" " Lake District Trails and Ales: 2009

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Caw, October 26th 2009

Having done Caw myself a few weeks earlier, I was determined to take the rest of the family (including dog) up.  One of the  reasons is that we can see Caw from our cottage along with Coniston Old Man, Dow Crag, The Beacon, Blawith Knott, Tottlebank Height and Harter Fell and we obviously have to bag all of these. In fact its a challenge set for anyone who stays there over the course of a week.

We set off on the path that is signposted Seathwaite and The Newfield Inn (where we saw our Border Collie pup advertised) on the road from Broughton Mills to Seathwaite. The path starts just after a cattle grid and gate across the road under Stickle Pike. This is a very easy walk until you hit Caw itself where it rises fairly steeply. However, more fun can be had by taking a right path after about 1km up and over the tops of the fells (Broadslack) on the right hand side as you walk towards Caw (which isn't itself yet in view).  There are a couple of disused mines along the route, with sealed entrances to caves.

As you look back you get a good view of Stickle Pike and a very tempting path that rises to the top. After the first set of fells on the right hand side of the path Caw suddenly comes into view as does the Seathwaite valley. We walked up Long Mire, which is almost moor like until we hit an easy to see path up Caw.  The path near the top is less obvious, but all routes upwards lead to the top.

I have done this walk twice this year and only seen 4 people in total.  From the top of Caw you get fantastic views all around - Seathwaite, Harter Fell, Walna Scar, Conistion and back down the Crake Valley. You can see our cottage from the top. Leaving the top to the east, there is another fairly prominent pike visible. We headed for this and from the top took an off piste route down back to join Long Mire in a direction back towards the original path we came on.

For us Broughton-in-Furness is on the way back, so inevitably we stopped off for a well earned refreshment.  The only problem with Broughton, which is a great village, is which of the three excellent pubs to go to.  Today we stopped of at the Manor Arms, which looks out directly onto the square, for a couple of pints of Yates and some pork scratchings.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Coniston Old Man via Levers Water, September 16th 2009

I have mentioned before how much we like Coniston Old Man. Today was a day when I was supposed to be helping out with a bathroom refit, but the weather was so good it was an opportunity to good to miss. So with the excuse of a dog to walk I set off on a 3 hour stroll over and around the Old Man. There are so many different ways to approach this group of fells. This route starts off on the thoroughfare which leads up from the start of the Walna Scar Road, but instead of following the masses up the main route, you take a footpath on the right handside, just after the first sharp turn to the left in the main footpath, at the start of a slightly steeper ascent. 

Once again within seconds there is hardly anyone to be seen coming this way.  The path which is fairly level at this point leads to Levers Water under Brim Fell and follows it round, with Levers water being on your right hand side.

Eventually the path begins to rise, and rise quite steeply in what is a fairly direct climb to the top of Levers Hawse. At the top you instantly get a feel of the size of the range, with views back round Swirl How, over to the coast and Sellafield and to the top of the Old Man himself.  It was so tempting to wander over to Dow Crag, but given our dog was still less than 6 months old, I decided a direct descent down was needed.  So after passing the picnic hamper brigade next to the Cairn (it always amazes me that people walk over such a vast area of the Lakes and then choose to sit down about 2 metres from someone else to have there lunch), we followed the main path for a couple of hundred meters before jumping off down one of the paths to the right hand side that leads to one of the quarries.  Once again, no one to be seen. Bliss.

Eventually the path joins up with the tracks up from the Walna Scar road and back to the car.  Just time for a quick pint of the Coniston Brewing Company Special Oatmeal Stout at the Black Bull Inn before heading back to the cottage from my dog walk...

Sunday, 17 May 2009

The Langdale Pikes, April 15th 2009

Having walked with the boys for over 8 hours a couple of days ago in glorious sunshine, today was going to be have to be something special to match it.  So, what better place to go to than the beautiful Langdale Valley.  We drove into the valley via Little Langdale. This is a bit of a longer route but you get great views of the Langdale valley and Crinkle Craggs this way.  As usual, parking was tight up near the Dungeon Ghyll Hotel so we headed back in the direction of Chapel style for a kilometere or so to park up (for free!).

