The Lake District – World Heritage Site Status

20090913-03_Ullswater Reflections

The Lake District – World Heritage Site Status

I’ve often been asked where my fave place is in the UK to walk/visit … and there are many places I love, such as The Yorkshire Dales, Peak District (White Peak and Dark Peak), Cotswold Hills and Villages, South West Coast Paths and Moors, Malverns, Welsh Border Country, Snowdonia, Black Mountains/Brecon Beacons, Pembroke, etc., etc., etc., …. but ultimately it’s The Lake District that’s really got my heart. As I turn off the M6 heading to Kendal (South Lakes) or Keswick (North Lakes) there’s a little bit of me comes alive, as if that part of me is left dormant when-ever I’m not there.

Well now UNESCO have recognised The Lake District as a World Heritage Site, confirming what I’ve always known from my first visit as a teenager all those years ago. Here’s a passage from their web-pages :-

The English Lake District

“Located in northwest England, the English Lake District is a mountainous area, whose valleys have been modelled by glaciers in the Ice Age and subsequently shaped by an agro-pastoral land-use system characterized by fields enclosed by walls. The combined work of nature and human activity has produced a harmonious landscape in which the mountains are mirrored in the lakes. Grand houses, gardens and parks have been purposely created to enhance the beauty of this landscape. This landscape was greatly appreciated from the 18th century onwards by the Picturesque and later Romantic movements, which celebrated it in paintings, drawings and words. It also inspired an awareness of the importance of beautiful landscapes and triggered early efforts to preserve them.”

The words hardly do justice to the beauty of the place, especially when you get away from the “honeypot” touristy places, into the high places, the quiet places and remote places. It’s always beautiful there, but as the wettest place in England you have to take the “rough with the smooth” – however, when the sun shines and with blue skies, the place is just magnificent.

If you’ve never visited The lake District and especially never walked there, I’d say go, do it, high level or low level, it’s great place to walk, view, take photo’s, and well just get away from it all.

TTFN for now,

20150404_Walking Books By Bob Allen

20150404_Walking Books By Bob Allen

About 2-½ weeks ago, a lady emailed me asking about one of Bob Allen’s books that I’d mentioned in an old blog post. So, I thought I might share our conversation, just in case there’s anyone else “out-there” that would be interested. Whilst deleting names (in the interest of privacy) I’ve decided it’d probably be easiest if I just copy the emails:-

To Me :-

Just came across your ‘To the Hills’ blog in my search for a copy of Short Walks in the Lake District by Bob Allen. Noticing your reference to this book, I wondered if you would know where/if I can obtain it.

From Me :-

Dear ************
Thank you for your email. I have three books by Bob Allen.
• Escape to the Dales

• On Lower Lakeland Fells

and the one you were asking about,

• Short Walks in the Lake District.

20150404_Walking Books By Bob Allen

Walking Books By Bob Allen

I can distinctly remember buying the Lower Fells book from a tiny little corner shop in Elterwater opposite The Britannia Inn, in 1990. They were selling signed copies! and I couldn’t not buy one. However, I really can’t remember where and when I picked up the other two books, although I suspect they too would have been around some 20-25 years ago.The short Walks book has 60 routes all within The National Park, mostly in the south of the district.

Looking inside the cover,It was published by Michael Joseph Ltd, London
The Penguin Group, 27 Wrights Lane, London,W8 5TZ.
1st Published March 1994
2nd impression April 1995

Whether it is still in print and available from new I don’t really know I’m afraid. I would suppose somewhere like WH Smiths would be able to tell you if is still in print or not. However, a quick google shows that there are three new books available on Amazon starting at £62.00 …. which to my mind is rather ridiculous. However there are a bunch of second hand books listed, several asking for just a penny + postage. So it appears you could quite easily get yourself a copy. Hope this helps, good luck in your search.

And then,finally, To Me :-

Dear Gary
Thanks for your reply.
For your info. I did order one from Amazon which has just been delivered. Hardback, mint condition, and just £4.99!! Thanks again for your assistance.
Best regards

And an addendum :-

So there you are, the internet can be a fantastic tool, but please look a little deeper than the first thing that pops up … Sixty odd quid plus P&P, for a book available for less than a fiver is frankly quite scandalous!

And … a last thought, I just love the three books I have by Bob Allen, I use them when the weather is not quite right for heading up onto the high fells, mountains and moors of The Lake District and Yorkshire Dales. I might not always do exactly the walk that Bob has described. Why? Because (as with most guide books I have), I use the route descriptions to get a flavour of the area, what might be possible and then adapt the walk to my own needs referring to my maps …. I perhaps add to the distance or put in an extra climb, or I might even taking a short cut or slight detour just depending on the weather on the day, or the conditions underfoot, or just how fit I’m feeling and whether I’m walking on my own or with others. I guess they are called guide books, so that’s what I do, I use them as a guide.

And finally, these are more home-based books, far too heavy and chunky for carrying out on the hill.

Anyway, I hope the above was of interest.

20110924_Scafell Pike Circular Walk from Seathwaite – Photo’s Added

20110924_Scafell Pike Circular Walk from Seathwaite

20110924-08_Top of Scafell Pike Summit Cairn by gary.haddenHurray, Yippee, Huzzar !!!

and… At last …

I’ve finally got around to editing and attaching my pic’s to my two  diary posts for my very wet Scafell walk … Sorry for the grainy and at times rather fuzzy-around-the-edges quality, but it was a pretty horrendous day weatherwise for photography or at least for most of the day. Sill the pic’s show it as it was !!!! … Rain, Mist, Poor light, 20110924-22_Styhead Gill backed by Great End by gary.haddenVery poor visibility at times, Swirling low cloud and eventually a very little sunshine peeking through.

Anyways up, if you want to read on please use these links to go straight to the diaries :-

The Ascent ….

The Descent ….

…. Or if you’d just like to just see my pic’s without the wordy bits, please go to my flickr set on this link or maybe use this link to go the set as a slide show.

