Silver How and Loughrigg


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.

River Rothay.
Grasmere, looking toward Helm Crag.
Grasmere – Seat Sandal and Stone Arthur rising beyond.
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.

Silver How from Wyke Plantation.
Silver How from just beyond Wyke Plantation.
Grasmere and Rydal Water.
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.”

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.

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

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

Lang How. Quite imposing. A Birkett, but not a Wainwright.
Looking back to Silver How.
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.

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

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

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…

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.

Here’s B lifting his captain in the lineout. In the 16 shirt. With his back to us.
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

Easter Saturday Summerhouse Hill

Peacock Butterfly

Easter Sunday brought some warm weather, warm enough for butterflies anyway!

TBH and I had a local wander, around Hawes Water, across Yealand Allotment, over Cringlebarrow to Summer House Hill and back via Leighton Moss.

Comma and photo-bombing Shield Bug, which I’ve only just noticed.
Violets and old Beech leaves.
A field on Cringlebarrow completely enclosed by woods.
The foundations are all that remains of the Summer House on Summer House Hill.
Three of the Summer House Hill Standing Stones.

I’ve always been a bit sceptical about the Standing Stones on Summer House Hill, there are only four of them after all, which doesn’t really seem to add up to a ‘circle’ as such. I should have done my research more thoroughly! The Historic England website reveals that it is a scheduled monument, and that a 1930s survey found ‘socket-holes’ where 13 additional stones were originally sited and signs of a shallow ditch which ran around the circle. I wonder whether there’s a connection to the large walls on nearby Warton Crag, now thought to be Bronze Age?

A new bench on Summer House Hill – another monument of sorts.

The new bench is one of several which overlook….

Leighton Hall, Leighton Moss, Arnside Knott and Grange.
Heading home.
Easter Saturday Summerhouse Hill

Red Screes, Middle Dodd and Scandale

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…

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

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.

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

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.

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!

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.

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

Thack Bottom Edge, Scandale Head, Low Bakestones and Dove Crag. More great names.
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.

Looking back up Scandale to Little Hart Crag.

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.

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

Wood Sorrel.
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.


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…


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.

The fallen tree.
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

Close to Home

Green Hellebore.

A brief interlude from Wainwright-bagging for a throwback post from the days when I used to do local walks! The walk was short, with hardly any up and down, and all the photos, taken with my camera not my phone, are of wildflowers not mountain views.

Green Hellebore.

I wanted to visit the largest patch of Green Hellebore I know, in Middlebarrow Wood. I was late this year in going to see them, which you can tell because the flowers already have large pea-like seed-pods protruding from them.

Wych Elm Seeds.

I’m reasonably confident that these are Wych Elm seeds. Wych Elm seems pretty common locally. Other Elms have similar seeds, so I could be wrong, but Wych Elm grows further north than other species and is also more resilient to Dutch Elm disease.

Wych Elm Seeds.

As a butterfly fanatic, it’s good to see these trees doing well locally because the White-letter Hairstreak is solely reliant on Elms, it’s the food-plant of the caterpillar and apparently they thrive on Wych Elms particularly.

Not that I’ve seen many White-letter Hairstreaks though, just the one in fact. They’re usually quite elusive because they tend to be high in the trees.

Goat Willow – male catkins.

I’m sure I’ve read, somewhere, that you shouldn’t identify Willows just from their catkins, but I think, thanks to this very handy guide, that these photos all show Goat Willow catkins. It should be easy to check, since other willow species in Britain seem to all have thin leaves whereas Goat Willow leaves are rounded.

Goat Willow – male catkins.

Goat Willow is a dioecious plant, with each tree having either male or female flowers. Dioecious is one of the many botanical terms I’ve learned as a consequence of writing this blog. It’s a shame that my family won’t play me at Scrabble, because that would be a handy word to have up your sleeve when you end up with a fistful of low-scoring vowels.

Goat Willow – male catkins.
Goat Willow – female catkins, and some sort of fly.

Goat Willow, if these are Goat Willow, is one of the species also known as Pussy Willow, because of the hairy nature of the male catkins.

Close to Home

Greenburn Horseshoe

Cottage on the outskirts of Grasmere.

