Friday, 26 April 2019

Wainwright’s - Beda Fell and The Nab

Of all the Wainwright’s the Nab was one I wasn’t particularly looking forward to. This is a hill where access restrictions are in place due to deer management and conservation.  Frustratingly despite this being open access land the walker is discouraged from accessing the fell by any of the shorter approaches/descents.  Instead you are expected to access it from the south via boggiest and longest routes possible. When deer management is taking place (being shot) between September and February then the whole area may even be closed to walkers.

Being outside of the culling season, but still I assume with restrictions in place ,our plan was to climb Beda Fell and then work our way around the head of the valley via Angle tarn and then access the Nab via the western shoulder of Rest Dodd. 

Sign near the church.

Parking beside St Martin’s Church, which unfortunately was locked at this time of a morning, we made our way over Christy Bridge to take the path leading onto Howstead Brow.

St Martins Church

Christy Bridge with Beda Fell ahead

Howe Grain Beck with the View towards the Nab (centre)

Here there was a handy seat with good views towards Hallin Fell, Gowbarrow Fell and Place Fell, among others.

Hallin Fell from the Seat on Howstead Brow

Next we climbed up to Winter Crag. 

Moira on Winter Crag with the view towards the summit of Beda Fell (Beda Head). The summit is just left of centre.  The north top is to the right.

From Winter Crag it was a steady pull up to a prominent cairn which marks the north top of Beda Fell.  

Cairn on the north top and the view west towards Boredale Hause and Fairfield. Place Fell is to the right of the cairn

The actual summit of the fell at Beda Head is quite a bit further south.

The summit from the north top. 
The summit soon came and gave us some good views north over Ullswater.

The summit cairn with Ullswater below and from (L-R) Gowbarrow, Great and Little Mell Fell and Hallin Fell.


From the summit the Nab looked a long way off and considering we had to make our way around the head of the valley it looked like it would be a quite an effort, especially so if we had to retrace our steps for a good part of the way. 

The view south towards the head of Bannerdale with Rest Dodd on the left.  We planned to traverse around the head of the valley and then cut just below the summit of Rest Dodd to reach the Nab which is just out of shot to the left

For Moira and I being in the hills is not just about exercise and ticking off summits, we also like to explore a little. In particular we always keep an eye out for wildlife, or detour to seek out places with some geological or historical interest.  Some time ago I had read of a plane that had crashed up here during the Second World War. The aircraft, a Lockheed Hudson MK 5 (Serial Number AM680) came down here on 10th November 1942 while on a night navigation exercise.  

Initial searches for the aircraft from the air were unsuccessful due to poor weather, but late the following day the aircraft was found by searchers on the ground.  Sadly none of the crew, John Frederick Saunders (Pilot), Derric Isaac Jones (Navigator/Air Bomber), Stanley Alfred Jones (Wireless Operator/Air Gunner) and Harold Dickinson (Wireless Operator/Air Gunner) survived the crash.

There is no memorial so I doubt many walkers would be aware of their sacrifice, but as we were to walk within a few hundred metres of the crash site we decided to stop off and pay our respects.  

Not much remains now other than a few small pieces of aircraft where the aircraft impacted the hillside. If you walk this way perhaps you could spare a few moments to remember to the crew as you pass by.

Wreckage from the aircraft with the summit behind

Making our way around the head of the valley we passed Angle Tarn, but decided to miss out the summits of the nearby Angle Tarn Pikes and Rest Dodd as we had done these previously. 

Angle Tarn and the view towards Helvellyn and the Dodds

Angle Tarn from the slopes of Rest Dodd

Traversing across to the northern side of Rest Dodd we eventually found ourselves looking over some very boggy looking peat hags between us and the Nab.

The Nab with its peat hags and bogs guarding the way

This section is notorious for its boggy qualities but fortunately the recent dry weather meant the boggy sections were not too bad and our feet stayed dry.  In the heat it was still a bit of a slog to the summit though.  

The summit of the Nab with Beda Fell and the Helvellyn range beyond


To get back down it was a choice of either retracing our steps all the way back up to Rest Dodd and then around the head of the valley, or a much easier and rather more pleasing route down the open access land to the valley floor.

Back at the car we had a look around the old church and then headed outside to look at the ancient Yew tree which is thought to be at least 1300 years old. 

