A trip to Lakeland 2014

Striding Edge - Helvellyn - Catstye Cam

Striding Edge – Helvellyn – Catstye Cam

 

Saturday 13th September 2014

We had booked a small flat at Waterhead, close to Ambleside for two weeks to allow for  six days walking and some joint sight seeing. We travelled up on a well known route from the days of an extended trip across the Leeds and Liverpool canal but couldn’t explain why we knew the road so well as we didn’t have a permanent mooring up here.

We have fond memories of a chip shop at Pool but couldn’t recall exploration of Otley so today we stopped and had a look around. The Navvies’ Monument has twice been restored and is well worth inspection. It’s dedicated to the 23 men who lost their lives digging Bramhope tunnel, 2 miles 243 yards, on the Leeds to Thirk Railway between 1846 and 1849. Some 2,300 men and 400 horses were involved in the construction. The monument is based on the northern portal.

Otley memorial to those killed building Bramhope tunnel

Otley memorial to those killed building Bramhope tunnel

We sat in an Otley park by the river Wharf for lunch and admired the well kept flower beds then took a minor road on the north bank avoiding Ilkley. We had briefly forgotten that Yorkshire had hosted a part of the Tour de France. There were old bike frames along the roadside all painted bright yellow and fading advertising signs galore. Our little back lane may have been a stage because a flood of cyclists met us as we steered carefully around each bend.

Sunday 14th September 2014

Today we explored the local area, first walking to the Roman fort remains then along the river and into Ambleside. Linda spots a ‘sculpture’ of plastic knitting wool cones by the river and sees a sign for a rug workshop but it all looks closed and likely to be so permanently. Linda also discovered the origins of the house on the bridge in Ambleside, an apple store! On the return we note a carved header on the door of a barn “Miss J Jackson 1831”. Later, inspection of the map reveals the barn marked as a kennels. We also walk down to Waterhead Pier which offers information for a day on the Lake.

Waterhead at the end of Windermere and our flat

Waterhead at the end of Windermere and our flat

An evening local walk to Jenkin Crag through Skelghyll Woods (home of England’s tallest tree at 58.7 metres) but we only discovers this later and hence fails to look for the said specimen. Climbing to Wansfell Pike (482M) we spot a pillar used for construction of the Thirlmere to Manchester aqueduct. It is assumed these were siting posts used for surveying purposes during the construction.

Stockghyll Falls exit turnstile now free access

Stockghyll Falls exit turnstile now free access

Monday 15th September 2014

The Walk/s had been planned many years back and were intended as a continuous tour around the Lakes with a different stop each night. My walking mate had backed out and I had already covered some tops so I revised the plan to create day walks from our base at Ambleside. Today’s walk was part of the original plan but I reversed the direction and set off from our base at 8am. I was on the first bag Loughrigg Fell (335M) by 9.30 and realised I could have made this a half day walk as I dropped down into Grasmere from where the real walk started.

Early morning and one hill has a sinister black appearance

Early morning and one hill has a sinister black appearance

Following the old Coffin Road into Grasmere I spied a crowd of expectant folk outside a plain white painted cottage. Inspection revealed this to be the famous Dove Cottage but it looks like it got a 1930 makeover after the Wordsworth family lived here. The interpretation centre and ancillary buildings are much more attractive.

Improved access to Grasmere and Rydal Waters

Improved access to Grasmere and Rydal Waters

The real climb soon starts so I should have got the bus to Grasmere and started here for an easy first challenge. Distracted by the waterfall I missed the intended path and arrived at Easedale Tarn and took a short break. I needed to get off the well worn track and climb to Tarn Crag (550M). There was no evident path so I pushed through the bracken climbing close on 400 feet then decided to take a picture. No camera. Had it slipped from my pocket, as has happened before when the wrist strap had caught on a twig? but there were no hedges up here so I suspected I had left it where I had sat by the tarn. I retraced my steps as best I could casting a searching eye among the fronds of bracken. It wasn’t the camera, a fairly inexpensive model, but the pictures on it, like that roll of film lost by the chemist in days gone by. There it sat, just where I’d left it on the level stone. All that remained was a repeat 400 foot climb.