I needed a shorter walk, but still with plenty of Wainwright bagging potential, both because this was the day after my epic walk around Martindale and because B had another shift at Brockholes, so time was limited. Grasmere is not too far from Brockholes and, I thought, has enough carparks for me to have a good chance of finding somewhere even though I would arrive quite late after dropping B off at ten. So a circuit of Greenburn seemed to fit the bill perfectly.

Seat Sandal and Stone Arthur.

As I walked the minor lane from Grasmere to Ghyll Foot, the skies cleared, the sun came out and, whisper it, it was actually warm. I had to stop to remove most of my layers. Flash in the pan as it turns out, spring never seems to have got going weather-wise this year.

Blackthorn Blooms

Fortunately, the flowers didn’t seem too concerned and went about their business anyway.

Steel Fell
Cottages at Ghyll Foot.
Steel Fell.

The ascent of Steel Fell is a long steady pull. At first I was pretty warm, but as I gained height a cooling breeze sprang up and the layers had to go back on. Still, it was nice while it lasted.

Loughrigg, Grasmere and Helm Crag.

The ridge has a couple of knobbles beyond which the gradient eases for a while. Quite good to have staging posts like this and at the top of the first of them I found a spot out of the breeze for an extended lunch stop.

On the south-east ridge of Steel Fell – my lunch stop view.

Sadly, after that, it rapidly clouded-up. Still good walking weather to be honest, but not so good for photography.

Looking down the ridge, the Rothay Valley and Helm Crag.
Helvellyn and its attendant fells.
Thirlmere, Skiddaw, Blencathra and the Dodds ridge..
Looking towards Calf Crag. High Raise beyond.
Blakerigg Crag on Steel Fell, Greenburn, Helm Crag and Gibson Knott.
One of the tarns at the head of Greenburn.
Looking back to Steel Fell.
The ‘other’ tarn.

The was some kind of diving-duck in the second tarn, but I couldn’t get a good enough photo to identify it with my phone.

The boggy route onto Calf Crag.

The section of the route between the tarns and Calf Crag was very, very soggy. I might nominate it as one of the boggiest spots in the Lakes but I’ve subsequently been somewhere else, not too far from here, which wins that accolade hands down. (I hope: if there’s somewhere worse, I don’t want to experience it!)

Brownrigg Moss and Greenup Edge from Calf Crag.
Tarn Crag.
Gibson Knott and Helm Crag

These are quite familiar hills which I’ve walked several times before, but I must admit I’d forgotten how much up and down there is on Gibson Knott – or maybe I was just tired after the exertions of the day before. I certainly made heavy weather of the short little re-ascent onto Helm Crag.

Steel Fell.
Looking back to Calf Crag from Gibson Knott.
Tarn Crag from another angle.
Helm Crag.
Gibson Knott and Steel Fell.
The Old Woman Playing the Organ?

These two photos, above and below, show the same rock formation from different directions, the actual summit of Helm Crag. Did I shin-up to the top? Did I ‘eck. I’m fairly certain I have been up there in the past, and the boys made it look easy the last time we were up here, but the rocks overhang a bit of a drop and I decided that discretion is the better part of valour and took pictures instead!

The Lion Couchant or the Howitzer?
The Lion and the Lamb?

The names are from Wainwright’s Pictorial Guide and apparently your viewpoint is crucial. I must lack imagination, I couldn’t see any lions, lambs, old women or organs. Just rocks which were fascinating in their own right without needing to resemble anything else.

Grasmere from Helm Crag.
Sourmilk Gill.
Far Easdale.

I’d started to worry, somewhere around Gibson Knott, that I’d miscalculated and would be late to pick-up B again, but in fact I arrived back in Grasmere with time to pop into the local Co-op for supplies and still have time to spare.

MapMyWalk gives a little over 9 miles and almost bang on 600m of elevation gain.

And four more Wainwrights bagged: Steel Fell, Calf Crag, Gibson Knott and Helm Crag.

Greenburn Horseshoe

Easter Hols Are Here

Eaves Wood – Inman’s Road – Hawes Water – Moss Lane – The Row – Bank Well – Lambert’s Meadow – Burtonwell Wood – The Green – Clifftop Path – Hollins Lane – Heald Brow – Hollins Lane – Woodwell – Bottom’s Wood – Spring Bank

Inman’s Road in Eaves Wood.
Wych Elm seeds. I think.
Heading down towards Hawes Water.
Clougha Pike and Carnforth salt-marsh from Heald Brow.
Backlit daffs.
New honeysuckle leaves.

