Monday, May 30, 2016

Little Langdale Circuit - A Family Walk

Date : 29th May 2016
Start/Finish: Skelwith Bridge
Distance: 6 Miles
Time Taken : A leisurely 5 hours including lengthy lunch and pub breaks.

The route : Clockwise from Skelwith Bridge
This a cracking little family walk that is especially suitable for young kids. My lad first walked it aged 5. He is now 9 and took his friend with him today. It is mostly flat and easy going. It has woods, waterfalls, great paddling spots, a tarn, a lake and a pub. It can easily be walked in 3 hours but it is really not a walk to rush. We had a picnic, 2 paddles and an ice cream (a beer for me and the Mrs) and it took 5 hours. The paths are clearly marked the whole way round and indeed follow the Cumbria way for some sections.

The start of the walk from Skelwith Bridge

The first section is through open farmland

Some lovely cottages adorn the route

Park Farm

Heading down towards the river

The path then crosses a road and there is the option of taking a direct route up through woodland, or taking a slight detour to the right to see Colwith Force. We detoured.

The route to Colwith Force
My photos of Colwith Force never seem to do it justice. It is an impressive waterfall though and well worth seeing.

Every good kids walk has a money tree

High Park Farm and coffee shop

Views over to Lingmoor Fell

Winner of this years 'worlds scraggiest sheep' competition

We stopped by Slater Bridge for a picnic lunch. The kids had a great time paddling in the Greenburn Beck and trying in vain to catch the tiny fish darting around their feet.

Slater Bridge

Fish spotting

Going in for the hunt
We could have stayed there all day. The kids ended up stripping down to their undies and wading all the way in. Despite their best efforts though ...... the fish went uncaught.  

More great paddling spots

The onwards path towards Lingmoor Fell

Little Langdale Tarn

We followed the path to Elterwater with the promise of an ice cream providing adequate motivation for the kids. 

Little Langdale Tarn with the Coniston Fells beyond

Elterwater village
All good low level walks in the lake district have a pub along the way. This walk is no exception and the Britannia Inn at Elterwater is a cracking place for refreshments. From here, the walk follows the Cumbria Way along the River Brathay back to Skelwith Bridge.

Some sheep playing hide and seek
Crystal clear water

Elterwater with the Langdale Pikes beyond

Getting friendly with some locals

The Cumbria Way by Elterwater

Skelwith Force

Admiring the different types of local slate you can have in your kitchen

Back to Skelwith Bridge


Sunday, May 22, 2016

A Skelwith Saunter: Black Fell and Holme Fell

Date: 20th May 2016
Start/Finish: Skelwith Bridge
Wainwrights: Black Fell & Holme Fell
Distance: 8.1 Miles
Height Gained: 2013 feet
Time Taken: 5 hours

View of the day: Windermere from Holme Fell

The route: Clockwise from Skelwith Bridge (top right)

The forecast was poor. Low cloud and some rain. I figured it might be a good day to tick off some of the smaller Wainwrights that had a chance of staying below the cloud base. This was a blessing in disguise as I was feeling particularly unfit after a 3 month absence from the fells. From the 'to-do' list, Black Fell and Holme Fell looked good for a nice low level circuit. 

The little road from Skelwith Bridge

The scent of spring

The first of many lovely little cottages seen today

The walk started well enough. A nice woodland path lined with bluebells and freshly unfurling bracken. There wasn't an obvious path up onto Black Fell so I just headed upwards along vague forestry tracks until one materialised near the summit. It's a nice little fell, well placed to peruse the surrounding area and offering particularly good views of Windermere.

Views over to Loughrigg
Black Fell

Windermere from the summit

Summit trig - named Black 'Crag', despite there being minimal 'craggyness'

From here my intention was to make a beeline straight towards Holme Fell but that route looked a little dull. I consulted the map over a Coffee and a Tunnocks wafer and decided that I should probably extend the walk around Tarn Hows which would be far more picturesque.   

Looking over to Holme Fell and Wetherlam beyond

A path and some trees

 At this point the rain set in. The forecast predicted a few fleeting light showers and so I put my trust in the met office and stubbornly left the waterproofs and rucksack cover in the pack. The rain became heavier. I passed a few goretex clad people who glanced at me with knowing looks of superiority. The rain became torrential. Eventually I accepted defeat, took shelter under a tree and begrudgingly donned the shell jacket and fitted the rucksack cover. I set off with renewed purpose. The rain stopped. I stubbornly left the waterproofs on as I convinced myself that the clouds still looked threatening. The sun came out. I passed a few people in T-shirts who glanced at me with knowing looks of superiority. I started sweating. Eventually I accepted defeat and took off the waterproof garb. I continued on with a niggling feeling that there was probably a lesson to be learned here about using layers effectively but convinced that my many years of hill walking experience meant I was already an expert in such matters.

