Thursday, 26 September 2013

A Newlands Round, North Western Fells

The Newlands Valley has to be one of my favourite parts of the Lake District. A stone's throw from Keswick - or a stone skim if you are going right across Derwentwater.
On a recent Summer's day Claire and I were in Keswick, but it was one of those rare days this Summer when the weather looked like being truly awful.

We were outside Moot Hall wondering if it was even worth setting off, but we soon decided that even in the pouring rain a quick hike over to Grange on the other side of the Lake would be a nice trip out.

By the time we had got to Swinside the weather had improved considerably and so we soon set our eyes on the Newlands fells ahead of us. Instead of starting with the usual Catbells, we decided on coming round the back way, starting with Hindscarth.

Walking around the lower slopes of Catbells and Maiden Moor, this all meant we had already walked six miles, in order to get to the start of the walk!

The pull up to Scope End is steep and gets the blood pumping, but it is also a quick way of gaining altitude and as always, each step upwards is rewarded with an ever increasing vista. We could see the clouds shifting and shafts of sunlight to the north of us on Causey Pike.

Once you've done the hard work the next section of the walk is a real pleasure, a ridge route that takes you all the way to the summit of Hindscarth. After the fairly narrow ridge the summit is quite vast, with clear routes in a couple of directions. It was pretty windy on the exposed top so we didn't linger, but headed straight towards the next summit of Dale Head. The wind didn't let up and we were grateful for the wide terrain, rather than having to worry about being blown away.

As we reached the main path to Dale Head we had some great views over the back of the Newlands Valley and into neighbouring Buttermere and it's collection of fells, and a good view of Fleetwith Pike.

Over the other side we had an incredible view down into Newlands, over the vale of Keswick and the Skiddaw massif in the distance. Dale Head has a fantastic cairn marking its summit, but the wind had not died down in the slightest so once again we didn't hang around.

The ridge route from Hindscarth to Dale Head had been a nice easy one along Hindscarth Edge, but the onwards path to High Spy meant a steep slope down to Dale Head tarn and a sharp climb back up, but once we lost a bit of height we found some welcome respite from the wind. We had done High Spy a few years ago from Catbells and so we were now back on familiar territory.

Walking in this direction meant we had the view of Keswick beyond Derwentwater accompanying every step. It is an easy walk from High Spy to Maiden Moor, but by now we were conscious of time - having only intended to do a short walk we had not set out especially early and by now it was late afternoon. We decided to skip Catbells, coming back down onto the path near Little Town past various disused mine shafts, workings and levels that reminded us that this used to be very much a working landscape.

By now we had missed the last boat back across Derwentwater and the last couple of miles back to Keswick meant we had done about 18 miles - not bad for a short walk!

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Biking to work through hidden North Yorkshire

OK this isn't strictly fellwalking, but following a recent Bike To Work week initiative, I decided to take up the challenge and try this journey out myself. As the route I have chosen make this a 45-50 mile round trip I don't have the time or energy to do this every day, but I've been doing this ride once a week and really enjoyed it.

Seeing as my route to work takes in some nice spots in North Yorkshire just south of Darlington, I thought it is worth sharing. Sometimes I have the urge to hit the highlights of the region - in North Yorkshire this might be Reeth, Leyburn or Roseberry Topping - but there are also countless little villages, tracts of farmland and countryside that are host to a network of footpaths.

My ride to work takes in the scenic villages of Stapleton, Barton, Middleton Tyas, Moulton and Scorton. Each village has its own character, with pubs, village greens and other attractions. Barton has a ford to cross in the centre of the village, Moulton features a bus shelter with boxes of books for sale at 50 pence each and Scorton has a huge green in the centre of the village with a couple of pubs perched on its fringes.

Some of these places are probably off the radar for many walkers headed to the hot spots of the North Yorkshire Moors and the Yorkshire Dales, but this corridor of countryside between the two National Parks holds many hidden gems and are well worth investigating.