Longsleddale cottage

Deep in Longsleddale.

WALK 179: five summits in the Bannisdale Horseshoe (two unnamed [1771′ a.s.l., no. 248 and 1819′, no. 249], Capplebarrow [1683′, no. 250], Todd Fell [1313′, no. 251] and Whiteside Pike [1303′, no. 252]). 10.5 miles and 2,000 feet of ascent approximately.

It’s still proving very difficult to get to the Lakes by public transport.  All useful morning services heading north from Preston have been cut, for arbitrary reasons that if you ask me have nothing to do with ‘public health’ in the slightest.  Anyway, that’s a moan you can read on the walk 179 page if you really want to.  Either way, this ongoing problem obliged me once again to book a car out of the pool and drive, this time up the narrow lane that is the valley of Longsleddale’s only link to the outside world.  And this really is a time capsule, surely looking much the same as it did a hundred years ago or more.  It’s very much worth a visit, as long as you have the patience it takes to get there, even with a car.

Whiteside Pike

Looking down to Whiteside Pike, from point 1771′.

The five summits I bagged today were the last ones I had remaining, not just in the Bannisdale Horseshoe chapter, but in the whole swathe of land east of Longsleddale and Haweswater. If you had asked me some years ago which major sub-region of the Lake District I would first complete on my second round, the Shap Fells would not at all have been my prediction — but this is what has happened. I reckon there are 38 Wainwrights east of Gatescarth Pass and after today, I have now rebagged them all. It’s a fantastically lonely part of the world, and you very much need good weather — but this is land well worth exploring.  And it will certainly get you away from people, which is the point at the moment, I guess. (As well as the Bannisdale Horseshoe see also the Naddle, Crookdale, Wasdale and Wet Sleddale Horseshoes, Howes, and the Seat Robert chapters.)

Tractor and Lamb Pasture

View across to Lamb Pasture, on the other side of Bannisdale.

There will be more Wainwrights bagged very shortly as I’m soon off to Eskdale for a few days, a trip booked well before lockdown and which seems to have miraculously survived it.  As of today, though, I have bagged 252 of the 330 Wainwrights on my second round (Capplebarrow being number 250), and thus have 78 to go.

Fewling Stones summit

Fewling Stones summit. Don’t forget to look for the comfy chair.

The tradition of the September double-header has held on several of the years I have been doing this project — it’s often a period of decent and settled weather (essential, if committing to two days of walking) and it’s the final chance to grab something before term starts properly at uni. I left it late this year, but last week took my chance to grab walk 169 and walk 170 and it paid off handsomely.

Over two days, I walked around 25 miles and on the fells saw more deer (three) than people (none at all, even at a distance). In excellent weather, particularly on day two, I bagged no fewer than 14 of the Outlying Fells, finishing the Wet Sleddale Horseshoe chapter and bagging the Wasdale Horseshoe, Crookdale Horseshoe and (on the second walk) Seat Robert summits a second time.

Sleddale Hall

Sleddale Hall, a.k.a. Crow Crag

This is all fabulously lonely country, and often tough going underfoot, but put in the work (on a nice day…) and its charms may be revealed. And there’s the bonus of some Withnail and I moments too (like Sleddale Hall, pictured). As usual, many more details and pictures are available on the walk 169 and walk 170 pages.

This two-day orgy of Outliers means that as of today, I have bagged 227 of the 330 Wainwrights a second time, so have 103 to go. The next walk will be in October some time.

First light, Mosedale

First light. 6.40am in Mosedale, having just departed the Cottage on the ascent of Howes.

I’ve been planning for a while to undertake a walk that included an overnight stay in the bothy of Mosedale Cottage. This old shepherd’s accommodation has no facilities beyond a sofa and a stove (but no fuel unless you bring it): even water has to be brought from the nearby stream. But if one can bring everything else that is needed, it allows easier access to some particularly inaccessible Wainwrights.

Hence the walk I did this week, walk 117; 21 miles in total, starting at Burneside railway station on Wednesday morning and finishing at Burnbanks, near the Haweswater dam, at 10am on Thursday in time for the weekly bus to Penrith.

Mosedale Cottage

Mosedale Cottage

I bagged 11 Wainwrights over the two days, a slice through the far eastern fringe of the District: several from chapters in the Outlying Fells (Bannisdale Horseshoe, Howes, Naddle Horseshoe) and three from the Far Eastern Fells (Grey Crag, Tarn Crag, Selside Pike). This boosts the total to 74 done from my second round, meaning I have 256 to go.

Although it was a memorable experience, particularly in the first 45 minutes or so of the morning of day 2, I have to say this was also one of my hardest walks, particularly due to the need to carry so much on my back. Day 1 was sunny, but also warm and sweaty, whereas the last two hours of day 2 were done in poor weather and, at the very end, heavy rain. But I guess thanks to the scenes pictured here, it was probably worth it. Read all about it on the walk 117 page if you are interested.

Howes summit

The summit of Howes, 7.05am on day 2 of walk 117

Whatshaw Common

Whatshaw Common: a good indication of the landscape from today’s walk

Before today I had 10 Wainwrights left to bag. Eight of them were over in the far east of the district, in the remote Shap Fells area, and grouped by Wainwright into the Seat Robert and Crookdale Horseshoe chapters. The first group (of five) had been made much harder to reach by the culling of most of the Shap buses — the latter three have always been a logistical problem.

