WALK 200: Eel Crag (2,749 feet above sea level, number 296 of my second round) and Grasmoor (2,791′, no. 297). 9.5 miles, 3,000 feet of ascent.

Eel Crag
Eel Crag, viewed from the approach up Coledale.

On 29th July 2012, on walk 60b from Black Sail up Great Gable, I experienced what remains the worst weather on any of my Lakeland walks. On the tenth anniversary of that drenching it was good to be back in the Lakes on a pleasant, warm July morning, walking up Coledale and having plenty of time to inspect the route up Eel Crag ahead — as seen in this picture. That and Grasmoor, the two highest fells in Wainwright’s volume 6 (the Northwestern Fells) were the ones bagged on my walk today. This involved an interesting climb up Eel Crag’s “Shelf Route”, which is obvious on the picture (it slants up the fellside in parallel, visually, to the bank of green vegetation above the walkers’ heads).

And this was walk 200: and there’s a milestone worth recording. It’s taken thirteen years and ten days, since walk 1 kicked all this off on 19th July 2009. During that time, British politics has kind of spasmed shambolically forward in a series of progressively more insane steps, but the fells remain much the same. Read all about the latest expedition, with the usual crop of pictures, on the walk 200 page.

A view over to the summit of Wandope, from Eel Crag.

As of today, I have bagged 297 of the 330 Wainwrights in my second round, thus have 33 to go — meaning Grasmoor marks the point at which there is 10% of the second round remaining, or 5% of my double round of 660. Fell 300 approaches too, and I might engineer it so that milestone is reached on Helvellyn, but I doubt I’ll get this done in August due to other commitments. Most likely I will be back to pick this one up in early September.

WALK 199: Caw (1,735 feet above sea level, number 293 of my second round), Pikes (1,539′, no. 294) and Green Pikes (1,350′, no. 295). 5.2 miles, 1,675 feet of ascent.

Two months since my last visit to Lakeland. Other interests have been occupying me, some voluntary, others not. I grow tired of battling with the Oxenholme Connection and with other walking choices available, Cumbria has just been featuring less as a destination recently.

View of the upper Duddon Valley, from the descent off Caw.

But it’s not a place I feel like staying away from for too long. Although, as is usually the case, early June has brought cloud and chill (but not, yet, too much rain), I had a weekend put aside for a visit. On Saturday, high winds were a deterrent, but yesterday, Sunday 12th June, saw me in the upper reaches of the Duddon Valley, a part of the Lakes that I had only briefly passed through before.

5.2 miles round from Seathwaite bagged me the pointy Outlying Fell of Caw, and its two satellites, Pikes and Green Pikes; it was a little chilly, and paths are not always what they might be, but on the whole this is a fine walk, with excellent views. Read all about it, and see the usual outcrop of additional photos (not that there was much good light today) on the walk 199 page.

Caw, the day’s principal target, seen from the west.

As I’m also now Birkett-bagging let’s record that the walk also collected two more of those: Brock Barrow and Fox Haw. With 137 of the 541 Birketts still unbagged I will have plenty of reasons to keep coming back to the Lakes in future years, believe me.

Either way, as of today I have bagged 295 of the 330 Wainwrights in my second round, and so have 35 to go. Next time will see me reach the milestone of the 200th Lakeland walk on this blog, and also, as long as I bag two summits on it, the point at which I have only 10% of my second round to go (and 5% of the double round).

Rest Dodd summit
The summit cairn of Rest Dodd, third and highest fell bagged today.

WALK 198: Brock Crags (1842 feet above sea level, number 290 of my second round), The Nab (1887’, no. 291), Rest Dodd (2283’, no. 292). 8.25 miles, 2,450 feet of ascent.

15th April 2022 was Good Friday. On the day before this holiday in 2021, Joe (on his last Wainwright walk so far) and I wandered around Fusedale and Martindale on walk 187. This was done in the throes of lockdown, that arbitrary and pointless measure (we all got it anyway, didn’t we) that resulted in every pub, campsite and hotel in Lakeland being closed last Easter and the economy of this vulnerable area taking yet another hit.

Fortunately there has been none of the same this year, so I took advantage of the public holiday to head for much the same area of the world, only this time coming in from Hartsop and bagging three summits on walk 198. Not a spectacular walk in itself but the views of the local area are good and the descent, surprisingly agreeable — these things matter more and more as I age.

Angle Tarn and tent
Angle Tarn. In the background, Place Fell — now the only fell I have left in volume 2.

Read all about today’s walk, and see more pictures, on the walk 198 page. Rest Dodd, the third and highest fell bagged today, becomes the penultimate fell rebagged out of Wainwright’s volume 2, The Far Eastern Fells. All I have left now is Place Fell (pictured, above Angle Tarn). This is the nearest I am to completing one of the eight volumes a second time. All told I have now bagged 292 of the 330 Wainwrights on my second round, so have 38 to go.