We have been up the Langdales a number of times, mostly up via Pavey Ark, but few times all the way up the Mickledon Valley, which forms part of the Cumbrian Way.
The way up is gentle, but quite long.  It was very tempting to turn left up Bow Fell, as the flat valley turned into a bit more of a climb.  But we were determined to stick to our plan and head up the Langdales, saving Bow Fell and Crinkle Crags for another day.  The path follows the stream up to Black Crag, with the stream to the right and after a while turns into a moor like landscape.  Once Pike of Stickle comes into view its a case of making a beeline for it across what was today particularly boggy ground.  The climb up the Stickle is the most challenging part of the route, particularly if you go for one of the least obvious routes. From here its down again before the climb up to the slighly higher Harrison's Stickle. Both these peaks provide splendid views of the valley and are as dramatic down as the view is up from ground level.  From the top of Harrison Stickle there are a number of ways down. We chose the route that has Stickle Tarn on the left, following a fairly steep but easy path down to the tarn itself. 
There are paths either side of the stream flowing from the tarn back down into the valley.  The one on the right hand side was in repair much of the way down, so we ended up hopping from one side of the stream to the other.  The descent is much quicker than the long flat route in the Mickledon Valley, but its good to do both so this becomes a circular walk. Inevitably at the bottom there was time to reflect on the day with a swift pint and some pork scratchings sitting outside the New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel Walker's bar. We weren't the only ones....

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Helm Crag, April 11th 2009

This walk was a difficult walk for us as it was our first walk since our 16 year old Rough Collie was put to sleep earlier in the month. We knew before we set off that walking in the Lakes would not be the same without our dog, even though he had missed the last few walks due to old age. You simply get used to them being there, and its hard, very hard, when they are not.
Once again though we had wonderful weather for a walk up Helm Crag. We parked on the verge on the main road as Grasmere is always jampacked with cars.  A brisk walk towards the village and then a left after a bridge takes you onto a footpath that follows the stream until it rejoins the road that heads up the Easdale valley. Ahead lies Helm Crag, in all its glory, with a lovely ridge way walk over Gibson's Knott and Pike of Carrs. After a shortish walk along the road, we took a right turn to start our walk up the crag.  The walk up provides superb views back over Grasmere water and Loufrigg fell. 
At the top the boys scrambled up the Howitzer, which looks nothing from ground level, but pretty substantial when close up.  From the top, you get a good view down the Dunmail valley. We carried along the ridge walk at the top before decending down a path into the Easdale valley, where there is a lovely walk which follows the stream back down the valley back into Grasmere.  One thing we all agreed was that we needed to get another dog, as something was missing from the whole experience.  We knew what breed we wanted, but the challenge would be finding one (and a puppy this time), as our previous dog was reared elsewhere and came with some difficult habits.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Coniston Old Man and Dow Crag, April 12th 2009

Today was going to be interesting. Just how far can a 4 year old (and a 10 year old brother) actually walk....uphill. Well as we were about to find out, not just today, but over the next few days....a long way, in fact more than most people we met on the way. Part of the incentive for our youngest son to climb is finding money at the top on Cairns which he believes I have left there on previous climbs. It works a treat.

The weather was outstandingly good and it was only April. A shorts and t-shirt day if ever there was one. This was my second trip up Coniston this year, and surely not the last. We decided on the main route up past Low Water, not sure how far we would get.  After a couple of hours, and after a couple of detours into the old mine areas we found ourselves at the top still in glorious weather with Dow Crag calling us over.

The walk along the top of Dow Crag was spectacular. After a bit of off piste we evetually joined the Walna Scar Road for the decent back into Coniston. All in all it takes one hell of a day to beat today. Fantastic weather, Fantastic views, Fantastic scenery, Fantastic company. I'm so proud of my sons to walk for a good six hours. And to cap it all.....yes ...a pint of Old Man Ale at the Black Bull to finish off the day.  Next challenge for them has to be the Langdales.

Monday, 5 January 2009

Coniston Old Man - New Years Day 2009

The Coniston Old Man Range is probably my favourite mountain range. Firstly around Coniston it is generally much quieter than some other areas of the lakes. Secondly we can see the Old Man Range from our cottage, so we have a personal connection.

What better way to start the new year then than with a brisk ascent up an icy Old Man at a time when few tourists would be on the main trail.

So with the temperature -3 degrees outside, we scraped off the ice from the windscreen and drove the 10 minute journey to the foot of the Old Man. Despite the ice on the steep road that leads up to the start of the path, we managed to get up and get parked in a surprisingly empty car parking area near the start of the Walna Scar Road. The only difficulty was the ice on the ground making it treacherous in places. Its cold and windy but bearable.

We ascended the Old Man via the well trodden footpath that winds it way up to Low water. We have climbed the Old Man many times and although this way is a bit of a thoroughfare, and seen many a pair of stilletos in the summer, it still has plenty to offer, particularly for kids becuase of the disused mine workings encountered on the way up.

Low water was frozen and ideal for skating on. Its then only a 15 minute blast to the top up a somewhat steeper path.

For those not staying at the Windermere Butlins Holiday Camp, the walk over the ridges beyond the summit is fantastic, either over Dow Crag and back down the Walna Scar road or round Swirl Howe and across Wetherlam.