Easedale and Easedale Tarn having recovered the camera

Easedale and Easedale Tarn having recovered the camera

Codale Head (730M) was bagged without fanfare but then Sergeant Man (736M) shouted “come and climb me”, a real peak before the actual but tame peak of the day – High Rise (762M). The highlight of the day had already made an appearance but first there was Thunacar Knott (723M), Pavey Ark (700M) and Harrison Stickle (736M) before the striking Pike of Stickle (709M).

The unmistakable Pike of Stickle

The unmistakable Pike of Stickle

On the way down I think I managed Loft Crag (680M) but 15 miles had taken their toll and I was past caring. It was a relatively short and sharp descent with a good view of Langdale which hadn’t been explored before so it came as a pleasant and welcome surprise to end at the Walker’s Bar of the New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel before getting the bus back to Ambleside.

Walker's Bar of the New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel

Walker’s Bar of the New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel

Tuesday 16th September 2014

Today we followed up plans laid on Sunday and walked the short distance to Waterhead Pier. Tourists visit Windermere and Ambleside expecting to see the largest of the English lakes only to find they have a walk from the town to the waterside. Bowness from Windermere and Waterhead from Ambleside. The open topped service bus 599 serves all the honeypot locations but folk still get lost.

Waterhead ready for another busy day

Waterhead ready for another busy day

We had agreed to purchase a freedom of the lake ticket and then spotted the option to include a ride on the Lakeside and Haverwaite Railway for just a few extra pounds. We boarded the first boat of the day from Waterhead and returned on the penultimate sailing. It was all leisurely to a degree but the timetable was tightly controlled so that we managed an extensive and complete tour of all the services available. (We like to get our money’s worth!)

Fell Foot at the southern tip of Windermere a small launch offers access

Fell Foot at the southern tip of Windermere a small launch offers access

Information on the pier tells of the boats originally being operated by the railway company much like the cross channel ferries. With privatisation of the railways and closure of the branch line to Lakeside station the operation perhaps lost its way but now back in local hands and with the added attraction of a steam train ride from Lakeside the boats were busy and operate 364 days a year. Some of the boats are modern cruisers but others, called steamers, have been restored to a high standard. A further enhancement would be to return them to real steam operation.

Windermere Steamer, now diesel powered

Windermere Steamer, now diesel powered

On arrival at our lodgings we had managed to get a signal to access the web with the laptop logged into our provider. When we next tried it wouldn’t play so this evening we took the car into Ambleside to see if the signal was better or we could access BT Fon. It was interesting to see Linda’s face lit up in the dark car interior as she surfed the web having got our dongle to work.

Haverthwaite Railway Station

Haverthwaite Railway Station

Wednesday 17th September 2014

I had another walk planned today but the logistics were more of a challenge than the walk. I needed collecting from the finish at Boot in Eskdale. The shortest route from Ambleside is via the Wrynose and Hardnott passes. We had done this route on a number of past occasions but we needed to refresh our abilities on this steep switchback route. We safely arrived at Boot but neither of us welcomed Linda making the return journey alone so we pressed on to Ravensglass and today’s walk was postponed.

A visit to the coast - Ravenglass

A visit to the coast – Ravenglass

The miniature train was preparing for departure and big trains clattered past but we ignored them and had a pleasant walk along the beach then back along the main street. Linda as always was busy reading all and every notice and poster so we entered the Pennington Inn to view work by a local artist, Mark A Pearce (opens a new window). We stayed for coffee then viewed more pictures in the temporary galley, all part of C-Art.

Art by Mark A Pearce

Art by Mark A Pearce

We moved on, guided by the C-Art catalogue to Witherslack but before arriving at the Village Hall venue we spotted a plant nursery at Halecat House, Abi and Tom’s Garden Plants. Another lucky find and good ice cream.

