Saturday, May 27, 2017

6 Soggy Wainwright's around Bleaberry Fell

Date: 19th May 2017
Start/Finish: Ashness Bridge, Derwent Water
Wainwrights: Walla Crag, Bleaberry Fell, High Seat, Raven Crag, Armboth Fell, High Tove
Distance: 12 miles
Height Gained: 3222 feet
Time Taken: 7 hours with plenty of brew stops

The Route: Clockwise from Ashness Bridge car park

This walk is really best done after a long hot summer. Or you might enjoy bog snorkelling, in which case you will be fine at any time of year. I thought I might risk it after the recent spell of dry weather but I was wrong. The whole of the Ullscarf plateau is like a giant sponge of sphagnum moss, peat hags and saturated grass tussocks ... which doesn't make for pleasant walking. I don't mind having wet feet but it is hard work to continually pull your feet out of a gloop that doesn't want to let go. I exaggerate a little. It's not like this all the way round. Indeed my feet were 'mostly' dry up until the area around Armboth Fell. Its just unfortunate that this is large area.

I set off at 6 am, mindful of the forecast which basically said 'great til early afternoon, then rain and possibly thunder'. It's a pleasant stroll from the car park at Ashness Bridge up to Walla Crag. The views over Derwent Water are lovely, and keep improving with height until the best view is reserved for the summit .... which is just how it should be.

Ashness Bridge

Cat Bells over Derwent Water

Walla Crag summit

Walla Crag views over Derwent Water ...

... and over Keswick to Skiddaw

Bleaberry Fell dominates the onward view southwards and its a good path for most of the way. 

Bleaberry Fell

Bleaberry Fell views over to Skiddaw and Blencathra ...

... and over to Cat Bell & Maiden Moor

It's a straight-ish path to High Seat which did involve some acrobatic peat hag hopping in an attempt to keep dry feet.
Being pretty close to the most central area of Lakeland, and being fairly lofty, the views from the summit are extensive. You can see nearly all of the high fells laid out in a sweeping 360 degree panorama.


Views to the Scafell range

Now you could just take the straight path to High Tove and then call it a day but I really wanted to bag Raven Crag and Armboth Fell, as they are temptingly close. So I headed eastwards from High Seat through the progressively squelchy tussocks until joining the land rover track towards Raven Crag. The forestry commission have been busy here and have laid down an extensive wooden path all the way up to the summit. There are signs warning of the dangers of leaving their path due to logging activity, but there wasn't a sniff of anything going on today.

Raven Crag

The Forestry Commissions' 'decking' 

Raven Crag summit 'platform'

Summit views of Thirlmere Dam


Rather than re-tread my route along the 'decking' back down Raven Crag I rebelliously ignored the warning signs and went 'off path', heading through the pine glade back down the fell. Having survived this perilous ordeal I rejoined the land rover track heading south. From the moment a faint path leaves the land rover tracks to head for Amboth Fell, the terrain becomes increasingly soggy. 

My initial tactic was to stand on the tussocks and hop over the wet moss in an effort to keep my feet dry but before long, first one, then the other foot had sunk above ankle height and my trail shoe shod feet were soaked. At that point the tactic changed to marching purposefully through the sodden terrain and then even taking pleasure in deliberately stepping through the deepest bogs. I know, rebellious eh! Two kilometres of saturated drudgery later, I arrived on Armboth Fell summit which is mercifully a dry raised rocky platform and therefore the ideal place to sit down and have a brew, as unfortunately, there is more splashing and sploshing to be endured on the 'path' up to High Tove.

Armboth Fell summit looking towards High Tove (left) and High Seat (right) ...

... and back over the 'sponge' to Raven Crag

High Tove summit

High Tove views to Ullscarf

Watendlath Tarn

The viewpoint at Ashness Wood

Panoramic view of Derwent Water

So that's 6 more Wainwrights to take the total to 166. I still need to climb Ullscarf and the surrounding fells but I think I will reserve that until the end of our long hot summer. I'm an eternal optimist. 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Far Eastern Fells Done and Dusted

Date: 8th March 2017
Start/Finish: Howtown
Wainwrights: Steel Knotts, High Raise, Rampsgill Head, The Knott, Beda Fell
Distance: 13.4 Miles
Height Gained: 3904 feet
Time Taken: 7 1/2 hours

Social Hiking map link

The Route : Clockwise from Howtown
Today was about bagging a straggler. Steel Knotts was the one remaining 'far eastern fell' to be climbed. Its a simple little hike from Howtown which could easily be climbed up & down in 2 hours. I didn't really want to do that though, especially as the weather seemed pretty good; very cold and very windy but clear. So I planned a horseshoe route around the Ramps Gill and Bannerdale Valleys. There are a whole host of Wainwrights around this region. You could potentially bag 11 with only minor detours off this route. I was pressed for time though and the wind was a menace so I bagged just the 5 today.

