Thursday, March 24, 2022

The Skiddaw Group

24th March 2022
Start/Finish: Millbeck Farm
Wainwrights: Dodd (1612ft) , Carl Side (2420ft), Long Side (2405ft), Ullock Pike (2230ft), Skiddaw (3053ft), Little Man (2837ft), Lonscale Fell (2344ft), Latrigg (1203ft)
Distance: 14 miles
Total Ascent: 4117ft
Time Taken: 8 hours

The Route : Clockwise from Millbeck

I'm finally back in the fells! It's certainly been a while since my last Lakeland Hike. The Wainwright count has been stalled on 179 for the past 2 years. It was time to restart the campaign.

                           A video of the hike

My focus for the next few hikes is going to be on the Northern Fells. I've plotted routes to complete them all in 4 day hikes. Today was the first such route and was centred around the Skiddaw group of fells. The northern fells are not a particularly easy group to link together efficiently and so I used routes based on those suggested by Stuart Marshall in his book, 'Walking the Wainwrights'.

Views towards the Newlands and Coledale Valleys from Millbeck


I started at Millbeck on a lovely spring morning and headed up Skiddaw Dodd along the meandering forestry paths which traverse the fell. There are many route options. A map helps but it's really just a case of heading upwards at every route choice until the summit is reached. 

The views get better with height

Early morning mist over Derwent Water

Forestry path leading up to Dodd

Dodd summit view west over Bassenthwaite Lake ...

... and south towards Derwent Water ...

... and finally north towards Ullock Pike and Long Side

Postcard view of the Coledale Fells

The summit view from Dodd is really quite something and far in excess of what could be expected from just one hour of fairly minimal effort. The next objective of Carl Side looms ominously to the north and involves a 10 minute retracing of steps before a path branches off downwards towards White Stones. Unfortunately about 400 feet of height is lost before the ascent returns with fury. An hour of hard labour results in the conquest of Carl Side which is a fairly unimpressive mound with a tiny cairn to denote the summit.    

Looking back to Dodd from the path up to Carl Side

Carl Side summit looking towards Skiddaw

Long Side looms to the west and an obvious path takes a direct course to its summit. A further narrow path continues towards Ullock Pike. The views down to Bassenthwaite Lake are stunning along the whole ridge. 

Ullock Pike view of Bassenthwaite Lake

From Ullock Pike, the route is retraced back over Long Side before a wide path veers off towards the ascent of Skiddaw. 

Long Side and Carl Side from the ascent path to Skiddaw

From the col at Carlside Tarn the route then steers north-eastwards up a steep shale path which eventually emerges onto a broad ridge leading gently up to Skiddaw summit. Of course the expected summit slugs were sat on the trig point enjoying their lunch. For the life of me I don't understand why people do this. Why sit on the very busiest point of a mountain, where everyone else wants to get to, surely knowing that your presence there is so obviously unwanted. Maybe they have no sense of self awareness ? 

Summit Slugs on Skiddaw

Little Man is the next objective and in clear view over to the south east. The summit is lovely place with fantastic views. A little grassy terrace a few steps down on the Keswick side is a great place for 10 minutes R&R.

The path to Little Man

Little Man summit view over Derwent Water

Little Man summit view back to Skiddaw

Little Man summit towards Lonscale Fell with Blencathra beyond

Lonscale Fell is clearly visible to the east and involves a fairly dreary trudge towards this expansive grassy plateau where the summit is marked by a small pile of stones.

Lonscale Fell summit view west back towards Skiddaw

Lonscale Fell summit view east towards Blencathra

It was now time to head downwards, initially re-tracing steps for 5 minutes before heading along a good path due south towards the car park on the Cumbria Way. From there, a path skirts Latrigg on the western side before looping round and approaching the summit from the south. Lovely views over Keswick towards Derwent Water and the Newlands Valley are ample reward from this last fell, the lowest of the day but perhaps the best viewpoint of them all. 

Views of Keswick from the descent path

Looking back along the descent path from the Hawell memorial


Looking back along the route taken from the flanks of Latrigg

Latrigg summit view of Keswick and Derwent Water

It was then a case of picking a route back to the car by the avoidance of road walking as much as possible.

