Great Calva from Glenderaterra
View up the Glenderaterra valley to Great Calva, the volcano of Lakeland.

WALK 201: Knott (2,329 feet above sea level, number 298 of my second round) and Great Calva (2,265′, no, 299). 16.6 miles, 3,150 feet of ascent.

Back in January 2013, on walk 70, I attained the top of Latrigg and, thus, the 214 ‘main’ Wainwrights were completed, for the first time. That means it was Wainwright’s volume 5, The Northern Fells, which I completed last out of those seven volumes. However, with the bagging of Great Calva at about a quarter to three on 21/9/22, this is the volume that I have completed first, this time round. And it covers a magnificent part of the world: hidden away relative to some parts of the Lake District, perhaps, but it’s being discovered I think; on most visits now I see other walkers around. The fells described within the volume score over all others in one way, for certain: the magnificence of the views, in all directions.

Walk 201 was an easy one, throughout — but it was long, at 16.6 miles it comes into the top five of all my Lakeland walks in fact. But the miles are worth putting in for the chance to explore Skiddaw Forest, a lonely, stark but beautiful upland basin with high fells all around — and no trees, in case you were wondering.

The River Caldew, deep in Skiddaw Forest.

And though Knott is the highest point of the walk, visually, Great Calva dominates: I can’t think of another peak in Lakeland that looks more, what’s the word, vulcanian? See the picture at the top of the page and judge for yourself. It would thereby be a terrible shame if my completing the volume again meant this was to be my last trip to the region, but there are plenty of unbagged Birketts in the area — I did bag one of these today as well, Coomb Height. It’s a place worth making time for, as I hope the photos and text on the walk 201 page reveal.

As of today, I have bagged 299 of the 330 Wainwrights on my second round, so have 31 to go. Whichever fell falls next will be number 300, but I’ve given up making predictions as to what it will be, or even when. Train strikes recur and (while I support them) are making advance planning a treacherous task at the moment, so let’s just see how it goes.

High Pike from Knott
Walkers on Knott‘s summit, with High Pike behind.
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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 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.

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.