Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Wythop and Lorton Fells

Date: 17th July 2024

Wainwrights: Graystones, Ling Fell, Sale Fell, Broom Fell, Lord's Seat, Barf

Start/Finish: Darling How Car Park, Whinlatter

Distance: 11 miles

Height Gaines: 3700 ft

Time Taken: 8 Hours

The route : clockwise from the Darling How car park (bottom left)

     A video of the hike - Watch it ! It's really good ! (IMHO☺️)

 The intention of this hike was to tick off the 7 fells in the Wythop and Lorton region but ... I ran out of steam after the 6th fell. The main problem with trying to link these fells together is that many of them stand alone and therefore require a considerable height loss between each one. This does sap the leg strength, and as a result, I will need to leave Whinlatter for another day. OK, excuses over. Let's get on with the hike.

The walk starts by the Darling How car park on the Whinlatter pass. A path wanders down and over the Aikin Beck before turning to follow it downstream for a short while. Just before the Scawgill Bridge, a vague path heads steeply upwards following a dry stone wall on a fairly straight course up onto the summit plateau of Kirk Fell. Graystones is the name given to the summit. 

The steep path up onto Graystones

From Graystones summit, Ling Fell looks a long way away. A path follows the course of a tumble down dry stone wall northwards towards Ling Fell. Much height is lost and has to be regained on this 2 mile route. 

The view from Graystones over to Whinlatter

The onwards view to Ling Fell

Ling Fell ahead

On the summit of Ling Fell is a lovely pillar shaped Trig point that looks like it was built yesterday. It really has weathered well since its construction in 1949. 

Ling Fell Summit with a glimpse of Bassenthwaite Lake

From here, the whole circular route can be surveyed and in particular, the dispiriting sight of Sale Fell which stands alone like an island. The realisation soon dawns that this fell will also require its full height ascended and descended. And so I started the steep descent with the knowledge that every step downwards would require another equal step upwards on the other side of the Wythop valley. 

Sale Fell over the Wythop Valley

It's another steep climb through the bracken up onto the summit plateau of Sale Fell, which represents the far northern extremity of the Lake District fells. From the summit, there are stunning views out over the Irish Sea, and the Solway Firth to Scotland. 

The path up Sale Fell

Sale Fell views over to the coast

Onward views towards Broom Fell & Lord's Seat

Attention then turns south towards Broom Fell, and the Wythop valley in between which requires crossing again. A good path leads off the fell down to Old Scales but from there onwards there is no clear path to Broom Fell on the map. Progress is therefore made upwards along farm tracks on grassy field skirting the right side of a small valley eventually passing a small copse on the left and heading upwards onto the summit plateau. Broom Fell adorns an impressive summit cairn and wind shelter as well as stunning views over towards the much larger Coledale Fells. 

Broom Fell views over to Skiddaw …

… and the Coledale Fells

Lord's Seat is thankfully only a short distance, and a short ascent away. This is the highest fell of the hike today at 1811 feet. A good path then meanders down to Barf. 

Lord's Seat summit looking down to Barf and Skiddaw beyond

Barf summit is a wonderful place and without doubt the highlight of the walk. The views over the length of Bassenthwaite Lake over towards the Skiddaw massif are breathtaking and well worthy of a 30 minute respite. 

Barf summit view

From here the path to Lord's Seat is retraced about 2/3 of the way before a side track heads off in the direction of Whinlatter. Soon, a forestry track is intercepted which winds downwards towards the flanks of Whinlatter. At this point I decided that 8 hours and 3700 feet of ascent was quite enough for one day and I therefore continued on past Whinlatter which will need to be climbed another day. 

This walk was hard work, mainly because of the considerable ups and downs which saps the strength. But unless each fell (other than Broom Fell, Lord's Seat and Barf - which link nicely together) is climbed on a different day, there is no easy way to link them together. These are very quiet fells though so for those seeking solitude they represent very good value. 

So thats 208 Wainwrights now climbed. Just 6 left to go.

Monday, June 10, 2024

Back O'Blencathra

Date: 31/05/2024

Wainwrights: Carrock Fell (661m), High Pike (658m), Knott (710m), Great Calva (690m)

Start/Finish: Mosedale Village

Total Distance: 14.5 miles

Time Taken: 8 Hours 

The Route : Anti-clockwise from Mosedale

                        A Video of the Hike

It has been a long time since I was last in the fells. 12 months to be precise, when I climbed up Jacks Rake with my lad. Lots of excuses - mainly the appalling weather and the fact that at my time of life, I really don't want to be braving the elements and suffering unnecessarily in bad weather for zero chance of a summit view. So today was time to make amends and continue the quest which started 15 years ago and had been stuck on 198 Wainwrights for far too long. 

