Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Central Fells – 24 April

The rain on Saturday literally “cleared the air” so that Sunday dawned clear and bright and having stayed in Borrowdale we were well placed for a couple of ridges we rarely visit. Eagle Crag to High Raise via Sergeant’s Crag and from High Raise over Ulscarf and Great Crag to Grange Fell. These fells are not particularly interesting in themselves although Eagle Crag’s terraces are a welcome relief from the grassy slopes to the summit but they are in the very centre of the Lake District and command extensive views.

Ulscarf-002Towards Seathwaite and the Borrowdale Fells

Ulscarf-003Back towards Grange Fell – our final summit of the day

Ulscarf-004Eagle Crag in the distance – first fell of the day

Ulscarf-005Eagle Crag with Sergeant’s Crag on its right

Ulscarf-009Back down into Borrowdale from eagle Crag

Ulscarf-022Coniston Fells in the distance beyond the Langdale Pikes from High Raise summit

Ulscarf-023Pauline by the Trig Point on High Raise looking south west

Ulscarf-039North west over Watendlath Tarn, Derwent Water Bassenthwaite to the Solway Firth in the hazy distance with Skiddaw and its outliers on the right

Ulscarf-045Dock Tarn with its island

Ulscarf-050Back towards High Raise with Eagle Crag and Sergeant’s Crag in the (left) middle distance

Ulscarf-051Pauline looking north east over High Seat & High Tove towards Great Dodd with its own cloud

Ulscarf-057Rosthswaite in Borrowdale – our destination for today

Monday, 25 April 2011

Teenager With Altitude – 23 April

The forecast promised “sunny intervals giving way to thundery showers” and as we drove over from Borrowdale the first part looked as though it would be correct.

Teenager-002Derwent Water with some of the Central Fells behind

Teenager-003A sunny interval over Derwent Water

Teenager-007Breakfast for the marshals

Teenager-010Dragging the drinking water pipe up the field to the Finish

Pauline would be marshalling on Outerside so we were in Stair early enough for breakfast and to enjoy the morning sun. By the time the race started the sun sunny intervals were about over and beyond Causey Pike all the summits, by the time I reached them, were in wreathed in thick clouds which made for interesting route finding.

Teenager-024At the Start

Teenager-025Final Instructions

Teenager-031Approaching Outerside summit

Teenager-028Out of the clouds after Grasmoor long enough to see Crummock Water

Teenager-029Approaching Whiteless Pike

Teenager-030Whiteless Pike descents with High Snockrigg and Robinson beyond

Teenager-034Final descent

Teenager-036Sarah & Huw on the final descent

Having spent a day reccing the route and having run the inaugural race in 2010 I felt happier about the route, until seeing how restricted the visibility was. A safe but not optimum line to Grasmoor cost a few minutes and a less than optimum crossing of Buttermere Moss in very poor visibility cost a few more minutes but going wrong, horribly wrong (repeating an error made on the recce and then compounding it), on Maiden Moor on very difficult ground cost almost 15 minutes. Overall I was about 19 minutes slower than last year but it was still great fun and a great day on the fells. Thanks to Steve, Wynn and everyone else who makes it happen.


Teenager-018Clouds lifting from Maiden Moor in the late afternoon

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Hampsfell & Humphrey Head – 17 April

After a fairly long day yesterday we decided to go back to ticking Wainwright’s Outlying Fells – we have been wandering round these fells for about 10 years now and perhaps the time for completing them is approaching. There are a handful near Newby Bridge and Sunday’s sunshine was enough to tempt us to visit the two most southerly ones, Hampsfell with its Hospice above Grange-over-Sands and Humphrey Head, a narrow finger of land jutting out into Morecambe Bay.

