Archives for category: Lake District

Yes its that time again.  In December? Yep, in December.  I’d not done Great Gable before but I had heard it was slightly challenging compared to some.  Well, if you are going to push yourself, why not do it with snow in your face?

The walk took us up Green Gable, across Windy Gap (though it was windier on Green Gable than Windy Gap below it) and then up to Great Gable.  I have to say, when you reach Green Gable and stand looking down over Windy Gap and then the formidable sight of Great Gable stands above you, it’s quite humbling.  I’ll not write the exact phrase that went through my head, but it was a more abrupt version of “Oh my that looks an interesting climb”.

As ever, when the rock is 6″ from your face rather than a few hundred feet, it’s not quite as bad.  But the wind, hail and snow did add some extra interest.

If you are thinking of doing this walk, I would certainly recommend it.  It does involve an upward scramble from this direction but it’s not too difficult.  Something akin to climbing up a 30ft pile of oversized lego?

Advertisements

Took a walk to the lake district this weekend and was fortunate enough to have near perfect weather.  I’ve started taking my camera on these walks packed with my kit lens (I have my eye on a Sigma wide angle lens for these walks, maybe after Christmas!).  I dont take my tripod though as would be a bit much to carry (though I may plan a climb for photos only so will take it).

The route I take for the Fairfield Horse shoe starts off in Rydal (tip! part on the road outside the church at the edge of Rydal Visitor Centre.  It’s free parking but I’d encourage you to leave a tip in the church box that’s there).  I walk clockwise around so thats takes you up Nab Scar, Heron Pike and Great Rigg before you arrive at the top of Fairfield.  The top can be a little confusing so Id certainly recommend a compass here as you double back on yourself for the horseshoe.  It’s all too easy to take the wrong path towards St Sunday crag and end up in Patterdale!

Coming off Fairfield you drop down on to Hart Crag, Dove Crag and High Pike before arriving back in Ambleside.

The walk has a total ascent of 3450 feet and is 10.5mile or 17.4 equivalent miles.  At an easy going pace it is 6 hours.

Some images from the walk:

 

 


While since I’d been to the lakes so I fancied somewhere new.  Haystacks is one of the more popular walks due to it’s relative ease.  But, one I did want to see having read much about it.  Following is just a few images from the walk but Ill add a comment here what I thought of it.  On any walk I think I have a main objective.  That is to enjoy the escape, the isolation and the sense of being miles from anywhere.  The lakes often bring stunning scenery though sadly, in particular on this walk what it doesn’t bring is isolation.  Being an easy walk and being on a bank holiday, it was more akin to a busy shopping district than a lonely hill.  Too many people for my liking.  The walk itself is mostly on broken rock and granite, barely a blade of grass crossed my feet.  In this sense, this is where Northumberland comes into its own (of my experience).  The views may not be as breath taking in say the cheviots, but you do get a grander sense of only being with yourself and your thoughts.  Plus a monkey, in my case.

Dont get me wrong though.  Haystacks is a walk to do if you havent.  5 or so mile and 4-5  or so hours at ease.  Steady climb up taking 90mins then a walk across the top and back down the other side.  Avoid the north face though, thats not for the faint hearted, only those with either a rope or lacking the will to live!

We started the walk from near Buttermere at Gates Garth Farm.  From here you follow the trail up.  Nothing simpler really!

On the way up you can glance back towards Lowswater and varying heights and angles.  It’s an impressive scene to take on, more so when the sun and cloud play kindly.

Going up you head to Scarth Gap.  It’s on reaching the gap you see your final climb up Haystacks and the reason it received it’s name.

Once on the top, you do get a decent view around you with some other notable peaks.  The cloud base remained fairly high for us this day though towards the end it did start to clip the tops and some rain came.  We were fairly lucky though and in all was decent walking conditions.

 

Hello Monkey…

The way back down is a fairly uneventful track.

Haystacks was the favourite summit of influential guidebook author Alfred Wainwright. He neglected to name the fell as a whole in his “best half-dozen” at the end of the Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells because of inferior height, but stated that for beauty, variety and interesting detail, for sheer fascination and unique individuality, the summit area of Haystacks is supreme. This is in fact the best fell-top of all.  Wainwright’s ashes were scattered by his wife Betty near the shores of Innominate Tarn.  In Buttermere church there is a memorial to Wainwright, and one can look out of the window to Haystacks [wikitext]


Well, in 2009 we decided to take the treck again.  This time we done it right.  It was very easy to see where we went wrong last time.  Basically on top of fairfield.  you can see from the last images how foggy it was, we had walked too far on to fairfield last time and then taken the wrong path off it.  The horse shoe turns in a U just as it hits the top of fairfield, you should bare right quite sharply.  Its an interesting walk and of a medium challange.  The weather being one of the challanges.  This time around we had fair to sunny weather going up, strong winds at the top and driving rain all the way back down making for some heavy walking.


