20110918_MHW_Cheddar Gorge and Mendip Hills (B-Walk)

20110918_MHW_Cheddar Gorge and Mendip Hills (B-Walk)

20110918-23_Midland Hill Walkers Crossing Black Down - Mendip Hills by gary.haddenWhen : 18th September 2011

Who : The Midland Hill Walkers – B-Party

Where : Mendip Hills – Somerset – England

Maps used : 1:50,000 Ordnance Survey Landranger map no. 182 Weston-Super-Mare & Bridgwater area.

Start Point : ST475,513 [Draycott]     End Point : ST446,597 [Churchill]

Distance : Approx 16.6 km (10.3 miles)

Approx significant heights : Climb-1 = 200m (656 ft) ; Climb-2 = 220m (722 ft) ; Climb-3 = 105m (328 ft)

20110918_Mendip Hills Walk (Draycott to Churchill via Cheddar Gorge + Black Down)Summary : A very wet walk (at least for ¾ of the day) crossing The Mendip Hills AONB generally south to north, using The Mendip Way for some of the route, starting in Draycott and including the observation tower at Cheddar, climbing up the southern edges of Cheddar Gorge, crossing the highest place on the Mendip Range at Black Down and finishing off by crossing Dolebury Warren and hill fort before descending to Dinghurst/Churchill on the A368.
If you’d like to see a bigger photo’, click on the pic’ and it should launch as a larger image on my flickr photostream.

As with all MHW walks, the coach left almost dead on 7:00 a.m. which had meant being out of the house by about 6:25 for the drive to Kenilworth. Rather than go through all the blurb about car parks, timings, etc., again please use these links to see my earlier post about the MHW and the MHW’s own web-site.

The coach headed off down the motorway system eventually leaving the M5 to drive right through Cheddar heading towards Wells. Because today was my sister Janet’s birthday and she was 20110918-10_At a view point looking up Cheddar Gorge by gary.haddenwalking today, and my other sister Julie was also out on the walk, I decided to join them with the B-walkers for the day. We and the rest of the B-party were regurgitated from in the village of Draycott about two miles outside of Cheddar on the A371, on the edge of the Somerset levels …. we were only about 30m above sea level here, even though we were miles from the coast. The A-party stayed on the coach for an extra mile or so, to the village of Rodney Stoke, for the start of their slightly longer route.

Being so close to sea level, meant only two things could happen :- 1) we could start off pretty much on the flat, or 2) we could set off uphill. Unsurprisingly, being called The Midland Hill Walkers we had a hill to climb. 20110918-01_Batcombe Farm - Draycott - West Mendip Way by gary.haddenThis entailed crossing the main road and then a more minor road, heading north-east(ish), before a surprisingly steep ascent kicked in on a grassy rise up past Batcombe Farm; the going was good underfoot so this wasn’t particularly difficult. Above the farm we continued uphill in a mini-valley, but soon after made a right turn (still rising) doubling back on ourselves to do a big zig-zag, ending up still heading parallel to our original direction. After a while (near the top of the mini-valley) we tended to the left towards the field boundary as the gradient started to ease. From here the effort level began to drop, but unfortunately  so did the rain, as the low, monotonous grey clouds decided it was time to stop being just flat and miserable and become fully fledged rain – Meaning waterproofs in variety of colours (mostly shades of blue) were rapidly found and donned before moving off again.

20110918-03_Midland Hill Walkers heading for Cheddar - Mendip Hills by gary.haddenIt didn’t take long before we reached the top of our climb, took a big swing left and then followed the path (I think it might have been a bridle-way) passing above Carscliff Farm. We were now generally heading in a north-westerly direction on a long descent of maybe a couple of miles towards Cheddar. The way was on grassy fields, a narrow muddy enclosed track and later country lanes as we passed through Bradley Cross to reach the outskirts of Cheddar, having now lost literally all of the height we’d initially gained at the start of the walk.

However, we didn’t make the final drop into the small town (or is it a large village?), famous for its cheese; instead turning right to start regaining all that lost height on a steep rise to emerge in a clearing. At one end of the clearing is a metal observation tower, which a good handful of us climbed to the octagonal viewing platform. This afforded some super views westwards over Cheddar and its oddly circular reservoir and beyond over the Somerset Levels to the coast to the south of Western-Super-Mare (or Western-Super-Mud as we’ve always joking called it). However, today, because of the miserable cloudy weather the sea couldn’t be made-out in the far distance. Looking more to the east though, there was a half-decent view (albeit a rather damp one) up the lower reaches of Cheddar Gorge and the famous cliffs.