The first day of our Easter break and, having overslept, I opted for a local walk rather than heading to the Lakes.

Easter Hols Are Here

Far Arnside Daffs, The Knott and Old Friends

Far Arnside Daffs and an Old Friend
Coniston Fells from Arnside Knott.
Eastern Fells, Kent Estuary, Whitbarrow Scar and Foulshaw Moss from Arnside Knott.

Very nearly the exact same route as the walk in my last but one post, but with better company. I didn’t take many photos, I was probably whittering too much. We only had a brief window, as the Jones clan needed to drop off the Prof and get home; I suggested this route over any others because I knew the daffs at Far Arnside would still be worth seeing. The view from the Knott takes some beating too.

Far Arnside Daffs, The Knott and Old Friends

Far Arnside Daffs, The Knott and New Friends


The day after my outing on Sheffield Pike. More sunshine. A local walk for a change.

Green Hellebore.
I took ‘the top’ path from Far Arnside instead of walking lower down by the shore, I can’t remember why.
Very hazy – no Lake District hills in view.

At Arnside Tower Farm I waited ages for the traffic to clear – the herd were being fetched in for milking and I waited until they’d all passed before crossing the track they were using. A couple of the farms collies joined me as I walked away from the farm. I’ve never owned a dog and have no intention of getting one, but if I ever changed my mind I would want a collie – they seem like such intelligent dogs. I thought this pair would turn back when we passed the Tower, but they didn’t. Maybe they would eventually head back to the farm if I continued down the lane toward the campsite? No.


In the end, I turned back myself and they followed me all the way back to the farmyard, at which point I apparently lost my magnetism and they trotted off to investigate something else.

More hellebores…
…and more daffs on the lane along the perimeter of Holgates campsite.
Hazel Catkins – male flowers.
Tiny female Hazel flowers.
Comma butterfly.
The Bay from The Cove, from a mid-week post-work walk.
Far Arnside Daffs, The Knott and New Friends

Sheffield Pike Circuit

Glencoyne Bay – Mossdale – Glenridding Dodd – Heron Pike – Sheffield Pike – White Stones – Hart Side – Birkett Fell – Brown Hills – Swineside Knott – Watermillock Common – Common Fell – Round How – Bracken How – Aira Force – Glencoyne Bay

The view from Glencoyne Bay – Gowbarrow on the left, part of Place Fell on the right.

This was the weekend after our Scotland trip. Note the blue skies. The week before our weekend at Bridge of Orchy I was in Langdale enjoying splendid weather. The week after by Ullswater: more sunshine. But for our long planned get-together: wild weather. Sod’s Law in action!

I parked at Glencoyne Bay, which, on this sunny Saturday, was surprisingly quiet. Most people there seemed to have water-sports in mind and were unloading canoes from roof-racks or inflating paddle boards. It’s a National Trust car-park, so it’s ‘free’ for members like me, just like the Stickle Barn car park a fortnight before had been, a fact which pleases me out of all proportion to the money saved.

I’d spotted a dotted black line on the map: a path which would take me up Mossdale to the col between Heron Pike and Glenridding Dodd. It climbed steeply through woods at first, and, unusually this spring, I actually felt pretty warm as I climbed.

Large bee, small daffodils, or both?

Photos of Robins are a staple of this blog, but have been far and few between of late; here’s a couple to compensate…

Robin. Ragin’ Full-on.

Because the path climbed quite steeply, views quickly opened out behind…


The route spiralled in on Gelnridding Dodd. I would be coming back to the col to head for Heron Pike before long.

Heron Pike.
Nab Crag and Blea Cove on Birkhouse Moor.

There was, inevitably, a cold breeze on the top, but I nestled down in the heather, just off the summit and stopped for a brew with a view…

Gowbarrow, Ullswater and Place Fell from Glenridding Dodd.
Nab Crag and Catstye Cam.
Looking back to Glenridding Dodd, Place Fell and Glenridding.

The ascent of Heron Pike is steep and rocky, in complete contrast to the moorland which follows up to Sheffield Pike. Heron Pike, a Birkett, is not really a summit at all, but was a great place to hunker down in the shelter of some crags for a view with an even better view.

