Sunshine, Seaside and Summits
Published 01 May 2016
We have now been in Cumbria for over six weeks and it is worrying how quickly the first quarter of our stay has passed. This week is chilly with rain and snow but the two weeks before were dry and at times very warm. It is amazing how much farther you can travel and how much more you can see in better weather.
Our reason for being here is to walk and climb the fells but other life continues. Back in the South-East my father’s health continues to decline and our younger son Will has now become engaged to the lovely Sarah. I celebrated another birthday and if you are a fan of the Beatles you can work out my age from the words of Julie’s card “Yes I’ll still need you and I’ll still feed you now you’re…”
And of course the even bigger news; Crystal Palace have made it to the FA Cup Final!
13 April; St Bees Head
We are in Cumbria to walk the fells which start a couple of miles to the east of our house but three miles to the west we have the Irish Sea coast. A W Wainwright’s Coast to Coast walk starts at St Bees Head and we walked from the beach along the headland and returned via the lighthouse. The cliffs are red sandstone giving an attractive looking soil.
There were well fenced areas to view the gulls nesting in the cliffs and we watched them out at sea, waiting for a catch then flying up to their nests to feed their young. We also climbed down to Fleswick Bay where the sea has dramatically carved into the rock.
16 April; Whin Rigg and Illgill Head
I mentioned earlier how much farther you can travel in good weather and this walk was a good example. We drove to Santon Bridge at the entrance to Eskdale to do a set walk around Irton Fell and Miterdale Forest. There was a strong breeze but beautiful clear skies and it was generally dry underfoot.
Once we were on the open fell we realised that the top of Whin Rigg was within easy reach. Perched above Wasdale Screes we were afforded wonderful views in most directions including the coast and the Isle of Man. From Whin Rigg we then followed the ridge another mile and a half to Illgill Head giving us good views of Sca Fell, Eskdale and the Hard Knott Pass. By the time we returned to the car our five mile low level walk had become a nine mile hike but worth every step.
19 April; Holme Wood, Loweswater and Burnbank Fell
This was the first of four very warm days. We drove to Loweswater and followed another of Elizabeth Oldham’s walks which took us through Holme Wood, past the waterfall and then along the side of Burnbank Fell. After a short but steep climb up to the grassy summit we returned by the same route and we walked alongside the lake back to the car.
The walk gave us everything that you could hope for in a Lakeland low level walk with the lovely lake, a quiet pine forest and an attractive waterfall. On the fell we saw grassed-over quarry workings and we really enjoyed the stroll along the wide terrace path in the warm sunshine.
If you are interested to know more about this walk you will find it at https://www.walklakes.co.uk/walk_65.html.
20 April; Great Gable and Kirk Fell
The week before I managed to complete the mid-level circuit of Kirk Fell that Julie and I attempted last month and that gave me a good opportunity to reconnoitre the climbs to these peaks. With the weather even better than the day before I walked from Wasdale Head to Sty Head and then up to Great Gable. There was just enough breeze to keep the sky clear but warm enough not to need a coat. The views were tremendous and with the good weather, there were a lot of other walkers out.
The week before I had stood at Beck Head and looked at the climb down from Great Gable. It appeared steep but after talking to some more experienced walkers I was reassured and decided to descend that way. I met a Canadian couple who were also a little concerned so we came down together.
It was challenging, needing hands and at times, bottoms to climb down the rocks. Fortunately the way was well marked with small cairns and there were other climbers coming up which reassured us. This was probably the most sustained scramble that I have done in the fells and not one I would have liked to have done alone in mist.
From Beck Head I then climbed Kirk Fell which has an attractive plateau top with rocky outcrops. With my confidence boosted after Great Gable I climbed down to the Black Sail Pass via Kirkfell Crags which was not as long as the descent from Great Gable but still had some exciting moments.
I returned home exhausted but buoyant after what had been a great day’s climbing in perfect weather.
22 April; Rannerdale Knotts
The excellent weather continued and we drove to Buttermere to walk up and along this modest but well placed fell. From the National Trust car park we climbed a gentle grass path which then lead along the ridge over small rocky outcrops to the final 355 metre high summit. For very little work you can experience some scrambling and the magnificent views of Buttermere, Crummock Water and their surrounding fells which include High Stile, Red Pike, Mellbreak and Grasmoor. On such a fine day it was stunning.
We descended towards Hause Point and took the path down to Crummock Water where we followed the shoreline back to the village. The sunshine, clear sky and still water all combined to give me some wonderful pictures of the lake and Mellbreak.
Our daughter and her family are visiting us in August and this is definitely a walk that is within the capabilities of our seven year old grandson.
23 April; Haycock and Caw Fell
Making the most of the good weather I set out from Bowness Knott car park in Ennerdale to climb Haycock, having turned back when it snowed on me during my last attempt. As before, I climbed up through the plantation and the heather on the tongue between Silvercove Back and Deep Gill. On reaching the ridge I first turned right to the summit of Caw Fell from where I had good views of the West-Cumbrian plain.
On top the breeze was very stiff and chilly but the sun shone and the wall that runs along the ridge gave me some protection as I walked up Haycock where I lunched taking in the views of the surrounding fells.
I was very close to Scoat Fell but leaving that and Steeple for another day I descended via Tewit How which gave me a chance to explore and to take some pictures of Steeple, Haskett Buttress and Mirkiln Cove. All very dramatic.
Sorry if this has been a long blog and thank you for staying with it but I am having so much fun which I want to share with as many people as I can. See you next time.