Hello and welcome to 2017!
With all the hustle and bustle of the festive period, I was very keen to get some time to myself before I went back to work on January 3rd. I managed to get out once over Christmas and did a great circular with my daughter Steph over Fleetwith Pike and Haystacks from Gatesgarth Farm, (Click to open that blog in a new window), but this time I fancied a solo. Folk who do it themselves will know what I mean when I say that walking the fells alone is absolutely unbeatable. It's a very different experience to doing it with other people.
For the first hike of 2017 I will visit the summits of:
Seathwaite Farm - CA12 5XJ. (Side Verge - Free, or farmers field £4 for the day)
Time & Distance Info
All image description text is "above" the image that it is referring to on my blogs.
Some find that odd... But that is the way I like to do it.
This route, when viewed in Opentopo map looks like this: (North / South Orientation correct)
(Walking Anti-clockwise from the top right)
And the view of the route as seen on Google Earth. (Walking Anti-clockwise from the bottom right)
Here is the elevation profile: (Height on the left axis, and mileage along the bottom)
I left Blackpool at 7am, heading over to Ings for my usual pre-hike breakfast at the Cafe Ambio there. Then I took a leisurely drive through the heart of the lake district, making it to Seathwaite for 9:15am. There is quite a lot of verge parking here, and if it fills up the farmer has a field open you can park in all day for £4. Ideal.
I have my boots on the fells for 9:45am. There is a hard frost on the ground as the sun has not been up long. East is over to my left so as it rises up above the Langdales it is just starting to illuminate my first fell for me. That being Base Brown, a new one to me.
The route today takes us up alongside Sourmilk Gill. Initially, just following this wall until I reach...
One of the most unusual ladder stiles I have ever seen.
It's steep and pretty hard going but as the reward, you gain height very quickly. The view back over Seathwaite Farm and the parked cars is nice.
I couldn't do this section justice with an image. It's quite scrambly and full hands on for a few minutes here.
Once it's boxed off though, you get a great view of the northern end of Base Brown.
And the Raven Crag end of Grey Knotts. Honister Slate Mine is on the other side of that fell.
From here, to do this route is quite tricky as there is no distinct path. However, the plan is to head directly for that huge boulder and pick up the path from there. It's a little easier to make out from over there.
The suns getting higher now and giving everything that gorgeous early morning glow.
On the OS map, this rock has its own label. The Hanging Stone.
Seathwaite Valley Selfie
I liked how the light was washing out the valley behind this little tree.
Seathwaite Valley... Looking right back to the Dodds and Helvellyn.
As I gain height, my first glimpse of Derwent water comes into view, with the magnificent Skiddaw and Blencathra to the rear.
Phew - Base Brown summit ahead.
Base Brown summit view of Skiddaw and Blencathra with Dale Head (I think) between us.
My onwards view to Green and Great Gables. This is looking steeper than I anticipated.
Yep - Steepness confirmed!
Great view to enjoy on my frequent breather stops though. This is the view back along Base Brown.
I had a brief chat with this gentleman who caught up to and overtook me. One of only three people I spoke to today.
After a lot of huffing and puffing, Green Gable summit came into view. But....
So did a far better one. Buttermere and Crummock flanked by Haystacks, High Crag, High Stile and Red Pike with Mellbreak back there for good measure too! What a view.
There is a guy taking his time photographing Great Gable with a tripod setup here at the Green Gable summit. I didnt interupt him... In fact, I took quite a few of my own.
What a stunner Great Gable is from up here. This angle shows my intended ascent path up the left-hand side of her.
The view down into Windy Gap. Before we can go up - We must first go down.
Which to be frank, just makes me want to eat! Time to settle down to some serious pasta and coffee - with a view to die for. With the 3'000ft Pillar holding back the clouds to the left.... Ennerdale Valley to its right with the High Stile range then separating Ennerdale from the Buttermere valley. Just serene. I almost wish I still smoked. This is a view to fire up a cigar with! Instead, I made do with a tomato pasta and a hot cup of coffee.
Lets zoom in and take a closer look at my favourite bodies of water in the lakes. Buttermere and Crummock. Wainwright's final resting place, Haystacks, lays between us and Buttermere. His ashes are scattered on Innominate Tarn which is just out of view in a depression just this side of and below Haystacks Summit.
Panning left brings me to a fell I haven't yet visited. Kirk Fell. It doesn't look too bad from this side. But then, about 2'500ft of the ascent up it isnt in view from this side either. Ha Ha.
But today's next challenge is Great Gable. Zooming in shows plenty of folk about, as there always are on this iconic fell.
I have noted over the last 30 mins or so the cloud has been building up. Hmm.... I wonder if Its going to spoil my day? I have been on Green Gable before and seen nothing, so today has beaten that already... but my only previous visit to Great Gable was view-less too. I am hoping for good views up there today.
You can see my onwards path from here. A descent down to Windy Gap and then upwards again for the long slog up to the top of Great Gable.
I decided to make a movie here before I left Green Gable.
As I ascend Great Gable, The view down to Styhead Tarn is great. Which is handy as I needed a lot of stops on this stretch!
The view back across to Green Gable is lovely too.
But the cloud is moving in...
Blocking the view in all directions....
Oh well... All I can do is keep on moving. I love the diffused light that thin cloud cover creates.