Abi and Tom's Garden Plants at Halecat

Abi and Tom’s Garden Plants at Halecat

We had also stopped off at Broughton in Furness to admire its elegant Georgian Square, set out in 1760 by John Gilpin Sawrey. It’s a sleepy old market town which had perhaps closed for lunch. It retains two petrol filling stations and the proprietor of one sat in the sun reminiscent of films showing the American outback.

025-broughton

The small cattle market had a nice display of flowers in a reproduction manger on the wall and we noted it was lined with sheep’s wool.

The plan for today had suddenly been changed but the new itinerary suited us both. Having driven south around the hills I realised that all was not lost for the walk and suggested Linda might like to collect me from Boot the next day.

Thursday 18th September 2014

I didn’t dare tell Linda my plan for today. I abandoned the walk of yesterday which would have taken me over The Old Man of Coniston, a peak and walk I had done before. I wanted to tackle Scafell via Lord’s Rake and by reversing the walk from the original plan I felt more confident to give it a go.

Dungeon Ghyll end of the road for the bus

Dungeon Ghyll end of the road for the bus

I took the first bus of the day from Ambleside to Dungeon Ghyll while Linda amused herself around Ambleside. It was a bright warm morning as I climbed the path parallel to the the road from Langdale to Wrynose and then on to Pike of Blisco (705M). The pores started to leak and I was glad of the extra water I’d taken. I’ve read that there is little point in taking water from a tap up the hill because it all comes from the streams on the hills. I’m not yet convinced and wish to avoid a jippy tummy, or worse.

Langdale Pikes from Pike of Blisco

Langdale Pikes from Pike of Blisco

I’d followed a path to the summit but it wasn’t the popular path and now crossing over to Cold Pike (701M) I was certainly making my own track around the south side of Red Tarn. Fortunately I had discovered many years back that the Definitive paths in these parts are not to be trusted, occasionally following what starts as a well worn path either fades out or veers off in the wrong direction.

From the isolation of Cold Crag I could see a well walked path heading in the direction of Crinkle Crags (South Tops 834M) & (Long Tops 859M). As I approached two young men were debating the way as there was a path to the left but folk ahead on what appeared to be a steep slab, The Bad Step. They reported a squeeze cave, so I chose to avoid any confined space and went left. We met again at Long Tops and now I wish I’d taken a look but there was no time to go back.

Bad Step straight ahead, easy route to left

Bad Step straight ahead, easy route to left

I was now on a well worn path to Bow Fell (902M) and Esk Pike (902M) then curved around to Ill Crag (935M). I had planned to detour up to Great End but realised time was against it and Linda would soon start to worry when I overran my arrival time. With this time imperative I didn’t have opportunity to fully take in the scenery but at each peak I soon identified the next and made a brief backward glance at the ground already covered.

Scafell Pike and Bow Fell from Crinkle Crags Long Top

Scafell Pike and Bow Fell from Crinkle Crags Long Top

I nearly missed Broad Crag (935), the going here is hard, scrambling over large boulders with the constant worry of poor footing and a twisted ankle. I spotted a small board with a notice attached and assumed it might be another request for donations to help repair the fells, but no. At NY 21846 07494, just south of the cairn on Broad Crag

“We have made orders changing the mapped path network in this area. There will be no changes to the paths that exist on the ground – the orders will just change the legal maps to accurately show where they are.” Well I’m blowed perhaps I’ll be able to rely on my map next time.

I’d not approached Scafell Pike (978M) from this direction since my very first naive visit and hence I’d forgotten the steep loose scree, or perhaps over the ensuing years the path had become more eroded. There is always the worry in these conditions that a traveller above could dislodge a large lump of rock. I was pleased there were less folk about.

The visibility was not as good today as it had been in March three years ago when I ascended the tallest peak in England on my sixtieth birthday. Today could have been another momentous occasion as the Scots were voting on independence, or not. The UK’s Three Peak Challenge is safe.

