Friday, 26 August 2011

Buttermere Fells - Fleetwith Pike to Haystacks

Here is part one of a walk Claire and I undertook recently tackling some of the fabulous fells that tower over Buttermere. Part two coming very soon.

Fleetwith Pike from the farm
This grand tour of Buttermere took us from Gatesgarth farm over five fells before returning via the scenic Lake shore. This ended up being a much harder walk than I expected, with three steep slopes to contend with and a lot of scree to slide up and down. Getting to the fells is an adventure in itself, at times driving in first gear around some of the corners of the Newlands Pass. We managed to grab the last parking space at Gatesgarth Farm and we were soon on our way.

memorial cross to Fanny Mercer
The ascent of Fleetwith Pike starts as it means to go on - straight up and not let up until the summit. There is no half a mile of gentle ascent here, you start right off on the steep path upwards, following the ridge of the fell.

looking back down Fleetwith Edge
It isn't until the last minute that you actually see the top of the fell, there being 3 other false summits on the way to the top. At times the ridge gets very narrow offering impressive sheer drops on either side.

looking back over Buttermere from the first false summit

But the walk is a real pleasure as every time you stop for breath you can turn around and enjoy the Buttermere panorama as it opens up.

Haystacks from the walk up Fleetwith Pike

As you gain height you draw level with the summit of Haystacks and this gives the confidence to push on. A few short scrambles are necessary but they are good natured ones.

Soon enough you find yourself on the summit plain, which comes entirely unexpected when you approach from the Buttermere side.

Haystacks and a distant Pillar from Fleetwith Pike summit
From here it is a nice walk over to Haystacks. You also have a great view of some of the highest peaks of Lakeland with the Scafell massif looming beyond Great Gable.

Great Gable andh the distant Scafell range

Heading down the south of Fleetwith Pike for Dubs Quarry you descend a few hundred feet coming to cross Warnscale Beck. The walk starts going back up as you start on the approach to Haystacks.

old mining buildings at Dubs Quarry
Having already walked up Haystacks a couple of years ago once this became familiar territory as we passed some familiar scenery. The walk is very varied and interesting as you swing back and forth behind crags, at times having views ofver the majestic fells of Great Gable, Kirk Fell and Pillar, before coming round Green Crag and moving to the fromt face of the crags for a short section offering great views from the head of Buttermere.

Green and Great Gable rising behind Innominate Tarn
You pass Blackbeck tarn and shortly before reaching the summit you reach Innominate Tarn, Wainwright's final resting place. A brief pause to enjoy the atmosphere and takin in the views over the water to the giants of the Western Fells and a few minutes later we were on the ridge that is the summit of Haystacks. A great place to be.

Haystacks summit

From here the walk took us upwards towards High Rise - to be continued next week....

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Castle Crag

Castle Crag is a perfect little fell. It looks like a real fell albeit in miniature - it is after all the smallest of the 214 Wainwright fells. However it packs quite a punch and it's diminutive stature is deceptive of the fact that the fell has a lot to offer. Caves, woodland, history, views, slate, rocky outcrops, it can all be found on Castle Crag.

passing the summit of High Spy on our way to Castle Crag

Our walk up Castle Crag came after we had done a section of the Newlands Horseshoe, taking in Catbells, Maiden Moor and High Spy. After nearly a week of tough walking it's fair to say that at this point my feet were a wreck, but as they say, the show must go on, and there was still time left and fells to be climbed, so I had no choice but to carry on.

It is quite a steep climb down from High Spy, bringing you down off the fell tops and into Borrowdale. You pass a lot of evidence of former quarrying and mining and it is always amazing to find ruined buildings in the most out of the way spots that you wonder just how someone actually built these places?

The lower section of Castle Crag crosses pastures and more woodland before giving way to the slate slopes. This is a tough little section with the path zig-zagging its way through sheaves of slate.

Just around the corner from the slate path, there is a hidden gem. There is an odd little sculpture park to be seen here, with piles of slate creating quite a visual effect.

The final trek up to the summit goes round a large crater before reaching the grassy knoll at the top complete with summit crag and memorial plaque.

We came back down by the same path as our ascent, before heading down towards Borrowdale, along the path between Castle Crag and the Newlands Fells before reaching the pastures that accompany the River Derwent, before arriving in the little hamlet of Grange for a well earnt drink and a tasty slice of tea bread.

butterfly spotted on the side of the path

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Catbells to Keswick

Following on from my recent post about my Catbells walk had me thinking about all the great lower level walks that I have done in the Lakes. There's no denying the sensational views and feeling of achievement when you reach the top of a fell especially a new one, but I have also done some fabulous low level walks in the Lakes and here's one of them.

Keswick seen across Derwentwater from Catbells

Staying at the Camping Barn at Skelgill is a great place to get away from it all, even if you are without private transport. One time I didn't enjoy this walk though was when the bus driver chose to ignore me and crag rat Rainer not to mention our excessive luggage that we had to drag back with us on the four miles to Keswick in the baking sun.

the view from Catbells camping barn

But on normal occasion this is a delight in either direction - well worth getting a Keswick launch across Derwentwater, then walking back or vice versa. The walk starts off through fields and woodland with the slopes of Catbells in your back as you head towards the little hill of Swinside.


This is of course home to the pub where we have spent several evenings enjoying ales - the Swinside Inn. Along the walk you have glimpses of some of the North Western Fells - Barrow and Causey Pike both loom nearby. The woodland walk through Swinside is very pleasant with a good path that takes you towards Portinscale. After a while you emerge from the woods and walk along the road a short while, passing the Nichol End Marine.

messing about on the lake

We have rented kayaks there on a number of occasions, always fun messing about on the water, especially when your feet are begging you to have a day off the fellwalking.If only we were any good at kayaking it would have been even more fun, as it was we were all excellent at going round in circles and Rainer even got to go for a swim in the Lake!

You continue through the pretty village of Portinscale, passing in front of the Derwentwater hotel, then over the swing bridge. The path goes through some more meadows as Keswick appears before you, with the Skiddaw fells providing the impressive background. You come out of the field and onto the road opposite the Pencil Museum which brings you into the heart of Keswick.

the Skiddaw range as seen on the way to Keswick

Thursday, 4 August 2011

More Local Ales

The beauty of Ales is that they are always in season. Nothing beats a Winter Ale to warm you up on those dark cold nights, and likewise there is something infinitely refreshing about a nice Ale in a pub garden on a sunny Summer evening.

Moot Hall, Keswick, from outside the Dog & Gun
On a recent break to Keswick I got to try some great beers from the Keswick Brewing Company and Yates in the Dog & Gun pub in Keswick. This is a great pub with loads of local real ales on tap. It was a bit disappointing to learn that the kitchen had closed, just after 8pm! Chef fancied a night on the town perhaps? Regardless this is a great pub for beers and chatting with walkers, as well as being fully kitted out for guests with their four legged friends, dog friendly is the word.

Some other great Summery ales I tried recently were some more local beers brewed by the Richmond Brewing Company here at the Station in Richmond.

I love the design of their bottles, the use of local places and history in the naming of the beers and of course most of all the great taste. Summer was made for Ales like these.