20110918-07_(b+w) Observation Tower - Cheddar Gorge by gary.hadden       20110918-06_At top of Observation Tower - Cheddar Gorge by gary.hadden

20110918-04_(b+w) Cheddar Gorge from Observation Tower by gary.hadden

20110918-08_At a view point nr bottom of Cheddar Gorge by gary.haddenOnce the handful of us had negotiated the descent of the tower, we rejoined our fellow walkers who’d patiently waited for us. At least the rain had now eased to a very slight drizzle and the optimistic among us had removed coats (the majority were pessimistic though and kept theirs on) and we again set off uphill. We were now following the southern edges of Cheddar Gorge, not that we could see much due to the trees and scrub hereabouts, but every now and then a viewpoint would afford some better views of the largest gorge in the UK.

20110918-13_Midland Hill Walkers above Cheddar Gorge by gary.haddenAs we climbed higher, the views became more expansive, especially where side paths branched off to reach out onto the tops of the cliff bastions / buttresses protruding out into the canyon below. The rain had now restarted (the pessimists had been right this time) and keeping my 20110918-12_On the south side above Cheddar Gorge by gary.haddencamera dry became a difficult task and made me think I’d been right plumping for the Pentax K200D with its weather-seals. This couldn’t stop the lens being covered in rain-drops though and I’ve ended up with a disappointing set of images of the gorge, although I’ve kept a few just as a record of the walk (and to illustrate this diary post).

20110918-15_(b+w) Cheddar Gorge Buttresses and Reservoir by gary.hadden   20110918-14_(b+w) Above Cheddar Gorge by gary.hadden

At the top of the climb, we then had to negotiate a very slippery muddy path down through an area of woodland, not the easiest of tasks especially as the smooth limestone rocks had become treacherous in the wet; there were at least couple of people who inadvertently ended up sat on their bottoms in the middle of the path. This descent through the woods to meet the B3135  road (which runs through the bottom of the gorge) wasn’t too long in length though and we regrouped before crossing virtually straight over the B-road to enter an area known as Black Rock.

This steep sided valley is really just the top end of Cheddar Gorge, although much shallower now and has a different feel about it. There is a wide track in the bottom making walking very easy and the sides are covered in trees, the canopy creating a gloom and permanent dampness, perfect for 20110918-17_Mossy wall - Black Rock Valley (top of Cheddar Gorge by gary.haddenmosses and ivy on the stone walls and exposed rock here. It was towards the top end of this area that we stopped for lunch … I plumped for standing out in the open in the steady rain, whilst others headed under some trees hoping they’ afford some protection – to me I couldn’t see much difference, only the size of the droplets being much larger under the branches and leaves, only maybe fewer of them … either way we stood eating in the rain – a necessity, but NOT a pleasant experience! …. However, a nice treat was in store for us all, as Janet (my sister who’s birthday it was) took out two big Tupperware pots of home-made cakes to hand around :- Very nice Jan’ thank-you.

Once packed away, we set off again and soon emerged onto high almost level pastureland where the rain although still persistent seemed to have brightened – bright-rain rather than dull-rain. The walking had become easier again and the pace quickened and low and behold the rain eased back down to a drizzle. This was most welcome as the inclement weather had become really quite tiresome; I think my other sis’ Julie really wasn’t enjoying herself by now!

20110918-18_Midland Hill Walkers on West Mendip Way nr Gorsey Bigbury by gary.haddenAfter a while, we picked up a farm track (heading north) at Gorsey Bigbury and then, at its end, turned left onto a minor road heading east to Tyning’s Farm (a riding centre). We’d all got spread out somewhat along the road, and we used this as a regrouping place.We’d been walking on The West Mendip Way, but now (rather than continue on its route towards Shipham) we turned right up a muddy track, wire fenced on both sides to reach a pair of gates which in turn led onto an area of rougher land. We were now on Black Down, the highest place on the Mendips. There are various paths heading off in different directions here.

  • One to the right would lead to the highest point of Black Down at Beacon Batch (325m/1066 feet above sea level); this would be the A-parties route, but not ours.
  • A path to the left headed past what looked like a war-time bunker of sorts. It turns out that a decoy bombing town (known as Starfish) was constructed here in World War II in the hope of diverting bombing raids away from Bristol.
  • However, our path went straight ahead on a track heading out into rough grass, heather, bracken and gorse heathland.

20110918-22_Midland Hill Walkers Crossing Black Down - Mendip Hills by gary.haddenThe big wide open space was a pleasant contrast to the walk done so far, especially as the bright rain had now given way to dry and patches of weak sunshine breaking through onto the fields below us. However, it was very wet underfoot; all the recent rain filling the ruts and hollows of the track making us weave left and right to find a way ahead.

20110918-24_Midland Hill Walkers Crossing Black Down - Mendip Hills by gary.haddenAs we crested the rise, some super views opened up in front of us including, in the distance, the Severn Estuary and beyond this to Wales. As we dropped on the northern flanks of the hill, we then turned off to the left on a narrow track through an extensive area of waist high bracken, dropping gently to a conifer plantation at Rowberrow Warren. We now headed further north on a track and then hung left once again rising gently onto the hill of Dolebury Warren.

