Thursday 25 October 2018

Great Gable and a slippery route down

Rather than the original plan for Great Gable, which was to park at Gatesgarth Farm and take the path between Fleetwith Pike and Haystacks, we opted to drive up to Seathwaite and try our luck at the on road parking.  Now this was with a small bit of regret, since my only childhood memory of walking hills in the lakes was doing Haystacks with my Dad, and complaining bitterly on the long slow descent down this path.  So I was slightly looking forward to having a similar experience with my kids!  Still, some route planning the evening before made this option look a little shorted and added the ability to pick up two extra peaks, Seathwaite Fell and Base Brown.

Difficulty: 6
Walkers: Tim, Caroline, Grace (14), Evie (10), Poppy (8)
10:15, 0.0km 0h00 0m, Start (127)
11:58, 3.3km 1h43 465m, Seathwaite Fell (601, Wainwright)
12:11, 4.0km 1h55 499m, Seathwaite Fell (Great Slack-Seathwaite Fell) (632, Hewitt)
14:17, 7.2km 4h01 921m, Great Gable (899, Wainwright, Hewitt)
15:24, 8.4km 5h08 1006m, Green Gable (801, Wainwright, Hewitt)
16:00, 9.8km 5h44 1047m, Base Brown (646, Wainwright, Hewitt)
18:13, 13.3km 7h57 1148m, End (127)

We drove to Seathwaite, and managed to park within a dozen cars from the end of the road.  Maybe this was something to do with the overcast skies and forecasts of rain.

We took the path going to Stockley Bridge, seen here on the far left of this picture, before crossing right in front of Seathwaite Fell, here in the centre.

Climbing up Seathwaite Fell, you got the sense that this was the last we would see of the valley floor for a while.

Seathwaite Fell, the Wainwright - clearly picked over the higher Hewitt point due to the awesome views from this location.  Did I mention that it was raining?  The really good thing was that everyone was engaged with the walk and loving the conditions!

Grace, very excited to be at the Hewitt point for Seathwaite Fell.

You can really see what extra view those extra 31m of height gets you, compared to the Wainwright view.

And so we went down past Sprinkling Tarn (which was huge), Sty Head (which was fairly deserted), and up the long climb to Great Gable.  I'm not sure whether it helps when you can't see the top - less chance to get disheartened at the climb to come, less chance to get excited about getting to the top.  Still, with Evie dragging her heels (despite having finished her second packet of crisps), we finally made it.  Coming off the top we started down the wrong path, tried to cut across to the right path, found a nice looking cliff edge, so retraced our steps and found the right path.  Again, zero visibility and a nice flattish top that looks identical from all directions makes navigation quite interesting.

We came down and across to Green Gable, which was noticeably more green (apart from right at the top).   There was a large group of people there, clearly on a similar walk, and we shared stories of how much better the view was from Great Gable.

From here we walked along the ridge to Base Brown.  Again, we somehow couldn't see the impressive views that Wainwright sought, but never mind.  Just another excuse to need to come back here in better weather.  We now took the direct route down to Seathwaite, which turned out not to be the wise choice.  It was very steep, very slippery, consequently very slow going.  Even when we were on the main path, the route next to Sourmilk Gill was huge slabs of rock that were treacherous.  The light levels were falling, but we managed to get off the slopes before we needed to resort to our torches.  It's finishes like this that make me happy that we typically allow quite a bit of safety margin when thinking what time we need to finish.

Wednesday 24 October 2018

High Stile Ridge

Our second walk with a full compliment of children, we aimed to do the other walk planned from the house, along the High Stile ridge.  It meant going up the path to Red Pike again, but this time turning left.  The weather looked similar to other days - cloudy up on top, with a chance of rain all day.

