Tuesday 31 March 2015

Kirk Fell

This was a walk that I wasn't at all sure that we could do, given it was significantly higher up for Poppy, not exactly short, and the weather still wasn't great.  Still, we could always chicken out of doing the high section.  Well, I say that, but know that it takes quite a lot to turn back when you're that close...

Difficulty: 5
Walkers: Tim, Caroline, Isabelle (12), Grace (10), Evie (7), Poppy (4 1/2)
10:45, 0.0km 0h00 0m, Start (77)
16:17, 9.2km 5h32 910m, Kirk Fell (802)
18:37, 14.2km 7h52 927m, End (77)

Since we knew this was a long way, we opted for driving a couple of miles up the valley to the car park, feeling slightly lazy despite the sense.  We were now walking up the valley that Isabelle had been so entranced by, looking down on from the walk on Yewbarrow.  Here's Poppy doing her best 'Where's Wally?' moment. 

After the walking up Black Sail Pass, we tried to find some shelter from the wind to eat lunch, finding a little underneath a rocky outcrop on the direct path to the top of Kirk Fell.  It had already rained and snowed a few times by now, but held off for a quite bite to eat.  It definitely pays off to be flexible about when, where and how much lunch to eat...  Deciding that the direct route to the top wasn't going to be our preferred option, we instead decided to walk further around the base of Kirk Fell, knowing that there was the option of the path up the back.

The snow showers continued, leaving us and everything covered in snow.  Far preferably to rain, just dusting off afterwards.

We made it Beckhead Tarn, the saddle point between Kirk Fell and Great Gable, and for some reason all the kids thought this would be a great time to try and practice stone skimming.  Well, I suspect Isabelle was far too sensible for that...  We paused long enough for the snow to clear, and (I think cheered on by Caroline) we decided to climb up to Kirk Fell.

This shot just 5 minutes later shows the changeable weather, and by this point we were firmly striking up the path, Evie just stopping to relax and show off.

Evie just had time to relax and show off her balancing skills.  I think this this Beckhead Tarn where we were earlier in the middle of the picture, with (left to right) Brandreth, Green Gable and Great Gable in the background

Finally we made it to the top, after quite large bog negotiation, and were really glad of the shelter of the cairn right at the top.  It was the kind of wind where standing up was really quite hard work.   Grace made a snowman up there, left admiring the view of Wast Water in the distance.

We then walked back down the same path, since it was at least on the sheltered side of the fell side, and then continued around to complete our circumnavigation of Kirk Fell.  The weather had improved a little by then, and the whole way down was glorious grassy paths and beautiful views.

Monday 30 March 2015

Hard Knott in the snow

The forecast promised more bad weather, and after the previous day journey around Wast Water in the cloud we weren't immediately keen on another long walk.  So we planned to visit Hardknott Fort and then, assuming the weather wasn't too horrible, to make a shorter trip from the pass up to Hard Knott itself.

Difficulty: 1
Walkers: Tim, Caroline, Isabelle (12), Grace (10), Evie (7), Poppy (4 1/2)
14:47, 0.0km 0h00 0m, Start (392)
15:25, 1.3km 0h37 155m, Hard Knott (549)
15:58, 2.5km 1h10 160m, End (392)

So the first objective was to visit the Roman Fort at the west end of the pass.  It was really quite impressive - thinking of the perseverance of building a large site in this location, although you did wonder just how creative or faithful the various rebuilding was.

Emboldened by the conditions and the thought of an short work we drove a little way further up the pass, found the right spot to leave the car, and headed up the slope.  It really was only a modest walk, but was made more interesting by the snow and wind.  Apart from trying minimise the depth of any bog walked through, sometimes incurring large diversions from the obvious route, I think the real fun of this walk came on the way down, where we got split up - I had most of the girls with me, and Caroline had taken an alternative path down with at least one of them.  We had quite a fun time (not) making sure that we didn't lose anyone else in the bad visibility, but did manage to find them a little further down the path.  Still, another peak knocked off, and a welcome shelter to get back to the car and finally back to the house after tackling the downhill section of the Hardknott Pass.

Sunday 29 March 2015

Around Wast Water

We set off knowing that this was a quite a long walk, but felt it was really worth the opportunity to do another walk from the house, get all the way around Wast Water and pick up the two Wainwrights on the far ridge.

Difficulty: 5
Walkers: Tim, Caroline, Isabelle (12), Grace (10), Evie (7), Poppy (4 1/2)
0.0km 0m, Start (113)
6.1km 547m, Illgill Head (609)
8.3km 587m, Whin Rigg (535)
15.2km 674m, End (109)

We set off with a nice walk around the head of the lake, with nice views where there was no cloud!

Look, no cloud at the lake level!  However, not looking quite so good up the ridge to the right...

This was the last photo I took on the way up - the view quickly disappeared, the path was fairly easy to find but fairly straight up until we reached the path along the ridge.

At the top of Whin Rigg it was pretty windy, raining, and not really much fun.  At this point it was actually true to say that we were better off carrying on rather than heading back, and much chocolate was awarded for forward progress.  The aim of the day was to cover up, well demonstrated by Evie - I'm not sure how she could tell where she was going, but to be honest she wasn't missing any kind of view.