Carved altar table

The ancient Yew with the tomb of Richard Birkett who was the first priest of St Martin’s in its shade

All in all a cracking walk, even if we did not see a single deer all day!.

That leaves 63 left to do. 

Tuesday, 23 April 2019

Wainwright's – Silver How, Blea Rigg, Sergeant Man, High Raise and Tarn Crag

Yet another of those rounds where we knew we had done some of the other hills before, namely Tarn Crag and Sergeant Man, but as we did not have any photos or dates of ascent a revisit had to be made. 

This would be a biggish day for us and unsure of our fitness we planned a couple of escape routes down to Easedale Tarn if needed.

An early start found us wandering through Grasmere village just after 7.30am. Ahead we could see our first hill of the day - Silver How

Silver How from Grasmere

The hike up to Silver How via the track leading from Red Bank road seemed hard work at first, but by the time we reached the path junction leading up to the summit we had got our second wind.  

Looking back towards Grasmere from the Silver How path.

The summit of Silver How with the View towards Helm Crag (R)
Despite the sunny spells it was bitterly cold on top so we scurried across towards Blea Rigg via some lovely tarns.  

Moira crossing below Lang How
Skirting the impressive wee hill of Lang How and several more small tarns we eventually found our way onto the craggy summit of Blea Rigg.

Blea Rigg from one of the craggy high points 
From Blea Rigg we could have worked our way across to Tarn Crag to cut the day short, but feeling fairly good we decided to do the longer round and started making our way to Sergeant Crag.  On the way we found a sheltered spot for a break which gave good views of Harrison Stickle and Pavey Ark.

Harrison Stickle and Pavey Ark from the Blea Rigg to Sergeant Man path
Moving on we threaded our way between small hills and crags before working our way up to the summit of Sergeant Man.  On top we met a couple doing their first ever hill.  They said they had got a bit lost on the way.  By their own admission they did not have a map, or compass and were just using an article torn out of Trail magazine and a phone to navigate! 

Sergeant Man with Coldale Head beyond
We have been on High Raise several times but given the good visibility we had a wander over to take in the views.  

High Raise with the view west
Just as I reached the trig and lady came up to me and asked if I was heading to Grasmere.  I pointed the way we had come and said Grasmere is that way.  She looked surprised and said oh I thought it was that way as she pointed in the opposite direction.  I could of course see how that mistake could be made if you were navigating with just a guidebook, which was all she appeared to be using.   Pointing to Sergeant Man I said perhaps the easiest way would be to head to that and then follow the path to the left of it down to the tarns.  “Oh dear” she said, “I think I have got myself a bit confused I actually came up that way”.  I was going to add that she could follow us back towards Codale Head and we would show her the path, but she tootled off before I could say anything. 

After wandering around and grabbing a few pics we followed the remains of an old boundary fence towards Codale Head. 

Sergeant Man from Codale Head

From here we began working our way down through rough ground and up onto Tarn Crag.

View down towards Grasmere from Tarn Crag

While there we had a wander over to another cairn from which we had good views over Easedale Tarn towards Windermere.

Cairn above Easedale Tarn

Easdale Tarn from just below the Cairn
Dropping down we then trended rightwards across boggy ground to cross Sourmilk Gill a couple of hundred metres below the outlet of Easedale tarn.  

The main path was then followed down Easedale and then into Grasmere.

That's 5 Wainwright’ completed but only 4 new ticks. That leaves 65 left to do

Thursday, 18 April 2019

Wainwright's - Glaramara and Bessyboot

This walk was yet another of those walks where we had done one Wainwright, but not the other.  We could of course have just bagged Bessyboot in a morning, but given how nice the weather was it seemed shame not to include Glaramara. 

Under blue skies we made our way from Chapel House Farm along the road and up towards Thornythwaite Fell. 

It was chilly in the valley but as we gained height in the sun we soon had to get rid of a few layers.

Borrowdale from the path onto Thornythwaite Fell

As conditions were dry we scrambled up onto the summit via the niche route. 

Niche route and the view west

The summit has several high points with cairns and in mist it would be easy to mistake one or the other as the summit.  We visited them all and on a day like today why wouldn't you, the views were spectacular.

Westerly top. (L to R) Great End, Lingmell, with a snow capped Great Gable, Green Gable and Pillar. Not sure what the distant hills are in the center.  Possibly Yewbarrow in the foreground blending in with Seatallan the pointed bit.

