Sunday, 12 April 2015

A Newlands Valley Walk

In the Lake District you have to be prepared for unexpected weather and it always pays to have a plan B. Some days a high level walk simply aren't meant to be, if the wind and rain decides against it. more and more I am discovering that the alternative walks can be just as scenic and whilst they don't necessarily help in any list-ticking exercises, they are as rewarding as a higher level walk can be.

Earlier this year we had one such day where the windswept fells looked decidedly uninviting. We decided to head deep into Newlands valley to do a lower level walk.

Parking up at Little Town, our planned route would take us around the base of some of the Newlands Horseshoe fells - around the base of Maiden Moor and High Spy, then back around Hindscarth and Robinson before returning to the car.

Although this area is very scenic, popular fells such as Catbells are in close proximity so when the crowds head for the heights, this might be a nice quiet alternative walk. The views into the surrounding fells are incredible and there are really good views  as you look back out of the valley too.

There are plenty of options to change the flavour of the walk - from the valley footpath you can easily take one of the routes up the fells to reach High Spy or Hindscarth. Having rounded the base of Scope End (the buttress of Hinscarth) you go up into the quiet vale between Hindscarth and Robinson.

Here and indeed throughout this walk there is lots of evidence of mining activities and the valley's industrial past. You climb up a bit to reach a reservoir at the foot of Robinson, and in fact it felt like this would be a nice way of getting to the fell tops. The footpath crosses over via an old dam along the edge of the reservoir and we returned via the path along the foot of Robinson.

From here the path more or less led us straight back to the car park of Little Town. This is a great walk for when you're not sure about the weather, as the low level walk is a lot of fun, yet should the outlook brighten up you do have plenty of options for getting onto the Newlands fell tops. We'll be back!

Friday, 3 April 2015

Blea Rigg via Easdale Tarn

I think of Grasmere as being the heart of the Lakes, Right in the middle, accessible from Keswick or Windermere, Coniston or Patterdale, it stands to reason that it is a busy little village. 

With it's literary, culinary and cultural links, it attracts far more than just your hardened walkers which means that although the village might seem bustling with activity, once you get out and about things quieten down - unless you follow the crowds up Helm Crag.

This walk took us up the popular scenic walk to Easedale Tarn, alongside Sour Milk Gill. The weather was not great and this probably deterred a number of people from heading upwards and so the route wasn't too crowded.

The walk up to the tarn is postcard picturesque all the way, with amazing views from the valley floor, along the gill and up to the edge of the tarn.

At this point the weather took a turn for the worse and as we started heading up the path to Blea Rigg the rain and mist set in, so the views were pretty minimal all the way to the top. The climb itself is good fun, with the path crossing rocky terrain before making the final sweep to the top.

As luck would have to the clouds started to dissipate when we were on the rocky summit, giving us glimpses of fell groups all around such as the Langdale Pikes and the Coniston range. The rain also subsided and conditions became very favourable.

From Blea Rigg we followed the well-trodden path towards Silver Howe, stopping en route for a picnic. We enjoyed our food whilst taking in the view over Grasmere towards the Fairfield horseshoe.

We got as far as the summit of Raw Pike, before deciding to head back towards Grasmere. This was a fairly simple but very rewarding walk and a great way to spend a couple of hours in the heart of the Lake District.