Showing posts with label thornthwaite crag. Show all posts
Showing posts with label thornthwaite crag. Show all posts

Friday, November 1, 2013

Mopping up the Far Eastern Fells (nearly)

Date: 1st November 2013
Route : From Troutbeck along the old Roman Road to Thornthwaite Crag, then along to Gray Crags, back to Stony Cove Pike, along to Hartsopp Dodd and back via the Troutbeck valley.
Wainwrights: Troutbeck Tongue, Thornthwaite Crag, Gray Crag, Caudale Moor (Stony Cove Pike), Hartsop Dodd
Distance: 14.8 miles (23.8km)
Height Gained: 4349 feet (1325m)

The Route

 The intention of this hike was to try and mop up a few of the remaining 5 far eastern fells I have yet to complete; Troutbeck Tongue, Caudale Moor (Stony Cove Pike), Hartsop Dodd, Gray Crag and Steel Knotts. I had a free day but there was clearly no possible route to climb them all without a lot of unsatisfactory driving between them. Steel Knotts was going to have be left for another day, but what route to climb the other 4? I didn't want to park high up on the Kirkstone pass to gain access to these fells as that also seems somewhat unsatisfactory to me. The best route therefore would be to park at Troutbeck, walk along the valley to Troutbeck Tongue and then climb the old Roman Road up to Thornthwaite Crag from where I could access the other fells. This would mean I would need to walk back and forth along the same ridges to Gray Crag and Hartsop Dodd but that was a small price to pay to climb the full heights of these fells properly. 

The path to Troutbeck Park - Troutbeck Tongue dead ahead

Left = Trout Beck & Threshthwaite.  Right = the Roman Road to High Street.   Ahead = Troutbeck Tongue

 I set off at first light along the access road to Troutbeck Park. At the signpost above I headed right along the old Roman Road path. There is no marked path to the summit of Troutbeck Tongue on the OS map but after a short while a bracken strewn track appears on the left which climbs steeply up to the summit.

Sun rising slowly over Bonscale Pike

Troutbeck Tongue summit looking south towards Windermere

Sun rising over the shoulder of Yoke

Summit Panorama Video

The northern panorama from Troutbeck Tongue
 From the summit a good path then continues northwards along level ground until the main roman road path is rejoined.

At the 'back' of the Tongue looking north to Threshthwaite Mouth

 The grassy path then climbs steeply up the flanks of Froswick and Thornthwaite Crag before emerging onto the ridge. Its then a short walk to the impressive Thornthwaite Beacon which marks its summit.

A great view of the 'Tongue' from the roman road

Kentmere Reservoir appears once on the Ill Bell ridge

The impressive 14 foot high Thornthwaite Beacon

 Summit Panorama Video

 A good path then continues northwards towards Gray Crag along a ridge giving fine views east over the Hayeswater valley to High Street and west over the Pasture Beck valley towards Hartsopp Dodd and the Fairfield / Helvellyn range beyond.

The ridge path to Gray Crag

Rest Dodd and The Knott over Hayeswater

Gray Crag summit looking west over Hartsop Dodd to the Helvellyn range

Gray Crag summit panorama west

Gray Crag summit panorama east

 Summit Panorama Video

 Having found Gray Crag neither grey nor craggy I retraced my steps back along the ridge before veering off right towards Stony Cove Pike.

Stony Cove Pike and the Threshthwaite Mouth col

Looking back southwards towards Troutbeck Tongue from Threshthwaite Mouth

Looking north towards Ullswater from Threshthwaite Mouth

The steep path up Stony Cove Pike from Threshthwaite Mouth

 A bit of scrambling is required to negotiate the steep path up onto Stony Cove Pike summit. Only then did I see the first other people since leaving the car 4 hours ago.

