Saturday, 2 February 2019

Skiddaw in Snow

Distance 14 miles
Ascent 1125m
Weather: cold and clear

A birthday weekend stay at the Keswick Hotel, it had snowed recently but the weather forecast was for a clear, dry day, so we packed up a million coats and masses of packed lunch and headed off up to Skiddaw to enjoy the snow.

The path out of town was dry, becoming a little icy through Latrigg Woods and then pretty much snow covered by the time we reached the car park and gate on to the fells. A steady stream of walkers were heading up the path alongside Whit Beck, there were less takers for the path over to Little Man. Here it began to get windier and much, much colder. From Little Man we dropped down and up to Skiddaw summit, which was shrouded in a cold cloud of wind-blown snow.

Continuing northwards, the way was much less travelled and we followed deep footholes in the snow by the side of a white snow covered fence to the edge at Bakestall. Here we were at the edge of the hills, with views over to the sea and Scotland. The descent down Birkett Edge was very snowy, very steep. Once at the bottom we walked along the easy path for a while before stopping for lunch by the side of the path, the shelter from the wind and sun on our backs very welcome. I didn't eat much as I was feeling a bit queasy, possibly from the exertion most likely from my cold that with great timing had just started yesterday.

Setting off again after lunch it took a while for feet to warm up again. We passed Skiddaw House hostel and then along the Cumbria Way south. It was somewhere along here at nearly 4pm that we passed a group of walkers coming the other way, and the leading walker with a mobile phone in her hand asked us how long it would take to get to the top. What top? Skiddaw. I don't think they appreciated our answer.

The sun was setting and the snowy hills glowing pink as we came around Lonscale Fell and down the path back to Keswick. We kept our spikes on a while as the path was frozen and icy. I thought that I'd lost the lens cap off my new wide angle lens but by some miracle someone found it in the hotel and left it on a windowsill.

Friday, 28 December 2018

Coniston to Ambleside

Distance 12 miles
Ascent 550m
Weather overcast
Other takers for the open top bus 0
Fog, dogs (some with no legs)

Our plan had been to get buses from Bowness to Coniston and then walk through Grizedale Forest to catch the ferry across Windermere back to Bowness. However we found out, while on the bus, that the ferry service had been suspended due to lack of visibility. It was pretty foggy.

So a hasty change of plan required, we decided to walk back to Ambleside along the Cumbria Way. It was pretty quiet to begin with, just us and the herdies. Tarn Howes was quite busy and Skelwith Bridge was heaving. We sat on the rocks by the side of the river for lunch, a veritable yellow-sticker feast.

There were tiny patches of blue sky as we headed up over Loughrigg Pass (as it shall be known henceforth) and it looked like the mist might be clearing but it wasn't, we were just in clear air surrounded on all sides by clouds.

We caught the next bus from Ambleside to Windermere, and then walked along Longlands Road, arriving back at about 4.30pm.

Tuesday, 25 December 2018

Christmas Day Walk - Dalesway and School Knott

Distance 5.5 miles
Ascent 300m
Weather foggy

A damp and grey morning walk over Brant Fell and round to Matson Ground to join the Dales Way, via Cleabarrow and School Knott. There were Christmas robins, Christmas sheep, Christmas happy walkers, Christmas crappy dog owners, Christmas not-so-happy walkers.

Monday, 24 December 2018

Windermere Walk Part 4

Distance 13.5 miles
Ascent 700m
Weather clear and sunny
Buzzards, sparrowhawk, deer
Weird hunchback glowing people 2 (us)
People going the wrong way 2 (not us)

An early start, we caught the 7.05 bus from Bowness to Newby Bridge, in the dark. We walked up the lane through Great Wood to Canny Hill then got a bit lost in a caravan park before finding our way out to cross a field and the A590. On the other side of the road we entered another field and did some sheep wrangling. Sheep freed from barbed wire fence and minor injuries patched up, we walked up to field edge (where there was an open gateway between the fields that the stuck sheep could have simply walked through) before crossing a couple of fancy ironwork stiles into woodland.

The sky was getting light and at the top of the hill there was a spectacular inversion over the valley. The sun rose and the moon set as we walked along the forest track through Chapel House plantation, which has been chopped down. What would have been a nice forest path has been turned into bleak muddy desolation.

Heading up to Gummers How we saw a few other walkers and admired the view of the clouds over Windermere. Thankfully the man with the drone packed it up and left shortly after we'd arrived at the summit.