20110918-25 (B+W)_Midland Hill Walkers_Silhouettes Dolebury Warren - Mendip Hills by gary.hadden

20110918-26_Glowering Clouds and a patch of Sun - Mendip Hills by gary.hadden

20110918-28_Midland Hill Walkers - Silhouettes - Mendip Hills Walk by gary.hadden  20110918-27_Midland Hill Walkers - Silhouettes - Mendip Hills Walk by gary.hadden

At the western end of Dolebury Warren we had to climb the earth banks of an ancient hill fort (Iron Age) and then the route took us right through the middle of the sizeable fort cum medieval rabbit warren, to then drop through some woods to a minor settlement, crossed the A38 main road and then one final little rise to join a minor road (well access drive really) for the final drop down, (passing two pubs, one small and one large) to the A368 at Churchill, where we had to find the coach … turned out it was parked in a lay-by just outside the village.

20110918-33_Crown Inn - Winscombe - Churchill by gary.haddenAlthough the final stretch of the walk had allowed my clothes to dry, I changed into clean clothes, before joining my fellow hikers in the walk back up to The Crown Inn which we’d passed earlier (the small pub) which, from the outside, could quite easily be mistaken for a normal residential cottage. The inside was like a throw back in time – absolutely no frills, but the beer was certainly drinkable!

20110918-31_Kegs - Crown Inn - Winscombe - Churchill by gary.hadden

20110918-29_Happy Birthday in the Crown Inn - Winscombe - Churchill by gary.haddenSix more mini-cakes appeared from a ruck-sack …. They’d been carried for the entire length of the walk by my sister Julie, along with birthday candles, which were promptly lit and a rendition of the eternal “Happy Birthday To You” was sung to Janet. With smiles all-round. The toilets were as traditional as the bar areas – I mean they were in an outhouse in the back garden, next to a bunch of beer kegs (I’m guessing empty!) …. And then it was back to the coach for the sleepy drive back up the M5 to Kenilworth …. I can’t say it was the best day of walking I’ve ever had, rain does that to a walk! But – it’s a super area for walking and it was a good day nonetheless.

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

T.T.F.N. Gary

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20110821_MHW_Fan Frynych – Corn Du – Pen y Fan – A-Walk

20110821_MHW_Fan Frynych – Corn Du – Pen y Fan – A-Walk

20110821-30_Me (Gary Hadden) - Pen y Fan Summit by gary.haddenWhen : 21st August 2011

Who : The Midland Hill Walkers – Walking Club

Where : Brecon Beacons – Wales

Maps used : Brecon Beacons National Park Map – 2x extracts of some kind given to me by a fellow walker – but I think 1,25,000 OS Explorer Map Sheet No.OL12 Brecon Beacons National Park (Western Area) covers the walk.

Start Point : SN 952,246

End Point : SN 995,260 … Village of Lubanas/Tai’r Bull

Distance : Approx  20.5 km (12.8 miles) (by WalkJogRun Route Mapping and my Memory Map 1:50,000 National parks programme)

Approx significant heights : Climb-1 = 330m (1080ft) + climb-2 470m (1540ft)

Summary : A-Party walk with The Midland Hill Walkers; taking in a couple of tops in The Brecon Beacons National Park. A very strenuous walk as there was a good distance involved as well as over 2,600 feet of significant uphill sections (and equivalent downhill’s) – A great walk !!!

If you click on a pic’ and it should launch as a larger image on my flickr photostream. There are also another ten pics in the set on flickr not shown in this diary post.

20110821_Fan Frynych - Corn Du - Pen y Fan WalkAs with all MHW [Midland Hill Walkers] walks, the coach left almost dead on 7:00 a.m. which had meant getting up very early to be out of the house by about 6:25 for the drive down the A45/A46 to Kenilworth. Rather than go through all the blurb about car parks, timings, etc. please use this link to see my earlier posts about the MHW and the MHW own web-site.

Once out of Kenilworth, we headed off for the longish journey to South Wales, to start the walk to the south-west of the town of Brecon which gives its name to the region we’d be walking in : The Brecon Beacons National Park. 20110821-01_Approaching Blaenbrynich by gary.haddenThe B-party were dropped off first and the A party continued on to be dropped off a little later by the side of the A4215 … in the middle of nowhere really. I’d decided that, because I’d never been up Corn Du/Pen y Fan before and although it’d probably stretch me somewhat, I’d do the A-walk. Given a decent weather forecast, I wasn’t going to miss out on the chance today.

Once dropped off and ruck-sacks hoisted onto backs, we started off with a little road walking down a quiet lane (towards Heil Senni) for about half a mile until we reached a turn off to  Blaenbrynich. Passing the farm, the path rose up a vibrant green grassy field dotted with a multitude of yellow starry dandelions highlighted 20110821-02_Nr Blaenbrynich-Below Fan Frynych by gary.haddenby the sun. This was a lovely start to the days walking as a small group of us at the back of the group discussed the dominance of the English cricket team during recent test matches. Ahead of us loomed the steep northerly slopes of Fan Frynych, looking quite daunting, but our route picked up a farm track onto which we turned right, to skirt along the baseline of the hill. The gravel track rose quite steadily with Fan Frynych’s ridge 20110821-06_Afon Senni Valley from western ridge of Fan Frynych by gary.haddenabove us on our left and a wide rural view off below us to our right.