It's fair to say that it didn't get much better as we walked across to Illgill Head, Caroline was putting a brace face on it, but you can tell that Poppy wasn't that impressed.  This was one of those walks where having spare kit in your bag that you can't imagine needing turns out to be really useful.

Isabelle at least was in good spirits, and checking our route.

Finally as we descended from the Illgill Head we started to come out of the clouds, which was quite useful to keep track of people walking at quite different speeds!

Finally we could see where we were going, heading to the far end of Wast Water, with Kirk Fell in the centre and Yewbarrow to the left of this picture.  As we knew the walk was quite a long one, but there was quite a flat section at the start and finish so everyone coped really well.

Saturday 28 March 2015


So let's be honest, this wasn't the kind of walk you would do if you weren't aiming for Wainwrights, but the nice thing about it is that you have an excuse to get out when there's not much view and experience more of the lakes.  So it's not all bad...

Difficulty: 4
Walkers: Tim, Caroline, Isabelle (12), Grace (10), Evie (7), Poppy (4 1/2)
0.0km 0m, Start (78)
2.0km 491m, Middle Fell (582)
3.9km 708m, Seatallan (692)
6.9km 708m, Buckbarrow (423)
9.6km 725m, End (78)

We drove down the lake for a mile or two, and parked by the side of the road near Greendale, for some reason there wasn't much competition for parking spaces.

So this was the view and the terrain on the walk up to Middle Fell.  It was the kind of day you were glad to have access to a satnav - although you know the general idea is to climb upwards, feeling that your journey isn't wasted is a great idea.  I was attempting to get Isabelle more used to map reading and navigating, which worked for the most part.  I think looking at contour lines and working out whether it matches the little you can see is kind of hard.

Still, we reached the top of Middle Fell,

I distinctly remember the climb up to Seatallen as being very steep and fairly relentless, but there were big sections that had these step like features built into the hillside.  As ever the photo doesn't do it justice in how steep it felt, but Poppy kept her balance and we tried to teach her things like traversing up the slope rather than going straight up (as Evie is inclined to do).

Finally we reached the top of Seatallen, where again the compass/satnav was invaluable for making sure we headed down in the right direction.

And finally we emerged out of the cloud to see Cat Bields poking up at the edge of this ridge, our route down before taking a left to Buckbarrow.

Grace at Buckbarrow, showing her typical modesty.

Poppy slightly less modest, being pleased to hit three mountains in a single walk.

The way down was a little less certain. basically heading west to avoid the shear cliffs but not quite too far to get our feet too wet.  It was another occasion when you're happy to just keep getting downhill rather than spend too long looking for the path.  We finished off with a walk down the road back to the car park.

Friday 27 March 2015


The first walk proper on this holiday was from the cottage we were staying in.  Possibly one of our favourites to date, this National Trust property was brilliant.  The obvious walk was up Yewbarrow, although in hindsight this was our nicest day and we should have gone up higher.  Still, we were partly concerned with how Poppy would fair, so didn't want to be too ambitious on the first day.

Difficulty: 3
Walkers: Tim, Caroline, Isabelle (12), Grace (10), Evie (7), Poppy (4 1/2)
0.0km 0m, Start (111)
2.5km 539m, Yewbarrow (627)
7.6km 598m, End (112)

Setting off from the cottage, there was a long track from the farm down to the lakeside, with quite amazing views already.

Then the obvious ridge walk up to Yewbarrow visible.  The path follows the wall up the first section, and then we don't like to talk to much early on about what the next section might be like.

But first a little more walking around the edge of the lake.

Now this is the steeper section, and the girls were great about giving Poppy the guidance and support she needed.  She was well aware that she needed to climb it all herself to count though!

Finally we reached the top, with Evie - obvious very careful to not disturb the cairn.

One of the great things about this time of year, especially on some of the less famous peaks, is the lack of people.  You can get very spoilt being used to the whole fellside to yourselves.

The walk down got a little steep, with Caroline accusing me of planning it all along, but mainly it was a geography lesson for Isabelle.  She'd just done river formation, and was completely bowled over by being able to look down and see all the features laid out beneath her.

Hmm... this was the natural order for slopes such as this.  Evie at the bottom already, Grace not too far behind.  Isabelle more cautious but making sure that Poppy had some help finding the best route down, me just behind in case Poppy needed more help.  Caroline is no where to be seen, but if you listen carefully you can just hear her whimpering about 50m behind,

Onto flatter ground, heading down the valley back to Wast Water.

And finally walking back along the lake side to the cottage.  All in all a very successful walk!

Thursday 26 March 2015

Stanley Force

This was a gentle warm up afternoon walk after driving up from Birmingham that morning on the way to our cottage.  We parked in a car park that is just south of the main road driving up the Eskdale Valley, just before you get to Boot.  The walk itself was only a mile or two, but for the cost of that the falls were pretty good.  No map or route for this one, just another idea of something low level to do, and a chance for some more pictures!

The falls themselves.

At some points the idea of marooning them on a real island and walking away is quite tempting.  At this point, they were all being lovely (probably grateful to get out of the car).