But there were no other walks left to do, really — so they needed doing at some point. So walk 102 simply bagged them all in one big 20.2-mile hike — the longest of all the walks listed on this site. Read all about it on the walk page… including the sighting of the red deer, pictured here. Definitely the closest I have ever been to such a substantial herd of these beautiful creatures – not that they wanted to be anywhere near me.

Wild red deer

Wild red deer on Seat Robert.

So with walk 102 done, I have bagged 328 of the 330 Wainwrights and have on;y two to go. These are Flat Fell and Dent, over near Whitehaven, and I hope to bag them some time in November.

Will this mark the end of my wanderings in the Lakes? No, I’m going to do them all a second time at least. But hopefully not too many more 20-milers, please.

Wall heading up to Little Yalrside

The wall heading up from Wasdale Mouth to Little Yarlside (walk 80)

I’ve had an article published in UK Hillwalking magazine on the decay of Lakeland bus services. It is based partly on my experiences on walk 89, my walk around the Naddle Horseshoe. The photo here is used to illustrate it, this coming from walk 80 (Wasdale Horseshoe) — one of several Wainwright walks which are now basically inaccessible by public transport, hence the article.

Whiteside Pike

Whiteside Pike

Some days one just has to be nice to oneself. The weather forecast yesterday (Tuesday 10th March) was just too good to ignore, particularly as the rest of the week is supposed to see rain and this week was my only real chance to do a walk before Easter, with February having blown me out. So I rearranged a few meetings at work. Wouldn’t you if you could?

I needed a fine clear day to attempt the 9 summits of the Bannisdale Horseshoe: it’s an easy walk, but there’s no avoiding the fact that it’s a long one, 17.5 miles and thus the second-longest of all these walks thus far. Read about it on the walk 93 page.

View towards Long Crag

Looking towards Long Crag, with the one other hiker I saw today.

Adding in today’s 9 summits — the most of any single-day walk — I have bagged 298 of the 330 Wainwrights, thus have 32 to go. I aim to finish the lot by mid- September (after which work really kicks in again) and I have 10 walks left to do, I reckon. Might squeeze another one in this weekend but no promises — if not, after Easter for the next one.

Descent to Naddle valley

View on the descent to the Naddle valley, after the day’s 7th and last summit

The trip I made on the Shap to Kendal bus at the end of walk 88 might have been my last on it. As of the beginning of November, Shap, a village of over 1,000 people, now has no bus service. This makes chunks of my remaining summits even more inaccessible by public transport than they already were. But I shall not be giving up.

If you want to read a long but hopefully reasoned and (relatively) polite rant about this have a look at the commentary for today’s walk, walk 89. You could, of course, also read this page to hear about the walk I did, which in highly economical fashion bagged me the seven summits in Wainwright’s Naddle Horseshoe chapter. As of today I have therefore done 280 of the full list of 330 Wainwrights and thus have 50 to go. Walk 89 depends on the last remaining public transport connection to this whole area, the once-per-week bus from Langwathby to Burnbanks — but for now, it can still be done, as long as you can walk on a Thursday.

Shap Abbey

The tower that is all that really remains of Shap Abbey.

Long — 14 miles or so — but very flat, walk 88 saw me go from Penrith to Shap, via the summit of Knipescar Common, an outlying fell even amongst the outliers, which becomes number 273 of the full list of 330: I have 57 to go.

I may as well push through with more of the fells around Shap before the end of October, because at that point the #106 bus which links this region to the railway stations at Kendal and Penrith is finally going to succumb to the Tory desire to cut public spending wherever it can (while also reducing taxes that the rich pay, so proving they actually don’t give a toss about ‘reducing the national debt’ — it’s too good a political weapon to wield against the poor and marginalised). As of the end of this month, this whole region — including Shap Abbey, pictured above — becomes a whole lot less accessible.

Mosedale Beck

Mosedale Beck. The summit is High Wether Howe, one of the 80 I still have to bag, so I will be back in this vicinity yet.

No one is going to accuse the Shap Fells, in the east of the district, of having the same appeal as Langdale, Borrowdale, whatever — but on a relatively nice and sunny day there are still good things to be found thereabouts. Like its immediate predecessor, walk 81 depends on the #106 bus staying running, (it still exists for now) and took me through the lonely valleys of Swindale and Mosedale (pictured), before heading up along the southern side of Wet Sleddale. Fells were bagged from two of Wainwright’s volume 8 chapters, Howes and the Wet Sleddale Horseshoe. Have a look at all those pages if you want to know the details and see more photos.

Sleddale Pike, the final summit reached on the day, becomes number 250 of the project, therefore I have 80 to go. Next walk on 26th April, I hope.

Wet Sleddale

Wet Sleddale

Anyone who knows what the weather is like in the UK at the moment will know that it would be very, very hard for anyone like me to stay indoors and not walking today. OK, so, I’ve got to make up the time at work, but it was worth it.

I took the chance to do some of the lonely moors to the far east of the District, doing Wainwright’s Wasdale Horseshoe walk; not the Wasdale everyone knows but almost its total opposite, lonely and grassy. Along the way I bagged 4 summits, meaning I have now done 245 of the full list of 330 Wainwrights, thus I have 85 to go.

View north from Wasdale Pike.

View north from Wasdale Pike.

Read about it on the walk 80 and Wasdale Horseshoe pages, and enjoy the sunshine. If things go well and the weather pattern holds I will be doing another one of these next week, possibly in the same region, as the #106 bus could disappear at any point.