After about a mile, the track steepened considerably as it swung round to the south, the views opening up across the valley below; a patchwork of green fields, hedgerows and areas of woodland backed by the hills of The Brecon Beacons/Black Mountains; beautiful. As we rounded the nose of the ridge, we turned almost a full 20110821-08_Midland Hill walkers Sihouettes on Fan Frynych by gary.hadden180 degrees to continue our ascent and then another half-right to follow a path still uphill, but now rising up the broad ridge. We now had about a mile of steady climbing to reach the summit of Fan Frynych. As with a lot of mountains, the views from the ridge were probably better than the actual ground we were on, but the views, they were just spectacular – The shapely hills, mountains and valleys offset against a beautiful vivid blue sky with one or two fluffy white clouds were simply perfect!

20110821-10_Cairn on Fan Frynych - Pen Y Fan + Corn Du Behind by gary.haddenAs we crested the top of Fan Frynych (part of Craig Cerrig Gleisiad National Nature Reserve) we were greeted by the twin tops of Pen y Fan and Corn Du dominating the sky line across the wide Glyn Tarell valley. I have to admit that, at least to me, they looked a very long way away, considering I knew that was where we were heading. Being at the summit meant the next section had to be downhill, so taking a path swinging south we 20110821-13_Pool between Fan Frynych + Craig Cerrig Gleisiad by gary.haddendropped steadily over more grassy moorland, with views all around, to reach a wide saddle with one or two pools dotting the terrain. We then had another small climb to reach the crest of Craig Cerrig Gleisiad, maintaining the superb views, especially to our left where the ground dropped away steeply into the Glyn Tarell valley. The hill top became a refreshment stop allowing us to admire a 20110821-15_Welsh Ponies on Craig Cerrig Gleisiad by gary.haddengroup of hill ponies grazing the upland area for some time.

Once sated, we set off again with a long descent over grassy moorland in a generally south/south eastern direction. There was a path of sorts “on the ground” but not so distinct to spoil the feel of remoteness of the area; the sweeping hills and valleys all conspiring to give a wild feel to the walk – Lovely in good weather like today, but I’d guess could be quite intimidating in 20110821-17_Descent off Craig Cerrig Gleisiad on The Beacons Way by gary.haddenpoor weather. We were walking part of The Beacons Way now and the pace fairly zinged along given the downhill nature, easy-going terrain and absolutely no stiles. I really enjoyed the walk across here, even as we neared the busy A470 and Storey Arms Centre. There were obviously a lot of people down there, virtually none of whom were on our side of the valley.

20110821-19_Midland Hill Walkers climbing away from Storey Arms Centre by gary.haddenAs we neared the car park at Storey Arms Centre, I could make out our B-party contingent starting a steep climb up the side of a coniferous plantation towards Y Gyrn. We soon reached the car park, dodged the cars trying to find a space, and instead of following the B-party’s route we turned right down the side of the A470 (southwards) until we reached another area of car-parking set back from the main road. This was absolutely teaming with people, with fast food and ice cream vans and a toilet block. After the remoteness of the morning walk this was not a very welcome area to be walking through and I was quite happy when we all moved off. I didn’t envy the leaders trying to keep count of all of our party in amongst the throng.

The route turned left on a major path, soon crossing a rocky river (Blaen Taf Fawr) via a substantial footbridge and then immediately steepened as the wide made-up path headed uphill climbing towards 20110821-21_On long climb up Corn Du by gary.haddenCorn Du. The climb was well over a mile in length and apart from the obvious physical exertion needed, another difficulty was the number of fellow walkers, mostly now descending – it was almost like a game of slalom dodgems at times. Our leader gave us carte-blanche to take our own pace up the mountain, eventually to all meet up again just under the final summit climb onto Corn Du. I felt really quite relieved when I reached this point, as this was by far the hardest climb I’d done for quite some considerable time. I think it felt worse than it might have done because of the unrelenting gradient, there didn’t seem to be any respite at any point on the climb.

20110821-24_Final pull up onto Corn Du by gary.haddenPerversely, the final rockier, steeper climb up onto the summit of Corn Du somehow seemed easier; perhaps the short rest and then change in gradient were all that was needed for the final push to the top. The views from the top were absolutely stunning –  in all directions; especially to the north where the mountain dropped away, almost sheer, into the huge amphitheatre of Cwm Llwch.