The foot of the Ramps Gill valley - Steel End on the right

Hallin Fell

Ullswater from Steel End

Steel Knott summit and the route ahead to High Raise

Beda Fell over the Bannerdale valley

Heading towards High Raise on the old Roman road

Still some patches of snow on the flanks of High Raise

High Raise summit views of the Helvellyn range

Views towards High Street

Rampsgill Head views towards Rest Dodd and The Nab

The Knott

Rest Dodd (which I bypassed)

Angle Tarn and Angletarn Pikes (which I also bypassed). Always a pretty picture

Views over to the Deepdale valley

Place Fell

Beda Fell summit

Steel Knotts

A quintessential Lake District picture postcard view to finish a great day in the fells

Friday, February 24, 2017

A Bessyboot Bimble & some Geology

Date: 24th Feb 2017
Start/Finish: Seatoller
Wainwrights: Rosthwaite Fell (Bessyboot)
Distance: 7 Miles
Height Gained: 2746 feet
Time Taken: 5 Hours

The route: Clockwise from Seatoller

This walk was about snatching the one fine day amongst a maelstrom of recent grim weather. Storm Doris struck yesterday and today was a lull before the wind and rain returned. A quick perusal of the 'outstanding Wainwrights' revealed a few stragglers that needed ticking off. Fleetwith Pike and Rosthwaite Fell were good candidates and the latter was closer. I wanted to be done and dusted my mid afternoon when the grim weather was forecast to return, so it was a 5am alarm for a 7:30 start.

I parked at Seatoller and headed up the path by Comb Gill, pausing by the waterfalls to take in the impressive scenery.

Comb Gill waterfalls

Looking back towards the 'Jaws of Borrowdale' and Derwent Water
 The path steepens as it climbs up towards Bessyboot (Rosthwaite Fell) and the views open up over towards the Seathwaite Fells which were all capped with snow.

Glaramara over 'The Combe'

Spectacular views from Bessyboot summit

Tarn at Leaves with Rosthwaite Cam beyond
From Bessyboot it's a pathless meander down to 'Tarn at Leaves' and then steeply up onto Rosthwaite Cam with a real scramble to get up onto the summit of the Cam itself.

Rosthwaite Cam views westwards to Dale Head and Seatoller far below ...

... and northwards towards Borrowdale ...

... and eastwards over to Ullscarf

Rosthwaite Cam views over 'The Combe' to Glaramara

For any budding Geologists 'The Combe' is one of the Lake Districts finest examples of a glacial hanging valley. It looks like a huge spoon has scooped a bowl shaped depression out of the side of Glaramara but it is of course formed by glacial erosion. Hanging valleys are formed when a smaller valley (which erodes more slowly) meets a larger glaciated valley (which erodes more quickly). The hanging valley is found perpendicular to and above the main valley and often forms spectacular waterfalls as streams from the overhanging valley spill into the main valley below. The waterfalls of Comb Gill are great example of this as they tumble downwards to feed into the River Derwent in the Borrowdale valley.

Steeps crags (truncated spurs) form the sides of hanging valleys and are perfectly illustrated here by Bessyboot and Thornythwaite Fell respectively.

Glaramara and the Borrowdale valley as seen from Grange Fell

My walk was essentially a horseshoe route circumventing The Combe. It's a great route to appreciate the geology of the region.

The Combe from the flanks of Glaramara

Zoomed in on Derwent Water

The steep crags of Glaramara

Looking back over to Bessyboot from the apex of the horseshoe route ...

... and over to Fleetwith Pike

The Borrowdale valley from Thornythwaite Fell

Looking over towards Green Gable et al

The Combe - Lakelands finest glacial hanging valley ...
... complete with waterfalls ...

,,, and spectacular views to the main Borrowdale valley below

 Thanks for reading.