Lord's Rake shows up well in the snow during a visit in March 2011

Lord’s Rake shows up well in the snow during a visit in March 2011

Like so often happens up in the hills, it was easy to identify Lord’s Rake from the summit but as I got closer the approach became elusive. Got you. It was initially a scree scramble down before I could see what I had to tackle, by then it was too late as the return was just as steep. Fortunately there was no one else about so no risk of a slide. The sides have well polished hand holds to assist. I was pleased I reversed the walk, no way would I want to go down.

From Lord's Rake the well worn path to the summit of Scafell Pike looks like a road.

From Lord’s Rake the well worn path to the summit of Scafell Pike looks like a road.

It may avoid a long decent and climb on the south side but there was still a stiff climb to the summits of Symonds Knott (959M) and finally Scafell (964M). Here for the first time I expected to be engulfed in cloud as it mysteriously rolled across the top like waves on a beach.

It was now 5pm and the rendezvous with Linda was 6pm. The planned walk was 15 miles and I knew from past experience it would be more. I had done 11, I was going to be late. Linda would imagine all sorts of mishaps had beset me. I started the descent missing out Slight Side but to no time advantage. I followed a well defined track which I hoped was the Definitive path to Boot by Eel Tarn but it then curved back to the original route. It was a nice valley but the journey just went on and on and the hands of my watch raced around.

Finally I hit the road at Wha House Farm and there was still almost 2 miles to the agreed meet at Dalegarth station. I was amazed how fit I felt and occasionally I was able to trot along the even surface, but only on the down hill sections. A few cars past by but then one approached that I recognised. I felt relief and could see Linda was delighted to find me safe and well.

She’d spent her extended wait wandering into Boot hamlet, finding a planning notice on the mill explaining the trustees want to rebuild the water wheel. We’ve never seen any activity there so will it happen? Another sign in the Post Office/store window apologises for the closure of the Church Lonning, an obscure terminology which neither Linda or a passer by recognise. Googled later it’s a local term for a lane it seems.

Fell Foot a sigh of relief having safely crossed wynose Pass

Fell Foot a sigh of relief having safely crossed wynose Pass

Linda drove back over the passes getting back onto a road with a white line down the centre as the light faded. It was a fish and chip supper tonight and we would recommend Walnut Fish Bar in Ambleside.

During the morning Linda explored more of Ambleside on foot, walking up Barron’s road into town and, making a detour to avoid the traffic, discovered the rug workshop seen on Sunday is actually open and working. Two ladies were using electric tufting guns to produce wonderful designs, very modern but very traditional materials. Bargain cones of Herdwick wool proved irresistible!

Friday 19th September 2014

Yet again Linda had spotted and digested a leaflet which resulted in another interesting visit, this time to Blackwells an Arts and Craft style house close to Bowness. The House is managed by Lakeland Arts very much along the lines of a National Trust operation but a little less protective with a pleasant absence of barriers and an invitation to sit on many of the chairs to soak up the atmosphere of the place.

Blackwell - The White Drawing Room overlooking Lake Windermere

Blackwell – The White Drawing Room overlooking Lake Windermere

Like a Rennie Mackintosh House the architect, MH Baillie Scott, had control of the structure and internal fittings. It was said that the owner took much of their old furniture into the house and Baillie Scott refused to visit. There was some doubt in my mind about what we were seeing because the building had had a troubled past and pictures, before restoration, offered some sorry scenes but the reconstructed interior is convincing and pleasing. We would recommend a visit but wonder also if Blackwells a is tea room in an interesting house or a special house with tea room?

Blackwell - Visitors Book

Blackwell – Visitors Book

We ended our visit with a talk by the curator which allowed opportunity to ask questions and gain a little unpublished information. The entrance ticket allows a discount on the three other museums managed by Lakeland Arts, Windermere Steamboat (closed during our stay), Abbot Hall and the Museum of Lakeland Life.

Saturday 20th September 2014

I had already given his bus pass some local use. Linda was shocked to find that the council car parks were monitored by the infamous ‘Parking Eye’ a company which has a robust policy of penalties for overstayers. Two of the local buses are also double deckers and hence offer a far better view of the countryside than can be gained from the car, especially by the driver. So we forked out £26.00 on a seven day rover ticket which made the old age pass worth waiting for.

