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.

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WALK 186: Stickle Pike (1231′, no 264), Great Stickle (1001′, no. 265), Tarn Hill (1020′, no. 266) and Dunnerdale Fells (920′, no. 267).

Walkers and Stickle Pike
Stickle Pike from the south. Green Crag and, in snow, Scafell behind.

The first two weeks of December have not exactly been a productive walking time for me. Partly this is due to how work usually pans out at this time, but the weather is also responsible. This is rarely full winter (2010 was a notable exception, though) but it’s usually gloomy and cold, not designed to encourage the fellwalker.

Happily, 5th December 2020 was a fine exception to the general rule. It started off cloudy but by the end I was walking in full sunshine, and then spent an afternoon in Kendal bathing in more of the same. In the morning, I’d bagged four more Wainwrights: the three summits I had remaining in the Stickle Pike chapter, and then a bonus of the Dunnerdale Fells chapter, as Tarn Hill appears in both and is thus the only Wainwright to count double. Why? Well, it’s a complicated story, but for that you can read the fell pages.

The Duddon Valley (and cyclists), with Whit Fell in the background.

It’s a fine part of the District, though, and worth two chapters. Stickle Pike is surely the best-looking of all the Outlying Fells, and the walking is rugged without ever being difficult. A mountain in miniature, for sure. It’s just a shame that there’s no public transport to the immediate vicinity. Read all about it, and see more photos, on the walk 186 page.

As of today, then, I have bagged 267 of the 330 Wainwrights on my second round, so have 63 to go. I honestly don’t know whether today will turn out to be my last Lakeland walk of 2020: I’d rather it wasn’t, though it might be. Either way I will post a summary of the year before 2021 — a year I’m sure we’re all hoping will be different, at least — makes its way over the horizon.

Kidsty Pike

Kidsty Pike, seen on the approach from the west.

WALK 183: High Raise (Far Eastern) (2634′, no. 256), Rampsgill Head (2598′, no. 257) and Kidsty Pike (2560′, no. 258). 8 miles and 2,200 feet of ascent approx.

The British climate is not known for its reliability, but there are some aspects of the pattern that can be depended on to some extent. Having a period of fine, settled weather in mid-September is one of its more pleasant traits and down the years has been exploited for walks whenever it appears.  2020’s Mid-September Settled Period has come along right on cue, and a couple of days ago saw me out in the Haweswater district again for walk 183.  This bagged three of the higher fells in the Far Eastern region: High Raise, Rampsgill Head, and Kidsty Pike, the latter being the undoubted highlight of the walk.  Read all about it and see more photos on the walk page.

Deer couple

May I present the deer couple, Mr and Mrs Slightly-Miffed. Seen near the summit of High Raise.

This was another walk done without the use of public transport, sadly. There are some signs of life in the train network but many services that were running up until the beginning of the Great Fear in March are still cut.  I will continue trying to get to the Lakes where I can, but now I have accepted that while my first round was indeed done without using a car, this second one has had to adapt to circumstances. Never mind.

As of today then, I have bagged 258 of the 330 Wainwrights in my second round, so have 72 to go. I no longer anticipate finishing some time in 2021, but let’s go with the flow. This walk was probably it for September, but hopefully before October is too old I will have returned to the Lakes.

Harter Fell in cloud

Harter Fell from Eskdale.

WALK 182: Harter Fell (Eskdale) (2140 feet above sea level, number 255 of my second round). 9 miles and 2,300 feet of ascent approximately.

A few weeks after re-bagging its namesake in Mardale, Tuesday’s climb of the very beautiful Eskdale Harter Fell brings to an end this little trilogy of walks completed during our stay in the Brook House Inn, Eskdale. (Or, if I add the walk I undertook in Longsleddale last week, a quadrilogy.) The weather was still rather dubious but this time that was not the reason why only one fell was bagged on the walk, as it was always planned to be done this way. It’s a very fine fell, with a remarkable summit (one of Wainwright’s ‘Top 6’, and rightly so), and superb views of the Scafell group above the valley head and the Duddon Valley, all the way down to the estuary.

Stickle Pike and the Duddon

Stickle Pike and the Duddon estuary, from Harter Fell.

On the other hand, this is not an altogether easy climb. Paths are not as prominent as you would think going on a study of the map, and there is an ocean of bracken to negotiate lower down in the summer. But it is worth the battle, and it was important to pick this one up during this trip as without spending time in Eskdale, it’s difficult to reach.  Read all about it and see more pictures on the walk 182 page.

Three summits is, perhaps, not a huge return from the time spent here but they all needed doing. As of today, then, I have bagged 255 of the 330 Wainwrights on my second round, and have 75 to go.  For various reasons, including the lack of suitable trains from home at the moment, but also having to recommence work (it happens…), I can’t see myself returning to the Lakes during August.  But four walks over a nine-day period has been enough of a fix, and September — with, hopefully, its usual better weather — is not so far away.

