact they had watched ‘The Voyage of the Dawn Treader’ at the flicks the day before with their mum whilst I was painting – and they are already busy preparing their costumes as characters from ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ for World Book Day. Today their mum had taken over the painting duties (fiddly stuff involving gloss paints and woodwork – beyond my meagre capabilities) and I was making a virtue of necessity and taking the rest of the crew for a staycation exploration day.

At the beginning of ‘Prince Caspian’ Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy unexpectedly find themselves in a wood, by a shore. They soon find a stream across the beach, and then the ruins of Cair Paravel in which they find a well. In the cold and the mist we embarked into a wood, by a shore. The kids soon found a rivulet issuing from a black plastic pipe. Just into the wood we found a mysterious ditch…

…at the end of which there was……a well!

…or something the kids were happy to believe was a well. I soon found that my companions had been renamed Peter, Edmund and Lucy. Lucy found a rough circle of erratic boulders, which she announced were the ruins of Cair Paravel’s keep and the magic was complete.

Whilst their imaginations ran wild, I was noticing that the Ramson leaves are much more advanced than the ones I spotted earlier in the week in Bottoms Wood near home.

 Spent puffballs.

We followed the lower edge of the woods and when we ran out of wood we turned about and came back along the foreshore.

 Sea Wood

Lucy had turned to beachcombing and was filling her pockets with stones and shells…

The boys were enjoying the mud and puddles and scrambling on the low cliffs. They were particularly taken with one twisted oak, the roots of which had been exposed by erosion, leaving a a space into which they climbed – a den which they were very reluctant to leave.

 Crab apples in the shingle.

Sea Wood is a Woodland Trust property, and has been on my ‘to do’ list for quite some time. We would have missed the delights of Aldingham however had we not been alerted to its potential as a lunch spot by Danny at Teddy Tour Teas. So thanks Danny! Our lunch wasn’t as elaborate, or mouth-watering, as Danny’s but we enjoyed it none-the-less.

We couldn’t find all 27 of these, but were fascinated but those we did find.

I think that they might be Large White chrysalides (plural for chrysalis apparently).

Aldingham has a beach of sorts, which was also a big hit. We don’t expect to find sand on the fringes of Morecambe Bay and were very excited to find it here.

 More beachcombing. St. Cuthbert’s in the background.

Parts of the beach were shale. with a fabulous variety of shapes and shades in the stones.

Naturally, beyond the thin strip of sand, the mud and pools of the bay exerted an strong pull on the boys.

They also enjoyed this overspilling trough…

The pipe beyond it seems to be superfluous now.

Superfluous except as a balance beam for S. Both boys were keen to climb on the remnants of this groyne too. Perhaps the explanation for why there is a beach here at all?

We found a few balls like this on the beach…which I think might be fish eggs? That’s what I told my kids anyway, so if anyone can elucidate further…?

On the verge of the lane just back from the beach, butterbur flowers were emerging and by the wall of St. Cuthbert’s (this is one of the spots were St. Cuthbert’s remains are said to have rested apparently)….

….common speedwell?

 Aldingham Hall.

The final part of our triumvirate, another long anticipated visit, was the small stone circle on Birkrigg Common, just above Sea Wood and not too far from the road.

From whence we repaired to Ulverston and ‘soft play’ for them, Earl Grey for me.

We very much enjoyed our day and the strong consensus was that we shall have to return to all 3 locales for further exploration. Perhaps when the sun shines.

Sea Wood, Aldingham, Birkrigg Common