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Wet & windy on The Lord’s Seat Fells

10.25.14

Posted by paul  |  12 Comments »

It’s time for the clocks to go back therefore on this weekend’s walk we had planned to make the most out of the daylight hours by taking a selection of the Skiddaw Fells with the main summit  being Bakestall, a summit that has been niggling at Tim’s boots for some while now.

The forecast looked fair to take on our challenge during the week but deteriorated 48 hours earlier meaning we had to think of a plan B walk within the Keswick vicinity where we would meet up with David in a layby along the A66 just outside Keswick.

Should we have to scupper out our Skiddaw walk it was here the decision would be made, which in fact had already been made for us given the fact that the cloud was so low mixed with pre-dawn light we came to the decision to head to Spout Force & our plan B walk of a tour of the Lord’s Seat fells.

 

ASCENT: 2,500 Feet, 762 Metres

WAINWRIGHTS: Whinlatter – Lords Seat – Barf – Broom Fell – Graystones

WEATHER: Overcast With Spells of Rain, Gust Across The Tops, Highs Of 12°C Lows Of 10°C Feels Like 8.5°C Gust of 33.1mph (Recorded on Graystones summit)

PARKING: Parking Spaces, Darling How, Whinlatter

AREA: North Western

MILES: 8.6

WALKING WITH: David Hall & Tim Oxburgh

ORDNANCE SURVEY: OL4

TIME TAKEN: 5 Hours 20 Minutes

ROUTE: Darling How – Aiken Plantation – Brown How – Whinlatter Top – Tarbarrel Moss – Ullister Hill – Beckstones Gill – Barf – Lord’s Seat – Broom Fell – Widow Hause – Graystones – Scawgill Bridge – Darling How

Wainwright Guide Book Six

Book 6

The Western Fells

 

-Lords Seat

Some mountains have better names than they deserve and some deserve better names than they have. Lords Seat title for any ultimate peak amongst the clouds, and while the modest Lakeland fell of this name hardly aspires to the notability it suggests it is a pleasing recognition of the commanding position and superior height of this central point in the distinctive group of fells compromising Thornthwaite Forest, Between Bassenthwaite Lake and Whinlatter Pass.

Alfred Wainwright

 

Map 1Map 2

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Darling How Farm – 08:29 10°C

Pre ‘plan B decision’ we arrived at the layby early & waited for David to arrive under the cover of Darkness. The time was 07:45am & by all accounts the sunrise had taken place except the cloud cover was so extensive no light broke through at all.

Rain pelted at the windscreen in burst’s as the wind howled around outside the comforts of the car, a set of headlights in my rear view mirror confirms David’s arrival.

We both got out of the cars & met with a handshake, the first topic of conversation was of course the weather, David explains as he points west through the darkness that he had indeed, just driven through a heavy shower which kinda set the benchmark as to what to expect we’d be walking in throughout the duration of the day.

The decision to scupper Skiddaw was made quickly as we agreed that not only would the rain be a problem on the high fells but the high gust forecasted too, something of which we would experience in just an hours time or so.

The car park was confirmed ‘Spout Force’ just off the Whinlatter Pass, with this we headed out through Braithwaite as glimpses of light started to penetrate the sky overhead.

Morning had finally broken.

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Broom Fell from the Forestry Track.

Although Tim & David knew alot about each other they hadn’t officially met up until this morning so introductions & light conversation took place whilst we kitted up, within ten minutes or so they were chatting like they’d known each other ten years which was a great start to the day, so much so we quickly got onto the subject of the price of fish.

Don’t ask me how that happened!

After passing Darling How farm we headed further into the plantation where our views opened up before us. Above our heads the high winds carried the murky grey clouds across the sky in a hurried fashion.

Our track was combed from our surrounding summits offering great protection from the gusts & showers, it didn’t last long but nice while it did.

Finding our way up Whinlatter is something of a grey area as there are no obvious paths, made more difficult by the regeneration of the newly planted trees & sometimes thick gorse & heather. A couple of times we would stop whilst looking up the steep flank of Whinlatter before carrying on a little further until the geography told us that we couldn’t walk the track no further, it was here we took on the ‘lets roll up our sleeves attitude’ before finding a break in the plantation & heading  directly up the steep fell side.

Tim went first blazing a trail through the newly planted pines & thick heather.

