WALK 194: Yewbarrow (2058 feet above sea level, number 283) and Red Pike (2707′, no. 284). 6.5 miles, 3,300 feet of ascent.

Some of the 48 fells that, before today, remained to be bagged on my second round have ended up there for no particular reason. Some are there because of difficulties of access, and that’s true of the fells bagged today; Wasdale Head is not easy to get to even if one has a car (which I did use today).

Yewbarrow, seen on the way in.

But Yewbarrow was also one that I had kept putting off simply because it’s such a tough little bugger. Relative to its height, in fact, I would nominate this the most difficult Wainwright of all. There is just no easy way on or off it: no ridge by which one can sneak onto the summit cairn from behind, no unexpected chink in the armour of its crags and precipices. Scrambling is unavoidable.

But, it had to be done at some point. Yesterday, October 6th, was a bright, sunny and pleasant day, all the more welcome after a couple of weeks of rain, and I took myself all the way round to Wasdale to haul myself up it, via Great Door, a second time. This is, undoubtedly, a dramatic climb and one which engenders a healthy sense of achievement.

Great Door.

It is also a climb that I would assign to the category of ‘absolute arses’ or maybe ‘complete bastards’ — choose your own epithet. Either way, I am very sure that I am never going up it again. And that is not even to mention the descent via Stirrup Crag: but that’s another story, one you can read in full on the walk page. After all that, adding Red Pike (Wasdale) to the day seemed like an extra, for all that this second summit is nearly 650 feet higher than its neighbour, but that was certainly worth doing as well. See the walk 194 page for the full story and the usual crop of photographs.

As of today then, I have bagged 284 of the 330 Wainwrights on my second round, and so have 46 to go. The plan is to make the next visit to Cumbria at some point during the school half-term holidays, when the buses are a little more amenable, and rebag Helvellyn (which will be the only one of all my walks on this Lakeland project to simultaneously feature on my County Tops blog). Fingers crossed that the weather is as good as it was today.

WALK 193: Faulds Brow (1125 feet above sea level, number 282 of my second round). 4.5 miles, 600 feet of ascent.

Faulds Brow summit
The summit cairn of Faulds Brow.

Late August is not always a reliable period weather-wise: I remember ending walk 64, on the 23rd August 2012, shivering in front of a roaring fire at the Old Dungeon Ghyll, for instance. But I’m not making any complaints about the weather that 2021 has offered, and yesterday, Friday 27th August, was another warm and sunny day, begging to be made use of productively — that is, as the setting for a walk.

In Caldbeck
In Caldbeck.

Faulds Brow is the most northerly Wainwright, and one of the most isolated. I bagged it some six years ago by appending it to walk 94, but that made for a very long hike and in any case, all the fells in the general area had already been done twice. The summit was therefore waiting for me to brave what was always going to be a long journey for a short and easy walk.

It would have been nice to have reached Caldbeck, start and finish point of today’s walk by public transport, but despite it being a big enough place to keep a pub, post office and petrol station going, buses only serve the village on Saturdays. Even then the journey would have been way longer and more expensive than driving it, so drive it I did (in my defence, this was the first one by car since April). Let me say nothing here about the traffic on the M6 and observe only that despite the travails of the journey this was a good, and very easy walk, with fine views. The usual extra detail and photographs are on the walk page.

View to Carlisle
View towards Carlisle, from the summit.

As of today, then, I have bagged 282 of the 330 Wainwrights on my second round, and have 48 to go. I certainly hope that the good weather will continue and that I will make Lakeland at some point in September, but this weekend is the last of my summer break and I am obliged to show my face at work from Tuesday on. Fingers crossed.

A Borrowdale triple

July 27, 2021

WALK 190: Grange Fell (1363 feet above sea level, number 278 of my second round). 4.5 miles, 1,350 feet of ascent.

WALK 191: Kirk Fell (2630′, no. 279). 11 miles, 2,800 feet of ascent.

Little Hell Gate
Little Hell Gate, from the precarious foothold of the South Traverse on walk 191.

WALK 192: Sergeant’s Crag (1873′, no. 280), Eagle Crag (1650′, no. 281). 8.25 miles, 1,650 feet of ascent.