So, our first walk in the lakes.  And what a walk it turned out to be!  This is one of the more popular walks in the lakes, so much so it felt like we were walking up Northumberland Street on a Saturday.  While I prefer it to be quiet when we walk, this being busy just went along with everything that was right, and all that went oh so wrong!

We turned up on Friday to Ambleside at around 5pm.  Headed for the camp site only to find out that it was full.  We had a few back ups off the net and next went along to Tarn Foot Farm and that did have spaces.  Its just a basic camp, well, field, but was all that we wanted.  A field, a toilet and a basin outside.  There are others with cafe’s and showers but this suited us fine.

We set the two tents up, got sorted and that was us for the night (well ok, via Ambleside in a taxi for a chinees and a few beers but thats another story!).

Next day after cooking breakfast (and a crap nights sleep due to snoring, some loony shouting and what sounded like big bird outside my tent) off we went.

The Fairfield horse shoe takes you from Ambleside, starting at Rydal road, up through rydal hall (you can also camp here) and up the first hill that is Nab Scar.  This way round has a pretty heavy start.  It certainly gets the old heart pumping.  We stopped a couple of times on the way up as did everyone else that was there.  We must have seen about 20 people in total going up that morning.

As we went up, we could tell the weather wasnt quite as we hoped.  the cloud ceiling was pretty low and covering the tops.  Still, there were some good views from this point until we made our way over the top after our first main rest.

The path continues upwards and you move over to Heron Pike.  It was here where the cloud fell and visability really started to suffer.  From heron pike you move over to Fairfield.  This was a bizarre  and earie place.  Mainly due to the cloud.  Around here is a fairly open area with many small cairns.  People were using these to rest behind.  you could see maybe 15ft around you at this point, just picking out shadows of people in the distance.  Was also here where we realised our location as a break in the cloud revealed a rather dramatic drop to the side.

You do need to be careful here.  The paths are far from obvious and there are a few walks that come through this point.  there are also a few downward slopes that lead to nothing but even steeper falls on loose ground and a good drop.  So, care is needed and a compass here is useful to ensure you head off in the right direction.  which, as it happens, is exactly what we didnt do!

No, we decided to follow another group.  the way down was pretty treacherous and you had to be steady on your feet.  As soon as you started to go down, the view cleared and we realised our error.  So, it was back up we went and this was even harder.  We took the direct route and clambering up the side of that was hair raising indeed. Would only have took one slip….

This last image shows the crag we had to come over.  This is the one Im not sure about.  Is it Dove Crag or St Sunday Crag?

Anyway, once back up we had to be steady again.  A wind was picking up and we had to climb over the top of the crag.  Really not what I expected to be doing and this was really a test of nerve.  In honesty, if I knew Id have been doing this before the walk Id have probably changed my mind.  But, when you;re there, you might as well go, so over we went.

Ten or fifteen teeth clenching minutes later and we’re over and onward to Hart Crag and Dove crag.  This path was thin with severe drops either side.  Then to make it trickier, there was a very strong blustery wind coming up the valley and over this path side on.  Going up te hill to Dove Crag really made me know how Frodo felt climbing up mount Doom!  Well, if he was really anyway.  And not a hobbit.  And less the volcanic rock of course.  Ok, maybe not like mount Doom but still….

Then, after all this excitement, ours heads clearly as misty and the tops were, we made a fatal calculation.  Sitting on top of Dove Crag we set off on our chosen path.  Checking the compass which pointed north east at this point we realised that the walk details said to follow the path south.  Of course, we knew that south was right over the edge of the cliff and down so scoffed at the intructions.  they must be wrong!

On we went, the clear views now allowing for some fantastic views.  A mixture of the views and what had genuinly been a hard (physically and mentally!) treck made us apprectiate these even more.

Interestingly, a note in our instructions here said to pay particular attention to the route as many walker made the easy mistake of following the main path and not the path south (that we wanted).  Yes, we made the exact mistake it said not to do.  We walked on then for another good few miles.  A steady downward path.

The correct route is south and down over high Pike and down into Ambleside.

I still need to determine what route we actually took.  If we did actually even hit dove crag.  We’ve been told that it looks like we came across St Sunday Crag.  Either way, we ended up down below in the town of Patterdale.  Patterdale?  Yes, and how far is Ambleside we asked a guy walking a dog.  With seeming delight he told us, about 8 mile.  We walked on to find the Patterdale Hotel, outside the tables seated about 20 other walkers of different groups.  I wondered if they all made the same error.

So, a quick bus ride to Windermere and a taxi to Ambleside later had us back.  I still would like to know just what route we took and where we had clambered.  Im looking at our photo’s and comparing to images Ive seen of these places.  I blame a mixture of the poor visibility and us not trusting the compass and directions!  Still, looking back I can laugh.  It was a good walk afterall, all 7 hours of it.

Now where was that shower again? ….