Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Wainwright's - Knott Rigg and Ard Crags

Located to the south of Causey Pike and Sail, Knott Rigg and Ard Crags hold a wonderful position above the Newlands Valley.  At 556m and 581m respectively they are not high mountains by any means, but what they lack in stature they make up for in their outlook.

The original plan was to do these as part of a circlular walk, but with a rainy morning forecast we decided to climb Knott Rigg from Newlands Hause and do a simple out and back to Ard Crags along the ridge.

The steep pull straight from the car onto Knott Rigg certainly woke up our lungs and legs, but at least we had perfect excuse to stop in the form of the wonderful Moss Force in spate to look at.

Moss Force and Newlands Hause

Regular stops to stand and stare (the sheep seemed to have the same idea) meant we did not feel too taxed despite a couple of false summits tricking us into thinking we were progressing faster than we were. 

Once on the summit, and with the steepest of the climbing over, we sat and surveyed our onward route over a cup of coffee. A lot of the high hills to the south were either in cloud, or were obscured by curtains of rain, but looking along the ridge towards Ard Crags and beyond to Blencathra we could see the cloud there was beginning to thin. 

The Summit of Knott Rigg and the View Towards Blencathra

To the east the weather looked to be improving too and while Helvellyn was cloud capped a few breaks were appearing over Clough Head.   This was nothing like the forecast rain, so we were more than happy with the forecast being wrong so far.   That said by the time we had finished our drinks we ready to get moving as the wind had a real autumnal edge to it.

The way to Ard Crags involved a short down, before the route climbed up towards its summit.  On the way we met a couple who had passed us while we were having our coffee. Stephen and Sharon it turned out also lived in County Durham. 

Ard Crags from Knott Rigg

The rest of the ascent went mostly unnoticed, as we wandered along chatting about the weather, photography and mountains in general.  
While on the summit the sun decided to make an appearance, causing a few isolated patches of still flowering heather we hadn’t even noticed earlier to glow like warm coals.  Against a backdrop of brooding fells and emerald coloured fields the view was spectacular.

Warmed by the sun and still chatting about this and that we spent a while on the summit setting up a couple of photo poses.

A short while later they headed off to complete their circular walk and we retraced our steps back to the car and had a quick wander up to Moss Force.

Moss Force

That’s 87 Wainwright’s left to go.  Next target is to get into the 70’s.

Saturday, 15 September 2018

High Hartsop Dodd and Little Hart Crag. Adding another “Tick” to the Wainwright’s

High Hartsop Dodd has a wonderful mountain profile when viewed from Sykeside, yet despite its obvious attractions this was the only hill in the Brothers Water area we had yet to climb.  I am not sure why we have left it till last, but assume it was the attractions of loftier and craggier neighbours like Dove Crag that have enticed us away.

High Hartsop Dodd on a sunny day

With regard to Little Hart Crag we have made the short detour to its summit a few times while heading to and from Scandale Pass, simply because it makes a grand viewpoint.  Little Hart Crag incidentally is the highest point of the ridge that continues above High Hartsop Dodd, making today a two Wainwright walk, but only one new tick. 

Waking to rain rattling on the roof of our campervan and with all of the tops clagged in, we did not really feel like doing these two tops as part of a longer walk taking in Dove Crag, so instead decided on a short day which would take us directly up the nose of High Hartsop Dodd and then along the ridge to Little Hart Crag.  The return would be via Scandale Pass and Caiston Glen.  That’s only a distance of 7.5 K, but given the conditions it would keep us entertained until early afternoon.

Accompanied by friends G&S we took the track from the Sykeside campsite up to Hartsop Hall and then headed over the fields. As the climbing started so did a light drizzle, but rather than keeping us cool it left us feeling rather hot and muggy in our waterproofs. 

The lower slopes

It was a bit of a relief when the wind got up as we reached a wall crossing the ridge at right angles. That relief however, was rather short lived as the view disappeared and it began to rain harder.

Gear faff just as the rain came in.

The view towards Brothers Water and Angle Tarn Pikes.

The summit of High Harstop Dodd soon came - and went – as did the summit of Little Hart Crag.  

Summit cairn on High Hartsop Dodd

No views at all from Little Hart Crag

With zero view we sat in the lee of some rocks near the summit and had something to eat and drink.  By the time we had finished the rain was hammering down and streaming off our waterproofs.

With visibility now down to a few feet, we located the metal boundary fence and then followed this south to Scandale Pass.  From here it was a damp splodge down Caiston Glen.  Almost at the bottom the rain stopped, the clouds cleared and the sun shone on the tops we had just visited.  Ahh well you can’t win em all.  At least we were able to grab a pint of Wainwright’s in the pub to console ourselves.

Oh, and I picked up a horrible little hitchhiker on my side, although that did not become apparent until the day after.

Not sure if it was on my kit and then got onto me the next day
or whether it was there overnight. No bulls-eye rash yet so fingers crossed.

89 Wainwrights left to go. 

Sunday, 9 September 2018

Wainwright's - High Pike and Binsey.

After last week’s Skiddaw round we only had two Wainwright’s left to do in the Northern section – namely High Pike and Binsey.  The problem was they were at opposite sides of the Uldale and Caldbeck Fells. 

Neither of these hills warranted a full day on their own so we originally planned to bag High Pike and perhaps head over to Carrock Fell again, (we have been onto the latter several times) to make a good days circular walk.  We would then leave Binsey for another day.
A poor weather forecast on the day meant that most of the high tops would be in cloud, so in the end we decided to go for High Pike on its own and if we felt OK once we got back down, we would drive around to Binsey.

