After a few days with little motivation due to some typically grey and damp Lakeland weather we decided that it was time for some proper exercise. Our plan did involve cheating slightly by starting at Honister Pass (350m) but then it would be a good walk ticking five Wainwrights, Grey Knotts, Brandreth, Green Gable, Great Gable and Base Brown. We were keen to make the most of the weather, with the potential for views into Buttermere, Ennerdale, Borrowdale and from the top of Great Gable Wasdale so we started late as the clouds were forecast to lift.We followed the path next to the fence directly up from the national trust car park to the summit of Grey Knotts, it was a bit of a slog but you can’t complain if 45 minutes of exercise puts you at 700m. Here we found a sheltered spot overlooking Buttermere and the High Stile range and had our lunch. Brandreth is a short relatively level walk from Grey Knotts. It is excellently positioned for views into both Buttermere and Ennerdale. From Brandreth we got our first views of Great Gable; its summit was in the cloud but I was optimistic about the clouds continuing to lift. A short descent and slightly longer climb took us to the summit of Green Gable. Wainwright comments about how many people cross Green Gable on their way to Great Gable and how it literally lives in the shadow of its bigger neighbour. I was impressed with the views of Gable Crag (this contains Engineers Slab VS, a Hard Rock route) and again the head of Ennerdale. From here we descended 60m to Windy Gap which we last visited with Brad and Kristen in severe winter conditions. The final climb up the summit of Great Gable involved a climb of about 150m. The path whist rocky and steep was in good condition, Wainwright recommends this as the best of the routes to and from the top of Great Gable. From the top we could see the familiar sights of Wasdale. Scafell was clearly visible with it huge crags but the summit of Scafell Pike was in the clouds. To reach Base Brown we had to retrace our route back to Green Gable. When we reached Windy Gap we were asked to help a couple of coast to coast walkers to get to Honister youth hostel. They had kept going too far up the valley and had walked off their map. We told them of our route of ascent and used their camera to take a photo of our map just in case they needed it.
Base Brown was a pleasant surprise, it has views west across the hanging valley of Gillercombe to Gillercombe Buttress and views east into Seathwaite. As we continued north the ridge ended and we followed an interesting path down before heading cross-country to cross Sour Milk Gill, head past Seathwaite Slabs and over ‘the last hill’ to reach a point overlooking Honister. All that was left was the descent to the car and then a stop at Gatescarth Farm for large well-deserved ice creams!
So it’s now coming to the end of April and I have officially declared summer, well it is England and the sun is out and the layers of clothes are being peeled off and the white English skin is being reintroduced to the delights of the UV rays tanning our skins. At this point I should probably add that this is not Jon writing and that it is in fact the penning of his sisters wife, as we are up visiting the happy couple in Cumbria for the weekend.
We had a happy introduction to these parts in the name of ale and pie in the Gosforth Hall Inn. This was followed by an unnecessary journey of excess in to the dessert world with Jon and Penny selecting the chocolate indulgence (to share) and my wife, Bex choosing the passion fruit cheesecake. With no room for coffee we headed back chez Lynch for the necessary espresso, port and scotch and a fun game of “Logo”.The following morning the promised English breakfast was put on hold in favour of toast and porridge as we were still full from the previous night’s shindigs and talk was focussed on the activities of the day. Us city folk agreed to a walk with a maximum time of 3 hours and as flat as possible please. After much head scratching from Mr and Mrs Lynch it was agreed to set out to Emm… something walk which was described as a pretty lake walk which follows the valley and river so we were sold, my only concern was the lack of pub mention but as this is the Lake district I was convinced that there would be time for ale at some point on this walk. So after windy roads to get there and a car sick Bex and Penny, we rocked out of the car and headed on our walk. The nice wide paths made us city folk feel abnormally confident about the task ahead, and we set off at a brisk pace-akin to marching down Oxford street. Happily 10 minutes into the journey we stopped off for our lunch break and I was thinking this is my kind of walking plenty of stops, little did I know we were being tricked slowly. We followed the lake until it thinned down to a river and crossed a bridge to the far side, here Jon the encyclopaedia pointed out various routes that him and Penny had walked the big tall bit of rock and the smaller one to its left hand side. We crossed several small babbling brooks one of which for some unknown reason we stood in to take a group snap, although it is quite a fun picture. It was then that I realised that Bex was ingenious in demanding breaks from the walk to take pictures, clever wife ;-). Jon also filled up the water bottle with fresh stream water which Bex and I were unsure about as it had not been through chemical plants! After a polite request on where to deal with our calls of nature the Lynch’s laughed at the city folk and pointed out a pile of logs, needless to say we were not the first visitors to the latrine area. With all the distraction of the pretty surroundings I had not realised that my feet were hurting and I was not even half way, happily I had been a brownie when I was little and had packed some blister plasters which soon dealt with the issue. So onwards and upwards-yes this is not a typo or a phrase there was an unplanned hill on the horizon but Penny managed to lure us up the hill with a promise of snacks, gladly Bex found plenty of places to take photos on that particular hill. To be fair to the wife the views were pretty stunning with the trees being a multitude of different greens. Penny true to her word found us a rock in the river which she named Banana rock where we enjoyed the well earned (only halfway…what! rest) and Jon took the chance to cool his feet in the chilly water. With bananas consumed we started our return leg at quite a pace, the city folk had returned to their London pace which the Lynches easily matched, personally I was dreaming of a beer… mmm beer. Our return leg was less exciting than the journey up, however a group of Galloway cows on the side of the path took our interest and we stopped for another picture break, but did not hang around for too long as they were a bit whiffy!