Westerly top with cracking views towards Great Gable and beyond

The central top with the view north.  The summit is to the right.

From the summit of Glaramara we headed south a bit to avoid the crags before heading diagonally across the flanks of Combe Head towards the top of Combe Door.  From up here we could clearly see the ground we would be passing over to get to Bessyboot.  With all the crags, tarns and ups and downs, it is easy to see why it is a popular spot for navigation assessments and training.

Rosthwaite Fell and the ground we had to cover to get to Bessyboot

After a short stop we made our way over towards Bessyboot via Rossthwiate Fell, passing several glassy tarns on the way.    

One of the many tarns. 
The final ascent onto Bessyboot from Tarn at Leaves while short was rather draining energy wise.   It was at this point I also realised that as the only one daft enough to come out without a hat I had a badly sunburned face and head.

Happy if rather frazzled Bessyboot

A snow capped Skiddaw from Bessyboot

Back at the Tarn we followed the upper section of Rottenstone Gill before traversing around the lower flanks of Bessyboot and Buck How to take us back to our start point.

So that’s 2 Wainwright’s done but only Bessyboot is a new tick. 69/214 left to do.

Sunday, 7 April 2019

Wainwright’s - Ling Fell and Sale Fell

With only Ling Fell and Sale Fell left to do in the North Western area we couldn’t resist heading over to tidy things up.

Despite being on either side of the valley neither hill takes very long so we just planned to head up Ling Fell, return to the car and then head up Sale Fell. 

After parking at Brumston Bridge we headed back along the road to climb Ling Fell first.
Easy if rather steep walking left us with rather wobbly legs as we made our way up the fell to the summit trig.

Sale Fell from the upper slopes of Ling Fell

Despite the lack of height (373m) the views up here were really good and we could see right across the Solway Firth to the Scottish hills of Dumfries and Galloway.

The Solway Firth with the mountains of Dumfries and Galloway on the horizon.

The mountain Criffel in Dumfries and Galloway

Back at the car we dumped off most of our kit and headed up Sale Fell via its west ridge.  

Ling Fell from the start of the climb onto Sale Fell
The summit arrived without too much effort.

Moira approaching the summit area

It was tempting to explore the area a bit and return via a more roundabout route but in the end we took the lazy option and had our lunch just below the summit before dawdling back to the car.

That’s the Northwest section finished, leaving us 70 left to do

Monday, 1 April 2019

Wainwrights - Whiteless Pike and Rannerdale Knotts

After a rather long layoff from the mountains we needed a couple that we could bag without pushing ourselves too much.  Set above Buttermere these two fitted the bill perfectly.

Parking in the Mill Bank lay-by we headed down into the village before taking the footpath opposite Crag Houses up onto the open fellside.  Looking back we had cracking views across Buttermere to Red Pike, High Stile and High Crag.

Red Pike (R) In cloud with Dodd just in front), High Stile (L of Centre) and High Crag (L) across Buttermere

Once on the open fell there were lots of paths leading in the general direction we needed to go, so we just chose one that headed in the general direction of Whiteless Breast, a small top on the broad ridge leading to Whiteless Pike.

On the way we noted where the path branched left to Rannerale Knotts as we would be returning to here to climb that once we had done Whiteless Pike. 

In no hurry we made a short detour onto the top Whiteless Breast to have a cup of coffee and enjoy the view. On the way up we had been chilled by a constant cold wind, but once in the shelter of some rocks we enjoyed some spring warmth.

The View from Whiteless Breast with Rannerdale Knotts ahead and Mellbreak rising steeply up from the far side of Crummock Water

It felt like hard work as way made our way steeply up to the summit of Whiteless Pike, but the effort was soon forgotten as we took in the view.

Moira approaching the summit of Whiteless Pike with the view over Crummock Water

A very strong cold wind meant we did not linger to long and after a few pics we made our way down via our route of ascent. 

Some wonderful light began to rake the valley as we made our way down

The wind which had pestered us all day dropped as we reached the path onto Rannerdale Knotts so we had a nice pleasant wander along the ridge to the summit at its western end. 

Summit cairn on Rannerdale Knotts

Mellbreak dominating the view across Crummock Water
Return was via our route of ascent.

That leaves us with 2 left to do in the North West area (Sale and Ling Fell) and overall leaves us 72 of 214 to go.

Text/images © David Forster