Late July has often seen walks in the Lakes for me, as it is just the most convenient time of year when it comes to fitting trips around my other responsibilities. As in some previous years, we made a longer trip of it and stayed over in the area, in Keswick this time, thus allowing time for three walks in four days.

Pleasingly, and in this respect 2021 was quite different to other late Julys, the weather was very good — almost too hot on the first day, when walk 190 saw Clare and I haul ourselves up to the top of Grange Fell in steaming heat (well, hot for Cumbria anyway); that finished off the wife so I did the other two walks alone, but both days remained very fine, although the Monday (walk 192) was a little cloudier.

Grange Fell summit
Clare cools off on Grange Fell’s summit.

The highlight was the middle walk, walk 191, when I decided to be daring and attempt the South Traverse of Great Gable, as a way of reaching Kirk Fell. It’s been a while since I truly went ‘off-piste’ but this route does certainly get one into the realm of the rock-climber, while never being actively dangerous. The views of Wasdale, and up to the rocks of the Great Napes, were spectacular. Recommended, if you’re feeling brave and have plenty of time to spare.

Read all about all three walks on their respective pages, and see plenty more photographs, as ever.

As of today, then, I have bagged 281 of the 330 Wainwrights on my second round, and have broken the 50 mark, with 49 to go, including, now, only one walk left in Wainwright’s volume 3 (the Central Fells). 10 of the remainder are in the Western Fells, so it is time to try to get out there, transport problems notwithstanding. But the summer still has plenty of time to run — whatever the weather. Next walk in August some time.

Sergeant's Crag
Sergeant’s Crag, bagged on Monday (walk 192).

WALK 189: Bannerdale Crags (2241 feet above sea level, number 276 of my second round) and Bowscale Fell (2306′, no. 277). 9.5 miles, 2,100 feet of ascent.

I missed out on a Lakeland visit in May 2021 but today, 15th June, was ample compensation. This was a superb day to be out walking: mostly blue skies, and with enough of a breeze to keep the temperature very comfortable. Far too nice to be skulking around in an office or ‘staying at home’, anyway.

View towards Skiddaw, from the saddle between Bannerdale Crags and Bowscale Fell.

My choice of fells today was partly a response to ongoing grief with the train services — the closer today’s walk was to Penrith, the better, and these two fells were the ones nearest to there that I still had not rebagged. But that was not to be regretted. Walk 189 turned out to be an excellent one, with very fine views, dry ground and one particular highlight, that being the east ridge of Bannerdale Crags. This climb looks as if it might be tough but instead is enjoyable and straightforward, well within the capacity of almost all walkers and by far the best way up the fell. Recommended. For more pictures and details on the walk, look, as usual, at the walk 189 page.

Bannerdale Crags from the north – the east ridge comes up from the left.

As of today then, I have bagged 277 of the 330 Wainwrights in my second round, leaving me with 53 to go. As things stand at the moment I may go back to the Lakes this coming weekend although let’s see how it goes, I do have other options (I don’t spend my whole life walking…). I could do with getting some Western fells done, but then again that’s been the case at any given point in the last 12 years.

WALK 188: Water Crag (997 feet above sea level, no. 271 of my second round), White Pike (1450′, no. 272), Woodend Height (1597′, no. 273), Yoadcastle (1621′, no 274) and The Knott (1086′, no. 275). The first four are all in the Devoke Water circuit chapter of The Outlying Fells and the last, the Stainton Pike chapter.

Devoke Water and Water Crag.

Yesterday, 25th April, was a truly glorious day to be out on the fells. I had to drive again — the public transport options were never that great on a Sunday anyway, and certain key services still haven’t been restored despite a lessening of Great Fear restrictions in other ways. But hey, when did the Tory Party ever think about encouraging people to use the train. I got up at 5.30am and was striding out along the north shore of Devoke Water by 9 o’clock. And a very fine day’s walking it was, despite a lack of paths. Read all about it and see plenty more pictures of blue skies on the walk 188 page.

The Knott — the 5th summit of the day — and the Irish Sea.

The weather in April has been very fine but there is a forecast deterioration on the way. I’m glad I got out to Devoke Water though, for the fifth and, who knows, perhaps final time in my life: bearing in mind walk 101 as well, it’s certainly made an impression on me with regard to fine weather. Very few people get out this way; I had the felltops all to myself, despite this being a sunny Sunday. Highly recommended.