We took the bus north to Grasmere which was still fairly quiet on this Saturday morning. We wandered through the churchyard, a path taken by thousands of visitors but when the quest came close I was confused as to which Wordsworth headstone I should photograph.

The Heaton Cooper Studio displays the work from three generations of one family who have recorded the landscape and people of Lakeland. Again as part of C-Art we were privileged to view sculpture from the private family collection by Ophelia Gordon Bell who captured figures of shepherds, their dogs, and huntsmen with hounds.

There is also much tat in Grasmere, as there is with other honey pots. We felt done down by two small cups of expensive coffee. As the streets and car parks started to fill we made our escape down to Dove Cottage, well it had to be ‘Done’ for Linda, but I would only allow an external viewing.

Back to base for lunch before again taking the bus to Brockhole, the Lake District visitor centre and much more. Another former holiday home for a self made industrialist, this house needs a bit of the care and attention seen at Blackwell. The garden was fair and the grounds offer lakeside access, a very limited provision because much of the waterfront is private and out of bounds to the public. The big attraction for us, as spectators, and other more adventurous folk are the tree top ropewalks. Scary or what even with a safety harness?

Brockhole and the tree top rope challenge

Brockhole and the tree top rope challenge

The day ended with a shopping trip and brief look around Windermere. Although the town gives or takes it’s name from the lake Bowness is actually the water frontage and the two settlements are over a mile apart. This is just too far to walk for many visitors to England’s premier walking destination.

Sunday 21st September 2014

The bus to Patterdale and Glenriding only operates at weekends in school term time so I had planned two walks, starting and ending at Patterdale for the weekend. Linda had gained more confidence after driving over Wrynose (twice) so offered to take me the back way out of Ambleside allowing an earlier walk departure.

Patterdale youth hostel is for sale – £650,000 for 21 beds and two 3 bed staff flats, a bargain by local standards. On her return she met several lone ladies in cars driving up the road, obviously not faint hearted drivers unlike the man overheard on the Kendal bus later in the week.

After a false start or two I made the short and steep climb to bag Birkhouse Moor (718M) before returning to the well worn path towards Striding Edge ( 836M). Fortunately a ladder offered a route over the long and substantial wall which eventually leads to the cartographic feature ‘Hole-in-the-Wall’.

The path from Glenridding towards Hole-in-the-Wall

The path from Glenridding towards Hole-in-the-Wall

I’d stood on the ridge of Helvellyn before and heard enthusiastic accounts of the journey along Striding Edge but never had the opportunity to tackle it. Again I was pleased I’d reversed the walk direction because west to east is the preferred movement along the edge although it was fairly quiet as I attempted to follow the absolute peak avoiding the wimps lower path along the north edge.

It was an excellent day for the trip with little wind and occasional sunshine but I still found gloves useful for warmth and steady hand balance. The final scramble up to Helvellyn (950M) could again be dangerous if someone in front dislodges the loose stone so I was pleased I’d completed this before the afternoon hoards arrived.

The final steep climb from Striding Edge

The final steep climb from Striding Edge

Earlier, as I approached Hole in the Wall I’d confused Swirral for Striding Edge but now it was the turn of the former as I made a there and back to Catstye Cam (890M). The descent didn’t look much on the profile of the whole day but it was significant and I was pleased to arrive at the next peak and take a break for lunch. I may have made a mistake but the planning notes do not record Catstye Cam as a significant top which is a shame as the all round view was well worth taking in as I sat and ate my sandwiches.

The path along Swirral Edge to Catstye Cam

The path along Swirral Edge to Catstye Cam

The Helvellyn plateau was busy when I returned but heading south the crowds soon dispersed especially as I strayed from the path and walked along the edge overlooking Grisedale and passing Nethermost Pike (891M), more of a view point than a top before arriving at Dollywaggon Pike (858M). Along the way I could see the hoards of folk, like ants, working their inevitable way along Striding Edge. An occasional bunching of the line trapped behind a slow or nervous walker.

