Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Return to Catbells and Maiden Moor

The stag do. It's something you can't really avoid if you're getting married really. I decided to keep potential damage to a minimum by having my stag do based at the camping barn at Skelgill farm on the lower slopes of Catbells. Far enough away from civilisation to be safe...

ready for the walk

There was no need to fear any nonsense but just in case anyone came up with clever ideas I had a full action programme to tire everyone out and guess what it worked! We had a great time at the Go Ape course in Whinlatter forest, with your humble stag being given a gorilla outfit to wear for the very hot three hours in the trees!

Following a few hours in the pubs of Keswick and one barbeque later, the next morning we were all geared up for a fell walk. With many of my party being newcomers to the fells I decided on taking the group up a classic starter fell - Catbells.

classic view down Catbells

Our starting point at the barn meant we had already done the first few metres of ascent, and we followed the path round the back of Catbells, pausing on occasion to enjoy the view as Newlands Valley opened up behind. This route meant giving the rest of the lads a reall "aaaahh" moment when we reached the plateau of Catbells and were rewarded with the view over Derwentwater.

Derwentwater with a distant Blencathra

A real stopper each time you see it. From here it was a simple enough walk and short scramble up to the summit of Catbells and my lads were rewarded with their first fell.

the final climb up Catbells

We pushed on along the popular ridge walk, the Lake on our right hand as we followed the dip down from Catbells and up Maiden Moor.

looking from Catbells summit to Maiden Moor

As you reach the top of Maiden Moor more of the fells southwards can be and the extent and grandeur of the Lake District slowly unfolds. Quite amazing how many lakes, fells, tarns and wilderness are packed into the 34 miles length of the National Park.

looking into Newlands Valley

It got very windy at the top of Maiden Moor so we did not stay long. Time restraints meant we could not push on towards High Spy and Dale Head, but we had a great short walk and after the stag goings on it was a great way to clear the heads.

Maiden Moor summit

We walked back towards Catbells, before heading down into Newlands Valley at Hause Gate.

sunlight shines where Derwentwater meets Borrowdale

The path showed lots of evidence of Catbells' industrial path with the lead mine spoil heaps and a few shafts exposed. A great short walk that is always a pleasure.

Causey Pike from the foot of Catbells

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Dawn over the Lake District

On a recent Lake District trip I was treated to some great lights and sights as I got up just as the sun was emerging from it's slumber. I wasn't fully wide awake but I managed to grab my camera and take some pictures of the sun as it came up.

still dark over Swinside

It was still very dark as I walked around the ouside of the camping barn but slowly the surrounding hills and peaks took shape and I was able to make them out as the North Western Fells slowly woke up.

and it starts getting lighter
Daylight was creeping over the horizon andshafts of light gave some great colours in the sky

sun pushing through the cloud at Skelgill farm

The sun was doing a good job of burning off cloud and it created spectacular reflections on the fells facing the camping barn, in particular the heather giving some great colour to the slopes of Causey Pike and Barrow


Causey Pike

Stoneycroft Gill separating Causey Pike (left) and Barrow (right)

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Scenes from Derwentwater

On a recent trip to the Lakes I took a trip on one of the launches on Derwentwater. This offers a  different angle on views of many of the popular fells.

Setting off from the camping barn at Skelgill farm, the boat trip started at Hawes End and going anti-clockwise offered us a nice leisurely ride to Keswick, down to the start of Borrowdale before heading back up the lake.

The views of Catbells over to Maiden Moor and High Spy offer a good view of that popular ridge walk.

Further down and you get a great view of the diminutive Castle Crag as it stands in the jaws of Borrowdale.

As the lauch heads back up the Lake towards Keswick you have a perfect view of the Skiddaw fells and a distant Blencathra.

From the water you cannot really see Keswick at all, and as you can only see a few houses and hotels dotted around the edge of the lake you really get the impression of being away from it all.

This is a great way to spend some time in the Keswick area, with each launch stop offering its own walks and sites.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Dodd Wood - a short visit to the Northern Fells

With under half a day of walking time available, Claire and I decided to head over to Dodd - both wood and fell - on the eastern flanks of the Skiddaw range just north of Keswick.