I only had 4 fells left in the Northern Region and they were ones at the back of Blencathra, namely: Carrock Fell, High Pike, Knott and Great Calva. It was going to be a long hike to link these 4 together but I wanted to get them done in a single stretch so a route was planned and I headed off to the Lakes at first light on a cold but clear Friday morning, hopeful that my fitness hadn't completely abandoned me. 

I parked the car in Mosedale and then headed along the road northwards for about a mile. The scenery is dominated by the impressive looking Carrock Fell on the left side. 

Carrock Fell from Mosedale

Most of the fells north of Blencathra and Skiddaw are quite benign in appearance, being mainly grassy mounds with little in the way of rocky scenery. No so with Carrock Fell though. It is decidedly craggy and imposing with steep gnarly flanks. The only accessible path on the OS map was on the eastern face and that was where I headed. The path leaves the road by a small lay-bye and heads upwards, flanking the right side of a steep gully, before emerging onto the summit. 

The way up Carrock Fell

The summit of Carrock Fell is a shattered pile of rocks with an impressive looking cairn and a wind shelter. The views are impressive in all directions. 

Carrock Fell Summit

After a 20 minute respite, I head off westwards on a good path, which then veered northwards towards High Pike. 45 minutes later I was stood on this interesting summit.

High Pike

High Pike Summit looking East ...

... and looking West

High Pike summit is dominated by a large triangular pile of rocks which could be clearly seen from Carrock Fell. What was unexpected is the lovely stone bench and an impressive trig point. The bench is a memorial to a young boy who loved this area but tragically passed away aged 16 in 1944. 

The Memorial Bench on High Pike Summit

The route then re-treads the path back down High Pike before veering off South-Westwards towards Knott. About halfway along the route is Lingy Hut Bothy, one of just 4 Bothies in the Lake District. It is basically a wooden shed guyed down to prevent it from blowing away. Inside are very basic amenities and a sleeping platform. Perfect for a night out on the fells if you don't want to carry your own shelter.

Lingy Hut Bothy

Knott (as opposed to 'The Knott', in the Far Eastern Fells) is the highest fell on today's route, at 710 meters. It also has the least impressive summit of the 4. No trig point, bench or wind shelter. Just a small pile of stones.

'Knott' summit

From Knott, Great Calva is due South and looks impressively steep and mountainesque in its profile. The path continues westwards and then turns due South to climb up between Little Calva and Great Calva. 

Great Calva (left), LIttle Calva (right) & Skiddaw (background)

Little Calva isn't a Wainwright but I thought it might be worth the small detour onto its summit. It wasn't. 

Little Calva Summit
A good path now heads straight up onto the summit of Great Calva. This is another fell with impressive summit features including a large cairn and great views in all directions.

Great Calva Summit

It was now a case of tackling the steep descent off the eastern face of Great Calva down a heather invaded path which winds its way steeply down to join the Cumbria Way. It was then another 4 miles following the River Caldew back to Mosedale.

The path down the west face of Great Calva

The bridge over Grainsgill Beck

The Cumbria Way

Nearly back at Mosedale

So that's 202 Wainwright's done and dusted. Just 12 to go, over 3 hikes. Should be finished by the end of summer.

Tuesday, June 4, 2024

VW Camper Van Tour Part 2

Since I last posted about 'Skippy', our 1979 VW bay window camper (you can see that post here), we've done a few more upgrades and modifications which I wanted to share. The van was on wedding duty today and so we got her tarted up and cleaned and I did brief video which you can see below.

Weddings are something we started doing last year. We have a relationship with 2 local companies who have similar vintage camper vans which they use exclusively for weddings and other events. 

Skippy with friends, Mary (left) and Dusty (right)

Skippy is used mainly for camping but we can also use her for weddings and so we act as an additional van if needed by one of the 2 companies. If you are interested is hiring Skippy, or one of the other wedding vans, I will put their websites below.

Chase the Sun 

Broughton Wedding Cars

On Duty !

The first upgrade we did last year was to have the original steel wheels (which were getting pretty rusty) sand blasted and powder coated to look like new. Demon Wheels in Preston did this for us and they did a superb job. We are really happy with them. They look great with the original chrome hub caps and the while wall tyres.

Baby's got new Shoes ...

The next major upgrade was to have all the seats and the mattress reupholstered. This was done by Phil Dixon at Kew Coach Trimmers in Southport. We chose a lovely cream and grey pattern which matches the door cards. 

... and new Clothes

Phil did an excellent job using top quality materials which look like new. Again, we've been really happy with the result.

The Finished Interior complete with Original Furniture 

The other few jobs were just minor bits and bobs. We always struggled with fridge space on anything more that a 1 night trip and so we bought the Indel B TB18 compact fridge/freezer which sits perfectly between the 2 front seats. This is great for drinks and along with the Vitifrigio C39i we now have plenty of fridge space. 