20110821-25_On Corn Du-looking over Llyn Cwm Llwch by gary.hadden

20110821-27_Our back marker - Silhouetted on Corn Du by gary.hadden

20110821-29_Corrie or Cwm Face of Corn Du by gary.hadden

The next top of Pen y Fan was only a short distance away, reached via an easy descent to a shallow saddle and then another little climb, all following the edge  along the mountain top. The summit of Pen y Fan is marked by a pile of stones set in a wide circle leading up to a small national trust marker giving the height at 886 metres above sea level (that’s  2,906.8 feet) which I believe is the highest place in South Wales. It’s not every day you get to the top of a fantastic mountain with the weather to match and this just had to be marked by some group photo’s

20110821-33_Taking Photo of Midland Hill Walkers on Pen y Fan Summit by gary.hadden   20110821-32_Midland Hill Walkers - A-Party on Pen y Fan Summit by gary.hadden

20110821-36_Crybn + Beyond from Pen y Fan by gary.hadden

20110821-40_Obelisk + Pool below Corn Du by gary.hadden… and then after another short time drinking in the views, it was back over to Corn Du for the second time before dropping north westwards along the edge above the cwm to reach a small obelisk. From here we took a path now dropping slightly right and then arching further round to the right and then to the left in a large zig-zag above the dark waters of a small corrie lake “Llyn Cwm Llwch” (sorry mixing my Scottish and Welsh nouns for the mountain hollow …. or maybe you know this physical feature as a cirque?, from the French language!).

20110821-42_Descent to Llyn Cwm Llwch below Corn Du by gary.hadden   20110821-43_Descent to Llyn Cwm Llwch below Corn Du by gary.hadden

The route was virtually all downhill now, following the Cwm Llwch valley from the highland area and into more enclosed gentler farmland. I love being on the big wide open spaces of mountains where you can reflect on how small you are in the landscape and in the wider world as a whole (very philosophical don’t you think); 20110821-46_Dropping through Cwm Llwch Valley by gary.haddenI also when walking try to stay as high as possible for as long as possible, but, I also like the more intimate contrasting feel of dropping down to the tree line and pasture lands …. just as well really, as it’s gotta be done at the end of every mountainous walk at some point!

Anyway, the path reached the bottom of the valley, where, after a short distance on a farm track, rather than swing right to join a minor road we turned off left (continuing more or less 20110821-48_Afon Tarell near Libanus by gary.haddennorthwards) to cross a few fields, passing Llwynbedw on route, to pick up some minor country lanes, crossing the Taff Trail at one point (route map) and later the Afon Tarell (river) just before our finish at Libanus on the A470. The coach was waiting for us by the side of the road and after getting changed and a very welcome pint (or was it two?) in The Tai’r Bull Country Inn, it whisked us back up through southern Wales to the M5 and a 20110821-49_Mike de Courcey Coach - Tair Bull Inn - Libanus by gary.haddensnoozey journey back to Kenilworth.

A simply brilliant days walking! Strenuous? Yes … Tiring? Definitely! But brilliant none-the-less.

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

T.T.F.N. Gary

20080618_Mellbreak from Buttermere Village Walk

200806218 : Mellbreak from Buttermere Village Walk
When : 18 June 2008
Who : Just me
Where : Lake District – England
Approx distance : 9 km 5½ miles
Significant height : 660 m
Parking : Car Parks in village or side of road above chapel.
Public Transport : Yes but limited times

Route Summary : Buttermere village ; Buttermere Dubs ; Scale Force ; Mellbreak ; Black Beck ; Crummock Water return via Buttermere Dubs.

This is the first of four walks I did on a short break of 4-days (3-nights) in the North West area of the Lake District. If you’ve read my post “20080618-21 Lake District – 4 Day Beak” intro you’ll already know a bit of background, but it’s not essential to what follows here.

I’d left home in Warwickshire fairly early in the day and the trip up the M6 had been OK, at least traffic wise. However, the weather had been atrocious most of the way with wind, rain and lots of horrible spray. The enforced concentration and moderate speeds did force good fuel consumption and according to the on-board trip computer I averaged over 52 mpg. Perhaps there’s a lesson there somewhere about how to drive all the time.

I arrived in Buttermere village around about lunch time, having driven over the Newlands Hause pass, which is a super little road, worth driving just for its own sake. There’s a car park at the top of the pass, close to Moss Fall waterfall, and there are some super views of the surrounding fells as well.

The weather had improved and the Sun was actually peeping through the clouds as I arrived in Buttermere (the rain had finally stopped as I was crossing Shap on the M6). I pulled in at the top of a long line of cars by the side of the road, just above Buttermere’s little chapel and before reaching the junction with the B5289. After a 5-minute peruse of my map, I decided to climb Mellbreak out to the north-west, standing proud above Crummock Water. There was no way I was going to waste this little window of half-decent weather.

The easy drop down the road, past the little chapel into Buttermere village was instantly recalled as if I’d never been away and after negotiating the right hand bend in the B5289, I turned left (not crossing the bridge over Mill Beck) to pass various buildings including the The Bridge and The Fish hotels (I think that’s what they’re called anyway). Picking up one of the bridleways, I crossed the flat meadowlands that separate Buttermere and Crummock Water Lakes.

