Calfhow Pike from Clough Head

Looking south from Clough Head, towards Calfhow Pike.

I have no reason to self-isolate and have a general feeling that getting out into people-free countryside is certainly staying more than 1 metre away from anyone else, so walk 176 duly happened yesterday. This took me up the three northernrnost summits of the Eastern Fells, namely Clough Head, Great Dodd and Watson’s Dodd. It was a walk with fine views, but done into a bitter wind that rather put the chill on the day.

Not as much of a chill, of course, as what now looks inevitable: a basic lockdown of a great deal of the UK’s infrastructure and social activity. The giant experiment in social control that is about to take place will have unknown consequences — the best it seems we can hope for is that, in terms of the virus, it works.

Descending Clough Head

Walker on his way down Clough Head. Keeping his distance….

Whether I will — or should — have the chance to get out and walk again in the next few weeks, who knows. So for now, as of today, I have bagged 243 of the 330 Wainwrights on my second round, so have 87 to go. More photos and a full route description from yesterday are, as ever, available on the walk 176 page.

Stay safe everyone.

Addendum: This article on UK Hillwalking, by Dan Bailey, makes some sensible points about the safety, or otherwise, of walking and related activities (like camping) at this time. One response I might make is to relax my rule of only going to walks via public transport (although the trains were so quiet yesterday that I was never within 1 metre of any other passengers). Let’s see how it goes.

View of Upper Kentmere

View of upper Kentmere from Green Quarter Fell — the scenic highlight of the walk.

It’s been eight weeks since I last ventured into the Lake District. In the intervening time, a combination of other responsibilities, a train line closure and — most significantly of all — pretty terrible weather have kept me away. But the weather yesterday, 4th March, was pleasant enough and I was finally able to move on with the project and undertake walk 175.

This took me up the Kent valley from Staveley, and bagged the two Outyling summits of Green Quarter Fell, notable mainly for the views of the upper Kentmere valley (as pictured here). Other than that it is not a very dramatic walk, but it is an easy and straightforward one.

Fox on Green Quarter Fell

The fox I encountered on the slopes of Green Quarter Fell.

Northern Rail’s utter shambles of a train service did its best to screw up my day but the walk was done despite them: that was the worst part. On the other hand, the walk did have the bonus of this fox, the closest I have ever knowingly been to such a creature: it sat down when it saw me, quite aware of my presence and presumably keeping an eye on me as it had cubs in an earth in the vicinity.

As of today, then, I have bagged 240 of the 330 Wainwrights on my second round, and thus have 90 to go. I certainly hope to be back in the Lakes before the end of March but it depends on the weather — and the trains, unfortunately. Until then please do feel free to have a look at the walk 175 page where there are more photos and a full route description, as usual.

View from Whit Beck

Taken from the crossing point of Whit Beck.

By any reasonable assessment, A. Wainwright had a definite downer on Mungrisdale Common. He writes on page 2 of the chapter in The Northern Fells that:

“Mungrisdale Common\s natural attractions are of a type that appeals only to sheep… There is little on these extensive grass slopes to provide even a passing interest for an ordinary walker and nothing at all to encourage a visit.”

These days I am old and crotchety enough myself to consider statements like that a challenge, so yesterday, 8th January, I duly set out to conquer the Common — and as the only fell on walk 174, too.

Sinen Gill and Lonscale Fell

Sinen Gill on Mungrisdale Common, with Lonscale Fell behind.

And my verdict? Is it the worst of all, the pits? To find out, take a look at the walk 174 page which has all the usual detail and several more photos on what was, for sure, a good day for the camera at least.

As of today, then, I have bagged 238 of the 330 Wainwrights on my second round, and so have 92 to go. This will most likely be my only walk in January 2020 (and Mungrisdale Common thereby gains itself the extra distinction of being my first fell of the 2020s) but come early February I hope to be back among the fells.

Cofa Pike and St. Sunday Crag

Climbing Fairfield over Cofa Pike. St. Sunday Crag behind. Not a bad day…

And Happy New Year to you all, too. I never did say at the end of 2019 (and walk 173) what my highlights of it had been. The standout walk was certainly walk 161 on Good Friday, April 19th [pictured]: spectacular landscapes, glorious weather and a very fine pub at the end, to boot. The two-dayer in Shap, walk 169 and walk 170, was also very satisfying, again for the excellent weather, for being a real breakthrough in getting the Outlying Fells done a second time, and for having the whole lonely, desolate beauty of an area of dozens of square miles entirely to myself for two days. Here’s to 2020 — may you always watch where you are putting your feet.

