Walk 197: the far, far west

February 28, 2022

WALK 197: Lank Rigg (1775′ above sea level, no. 288 of my second round) and Cold Fell (961′, no. 289). 13 miles (* see note), 2,400 feet of ascent.

Though I accept I have slipped a little when it comes to doing every one of these Lakeland walks by public transport, it still remains my preference. Point-to-point walks are just more interesting, and I don’t really want to have an hours-long drive home afterwards (and give me a beer or two at the end, in any case). But if I’m heading for the far western fringes of the District on the train then a whole lot of logistical factors need to play ball, including the weather.

Walkers met, somewhat unexpectedly, on Lank Rigg summit.

For all these reasons, my return to Lank Rigg had been easy to put off. I also knew that once I was there I faced a walk with a very high-effort-to-low-reward ratio. But on Saturday 26th February, thanks to the hospitality of my in-laws in Morecambe, all the necessary pieces of the puzzle were present and so off I went to West Cumbria, for walk 197. The weather stayed fine, although it was rather windy. The moorlands were not quite as tedious as I remembered from my previous visit in 2010 (walk 28). I did have to get my feet wet fording a gill or two, but I survived it, and additionally bagged Cold Fell, as well as a couple of Birketts (Kinniside and Latter Barrow). Read all about it and see more photos, as usual, on the relevant walk page.

Note that the figure of 13 miles that I give above is less than what I actually walked today. Storm damage has closed some paths through Blengdale and obliged the walker to take a longer route via the cleared forest roads. I did about 15 miles on the day, in fact, making this my longest walk in the Lakes for three years.

“Take me with you…” An inhabitant of Scalderskew, one of England’s loneliest dwellings, passed en route.

As of today then, I have bagged 289 of the 330 Wainwrights on my second round, and thus have 41 to go. I have no idea when my next opportunity will arise — hopefully in March but it’s a relatively busy time for me, so we’ll see.

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WALK 194: Yewbarrow (2058 feet above sea level, number 283) and Red Pike (2707′, no. 284). 6.5 miles, 3,300 feet of ascent.

Some of the 48 fells that, before today, remained to be bagged on my second round have ended up there for no particular reason. Some are there because of difficulties of access, and that’s true of the fells bagged today; Wasdale Head is not easy to get to even if one has a car (which I did use today).

Yewbarrow, seen on the way in.

But Yewbarrow was also one that I had kept putting off simply because it’s such a tough little bugger. Relative to its height, in fact, I would nominate this the most difficult Wainwright of all. There is just no easy way on or off it: no ridge by which one can sneak onto the summit cairn from behind, no unexpected chink in the armour of its crags and precipices. Scrambling is unavoidable.

But, it had to be done at some point. Yesterday, October 6th, was a bright, sunny and pleasant day, all the more welcome after a couple of weeks of rain, and I took myself all the way round to Wasdale to haul myself up it, via Great Door, a second time. This is, undoubtedly, a dramatic climb and one which engenders a healthy sense of achievement.

Great Door.

It is also a climb that I would assign to the category of ‘absolute arses’ or maybe ‘complete bastards’ — choose your own epithet. Either way, I am very sure that I am never going up it again. And that is not even to mention the descent via Stirrup Crag: but that’s another story, one you can read in full on the walk page. After all that, adding Red Pike (Wasdale) to the day seemed like an extra, for all that this second summit is nearly 650 feet higher than its neighbour, but that was certainly worth doing as well. See the walk 194 page for the full story and the usual crop of photographs.

As of today then, I have bagged 284 of the 330 Wainwrights on my second round, and so have 46 to go. The plan is to make the next visit to Cumbria at some point during the school half-term holidays, when the buses are a little more amenable, and rebag Helvellyn (which will be the only one of all my walks on this Lakeland project to simultaneously feature on my County Tops blog). Fingers crossed that the weather is as good as it was today.

A Borrowdale triple

July 27, 2021

WALK 190: Grange Fell (1363 feet above sea level, number 278 of my second round). 4.5 miles, 1,350 feet of ascent.