As of today, then, I have bagged 275 of the 330 Wainwrights in my second round, and so have 55 to go. Looking at the map, today was the last real chance I had to bag as many as five of them in a single walk; there are a couple of fours available (the future walks that will head for Helvellyn and Haycock might as well grab a few of their satellites along the way), but that’s all. And only ten of the remainder are Outliers.

WALK 187: Hallin Fell (1271′, no. 268), Steel Knotts (1414′, no. 269) and Wether Hill (2210′, no. 270). 8 miles, 2,780 feet of ascent.

117 days have passed since walk 186, during which time Lakeland has been off limits for reasons I’m not going to froth about here — though if you want more of the usual, see the commentary to walk 187, which could finally take place yesterday, 1st April.

The Nab above Martindale, seen on walk 187.

Thanks to the Great Fear manifesting itself in waves over recent months, I had managed only four Lakeland walks since the beginning of August, and none since early December. Since then, it’s been the County Tops project that’s sustained me, sticking to walks that have a vague proximity to home. But with the lifting of these stupid restrictions on safe exercise, I could finally return to Cumbria, and took Joe along for good measure.

Martindale is one of the most beautiful valleys in an area of widespread beauty, and the first two summits bagged today, Hallin Fell and Steel Knotts, are low-altitude but very much worth the effort, with excellent views of Ullswater and the fells around.

Wether Hill, the third summit of the day, is a grassy lump and not really something to get excited about in its own right, but it needed bagging and did mark two pleasing milestones: Joe’s 50th Wainwright, and my 600th, if you add my two rounds together.

Joe begins to slightly regret heading for his 50th Wainwright.

I have therefore done 270 of the 330 Wainwrights on my second round, and have 60 to go. Looking at what I’ve got left to do there are at least 23 walks left in the project, maybe up to 25 or 26. No way am I going to get this done by the end of 2021 as I once planned, but finishing some time in 2022 is plausible. And I do want to finish, rather than string it out forever — the transport options, one way or another, are starting to get tiresome and let’s not get 95% of it done (I’m on just over 90% of the double round) then go break a leg, or something.

Read all about today, and see the usual crop of pictures, on the walk 187 page. If the weather is reasonable I will try to go again next week, but even if that doesn’t happen, I intend to return before April is out.

WALK 186: Stickle Pike (1231′, no 264), Great Stickle (1001′, no. 265), Tarn Hill (1020′, no. 266) and Dunnerdale Fells (920′, no. 267).

Walkers and Stickle Pike
Stickle Pike from the south. Green Crag and, in snow, Scafell behind.

The first two weeks of December have not exactly been a productive walking time for me. Partly this is due to how work usually pans out at this time, but the weather is also responsible. This is rarely full winter (2010 was a notable exception, though) but it’s usually gloomy and cold, not designed to encourage the fellwalker.

Happily, 5th December 2020 was a fine exception to the general rule. It started off cloudy but by the end I was walking in full sunshine, and then spent an afternoon in Kendal bathing in more of the same. In the morning, I’d bagged four more Wainwrights: the three summits I had remaining in the Stickle Pike chapter, and then a bonus of the Dunnerdale Fells chapter, as Tarn Hill appears in both and is thus the only Wainwright to count double. Why? Well, it’s a complicated story, but for that you can read the fell pages.

The Duddon Valley (and cyclists), with Whit Fell in the background.

It’s a fine part of the District, though, and worth two chapters. Stickle Pike is surely the best-looking of all the Outlying Fells, and the walking is rugged without ever being difficult. A mountain in miniature, for sure. It’s just a shame that there’s no public transport to the immediate vicinity. Read all about it, and see more photos, on the walk 186 page.

As of today, then, I have bagged 267 of the 330 Wainwrights on my second round, so have 63 to go. I honestly don’t know whether today will turn out to be my last Lakeland walk of 2020: I’d rather it wasn’t, though it might be. Either way I will post a summary of the year before 2021 — a year I’m sure we’re all hoping will be different, at least — makes its way over the horizon.

Armboth Fell summit
The top of Armboth Fell, seen from the ridge — with a walker on it, amazingly.

WALK 185: Armboth Fell (1570′, no. 262), Great Crag (1500′, no. 263). 9.25 miles, 2,100 feet of ascent.