 

The track soon reaches Scale Bridge, with it’s classic stone arch, to cross Buttermere Dubs which is a little river (or big stream if you like) joining the two lakes together like a sparkling umbilical chord, Buttermere constantly feeding Crummock Water with its supply of water. This is a lovely spot with a really gentle feel … perhaps it’s little bit of serenity is exaggerated by the rough fells around about.

 

Once across the bridge, I turned right and picked up the roughening path heading low level towards Crummock Water. After a short while, instead of staying low all the way to Crummock Water, I branched left on a distinct path angling up and across the low fell side. This path swings around in a big loop, ever more westerly, eventually picking up Scale Beck where it emerges from the deep gash of Scale Force. If you do this walk, on your away around the low fell side, don’t forget to look back at the views across Buttermere, to High Snockrigg, Robinson and onwards to Dale Head. Also from here, the views across Crummock Water to the Grasmoor massive are superb. If you’re lucky (as I was) the lofty top of Grasmoor, and its lower attendants of Whiteless Pike, Wandhope, etc. will be free of cloud, although I believe they are often shrouded in mist and low clouds.

    

Do make the very short detour into the bottom of Scale Force’s ravine. The falls despite being in permanent shade are worth a closer visit and can be absolutely spectacular. Looking back out from the waterfall, the southern flanks of Mellbreak rise steeply across the valley and appear much more imposing than its relatively lowly height suggests from the map.

Leaving Scale Force behind, my route took me west for a short while, heading for the quiet head of Mosedale and it’s wide boggy bowl underneath the shapely Hen Comb. However, instead of heading into Mosedale, I soon turned north, down a steep bank to cross Black Beck and then rising steeply, I picked up a distinct but not eroded path heading up Mellbreak itself. After a bit of a dog-leg in the route, this path turned more or less due north directly and steeply up the grassy pass through the bracken covered slopes.

I had slowed considerably, feeling particularly unfit; and I was beginning to struggle. My legs had obviously forgotten how to walk rough paths and mountains. There’d been a change in the weather too and although it was still dry, I had a feeling that was about to change. Despite these things, I was not going to back-off at this point; I dug deep and forced myself onwards. I followed my own advice that I tell my kids: pick out a spot a little way in front, such as a rock or a tuft of grass; then put one foot in front of the other till you get there; have a breather for a few seconds; and repeat the process … it works … it’s amazing how you can rise up a slope doing this. The views were fantastic and a couple of breather stops were extended with the good excuse of taking a photo. Eventually, after what seemed an age considering the distance covered, I reached the broad southern summit of Mellbreak.

The top of Mellbreak is stretched out for more than a kilometre. The southern top being some 3 metres higher than its northern partner. There’s a lower saddle between the tops and I was contemplating whether there was time enough to press on north, but looking westwards at the gathering clouds, I decided against this and instead took the advice of a lone walker I’d spoken to earlier on my ascent. I headed easterly to where the broad fell top begins to fall steeply down to Crummock Water. I’d been told how fantastic the views were, looking up the Buttermere Valley all the way to Dale Head and Fleetwith Pike. I didn’t get to see these views at their best though, because soon after leaving the summit, the first drops of rain appeared and within minutes the whole valley was enveloped in a great driving sweep of rain. Everything turned an uninspiring, uniform, flat grey colour and the views rapidly disappeared into the gloom. It was incredible how quickly the whole area had been taken over by the rain and I quickly “cagged up” with waterproof jacket and over-trousers. I promptly started to retrace my steps down from where I’d come. The ravine of Scale Force was now very indistinct just across the valley, all clarity gone behind the sheets of rain.

My legs again started to complain, this time about the steep descent. However, I dropped steadily, eventually picking up the first bridle track coming out of Mosedale heading towards Crummock Water. This path is relatively easy going, generally following Black Beck towards Crummock Water. As the fell started to level out nearing the lake, I branched right crossing the stream and passed some old but substantial sheepfolds being over- taken by some quite rampant bracken. From here the path swings round, heading pretty much parallel to the lake for a while, eventually rejoining the outward path to Scale Bridge, to re-cross Buttermere Dubs and the meadowlands back to Buttermere village.

I’d found the whole day quite physically taxing, because of my lack of fitness, and the very inclement weather. Apart from that it’d been a super little walk and I’d certainly “do” Mellbreak again perhaps as a more extended route taking in Loweswater.

I hope you enjoyed my scribblings ….
Next walk = 20080619, Fleetwith Pike and Haystacks, Links = https://tothehills.wordpress.com/2008/09/15/20080619_fleetwith-pike-haystacks/ and https://tothehills.wordpress.com/2008/10/03/fleetwith-pike-video/

End

General Interests

If you’ve already ignored my “Who am I ?” page, then the following stuff might not be of much interest to you either, but you can ignore it as well if you want …

Sports.
I played Cricket and Basketball at school (being tall sort of helped) and I spent some time Race Walking with The Greyfriars Walking Club, before injury stopped my involvement in that minority sport … and as a result all sports for a while … which was hard. I’ve played local works league cricket for Massey Ferguson, being more of a bowler than a batsman. I’ve also played a little social Tennis.