Cheers, and  T.T.F.N.


20110924_Scafell Pike Circular Walk from Seathwaite … Diary 2 of 2 … The Descent

20110924_Scafell Pike Circular Walk from Seathwaite … Diary 2 of 2 … The Descent

When : 24th September 2011

20110924-29_Me at Stockley Bridge by gary.haddenWho : Me and my sister Janet

Where : Wettest and Highest Places in England, Lake District, Cumbria, England

Distance : Full walk approx 14.9 km (9.2 miles)

Heights climbed : Full Walk approx 992m (3255 ft) and about the same down.

Car Parking : Limited parking at side of road at Seathwaite, Upper Borrowdale.

Summary : The main walk of three circular walks in the superb English Lake District, Starting and finishing at Seathwaite in Borrowdale.

  • Ascent (Previous diary entry) taking in Grains Gill, Stockley Bridge, Ruddy Gill, a skirt around Great End, Boulder fields to Broad Crag summit, Final rise to Scafell Pike.
  • Descent (This diary entry) From Scafell Pike, via drop towards Lingmell Col, The Corridor Route, Styhead Tarn, Styhead Gill, Taylor Gill Force and return via Stockley Bridge back to Seathwaite.

If you click on a pic’ it should launch as a larger image on my flickr photostream.

20110924_Skafell Pike Circular from Seathwaite in BorrowdaleThere was so much to write about on this walk, that I’ve decided to split it into two diary entries … The Ascent from Seathwaite (see other diary) and The Descent to Seathwaite (This diary), where we took the corridor route, but more of that later.

We’d had a very wet climb up to the summit, but once on top the rain eased, at least a little, and after finding the hidden treasure (see the first diary) we decided to have a spot of lunch and then take a few more photo’s. Despite the grey cloud and poor visibility these just HAD to be done … but unfortunately Janet’s camera had finally succumbed to the rain and had simply packed up and would only show a wishy-washy purple haze on its back screen – Not good, especially as it was virtually brand new! This just left my camera, which was fished out of its plastic bag from deep inside my rucksack and we posed for 20110924-09_Leaving Scafell Pike in the Mist by gary.haddeneach other by the side of the trig’ point which looks a little worse for wear. A gentleman kindly did the honours for us so that we could appear in the same photo’ at least once during the walk – It proves we both actually made it to the roof of England.

It didn’t take long for us to start feeling cold, and there was no sign of the clouds breaking up or lifting enough for any views, so we hoisted sacks on backs, took a compass bearing and set off over the barren rock strewn surface. There was a steady stream of people coming both up and going down …. not enough to call it busy, but nearly always someone within sight (or at least earshot) as we dropped steeply down the rugged fell side. As we dropped, the path, marked by regularly spaced cairns of varying sizes, became quite distinct … testament to the many thousands of footsteps that’d been up and down this way before. We spoke with a several people on their way up, most of whom had come up from Wasdale and were keen to know how much further they had to climb. After a while and quite a bit of descent someone said they’d come up via The Corridor Route (Used to 20110924-11_Descent from Scafell Pike in the Mist by gary.haddenbe called The Guides Route I think) which was of interest to us as they informed us the path is reasonably distinct and the parting of ways marked by a cairn; Very useful info’ especially in the mist.

As it happened, as we dropped further, the visibility did start to improve, marginally at first but a definite improvement. We could even see the shadowy bulk of some of the surrounding high fells, to my mind giving a sense of scale to the landscape previously lacking. The right hand branch of path was duly found without much difficulty and we turned off sort of northwards [before the Wasdale path took a big turn to the left heading towards Hollow Stones and Lingmell Gill]. We were now on The Corridor Route. The route on the map heads sort of generally NNE but in a series of wiggles winding its way through the craggy terrain. Trying to relate exactly where we were relative to the terrain wasn’t easy due to the lack of distinct reference points in the mist, 20110924-12_Fells appearing from the Mist - Corridor Route by gary.haddenbut occasionally the cloud would lift and swirl and give a glimpse of the surrounding fells – These were special moments, difficult to capture on camera in the gloomy conditions and with a damp lens, but emotionally quite uplifting, especially when patches of sunlight lit up little bits of fellside and valleys around us.

At one point, whilst approaching the top of one of the several ravines with a tumbling stream and waterfalls (between Criscliffe Knotts and Stand Crag), we could see a party of walkers trying to negotiate the required crossing. It was either particularly difficult or they were making a bit of a pigs ear of it. Maybe it was from our slightly elevated position, but we could see a nice line to follow in the crags above the stream. 20110924-13_Corridor Route_Waterfall-Ravine (Wet Lens-sorry) by gary.haddenOn the other hand, they had dropped into an area of scree, with a steep drop into the chasm below them (maybe chasm is a little over descriptive but I think I’m allowed some poetic license occasionally) and they were struggling to make the stream crossing and rise back up to the path. We must have looked consummate experts as we chose the higher line and traversed around the obstacle with no problems at-all, well maybe it looked more straightforward than it was, as there was an awkward drop to regain the path, which then promptly rose again over a little crag necessitating a mini-scramble where we passed the time of day with a gent’. The young man checked with us that he and his party were on The Corridor Path and then quizzed us about how long it’d take to reach the summit of Scafell Pike from where we were.

20110924-14_Surface Water - Corridor Route by gary.hadden

20110924-15_Corridor Route (wet lens-sorry) by gary.haddenAfter saying our farewells we moved off, only to hear the man shout after us … so, we stopped again, waiting for him and another younger man to join us. It turned out they were brothers, and the younger of the two was struggling somewhat, having picked up an injury of some kind – whatever he’d done, he wasn’t moving very well and we were asked if we could guide him down off the mountain to Seathwaite/Seatoller so allowing the rest of his party to press on to the top.  Well we were going that way, so after a little thought we agreed to “babysit” the young man down with us.