Leaving the top we entered Birch Fell and  Blakeholme plantations, where there are still plenty of trees, and also birds. We saw Chaffinches, blue, great and coal tits plus a treecreeper and some sort of warbler in the old oak trees. Also two roe deer.
We had tea and chocolate bars for half tenses sitting on a wall (with brambles) in the middle of the woods, before finding a bog disguised as leaves. Leaving the woodland we went through a farm as the farmer was putting out some hay  for his grateful sheep, who came running across the fields.

The road surfaces were quite Icy and slipsy and there was quite a commotion of unhappy pheasants, shortly followed by a loud gun shot.

At the Birkett House Allotment the pond was partly frozen and we saw a white chicken on the hill. There were a lot of small birds, mostly chaffinches, so we stopped here for lunch just off the path - perhaps not quite far off enough.

We passed a few more walkers during the afternoon and there were plenty at the top of Brant Fell, the frosty ground making it interesting for some who had just come up from town. We got back just before 3pm, had rest and a cuppa before heading to the Royal Oak for Christmas Eve drinks and a slap up dinner.

Sunday, 23 December 2018

Windermere Walk Part 3

Distance 11 miles
Ascent 650m
Weather cloudy, some drizzle but drier than expected
Things on gates: slugs and mites

I have changed the name of this post to Windermere Walk rather than the Windermere Way, as we've not been following the actual route of the Way. This is our own version, it's very similar but is shorter and has fewer muddy bits.

We caught the first sailing of the day up to Ambleside, spotting goosanders at the landing in Bowness (the one we saw the other day was a female) and then an otter out in the lake not long after we had set off.

At Waterhead jetty the rain eased off, so we decoated and set off around Borrans Park into town. There were a couple of goldeneyes at the mouth of the Brathay.

We bought lunch at the co-op in Ambleside and then headed up along Stockghyl Force, which was in full flow. The rain had by now stopped but it was still very humid, and we made our way slowly but (sweatily) steadily up to Wansfell Pike. There were a lot of swaledale sheep, a distant horse on the skyline and ravens croaking overhead.

We descended the hill down Nanny Lane into Troutbeck, using a handy bridleway through the village that avoids the traffic and stopped for lunch on a bench near to Troutbeck Church. There was a brief patch of blue sky.

Walking along the road we saw a buzzard and a Vole. Work is underway on replacing the footbridge and much of the riverbank that washed away in 2015. It looks to be some serious construction work.

There was a buzzard being chased by crows,  fieldfares and flocks of starlings as we crossed Orrest Head, and of course people at the top. It was just dusk as came down into Windermere, and getting dark as we walked along Longlands Road back to Bowness.

Saturday, 22 December 2018

Windermere Way Part 2

Distance 10 miles
Ascent 330m
Weather: cloudy, mostly dry

Swans and cormorants on the lake, buzzards, tufted ducks.
Pheasants: many
Jackdaws: more

We got the ferry again and walked up the path under Claife Heights to join the footpath alongside the Ash Landing nature reserve. There were a lot of great tits. We didn't go into the nature reserve as there's only one entrance. The shoreline was a little wet in places but not flooded and the going was relatively straightforward. There was only one major puddle that required a couple of fence crossings to avoid.

We also avoided being shot by people with guns. There were a lot of pheasants running about. Hopefully they were lucky today too.

We had bit of a sit down on a handy bench at Rawlinsons Nab and stopped for lunch at High Dam, saving the last of the tea (still hot!) to have at the quay at Lakeside as we waited for the last boat of the day back to Bowness.

Windermere Way Part 1

Distance 14 miles
Ascent 600m
Weather: cloudy, some drizzle

Happy people with cake 2
Happy cyclists 4

The heavy rain overnight had eased off by the time we'd bought sandwiches and walked to Ferry Nab. We only had a short wait before the ferry crossing, entertained by tales of otters and bad sailing.

We passed the viewing station at Claife Heights and up the hill into the woods, stopping at the top to remove several unnecessary layers of clothing.

The path north along the hill edge was very wet, with little streams down the rocky paths, and some funny looking fungus. It was especially mudsome at Belt Ash Coppice, complete with wobbly rocks and a just out-of-reach fence.

Back down on the lakeshore path we saw a goosander and a pair of mute swans and were embarrassed on behalf of a chap who wished us a very erroneous "morning" at 1.20pm which might be a record.

Wray Castle was closed today but the cafe was open so we called in for coffee and hot chocolate and cakes, with good timing as the  rain shower that had just started as we entered the castle grounds had cleared by the time we set off again. There wasn't enough time to do the official route over Loughrigg Fell so we took the lower path turning east before Loughrigg Tarn that leads under Ivy Crag. The clear track heads back over the lower hills to Miller Brow and into Ambleside. Walking along the road rather than taking the shore edge path meant we arrived just in time to catch the last launch of the day back to Bowness.