WALK 180: Muncaster Fell (757 feet above sea level, number 253): 6 miles and 800 feet of ascent approximately.

Dalegarth station

Dalegarth station, terminus (usually) of the Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway.

and WALK 181: Boat How (1105′, no. 254): 5.5 miles and 1,000 feet of ascent.

Back in January we booked in for a weekend at the Brook House Inn in Eskdale, linked to a weekend that Clare was trying to organise with other members of her family.  As the Great Fear took hold, I kept waiting for the inevitable email of cancellation, but it never came, and in the end we decided to not just fulfil the booking but make it our primary summer holiday of 2020.  Eskdale is a beautiful spot and also a great jumping off point for several key Wainwrights that are otherwise tough to reach.

Estuary

The estuary at Ravenglass (at low tide).

Plans have not yet come to full fruition however. Our first day here, Friday 24th July, was sunny and pleasant, and the walk we did up Muncaster Fellwalk 180 — a fine little prelude to what was intended to be further explorations up Scafell, at least.

And that peak was my intended destination for walk 181, yesterday (Sunday 26th), only this became one of the few targets I have had to abandon due to revolting weather, becoming lost and soaked in the Eel Tarn/Stony Tarn district. Still, I at least managed a face-saving bag, of Boat How. It wasn’t a bad walk — but it could have been a lot drier. As ever, you can read all about the details, and see more photos, on the two walk pages.

Stony Tarn and sheep

Stony Tarn. The sheep, like me, wonder what I was doing there.

We are here for a couple more days yet, although there won’t be any walking today (Monday) because it’s throwing it down. The forecast for Tuesday is OK though and then it would be good to get up some bigger fells — two Outliers alone would be a somewhat meagre return from several nights in Eskdale. But hey, in the end, it just gives me an excuse to keep coming back.

As of today then (27/7/20) I have bagged 254 of the 330 Wainwrights on my second round, and have 76 to go.

WALK 178: Branstree (2339′, no. 246), Harter Fell (2552′, no. 247). 7.75 miles and 2,300 feet of ascent approximately.

Drowned buildings

Drowned buildings in the reservoir of Haweswater.

Although most Britons seem in a perpetual state of denial about this fact, the weather is almost always worse in early June than it is in May. So it has proved this year: the sunshine of my last walk turning into a greyer, more somber vibe for yesterday’s trip into the Far Eastern Fells. Walk 178 was a circuit round Mardale Head, bagging Branstree and Harter Fell. The views of Haweswater were very fine, despite the large tidemark caused by the water level having dropped in the recent dry weather: enough to reveal some of the buildings higher up the valley, remnants of the village of Mardale Green that was here until 1935. Small Water, pictured here, is another highlight, being one of Lakeland’s best little mountain tarns.

Sheep and Small Water

On the descent of Harter Fell. Small Water immediately below.

Once again I cannot claim to have done this walk by public transport. It would be lovely if a daily ‘walkers’ bus’ ran from Penrith station and who knows, if it did perhaps there would be less of a parking problem at the head of Mardale. But even in normal times, this is just a fantasy I’ve been having. In the end I’ve decided that during this time of disruption I will use a car, but only to bag walks that are otherwise impossible by train or bus. That’s my self-rationalisation anyway.

Nearly halfway through 2020 and I have only bagged 10 Wainwrights, which is well down on my usual pace. I could say the reasons are obvious but actually it’s more that my walks have only been bagging one or two tops at a time. As of today then, I have bagged 247 of the 330 Wainwrights on my second round, so have 83 to go. It would be nice to get another trip in June but we will see how it goes.

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

In Little Langdale

In Little Langdale

There are two Langdales in the Lake District: Great Langdale, which everybody knows, and the less-frequented Little Langdale, which most people probably just trundle through as they come up or down Wrynose Pass at one end. But it’s an attractive valley in its own right and one I hadn’t visited despite all my previous perambulations around the area.

Walk 172, done yesterday on a glorious (but frosty) November day, filled that gap and along the way bagged two summits, Holme Fell and Lingmoor Fell from book 4 — my first excursion into The Southern Fells for some eighteen months. Not a classic, and a longer walk than anticipated from looking at the map, but nevertheless a fine expedition with some excellent views — like this classic one of Great Langdale.

Langdale classic view

The classic view of Great Langdale, coming off Lingmoor Fell.

As ever, more photos and a full route description can be found on the walk 172 page.

As of today, then, I have done 232 of the 330 Wainwrights on my second round, so have 98 to go. It may be that was my last walk of 2019, although there’s always the hope that the gloom of mid- to late December will relent and offer opportunities then. We will see.

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.