20110924-16_Lingmell Beck Valley + Wasdale Head from Corridor Route (wet lens) by gary.haddenThe next stage traversed the rugged fells on a reasonable path, winding its way downhill, crossing tumbling streams in places as we went. With our new guest walking with us our pace had slowed quite a lot now, but I don’t think that mattered too much because at least we were now pretty much below the cloud base and some views had started to open up around us. In fact it was quite atmospheric, especially looking down The Lingmell Beck valley to Wasdale Head and across the bowl at the head of the valley to the area of Sty Head where we were heading towards.

20110924-17_Sty Head from The Corridor Route by gary.haddenOur guest explained that on the outward route his party had dropped into the bowl, negotiated the wet boggy area in the bottom and then made the steep climb back up to reach The Corridor Route path somewhere near where we were now stood. It was this steep climb where he’d picked up his injury, curtailing his attempt on Scafell Pike. Maybe with a bit of better map reading he’d have been able to bag the peak to go with his only other two mountains he’d ever walked: Snowdon and Ben Nevis. You see, the path doesn’t actually go where they’d gone, no, it stays high to the east of the bowl and we took this route eventually rising northwards to meet a bridleway forming a T-Junction.

Turning right would have taken us up to Sprinkling Tarn an onwards to 20110924-18_Mountain Rescue Box - Sty Head by gary.haddenmeet our outward route at the head of Ruddy Gill under the flanks of Great End. This wasn’t our intention though. We turned left, heading west on relatively level ground passing a number of small pools before reaching a mountain rescue stretcher box with super views down over Sty Head Tarn to our right as we went.

The Stretcher Box area gives a number of route choices, South-West for a low level route down into Wasdale Head, West for a higher level route down to Wasdale Head; North-West for a very steep climb onto Great Gable; and NNE dropping down to the left hand bank of Styhead Tarn. This last route was what we needed, and we set off on the very obvious path but not before a bright yellow 20110924-19_Rescue Helicopter above Sty Head by gary.haddenR.A.F. Rescue Helicopter passed overhead, a patch of blue sky opening up above as if some higher power was smiling on the crew. In fact the still stormy looking clouds had started to break up now and we now started to dry out – I even took my over-trousers off thinking rain was now unlikely (wishful thinking maybe, but worth the risk). Our route passed very close to Styhead Tarn and then started the descent down the left hand bank of the cascading waters of Styhead Gill and then crossed the river to the opposite bank to continue on with a super view down into Borrowdale.

20110924-22_Styhead Gill backed by Great End by gary.hadden

20110924-24_Styhead Gill drop towards Seathwaite + Borrowdale by gary.hadden

20110924-27_Greenhow Knott (above Stockley Bridge) by gary.hadden

20110924-28_Stockley Bridge crossing Grains Gill by gary.haddenIt now felt like we were nearing the end of the walk, and I’ll admit to a degree of weariness, but at least I didn’t need to concentrate on my map reading now. The descent increased in gradient and we dropped on the decent path which bent to the right near Taylor Gill force as we reached the tree line. This was a pretty spot in the sunshine (and is easily accessible from Seathwaite if you just want a short walk) and probably deserved a stop to really appreciate its charm, but I think all three of us just wanted to be off the fell now and just continue down to reach Stockley Bridge where it crosses Grains Gill. If you’ve read my “ascent diary”, you’ll remember we’d crossed this bridge in heavy persistent rain and it was nice to be able to stop, take a few photo’s and actually appreciate the setting.

20110924-30_Grains Gill from Stockley Bridge (looking south) by gary.hadden

20110924-32_Grains Gill + path coming away from Stockley Bridge by gary.haddenIt was here that we now parted company with our guest walker. I’d got the impression he’d slowed somewhat and might appreciate now moving at his own pace and not feeling pressure to keep up with us anymore. I also thought our pace would probably start to pick up now we were in the valley bottom with the flat, good surfaced path stretching out in front of us and so we said our farewells, wishing him good-luck in meeting up with the rest his group we’d left earlier in the afternoon. All he wanted to do now was find a pub and sink a pint or three of lager … it seemed to have become somewhat of a one track thought 20110924-31_Sheep near Seathwaite Borrowdale by gary.haddenfor him on the way down … Each to his own I guess … We soon put some distance between us as he sat down on a rock for a rest. Looking back to where he was sat in the distance, the views back up the valley were so much better than in the morning; it’s incredible how quickly our weather can change really.

The final bit of the story is we soon reached Seathwaite farm to find “Jakes Snack Shack” still open and we joined a handful of fellow hill walkers by buying a very welcome mug of piping hot tea. Incredibly, there was a third story of injury – an older gent had slipped, banged his face on rocks and had a bloody nose that just wouldn’t stop bleeding. He suspected he might have broken his nose, but had been fit enough to get off the 20110924-34_Jakes Snack Shack - Seathwaite by gary.haddenmountains with his mates, albeit with two big wedges of tissues stuffed up his nostrils – not attractive, but effective. And that was basically that, a couple of hundred yards through the farm and down the road brought us to our car … a change of footwear and then the couple of miles drive down the valley to Borrowdale Youth Hostel.

Well, in summary, WHAT A DAY …. Certainly eventful and packed with drama :- Rain; Fog; Surface Water; Difficult Map Reading; More Rain and Fog; Mountain Rescue in action; Boulder Fields; More Rain and Fog; Reaching the highest point in England; Gaining an injured guest walker; Rescue Helicopter; The sun eventually appearing; Meeting another injured walker and a huge sense of achievement considering my semi-knackered knees and my consultant-surgeon’s recent comments about stopping walking!

That’s it !!! …. If you’d like to comment on my diary or any of my pic’s please feel very welcome, I’d love to hear from you.

T.T.F.N. Gary

20110924_Scafell Pike Circular Walk from Seathwaite … Diary 1 of 2 … The Ascent

20110924_Scafell Pike Circular Walk from Seathwaite … Diary 1 of 2 … The Ascent

When : 24th September 2011

Who : Me and my sister Janet

Where : Wettest and Highest Places in England, Lake District, Cumbria, England

Distance : Full walk approx 14.9 km (9.2 miles)

Heights climbed : Full Walk approx 992m (3255 ft) and about the same down.

