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.

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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.

Main ascent path

Looking down on Sleet How and the main path of ascent

Yesterday saw me on walk 168, the objective, Grisedale Pike and its very fine view. I did attain the summit, though not without some routefinding trials for the second walk in a row: I try on the walk 168 page to prevent anyone else making the same mistake, because there was an hour in the middle of my walk after which, if I never see another mountain biker or sitka spruce again, I’ll be happy. But I know where I went wrong and in the end, all worked out fine. I even made the intended bus with ten seconds to spare. So ultimately, no real complaints. Grisedale Pike is a very fine mountain and worth a visit even if it is the only peak bagged on a walk, as it was today for me.

Unequivocal sign in Whinlatter forest

In Whinlatter forest, which could do with a few more unequivocal signs like this.

As of today, then, I have bagged 213 Wainwrights. Had this been a round of only the main seven volumes, I would now be just one off completion, but seeing as the Outlying Fells are tacked on to make the full list number 330, I now have 117 to go. I still hope to get a two-day walk in during September but options are limited so it depends on a) the weather and b) me holding my work diary free, in a way similar to how Luke Skywalker & co push out the walls of the garbage compactor on the Death Star. But I’ll just take what comes, as has always been the case.

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.

Wythop Moss

The Skiddaw range rises behind Wythop Moss. Not a place to blunder into unknowing.

Walk 151 is never going to be counted as the most exciting walk in the Lake District (even in its immedaite area of Whinlatter), and on a dull grey day did admittedly not to much to excite. There was a high bracken quotient to handle.

But then again it is an easy walk through pleasant, rural surroundings, and like many of my walks have in recent weeks, bagged me a couple of the more obscure Wainwrights; Broom Fell and Graystones. I’m a few days late with the details (due to having gone to Berlin and back in the mean time) but if you want a detailed route description and more photos, see the walk 151 page.

Hopegill Head

Hopegill Head, above the clouds

As of today then I have done 161 of the 330 Wainwrights on my second round, and have 169 to go. The halfway point — fell 165 — approaches and if I now fulfil my plans it will be reached in early September with, appropriately enough, Middle Fell, but let’s see if that plan works out…. largely it depends on the weather.

Walk 136: Buttermere

September 17, 2017

Buttermere valley

The Buttermere valley. What’s not to like?

Friday 15th September saw me on walk 136 around the Buttermere area — a very pleasant slice of countryside, as you can see from this picture. That’s the High Stile – High Crag ridge, but my destinations today lay on the other side of the valley, in the North-Western fells. I bagged three — Rannerdale Knotts (small, but perfectly formed), Wandope and Whiteless Pike (pictured below). All worth doing, though the haul up to Wandope’s summit via the Addacomb Hole ridge was a very steep climb.

Whiteless Pike ridge

Looking along the ridge to Whiteless Pike. Note the walker in the col.

You can read all the details and see several more photographs on the walk 136 page.

As of today, then, I have done 121 of the 330 Wainwrights in my second round, thus have 209 to go. My next walk should be in the first weekend of October, all going well.

Walk 126 completed

April 8, 2017

Barrow from the mine road

Barrow from the Stoneycroft Gill mine road. Blencathra behind.

After the drizzle that beset my last walk (walk 125) and limited me to one low-altitude fell, it was gratifying to be up higher again yesterday on walk 126. Three and a half hours of effort, setting out from and returning to Braithwaite, and five summits bagged: Barrow, Outerside, Sail, Scar Crags and Causey Pike.

I do like the Northwestern fells. This is great walking territory, fells packed into a compact space and plenty of climbing needed, but none of it excessively difficult, and the added bonus of clear and fairly dry paths. The light wasn’t all that great for photography yesterday, no sunshine or shadows until the very end (the first glimmers of it caught on the picture of Barrow above), but the whole day worked out very well — I was back home by 6.35pm, thus out of Hebden Bridge just over 12 hours for a fine day out. You can read about it in much more detail and see photos on the walk 126 page.

Scar Crags summit

Scar Crags summit

As of today, then, I have done 96 of the 330 Wainwright summits a second time, and thus have 234 to go on my second round. I intend that my next walk be Easter Monday (17th): and it’s time to get round to the west. The summer bus services have started as well. There were plenty of hints of springtime in the air today — let’s hope it develops well.

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.

The approach to Whiteside

The approach to Whiteside, from Hopegill Head

A little belatedly, due to going back to work after my summer break, but I have published the walk 116 page, recounting the details of walk I did the other day — up through Thornthwaite Forest, down Whinlatter then up to bag two more Wainwrights on my second round — Hopegill Head and Whiteside. This was a very good walk in its second half. The final climb up to Hopegill Head is excellent, a scramble on bare rock to a superb little peak, and the ridge to Whiteside one of the best short ridges in the District in my opinion. The descent from Whiteside was also enlivened by an absolute carpet of flowering heather, as you can see here.

Heather on Whin Ben

Heather on Whin Ben

On the other hand there was frustration in the first half of the work due to disruptions caused by forestry operations, about which I rant (a little) in the commentary (see walk 116). I just wish things didn’t have to get left in such a mess.

After a good recent run of walks I have now bagged 63 of the 330 Wainwrights, thus have 267 to go in my second round. Having gone back to work now I don’t know quite when the next walk will be, but of course when it happens I will update all the information on here. In the mean time, enjoy the rest of the summer…

Walk 46 done

October 29, 2011

High Crag and Buttermere

High Crag and Buttermere, seen from Rannerdale Knotts

Despite having only got back from Russia at 10.45pm the night before I did not want to miss this opportunity for a walk; I will not get many more this year, and possibly none, if the weather does not play ball on the one or two days that I might just squeeze one in. Glad I did – once again, there were some spectacular weather conditions for photography, although the walking was made more difficult by a freezing cold wind. Read about it all on the walk 46 page.

As of today, then, I have bagged 142 of the 214 Wainwright fells, thus have 72 to go. I have walked 464.12 miles and ascended a total of 133,760 feet.