Next up, the fells north of Skiddaw, or perhaps the Blencathra Group. Hopefully not too long off.

Wainwright count 187/214


Tuesday, October 19, 2021

A Tour of our Vintage Retro Camper Van

Well its been a while since I've posted a camping / hiking video. Lots of reasons. Covid, work (healthcare), kids - basically a lack of time. I have however managed to finish most of the outstanding jobs on our camper van and I thought I would share the results before I wrap her up in her cosy cover for the winter. 

                See the video below

So let me introduce you to 'Skippy', our original Holdsworth conversion 1979 VW type 2, bay window, 2 litre air cooled camper van (called a ‘late bay’ by fellow ‘dub campers’). 

She is 42 years old and officially a historic vehicle, meaning no road tax and no MOT needed (although I always get her MOT'd anyway). We bought her about 6 years ago from a local lady who had 3 vans that she hired out for weddings etc. Skippy was surplus to requirement at the time and as we had hired her for 2 previous holidays, and knew her well, we decided to bite the bullet and buy her. 

The front of our bay window camper

She was is reasonable condition when we got her. The engine & gearbox had been recently replaced and were in great condition but there was some bodywork rust bubbling through in the usual spots and the interior was starting to look a bit tatty. We therefore decided to spruce her up. We wanted to keep as many of her original features as possible and so we renovated, rather than updating her. 

She's a pop top with a sliding side door

We started the work 3 years ago and since then she's had all her underneath sealed, rusted panels replaced and welded and a complete re-spray in baby blue. The pop-top roof was really tatty so we've had it removed and completely renovated with new canvas and head lining. She's been rewired and had a new split charge system fitted (a system which charges a separate 12v leisure battery in the engine bay and also allows for 240v hook up at camp sites). This powers the new interior LED lights, the sink tap and the radio. The system also powered the fridge but we found it was flattening the leisure battery in about 2 days (unless we used 240v hook up - which we wanted to avoid). We therefore decided to fit a 180w solar panel to the roof and this now charges a separate leisure battery in the van which is enough to power the fridge continually as well as a few 12v USB ports. 

This is the original Devon interior from 1979

We have removed, sanded down and re-stained all of the original wooden furniture and then re-fitted it over a newly tiled floor. All the door cards and interior panels have also been replaced. In fact the only jobs now remaining are to have the seats recovered, fit some new curtains and have the original rusty wheels sand blasted and spruced up. Then she will be ready to take camping next year.

The new floor & renovated interior furniture 

Of course there are always other jobs to do with a van of this age. I also want to fit a gas heater so we can use her in winter and a separate bottle fridge between the 2 front seats, also powered by the solar panel. 

For a more thorough tour, see the video at the start of this post. 

Monday, January 11, 2021

Bowfell - Mountain Profile

Height: 2959 feet (902 meters)
Area: Southern Fells

Bowfell is the 6th highest mountain the Lake District. It's pyramid shaped profile stands at the head of the Great Langdale, Eskdale and Langstrath valleys.

It forms part of a continuous horseshoe ridge of high rocky ground from Crinkle Crags at the south eastern end to Slight Side at the south western end, with Great End and the Scafell Massif occupying its northern apex.

Angle Tarn sits in a glacial corrie under the steep eastern crags of Bowfell. A cluster of much smaller tarns called '3 tarns' (but varying between 1 and 5 bodies of water depending on weather) nestle in the col between Bowfell and Crinkle Crags.  

Bowfell is most commonly climbed from Stool End Farm in the Great Langdale valley via the 'Band', or as part of a ridge walk from Crinkle Crags. It can also be climbed from the Eskdale or Mosedale valleys from where its steep gully scarred southern aspect (Bowfell Links) can be best appreciated.