Ullswater from Heron Pike.

I’m glad that I stopped there. Out of the wind it was lovely, but as I continued to climb the wind became increasingly bitter and shelter was not always easy to find.

Helvellyn from one of the Heron Pike tarns.
Watermillock Common and the Mell Fells beyond from Sheffield Pike.

What made me choose Sheffield Pike from all the other potential hills in the Lakes? A recently retired former colleague had posted photos of Sheffield Pike and Glencoyne on Fakebook, which had me thinking about how very long it must be since I last climbed these hills. It wasn’t far from there to planning a trip to Ullswater.

Striding Edge, Helvellyn, Catstye Cam, Lower Man, Whiteside, Raise.
My onward route to White Stones. Glencoyne Head on the right.

It doesn’t look, on the map, like Nick Head, the col between Sheffield Pike and White Stones, will offer much shelter, but there’s actually a quite steep-sided little hollow there and I stopped again for another quick sup from my flask. I was torn: my vague plan had been to continue to White Stones, but I was looking at the path which contours around Glencoyne Head. I love paths like that and I was very tempted. While I sat, however, several groups passed, all decked out in day-glo and, like me, shorts, and those life-jacket style rucksacks which seem to be all the rage with fell-runners. There will little posts with arrows by the path too. Clearly, there was some sort of event on, and the groups were all taking the Glencoyne Head path. It had been reasonably quiet up till now, despite the fine weather, and I decided to stick with my original plan on the basis that I’d get more peace that way.

Sheffield Pike. High Street range beyond.
Stybarrow Dodd from White Stones.

It would have been easy to bag Stybarrow Dodd from White Stones, but I’m glad I decided not to as the day turned out to be a long one as it was.

White Stones is not a Wainwright, but Hart Side is. It all seems pretty arbitrary. Both are Birketts, as are a whole host of little pimples between those two and Aira Force. It’s a broad grassy ridge, a tad boggy in places, but I only saw two other people on it, the views were expansive and it made for great walking. Mostly downhill too.

Blencathra from Hart Side.

As I said, it was a bit damp in some spots. For some reason this marooned stile tickled my funny bone.

Place Fell from Swineside Knott.

Talking of arbitrary, Swineside Knott has two whole contours to call its own. It’s a few strides off the path, but Wainwright promises the best view of Place Fell, a hill which is very high in my estimation. Add to the that the fact that Swineside Knott is another Birkett, so another tick to be grabbed and I was persuaded to make the very slight detour. The top is completely underwhelming, but step a few paces more, to the crags below, and the views are indeed superb. Time for one final drinks stop!

Ullswater and Patterdale from Swineside Knott.
Swineside Knott. Sheffield Pike behind.
Dowthwaite Head and Dowthwaite Crag. Blencathra behind.
The Mell Fells and Gowbarrow from Common Fell.

Common Fell, on the other hand, has the feel of a proper hill, if a low one. It’s probably not the best one which Wainwright left out of his books, but I liked it.

Now – there’s a rabbit hole to get lost down – which is the best hill in the Lakes which isn’t a Wainwright? Black Combe? (Although that will be an Outlying Fell).

Round How and Bracken How are also Birketts, and again they seem a bit like pointless pimples on the map, but it turns out that Round How also commands a terrific view of Place Fell and Ullswater. Bracken How has no such redeeming feature, but it doesn’t take much climbing.

Place Fell from Round How.
Aira Beck.

No photograph of Aira Force – the paths down to the waterfalls are currently closed after a tree fell and has made the paths dangerous. Walking down through the woods by Aira Beck was very pleasant though. The longish walk back to the car was much nicer than it might have been because there’s a path which keeps you off the busy A592. In fact, I suspect that you can walk from the Aira Force car park all the way into Glenridding without having to walk on the road.

MapMyWalk gives about 11½ miles and 785 metres of ascent. I think the latter is a bit of an underestimate.

Also 3 Wainwrights: Glenridding Dodd, Sheffield Pike and Hart Side.

And 11 Birketts: Glenridding Dodd, Heron Pike, Sheffield Pike, White Stones, Hart Side, Birkett Fell, Brown Hills, Swineside Knott, Common Fell, Round How, Bracken How.