Tarn Hows looks pretty in any weather - even though it is entirely man made

Tarn Hows in October 2012 - from a previous walk in better weather

I followed the waterfalls path down from Tarn Hows to Yew Tree Farm and then up onto Holme Fell.

Yew Tree Farm

Holme Fell, looking quite ominous for its size

Wild Garlic - You can almost smell it!
A giant killer slug
The slugs were out in force today. This one was the size of a small dog and delighted in worrying sheep. I also think it was after my lunch, until the threat of a ready salted crisp sent it packing.

A fell cow
I've never seen 'fell cows' before. This one was blocking my path in a 'Gandalfesque' manner. It was looking like a stand off until I commented on her good looks, she bowed her head in modesty, and I slipped past. 

A fell cow savaging the local flora

Hunting in packs
The path steepens near the summit, which turns out not to be the summit but a prominence called 'Ivy Crag'. The real summit winks suggestively from the other side of a little, but steep depression, which required a bit of scrambling to get to the top.

Views over to Langdale from Ivy Crag

The real summit of Holme Fell is over there, with Wetherlam beyond

Lunch spot view of Windermere from Holme Fell summit

 Objectives achieved, it was now time to head back. I set off down towards a lovely little tarn which was labelled simply as 'Reservoirs (disused)' on the OS map. 

Funny looking 'Reservoir'

I guess this must have been a water source for the old Hodge Close slate quarry. Now it's simply one of many little un-named tarns in Lakeland. From here, a path winds it way through the old quarry to join the Cumbrian way back to Skelwith bridge.

The old slate quarry

Venue for next years 'Red Bull cliff diving' event

Yeh I could live there ...

... and there

Lingmoor Fell

A cryptic message asking dog owners to introduce their pets to leads

Ahhh ..... or should that be Bahhh

I could live there too ...

Yep I could definitely adjust to such squalor 

I could even tolerate the ram shackled garden
I really need to win the lottery. For the time being though, I really need to knuckle down and plan the next hike. 56 fells to go.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Life of a Mountain: Blencanthra

I had the pleasure of watching Terry Abraham's new film last night as he released a digital copy to Indiegogo backers. I have to say that it was a delightful watch. Terry has specifically asked folk to avoid spoilers and so this short review is deliberately vague and non specific but I hope gives a general flavour of the film.

Firstly, this feels like a real evolution since 'Life of a Mountain: Scafell Pike'. Terry has clearly developed his art and the step up in overall quality is clear to see. It looks and feels like a more polished presentation. The overall structure flows better with a more defined beginning, middle and end. It follows the same documentary style with set pieces interposed by the stunning scenery and sweeping vistas characteristic of Terry's work. The use of aerial videography is an obvious addition to the Scafell Pike film and adds some visually stunning scenes which offer a genuinely new perspective to this familiar landscape. Threaded seamlessley throughout the film is Freddie Hangoler's score which provides the perfect backdrop for the visuals. 

Overall, the material is rich and varied but Blencathra itself is always the focal point. The mountain is thoroughly explored from the perspectives of a wide variety of different people from historians to thrill seekers, tourists to locals. Their stories create a changing mood throughout the film as we hear tales of adventure, hope, struggle and tragedy but the overall narrative is weaved together perfectly by local guide David Powell-Thompson who describes the scenery with reassuring expertise.

I think this film most definitely achieves its goal in describing the 'life' of Blencathra and the local community. It's difficult to offer a more detailed or critical review without revealing spoilers but suffice to say that I would be surprised if anyone is disappointed with this impressive piece of work. Terry's films really are a unique addition to the genre and genuinely raise the bar in outdoor film making. The many hours spent alone on the mountain lugging heavy equipment or waiting patiently for the perfect shot has clearly paid dividends. This is patient, unrushed and meticulous film making which Terry has clearly invested considerable effort in bringing to fruition. Suffice to say that I really enjoyed it and I expect it will look breathtaking when it debuts on the big screen in May. I understand that Helvellyn will be the final mountain in the trilogy and I for one, am looking forward to it immensely.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Helvellyn in Winter - A Video

            Helvellyn & Swirral Edge

This is a 10 minute video of my winter climb up Helvellyn last weekend. It's the classic horseshoe route from Patterdale up along Striding and Swirral edges. The route was in perfect winter condition. It was a real joy to be up there. 

Now there must be literally thousands of YouTube videos showing folk on this route. This is my take on it. I've been playing around with a Microsoft programme called 'hyperlapse' which speeds up and stabilises the sort of shaky videos commonly seen on hiking videos. I've used it on the sections when crossing the 2 'edges' but am yet undecided as to whether it's a useful tool or just good at inducing motion sickness! Judge for yourself.