From Dollywaggon Pike starts the unavoidable dip to Grisedale Tarn. Today I saved 100 feet by passing to the west of the tarn On my only other visit to this location I had taken a refreshing dip in the tarn but this was soon forgotten on the following climb to Fairfield (873M). Today was no different after a walk of ten miles another thousand foot climb was almost too much.

Looking north over Striding Edge with Catstye Cam beyond

Looking north over Striding Edge with Catstye Cam beyond

The thought of the long descent from Fairfield to Ambleside did not help the climb. Having achieved the challenges for the day all I wanted to do was get back. On the way Hart Crag (822M), Dove Crag (792M), High Pike (612M) and Low Pike (508M) failed to lift my spirits.

Linda had planned to use the bus rover into Kendal but it didn’t happen so she spent the day in Ambleside.

Monday 22nd September 2014

Today we took a bus trip to Coniston and Hawkeshead. Oh the delight of shedding responsibility for driving along these narrow twisting roads. The whole bus cheered as our driver offered a commentary while a car had to back some distance allowing us to pass.

From the Coniston drop off point we walked back along the road then along a permissive path to the lake side where we sat and ate our packed lunch on one of the many picnic tables that are not reserved for cafe customers.

Coniston Institute and Honest Shop

Coniston Institute and Honest Shop

Walking back towards the town I suggest a footpath detour which climbs above the houses, but fails to offer decent views, a route Linda would not have chosen and I am made to regret. That is all soon forgotten when we discover the Institute and its Honest Shop. The Reading Room was being used for the lunch club (open to any but we’d got our sandwiches) but we managed a quick tour of the cabinets around the walls each with a display from the village organisations. It had the antiquated feel of a stuffy old museum or library until close inspection revealed details of the present day First Responders or Twinning Group alongside the History Society and Women’s Institute.

Old cases but current content - Consiton

Old cases but current content – Consiton

The Honest Shop was, as the name suggests unmanned and relied on customers writing their purchase in a book and dropping payment in a tin. There were lots of craft items on sale together with food, both essential locally prepared ready meals and other little treats. We bought some tiffin and wrote in the comment column “looks good, tastes ?”. We ate all the tiffin and went back for more. This time we wrote “looks good, tastes good”.

Hawkeshead from the churchyard

Hawkeshead from the churchyard

We hadn’t left a lot of time for Hawkeshead but then as we got off the bus the sight of an ugly Hawkeshead shopping mall did not bode well. We headed away from this and passed the old grammar school on the way to the church on its commanding hill in the village centre. Narrow lanes in the town squeeze like footpaths between and even under some of the buildings creating a quaint and picturesque scene. It has not always been so pleasant if one road sign is to be believed “Wordsworth Street formerly Leather Rag and Putty Street”.

Yes this is a road see yellow lines bottom centre

Yes this is a road see yellow lines bottom centre

Tuesday 23rd September 2014

The forecast was rain so we decided on a bus ride to Keswick climbing over the pass alongside the manmade Thirlmere Reservoir. Other visitors had chosen to do the same and bus was busy but some got out at Grasmere so we were able to sit together for most of the trip. It was a bit misty as we went over the top and the windows ran with condensation so the views were not great even from the top deck.

On arrival we had a better coffee in Booths the northern version of Waitrose before setting off to find the lake, Derwent Water. Linda was again apprehensive that I was leading her astray and even I lost my bearings when the water came into view but we pressed on and all soon became clear and joyous.

We wandered along the waterside path towards Friar’s Crag then returned to select a bench for lunch which overlooked the lake but avoided the overhanging trees which were still dripping from the earlier rain.

A bustling community building tempted us inside where we discovered a local connection. Theatre by the Lake opened in 1999 as a permanent replacement for the Blue Box, an extraordinary mobile theatre which settled permanently in a Keswick car park in 1975 before retiring to its county of origin Leicestershire in 1996, now at Snibston.