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Gaining steep ground as we pause to look down on the Forestry track we had just left.

After leaving the Forestry track we soon found ourselves on steep ground with no path to follow, our best option was to follow the lay of the fell side whilst at the same time avoiding piles of deadwood which the heather had grown over.

We had all been here before & knew that a wire fence was a short yet steep distance away, we had no choice but to pick our way step by step through the heather, at times the Pines partially hid Tim’s ascent as he blazed ahead, between a few photos (breath breaks!) it was obvious Tim was going to reach the fence first.

Tim waited for David & myself to catch up which we did under the duress of a slight lack of breath! We had almost breached the summit shoulder leaving most of the hard work behind us when the spots of rain that had been pelting at our jackets turned into wave after wave of heavy showers which were carried along the skies by the strong winds.

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Caught somewhere beneath Brown How watching the wind carry the heavy rain across the valley.

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Whinlatter taken shortly before arriving at Brown How.

After crossing the wire fence we persevered with our steep ascent until Tim found a hollow cut in the fell side shortly before reaching the ridge path.

It was here we took shelter if not only to let the shower pass which after five minutes it did. Within the hollow it was obvious with the more height gained the wind now above our heads was incredibly strong making any forward movement a bit of a fight.

When the first shower had passed we got up & took the wind face on towards the Whinlatter’s subsidiary ridge summit of Brown How, after crossing more heather we soon found ourselves at the small cairn where we found a stone shelter which we used to sit out another shower & to take shelter from the wind that howled above the summit walls.

The stone walls of the shelter offered great protection against the wind & rain as conversation thrived, however at some point we knew we had to get up as we hadn’t officially reached our first summit yet.

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Heading across the ridge towards Whinlatter taken shortly after leaving Brown How.

Once again we left the comforts of the shelter & battled on through the high winds that made for some slow & at times tricky progress as we made for Whinlatter summit.

Sadly most forces of nature can be seen & wind is difficult to depict. After taking this photo both David & Tim had made it half way across the ridge such the time it took me to battle my camera back into its case, it wasn’t just here I would find myself playing catch up after each photo I was to take, it was almost after every photo I took.

The ground was naturally spongy underfoot which made for some slight negotiations whilst crossing the ridge, at times the rain hit so hard brain freeze came & went while all the while I myself was trying to keep my hood in a position where it would just cover the whole right side of my face.

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Crossing the flanks of Tarbarrel Moss as we head towards Thornthwaite Plantation.

The summit of Whinlatter came & went under more heavy showers & gusts, I’m not even sure I managed a tap at the cairn with my walking pole, within moments we where heading down towards Thornthwaite Forest where thankfully a respite in the rain meant we could resume conversation.

I do apologise as it sounds like we weren’t enjoying ourselves; nothing could have been further from the truth, it’s a times like these that brings the real fell walker out in you & all who love walking the fells.

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Grisedale Pike over Hobcarton End from Whinlatter.

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Lord’s Seat is on the horizon over Tarbarrel Moss.

A gap in-between the showers showed promise as we made our way over Tarbarrel Moss flanked by Whinlatter Forest/Comb Plantation seen over in the right of the photo.

Once we had reached the track alongside the forest a sense of calmness ensued followed by the sound of the high winds as it howled through the forest plantation to our flanks. The calmness I of course am referring to is the protection that the trees gave us all the while they were taking a battering from the high winds above our heads.

We continued along the track which at times paralleled with the mountain bike track that ran through the forest, we didn’t expect to see many out on their bikes but we were proved wrong as we spotted a couple of riders who were drenched through to the core yet thoroughly enjoying themselves, much like us I guess.

After reaching what can only be described as a natural corner cut out in the woodland we headed through a wooden gate before taking on a slight descent through a short section of thick forest.

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It was Eerie quite as we pass through the dense woodland.

Despite mother nature putting on a fine display this morning – during the short time it took us to pass through the woodland not a sound could be heard, the ground underfoot although a little soft was relatively dry making this part of our walk feel quite surreal which was just a small highlight of the whole day.

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Lord’s Seat appears.

After emerging from the woodland we took a left turn in the direction of Lord’s Seat, it was here the track passes through high woodland again offering us protection from the wind & yet another shower. We continued with our track knowing that we were heading for Lord’s Seat without actually seeing it, this was when we spotted a slight detour from the track which we left to take, although we were back in the elements it was nice to have a bearing. It was here David suggested that instead of heading for Lord’s Seat why not flank it & head for Barf instead.