Phew! Good training for some bigger days to come.

Sheffield Pike Circuit

Half Term at Home

The Cove

Not sure what happened during the first half of February. Rain probably; by the bucketload. The most significant thing to happen over half-term is that my parents came to visit, which was terrific – it had been a long while since we had seen them.

I think we had some mixed weather that week, but I managed to get out for several local walks and even saw some blue skies and sunshine.

View from Castlebarrow.
Winter Aconites and Snowdrops.
Snowdrops in Eaves Wood.
Eaves Wood.
The ruined cottage in Eaves Wood.
Hawes Water.

I wondered whether all the tree-felling by Hawes Water would affect the Snowdrops there, but fortunately it doesn’t seem to have had any impact.


I know this second photo looks much the same as the first, but there’s an insect on one of the flowers in the centre of the photo. Perhaps a drone fly. I thought it was pretty unusual to see a fly outside in the middle of February.

Scarlet Elf Cup.
New rustic picket fence around the restored summer house by Hawes Water.

This is Jelly Ear Fungus or Wood Fungus. It’s allegedly edible – I have eaten it, in a restaurant years ago and I can’t say I was impressed.


These black cords, called rhizomorphs, are how Honey, or Bootlace, fungus spreads. They grow beneath the bark of an infected tree, but can also spread beneath the soil to reach new trees. Honey fungus will kill its host tree. I think it’s quite common in this area.

Honey Fungus mushrooms are bioluminescent (the gills glow in the dark), although their ghostly greenish light emissions are usually far too weak to be visible to the human eye in a normal woodland environment, even on a moonless night. To see this effect it is necessary to sit close to some of the mushrooms in total darkness (in a windowless room) until your eyes have become accustomed to the dark and your pupils are fully dilated.


A rash of fungus appears along Inman’s Road, the path along the bottom edge of Eaves Wood, every autumn. I think it’s Honey Fungus. It’s never occurred to me before to bring some home to test the bioluminescence, but I think this year I will.

Lumpy Bracket fungus?

I think that this might be Lumpy Bracket fungus, partly because in the same way that Jelly Ear fungus usually grows on Elder, this fungus typically grows on Beech, especially stumps, which is exactly what was happening here. Where a large number of Beeches have been (controversially) felled by Hawes Water, many of the stumps now host this fungus.

Gloucester Old Spot piglets at Hawes Villa farm.

I thought, obviously mistakenly, that Hawes Villa had stopped keeping pigs. Happily, I’m wrong.


Walking along Bottoms Lane I was struck by the abundance and diversity of the mosses and lichens living in the hedge.

How many different species here?
Back in Eaves Wood again.
By the Pepper Pot.

Because there were cold winds blowing all week, my Dad, who really suffers with the cold, was understandably reluctant to venture out. TBH had the bright idea that the gardens at Sizergh Castle might be relatively sheltered. She was right.

Family photo – I took several, but none in which everybody managed to look at the camera simultaneously.

A is in a wheelchair – lent to us by the National Trust for our visit – because she had broken a bone in her ankle whilst dancing. Little S (you can see here how diminutive he is!) delighted in pushing her around at great speed and alarming her with his ‘driving’ skills.

More Snowdrops in the grounds of Sizergh.
The Winter Aconites again.

Four fields between Holgates and Far Arnside had been seeded with what looks to me like Ribwort Plantain. A bit of lazy internet research reveals that it can be used as fodder. Certainly, when we’ve been back to the fields, after stock have been introduced, the leaves have been pretty thoroughly stripped off. I read that growing plantain can improve soil structure. And also, more surprisingly, that its seeds are used as a thickening agent in ice-cream and cosmetics.

Far Arnside.
Looking to Knowe Point.
The Bay.
Grange. Hampsfell behind with a dusting of snow.
Turning the corner into the Kent Estuary.

The weather le me down a bit here. I walked around the coast in glorious sunshine, but by the time I’d climbed the Knott from White Creek, not the longest of ascents, it had completely clouded over.

Bit of snow on Arnside Knott too.

And finally, on a very damp final day of the break, the flocks of Starlings which roost at Leighton Moss briefly gathered above the field behind our house, so that we had a grandstand view from our garden.



Half Term at Home