Thornthwaite Crag (the Beacon just visible) from Stony Cove Pike

Stony Cove Pike summit view towards the Ill Bell ridge

Stony Cove Pike summit panorama east

Stony Cove Pike western summit cairn panorama west

Looking over Red Screes from Stony Cove Pike western summit cairn

 Summit Panorama Video

 A 30 min walk along the ridge to Hartsop Dodd completes the fell for the day. This little fell occupies a grand position with great views towards Ullswater and over the valley to the high peaks of Fairfield, Helvellyn et al. 

Hartsopp Dodd summit view north towards Ullswater

Hartsop Dodd summit view east to the Helvellyn range

Looking back to Stony Cove Pike from Hartsop Dodd  

 Summit Panorama Video

 I then wandered back along the ridge to Stony Cove Pike before heading along the Doup Crag ridge and then back down to the Troutbeck valley.

Place Fell from the Hartsop Dodd ridge

Yoke, Ill Bell and Froswick from near Doup Crag

Zoomed in from the Troutbeck valley a Red Deer stag stands proudly up on Hart Crag ...

... and is then joined by a Hind

The pack horse bridge crossing Trout Beck

Looking back along the route trod from near the start of the walk

So that's 110 Wainwrights completed and 104 yet to go. I'm finally past the half way mark. Its all downhill from now on - so to speak.

Conditions and Kit

There was bitingly cold wind today which was strong enough to make standing still difficult on the summits. I wore a Rab Vapour rise jacket over a short sleeved base layer which is normally enough to keep me warm in most conditions including winter but today, the windchill had me reaching for an insulating layer over the top. I wore a Montane Prism jacket which kept me warm all day. My legs rarely feel cold and I usually hike in shorts over 3 seasons but today I wore Sprayway Challenger softshell trousers which did the job well. It didn't rain so the hard shell stayed stowed. Woolly beanie and gloves were most definitely required. Having been fed up of taking off gloves to use the screen on my phone, I recently bought a pair of The North Face apex E-tip gloves which use a conductive material in the tips of the thumb and index fingers so they work with the capacitative screens used on most smart phones. They worked a treat, providing enough dexterity for texting etc while having a fairly grippy palm for grasping stuff and most importantly, keeping my hands warm. I was very impressed. Of course they aren't going to win any prizes for durability and I'm sure that excessive contact with abrasive rocks will cause them problems. They aren't waterproof either but I don't tend to use gloves with membranes as my hands sweat too much in them. I prefer to use dexterous fabric gloves and then Extremities Tuff bags paclite shell mitts over the top in wet weather. So for these E-tip gloves, on the basis of one very cold and windy day, they worked well and I didn't need to take them off for anything all day.      

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Kentmere Horseshoe

Date : 30th March 2013
Route : Kentmere Horseshoe clockwise
Wainwright's : Yoke, Ill Bell, Froswick, Thornthwaite Crag, Mardale Ill Bell, Harter Fell, Kentmere Pike, Shipman Knotts.
Distance : 20.1 km (12.5 miles)
Height Gained : 1142 m (3748 feet)

The route, clockwise from Kentmere

 Over the previous week there had been more fresh snow over Lakeland. Having glimpsed some of the Kentmere fells from other recent walks and having been advised that the horseshoe is a classic winters walk, I headed off to Kentmere. I arrived at first light, keen to ensure I didn't run out of daylight knowing that progress might be slow depending on snow conditions. The horseshoe route is a classic, taking in 8 Wainwright fells. Clockwise seemed best to me as I knew the terrain on the west of Harter Fell was quite steep and would rather climb up rather than down if conditions were icy. Having parked in a farmers field with an honesty box by Low Bridge in Kentmere, I headed off towards the Garburn Pass.

The lower Kentmere valley from the Garburn Pass near Kentmere

A friendly face

 At Garburn Nook I left the Pass and headed north towards Yoke, the first objective for today. Despite Yoke's impressive profile the path upwards is a fairly gradual ascent with great views east over the Kentmere valley and west over the Troutbeck valley.

The path northwards to Yoke

Looking east over deep drifts (that's a 4 foot wall) towards Kentmere Pike

 Yoke summit is fairly flat with a pile of rocks to denote the top. Views are good all round but the eyes are drawn northwards to the impressive looking Ill Bell.