We all agreed & took a right turn on the path you see in the foreground of the photo.

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Heading for Barf instead…The path will eventually lead all the way back to Whinlatter Visitor centre.

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Barf through the trees.

We continued along the path noting that we had lost sight of Barf due to the high tree level. We soon crossed a sharp left in the path offering tree lined views towards Barf, here our path takes a slight descent before crossing Beckstones Gill.

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With wonderful views back up our tree lined path.

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It was almost like walking over carpet…

No sooner had we crossed Beckstones Gill did we have to take in the ascent towards Barf summit by means of a steep (ish) track that offered views over Bassenthwaite Lake & Keswick. It was while on this path did we notice a glimpse of sun as pockets of swirling cloud rose about the Whinlatter Forest before dispersing quickly, the whole event continued all the way towards the summit & made Barf possibly not only the driest summit but the most picturesque too.

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Dramatic views over Derwent Water & Keswick from Barf summit.

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With the sun hidden by thick cloud only adding to the drama.

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The Ullock Ridge, Carl Side & Skiddaw over Bassenthwaite Lake.

I think it was unanimous that we had made the right decision in leaving Skiddaw for another day, if buffering was quite bad here we could only imagine how bad it was on Skiddaw’s summit which is infamous for being windy even on a calm day.

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Views over Bassenthwaite Lake towards Binsey.

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One last photo of the cloud dramatics before leaving for Lord’s Seat.

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Lord’s Seat summit taken from Barf.

We had noticed a couple of chaps with two dogs ahead of us before we reached Barf summit, by the time we arrived they had long gone leaving a dog lead behind, if you look closely in the photo you may be able to spot them on the path in between Barf & Lord’s Seat.

Tim did his good deed of the day by running up to the two chaps lost dog lead in hand only to be told when he caught them up that the lead had only cost a pound from the Poundland, I don’t think they saw Tim’s point! Nevertheless they did in the end seem grateful that Tim had ran his way over.

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Here, looking back on Lord’s Seat after yet more heavy cross winds & showers.

Next came the crossing towards Lord’s Seat which was very wet & boggy underfoot, it was here we witnessed a low layer of cloud roll in enveloping the whole summit before continuing north descending lower to claim both Sale & Ling Fell, we all agreed that the cloud was incredibly low.

Time spent at Lord’s Seat summit was sadly brief due to a heavy rain shower which we stood out using our backs to shield us from the driving rain, hence no summit photo.

Tim & David stood at the summit as I tried to put into perspective just how wild it was but sadly my shot didn’t turn out the way I planned it too.

We turned tail very shortly afterwards & took in the slight descent to reach the pleasant ridge which would take us towards Broom Fell, except pleasant it wasn’t.

The high winds & driving rain made this ridge crossing a silent one. Of course we are used to the wind & rain but what hit us here was a sure conversation stopper as we took in the path whilst rain rappelled like a waterfall from our hood peaks, I at this point wasn’t wearing gloves as I noticed David had slipped his jacket sleeves over his hands if only to protect them against the wind & rain.

Tim was slightly ahead fairing no better, in fact he later told me ‘I wasn’t going to say nothing in front of you & David’ but boy I was in a bad place in between Lord’s Seat & Broom Fell’ which is nothing to be ashamed of, I think we all were with you on that one.

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After the rain had stopped & the cloud had cleared, Broom Fell appears.

Walking ‘in-line’ we were soon close to the summit when we noticed a large group of walkers heading towards us, as we passed on our good mornings I noticed a face that I thought I recognised, however due to the wind & my hood all skew-whiff I wasn’t so sure at the time & said nothing, it was only when I returned home later that day that I realised it was Angela Avalon Taylor of whom I share friends with on Facebook.

Nice to see you Angela.

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Broom Fell impressive summit cairn.

It was while at Broom Fell did we decide to down pack & eat our lunches in the comforts of the stone shelter as once again the wind howled fiercely above our heads, yet within our sanctuary for those ten minutes we felt nothing leaving our downtime very pleasant indeed.

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Graystones over Widow Hause.

After leaving Broom Fell any lingering low cloud had cleared helped along by the strong winds, ahead is our last summit of the day of Greystones & area these particular fells that I am fond off in Widow Hause, more so due to how nice this area of the walk is even on a day like today.