Art from a park in Keswick

Art from a park in Keswick

Next we discovered a well maintained park and bemoaned the poor standard of many municipal areas in these times of cuts and economy. As we walked around the town we noted staff training at the former police station and magistrates’ court due to reopen in a week’s time as ‘The Chief Justice of the Common Pleas’ the latest JD Wetherspoons establishment.

It continued to drizzle so after two forays, first into a C-Art exhibition and then a private galley we got the bus back. The second was interesting for the simplicity of the pictures. When even I felt I might just have the skill to reproduce some of the work. Yes I might be able to copy but could I have the original inspiration? No.

Wednesday 24th September 2014

We again go our separate ways today. Linda takes the bus to Kendal, with a rather domineering man behind her telling his wife it is impossible to drive up the short route road to Patterdale from Kendal. Linda manages to resist telling him she did it on Sunday and returned seeing lots of other lady drivers. Fortunately they get off at Windermere where lots of ‘twirlys’ with their shopping trolleys get on to go shopping in Kendal. Once in Kendal she visits the Museum of Lakeland Life, the Kendal museum opening late and charging for a wildlife photography exhibition puts her off. A rather eccentric antiques centre in a very old building proves a good visit, the owner is as passionate about googling for info as Linda is, putting information in as they discuss things. Kendal has changed a lot since the days of the Folk Festival, even the youth hostel is a privately owned bunk house.

Yew Tree Tarn

Yew Tree Tarn

With the revised plan I concentrated on previously untouched ground. Day one of the original plan would have been 15 miles but only visited two tops. The modification offered a circular walk of about 12 miles and ended at Coniston where the Black Bull would offer a good end of walk pint. At the last minute I reversed the plan and again appreciated the decision so set off from Tarn How towards Holme Fell (317M). I’d taken part of the walk from Walking Englishman and looked forward to finding a cave on route so I followed the track diligently and got some interesting surprises along the way.

Coniston Water from Holme Fell

Coniston Water from Holme Fell

We think of the Lake District as an area of natural beauty but there are natural resources which have been and are exploited leaving behind the inevitable scars. Today’s walk passed by and through the remains of quarry workings which have provided the stone and slate for the distinctive and attractive buildings that make Lakeland special for today’s industry, tourism. It was also a day of discovering paths upgraded for cycles but I still haven’t traced their destinations. I should have taken more care of the planning because I missed an opportunity to detour further into Little Langdale and perhaps enjoy a lunchtime pint, next time!

Industrial past a spoil heap

Industrial past a spoil heap

I liked the house / farm at Stang End. On the junction of two metalled roads traffic passes incredibly close to their front as it weaves around the junction. Much like a farm on the road to Wrynose Pass. I think of such sites when landowners wish to move footpaths well away from their gardens on the grounds of privacy invasion.

I tried to cut off a corner and had to scramble through a sheep-creep for my sins before reaching the final summit of the holiday Black Fell (323M) not a big one but it offered excellent panoramic views a worthy end to a good week of walking. Now taking a leaf from Nick’s journals I will offer some intricate detail which you may wish to skip so it’s in italics.

Windermere from Black Fell

Windermere from Black Fell

During this Lakeland visit I had ascended 34 significant hills / fells / mountains. Their significance is denoted in various way:-

18 are recognised as a Hewitt, this is “a Hill in England, Wales or Ireland over Two Thousand feet high (610m) with a drop of at least 30 metres (98 feet) all round”.

3 Marilyns these are British hills of any height with a drop of at least 150 metres on all sides.

26 were Wainwrights from the list of hills appearing in the seven volumes of Alfred Wainwright’s Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells.

3 Birketts these are all the Lake District hills over 1,000ft as listed in Bill Birkett’s Complete Lakeland Fells that fail to meet other criteria.

5 also had an Ordnance Survey Trig point located on or close to the summit.

Some fells met the criteria for more than one of the above categories.

I’m not especially worried that I missed some tops, got lost occasionally or left my camera behind it all makes a memorable trip. I relish my minor achievements of walking on Striding Edge and clambering up Lord’s Rake. The sight of Sergeant Man, Pike of Stickle, Bowfell and Catstye Cam will hopefully remain with me and yes I would like to go back for more.