Scouting.
When I was about 18, one of my sisters dragged me along to a Venture Scouting event: a sponsored, fancy dress, pram push, race around a local park, as they needed an extra pair of legs and lungs to help their efforts. I ended up joining the Venture Scout Unit until the upper age limit of 20. Later, I became the Warranted Leader of the Unit for a number of years. My length of service in Scouting wasn’t very long, but I had some brill’ times with a great bunch of young people, and it certainly enhanced my love of walking in the hills.

Country Walking.
My most enduring and certainly most passionate activity is country walking. If you want to call it a sport, then I believe it is the sport with the most number of active participants (although I think the fishing fraternity might argue the point). It’s simply the best thing to do, whether you call it Walking, Rambling, Hiking, Hill walking, or what-ever.

Personally, I don’t like being called a Rambler, as is seems wishy-washy and sort of implies I don’t know where I’m going. My apologies to the Ramblers Association, who do fantastic work on access to the countryside, and the Coventry CHA Rambling Club for “dissing” their names, but hey that’s what I think.

There have been various strands to my walking life :-

  • With Family.
  • On my Own.
  • In Scouting.
  • With the Coventry CHA Rambling Club.
  • With the Coventry & Warwickshire Outdoor Group. A YHA Local Group.
  • Organised Commercial Holidays.

Each of these has a different emphasis and feel and I couldn’t possibly choose one as a favourite over the other.

Some links just in case you’re interested …

http://www.scouts.org.uk/

http://coventrycha.co.uk/

http://www.coventryoutdoorgroup.co.uk/

End

20080618-21 Lake District 4-Day Walking Break

20080618-21 Lake District – 4 Day Walking Break
When : 18 to 21 June 2008
Who : Just me
Where : Lake District – England

  • Mellbreak from Buttermere Village via Buttermere Dubs & Scale Force.

  • Buttermere circular including Fleetwith Pike, Haystacks and Scarth Gap.

 

  • Great Gable from Honister Hause, via Grey Knotts, Brandreth and Green Gable.

  • Castle Crag Circular from Longthwaite, including Seatoller, Allerdale Ramble, Jaws of Borrowdale, Low and High Hows Woods and River Derwent.

This page gives an introduction to a short break in what I think is probably my favourite place to walk in England. I have spent many superb trips in Lakeland in the past, starting in the late 1970’s with three back-to-back holidays with my Mum, Dad and two sisters staying in self catering cottages at Troutbeck Bridge, mid-way between Windermere and Ambleside. Those three holidays whetted my appetite for more and I’ve revisited many times since to walk the fantastic fells and mountains in this beautiful part of the country. I’m afraid my stumbling prosaic English maybe can’t do justice to this small corner of England … but if you want more poetic writings I feel you should search out Wordsworth, Coleridge, and other eminent literary persons.

In my visits over the years, I’ve walked on my own, with family and friends, etc. In some respects I feel I know the roads around the lakes better than the countryside around Coventry and Warwickshire, where I’ve always lived … I just feel at home as soon as I turn off the M6 towards Kendal or Keswick. Having said that, since the mid 1990’s I haven’t actually visited very often, as, getting a mortgage, gaining a wife, having children, family illnesses, etc., entail diverting time, energies and moneys in different directions. Now don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t change any of the above for anything (well maybe the mortgage and illnesses I could do without), it’s just an observation of how things change as responsibilities increase. The things you can do when you’re single, with spare time and cash is, in some ways, a different world to the one I live in now. Anyway, my lovely wife had finally persuaded me that I ought to take a break from our normal family life and spend a few days on a short walking break and so allow me to rediscover the Lakeland fells I love.

After much planning, in a very short space of time, I’d booked and paid for three nights accommodation; one night at Buttermere Youth Hostel (on the outskirts of Buttermere Village) with the following two nights at Black Sail Hut Youth Hostel (a superb setting high up in Ennerdale). I’d spent hours reading maps, referring to Bob Allen’s Guide books and sorting out routes to suit where and when accommodation was available. I’d settled on a handful of alternative routes for the 4 days away (Wed through Sat). I’d then settled back, content everything was all hunky-dory.

Wrong !!! … It all started to go askew on the Monday evening, just two nights before I was due to travel :-

YHA central office rang to say my two nights at Black Sail Hut had to be cancelled. I could either have all my money back or they’d try to find alternative accommodation for me … “Oh dear” I thought (a polite expression I can print here … I’ll leave it to your imagination to substitute a more, errmm, earthy phrase to describe my initial thoughts). With all my best laid plans evaporating into the ether, I dashed around with ‘phone tucked under my chin, finding my original accommodation notes, routes, etc. I’ll give the gent’ at YHA-Matlock his due, he was patient and helpful as I came up with potential new overnights, thinking on my feet, about possible new routes etc. Many of the Hostels that had been available just a few days earlier were now fully booked, leaving a paucity of sites still able to accommodate me.

