Saturday, June 9, 2018

A High Level Circuit of the Greenup Valley

Date: 9th June 2018
Start/Finish: Rosthwaite
Wainwrights: Eagle Crag (1706 feet), Sergeant's Crag (1873 feet), Ullscarf (2382 feet), Great Crag (1726 feet), Grange Fell (1345 feet)
Distance: 12.5 miles
Time Taken: 8 Hours
Social Hiking Link

The route: Anticlockwise from Rosthwaite

This is a walk best served hot. Preferably at the end of a long hot summer so the squelchy quagmire around the Ullscarf plateau has had a chance to dry out. I took a gamble today as it's been unusually dry in the Lakes over the past 6 weeks.

I parked near Rosthwaite and walked along the Cumbria Way as far the Langstrath valley, and then followed the dry stone wall steeply up the lower flanks of Eagle Crag. From this side, Eagle Crag looks steep and impenetrable but there is one line of weakness which Wainwright's pictorial guide illustrates in detail and which I had studied the night before. As is happens, the many feet that have since trodden this route have carved a path that is fairly easy to follow. The key to accessing the upper crags is a short, steep gulley which the book describes well. From the top of this gulley, a path then zig-zags along a series of heather clad terraces before emerging onto the craggy summit. The view is good in all directions but especially back down to Stonethwaite, and over to Sergeant's Crag.

Bessyboot over Stonethwaite Beck from the Cumbria Way

First glimpse of Eagle Crag

Eagle Crag from the foot of the Langstrath Valley

Views back down the valley from the early ascent 

First view of Sergeant's Crag

The path along the upper terraces

Superb views along the length of the Langstrath Valley

Eagle Crag summit

Summit view towards Sergeant's Crag

A well used path links Eagle Crag to Sergeant's Crag, as it would be criminal not to visit both summits. Seargent's Crag offers superb views along the length of the Langstrath valley and little grassy patch off to one side made a great lunch spot.

Sergeant's Crag summit, looking back to Eagle Crag

View of High Raise from Sergeant's Crag

I walked over the head of the Greenup valley and around to Greenup Edge before following the path up onto Ullscarf. The summit is a dreary flat peat hag offering reasonable distant views but the foreground is robbed of interest by the expansive plateau.

The path up to Ullscarf

Ullscarf summit

From Ullscarf, Great Crag looks a long way away and the intervening landscape is undulating and difficult to negotiate. I decided to head over High Saddle and Low Saddle and then take a direct pathless route over the peat hags and grass tussocks towards High Crag. In anything but a dry spell, I can imagine this terrain being a boggy torment. Thankfully it was largely dry underfoot but it drizzled for most of the way, which was quite refreshing on this otherwise hot and windless day.

Views down to High Saddle and Low Saddle

Low Saddle views towards Great Crag

Views back over the Greenup valley towards Eagle Crag and Sergeant's Crag

An unexpected gem on this walk was the lovely Dock Tarn. It's a really picturesque little tarn made even more delightful by the clusters of white lilies in flower at this time of year.  

Dock Tarn

A short climb from the main path finds the summit of Great Crag. From up here it seems like a strange name as the crags don't appear particularly 'great'. They are hidden to the summit walker and visible only from the Borrowdale valley below. A more suitable name would perhaps be 'Heather Crag', as the summit is adorned with the stuff.

For tired legs it's a morale sapping view over more undulating terrain towards Grange Fell, which looks a long way away.

Great Crag summit 

Views back to Ullscarf

Unfortunately a larger degree of altitude than hoped is lost between Great Crag and Grange Fell but the walk is made considerably more interesting by the views over to Seathwaite and Great Gable.

A steep climb up a good path finds the summit of Grange Fell, which confusingly is called 'Brund Fell' on the map. OS seem to describe Grange Fell as a triangular kilometre of high ground with 3 separate peaks at each point; Brund Fell, Kings Howe and Ether Knott. Brund Fell is the highest point and therefore represents the summit of Grange Fell. 

Views towards Seathwaite

Brund Fell summit 
I thought I might pay a visit to Kings Howe on my way down as it didn't seem too far out of the way, and this fell is what most people assume is Grange Fell when seen from the road along the Borrowdale valley. 

