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).
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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.

On the descent from Steel Fell

On the descent from Steel Fell. Helm Crag on the right, Grasmere ahead.

The murderous heatwaves being reported in Europe have not reached northern England as such, but certainly the weather is very fine at the moment and there was little excuse not to go out yesterday and bag two more fells on walk 165, namely one of the two High Raises (the one in the Central Fells) and nearby Steel Fell. I did this walk slightly differently than the normal pattern; instead of being on the 06:45 from home I left at the leisurely time of 09:40 and it was 13:00 before I began walking at Dungeon Ghyll. Most of the route and even the choice of fells was an on-the-spot improvisation. But it mostly worked, although the haul up High Raise is a little dull.

View to Thirlmere and Blencathra

View to Thirlmere and (on right) Blencathra, from the summit of Steel Fell

Anyway, as usual there is plenty more informaion and photos on the walk 165 page. The walk also has the advantage of ending at one of the Lakes’ most pleasant pubs, the Travellers’ Rest.

As of today, then, I have bagged 207 of the 330 Wainwrights on my second round, leaving me 123 to go. I hope my next walk will be in around three weeks’ time, in mid-July.

South from High Seat

Looking south from High Seat, towards High Tove and Ullscarf. Much of the walk looks similar.

It has rained very little in the last six weeks, making this probably the driest period we’ve had since I started on these walks way back in 2009. I decided with walk 147 to risk an expedition into one of the Lakes’ most notoriously wet regions, the central ridge between Bleaberry Fell in the north, and the pass of Greenup — a ridge which also takes in the summits of High Seat, High Tove and Ullscarf along the way.

The gamble worked. Obviously a vile swamp in wet, or even normal, weather, the dry weather has turned it into reasonably good turf at the moment. I was able to do 14 miles in 5:15 and thus get the walk done at a decent hour — despite the ineptitude of Northern Rail, it getting me to Penrith an hour late this morning, and its current inability to provide a train service to Windermere for anyone. That’s another story — but if interested you can read about it in the comments on the walk 147 page, where there are more photos, the usual route details, etc.

Cottongrass is definitely the dominant lifeform on today’s walk: and it grows on boggy ground, note

As of today, then, I have bagged 151 of the 330 Wainwrights in my second round, and thus have 179 to go. Not promising anything but I hope that around the end of June, first week of July will be my next walk. I still haven’t got into the Western Fells again yet — thanks today to the aforementioned train cockups. It’s on the agenda but not entirely within my control…

2018 finally gets going

January 25, 2018

Atop Latrigg

Summit view atop Latrigg

As anyone living in the north of England knows, the weather throughout most of 2018 thus far has been pretty dismal; and when breaks in the pattern have occurred, I’ve either been working, ill or there’ve been train strikes. Sometimes all three at once.

However, even if an extra fortnight or two has passed since I intended to add to my total, walk 141 did indeed take place yesterday (24th January). Three fells bagged, Latrigg, High Rigg and Raven Crag: none of them very tall in themselves but there was plenty of climbing to do on the walk and a ferocious wind didn’t make it any easier, nor did there still being an absent bridge on the Keswick-Threlkeld path. Nevertheless it was a good walk with plenty of interesting scenery. Read all about it, and see more photos, on the walk 141 page.

High Rigg, with Blencathra on the right

As of today, then, I have bagged 134 Wainwrights on my second round, thus have 196 to go. Looks like this will be my only January walk, but I hope to be back for more in mid-February.

Easdale Tarn and Tarn Crag

Easdale Tarn, Tarn Crag, and a couple of swimmers

Anyone in Britain is clearly aware that we’re in a sunny and very warm spell at the moment — the weather at the end of May is often nice, so it’s not exactly unusual, but no one is complaining.

Good enough to certainly get me out on walk 129 in preference to sitting in my house marking student essays, that’s for certain. The walk saw me revisit a trio of summits that horseshoe around the valley of Easdale: Blea Rigg, Sergeant Man and Tarn Crag. Not the most dramatic walk perhaps but a very interesting one, with plenty to see, including my fifth sighting of some wild deer (see picture here) on Tarn Crag. See the walk 129 page for all the details and more photos.

Deer on Tarn Crag

Deer on Tarn Crag, watching me watching them…

The photos are full of blue and green… these were the dominant colours of the day. A breeze on the tops made the conditions tolerable in the end. So yes, a good day’s walking for sure.

As of today then I have done 103 of the Wainwrights in my second round and have 227 to go. I hope to get another walk in before we reach the middle of June. In the meantime read about yesterday’s hike, and see more photos, on the walk 129 page if you like.