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.

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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).
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.

Borrowdale from Catbells

Borrowdale, from Catbells.

I have been hoping to do two walks a month whilst on sabbatical in 2019, but my first window in March didn’t get used thanks to a combination of crap weather and crap sinuses — you don’t want to know any more about either.

But today, 19th March, things opened up and walk 160 happened, as I was able to head for Borrowdale and bag three summits: High Spy, Maiden Moor and Catbells. The weather was definitely mixed — but this permitted some decent photography and nothing really wet got in my face. This was a very good walk, easy to access and not too strenuous while having magnificent views. I recommend it — so have a look at the further detail on the walk 160 page.

Upper Newlands

Upper Newlands. Hindscarth to right, Blea Crag to the left.

As of today, then, I have bagged 193 of the 330 Wainwrights on my second round, and therefore have 137 to go. Actually I’ve had a pretty good run recently: in the last 3 months, since 20th December, I’ve bagged 23 summits; prior to that it took me six months to bag the same number. So I’m fulfilling my promise to pick up the pace. But no more for a month now — I can’t do it, I’m away, thousands of miles away. The earliest I’ll get back to the Lakes is around the Easter weekend. But it’ll happen. Of course.

Joe and Ill Crag

Joe and Ill Crag

Congratulations to Joe, who agreed to acccompany me on yesterday’s walk 146 and thus attained the summit of Scafell Pike, the highest mountain in England. It’s not a walk to be underestimated, as anyone who has done it will know — the distance is fairly long and there are some difficult sections, particularly in the last mile or so before one attains the summit. And the full day expedition was done in relative heat and almost constant sunshine — believe it or not. (It really has been a very nice May, one to treasure.)

Rossett Pike and bracken

Rossett Pike, the day’s intensely blue skies, and the year’s early bracken crop

Nevertheless, we made it, his first visit and my second. I will feel no need to rush back to Scafell Pike but so be it, I can live with that. The walk also included neighbouring Lingmell — you can read all about it, as usual, on the relevant walk 146 page.

As of today, then, I have done 147 of the 330 Wainwrights a second time and thus have 183 to go. I hope the next ones will be bagged within the next fortnight although at the moment the availability of functioning rail services in the area is a random factor, but let’s not bring Northern Rail into this…

Wasdale from Great Gable

The view of Wasdale from near the summit of Great Gable

One of the points of doing a second round was to reacquaint myself with those fells which, for whatever reason — usually bad weather — I didn’t feel I did justice to the first time round. Great Gable was definitely one of those, having been first bagged in really foul weather in July 2012 (walk 60b, which I still say was the worst single day’s walking I’ve done on this project).

It was thus a great pleasure to return to it yesterday, May 2nd, on walk 128 which took place on a far nicer, springlike day. I came up from Seathwaite, perhaps not the most dramatic of possible routes up this noble fell, but it was still a fine walk with plenty of drama and excellent views. It also saw my first ever visit to Sty Head, a major walkers’ crossroads in Lakeland. Read more about it, with the usual crop of additional photos, on the walk 128 page.

Seathwaite valley

Spring in the Seathwaite valley, looking up Grains Gill (walk 128)

Great Gable was fell number 100 of my second round: so I have 220 to go. May’s shaping up to be a good month to get some more walking in, particularly if the good weather holds, so I hope to do my next walk before too long. Where will I do this? Who knows yet? That’s the good thing — I’ve still got more than two-thirds of the district to do again.

Geese on Derwentwater

Geese on Derwentwater. Castle Head in the background. A good summation of conditions on the walk…

I had not managed to get to the Lakes since the first week of February, due to a combination of having too much work to get on with, then poor weather forecasts on the days I did have free. Had I not made a walk yesterday (March 18th), March would then have passed without a walk in it either.

Not wanting to extend the famine therefore, I took a risk with the weather, strapped on the waterproofs and headed up to Keswick for what became walk 125. I headed down the west shore of Derwentwater, walking the length of the lake to Grange then bagging Castle Crag as (for the second time) the sole fell on a walk.

Ascending Castle Crag

View from the ascent of the spoil heap on Castle Crag

Still worth doing — it’s a great, rugged little summit — though the weather was obviously a little disappointing. This definitely counts as a wet walk! It rained almost all the way round, not heavily, but persistent drizzle. Ah well, I needed the fresh air and it’s all good exercise, and the scenery is beautiful in any weather. Lots of people agree, as the walk was very busy, despite the weather. Read more about it, with further pictures, on the walk 125 page.

I’m off to Japan on Monday, a shame I will have no time there to do some walking as by all accounts there is some excellent hiking to be had in the country. Maybe next time. In terms of home — with the summer bus service starting again on 8th April it is definitely time to get into the west of the District once more, back into the higher fells. As of today I have done 91 of the 330 Wainwrights on my second round, thus have 239 to go.

Summit of Allen Crags

Summit cairn, Allen Crags. Ill Crag (part of Scafell Pike) in the background.

Walk 123 opened up for me thanks to 2nd January being a public holiday in the UK and also managing another very good weather forecast. This forecast turned into actuality, with the day being bright and frosty, as you can see from this shot of Allen Crags‘ summit cairn. That, along with Glaramara and Rossett Pike, were the three fells bagged today. Read about my day, and see more photos, on the walk 123 page if you like.

Combe Gill

Looking up Combe Gill

It’s back to work for me now, though — the new (working) year awaits. My next walk is hopefully going to be around 23rd – 24th January: depending on the weather as always, but I’ve been doing well with that for the last few months. As of today then, I have bagged 87 of the 330 Wainwrights in my second round, so have 243 to go.

View from Brandreth

The rather good view from Brandreth. Ennerdale to the left, Buttermere valley to the right, High Stile range and Haystacks between.

Well, I have had better days of weather on the fells — in defiance of a reasonable weather forecast — but in the end it was worth the effort to get out yesterday for a Bank Holiday walk around Seathwaite and Gillercomb. Walk 108 saw me bag four fells (three with colours in their name — for the trivia fans among us): Base Brown, Green Gable, Brandreth and Grey Knotts. These become numbers 29-32 of my second round of the 330, so I have 298 to go — the ‘300 to go’ point being reached on Green Gable.

View into Borrowdale

View into upper Borrowdale from the ‘Fallen Stone’ on Base Brown

Highlights? The brilliant view from Brandreth as pictured (inadequately) here, surely one of the best in the District, England even. And I quite liked the climb of Base Brown, a little-known fell but it had a decent ascent via the ridge, passing some interesting natural features like this huge fallen boulder which must have ripped off the crag above in a cataclysmic break not long past.

I hope to get another walk in before going back to work next week, hopefully Thursday (31/3) and hopefully Blencathra, so check back then…