We finally dragged our tired limbs back to the car and after a few stretches led by Bex entered into the car where I floated the idea of beer, happily my bruv-in-law is easily persuaded to enjoy a cheeky one we popped in for an ale, happy days.
All in all a great weekend, and the Lynch’s have been instructed to find walks with at least two pubs in for our next visit up north. In the mean time we shall be returning to our urban jungle and racking up our miles on the treadmill rather than the rambling countryside.
We went up Grike from the Cold Fell road. There was still plenty of soft snow around. Before reaching the top of Lank Rigg we saw rain heading our way and being (soft) southerners we bailed back to the car.
Yesterday was another wonderful day weather-wise. We were looking for a walk that had possibilities for easy climbing for me. As a result we decided to head for Haycock, Scoat Fell and Steeple from Ennerdale.
After parking at Bowness Knot and walking round the end of the lake we started our ascent via a ridge that heads almost directly to Caw Fell, a Wainwright on the ridge to the west of Haycock. The climb was steady but unrelenting, the fresh powder made the going tiring. When we reached the ridge I headed off to tag the summit of Caw Fell whilst Penny made a start on lunch. She was feeling a little tired and “couldn’t be arsed to walk up a stupid hill in the wrong direction…”.
After lunch we headed up Haycock and then down and up to Scoat Fell, again the fresh snow made life tiring and it was with some relief we reached our highpoint for the day at the top of Scoat Fell. From here there is a narrow ridge across to Steeple, an appropriately named summit only a couple of hundred metres away. The ridge was well covered with snow and very alpine in character. We donned crampons and crossed carefully. There were a couple of good-looking gullies coming up from the west side that would have been too steep to stop on had we slipped. The photo does not show the exposure or steepness of the arete. Whilst it was not technical it was definitely exciting!
Our descent was interesting but also a little long for tried legs. The heather gave a soft surface to walk on and we had a welcome drink from the stream at the bottom of the ridge. A short ascent of another Lingmell allowed us to reach a strange fenced descent through the forest. All that remained was the 40 minute walk back up Ennerdale to the car park and a drive home to slow-cooked chilli.
After a short day out on Friday (icy paths, poor vis and an assempt on Catbells) Penny, Kristen, Band and I headed to Wasdale to circumnavigate Great Gable.
The forecast was for a cloud base of about 700m, brisk north-westerly going north-easterly winds and a slight chance of snow showers. The plan was ingenious to stay low until Styhead and then climb to Windy Gap. By this time the wind should be on our backs for the return to Wasdale.
As we walked up to Styhead Brad and I were eyeing up the may snow and iced up gullies. Piers Gill, Skew Gill and Straight Gill all looked in condition and I fear our wives may not have shared our enthusiasm. It became very wintery as we approached Styhead and the contour round to the gully leading to Windy Gap went through a couple of very deep drifts in small stream beds.
The slog to Windy Gap was unpleasant, spindrft was everywhere and the wind was in our faces. We stopped about halfway up for a hurried lunch. The drifts at the col were impressive, reminiscent of the cols I ski toured over last year between Austria and Switzerland. A swift descent into Ennerdale saw the conditions improve considerably and the view towards the sea was spectacular (see photo).
All that was left was to descend down to Wasdale. It was good day out, choosing an appropriate route for the weather and very satisfying. I fear the group who failed to make it back to the Black Sail Hut may not have had such a good day.