This weekend I was at the mercy of the weather forecast which saw me sit out a perfectly good Saturday which is something that I hadn’t done in a long time, what I am referring to of course is sitting around the house although I did manage to keep myself busy on other stuff.
The forecast swapped & changed throughout the day so I came up with two walks roughly in the same area which would be undertaken given the weather on arrival because lets face it, you can stare at a forecast on a computer screen but there’s nothing better than a field test.
Plan A should I get the weather was a winter ascent on Wetherlam via Steel Edge, then a simple return via Wetherlam Edge & back to Tilberthwaite. My plan B which turned into a great, & atmospheric walk which was this one.
This is Black Fell & Holme Fell from Yew Tree Tarn.
ASCENT: 2,000 Feet – 610 Meters
WAINWRIGHTS: 2, Black Fell (Black Crag) – Holme Fell
WEATHER: Heavy Snow During The Morning Turning Overcast With Sunny Spells. Feeling Mild. Highs Of 2°C Lows Of -2°C
PARKING: Yew Tree Tarn
WALKING WITH: On My Own
ORDNANCE SURVEY: OL6
TIME TAKEN: 4 Hours
ROUTE: Yew Tree Tarn – Glen Mary Bridge – Lane End – Tarn Hows – Iron Keld Plantation – Black Fell (Black Crag) – Low Arnside – Low Oxen Fell – High Oxen Fell Farm – Hodge Close – Holme Fell – Uskdale Gap – Harry Gaurds Wood – Yew Tree Tarn
Wainwright Guidebook Four
The Southern Fells
A craggy southern front, a switchback ridge, a cluster of small but very beautiful tree – girt tarns (old reservoirs), and a great quarry that reveals the core of colourful slate lying beneath the glorious jungle of juniper & birch, heather and bracken, make this one of the most attractive of Lakeland fells.
Yew Tree Tarn, 09.40am -2°C
Due to the forecast I set my alarm a little later & treated myself to a little lie in. By 08:00am I was on the road & heading north, not before defrosting my ice block of a car that is. Much of my journey witnessed dawn break which was a nice highlight as the driving to Lakeland during the winter months is normally done under the cover of darkness. By the time I reached Jct 36 dawn had broke but didn’t really reveal much in the way of light. Snowploughs gritted the A591 back & forth as I followed a steady line of traffic all the way through to Ambleside where I broke off through Skelwith Bridgebefore heading towards Coniston.
Snow flurries came & went which never really amounted to much, on occasions water which had ran off the nearby hills had frozen over the road surface which always seemed to catch you on the tightest of bends, nevertheless I made it to the lay by besides Yew Tree Tarn unscathed.
My first sight of the lay by sent a little shock back as it was almost full leaving space for just one carefully parked car as I span my car around so it would face the right way for my return something of which I needn’t of done but Ill get to that later. The car in front was occupied by what looked like a couple of teenagers, from the looks of things the battery had died as the lights flickered on & off which each turn of the key, I found it quite odd to find a couple of young lads stranded so early on a Sunday morning but who I am to judge.
My pack was full of winter kit most of which could of been left in the car ie: Ice Axe, Crampons as the weather had already made my decision to stay low as by now, the snow had started to fall quite heavily & was starting to stick. Despite the snow it was still quite mild so gloves where left in side pockets as I locked my car before crossing the road where I picked up the short path towards Glen Mary Bridge.
Looking back towards the lay-by & Yew Tree Tarn.
A total lax in concentration saw me miss the path besides Tom Gill, I can only put this down to the fidgeting I was doing while trying to find my happy medium walking in the snow while at the same time feeling hot & uncomfortable beneath all my gear, a little mistake but still a pleasant route to gain Tarn Hows by.
Tarn Hows in mono.
My path as times was steep & the snow kept falling in heavy burst before stopping & suddenly starting again. By the time I reached Tarn Hows a couple of walkers were kitting up at the car park, one of whom joined me down the path towards the side of the Tarn while to our left a heard of Belted Galloway cattle grazed beneath a canopy of trees.
I’ve been here in most seasons & understandably Autumn is probably my favourite, however, despite how bleak Tarn Hows looked & indeed feels, walking around the path was a real highlight that I took from the walk.
Here, looking back along the path, it was still snowing quite heavy.
It was fantastic to blaze my own trail through the fresh snow which fell without any wind at all, great thick lumps of white snow which coated the ground very quickly, while Im on the subject it always pays to trust your footings when walking over fresh snow because you never know when its fallen over a frozen puddle until its to late.
Falling in the snow when your a kid is no doubt great fun, however holding a slide when your close to 41 isnt…
Good job no-one was looking.
Possibly this o’l girl.
It had come the time to leave the path as I left Tarn Hows behind for the Rose Castle Planation of which I only passed through momentarily before arriving at a wooden sty which opened out to this view over Torver Intake.
I had been here only once before which is close to four years ago now, I thought I my memory would re-jog as I can normally remember old routes quite easily, however, I drew a blank, I guess my mono scenery didn’t help either.
I soon sighted a path that runs through the centre of the photo, my memory dosnt recollect as I remember the last time I was here I walked along the intake wall seen running across the centre of the photo right to left, either way the stone wall was where I needed to be as I stuck to an alternative path seen centre.