The 8:05 service from Preston to Penrith was so useful that the moronocracy have cut it again, so doing any Lakeland walks by public transport (at least, if I want to get home at a reasonable hour) now once again depends, almost entirely, on The Oxenholme Connection — the five-minute dash across the station in order to catch the 8:27 to Windermere. Backup plans need putting in place for every walk, particularly any in Coniston, Langdale, Borrowdale or any further afield. So I don’t know even when setting out on a given day exactly what my walk will be: only that, looking at the map, I have at least 14 walks to go, and maybe a couple more. Plenty of exploring to do yet, therefore. The next walk should be some time in May.

Walk 197: the far, far west

February 28, 2022

WALK 197: Lank Rigg (1775′ above sea level, no. 288 of my second round) and Cold Fell (961′, no. 289). 13 miles (* see note), 2,400 feet of ascent.

Though I accept I have slipped a little when it comes to doing every one of these Lakeland walks by public transport, it still remains my preference. Point-to-point walks are just more interesting, and I don’t really want to have an hours-long drive home afterwards (and give me a beer or two at the end, in any case). But if I’m heading for the far western fringes of the District on the train then a whole lot of logistical factors need to play ball, including the weather.

Walkers met, somewhat unexpectedly, on Lank Rigg summit.

For all these reasons, my return to Lank Rigg had been easy to put off. I also knew that once I was there I faced a walk with a very high-effort-to-low-reward ratio. But on Saturday 26th February, thanks to the hospitality of my in-laws in Morecambe, all the necessary pieces of the puzzle were present and so off I went to West Cumbria, for walk 197. The weather stayed fine, although it was rather windy. The moorlands were not quite as tedious as I remembered from my previous visit in 2010 (walk 28). I did have to get my feet wet fording a gill or two, but I survived it, and additionally bagged Cold Fell, as well as a couple of Birketts (Kinniside and Latter Barrow). Read all about it and see more photos, as usual, on the relevant walk page.

Note that the figure of 13 miles that I give above is less than what I actually walked today. Storm damage has closed some paths through Blengdale and obliged the walker to take a longer route via the cleared forest roads. I did about 15 miles on the day, in fact, making this my longest walk in the Lakes for three years.

“Take me with you…” An inhabitant of Scalderskew, one of England’s loneliest dwellings, passed en route.

As of today then, I have bagged 289 of the 330 Wainwrights on my second round, and thus have 41 to go. I have no idea when my next opportunity will arise — hopefully in March but it’s a relatively busy time for me, so we’ll see.

Walk 196 in Borrowdale

January 12, 2022

WALK 196: Rosthwaite Fell (1,807 feet above sea level, number 287 of my second round). 6.5 miles, 2,000 feet of ascent.

Over the last twelve-and-a-half years I have accumulated plenty of data on the typical weather conditions that affect the Lake District (and Northern England more broadly). So I know that it is always worth keeping an eye on the weather forecast for early January; I have had some stellar January days in the past (e.g. walk 48, walk 157, to name but two). And it’s usually a flexible time at work.

Rosthwaite Cam, one of the Birkett summits reached today.

All this certainly worked out for yesterday’s trip into Borrowdale to rebag Rosthwaite Fell on walk 196. Back in 2010 (walk 19) I attained this top only by hauling myself up a crag that I had no reason to be dangling off, and that was only the first stage in a much longer walk, so I had few memories of the summit. But it proved itself today to be an interesting fell, well worth specific exploration — exploration that is not helped at all by paths, but on a clear day that was part of the appeal. It’s sometimes fun to have to work out the route for oneself.

There were also three Birketts bagged today, including Rosthwaite Cam (pictured above) which one might think would be a better case to be called the summit of the fell than the nearby, and rather lower, tor of Bessyboot (pictured below) to which Wainwright gives the accolade. But never mind, this just gave more reasons to look around. A recommended walk, therefore. (But I wouldn’t try it in the mist.) As usual, see the walk page for details and more photos.

Bessyboot
Bessyboot, Wainwright’s chosen summit, with Helvellyn in the background.

As of today, then, I have bagged 287 of the 330 Wainwrights in my second round, so have 43 to go. If there are any more weather forecasts of the quality of yesterday’s then I do intend to get back at some point in January, before things busy up again in February.

Walker above Bass Lake
Walker above Bass Lake.

WALK 195: Long Side (2,405 feet a.s.l., no. 285 of my second round), Ullock Pike (2,230ft, no. 286). 6.25 miles, 2,300 feet of ascent.

Time to take advantage of a decent weather forecast for the time of year, and get in the first Lakeland walk in two months, since my haul over to Wasdale and up Yewbarrow in early October. Today was a lot more forgiving than that hike, although it still had its steep and (in today’s case) tedious sections: I will never be coming back to Southerndale to do the hike out of its head section, up to Carlside col, that is for sure. But the rest of the walk was very good and there were some superb views over Bass(enthwaite) Lake and into the centre of the district.

Southerndale and Ullock Pike
Southerndale and Ullock Pike above.

Read more about it on the walk 195 page, with the usual extra detail and photos.

As of today, then, I have bagged 286 of the 330 Wainwrights, so have 44 to go. My mooted trip up Helvellyn in late October never happened, but the annual British public transport lottery, the valuable 08:03 from Preston to Penrith has reappeared, opening up the whole Ullswater valley part of the district once again, without having to wait for summer. This is good news. I may or may not make another LD walk this year — but if I don’t, this was a perfectly good one to end on.

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.