Car Parking : Limited parking at side of road at Seathwaite, Upper Borrowdale.

Summary : The main walk of three circular walks in the superb English Lake District, Starting and finishing at Seathwaite in Borrowdale.

  • Ascent (This diary entry) taking in Grains Gill, Stockley Bridge, Ruddy Gill, a skirt around Great End, Boulder fields to Broad Crag summit, Final rise to Scafell Pike.
  • Descent (Next diary entry) From Scafell Pike, via drop towards Lingmell Col, The Corridor Route, Styhead Tarn, Styhead Gill, Taylor Gill Force and return via Stockley Bridge back to Seathwaite.

If you click on a pic’ it should launch as a larger image on my flickr photostream. Sorry there aren’t so many with this diary – If you read on, all will become apparent.

20110924_Skafell Pike Circular from Seathwaite in Borrowdale

20110924-08_Top of Scafell Pike Summit Cairn by gary.haddenI’ve found this diary entry extremely difficult to compose, not that the route description is really any more difficult than any other walks I’ve written up … No, I think it’s been more of an emotional block: Somehow this walk just seemed so much more personal in terms of my semi knackered knees and because a surgeon had just told me just a couple of days before to just “Stop Walking” to preserve what cartilage I’ve got left. So, this felt like it might be the last big walk up a mountain I might ever have a go at. Therefore, because the walk was to be to the highest place in England and the fact I’d never been up there before, sort of added a poignancy I’d not normally associate with a walk. With this background, I hope the following description lives up to my billing.

Well, this was the main event of the long weekend, and we’d readied virtually everything the evening before (including packed lunches tucked away in the fridge) to get an early start, all we needed was to make up flasks with hot drinks and sit down to the excellent hostel breakfast.

The reason for the early start was three-fold really.

  • The weather wasn’t forecast to be very good all day, so we figured it would be better to have the maximum amount of time available whilst out on the fells, especially as neither of us had walked the route before.
  • As neither of us had been to England’s highest peak before, we wanted to give maximum time to appreciate the mountain’s charms, on the off-chance the weather decided to be kind to us after all.
  • And, probably the main reason, we’d been told the parking at Seathwaite is limited and very popular, and we didn’t want to arrive there, only to find ourselves having to drive back to Seatoller (over a mile away at the head of Borrowdale) or even worse, all the way back to the hostel (at Longthwaite) about two miles away – This would have added another 4 miles to the walk which we felt we didn’t want to do.

20110924-01_Seathwaite near  Seatoller - Borrowdale by gary.hadden

Everything started off exactly to plan, including the weather unfortunately, which was living up to the forecast (persistent rain and very low, claustrophobic cloud). We drove the couple of miles up the valley, turning left at Seatoller en-route, to take the minor road up to the “dead-end” at Seathwaite, which is little more than a large farm. After finding a parking space with relative ease (on the narrow verge, at an angle to the dry stone wall, pulling in as close as possible so the back end didn’t protrude too far), we donned full waterproofs before setting off towards the farm buildings … the reputation of this being the wettest place in England was eminently believable as beyond the stone buildings very little of the fells were visible – even at this low elevation.

It didn’t take long to realise photo opportunities were going to be limited, and despite having a good degree of weather-resistance on my camera body, I decided to hide it away in the bowels of my rucksack and so protect it from the rain. Janet on the other hand kept hers in a belt pouch with it’s own water-proof elasticated jacket. It’s not often I start a walk completely kitted out in waterproofs including hood up over my head and over-trousers on my legs, but it was absolutely essential today – URGHH !

After passing through the farm, the path away from Seathwaite is easy, on a wide track, which as we traveled south narrowed somewhat but still comfortable enough to fit two people walking side-by-side. The path runs parallel to Grains Gill tumbling over it’s rocky river bed just a few feet to the right, but after about 3/4 mile the path takes a right turn to cross the stream by means of the charming Stockley Bridge. This small single arched, attractive stone bridge spans the stream where it drops over some large rocks in a series of small cascades, narrowing into a single channel as it passes under the bridge. This is a very pretty spot when the sun shines – But it wasn’t at its most photogenic when we crossed over due the weather – So, I didn’t bother extracting my camera from its protective ruck-sack cocoon.

The path then rises away from the bridge to reach and then pass through a wall via a large gate and then immediately splits into two directions. The most obvious route heads straight ahead up the fell-side – but that wasn’t the one we needed. No, we needed to turn left to pick up the path directly to the side of the wall, at first on an easy gradient, but soon steepening under the craggy eastern slopes of Seathwaite Fell. Across the other side of the rugged valley the fells rise up over Hind Side to Glaramara, not that we could see much of the mountain though because of the low cloud base. The path lead us over numerous rills and gills streaming down the fells and at times the path itself was more akin to a stream than a path. At one point we re-crossed the main gill (although at this point its name is now Ruddy Gill) and the going steepens considerably to rise up the head of the valley.

I wouldn’t like to speak for Janet, but my legs soon felt a little heavy, the exertions of the walk over Robinson and Hindscarth the day before lingering in the muscles. We were now merging into the cloud base where the visibility soon worsened, the breeze picked up and the temperature dropped quite considerably. Despite wearing waterproofs we were slowly becoming saturated – I don’t know if I was completely dripping wet by now, but I’m sure I was well on the way. The top of Ruddy Gill is in a ravine, which I remember from many years ago is quite stunning, but today I hardly noticed it as we slogged onwards, two very fit looking gent’s passing us on their way up the same path.

From the limited distance we could see ahead of us, it was now obvious that my map reading and compass skills were going to be properly tested (I don’t own a GPS system, and my mobile phone is, ermm, shall we say slightly dated and doesn’t have global positioning and the like, so it was down to doing it the old fashioned way – I don’t know if it showed but it felt quite daunting, probably because it was some time since I’d HAD to use these skills as opposed to playing with bearings during good weather. There’s no comparison really!