WALK 191: Kirk Fell (2630′, no. 279). 11 miles, 2,800 feet of ascent.

Little Hell Gate
Little Hell Gate, from the precarious foothold of the South Traverse on walk 191.

WALK 192: Sergeant’s Crag (1873′, no. 280), Eagle Crag (1650′, no. 281). 8.25 miles, 1,650 feet of ascent.

Late July has often seen walks in the Lakes for me, as it is just the most convenient time of year when it comes to fitting trips around my other responsibilities. As in some previous years, we made a longer trip of it and stayed over in the area, in Keswick this time, thus allowing time for three walks in four days.

Pleasingly, and in this respect 2021 was quite different to other late Julys, the weather was very good — almost too hot on the first day, when walk 190 saw Clare and I haul ourselves up to the top of Grange Fell in steaming heat (well, hot for Cumbria anyway); that finished off the wife so I did the other two walks alone, but both days remained very fine, although the Monday (walk 192) was a little cloudier.

Grange Fell summit
Clare cools off on Grange Fell’s summit.

The highlight was the middle walk, walk 191, when I decided to be daring and attempt the South Traverse of Great Gable, as a way of reaching Kirk Fell. It’s been a while since I truly went ‘off-piste’ but this route does certainly get one into the realm of the rock-climber, while never being actively dangerous. The views of Wasdale, and up to the rocks of the Great Napes, were spectacular. Recommended, if you’re feeling brave and have plenty of time to spare.

Read all about all three walks on their respective pages, and see plenty more photographs, as ever.

As of today, then, I have bagged 281 of the 330 Wainwrights on my second round, and have broken the 50 mark, with 49 to go, including, now, only one walk left in Wainwright’s volume 3 (the Central Fells). 10 of the remainder are in the Western Fells, so it is time to try to get out there, transport problems notwithstanding. But the summer still has plenty of time to run — whatever the weather. Next walk in August some time.

Sergeant's Crag
Sergeant’s Crag, bagged on Monday (walk 192).

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.

Low Fell summit

The summit of Low Fell, loking towards Crummock Water

Early June 2019 has brought the fairly cruddy weather that is typical for the time of year in northern England, but yesterday, 18th June, promised bright clear conditions and did deliver them. So I used the opportunity to get out on wak 164 and bag a couple of the more peripheral Wainwrights, Fellbarrow and Low Fell, in the north-west corner of the Lake District. There is not much to these fells physically, but the views of the Crummock Water and Buttermere area are spectacular, and this walk also had a nice preamble, coming in from Cockermouth to the north along the valley of the river Cocker, and building up nicely to the ascent of the two fells after lunch. Read all about it and see more photos on the walk 164 page.

Crosshill

The ruin-with-a-view at Crosshill, on the northern slopes of Fellbarrow.

Somehow I feel I have entered the closing stages of the project but this is all illusion as I have at least two years’ worth of Lakeland walks to do yet. I have bagged 205 of the 330 Wainwrights in my second round and have 125 to go. I hope there will be another walk before June is out, though let’s see if the summer breaks out properly.

Bluebell meadow

Bluebell meadow and Warnscale Bottom: Fleetwith Pike to the left, Haystacks the right

Another glorious day and an opportunity to make the most of it — lucky me. I finally braved the tortuous transport connections and made it into the Western Fells where some of the best walking in Lakeland can be found, and walk 162 did not disappoint. It bagged me Fleetwith Pike and Haystacks, two very fine fells with plenty of interest not just in walking terms but also for the quarries, old and new. Proof that not all industry has to be ugly.

Spoil heap on Fleetwith

The quarries at the back end of Fleetwith Pike

It would have been an even better walk if it didn’t take so long to get there — ten hours on public transport today for three hours walking. Just about worth it… Anyway, Haystacks has the honour of becoming fell number 200 of the second round — meaning I have 130 to go. Read all the details and see more photos on the walk 162 page if you are interested. Particularly if the good weather holds I certainly intend to get another walk in before May is out.