Dodd summit from between the trees

Wainwright was not a fan of the forestation of Dodd, which at the time of writing the Pictorial Guides, was entirely covered with trees, including various varieties of non native spruce trees.

Times have changed and so has Dodd.

view of Barf fell across Bassenthwaite Lake

Since then the upper reaches of the Fell are free from forest and as a result offer spectacular views over Bassenthwaite Lake to the North Western Fells and as the path hits the southern side of the Fell you get a fantastic view over Keswick and far beyond.

Keswick and Derwentwater

This is a rare occasion where map and guidebook can stay in your backpack, as the walk is clearly indicated with different coloured posts offering different walks through the woodlands. If we had more time I would have liked to follow the red painted posts to the Osprey viewing platform, but that will be for another occasion. I did use the map to put names to the huge panorama of fells, lakes and villages that spread out below us.

view of the Newlands Valley beyond Braithwaite

This is most certainly a family fell, as you can get close to the summit using Forestry Commission roads through the forest and the final climb to the summit a very well maintained path.

The views from the summit are quite amazing offering all-round views except to the west where the Skiddaw range towers over Dodd.

Dodd summit and Bassenthwaite Lake in the distance

We came back down again following the posts which brought us round the other side of the fell, following the picturesque Skill Beck as it trickles down the fell and back to the car park and the Old Saw Mill tea room.

looking over to the Skiddaw fells

I found Dodd to be a brilliant short walk, with spectacular views, and the woodland walking gives it a very different character to most Lakeland walks.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Buttermere Fells - High Crag to Red Pike

This is the second half of a circular walk which I made with Claire that started and finished at Gatesgarth Farm. You can read about the first half of the walk here.

Having walked to the summit of Haystacks it was time to tackle the High Stile ridge starting with High Crag. The ascent of High Crag is a challenge right from the outset.

High Crag and Seat

It starts off with a pleasant enough clamber up the hill called Seat, but you are conscious of the giant face of High Crag that faces you, and each person that you pass warns of the section of scree towards the top.

the steep path ahead
Whilst the climb up is a hard enough slog, stumbling up over the scree is real hard work. With the impending views the main consolation you just have to get your head down and keep going. I found this as hard going as the Ladder on the side of Ingleborough.

High Crag with Ennerdale Water in the distance

It's a pleasure to be off the scree and onto the large summit of High Crag. Fantastic views all around, over Buttermere and Crummock Water and great views out over Ennerdale and northwards to the Vale of Keswick and the North Western Fells beyond. To the west was the obvious path that would take us onwards.

looking from High Crag to High Stile

From here it was an easy walk along the ridge to High Stile, and it didn't take long to get there. We would have stopped a bit more often on this stretch to enjoy the views but pesky insects meant we pressed on.

Red Crag and Bleaberry Tarn

A quick stop to enjoy the view and we carried on along the ridge, finally heading downwards towards Red Pike. Again this was easy and pleasant walking, with the views way beyond Crummock Water being new to these eyes - lots more walking territory to be discovered and explored.

Red Crag and it's obvious why

The descent from Red Pike was really tough. Right off the summit you have to make your way down a bad scree slope, basically stumbling your way down and doing your best not to roll all the way down to Bleaberry Tarn. After quite a lot of walking this was hard work, and meant we didn't enjoy the views as much as we otherwise would have done.

The descent continued past Bleaberry Tarn and into woodland before coming out on the edge of Lake Buttermere, where I couldn't resist giving my hands and face a good wash and cool down.

spectacular view across Buttermere

The return walk along the shore of the lake is a fantastic walk in itself, with great views of the fells on the opposite shore as well as seeing where the walk started out as you walk with Fleetwith Pike directly ahead of you and the Honister Pass snaking its way into the distance. You join the long path that comes down from Haystacks at Janet's Bridge and from there it is a short walk across fields back to Gatesgarth Farm. Fantastic day out!

Fleetwith Pike viewed across Buttermere