Behind Greystones lurks yet another advancing rain shower…

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Broom Fell seen with Lord’s Seat from Graystones summit cairn.

After descending Broom Fell we crossed Widow Hause flanked & sheltered by a coppice of mature Pine Trees that again offered protection against the elements. There is a relatively steep, yet short pull before gaining Greystones summit shoulder from which we followed a wire fence before heading for the cairn after crossing the grassy plateau.

From the summit the promised forecast of a dryer afternoon was starting to show through glints of blue & a lighter aurora overhead, we stopped to chat whilst at the summit as David took out his Anemometer & took both wind & chill readings, we were all surprised to see that the air was a tropical (as Tim put it) 8.5°C Which when we thought about it was right, cold it wasn’t, wet & windy it was.

Next David took a wind reading which measured a maximum of 31.5mph at the time of reading, we all agreed that was correct all though had David taken the same reading whilst crossing between Lords Seat & Broom Fell we were pretty confident the figure would have been twice that.

Next came our descent on what can be considered to be one of the steepest ascent/descents on any Lakeland path.

Descent by Graystones.

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Showers over Lorton Vale during our Graystones Descent.

The descent wasn’t as brutal as I remembered, Tim went first followed by David who both quickly made their way down as I watched the rain shower approach with my camera in hand.

I spot David looking at his feet during his descent while every now & again he would look up to see how far the shower had gained which seemed to be moving rather slowly.

Tim waited at around half way at the point where options opened into taking the forestry tracks & maybe even a visit to Spout Force, but after a short discussion we decided against it as we were almost at the bottom anyway.

It was here we paused for a good chat where we seemed to put the walking world to rights each offering our own opinions on subjects close to all our hearts.

Another pint Tim joked? Joking aside It did feel like we were propped up against the bar & not half way down Graystones.

Good times.

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Bearing down on Scawgill Bridge & Aiken Beck

All that was left was the short descent where grass met gravel before taking on the path that lead us over Aiken Beck via a wooden footbridge from where a last steep rise would take us back to Spout Force car park.

The car park was soon reached under opening blue skies, the temperature had risen & the wind had all but died down less the hustle from the tops of the trees.

We could have planned this walk around the weather which daylight would have allowed but fell walking isn’t all about good weather, I believe you have to take the good with the bad, and today’s walk was anything but the latter, today’s walk had it all & will be remembered for many reasons unlike some walks that are quickly forgotten where fine weather was blessed.

I know sometimes I can harp on about the change in seasons & that’s only because I value what  this change brings, there is so much more to fell walking than blue skies & distant views, this day, this type of walk in these conditions leaves you feeling alive, even though the tips of your fingers at times don’t quite agree.

Great Gable & Kirk Fell from Honister Mine

10.16.14

Posted by paul  |  6 Comments »

Like a lot of my walks that are pre-planned this walk was no different. A walk from Honister Mine to take in Great Gable & Kirk Fell was the main objective whilst along the way taking in Grey Knotts & Brandreth, two summits that I had only visited maybe once or twice before, my means of gaining them were by a steep pull up straight from the Honister Mine Car Park where memories came flooding back from a much earlier excursion during my novice career as a fell walker.

Gone are the light mornings until next spring, it is now the time I have to get used to driving to Lakeland under the cover of Darkness, it wont be long until what I call my 3 hours on 3 hours off walks are under way, what I am of course referring to is winter time when we barley see 6 hours of daylight.

Until then we have a couple of weeks to enjoy daylight before we set our clocks back, it’s a day like those when I will look back at walks like today with a slight hint of sadness as we wave goodbye to summer, but before all that lets enjoy what we have left before we finally close those curtains.

This is Great Gable and Kirk Fell from Honister Mine.

