" " Lake District Trails and Ales: 2010

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Harter Fell, August 30th 2010

Harter Fell is (or was) the last fell that we can see from our cottage that we hadn't yet climbed, so this was the one we wanted to "bag" for some time.  It sits majestically in the distance, appearing like the top of pyramid, nestled behind the Old Man Range and Caw. We drove from Lowick towards Ulpha and then cut across Birker Fell into Eskdale until we reached the Woolpack Inn.  There is parking at the Woolpack Inn, but we decided to go on a little further to a parking area opposite Wha House Farm. From there we walked down the road in the direction of Hardkott pass, watching the cars having fun negotiating the ascent and descent.  After a couple of hundred metres there is a footpath, by the stream that leads away from the road.

This eventually turns left and follows the base of the Harter fell until it reaches a footpath that doubles back and takes you up the fell itself. It is possible to reach the Roman ruins along this original path, but we decided to head directly up.

The climb is fairly easy going as there is a good path, however it can get boggy as you approach the path that heads off to left to the summit. I read in a book somewhere that your natural instict is to keep following the path you are on over the pass and into the Dunnerdale valley. Don't! It is pretty obvious that you need to take the path to the left to the highest point as the  footpath approaches a wall with a stream.  The path to the summit is quite a bit steeper, but not too challenging.  It is well worth it as the views from the top are superb in all directions.  There is a excellent perspective of Scafell and Scafell Pike and back down the beautiful Eskdale Valley.

There is the added bonus of a couple of rock mounds at the top which add an extra bit of fun to climb. 

 We decended back down the same path until we met the wall and stream again.

At this point we crossed over the wall and took the path back to Penny Hill farm to make this a circular walk.  From the farm its a short walk on a narrow lane back to the main road and a pint in the Woolpack Arms.
We drove back over Hardknott Pass, as the sun was setting and then back through Little Langdale and Coniston to get home. Another fabulous day.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Swinside Stone Circle and Stickle Pike, June 3rd 2010

Another week with the boys in the Lakes. In the aftermath of the shootings in Cumbria yesterday it is unbelievable to think that such a thing could happen in a part of the Lakes that is so quiet. Today we decided we had to visit the Swinside Stone circle as we had never been before. A friend, Ged, was taken there by Derry Brabbs (one of the country's finest landscape photographers and who did the photography for Fellwalking with Wainwright) on a photgraphic workshop, and he recommended it.  So with map in hand we headed off to a small lay by, large enough for a couple of cars, at the start of the path next to Cragg Hall.

Unless you drive over Thwaite Fell southwards you can't actually see the stone cirle from the car.  Apparently its possible to do a circular walk by heading up towards Fenwick, but we decided on the direct assualt.  The walk is very easy going on a path, passing through a field of cows, and over a couple of cattle grids. After a couple of kilometres the circle becomes visible, but it is only when you get up close, that it becomes really impressive. We have been to the Birkrigg Stone Circle many times, but this is much bigger. With views over fells rising to Black Combe its a great place to be on a warm and sunny day.
The cattle grids help to focus the mind. As you can see it requires intense concentration. Once back at the car we headed off for another quick ascent to justify stopping off at a watering hole on the way back to the cottage. 

We decided we would do Stickle Pike in the beautiful and quiet Dunnderdale valley. Driving up the valley from Broughton Mills we stopped off at the top of the pass, just past the start of the path to Seathwaite (and Caw).  Crossing the road we started our ascent, the three of us with Jess our border collie.  There is a small tarn half way up so we stopped for a short while. As usual Jess sloped off over the top of a rocky crag out of view.  The wind was blowing quite hard but the next thing we heard were some really loud shrieks, obviously from Jess. With the wind we couldn't tell where they were coming from so we all started shouting his name. After about 30 seconds the squealing stopped and about 30 seconds later Jess repeared on the path on the far side of the tarn, limping really badly. We thought that was it, so we rested for about 30 mins until his leg appeared slightly better. There was no visible damage. To this day we do not know what happened. He either fell off a cliff face, got trapped in some rock or got a good hiding from some sheep if he was annoying them. We carried on and soon reached the top, with Jess walking much better.  The views from the top are great in all direction on a clear day.  We headed back to the car and to the Manor Arms in Broughton for our well deserved refreshments, with a bag of Pork Scratchings for Jess.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Huntingstile Crag and Dow Bank, Elterwater, February 20th 2010