Difficulty: 6
Walkers: Tim, Caroline, Isabelle (16), Grace (14), Evie (10), Poppy (8)
10:02, 0.0km 0h00 0m, Start (134)
12:41, 5.5km 2h38 764m, Red Pike (Buttermere) (755, Wainwright, Hewitt)
13:13, 6.8km 3h11 857m, High Stile (806, Wainwright)
13:25, 7.1km 3h22 864m, High Stile (Grey Crag-High Stile) (807, Hewitt)
14:06, 8.8km 4h03 917m, High Crag (744, Wainwright, Hewitt)
16:57, 16.0km 6h54 1089m, End (135)

We were able to straight to the working bridge this time, but other than trying to get both the Wainwright and Hewitt at High Stile with very little visibility the route was fairly obvious.

Up the familiar path through the trees.

View back to Buttermere, with our house the white one at the right hand edge of the picture.

Red Pike, second visit for this holiday. 

High Stile, the Wainwright.

High Stile, the Hewitt.  Double rations all round. 

The view descending from High Stile down, before the climb back up for High Crag. 

Poppy at High Crag, admiring the awesome view down to Buttermere. 

Finally coming down out of the clouds, sitting around quite a while as the family was descending all at very different speeds.

The view from Scarth Gap, looking at Haystacks straight ahead.

Now going down from Scarth Gap towards Gatesgarth Farm.

Isabelle and Grace, showing they are not too old to scamper ahead and find hiding places. Grace's technique for coming back to safety was to shuffle on her bottom, wavering from side to side trying to balance and not fall in, and painfully negotiating the branches and tree stumps back to safety.  Isabelle's technique for coming back was to walk quickly and calmly back.  Age clearly wins!

Tuesday 23 October 2018


We took the luxury of driving down the lake to park at Gatesgarth Farm, to save on the walk there and back, although Caroline and Isabelle decided to do the walk back while the rest of us took the car.  Grace was on navigation duty, which wasn't trivial due to the low cloud over the peaks.

Difficulty: 5
Walkers: Tim, Caroline, Isabelle (16), Grace (14), Evie (10), Poppy (8)
10:01, 0.0km 0h00 0m, Start (110)
11:52, 3.2km 1h50 495m, Haystacks (597, Wainwright)
13:45, 6.9km 3h43 722m, Brandreth (715, Hewitt, Wainwright)
14:06, 7.8km 4h04 731m, Grey Knotts (697, Wainwright)
15:40, 11.7km 5h38 903m, Fleetwith Pike (649, Hewitt, Wainwright)
17:04, 13.7km 7h02 928m, End (111)

We headed across the end of the lake and then up to Scarth Gap, before climbing to Haystacks.

From the end of the lake we could see the tops free of cloud, although that wasn't to last.  Fleetwith Pike on the left, Haystacks right of centre.

And looking the other way, back towards Buttermere, Melbreak left of centre and Ranerdale Knotts right of centre.

Climbing to Scarth Gap. 

Last view of the lakes before we headed too far up into the cloud. 


Innominate Tarn, feeling the ghost of Alfred Wainwright.

Grace's navigation to Brandreth wasn't completely spot on.

However, we got there, only hampered by not being a clear top and my phone malfunctioning due to water damage, so checking we were actually at the right place was kind of hard. 

And then to Grey Knotts.  Not much to see.

Finally, through a slight diversion or two heading to Honister Slate Mine, and then down the tramway a little too much, to Fleetwith Pike.

As ever these pictures don't do the descent justice - it was very steep and slightly scary disappearing into the cloud.

Finally the lake appeared out of the cloud.

Grace decided it was a great photo opportunity to go ahead and get me to take her picture.  Can you see her?

The rest of the kids decided that was such a great idea they went ahead too, while we were still waiting for Caroline to finish the last steep bit, so here are all of them.  Nice, isn't it?

Evie was very keen on me taking a shot of the meandering river, although not so keen that her sisters were in the same shot.

Monday 22 October 2018

Rannerdale Knotts and the pub

That morning I drove half way back to Birmingham to pick up Grace, who had be playing hockey the day before and her grandparents had been ferrying her around.  It was a beautiful morning, completely clear skies, and it felt terrible to be missing out.  Caroline went for a walk around Buttermere and it rained.  So maybe I wasn't missing out on much...  Isabelle was working all day, so in the afternoon we took everyone else out for a quick stroll up to Rannerdale Knotts.  I didn't take my phone for the walk, so these pictures are from Caroline's camera - much the superior...