For the first time in seven months I took myself to the Lake District by train and bus, instead of car. And it all went just fine. The mental blocks we place in our minds about what we should and should not be doing can be overcome and if anything I now feel somewhat guilty about not having reverted to this state of affairs earlier on. Though some parts of the District (notably Ullswater and Patterdale) remain effectively out of bounds unless I drive myself there, but that’s another story.

Walk 185 instead saw me brave the swamps of what Wainwright calls ‘the swampiest ridge in the District’, at least for a mile or two, to bag Armboth Fell, and then Great Crag, two of the Central Fells. Inbetween there was the magnificent oasis of Watendlath, an Arcadian idyll which was seeing plenty of visitors on this pleasant day in mid-October. The walk might well have been better had neither summit been visited, but at least now I never need to do Armboth Fell again, at least. For reasons why I say this, along with plenty of photos and extra detail, consult the walk 185 page.

Watendlath Tarn and Great Crag
Watendlath Tarn, with Great Crag behind. A place to forget one’s worries for a while.

As of today, I have bagged 263 of the 330 Wainwrights on my second round, so have 67 to go. I hope to get back at some point in November, but that really will depend on a largely random coming together of good weather with one of the few available days I will have that month, thanks to work.

WALK 184: Barf (1536′, no. 259), Lord’s Seat (1811′, no. 260) and Whinlatter (1722′, no. 261).

Walker on Whinlatter
Walker on Whinlatter, the Vale of Keswick behind.

Each time I now go to the Lakes there are, obviously, fewer options to choose from: meaning that I am becoming obliged to pick up walks that for one reason or another, I’ve been putting off. Whinlatter Forest had become a problematic part of the Lakes for me after a few poor experiences in recent visits — not least getting lost the last time I was there, on Grisedale Pike. And as has happened on several of my recent County Top walks I was not necessarily looking forward to spending all day surrounded by trees.

Happily, my fears were unfounded. Walk 184 was a very good one, surprisingly easy and with plenty of excellent views. The three summits visited, Barf, Lord’s Seat and Whinlatter, are not very high and the latter two undramatic, but all were worth revisiting, particularly as I bagged Lord’s Seat in the mist the first time round. Instead of oppressing it, the plantations give the walk variety, and this is definitely the best of the five walks I’ve done in Whinlatter Forest. Read all the details and see more photos on the walk page.

Barf from back
Barf’s rugged aspect, from the back.

As of today, I have bagged 261 of the 330 Wainwrights on my second round, so have 69 to go. Thanks to my teaching starting a month later this year, October is a far less hectic month than it usually is, so it would be good to get some more walking done before it ends and things kick off with a vengeance. Autumn is here, though, and though the weather was good for me today it is scheduled to deteriorate. All things considered I can’t be sure when I’ll be doing my next walk, but hopefully it will not be long.

Kidsty Pike

Kidsty Pike, seen on the approach from the west.

WALK 183: High Raise (Far Eastern) (2634′, no. 256), Rampsgill Head (2598′, no. 257) and Kidsty Pike (2560′, no. 258). 8 miles and 2,200 feet of ascent approx.

The British climate is not known for its reliability, but there are some aspects of the pattern that can be depended on to some extent. Having a period of fine, settled weather in mid-September is one of its more pleasant traits and down the years has been exploited for walks whenever it appears.  2020’s Mid-September Settled Period has come along right on cue, and a couple of days ago saw me out in the Haweswater district again for walk 183.  This bagged three of the higher fells in the Far Eastern region: High Raise, Rampsgill Head, and Kidsty Pike, the latter being the undoubted highlight of the walk.  Read all about it and see more photos on the walk page.

Deer couple

May I present the deer couple, Mr and Mrs Slightly-Miffed. Seen near the summit of High Raise.

This was another walk done without the use of public transport, sadly. There are some signs of life in the train network but many services that were running up until the beginning of the Great Fear in March are still cut.  I will continue trying to get to the Lakes where I can, but now I have accepted that while my first round was indeed done without using a car, this second one has had to adapt to circumstances. Never mind.

As of today then, I have bagged 258 of the 330 Wainwrights in my second round, so have 72 to go. I no longer anticipate finishing some time in 2021, but let’s go with the flow. This walk was probably it for September, but hopefully before October is too old I will have returned to the Lakes.