Having been in the Langdale valley a couple of days earlier and driving back on the Elterwater road I noticed how remarkably quiet it was in and around Elterwater given it was the school holidays. So with that factored in and the Britinnia Inn in Elterwater to replenish any lost fluid after a walk, I decided we should go for a stroll in this area. Our border collie had been to the hairdressers in the morning so we were off to a late start.We parked on the verge of the main road and headed away from Elterwater towards Grasmere. From here you can see Huntingstile Crag and Down Bank, and a nice little ridge walk which can be reached for very little effort. This walk doesn't seem to be on any obvious walking site. In fact we only saw two other groups of people en route. I'm sure that's very different in the summer.

Within a few minutes we were gaining height, having walked across a fairly flat stretch of green in the valley.  From the top of Huntingstile Crag you get views of Grasmere, Loughrigg, Helm Crag, Helvellyn as well as as a glimpse of the Langdale Valley.  Even at this height of only a couple of hundred metres we were in the snow. There was nothing in the valley.  Snow was visible on the peaks in the Langdales also.  From this first cairn there is a pretty obvious route past a small tarn to a couple more peaks which are slightly higher.  You can also see how easy it would be to carry on walking beyond Down Bank to Swirl How. The path is obvious and you stay high up all the way. 

After a couple of snowball fights we headed off Down Bank in a northerly direction and then gradually headed back down into Elterwater on a path that made the water circular. This time cutting across the front of the fells back into the valley. The walk was  about an hour and half in total. Upon our return we headed to the Brittania Inn for a pint from the local Tirrel Brewery. The main bar area is small but cosy. I doubt you fit in as easily on a summer's day as Elterwater is such a popular area.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Microbreweries in Cumbria

Abraham Thompson

Barngates Brewery
Beckstones
Bitter End Brewery
Coniston Brewing Company
Dent Brewery
Derwent Brewery
Foxfield Brewery
Geltsdale
Great Gable Brewing Co.
Hawkshead Brewery
Hardknott
Hesket Newmarket Brewery
Jennings Brewery
Keswick
Kirby Lonsdale
Loweswater Brewery
Strands Hotel - Nether Wasdale
Stringers
Tirril Brewery
Ulverston Brewing Company
Watermill Ings Brewery
Whitehaven Brewing Company
Yates Brewery

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Blawith Knott, New Years Day - 2010

With there being so much snow and ice this Christmas in the Lakes for our traditional new year's day walk we decided to stay low and go for an old favourite. The Western Blawith Fells (Blawith Knott and Tottlebank Height) are not particularly challenging, but for very little effort you get fantastic views of all of South Lakeland, Black Combe, Great Burney, the Duddon Valley and the coast. Best of all, this beautiful part of the lakes  is pretty much off the main tourist trail (see our trips up Caw as an example).

You can walk for miles and miles on the Blawith fells, in fact all the way to Coniston (even via The Beacon which can be a day out in itself), and somedays not see anybody else at all on the trails.

There are parking places near the foot of Blawith Knott. A small stream coincides with the start of a path, but the ascent is obvious due to tyre tracks left by illegally ridden motorbikes on the fells.

If you see any motorcyclists on the fells, point out to them that they appear to have veered off the road, wait for them to next fall off and then walk all over them, apologising for inadvertantly straying from the path you should have been on.

Looking back from here you get a fantastic view of Black Combe and White Combe. After a 10 minute climb you are soon at the top of the first fell. The path then descends and continues towards the second fell, passing a small tarn (Lang tarn) on the way. The tarn was frozen solid and a great place to have a bit of a mess around with our border collie and the boys. The tarn is small and shallow so is a safe place for a bit of ice skating.


From there, a few footpaths that take you to the top of Tottlebank Height, or you can continue along the main footpath and continue right round the fell until you reach a farm, where you join a track that takes you all the way back to the start. This is a very easy but very enjoyable circular walk. You get fantastic sweeping views as you are on the south west edge of the mountain ranges.