 

ASCENT: 3,600 Feet 1,098 Meters

WAINWRIGHTS: 5, Grey Knotts – Brandreth – Green Gable – Great Gable – Kirk Fell

SUMMITS VISITED: 6, Grey Knotts – Brandreth – Green Gable – Great Gable – Kirk Fell (North Top) Kirk Fell

WEATHER: Overcast With Light Showers Not Amounting to Much, Brisk Winds Across The Summits With Sunny Periods Towards The End of The Walk. Highs Of 15°C, Lows Of 10°C

PARKING: Honister Slate Mine

AREA: Western

MILES: 9.7

WALKING WITH: On My Own

ORDNANCE SURVEY: OL6

TIME TAKEN: 7 Hours

ROUTE: Honister Pass – Grey Knotts – Brandreth – Green Gable – Windy Gap – Great Gable – Beck Head – Kirk Fell (North Top) – Kirk Fell – Black Sail Pass – Kirk Fell North Traverse – Beck Head – Moses Trod – Drum House – Honister Pass

Wainwright Guide Book Seven

Book 7

The Western Fells

 

-Kirk Fell

Bland the southern aspect may be, but the dark north face is very different. Here, shadowed cliffs seam the upper slopes in a long escarpment, a playground for climbers, above rough declivities that go down to the Liza in Ennerdale. Linking with Great Gable is the depression of Beck Head to the east; westwards is a counterpart in Black Sail Pass. And between is a broad undulating top, with tarns, the ruins of a wire fence, and twin summits: on the whole a rather disappointing crown for so massive a plinth.

Alfred Wainwright

 

Map 1Map 2

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Fleetwith Pike & Honister Crag from Honister Mine 08:30 10°C

I was a little behind schedule by the time I reached Honister due to getting stuck behind two lorries carrying wide loads along the A66. This meant I was trailing half an hour behind which didn’t really matter just more of an inconvenience really.

Although the sun had been up an hour already I kitted up under a mix of grey & hints of sudden blue skies only for the latter to be dashed by the strong winds that carried the clouds quickly across the morning sky.

I lace up to the sound of a generator humming away in a large shed with a dimly lit light, One of the large wooden doors is half open as I spot a worker scurrying about his morning duties. I unload £5.50 into the parking meter most of which were 50p’s which as you could imagine, left me feeling a lot lighter in more ways than one.

I pick up my path directly behind the car park in search of my first summit of Grey Knotts where I cross over a wooden sty which leads directly onto open fellside.

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Just follow the fence.

I have vivid memories of this path which back then the last time I was here it was under three/four feet of snow, my memory was of just how incredibly difficult it was cutting boot holes into fresh snow. They say some routes will always be remembered during which weather you undertook them under which explains why I still cant get those memories out of my head!

Despite the path being pretty steep straight from the car I was quite surprised how quickly I made my way up, even getting a good sweat on in the process.

The path is made of rock pitched steeply & at times an odd scramble is required to heave oneself up, this was made difficult by just how slippery the rock was underfoot, after the third time, I stopped counting how many times I slipped back or performed an acrobatic attempt at the splits.

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Here, looking back over Honister Mine along the Honister Pass through to Borrowdale from my ascent.

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In the other direction, Fleetwith Pike, Honister Crag, Dale Head & Robinson on the opposite side of the Pass.

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Entering the cloud at around 1,800 feet ASL

It was around the point that I reached the first shoulder or false summit that I left any clear views behind me as I was presented with swirling cloud sometimes quite thick in places. For me personally I like to split this path up into three, the first of which is what you can see from Honister Mine, the next two sections are shorter than the first but again has that false summit feel to the ascent, the final of course is the summit.

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Grey Knotts summit.

Shortly before arriving at the summit I left the wire fence & broke off right, within fifty yards or so I was at the summit which had another wire fence running south to north surrounding the summit itself, I studied the fence a while knowing full well if I walked further north I would find a sty to cross over, however I spied what seemed to be a new looking sty closer to my location south which I used to gain the summit rock.

Of course I could have just scaled the wire fence, it only being waist height but I think my ‘upper regions’ had seen quite enough activity with my attempts on doing the splits just a short while ago!

Sadly summit time was brief due to lack of visibility, however all was not lost as I spied my path which ran either side of a wire fence all the way to Brandreth.

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Brandreth is seen during a clearing in the clouds.

Either side of the wire fence good paths can be found, I suspect they are used ‘directional’

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Here looking over Fleetwith Pike towards Robinson & Grasmoor while down below Buttermere, Crummock Water, Rannerdale Knotts & Mellbreak can be seen all the way through to the the Loweswater Fells.

It was no use I had to down pack to take out my Hat & Gloves as the wind started to nip at my ears & fingertips, I think I had all but forgotten what it felt like to hear & feel a strong cold wind through a woolly hat.

Bliss.

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Pillar, Scoat Fell  Red Pike (Wasdale) in front of Brandreth summit cairn.