Parking near Carrock Beck on the eastern side of High Pike we headed up via Driggeth Mines and the southern slopes of Low Pike.  Occasionally the sun broke through creating some atmospheric conditions, but it didn't last.

Carrock Fell from Driggeth Mines

Atmospheric skies above Carrock Fell with Great Mell Fell just visible through the murk

As expected High Pike was in cloud so we only stayed long enough for a few pics and a bite to eat in the rocky shelter just to the east.  It was still a great walk though, and the first hill of the summer we have not had a view from.

The Summit of High Pike

Returning via Low Pike and West Fell we got back to the car just before noon, leaving us plenty of time for Binsey.

The clouds were just starting to break up and by the time we reached the high road beyond Calbeck,  the Skiddaw range was looking spectacular as cloud spilled over the summit and down its flanks.

Skiddaw from the Uldale Road

The walk up onto Binsey went quickly and we were on the top 40 minutes later.  For a diminutive little hill it is a great viewpoint and one I would happily do again.  

Binsey Summit

We explored the top and had a look at the Tumulus, but all of the time our eyes were drawn across the valley towards Skiddaw.  Raked by shafts of light and with her summit shrouded by swirling cloud Skiddaw looked spectacular.

Skiddaw and Bassenthwaite Lake

So that’s all of the Northern Wainwright’s completed.  It has been great fun revisiting some fells and enjoying others we would probably not have bothered with.  We will certainly be revisiting some of them again.   

That leaves us with 90 Wainwright’s to do.

© David Forster

Monday, 3 September 2018

Skiddaw Round and a Hill Too Far – Dodd, Carl Side, Skiddaw, Little Man, Longside Edge and Bakestall.

We only have 6 Wainwright’s to do in order to complete all of the Wainwright’s in the Northern Fells.  Namely, High Pike, Binsey, Bakestall, Low Man, Lonscale Fell, and Dodd.  Of these High Pike, Binsey and Bakstall would probably have to be done as single hills, but on the map it looked like the others could linked together, albeit with a longish road walk.

Parking at the top of the Gale road in the Lattrigg car park we decided to get the road walking out of the way and go for Dodd first.  Fortunately the road below the Skiddaw range is nice and quiet with some great views south over Derwent Water and Braithwaite. 
The view towards the Coledale valley with Force Crag in the centre.

Passing through the quiet villages of Applethwaite and Millbeck, we took the Allerdale Ramble path up through deep bracken until we reached the edge of Thornthwaite Forest.

Not keen on these deep bracken paths. Ticks love these places.

After a short distance we entered an area that was being clear felled.  Here the ground was churned up so much we found it difficult to work out where the right of way went.  In the end we opted for a rather circuitous route following the forest roads instead. Once on the summit of Dodd we had a break and passed the time naming the hills while we drank our coffee.  It was quite satisfying to note we had stood on a fair few of them already.

The summit of Dodd with Little Man behind

Moving on our next goal was Carl Side, which was climbed via White Stones. Here we fell in behind a large group about to tackle the loose path up onto Skiddaw.  

Carlside with the path up on to Skiddaw ahead.
Frequent stops by us meant the group soon disappeared ahead and we were left to enjoy the views.

Carl Side Ahead

Longside Edge (Longside and Ullock Pike)

Being a Bank Holiday the summit of Skiddaw was busy so we did not hang around.  

Bassenthwaite Lake from the Summit of Skiddaw

At this point we should have headed off towards Little Man, but after getting a good look at the ground to the north of Skiddaw I suggested we could perhaps bag Bakestall.  Yes it would mean losing and regaining a lot of height, but it would at least mean we got an extra hill out of the day.   We also noticed that on the return, rather than re-ascend back over the summit of Skiddaw, we could instead traverse below it along a fence line which would bring us out in the col between Little Man and Skiddaw itself.  Moira was keen too and with plan hatched we dropped down to Bakestall.    

Bakestall itself is a pleasant summit with great views and with hindsight it is a hill we should really have left for another day.  It seemed a shame just to bag the hill for the sake of it, particularly so as the route up via Whitewater Dash falls offers a fine walk.  It’s a hill we fully intend to revisit and do justice to in the future.

The North top of Bakestall from the summit

Binsey and the view across the Solway Firth to the Scottish hills of Dumfries and Galloway from the North top.

The return felt a bit of a slog but eventually we reached the fence and began to follow it.  After a few hundred meters we had to lose some height where the upper reaches of the River Caldew cuts into the flank of Skiddaw.  The ground sloped quite steeply here placing all of the pressure on the downward foot. It made for some awkward walking, so by the time we had climbed up to the col and the path below Little Man, our aching knees suggested the short cut was not such a good idea after all.

The summit of Little Man was a great viewpoint, but it was fair to say we were starting to feel the miles a bit.  From here we could at least see that the route onto Lonscale Fell was straightforward.

Clough Head and the Dodds from Little Man

It was just as well, by the time we had crossed over Lesser Man and reached Lonscale Fell we knew we had done one hill too many.

Cairn on Lesser Man with the view towards Lonscale Fell (middle left of the cairn)

Cairn on Lonscale fell

The descent down to the main path involved a bit more traversing, but at least with the last hill of the day bagged we were in no hurry.  After this it was just a case of following the well-worn Skiddaw path past the Hawell Monument back to the car. 

Shepherds Cross with the descent path beyond (Hawell Monument). 

Judging by how much we ached and how stiff we were after the drive home it is safe to say that in hindsight we should definitely have left Bakestall for another day.

Anyway with the 4 new Wainwright’s of Dodd, Bakestall, Little Man, and Lonscale Fell bagged that leaves us 92 to go.  A couple more trips should take us into the 80’s. 

© David Forster