South from Scout Scar

View south from Scout Scar. I think the Three Peaks of Yorkshire (Whernside, Ingleborough, Pen-y-Ghent) are forming the horizon, blending into one another (but I could be wrong)

Date completed: 24th December 2013 — Christmas Eve. The nearest walk I have done to the Winter Solstice.

Weather conditions: Because of this abovementioned fact, lacking in light, but by no means bad despite a 10-minute hailstorm that affected the latter portion of the walk. Some sun, some cloud, and definitely windy, but OK. Like the walks in late October all this happened in defiance of the London media’s reports of the ‘whole country’ being paralysed by bad weather, when they mean ‘The South’… the photos are the proof.

Lyth Valley

The Lyth Valley, from Scout Scar

Summits bagged: Cunswick Scar (679′), Scout Scar (764′). These are the two summits in the Scout Scar chapter, the first one in The Outlying Fells, and end up being numbers 233 and 234 bagged from the full list of 330 Wainwrights.

Start and end points: Started and ended at Kendal railway station. The walk fitted very comfortably — even leisurely —  into the gap between the 0918 arrival from Oxenholme and the 13.58 departure back there; or, of course, could be moved later in the day if desired. No buses required. An easy one to do by public transport therefore (even on Christmas Eve).

Distance walked: 7.81 miles. This is the 7 miles quoted in Wainwright plus the rest to get between the railway station and Town Hall, from where he seems to be measuring it.

Near the bypass

Looking south into today’s low-hanging sun, from near the Kendal western bypass

Total ascent: 993 feet.

Pub at end: Kendal is a large town and I counted literally a dozen pubs on the way back in, from the top of the town at Brigsteer Road down to the train station. I had a pint in two of them, both of which were characterised by awful music and bad beer, and to save their blushes I will forebear from naming either one. As well as the pubs there are plenty of cafes and snack bars and restaurants, so I am sure you will find something to meet your tastes. Do bear in mind there are no refreshments available at Kendal railway station itself.

The Coniston range

The Coniston range, from Cunswick Scar. The Old Man on the left, then Brim Fell nearby, Swirl How and Wetherlam on the right.

Route: As most of the walks in The Outlying Fells have been so far, this is a very easy walk, with no real steepness except for the initial ascent out of Kendal, up the road of Beast Banks (and this goes up a pavement with a handrail to help the infirm). The views are excellent once more, and the top of Scout Scar an unusual place, a limestone pavement with a real sense of exposure. It’s definitely worth a day trip to Kendal to do, but as I proved can be done comfortably in half a day thus leaving you time to explore the town afterwards. Routefinding is no problem except in one spot (see below), and paths generally clear and — because limestone is pervious to water — relatively dry.

Whinfell Beacon (maybe)

Another slight guess as to the identity of the fell but I think this is Whinfell Beacon.

It is also a walk described in some detail on pages 6 and 7 of The Outlying Fells, and as I’m typing this on Christmas Day while still digesting my dinner I don’t intend to repeat route information which can be found there. There are a couple of things worth mentioning, however.

The first task is to navigate one’s way through the large and busy town of Kendal, from the railway station to where Wainwright begins his own description of the walk, that is, at the Town Hall. The answer is — come down the access ramp, bear to the left of the hotel down Wildman Street and continue along Stramongate, Finkle Street and then  bear left and you will see the Town Hall, with Allhallows Street on the right, between Oxfam and the place where you can get your mobile phone unlocked should you wish to postpone for a few minutes your commencing the walk proper.

The street of Beast Banks is then the toughest ascent you’ll face all day, but within a few minutes should be at the top, where bear right up Serpentine Road and look for the entrance to the woods, beyond the green on your left.