Although the cloud had cleared the wind was bitterly cold, the light in contrast was amazing & atmospheric. The cloud scurried across the skies over head revealing a hint of sun only resembled by the faintest of afterglows through the thick cloud. Conditions of which are too difficult to capture with a camera but make days on the fells very remember-able .

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My first real view of Kirk Fell & Pillar as I descend Brandreth.

Kirk Fell is todays main objective which will be climbed from Beck Head seen as the depression in the far left of the photo. I have climbed Kirk Fell many times & knew of a path known as the North Traverse which runs along the wide expanse of the fell in between the top of the Black Sail Pass & Beck Head. The path isn’t clear in this photo but if you keep your eye level with Beck Head & run your finger towards the top of the Black Sail Pass across Kirk Fell beneath the scree – that’s the approximate location of the North Traverse.

But, all that’s in a while yet, first I have to climb the Gables.

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Green & Great Gable seen over Gillercomb Head.

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Kirk Fell & Pillar seen from one of the un-named Tarns while crossing Gillercomb Head.

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The spectacular hanging valley of Gillercomb seen with Base Brown to the right & the Seathwaite Valley far below.

From Gillercomb Head I headed off into the cloud in search of Green Gable, the path here is wide & very easy to follow with large cairns lining the route. Shortly before arriving at the summit I sit out a shower in a makeshift stone shelter which could largely be described as a pile of stones, over head a pair of Ravens squawk over the noise of the wind as the rain pelted at my jacket, for those few moments everything felt quite surreal.

The shower soon passed giving me the green light to get up of my comfortable boulder on which I had perched myself upon. Through the cloud a strong sun started to penetrate my ascent towards the last few hundred yards before reaching Green Gable summit.

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Green Gable summit shelter, as I contemplate another sit down.

Nahh best not, my bums still numb from the last one.

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Cloud mixes with sunlight as I took on my descent towards Windy Gap.

During my descent every now & again the cloud would part revealing the large stone cairn at Windy Gap or even the vast vertical crags of Great Gable. It was at this point I resided to the fact that I wouldn’t get no clear views from here on in, then, whilst crossing Windy Gap vague glimpses of Styhead Tarn would appear revealing The Band then Great End, all within moments Styhead opened up before me as a wall of cloud waited precariously to blanket the fells once more.

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A precious moment reveals Styhead Tarn, The Band & a glimpse of Great End summit.

Moments like these don’t last long, but when they do they are highly rewarding. In great spirit I continue my climb towards Great Gable summit.

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Great Gable summit complete with the FRCC Memorial Plaque.

Climbing Great Gable in low cloud with a howling wind can be a tad intimidating & I would be lying if I told you otherwise as I familiarise myself with the crags & the little scrambles this intimidation turns to butterflies in the pit of my stomach while all around me, visibility is down to just twenty yards.

At times I would stop for a breather or to check my ascent route then press on until the summit shoulder was reached, no false summits here, just a mass of pulverised rock leading you all the way to the summit.

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The New FRCC Memorial Plaque found at Great Gable summit.

I found it odd that I experienced little wind whilst at the summit yet below & across the ridges I was reaching for hat & gloves, perhaps the calming effect that Great Gable has on mother nature.

Ashes are scattered below the Memorial together with a wooden cross with a large Poppy placed across the top, after all Great Gable is the fell that the Fell & Rock Climbing Club holds their own Remembrance Day Service here in November.

I am encircled by cloud & with not much wind to push it along I decide to bed down to see if anything transpires while at the same time leaving my own words whilst reading the Memorial Plaque.

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Kirk Fell & the Ennerdale Valley is revealed through the cloud.

Every now & again the cloud would lift but not entirely although enough to aid my navigation using the stone cairns in the direction of Beck Head & Kirk Fell. I continue to sit out & wait just a few minutes longer it was here the time spent sitting out of the cloud prevailed when all of a sudden Kirk Fell & the Ennerdale Valley opened up, I quickly shouldered pack & followed the stone cairns.

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Kirk Fell appears through the cloud from the start of my steep descent.

I had an all but clear run whilst following the stone cairns before reaching the top of my descent route which when I look back makes me ponder why I would use this way down again as a much better & less awkward path lay off to the right which follows a natural ridge all the way down towards Beck Head.