Humphrey Head-017Hampsfell Hospice with Pauline at the top of the external stairs

Humphrey Head-014Looking south from Hampsfell to the narrow finger that is Humphrey Head with Morecambe Bay beyond

Humphrey Head-004Both fells are characterised by their wind blown trees

Humphrey Head-005Wind blown tree with another beyond

Humphrey Head-007More trees with the salt marshes beyond and Morecambe Bay and Lancashire in the distance

Rarely have we seen any of the Outlying Fells in good weather – we have usually considered them as “ second best” to the high fells and visited them only when the weather has kept us off the high fells but these were delightful and Hampsfell, on a clear day which Sunday wasn’t, enjoys spectacular views of the high fells. The final delight was descending Humphrey Head and seeing a Peregrine Falcon sitting in a tree just above our heads. Peregrines may be the fastest animals on earth, hunting at over 180 mph (about 290 Km/hr). Short video here

Monday, 18 April 2011

Grasmere Fells, Tarns & Gingerbread – 16 April

A Morecambe Bay & Bowland LDWA Challenge Event from Grasmere along most of one side of the Fairfield Horseshoe to Fairfield before dropping back down to the valley for a long arc over another four summits or ridges for a view of Grasmere over the mere of the same name and the final descent. About 20 miles and 6500 feet of climbing are involved so it is a pretty good day and the only disappointment, apart from a little route finding difficulty, was the low cloud that hung over Fairfield in the morning, while we were there.

GFTG-031Still misty morning on Windermere at Ambleside

GFTG-001Waiting at the start (1)

GFTG-003Nick Ham and others, including Pauline, wait for the start

GFTG-006Climbing to Fairfield

GFTG-007Steep prolonged descent from Fairfield

GFTG-010The end of the Fairfield descent

GFTG-011Looking towards Fairfield with the summit of Seat Sandal visible between the cloud layers

GFTG-018Easedale Tarn

GFTG-020Near Silver Howe, being carried now but “he walked almost all the way up on his own”

GFTG-021Helm Crag clears about an hour after we were there

GFTG-029Final view of Grasmere with the town beyond from Loughrigg Fell

We hadn’t done this event previously and some of the route finding was “tricky”, to the extent that we went a bit astray on the approach to Loughrigg Fell. We were in a small group and no one could make sense of the instructions which was particularly unfortunate from Chris Green who had set off late and navigated his own way round perfectly, until he caught up with us! A couple of fences later and we were back on the route to finish in just over six hours. Having visited the Fells & Tarns we collected our Grasmere Gingerbread and delicious it was.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

South Yorkshire Dales Traverse – 09 April

Last Saturday we went for a walk with The Rucksack Club on a circuit around Kettlewell in the Southern Dales. Up over Great Whernside and Buckden Pike before descending to Buckden for the climb up Firth Fell. Down into Arncliffe for the long loop over Malham Moor for the return to Conistone to complete a total distance estimated to be around 25 miles but which might have been closer to 27. The weather was glorious, warm, if hazy, sunshine with a cool breeze on the tops – just about perfect.

Yorkshire Dales 005Eroded limestone pavement on Great Whernside

Yorkshire Dales 010First climb on Great Whernside


Yorkshire Dales 014


Yorkshire Dales 017Leaving Great Whernside for Buckden Pike

Yorkshire Dales 019Great Whernside descent

Yorkshire Dales 021Characteristic V shaped river eroded valley on side of Buckden Pike

Yorkshire Dales 025Lunch at the Memorial on Buckden Pike

The Memorial on Buckden Pike is, according to Mike Harding, the saddest of all the memorials in the Yorkshire Dales. On January 30th 1942 a crew of six Polish airmen from 18 O.T.U. took off from RAF Bramcote, Warwickshire on a training mission in a Wellington Bomber. Without warning, they hit a bad snowstorm. Frantically searching for landmarks they caught a faint glimpse of a town below and looped once round it. Unknowingly travelling over Skipton, Yorkshire they continued, blindly heading towards the Dales with fatal consequences to all crew members, bar one.

Yorkshire Dales 022Memorial with brass fox’s head

The whole story and much more, including the reason for the fox’s head, can be read here, on the Buckden Pike website. The rear of the memorial contains some remains of the aircraft and adds to the poignancy of the location. Even on a warm sunny afternoon it isn’t too difficult to image what this high moor must be like in a blizzard.

Yorkshire Dales 027  Descending Buckden Pike

Yorkshire Dales 030Buckden Beck

Yorkshire Dales 040Firth Fell “Climbing Wall”

Yorkshire Dales 043Descent to Arncliffe

Yorkshire Dales 044North west up Littondale