Friday, 30 November 2012



Ice sculptures are often commissioned at great expense to give an event a 'wow' factor. For most of us though, the good old ice cube tray and, weather permitting, snowman building is probably the extent of our dabbling with ice. I seem to recollect that one of our cookery books, of a certain vintage, detailed how to make an ice bowl from which to serve that 1980s classic... the prawn cocktail. (I never tried it.) So it was fantastic to come across some wonderful natural 'sculptures' when we were out walking on a sunny, blue-skied day right at the end of November.

There had been a hard frost and we came across this puddle at the verge of a farm track. The top layer was quite white and still, but underneath the surface there were spiral channels of trickling water around the stones on the track's surface. 
As we left the bridleway to start our climb up the fellside, we noticed these icicles tucked underneath overhanging rough grasses. These were the first that we had seen this winter. How long they had taken to form was anyone's guess, but they were beautiful as they clung on to their grassy host.
Crystal clear
Simple, agricultural wire fencing provided a structure for snow and ice too. Bending down, it was like peering through cottage style casement windows. Each 'window' provided its own view. Earlier on we had seen small, regular shapes of ice lying at the bottom of the fence as if the 'windows' had been shattered.

Further up, the snow and ice had remained intact and made for a very impressive sight. Here, the snow had also drifted into ridges emanating from the fence. The contrast of shadow and glistening snow was spectacular. In the sun, the snow sparkled as if it had had a sprinkling of glitter on it. Magical.

The triangulation pillar had also taken on a new guise with sculpted sides.

Triangulation Pillar - Skiddaw
The summit of Skiddaw Little Man was graced with a magnificent sculpture thanks to mother nature and some twisted metal. With the sun behind it, it had natural illumination. It was the ideal place to stop for our lunch and contemplate nature's beauty.
Skiddaw Little Man - summit
Earlier in the day the melody and words of Harold Darke's, 'In the bleak mid winter,' had come to mind as the ground crunched underneath our feet. But, as the icy artwork kept emerging, this day had been anything but bleak.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Silver How, Blea Rigg & Tarn Crag

Silver How, Blea Rigg & Tarn Crag

The lure of three Wainwrights was more than enough to get us out on this rambler's walk starting from Grasmere. A real bonus was to park for free half a mile outside of Grasmere. The ridge we were to walk was clear as we set off in cloudy, but dry weather, though behind us, the tops of Fairfield and Seat Sandal were shrouded in cloud. The forecast was reasonable with improving conditions to look forward to.

We skirted Grasmere and went across the Easedale Road before heading up footpaths to the cairn at the top of Silver How. At 395 metres, this was not a high Wainwright, but the views over Grasmere to Rydal Water were stunning.
Grasmere & Rydal Water from Silver How
 Behind us, in autumn colour, was Helm Crag and ahead Pavey Ark loomed large. After a coffee break admiring the views, it was off across an undulating and, at times, wet landscape.

The next target was Blea Rigg at 541 metres, about two miles away. We crossed Brigstone Moss, climbed Long How and Swinescar Pike, from where there were excellent views of Langdale with Crinkle Crags and Bowfell in the background. The recent rain had made it a very green valley. Passing a tarn, it was not long before we reached Blea Rigg, overlooking Easedale Tarn to the north and Elterwater to the south east. This was to be the lunchspot, another superb vista to photograph and post on Facebook as...'Today's lunchtime view.' The large rocks on the rigg made excellent seats, but we were soon off again to our third high point.
Langdale PIkes from Blea Rigg
 With Pavey Ark immediately in front of us, we headed north and after crossing a boggy patch descended steeply around Eagle Crag (How many Eagle Crags are there?), before rising again to Codale Tarn. We had had views of this tarn from an elevated position when we did a wild camp in April.From the shores of the tarn, we could see why we didn't drop down to it on that occasion. It would have been a steep ascent at the start of the next day! Today though, we skirted the tarn, which was quiet and still, before beginning the final climb to Tarn Crag. 
Easedale Tarn

At 550 metres, this was the highest point of the day. We picked out the Calf Crag, Gibson Knott, Helm Crag ridge we had walked on the Coast to Coast walk in 2010. The views down to Grasmere over Easedale Tarn were also very impressive.

Looking back to Tarn Crag
 Our route back was clear to see from the top and it was all down hill to join the Easedale bridleway. From here it was an easy walk back to the outskirts of Grasmere and retrace our steps skirting this popular tourist spot. On returning to the car, it was easy to see the route we had been on, and excellent ridge walk with glorious views.

AND... three Wainwrights bagged!