Difficulty: 3
Walkers: Tim, Caroline, Grace (14), Evie (10), Poppy (8)
14:19, 0.0km 0h00 0m, Start (139)
15:19, 2.9km 0h59 248m, Rannerdale Knotts (355, Wainwright)
18:04, 9.8km 3h45 535m, End (135)

From the house we walked to Buttermere and then up Mill Beck before turning up the ridge.

Poppy and me leading the way.

First to the top of Rannerdale Knotts.

Caroline, having joined us at the top and let me take some photos.

Evie, slightly bored.

Grace, trying out some of her new walking kit, bought for her school trip to the Lakes in December.

Having descended off the end, we took the option of walking back on the north side of the ridge.

Finally coming back out above Buttermere village, to see the sun getting low over Crummock Water.  We then went to the pub before the short walk home.  See - we can do relaxed walking!

Sunday 21 October 2018

Red Pike & the Boggy Valley

It was likely tomorrow was a day off, as we had to pick Grace up, so we opted for a longer walk despite the forecast heavier rain.  It was set to clear in the afternoon, but rather than go higher at the end of the walk to try and get a better view, we decided to stick to the plan and head high early to avoid walking down the steep route between Buttermere and Red Pike.

Difficulty: 6
Walkers: Tim, Caroline, Isabelle (16), Evie (10), Poppy (8)
9:55, 0.0km 0h00 0m, Start (134)
12:39, 5.8km 2h43 672m, Red Pike (Buttermere) (755, Wainwright, Hewitt)
13:37, 8.1km 3h41 750m, Starling Dodd (633, Hewitt, Wainwright)
14:24, 10.2km 4h29 865m, Great Borne (616, Wainwright, Hewitt)
17:41, 19.5km 7h46 984m, End (135)

We started and finished from the house, going up high to start with and then heading back through the boggy valley.  We set off around 50 behind the 'safe schedule to get back by sunset' point, lost a bit of time through an early diversion, but made up time on the second half of the walk to get home a few minutes inside the target.

We could see some of Red Pike from the house to start with, but not much.

View of the famous tree at the end of Buttermere.  Trying to explain to the girls why it was famous wasn't easy.  We passed two people who were staking out the tree (presumably all day) to get the perfect shot...

The bridge we were aiming for was out (due to be replaced, work starting June 2019), so we had to head back around and go over Scale Bridge and back to the start of the climb up Red Pike.

Going through the trees up to Red Pike.

The last(ish) view of Buttermere before we went too high into the clouds.

It was raining pretty constantly and pretty hard all morning.  Everyone got a bit cold and a bit wet.

Finally made it to the top of Red Pike, Evie not very impressed to have been made to climb all that way. 

From Red Pike we kept on going, so effectively turning right away from Buttermere.  Here is cloud lifted occasionally on the way to Starling Dodd.

At Starling Dodd, more sweets from Evie's bag, and the misty route forward to Great Borne.

Evie demanded her photo be taken on this rock.  It wasn't that special a rock, in my opinion.

Poppy at the top of Great Borne.

The steep but grassy way down the hillside.  We got to the bottom, found the toilets, had some chocolate.  Had some more chocolate.  And then Caroline got to the bottom.

Walking back down the boggy valley towards Crummock Water.  The last time we were here we'd managed to drop Poppy in a stream when trying to cross it.  This time we did try and avoid the stream, but turned back after reaching a fence with no style, but did manage to get everyone safely across. 

Looking towards Crummock Water.

At Scale Force, looking downstream (and avoiding the keen camera people staking out the falls).

Finally getting some patches of sun, looking at Crummock Water & Buttermere, with the village and our house inbetween.

At Scale Bridge, towards Crummock Water.

Scale Bridge, looking towards Buttermere.

Finally back to the house, looking back the way we had finished the walk.