The path had now brought us to an area now a little more level, and I was looking out for a major path crossing left to right ahead of us (designated a bridleway on my OS map). This is a major mountain route between Langdale (to the east) and Wasdale Head (to the west) and should have been quite easy to find. In the end, it did appear and I was quite happy to have something to get my bearings on. Straight ahead is the massive blunt craggy lump of Great End, which had we had any visibility at-all would have risen up like a huge wall in front of us – As it happened we had to imagine what it might look like, as it was just swallowed up in the cloud and mists.

The two guys who’d passed us earlier on the rise past Ruddy Gill, turned right heading over towards Sprinkling Tarn and they soon disappeared from sight. Our route was in the opposite direction, to make a big loop around to the east of Great End and we turned left to rise up on a relatively gentle gradient. I knew I had to pick up a path branching off on the right (a faint dotted line on the map) and as it happened we found it without any difficulty although I was constantly checking map/compass/ground to keep my confidence in the route we were on – Not easy when my varifocal glasses and map case were covered in rain. Focusing on the map was becoming quite difficult in the wet and the gloom. This little section was not due to last long before meeting with various other routes, all crossing at a spot called Esk Hause. Getting the right path here was important! …. I really didn’t want to end up on Esk Pike or dropping down into Eskdale. Our route was to turn a quite sharp right, westwards, rising into Calf Cove. As it happened, there were a series of cairns that helped with the route finding.

20110924-02_Boulder Field nr Great End in the Mist by gary.hadden

Visibility was really quite poor now, easily down to less than a hundred yards and this difficulty was compounded by a boulder field making walking in its own right awkward. I think the sentiments “what on earth are we doing this for” and “we must be stark raving bonkers” were certainly thought and probably said out loud at least a couple of times. It really was a bit of a slog, especially with no views to distract from the climb. Although not the most salubrious of spots, we found a hollow in amongst the rocks to take a mini-lunch-stop. We could hear the muted, deadened, sounds of a party of fellow nut-cases (I mean walking enthusiasts) coming up behind us long before we could see them; the distinctive and familiar chinking of the rocks under foot first and then their voices marking their direction before they loomed out of the hill fog …. My camera got a brief airing as I felt their shadowy figures coming out of the mists could be quite evocative. As I’d got it in hand I snapped a couple of my sister at the same time (not easy in wet gloves!), wiped it down with a damp handkerchief and then buried it away in my sack again.

20110924-03_Very Wet near Great End by gary.hadden

Janet’s camera was now pretty damp, its over jacket had been pretty ineffective and the belt zip-up pouch was more akin to a water trap, with a small puddle filling up in the bottom – Ermmmm, water + electronics + cold = not a good formula, but her camera seemed OK as she too, took a few snaps. It didn’t take long for us to start to feel the chill of the conditions, so we packed flasks and food away and set off again in the footsteps of the people who’d just passed us, although they’d soon disappeared from sight, so we were now all on our own again.

The path here had turned more to the south as it crosses a sort of saddle between Great End and the tops of Broad Crag and Ill Crag. The line of cairns were still being very helpful but as we entered another boulder field (worse under foot than the earlier one) it felt to me that they were heading too far south heading out onto Ill Crag. A compass bearing disagreed with my feelings when compared to the green line I could make out on the map. We continued on the bearing anyway, but as I re-checked a short distance further on a figure loomed out of the mist above and to the right of us on what looked like a ridge line and then his collie dog (in a yellow bib jacket) appeared making the boulders look very easy as it busied itself as dogs do … I guess four legs are better than two!

The appearance of this gent seemed to correspond to my feeling that we needed to bear more to the right, so we clambered over to where he’d been stood (he’d now disappeared) with the idea of comparing notes as to where we were exactly along our route. Distance covered is somewhat hard to judge in mist and over difficult terrain and I felt a second opinion probably wasn’t a bad idea. It subsequently transpired the gent along with a several other people were members of the local mountain rescue team and they were in the middle of a full blown response to an emergency call-out. It took a few minutes before the gent’ could speak with us and confirmed we were now almost at the summit of Broad Crag …. If we’d stayed on my bearing we’d have been pretty much dead on track. As it now happened we were now a short distance off to the right of route … but as we were there, we took the opportunity to rise to the very  top crag of Broad Crag – We can now say we’ve been to the summit of Broad Crag (not that we’d planned it that way!).

Our slow descent over the boulders brought us back to the rescue as they started to  walk the rescue-ees off of the mountain. As we moved off again, we chatted to a couple of the rescue team who couldn’t conceal their annoyance at being called out – It turned out the small group of people had been attempting the national 3-peaks 24-hour challenge (Snowdon in Wales, Skafell Pike in England and Ben Nevis in Scotland) and they’d got lost, picked up a bit of an injury and then called for help giving their location as being on Scafell Pike as per a GPS bearing/map reference. You’ll have gathered they weren’t on Skafell Pike at all and it was by describing their surroundings that the rescue team worked out where they were and found them tired and cold but generally in a state fit to walk. I think the main annoyance was three fold … 1) They’d given a GPS bearing incorrectly – I think the words were, if you buy the thing, learn how it works, 2) If you’re fit enough to walk, don’t stay on top of an exposed mountain top, and 3) a little more jokey, they were missing an important rugby match on the TV.

Anyway, enough of that, we all descended over the boulders to a saddle beneath Dropping Crag. The steep valley of Little Narrowcove drops off steeply south-eastwards and to the north-west the similar valley of Piers Gill drops away. It was the path towards Piers Gill that the rescue team set off down and we said our farewells and thanks for their input to our route finding.  Our route was now uphill again on the final ascent to Scafell Pike – Our destination was now almost within reach.