Drew

Gatesgarth

Gatesgarth Farm — the starting point.

It’s nice to have a job that can sometimes be flexible, I admit that. With the weather forecasts showing that Monday would be one of those late October days that give summer a last hurrah, I worked Sunday instead and took advantage with walk 171. This took me from Gatesgarth (pictured), up over the High Stile ridge in far better conditions than I first did it seven years ago (see walk 60a). Three summits bagged — the eponymous High Stile and its neigbbours High Crag and Red Pike. There were some unpleasant moments on the descent of the latter, but all in all this was a fine walk. Read all about it and see more pictures on the walk 171 page.

Walkers below Seat

Walkers below Seat. Haystacks in the left middle distance, Great Gable on the horizon.

Red Pike is bagged as number 230 of the full list of 330 Wainwrights, which means I have — ta-daa! — one hundred to go. It would be nice to get another walk in around mid-November but around this time of year I am fully dependent on the weather meshing with work timetables, so let’s see how it goes.

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.

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.

The Knott summit

The summit cairn of The Knott, with the Duddon Estuary in the distance.

Not all my walks are necessarily successful. Walk 167, done yesterday, didn’t really work out, thanks to the difficulties that ensued in getting from Foxfield station to the first summit of the planned day, The Knott (pictured). That and its neighbouring unnamed summit, both peaks in the Stickle Pike chapter of Wainwright’s volume 8, were intended to be only the first part of a walk that also took in Caw; but they turned out to be my only two summits of the day. The energy just ran out. Still, they were done safely and in reasonably good weather, so that’s something. Read all about it and see the pictures on the walk 167 page.

Caw and Walna Scar

View up to Caw (left) and Walna Scar

As of today then, I have bagged 212 of the 330 Wainwrights in my second round, so have 118 to go. I don’t have the chance to do another walk in August unless something unexpected happens, but hopefully early September will see me on one of the two-day walks I typically try to get in around then (because the kids have gone back to school and the weather’s usually decent).

Watch Hill summit

The summit of Watch Hill — Skiddaw behind

I have been ‘confined to quarters’ for quite a while, first because of having too much work to do and second, because of undesirable weather; first, a short heatwave, then days of thunderstorms rolling in on a regular basis. But things relented yesterday to mark the first day of August, so I got out and bagged some Outlying fells, namely Clints Crags and Watch Hill, on walk 166. It’s been February since I picked up any outliers but they still need doing; even after today there remain 49 to pick up in my remaining fells.

In Setmurthy plantation

In Setmurthy plantation

A decent, if unspectacular walk today; although I did get the route and public transport sorted out properly this time which made it a significantly better walk than walk 92, which got the same three fells but was rather a drag at times. Walk 166 is the better version by far. Have a look at its walk page for more photos, route details etc. as usual.

As of today then I have bagged 210 of the 330 fells on my second round, so have 120 to go. I’m about to start on my two-week summer break from work, so there should be more before the middle of August is reached.

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.

The valley of Threshthwaite.

The valley of Threshthwaite. The walk goes around it, starting with Gray Crag on the left.

Walk 163 took place on the mountains that surround the valley of Threshthwaite — pronounced ‘Thresh’et’, before you bring to bear your salva glands too enthusiastically. As the picture shows, it’s an attractive part of the world (and on my first round was where I saw the golden eagle, although sadly that is apparently no longer in residence). Three fells bagged, Gray Crag, Caudale Moor and Hartsop Dodd, the latter having one of the District’s most unsung views, a fantastic panorama.

Joe and Hartsop Dodd

Joe on the way to Hartsop Dodd

I had Joe with me, this being the latest in our tradition of late May walks together: maybe it will be the last, as he leaves school this year and so his holidays may change. Anyway, read more and see more pictures on the walk 163 page. As of today, I have bagged 203 of the 330 Wainwrights on my second round, so have 127 to go. Next walk in mid-June, hopefully.