I had come mentally prepared especially to take in this rough descent as I knew it would be hard on the knees & testing on the mind. From the top of the path Kirk Fell & Beck Head dominates my descent, below me my path drops away in short zig-zags where the scree was loosened by recent rain causing me to slip or slide in a controlled fashion, this only adding to the shock both my knees & ankles are now taking.

That was the good part of the path which fell away into two close-by scree runs, a large boulder field lay to my left which were about the size of footballs, but I found these unstable before reverting back to the scree.

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Wasdale Head seen with Illgill Head, Wast Water Seatallan & Yewbarrow from my descent.

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Kirk Fell & Beck Head.

The sight of three sheep grazing close to where a large erratic boulder stood was my target which progressively got nearer & nearer although at times painfully too slow.

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Rib End, Beck Head & Beck Head Tarns.

I soon pitched down on the soft grass that Beck Head provided, without looking back I made my way to the large boulder where I de-shouldered my pack & just about readjusted almost all my gear including dropping the trousers to adjust my shorts, whilst I was at it I best pull the socks up too as they seemed to have disappeared somewhere into my boots – who if they could talk, wouldn’t be thanking me right now!

It’s close as dam it to lunch so I take out a sandwich & perch myself down much to the amazement of three of the tamest sheep I had yet to see, if anything one got so close I could touch it, I could only guess it was having a good chuckle at my descent route.

Scafell Pike is partially hidden yet I can see Lingmell & Broad Crag quite clearly, from the Mickledore Ridge up towards Scafell is all but lost beneath cloud but it shows promise, everything just looks a mucky green & brown, the crags mingle & at times I cant tell the difference between rock & grass from my perch here at Beck Head.

I try to pick out The Corridor Route starting at the top of Piers Gill which is quite distinctive even through my mucky green & brown vision, however I gave up as just like Mickledore & everything beneath it gave way to just browns & faded greens.

I couldn’t let myself sit down so with my sandwich in hand I have a wee explore over towards Beck Head Tarns, it was here I spotted the ‘better path’ that I should have used but impatiently didn’t, a few choice words crossed my mind but I certainly wasn’t going to beat myself up over it.

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Green & Great Gable seen over Beck Head as I now take on Kirk Fell via Rib End.

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Once again Both Gables can be seen as I approach Kirk Fell summit shoulder.

My ascent on Kirk Fell was positively delightful via Rib End, here although the path is quite wide it in places is obstructed by solid rock so alternatively up to three different narrower paths make up the ascent.

After a steady & steep climb the rock gives way for grass which was most welcoming to the pads of my feet, it was here I felt a hint of tiredness creep in during the easy haul towards Kirk Fell secondary summit, its North Top.

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Pillar,Black Crag & Scoat Fell seen shortly after leaving Kirk Fell North Top.

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Great Gable from of one of the two Tarns that make up Kirk Fell Tarn.

I had been really looking forward to the crossing in-between the North Top & the main summit itself which didn’t disappoint although I was left feeling a little empty for reasons unknown once I reached Kirk Fell summit.

It was here I ponder my views which are starting to break up all around me, I decided to have a sit down in the summit shelter but I didn’t stay long due to a cold wind that blew straight in at me from the south west, perhaps this was the reason which left me feeling empty I’m not too sure.

I knew my legs would have appreciated a longer stay but the wind told me otherwise which was in remarkable contrast to the little wind I had experienced on Great Gable only an hour earlier.

With this I set of & follow the old ruined fence in the direction of Kirk Fell Crags.

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Broad Crag, Lingmell & Scafell Pike are now all but clear from cloud.

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Fabulous views over Pillar & the High Stile Ridge.

I follow the fence before the summit plateau narrows, keeping left here will lead you down Kirk Fell Crags, towards the right, a steep ravine that isn’t on todays itinerary.

Shortly before taking this photo I spot movement coming towards me from the direction of Kirk Fell Crags, we make for each other.

It is a local woman & we are much the similar age, I’m getting out in between school runs she explains, we share out routes before I spot a radio aerial in one of her pack pockets, Oh I’m Mountain Rescue, I’m recruiting wanna join! I explain my situation before she comments, why don’t you move here?

My only answer is I would hadn’t I have the commitments back in Wigan, but one day I will!

We part wishing well on each others day before I reach the top of Kirk Fell Crags.

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Descending Kirk Fell Crags.