20110924-06_At top of Scafell Pike - Wonderful View (sarcastically said) by gary.hadden

Although quite steep there were no real difficulties as we followed a new line of cairns up the rocky barren surface. For the first time in the walk there were a few more walkers about; I wouldn’t say it was heaving with people, but enough to evidence how understandably popular the mountain is – however bad the weather might be! Although still cloudy and damp, the rain wasn’t anywhere near as heavy as earlier in the day and we milled about a little with the other summit baggers. My camera came out again (and as it happens didn’t go back into the sack again for the rest of the day) and a few pictures were taken – I just had to have one or two with me atop the massive summit cairn – quite a construction given where it is! … They all came out a bit grainy and damp and grey and gloomy, but hey, that’s really what it was like, not your classic clear mountain air, deep blue skies with fluffy white clouds giving sharp details for miles and miles and miles … this was Lakeland reality at its most real !

20110924-04_Scafell Pike Summit - Message Retrieval by gary.haddenNow, here’s a little twist to our story; One of Janet’s friends, who I also know through the Midland Hill Walkers [walking club] had been up here just over a month before, and knowing we were planning this little jaunt, she’d placed some “treasure” in a small sealed plastic bag and hidden it in a crevice in the summit cairn near to a metal memorial plaque. Jenny had told Jan’ where it was, and it didn’t take much searching before it was found and opened, the note inside quickly becoming wet in the damp, but still readable if we were quick ….. Brought a smile to our faces …. The text read :-

“Hi Jan, If you find your treasure it will be a miracle, so if you are reading this well done. Hope you have enjoyed the hike and are enjoying amazing views and have blue skies above you. Perhaps one day we will stand at the top together! Take care on the way down and I will see you soon. Love Jen xxxx.”

20110924-05_At top of Scafell Pike - Wonderful View (sarcastically said) by gary.haddenWell yes I guess we did enjoy the walk up [in a kind of masochistic way] and no, we weren’t enjoying amazing views [unless being able see to just past a couple of cairns in the mist is considered a view] and no definitely not, we didn’t have blue skies above us! As for Janet and Jen standing at the top together, only time will tell on that one.

Well, I’m going to stop this diary entry now …. and continue on a new diary to describe the descent …. which will include more pictures, albeit a bit watery around the edges!!!!

…. If you’d like to comment on my diary or any of my pic’s please feel welcome.

T.T.F.N. Gary

20110923_Pre-amble to Robinson-Hindscarth Horseshoe Walk

20110923_Pre-amble to Robinson-Hindscarth Horseshoe Walk

When : 23rd September 2011

Who : Me and my sister Janet

Where : Newlands Valley, Lake District, Cumbria, England

Distance : Approx  10.7 km (6.6 miles)

Heights climbed : Approx 770m (2527ft)

20110923_Robinson + Hindscarth Circular Walk from Little Town - Newlands ValleyCar Parking : Just outside Little Town, small car park near bridge over Newlands Beck.

Summary : The first of three circular walks in the superb English Lake District, Starting in Little Town in the Newlands Valley, walking to the top of Robinson, then a bit of a drop and rise to the top of Hindscarth before dropping back into the Newlands Valley, having a mug of Tea at Low Snab Farm (at the foot of the mountain) before returning to the car and the drive round to Borrowdale via Newlands Hause (pass) and Honister Pass.

Just a few pic’s are included from the walk …. just to whet your appetite really – more on the main walks diary … also, click on a pic’ and it should launch as a larger image on my flickr photostream.

I’ll not scribble too much of a preamble to the walk as I’ve done a degree of that on my other diary “20110923-25_Lake District Long Weekend – An Overview”. So suffice to say, I’d left home in Rugby, picked up my sister Janet just down the road in Coventry early enough to join the M6 before rush-hour had really got going through Birmingham. As it happened, the traffic, although 20110923-08 (B+W)_Me on Robinson by gary.haddenflowing OK, was quite busy, so we decided to use the M6 Toll road to bypass “Brum”. The cost does seem to be extortionate for the length of road but because of that, there are hardly any trucks and car use is quite light, so speeds are good and you feel that you’re making progress north rather than crawling through the second city. And let’s be honest the bits of Brum’ the M6 passes through are quite ugly, the toll road is much more pleasant on the eye.

The journey was pretty uneventful, just the weather was a bit on the damp and claggy side of good. As we passed Lancaster and caught that first glimpse of the Lake district in the far distance, there was a small sense of disappointment – All the fells were shrouded in cloud, and as we headed past The Howgill Fells and up towards Shap we got rain and low cloud – It wasn’t boding well for today’s walk. However as we crested the rise over the top of Shap and started the drop towards our exit at 20110923-10_On Robinson_Crummock Water + Loweswater Behind by gary.haddenJunction-40 at Penrith there were signs of brightness trying to break through – giving us hope things were going to improve.

As always, the drive down the A66 lifted the spirits even further; I just adore this road; the approach towards and then beneath the flanks of Blencathra is just superb and the vistas opening up over Keswick to the northern fells and mountains give me a real sense of excitement. In common with the A591 passing Kendal into south Lakeland, driving down the A66 flicks a little switch in my heart reigniting a little bit of me that stays dormant for the rest of the time. It’s as if part of me has “come alive” again.

20110923-13_Sunburst over Scarth Gap Pass by gary.haddenAnyway, we drove past Keswick, to branch off the A66 at Portinscale to follow minor roads south through the lovely Newlands Valley eventually passing through the little settlement of Little Town nestling under the craggy flanks of Cat Bells and Maiden Moor. Just to the south of Little Town is a small rough surfaced car park immediately before Chapel Bridge, but by the time we’d arrived this was chock-a-block with vehicles and a line of cars had already filled in much of the 20110923-18_View North from Hindscarth by gary.haddenroad side opposite as well – I just about managed to squeeze in at the end of this line tucking in as close to the fence as physically possible and we donned boots, coats and hoisted ruck-sacks onto backs. We’d arrived – Our Brother and Sister, Annual, Lake District, Long-Weekend, Walking Trip had begun !!!!