Steeple from the YHA

Steeple, as seen from the garden of the Ennerdale YHA

It was time to get into the west again. Round this side of the Lake District there is no choice but to put in some substantial walks if I am to remain true to the commitment to do all this by public transport. The latest swathe of service cuts a couple of years ago has left the whole of Cumbria between Egremont and Millom without any buses at all. So walk 152 had to start out on the coast, at Seascale station, and come inland all the way from the beach at sea level; and past the burbling, hissing industrial complex at Sellafield, but that’s another story.

Thirty miles was far too much to do in a day, so the walk was split in two with a night at the Ennerdale Youth Hostel (YHA). The two walks are described on separate pages as follows:

Scoat Fell was fell number 165 of my second round, and as there are 330 Wainwrights this means I am half way through it — and three-quarters of the way through the whole planned double round. With Pillar done after it that means I have now done 166 Wainwrights and have 164 to go. I doubt I will get another walk in September, but the last two days have been more than enough, thank you — 30 miles in 28 hours, and the longest of all my two day hikes. Anyway — read all about it, and see more pictures, on the walk 152a and walk 152b pages.

Walker on Floutern Cop

Walker on Floutern Cop

It’s true that Britain could do with some rain to top up the reservoirs and stop all the lawns from dying, but as anyone who lives here, or has visited in the last two months, knows it’s really been very pleasant since early May and anyone complaining about this should be shot. It makes a change to have no concerns at all about packing waterproofs or extra layers — but on the other hand, sunscreen and plenty of water are essentials right now.

So it was on yesterday’s walk 148 which took me round some of the more obscure fells in Wainwright’s volume 7: Hen Comb, Starling Dodd and Great Borne. It’s a logical walk though, heading south from the foot of Crummock Water and into the lonely country around Mosedale and Floutern Pass. Another one worth doing in a time of drought Not a spectacular walk, but it was pleasing to finally get some more Western Fells bagged. Read all about it on the walk 148 page.

Crummock Water

Having fun on Crummock Water

All that and England winning over Sweden too. Not a bad day at all…

As of today then I have bagged 154 of the 330 Wainwrights in my second round, so have 176 to go. Unless the weather really does take a turn for the worse, and there is no sign of that at the moment, there’ll be another walk in the next two weeks.

Sunbeams in Great Langdale

Sunbeams in Great Langdale

I’ve just come back from a week’s holiday in the Lake District during which I managed to do four walks, and bag a total of ten summits over about 45 miles of walking and 12,000 feet of climbing — so these ten summits were hard-earned! Even more so as the weather wasn’t particularly great — there were occasional bursts of sunlight (as on this shot) and no one got a total soaking, but for sure, it was cold and windy all week, at least on the tops of mountains. But I’m not complaining too much. (Just a little bit.)

As ever you can read full details on the walks in their separate pages on this site, which amount to the following:

Joe at the quarry

Joe investigates the quarries of Coniston Old Man on walk 132

Following that week’s exertions then, as of today I have bagged 116 of the 330 Wainwrights in my second round, and have 214 to go. There should be another walk in August, hoping for better weather…

Walk 127 in the far west

April 18, 2017

View from Flat Fell summit

View west from Flat Fell summit. The rise ahead is Blakely Raise, with Grike peeking up to the left.

For the second year in a row I managed to go on a walk on Easter Monday, this year’s being walk 127 which took me around to the far west of the Lake District via the Cumbrian Coast rail line (a landscape odyssey of its own, disregarding any walks taken from it). I was setting out to do a longer walk, but didn’t really have enough time on the day. At nearly 13 miles the one I did was long enough though, and it bagged me three fells, Dent, Grike and Flat Fell. Read the details, with the usual crop of extra pictures on the walk 127 page.

As of today, then, I have bagged 99 of the 330 Wainwright fells on my second round. I hope I can make number 100 a significant fell, so let’s see what the weather looks like in two weeks’ time, my next window of walking opportunity.