Just Chillin

And the great thing about these 2 super efficient 12 volt compressor fridges is that they both are powered continually by the 180w solar panel on the roof which charges a large gel battery. And we still have plenty of capacity to charge phones, use the internal lights and power the radio. Which essentially means we have no need for an electric hook up when camping. Great freedom !

At Bug Jam, Santa Pod 2023

Camping in the Lake District 

The final upgrade last year was related to a problem I had with the wiper motor fuse frequently blowing. After a discussion on the late bay forum I found that this was a fairly common problem, and would need a replacement wiper motor, which are very hard to come by. 

Someone on the forum had designed a modification kit which used a VW Golf wiper motor as a much more reliable alternative. And so I ordered the bits, carefully followed the instructions and now have a perfect 2 speed wiper motor which is much quieter and has already paid for itself in the number of blown fuses saved !

And that's about it. Skippy is looking fine and we are looking forward to a great summer of camping and weddings. I have no plans for any major upgrades in the foreseeable future. I do keep toying with the idea of getting a diesel heater, and that might be the next project but otherwise its just the usual service and maintenance jobs. She is probably going need her underside wax oiling again at the end of the season. Keeping the rust at bay is of course the number one concern with these vans !

Sunday, March 5, 2023

The Blencathra Group - via Sharp Edge


Date: 14/02/2023

Wainwrights: Souther Fell (522m), Blencathra (868m), Mungrisdale Common (633m), Bannerdale Crags (683m), Bowscale Fell (702m)

Start/Finish: Mungrisdale Village

Total Distance: 11 miles

Time Taken: A leisurely 7 Hours 

The Route : Clockwise from Mungrisdale

                        A Video of the Hike

I've climbed Blencathra twice before, but never the surrounding fells. And so todays objective was to remedy this and climb all the fells in the Blencathra group, as well as Blencathra itself via Sharp Edge. I'd chosen a circular route from Mungrisdale and set of at first light on a cold, clear day.

Sunrise near Great Mell Fell

Its a nice gentle stroll up to the summit ridge of Souther Fell along a good path though the bracken. The summit is just a slightly higher grassy mound from all the others on the summit plateau.

The path up Souther Fell

View of Blencathra from Souther Fell Summit

A good path follows the western shoulder of Souther Fell until it drops down to the Glenderamackin valley. Another path then follows the flanks of Scales Fell up towards Scales Tarn.

Looking up to Sharp Edge and Foule Crag

Scales Tarn

From Scales Tarn there is a clear choice of routes up onto Blencathra summit. An easy path can be followed to the south, or the more challenging route along Sharp Edge and Foule Crag can be attempted. If the weather is inclement, particularly if wet and/or windy then I would strongly suggest the easier option. 

Sharp Edge & Foule Crag

Looking back along the ridge
Sharp Edge is a common site of hiking accidents which unfortunately includes 12 fatalities since records began in the 1940's. As such, it is a region firmly on the radar of the Keswick mountain rescue team. Accidents usually occur as a result of slipping on the smooth, polished rock along the ridge, particularly an awkward sloping rock which hikers call the 'bad step'. In wet weather it can be treacherous. Today however, the conditions were fairly calm and dry underfoot.

                Every Step along Sharp Edge

Once sharp edge has been safely traversed, the difficulties are not yet over. Facing you is a angular rocky outcrop called 'Foule Crag'. This is a hand and foot scramble which demands 10 minutes of further concentration until the summit plateau is reached. Then you can finally relax and enjoy a pleasant 5 minute stroll up to summit of Blencathra where stunning views in all directions are an ample reward for your efforts.

The next objective was the somewhat bland and uninviting grassy mound of Mungrisdale Common. For those who have no desire to 'collect Wainwrights' then I would advise avoiding the 90 mins of torment required to cross, and then re-cross the boggy terrain in order to bag this particular summit. Your feet and knees will certainly appreciate it.

Mungrisdale Common is the grassy lump in the mid ground

The summit of Mungrisdale Common 

Bannerdale Crags is the next fell on the route. As it is approached from the western side it looks decidedly un-craggy, as the drama is hidden from view on its east facing aspect. This was a perfect place to stop for a brew and a bite to eat.

Bannerdale Crags summit - looking back towards Blencathra

Bowscale Fell is clearly visible to the north and a good path arcs around the head of the Bannerdale valley to reach it. The return path drops down to the valley and follows Bannerdale Beck back to Mungrisdale Village.

Bowscale Fell summit

This hike brings the Wainwright total to 198. The next hike will tackle the 4 fells to north of Blencathra which will then complete the Northern Fells.