Now, I can start writing about the walk … but it’ll probably be best to start a new diary entry for that. I hope I’ve whetted your appetite to read more … so please go see “ 20110923_Robinson-Hindscarth Horseshoe Walk_Newlands Valley“.

…. If you’d like to comment on my diary or any of my pic’s please feel welcome.

T.T.F.N. Gary

20110923_Robinson-Hindscarth Horseshoe Walk_Newlands Valley

20110923_Robinson-Hindscarth Horseshoe Walk_Newlands Valley

20110923_Robinson + Hindscarth Circular Walk from Little Town - Newlands Valley  When : 23rd September 2011

  Who : Me and my sister Janet

  Where : Newlands Valley, Lake District, Cumbria, England

  Distance : Approx  10.7 km (6.6 miles)

  Heights climbed : Approx 770m (2527ft)

 Car Parking : Just outside Little Town, small car park near bridge over Newlands Beck.

Summary : The first of three circular walks in the superb English Lake District, Starting in Little Town in the Newlands Valley, walking to the top of Robinson, then a bit of a drop and rise to the top of Hindscarth before dropping back into the Newlands Valley, having a mug of Tea at Low Snab Farm (at the foot of the mountain) before returning to the car and a drive round to Borrowdale via Newlands Hause (pass), Buttermere and Honister Hause (Pass).

If you click on a pic’ and it should launch as a larger image on my flickr photostream.

You can go straight into the text below that describes the walk, but if you want you could go see my earlier diaries of “20110923-25_Lake District Long Weekend – An Overview“ and “20110923_Pre-amble to Robinson-Hindscarth Horseshoe Walk“ which both give a bit of back-ground to the weekends walking.

So, we’d arrived at the car-park at Chapel Bridge just south of Little Town and got ourselves ready for the walk, hoisted ruck-sacks onto our backs and set off crossing the small road bridge and then almost immediately turning left into a tarmac’d driveway. After a few hundred yards the track divides; one route turns left, south, towards Low Snab, but our route was to carry straight on (westwards) bu20110923-01_Newlands School (nr Little Town) by gary.haddent not before stopping briefly to read the plaque on the wall of the chapel/old school house attractively positions within dry-stone walls and a group of trees just starting to turn to their autumn colours.

Although overcast, conditions were dry and our pace was reasonably good taking advantage of the level terrain and tarmac surface. As pleasant as the surrounding are here in the valley bottom, my gaze was constantly being drawn 20110923-02_Hindscarth + Robinson from Newlands Valley by gary.haddento the view on our left. The nearest fell (Scope End) sticks out into the valley here abruptly rising towards the skies. This would be our descent route off Hindscarth later in the day but our current route was to rise up Robinson via High Snab Bank and this ridge line could be seen slightly set-back and to the right of the scene. The step of Blea Crag rose up into the cloud base and we hoped this would lift as the day progressed; I like the sense of achievement of reaching the tops but it really is so much better if you can get some views along the way.

20110923-04_Path up onto High Snab Bank - Newlands by gary.haddenThe driveway, curving round to the left, led us up to the oddly named Low High Snab where we’d gained enough height to afford some views back over The Newlands Valley. We’d sufficiently warmed up enough by now (it hadn’t rained either), to stow our waterproofs in our sacks and then continue onwards the walled track, now pretty much contouring on the hill side heading into The Scope Beck Valley. After a short distance, where the right hand wall turns directly up the fell side, we chose to turn right (leaving the track), to climb steeply on a grassy path cutting a very visible line through an extensive area of bracken, passing a stand of conifer trees along the way. 20110923-05_View South over Little Dale from High Snab Bank by gary.haddenThe views behind us rapidly opened up, giving an excuse for several “breathers” as the exertion levels rose. It didn’t take long though to reach the top of the ridge (“High Snab Bank”) and the grassy, pretty much level path, made for some easy walking with views in all directions although the temperature had dropped enough for us to put coats back on.

20110923-06_Climbing ridge to Robinson above Scope Beck Valley by gary.hadden

20110923-07_Climbing through Crag Line on ridge to Robinson by gary.haddenAhead of us, the ground now climbed steeply although not difficult underfoot, that was until we reached a particularly awkward crag line necessitating the use of hands to clamber up, I guess what you’d call a mini-scramble. One problem was what to do with our walking poles which sort of just got in the way – Perhaps we should of stowed the on our sacks to help! There might have been a different, less-difficult route, but I didn’t see an alternative path circumventing the way we took, but anyway we 20110923-11 (B+W)_On Robinson_Crummock Water + Loweswater Behind by gary.haddenmade it and the route continued it’s climb fairly uneventfully from this point on.

As with most walks of this nature, the climb can be a bit of a slog at times, especially in cloud restricting the view, but luckily the cloud base rose as we did, a cool stiffish breeze helping keep some views open, all we had to do was negotiate the several “false tops” until we reached the broad summit. Although the high tops around us were still shrouded in the uniform grey and 20110923-12_Sunburst over Scarth Gap Pass by gary.haddenuninteresting clouds, we were rewarded with some decent enough views to have made it all worthwhile. I think we’d been very fortunate, as it could quite easily have gone the other way and fogged in on us.

The wind was quite chilly though, so we didn’t hang around very long before moving off again, at first to the south but then swinging left to descend quite quickly picking up a path down the side of a wire fence. This was leading us down to the broad saddle of Littledale Edge. The wind was quite stiff and decidedly cold but not so much that it prevented us admiring the views over to Scarth Gap and up Gatesgarthdale to Honister Pass. I tried to capture some sun-bursts breaking through the cloud cover like huge spot lights lighting up the fell sides, not easy in the cold blustery conditions! …. Still, I like some of the resulting images.