Upon asking, I was informed that the reason behind the temporary closure of Black Sail Hut was because they’d had no rain for 8-weeks and their spring and only supply of fresh water had dried up. Apart from 2008 generally being a particularly poor year weather-wise, this was all the more amazing (unbelievable even) as Black Sail is only about 3 miles or so away from Styhead, officially the wettest place in England, just the other side of Windy Gap. Anyway it ended with the three nights being amended to read :

  • Wed. night … Buttermere Youth hostel.
  • Thurs. night … Honister Hause Youth Hostel.
  • Fri night … Borrowdale Youth Hostel (formerly know as Longthwaite Y.H. for any traditionalist hostellers out there).

To compound the perceived injustice of the accommodation changes, the forecast for my four days was somewhat iffy to say the least, with significant rain on the way! Just my luck! Anyway, I resolved to make the best of things, and I resorted to a flexible approach regarding daily routes. By being flexible I mean I was just going to decide on that days walking “at the last minute” effectively just “playing it by ear” regarding weather conditions, etc.

I was quite happy with this, however, my wife was a little nervous about me being in potentially wild country with no-one knowing where I was or what I intended to do, so we developed a little plan as a bit of a safety net.

  • I was to leave a brief route description, car details and next destination, at the Hostel I was about to leave (many Youth Hostels have a book or similar system specifically for doing this).
  • I was to ‘phone home after finishing the days walking, by 9pm latest.
  • If I didn’t ‘phone home, my wife could :-
    a) ring the destination Hostel to see if I’d checked in … b) ring the Hostel I’d left that morning; check my planned route & whether my car was gone … c) have a bit of a panic before deciding what to do next … d) in the worst case scenario, call 999 and ask for mountain rescue to mobilise and go find me.

Some might say this was a little over-kill and could detract from the enjoyment of what to do during the day, but all things considered we thought it prudent to put this minimal safety procedure in place. In hindsight, it worked … I always rang home before 9pm and happily all the subsequent stages of the plan were not then needed and were never put to the test.

All that remained was to pack my rucksack and some spare clothes; sort out lunch packs and get on the road (M6) North. I was genuinely quite excited as I pulled away on the Wednesday morning.

Anyway, preamble over, the more interesting stuff will follow on separate pages (ie. the walks themselves).

I hope you enjoyed my scribblings ….
End

Intro’

Hello and a very big welcome to my blog “tothehills”.

(Started September 2008) 

My site, as I add my diary posts, will build a retrospective look back at country walks I’ve done, in what I hope is an informative and entertaining way for you to share.    

Country Walking, Rambling, Hiking, Hill Walking, Mountain Walking (or whatever you want to call this great pastime) is my most enduring passion and as such I have tried to convey this in my writings.

Please dip-in and find out about the walks I’ve done and places I’ve been.

I hope my diaries give you walks ideas for yourself.

 [I’d welcome comments/feedback if you feel inclined or if there are any questions on my walks please ask …. I’ve also a large back-catalogue of walks done across England and a bit further afield in my head (and on film) since about 1980 when I did my first walk (Kinder Scout from Edale to Hayfield) so if you think I might be able to impart some knowlegde please ask … one day I might actually be able to get them down in print!]

Site Navigation :-
There are a number of ways to move around my site.

  • The simplest is to just continue to scroll down from this home page; this will show my diary posts in the order in which they were published, most recent at the top. This maybe isn’t very intuitive if you’re looking for something more specific, but fine if you want to see what I’ve just written.
  • Use the search box (next to the tabs at the top of the page) … type what-ever you want to find – you might get lucky.
  • Use the categories in the side-bar area on the right, or click on the links below, which will take you to the groups of diary posts associated with regions where I’ve walked.

Coventry, Warwickshire and Close By     Lake District     Peak District

Yorkshire     Cotswolds     England-Other Places     Wales

With The Midland Hill Walkers     With The Coventry CHA Rambling Club

Walks on Long Distance Footpaths     Charity Walks

The interesting stuff (I hope) :-
I intend to separate my walks diaries into several regions in order to make Navigation as easy and as intuitive possible (see above). It may take some time to post something in each category, but I hope to populate each “folder” in time.

My diaries are written in an informal style describing the walks I’ve done, combining general route descriptions with comments about anything related to the walk, whether it be the weather, particular views, emotions, etc.

The boring stuff (perhaps) :-

 I will also add some pages that describe who I am, general interests, and various scribblings related to my walking activities and my views and opinions.

These are not essential to read before dipping straight into the walks but I hope they convey a bit more about me and how country walking has been a huge part of my non-working life.

Because walking in the countryside has its hazards and risks please read my disclaimer.

I hope you enjoy reading my walking diaries and scribblings.
Gary.