Kirk Fell Crags are a great way to tackle little scrambles which was just what I had been talking about with the woman I had just been chatting too, however descending this way can be a little tricky & one mustn’t be ashamed to use ones arse to descend by.

I follow the path down naturally stopping to gain the best ground using both my walking poles in the process, unlike my descent from Great Gable the path here is prominent with lots of alternative ‘ways around’ the awkward bits.

It was here I cut my teeth with my Ice Axe & Crampons on Kirk Fell crags during winter 2012 which I immensely enjoyed, each year I try to go back but something always gets in the way like lack of snow!

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Green Gable & Brandreth viewed from the bottom of Kirk Fell Crags/Top of the Black Sail Pass.

That’s the North Traverse path leading away around ‘the waist’ of Kirk Fell, huge anticipation follows as this is a brand new route for me.

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Kirk Fell North Traverse.

But first a little descent is needed where I would cross Baysoar Slack & Sail Beck before re-joining with the North Traverse.

It was here I felt the remnants of a passing shower overhead as large grey cloud now hung high right above Kirk Fell before being carried on by the wind, panic over.

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The Ennerdale Valley with Hay Stacks & the whole High Stile Ridge incorporating High Crag, High Stile, Red Pike (Buttermere) Starling Dodd & finally Great Borne towards the end of the ridge.

I was now on the main chunk of the North Traverse which as expected had a gentle ascent to it, the path is narrow in places & rocks that have detached from the scree above have to be negotiated. Above the North Traverse Boat How Crags dominate the crossing together with the all too familiar…

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Green & Great Gables over Stone Cove.

As you can see in the right of the picture the North Traverse passes through slight boulder fields which are easily negotiated, my next step was to figure out my route on how I will reach the bottom of Windy Gap seen here between Green & Great Gable. My objective was to make my way to a section of path around 980 feet (300 meters) below Windy Gap.

My map tells me I should follow the North Traverse back to Beck Head but my legs are telling me different as that route would involve a short ascent up via the ridge in the foreground on the photo.

After passing through the boulder field I made my way further along the traverse while trying to gain as much height as possible before making a sharp left off the traverse which would take me directly underneath the fore mentioned ridge.

My route was a little arduous due to the nature of Stone Cove most of which I had to side step in places, what I didn’t expect at such a height was just how spongy the area was which sapped at my energy levels. Directly below the crags I made for a stationary boulder which when I got closer I found a small stone cairn which told me I was following the right course.

The views from Stone Cove over into Ennerdale made up for those awkward side steps.

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The Ennerdale Valley from Stone Cove.

My of the track traverse was well rewarded.

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Seen again after crossing below Windy Gap.

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Kirk Fell & Pillar over Stone Cove.

After reaching my destined path below Windy Gap I headed north west on a section of path known beautifully as Moses Trod, here my path flanks me beneath Brandreth before heading a more lenient north beneath my first summit of the day, Gray Knotts.

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Kirk Fell & Pillar from Moses Trod.

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The Ennerdale Valley from Moses Trod.

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The Buttermere Valley from Moses Trod.

I came to a cross roads in my path where I headed a sharp right towards a wooden stile that crossed a wire fence, behind me Great Gable summit can still be seen & so can Kirk Fell but they are disappearing slowly beneath a mix of cloud & low light.

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Both the Ennerdale & Buttermere Valleys in one photo.

Note how Ennerdale seems higher than the valley of Buttermere, the difference of which is that Ennerdale is approximately 50 feet ASL higher than that of Buttermere.

Now that’s a David Hall fact!

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Descending back to Honister Mine.

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Robinson seen from the top of the Honister Pass.

Small figures descend Fleetwith Pike as a Land Rover kicks up a dust cloud making its way to the spoil heaps situated below Fleetwith Pike summit followed shortly afterwards by a large tourist bus not half full.

Although my mileage is kept relatively low in todays walk the arduous descents from Great Gable & Kirk Fell begin to show as tired muscles begin to ache, more so at the pads of my feet. My trousers show all the signs of a great day on the fells as do my boots who still haven’t forgiven me yet.

Honister is buzzing even though its midweek, lots of Mini Buses are parked on the car park as the tourist’s buy souvenirs from the mine shop, other tourist’s sip at tea on the benches outside as I walk by where it always takes me to a scene years ahead when I wonder one day, is that going to be me.