Kings Howe summit views over Derwent Water

Castle Crag and High Spy

Views over Borrowdale towards Glaramara

A bracken invaded path then leads steeply down through the trees back to the road. I can image this would be lovely route upwards in autumn.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Mellbreak from Loweswater

Mellbreak - from Scalehill Bridge

Date: 17th May 2018
Start/Finish: Park Bridge, Loweswater.
Wainwrights: Mellbreak (1676 feet)
Distance: 6.6 miles
Time Taken: 3 Hours 30 mins
Click here for Social Hiking Link

The route - anti-clockwise from Park Bridge (top)

It has been almost 12 months since I was last in the fells. A big work project has been a somewhat all consuming but is finally starting to slacken off. And so for the first time in ages, I had some free time and a nice forecast, which is always a glorious combination of events. Mellbreak has been on the radar for a while but this is really a fell that must be climbed in fair weather. Not just because of the superb views but because it involves a fairly steep ascent that can involve the use of hands and feet on occasion. I had planned on climbing it from the Buttermere side of the fell but a perusal of Wainwrights pictorial guide revealed that this is not recommended, as the best views are behind you for the bulk of the climb. Far better, apparently, is an ascent from the Loweswater side which he argues is much more interesting and saves the best views for the descent towards Buttermere. Having now climbed the fell, I would have to agree.

From Park Bridge, a path skirts the lower flanks of Mellbreak before turning abruptly upwards along a scree track. It then weaves its way up through Raven Crag to eventually emerge onto a lovely little promontory that reveals expansive views along the length of Crummock Water. An ideal spot for a pause before the loins are girded for the final push up onto the summit plateau.

Mellbreak from near Park Bridge

Views back towards Loweswater

Low Fell and Fellbarrow from the flanks of Mellbreak

Views over to Grasmoor and Whiteside from the steep path

Views from the promontory over to Rannerdale ...

... and Grasmoor / Whiteside

Mellbreak has a north and south summit which are almost the same height, although the latter is marginally higher and therefore the true top. In between is a wide depression about a kilometer in length and peaty underfoot. The best views require a short wander from the south summit over to the Crummock Water side. Here, is the ideal lunch spot.

Mellbreak north summit views to Loweswater ...

... and over to the south summit

Mellbreak south summit views towards Red Pike

Lunch spot views over Crummock Water towards Grasmoor, ...

... Rannerdale, ...

... and Buttermere

A steep descent over Scale Knott emerges by Far Ruddy Beck which is then followed down to Crummock Water. A lovely lakeside path can then be followed along the banks of Crummock water with superb views over to Rannerdale and Grasmoor. I had the company of Cuckoo, hidden somewhere in the trees by High Park, for this pleasant stroll back to the car.

Looking along Crummock Water and Buttermere towards Fleetwith Pike

Looking down on Rannerdale Knotts

The forwards view for most of the descent

Back to Crummock water

The Low Ling Crag peninsula

The lovely lakeside path back to the car

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Reasons not to visit the Lake District

It's grim up north

So the Lake District is now a Unesco World Heritage site! Great! What were they thinking? This is clearly a misguided decision that will only serve to clutter the area up with even more disappointed tourists. I therefore feel that it's my duty to try and redress the balance with a truthful account of the region. So here are 14 good reasons why the Lake District is rubbish and really not worthy of your time and effort.

1) It's always raining and blowing a gale.

Me and my Dad cowering for cover on Bowfell

2) The views are grim.

Nothing to see from Rannerdale Knotts

3) The locals are summit slugs.

Hogging the summit and spouting abuse at passers by

4) The rivers are filthy.

Lingmell Beck. A typical rancid Lakeland stream. The smell was offensive.

5) It's really tough walking!

My poor lad ..... near deaths door on Blencathra 

6) The bridges are downright dangerous.

Walk on that and it Will collapse and you Will die. Those 2 only just escaped with their lives.

7) It's a freezing desolate wasteland for 6 months of the year ....

Helvellyn looking grim and uninviting

8) ... and it's packed.

Plotting a way through the crowds on Dow Crag

9) There's nothing to see.

An uninteresting sunset over Loweswater. Blackpool illuminations are miles better

10) It's a boring landscape.

Monochrome Monotony on Lingmoor Fell 

11) The routes are uninspiring and the mountains are featureless.

Scafell Pike looking the very definition of bland from the Esk waterfalls

12) The locals are uneducated.

How can one tolerate a place with such appalling grammar

13) The accommodation is pitiful.

Poor facilities, cramped room & no room service - 0/5 on Trip Advisor

14) I hate it .... and so does my lad.

Having a miserable time on Harrison Stickle

So there it is. How much more evidence is needed? If I were you I would try the Highland's or Snowdonia. It looks far better over there.