After a lot of huffing and puffing I finally reached the top. I head directly for the Fell & Rock Climbing Clubs memorial. The memorial was placed in memory of their members who died in the first world war. This is a new plaque. The old plaque was removed on 10th July 2013 by the Royal Engineeers. A replacement plaque was installed September 2013, also by the Royal Engineers. I believe the old memorial was moved to the Armitt Museum, Ambleside.
The inscription reads:
"IN GLORIOUS & HAPPY MEMORY OF THOSE WHOSE NAMES ARE INSCRIBED BELOW
MEMBERS OF THE CLUB WHO DIED FOR THEIR COUNTRY IN THE EUROPEAN WAR 1914 - 1918.
THESE FELLS WERE ACQUIRED BY THEIR FELLOW MEMBERS & BY THEM VESTED IN THE NATIONAL TRUST FOR THE USE & ENJOYMENT OF THE PEOPLE OF OUR LAND FOR ALL TIME."
They really did aquire the fells. They bought them in honour of the fallen. There is a great article about the club and what they did here: (Click here to open the story in a new window)
I sat here for maybe 10 minutes with a hot coffee and a tuna sandwich, watching the hazy view come and go and reading what I could through the cloud and the snow stuck to it. I noticed there was a gentleman on the plaque who shared my surname. As my family are all originally from Cumbria I wonder if we were related?
Memorials like this are a sobering sight in any place. But up here, a tad below 3000ft It really hits home. I sit here and consider the people who climb up here in their hundreds every single year for rememberance day. That is serious dedication as its a serious walk.
I have no shame in admitting I stood here with my camera, all alone, wiping back tears from my eyes as the clouds suddenly cleared to reveal exactly what those guys were fighting for back then. Our freedom and our right to roam our beautiful country... We are all forever in their debt.
What a view. This is my first good view on Great Gable too, and it really was was worth waiting for.
It never cleared up fully, but for me the cloud makes the scene really.
The hazy view over to Buttermere.
The annoying thing about taking images of fell summits in moving cloud, is that an image just cant do the scene justice. There is something amazing about watching the cloud move around you. So.. I made a video to capture the moment.
Sadly, its time to go.... I have chosen to descend the Westmorland Cairn side, to Sty Head. A much easier path to descend on than the one I chose to ascend with.
Sprinkling Tarn looks great from here, perched to the rear of Seathwaite Fell. It also looks great because the cloud seems to have gone for good now. Well isnt that just typical?!
The nose of Seathwaite Fell is still basking in sunshine. Styhead Tarn below it is my next waypoint.
The path onwards is icy cold and treacherous. Great End looks fabulous from this side.
The last statement is quite well punctuated by the appearance of the mountain rescue stretcher box! Treacherous indeed...
I hope never to have any use for one of these. But its reassuring to know that these things exist. Along of course with the amazing team of volunteers that have the dedication and skills to come out and use them... Our awesome Mountain Rescue Teams.
Looking up at Great End from Sty Head junction.
Styhead Tarn and Great End... A glorious view.
That one there may well turn out to be my 214th and final Wainwright. I havent quite decided yet, as I have 54 of the 214 to do yet, but her name alone just seems to make so much sense as an awesome ending.
There is a footbridge at Pattersons Fold that will take you safely across Styhead Gill.
Did I say safely? Its in bad shape actually...
The onward path is icy and quite treacherous, but it is also well laid and sturdy. Only the cold weather has made it hard work.
After a mile or so you come to Stockley Bridge. I found a retractable dog lead a few meters prior to it and picked it up, expecting the couple up ahead of me with the dog had probably lost it while taking pictures. I was right.
I took a few pics of Stockley Bridge, trying to make it work well with Seathwaite Fell behind it. I think with my SLR and some filters I could make a very nice scene of this.
As I leave Stockley Bridge behind, I see Taylor Force Waterfall on the other side as the Sky turns orange and purple!
Another awesome hike over. I am on the home straight just as the sun sets behind Seathwaite Fell, leaving me with just one last image worth shooting before I stroll the last 15 minutes to the car. As end of solo hikes go - This was perfection.
Here is some data from my Suunto Ambit 3 peak watch.
Calories etc are pretty accurate as I use the Suunto Smart heart monitor on all my hikes. GPS data is updated every 1 second so it records every single footstep, thus mileage often looks a little different to most navigation apps as they are usually set to update far less frequently and so miss a few turns here and there. All that wandering around looking at views adds up.
Here is my Viewranger data.
VR members can sign in and view it on OS maps too. Feel free to scroll around, the map is active.
Finally, here is a 3D representation of the route created by Suunto Movescount.
The fells are there to be enjoyed, not endured. When it stops being fun, turn back and go home. Above all, remember the golden rules:
1) "Getting to the top is optional - Getting back down is mandatory"
2) "Take only pictures, leave only footprints and keep only memories".
All images in this blog that don't state they were taken on my phone, were taken with my little pocket-sized Canon G7X point and shoot. Its not a patch on my Canon 5D MK3 of course but I no longer lug all that around with me hiking as its just too cumbersome. When I find a scene worthy of the 5D3's talents, I usually return one day to make the best of it.
Route Completed on January 2nd 2017 - Solo.
New Wainwrights: 1. New total: 160 of 214.
New Birketts: 1. New total 217 of 541.