20110923-14_Highlighted Honister Pass from  Robinson Crag by gary.haddenOnce we started to climb from the low point of the saddle, the path diverged, the most distinct path heading up towards Hindscarth Edge and Dale Head, but our route (on the less distinct path) swung around to the left cutting diagonally up and across contours on the way to the broad summit of Hindscarth. Thankfully we were slightly sheltered from the wind on the rise across the fell making the going relatively easy despite the added exertion of the climb. The respite was 20110923-17_Shelter Cairn on Hindscarth by gary.haddenquite short lived though, because as we crested the top, the ‘breeze’ picked again. One good result of this was that the cloud that had been hanging around the top all day, had been blown off the top and allowed us to get some half-decent views. This was most notable to the north as we started to drop off northwards along a lovely ridge. A horseshoe shaped shelter cairn allowed us to take a refreshment stop and enjoy the vistas in relative comfort.

20110923-20_View North from Hindscarth by gary.haddenIt had to be done; We had to move off again and start losing height, which is always a struggle for me as I like being up on the high ground!

The descent off Hindscarth though is down a ridge heading north with a distinct but not overly eroded path with great views all the way to the very end.

  • To the east there’s the upper reaches of The Newlands Valley and across to the High Spy, Maiden Moor and Cat Bells Ridge.
  • To the west, there’s Robinson, seen across the bowl of Littledale and the ridge we’d climbed earlier in the day including Blea Crag and High Snab Bank.
  • Also to the west, beyond the Hindscarth ridge is the mass of the North Western Fells which today were looking very dark and foreboding with an entirely separate feel to the rest of the surrounding hills and mountains.
  • And, to the north, a huge view right down the Newlands Valley to The Skiddaw and Blencathra massifs, a glimpse of Derwent water and Keswick all framed by closer fells such as Cat Bells and Causey Pike – Superb !

20110923-21_Descending off Hindscarth by gary.hadden

20110923-22_Scope Beck Valley from Crags on Scope End by gary.haddenAs we followed the lovely winding path down the ridge the afternoon sun decided to show itself, casting shadows and warming up the colours, from the browns of bracken, to the multicolored hues of the rocks, purples of heather and lush greens of the valley bottoms.

20110923-23_Scope End to Newlands Valley + Cat Bells etc by gary.haddenThis is what we’d come for: –

  • YES the sense of achievement on reaching the tops.
  • YES to the high rugged scenery.
  • YES to the time spent with my sister (hopefully she feels the same way too).
  • YES to the camaraderie of meeting fellow walkers (although very few met today).
  • And YES to just the sheer beauty of the place! I just love it here!!!

20110923-24_Newlands School + Valley from Scope End by gary.haddenUp until now my knees had stood up to the rigours of the day quite well, but as we dropped through some of the steeper crag-lines, I could feel the strain a little (see my earlier diary for an explanation) and was now very glad I’d walked with two walking poles, as they helped enormously, and then all too soon we were down, reaching the intake wall as Scope End meets the farmland of the Newlands Valley and Low Snab Farm in particular.

20110923-25_Pots of Tea_Low Snab Farm-Newlands Valley by gary.haddenI’d already reminisced with Janet about a walk I’d done many years before, where the farm served mugs of tea from their back door, and I’d wondered if they were still doing this all these years later. So upon reaching the intake wall, we turned right, followed the path round in a curve and reached a track where it emerges from the farmyard. Lo and behold, there perched on the dry stone wall was (painted on a piece of lakeland slate) a sign saying “POTS OF TEA” …. and that did sound rather inviting.

As we walked past the farm buildings, a lady (of mature years) appeared from the back door and she was delighted when we asked if tea was being served. She directed us back up the drive to a set of plastic table and chairs in an open barn 20110923-26_Newlands School (nr Little Town) by gary.haddencum storage shed cum work-shop (probably the messiest “cafe” I’d ever sat in. The tea promptly arrived on a tray and the lady stood chatting for a while, before pulling up another chair for her to continue with the almost completely one-sided conversation. I think we got her life story, the changing state of farming, what her offspring were doing with their lives and that most English of subjects – The weather. I guess we must have been there about half-an-hour before raising ourselves for the final mile down the farm drive to meet our outward route at the old school house/chapel and then back to the car park.

The final part of the day was to drive round to Borrowdale and the youth hostel at Longthwaite near Rosthwaite. Just because I love the route, I chose to take the road over Newlands Hause (a Pass) passing Moss Force (waterfall) on the way, before dropping down to the little chapel on the outskirts of Buttermere Village. From here I took the road left past Buttermere Youth Hostel along the northern side of Buttermere Lake to Gatesgarth Farm and then the spectacular rise up through Gatesgarthdale (we’d looked down on here from above during the walk). However, before the climb, at Gatesgarth Farm we made an unscheduled stop to pick up a hitch hiker (obviously a hill walker) … it turned out he had been unable to keep up with his group on their walk and had dropped down off the hills to pick up the little bus that runs through here – only he’d missed the last one, stranding him on the wrong side of Honister Hause Pass! Honister Hause (in my opinion, one of the best passes in the Lake District you can drive over) is not a route to walk, especially at dusk, so we played The Good Samaritan (poor analogy really, but you know what I mean) and he jumped in the back seat of the car with his ruck-sack.

At the top of the pass is the famous, still working, Honister Slate Mine and another Youth Hostel (descriptively called Honister Hause Youth Hostel). The descent is superb as well and soon brought us to the head of Borrowdale at Seatoller, and it was then only a matter of minutes before we dropped off our impromptu passenger and then turned off down a narrow drive to reach Borrowdale Youth Hostel by the banks of the River Derwent.

Unfortunately, we were too late to book for their evening meal, so this necessitated a walk up the lanes to Stonethwaite, where the hotel/pub (The Langstrath Country Inn I think) managed to squeeze us in to their restaurant for a satisfying meal and a well earned pint of excellent beer; A really good end to a day on the fells.

I hope you enjoyed my scribblings and photo’s …. If you’d like to comment on my diary or any of my pic’s please feel very welcome.

T.T.F.N. Gary