Kendal golf course

Crossing the golf course

When in the woods keep bearing right except where the choice looks as if it will take you downhill. After a few minutes you should see a gap in the wall, which go through onto open country, admire the view of Kendal then head left. The path will head through the wall onto the golf course, but then came the one bit at which I went wrong today, crossing the course too soon. The key thing to note is that you can see Cunswick Scar from here, and it’s the gentle rise to the right of the mobile mast visible ahead, so bear that way. I ended up too far south and having to negotiate difficult walls (though I did meet the cute cow pictured here), so ensure you stick to the right path.

Highland Cow

Highland Cow

Once you cross the bypass by the footbridge (something of a wind tunnel on the day I did it, so take care), everything should be easy after that. Cunswick Scar has a good view north but which is then lost for a little while due to being behind a wall, but look out for where it opens up again, particularly on a sunny day (or risk missing the view of the Coniston fells, pictured above). Following the path round to Scout Scar should be easy, but note you have to turn right when reaching the 4-way signpost near the road junction, rather than go straight on. Also that the path to Scout Scar leaves the road on the opposite side than where the car park is.

Go up and over the summit, keep close to the edge of the cliff (be careful… there is no protection from a fall), and then turn left once reaching the big and unmissable cairn a half mile or so south of the summit. This path takes you back over the rise in the ridge and drops you down across the old racecourse and on to the Brigsteer Road, which just follow down to the left. There are pavements most of the way down this street, but not all, so be careful at points.

Approaching Scout Scar summit

Quite a busy walk today, certainly the busiest of the ‘Outlying’ walks. Then again it is Xmas Eve. These 4 are approaching the summit shelter of Scout Scar.

This road will drop you back into Kendal and if you go straight on at the crossroads you reach (with the signs pointing back to Brigsteer the way you came), you will be back at the top of Beast Banks and in the town centre 5 minutes later.

Season’s Greetings commentary: I must admit I didn’t think I’d sneak another one in this year. The train line from Hebden Bridge to Burnley — the first leg of any journey from home to the Lake District for me — has been closed since early November, and while there are replacement buses I would still need be up at 5.15 am to make any substantial Lakes walk possible from home. Christmas at the in-laws in Morecambe has been planned for some time, and gave me a useful opportunity to bypass that obstacle, but this was the nearest walk I’ve done to the Winter Solstice and there was no guarantee of decent weather (there never is in the Lakes, anyway). So it was all a bit of a gamble.

Lancaster railway bridge

Taken on my walk from the in-laws’ to Lancaster station, crossing the River Lune beside the railway tracks. (Nothing to do with the fells, but a decent picture)

Paid off though — despite the apocalyptic weather headlines of the London-based media. After the weekend in Bowness with Joe in October, that produced walk 75 and walk 76 on two days where the national press claimed “Killer Storm Stops Britain!” — today we had “Blast Christmas” and “100mph winds to hit Britain” or something like that, yet none of that affected me. Yes, it was a bit windy and cold, but then again this was the walk so far that was nearest the winter solstice. When the sun broke through the clouds it wasn’t warming, but it gave the light the photographer in me needed, and with excellent results. So I’m glad I walked today.

Christmas Eve with a poor weather forecast meant it was wise to pick the most foolproof public transport journey possible, and I was even prepared to start or finish the walk at Oxenholme station instead of Kendal if I missed either of my connections, but it all worked out in the end.

On top of Scout Scar

On top of Scout Scar. The vegetation is very sparse up there, because it is so dry, being rooted on pervious limestone.

Anyway that’s another two done. The Outlying Fells cannot remotely compete with the main set of Wainwrights in terms of ruggedness and strain, but today’s walk was a good, honest half day’s decent exercise, one that made me feel healthy and good, and as I hope the web page proves, another one with excellent views — an aspect of fellwalking on which the outliers are firmly delivering. Next one before January is out, I hope.

And a very Merry Christmas to you all. May 2014 bring health and happiness.


One Response to “Walk 77: Scout Scar”

  1. […] public transport journey in the whole Lake District and walked from Kendal. Read about it on the walk 77 page and the Scout Scar […]

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