Passing through the Iron Keld Plantation.
It wasnt long before I was on the path with the stone wall; only my approach was from the far left rather than the right which I had used previously. I instantly recognised the signpost which had a large wooden gate besides sign posted Sunny Brow, I checked at my map which suggested I was on the right track, however I could have stayed on the stone wall track a little further from which I could also pick up the High Arnside path, both of which would of lead me almost to the foot of Black Fell.
Black Fell (Black Crag) summit trig point.
Black Fell summit soon came into view from afar & all I had to do was aim for it despite the countless depressions which at times the summit trig point dissapered to & from my view.
I had been walking since leaving Yew Tree Tarn without hat & gloves, I think I was about to change that as a cold wind blew straight through me.
Time spent at the summit was magical, my time there also felt new as I had already mentioned it has been quite some time since I was last here.
The views weren’t to bad either.
Wansfell Pike & Windermere seen from Black Fell (Black Crag) summit.
Is that a hint of promise in those skies? Ill have to wait & see.
Lingmoor Fell & Pike O’Blisco seen over Low Arnside.
Everything was recognisable again as I left the summit for the High Arnside path via a steep path that lead over (thankfully) frozen ground. Ahead was Low Arnside Farm & beyond was a side of Lingmoor Fell that I had rarely seen which dominated my descent as did Pike O’Blisco as the cloud slowly began to lift from its summit.
Low Arnside Farm.
I soon arrived at Low Arnside Farm where I gave a wave to the farmer who had just left his sheep a welcome feed, it wasn’t the last encounter I would have with the quad riding farmer.
After passing through the farm grounds I spot a group of walkers heading towards me, we share our good mornings before I take a left a fork in the path, where my path leads would see me across the A593 before picking up the path at the junction bound for High Oxen Fell, Hodge Close & finally Holme Fell.
Lingmoor Fell seen over Little Fell.
The views over Lingmoor Fell from High Oxen Fell were inspiring, so much so I even thought of a ascent after I had finished this walk.
But why rush eh…
A close up of Wetherlam & Steel Edge from High Oxen Fell.
Views of Seat Sandal, Grisedale Hause, Fairfield, Great Rigg & Stone Arthur.
And a little closer.
Passing High Oxen Fell Farm.
The quad riding farmer must of been doing his rounds as he passed me on more than one occasion along the High Oxen Fell path where I opened gates for him, we were like mates by the time I reached High Oxen Fell farm.
I had all intentions of paying a visit to Hodge Close quarry but was deterred once I glanced at the path that lead steeply down the quarry itself. Ice had formed over the large boulders which didn’t look to inviting at all. Instead I shall have a look from above.
Hodge Close Quarry.
Best not to slip here too, its a long way down.
It was sad to see forms of fly tipping whether it be an old washing machine or what looked like the remains of car seen in the photo as a red dot. Anyway never mind I guess what took the gaze away was the ladder I spotted underneath a tunnel entrance seen just left of where the car was left.
Wetherlam & Blake Rigg seen over Tilberthwaite.
Closing in on Wetherlam.
Looking east from Holme Fell summit.
Holme Fell summit was soon reached not before a few detours west of the summit which saw grassy banks overlook Tilberthwaite together with Wetherlam which domineered the whole view west of Holme Fell summit.
I was back in the snowline & had been for the last 1’700 feet (200 meters) Here the snow was fresh & much deeper than anything I had experienced back on Black Crag, I had to find my way off the summit to Holme Fell’s subsidiary summit (seen in the right of the photo) which was by means easier said than done as I was forced back by the usual routes which had been glazed in ice.
I picked my way pack to the summit before heading north along the shoulder where I picked up a steep grassy snow covered path that would lead me directly towards Uskdale Gap & my route of the fell.
Coniston Old Man & Coniston from Holme Fell.
The Langdale Pikes & Lingmoor Fell.
Snow topped Pikes.
Uskdale Gap was exactly as I had remembered yet this time it was covered in fresh snow, here I stuck to the left for most of my descent, the rougher yet wider option would to have descended where a natural course of water had formed, in it debris littered the whole route from large loose boulders to trees branches & bracken that tangled at the ankles, Ill stick to the narrow path I think.
Once down the initial desecnd Uskdale Gap turns right where views over Yew Tree Tarn are opened up to, here the path is still narrow as it levels high over Harry Gaurds Wood from which two options are available, Yew Tree Tarn or stay with the path a little further towards Yew Tree Farm, the latter the better, mine the rougher.
Yew Tree Tarn.
The last remnants of my path was boggy as I squelched my way through towards the Dam Wall at Yew Tree Tarn where to my surprise the sun had just come out revealing Yew Tree Tarn in all its frozen glory.
It was hard to believe that just under four hours ago at this exact spot it was snowing & I could hardly see the tops of the trees, but that is what walking in Lakeland is all about, the diversity of the weather & what a low level walk can bring.
My walk wasn’t quite over as I decided to have a drive down to Monk Coniston from where I could view Coniston Old Man while sipping on hot coffee.
Coniston Old Man from Monk Coniston.