Thursday 25th September 2014

Rydal Hall

Rydal Hall

We took the bus north for a visit to Rydal Hall but continued to White Moss car park from where we took the footpaths around the south side of Rydal Water. Linda stayed on the lower path while I went to find Rydal Cave. A seat overlooked the lake where the paths combined so we sat and had a coffee. A passing group asked if the lower path continued to Rydal and Linda said not but after they had gone on their way a couple appeared so we went to explore and found our guidance had been incorrect. We hoped we wouldn’t meet up again when they eventually arrived at Rydal having been directed the long way round.

Rydal Cave

Rydal Cave

The garden at Rydal Hall was fair but not stunning. We liked the bridge over the stream and the restored ‘Grot’ a building with the sole purpose of providing the perfect view of the waterfall. I peered in the small room where the old turbine is located. Work on installation of a new turbine shattered the tranquillity of the site so having seen all we wanted we made our way back to the bus because Rydal Mount another Wordsworth destination offered no attraction to us.

Rydal Hall Grot and waterfall

Rydal Hall Grot and waterfall

Linda had a quiet afternoon at the digs while I walked over to Troutbeck village via Jenkin Crag, Skelghyll and Robin Lane along a walled track which must once have been the main highway. Troutbeck did not live up to expectations but was pleasant and straggling so it was difficult to know when to turn around. The church was being prepared for the Harvest Festival and when I enquired about bells a helper enthusiastically said they had three which she rang each Sunday. She even demonstrated playing a tune from numbers written on a sheet pinned to the wall.

Mortal Man at Troutbeck

Mortal Man at Troutbeck

The Inn was a must because the garden had been awarded ‘Best Garden’ by Country Walking magazine. I stayed in the bar so can’t pass judgement. I dropped down to the road at Brockhole and was complemented on my fitness by the bus driver having made a dash to the stop, it was far better than hanging about watching traffic pass by.

A bankbarn opposite Townend at Troutbeck

A bankbarn opposite Townend at Troutbeck

In the evening we had a meal out at the Regent Hotel just down the road at Waterhead.

Friday 26th September 2014

Today’s destination was off the bus route so we had to take the car to the Lakeland Horticultural Society’s garden at Holehird in the grounds of the Leonard Cheshire home of the same name. The gardens are open all year and the admission charge is a suggested donation of £4. Now I don’t know much about plants but I know what I like and this garden was stunning. I was amazed how colourful it was towards the end of September when at home I get called upon to start the autumn clearance jobs. All the society’s activities are undertaken entirely by members on a voluntary basis. The 250 active members out of a total membership of about 1700 provide the core workforce and what an incredible job they do. There is no tea shop and only a limited sales area so it’s not a shopping expedition. We sat and ate lunch on one of the many donated benches, bliss.

The heather garden at Holehird

The heather garden at Holehird

I had been smitten by the coffin road and wanted to take a look, so took the bus to Grasmere and set off up the hill past Dove Cottage and the coffin stone. Why would bearers want to rest the coffin so close to the village and journeys end? Like the track to Troutbeck this would have been the main road at one time and there signs that improvements were started on one section with a stone retaining wall creating a level path at a higher level, but it appears incomplete so we still drop into a dip today. In places there were good views across the valley to Loughrigg Terrace where, I had discovered by reading the biography by Hunter Davies, were scattered the ashes of AWs first wife, so she did have some interest in the Lakeland countryside. From this vantage point I also saw for a second time a wet suited swimmer in Rydal Water, brrr!

At the time I thought the coffin road continued to Ambleside, perhaps an old road did but this has since been taken over as a drive to Rydal Hall and is the temporary access for construction traffic building the new turbine.

In the evening we drive over to Coniston for a end of holiday meal at the Black Bull and one last pint of their delicious ale.

The author on Black Crag a fitting finale to some great walks.

The author on Black Crag a fitting finale to some great walks.


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