Yoke summit looking north towards Ill Bell
Yoke summit panorama west

Yoke summit panorama east

 Other than a biting wind the weather was perfect and the route onwards to Ill Bell was clear and inviting.

The Langdale Valley area from the path to Ill Bell

The Coniston range from the path to Ill Bell

First glimpse of Kentmere Reservoir

Looking onwards to Ill Bell

 The summit of Ill Bell is an expansive rocky plateau adorned with 3 large summit cairns. Why three? I have no idea but the views from each are excellent. This summit is well worth exploring.

The 3 summit cairns of Ill Bell

Ill Bell summit panorama west

Ill Bell summit panorama east

 The next fell is Froswick which requires a short and steepish descent and then a gradual climb to its summit. Despite its lesser height, the views from Froswick seem superior to Ill Bell, mainly because its small summit does not impede the sight-lines in any direction.

The path to Froswick

Looking back to Ill Bell

Froswick summit panorama west

Froswick summit panorama east

A short video from Froswick summit.

 The snow deepened on the path to Thornthwaite crag making progress rather slow. I quickly learned that the best way of walking on this snow was to either high step in other peoples footprints or better still to go off to the side and walk on untouched snow which had a crust just firm enough to support my weight. Snow near rocks, grassy tussocks or drifts would collapse under foot and I would soon be labouring up to my shins.  

The snow deepens towards Thornthwaite Crag

Looking back to Froswick and Ill Bell

 Anyone who has not visited Thornthwaite Crag before will no doubt be surprised and impressed by the huge summit beacon which must stand about 15 foot tall.

The Thornthwaite Beacon on the summit

Thornthwaite Crag summit panorama west

Thornthwaite Crag summit panorama east

Troutbeck valley from Thornthwaite Crag

 After a short coffee break I followed the path, or rather a line of footprints, northeast towards High Street but having climbed it before, and discovering it is not a particularly good vantage point, I veered off eastwards towards the next objective, Mardale Ill Bell. I was now at the apex of the horseshoe and the views north over Hayeswater and south back down the Kentmere valley were stunning.

Hayeswater and Place Fell beyond.

Onwards to Mardale Ill Bell

Looking back over to Yoke, Ill Bell & Froswick.

 Mardale Ill Bell summit is a rocky area with great views to the north over Haweswater. The views south are somewhat impeded by high ground. The route onwards to Harter Fell is steep in places descending to the col and very steep in places on the ascent to Harter fell. It was at this point when I put the crampons on and donned the ice axe.

Mardale Ill Bell summit panorama west

Mardale Ill Bell summit panorama east over Haweswater and Harter Fell
Kentmere Reservoir from the Col between Mardale Ill Bell and Harter Fell

The steep route up to Harter Fell

Views looking over a frozen Small Water towards Haweswater

Yoke and Ill Bell over Kentmere Reservoir

Getting steep on Harter Fell. Axe and spikes required

Harter Fell summit panorama west

Harter Fell Summit panorama east

 Although the way south towards Kentmere Pike looked easy enough and crampons were no longer required, the snow was shin deep and with a thin crust which sometimes would take my weight and other times not. This section proved to be the most awkward part of the walk.

Harter Fell view south towards Kentmere Pike

Wrapped up warm

Panorama west from near Kentmere Pike

Sistrugi on Kentmere Pike flanks

Kentmere Pike summit panorama west

Kentmere Pike summit panorama east

Windermere from Kentmere Pike summit
 South of Kentmere Pike the snow began to thin out and the going was easier. One more fell to go, Shipman Knotts. 

The path down to Shipman Knotts

Shipman Knotts summit panorama west

Shipman Knotts summit panorama east

Looking back up the Kentmere valley and the days walking route

Panorama of the Kentmere Horseshoe

 This was a great winters walk but it took me nearly 9 hours to get round, mainly due to the snow conditions. I will have to do the route again in summer to get a different perspective of this great horseshoe walk.