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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Rest Dodd summit
The summit cairn of Rest Dodd, third and highest fell bagged today.

WALK 198: Brock Crags (1842 feet above sea level, number 290 of my second round), The Nab (1887’, no. 291), Rest Dodd (2283’, no. 292). 8.25 miles, 2,450 feet of ascent.

15th April 2022 was Good Friday. On the day before this holiday in 2021, Joe (on his last Wainwright walk so far) and I wandered around Fusedale and Martindale on walk 187. This was done in the throes of lockdown, that arbitrary and pointless measure (we all got it anyway, didn’t we) that resulted in every pub, campsite and hotel in Lakeland being closed last Easter and the economy of this vulnerable area taking yet another hit.

Fortunately there has been none of the same this year, so I took advantage of the public holiday to head for much the same area of the world, only this time coming in from Hartsop and bagging three summits on walk 198. Not a spectacular walk in itself but the views of the local area are good and the descent, surprisingly agreeable — these things matter more and more as I age.

Angle Tarn and tent
Angle Tarn. In the background, Place Fell — now the only fell I have left in volume 2.

Read all about today’s walk, and see more pictures, on the walk 198 page. Rest Dodd, the third and highest fell bagged today, becomes the penultimate fell rebagged out of Wainwright’s volume 2, The Far Eastern Fells. All I have left now is Place Fell (pictured, above Angle Tarn). This is the nearest I am to completing one of the eight volumes a second time. All told I have now bagged 292 of the 330 Wainwrights on my second round, so have 38 to go.

The 8:05 service from Preston to Penrith was so useful that the moronocracy have cut it again, so doing any Lakeland walks by public transport (at least, if I want to get home at a reasonable hour) now once again depends, almost entirely, on The Oxenholme Connection — the five-minute dash across the station in order to catch the 8:27 to Windermere. Backup plans need putting in place for every walk, particularly any in Coniston, Langdale, Borrowdale or any further afield. So I don’t know even when setting out on a given day exactly what my walk will be: only that, looking at the map, I have at least 14 walks to go, and maybe a couple more. Plenty of exploring to do yet, therefore. The next walk should be some time in May.

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 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.

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.

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.

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.