Bowfell Walks :-

: from Oxendale via Crinkle Crags
from The Band & Climbers Traverse (and then on to Scafell Pike)
from the Band & Climbers Traverse in Winter

Bowfell Summit View Panorama

Crinkle Crags and Bowfell over the Oxendale valley

Bowfell Links from Shelter Crags, at the northern end of Crinkle Crags
Bowfell and Esk Pike from Esk Hause

Bowfell over Angle Tarn

Great Slab and the Boulderfield from Rossett Pike

A Classic Lakeland View - The Great Slab on Bowfell

Bowfell Summit, looking south over Crinkle Crags

Bowfell summit panorama west - towards the Scafells

Bowfell summit panorama east - towards Langdale

Friday, December 25, 2020

My Top 10 Best Lake District Mountain Photographs

 I can’t get out and up into the fells at the moment for reasons explained in my previous post and so I’ve been trawling through my photos from the last few years and have selected my favourite 10. I thought I would stoop to the title of  ‘Top 10 Best ...’ as I read somewhere that this is a favoured search term on google eg. ‘Top 10 Best Smart Phones’, ‘Top 10 Best Oil Tankers’, ‘Top 10 Stickiest Glues’ etc. So here we go. Drum roll please.

In no particular order ...

1) Let’s start at ‘Lakes Level’ with a lovely Autumn scene looking over a glass calm Grasmere towards everyone’s favourite mini-mountain, Helm Crag and its bigger brother across Dunmail Raise, Seat Sandal. A circuit of Grasmere on a fine day is always a joyous affair but particularly so in autumn when the trees are at their very best.

Grasmere with Helm Crag & Seat Sandal

2) This is Side Pike on the path up to Lingmoor Fell. I love this view, with the dry stone wall, the heather and the Langdale Pikes in the background. It’s a lovely little fell within 30 mins walk from Blea Tarn. Well worth a visit at any time of year but even better in late Summer when the heather is in bloom.

Side Pike in late Summer

3) Another low level view. This one in winter from the old Walna Scar Road on a walk up to Dow Crag and Coniston Old Man. The view is looking over to Wetherlam and when the sheep turned round to look at me, it made for the perfect Lakeland winter picture.

Wetherlam in Winter

4) This next picture was taken from the summit of Grasmoor in the late evening during a summer wild camp. The light seeping through the clouds was just stunning and reflected beautifully off Loweswater and the Irish Sea. 

Loweswater Gold

5) Next is another winter scene. This is Dow Crag (left) and Coniston Old Man (right) from the same hike as picture 3) was taken. It looks quite calm and serene but the wind chill was around -15 degrees C as it was blowing a hoolie! 

Dow Crag and Coniston Old Man 

6) This next picture is of Ullswater with Gowbarrow Fell and the Great & Little Mell Fells in the background. The Ullswater Steamer and its wake sets the scene nicely. The picture was taken on a hike of the Deepdale Horseshoe in late November.

Ullswater from Thornbrow End

7) This photo was taken from the summit of Bessyboot and looks down the Borrowdale valley over Derwent Water and towards Skiddaw in its lovely winter apron.

Snowline on Skiddaw

8) This picture was taken on a winter hike of the Kentmere Horseshoe. I had hiked the route clockwise so the view is looking back over the ridge I had just hiked. The scene appears almost alpine with the 3 peaks of Yoke, Ill Bell and Froswick in their winter coats.

The Yoke, Ill Bell, Froswick Ridge

9) This is the view that will reward you if you make the easy climb up onto Rannerdale Knotts by the banks of Crummock Water. In fact you don’t even have to make it to the summit as this picture was taken from a small promontory about half way up. The view is of Mellbreak, a stunning mountain dominating the western shore of the lake. 

Mellbreak over Crummock Water

10) One the of best winter hikes in Lakeland must be the classic route up Helvellyn via Striding Edge and Swirral Edge. I was lucky to have a perfect calm, cold winters day for this hike. The view is looking back along the route I had already hiked, along Swirral Edge and towards Helvellyn.

Helvellyn over Swirral Edge

11) I know I said the top 10 best photos but having just shown shown you Swirral Edge in winter, it would be remiss of me not to show you Striding Edge from the same day. So this is the view that greets you as you stand at the start of this magnificent arete just before you take the plunge. Just stunning!

Striding Edge & Helvellyn

So that’s its. My 'best 11' fell photos of the past few years. Hopefully more to come in 2021 if this bleedin virus does one!