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Bowscale Fell

Bowscale Fell

Distance: 6 Miles

Highest Point: 702m

The forecast, always a consideration for any walking destination, seemed to suggest that it would be dry. We parked up in the 'Township' of Bowscale and set off up a good bridleway on access land. It was a gradual up. Although a little cloudy, visibility was good and patches of sunlight illuminated farmhouses in the valley and the steep-sided Carrock Fell.
Soon the route steepened, as the bridleway climbed the fellside. We crossed over Drycomb Beck without difficulty and continued upwards. A wall of crags appeared in front of us and we scanned the scene to pick out where our footpath would take us. As with all fine views, the glacial Bowscale Tarn lay hidden in a bowl until we were almost upon it. We had been brought to the 'teardrop' top where Tarn Sike was emptying the tarn. Not another soul was about. The breeze was gently rippling the tarn's surface. A large boulder sat begging to be sat upon, and we duly obliged it. A great spot for a photo and to break open the flask for a warming slurp of coffee. It was a little nippy.
FP from Bowscale Tarn

We didn't linger too long, having spotted a small path that snaked its way up Tarn Crags towards the horizon. This was our route. We crossed Tarn Sike and made our way up the path that Wainwright called a 'grassy rake'. It was quite steep and in places I was pleased to be able to use my hands for a little extra security when the path looked a little slippery.

Bowscale Tarn
The higher we climbed, the more impressive the tarn below us seemed. The water appeared as a fine blue and the 'teardrop' was clear in the hillside vessel. Very soon we were at the rim of Tarn Crags. We headed south, following the edge of the crags before joining a clear track up the rounded ridge to a pile of stones that marked the edge of the Bowscale Fell summit plateau. I think it would be fair to say that it felt a little 'baltic', and we lost no time in putting on gloves and pulling our hats down a little further over the ears. We made our way the short distance to the summit, a low, 'C' shaped windshelter, passing a couple of chaps on the way. The thought was there, even if it was rather ineffective. We paused for photographs and continued along the ridge towards Bannerdale Crags to seek a suitable lunchspot.
Bowscale Fell summit wind shelter
We continued past the ridge (on our left) that would lead to The Tongue, and joined a footpath at NY334302 that would take us down into Bannerdale. Several people were out on the ridge, taking advantage of a fine day.
Towards Bannerdale Crags with Blencathra rising up in the distance

The footpath was clear and we soon stopped for our lunch with a good view of Souther Fell and Bannerdale Crags and the valley below. It was still chilly, but at least there was less wind and the sun was shining.
Bannerdale & Souther Fell
From here, it was all downhill. We had fine views and the pathway took us gently down into the valley. A footbridge at NY356302 enabled us to cross a watercourse, and from then on we had the River Glenderamackin on our right.

The Tongue
It wasn't long before we reached the village of Mungrisdale and passed the still functioning phone box. I don't think our walking boots were going to trouble any shy, red squirrels, but there were none to be seen on this occasion.
Sign at Mungrisdale
After a quick circulation of the village, we headed back along the road to Bowscale. (The only road walking of the day.) The sun was already low in the sky, and it wouldn't be long before it would be setting.

Here we were in mid November, and we had had a wonderful walk. Our companions for the day, AJ & SE, had really enjoyed the change of scenery and 'fresh' air.








Fellbarrow & Low Fell Circular

Fellbarrow & Low Fell Circular

Although the forecast was not too promising with wind and squally showers predicted, we made our way to park at Maggie's Bridge (free!) close to Loweswater. This ramblers walk, undertaken in August, was our first with a new group of people. The route was to take us around the south side of Loweswater and then up to Fellbarrow and Low Fell north of the lake... two Wainwright's to collect.

On the level path around the lake, the weather was improving and the sun began to put in some appearances. We soon reached the road at Waterend before turning left up Grange Lane, the first climb of the day. (Off with the top layer) We joined the bridleway around the west side of Fellbarrow and stopped for a coffee break. 
Footpath around Loweswater
Next, it was up and across access land over Mosser Fell to a wall junction before heading straight to the trig point at the top of Fellbarrow. The height here was 416m with views to Cockermouth, The Solway Firth and beyond.

Our next target, Low Fell, was some mile and a half south. Following the ridge wall up and over both Smithy Fell and Sourfoot Fell, we soon came to the cairn at 423m... the highest point. The wind was pretty strong, so we dropped down out of it and had lunch with superb views over Lorton Vale towards Grasmoor. To our right, Crummock Water was now glistening in the sun with Buttermere beyond, and in the distance Haystacks and the Red pike ridge. All too soon it was time to move off.

Low Fell
We walked to the cairn at 412m, the point Wainwright called, 'The Top', and admired the views over Buttermere and Crummock, and also now, back over Loweswater.

Crummock Water from Low Fell
We then descended off the access land to the footpath through Whinny Ridding before meandering through lanes back to the car park.

Loweswater Fells
Without gaining tremendous height, we had had a splendid walk with views over the surrounding lakes and fells which were sublime. 

It's a privilege to be able to enjoy them.