Our original plan this Sunday was to go up Scafell as bad snow stopped us from visiting it while up Scafell Pike a couple of months ago and we beat a hasty bail out route straight down through Mickledore in fear of our lives! LOL. Sadly, the weather forecast for today was very high and cold winds and rain so we decided to go for plan B and save Scafell for a day with a better chance of good views, or at least better than the 5ft we had last time we were up there. Our more humble route today was to take in 2 summits.
Mocked up on Google Earth, it looks like this:
(data used is my exact track exported from Viewranger after the hike.)
I had hiked up Walla Cragg with my wife Mandy the day before and then attended a great 50th Birthday party at a casino that night, so I hadnt had much sleep. That was to be my downfall today as I crawled out of bed after 5hrs sleep. Still - I would rather spend a day on the fells than a day at home, and Mandy had a big shopping trip planned at the Trafford centre with her friend anyway, so off we go.
I leave home about 7am, fuel up and pick my pal Steve up near St Annes at 7:30am and we drive across to Preston to meet Paul, who greets us with a nice McDonalds breakfast wrap and a coffee. Perfect start. We load up into one car and head north! I have never been to Kentmere before, which is nice as Ive visited the majority of lakeland at one time or another so it was good to be somewhere totally new.
We park up by Kentmere chuch. A great place to start the hike and there is free parking by the church and a nice little sign asking for a donation to the church upkeep. Never one to shy away from relevant parking fees, esp[ecially when they go to good causes, I pop £3 in the honesty box and we grab a "Start Point Selfie"
The start of this route takes you across some farmland, complete with lots of sheep, so you have to be vigilant and be sure to close all gates you pass through. (And in our case, close a couple that had been left open by the less considerate before us)
The start of the hike is quite easy going, uphill but not too bad. However, already my calves start to hurt and im feeling very lethargic. Its a nice route that takes you through various farm tracks and in some cases, right through the farms themselves.
Eventually it opens out onto the fells and the Kentmere horseshoe summits all start coming into view. Paul has already done all these bar the two we are doing today, which is why we have chosen to do these seperate. They are normally done as a large group in whats known as "The Kentmere Horseshoe" which is about 12 miles from memory.
The view back to Castle Cragg and Rowntree Knotts is beautiful.
There are a couple of farms and an old quarry deep in this valley, flanked by the huge Ill bell.. we discuss the pros and cons of living somewhere so remote. Personally, I really fancy it, and if it wasnt for the commute to my business in Blackpool and the logistics of regular access to my younger daughter (my older one works with me), I would probably be seriously considering a relocation by now.
The terrain around here is very craggy. I love terrain like this so take quite a few images that I really like. I loved these little lambs resting close to mum. (Or mum grazing close to the kids is probably more accurate)
And then from Hallow Bank and Withered End... The real ascent starts, and its pretty harsh...
The extra height gained soon opens up some great views. My calves are really killing me today and we have to stop a lot to let them calm down. Frustrating for the boys, but good for my image collection. I love this view of what I believe is "Hartrigg" nestled all alone, deep in the valley below the giant fells.
Moving upwards... the climb is quite relentless. Its also very boggy in places and just energy draining for me. I dont enjoy soft boggy terrain at all, it really eats up my energy (and enthusiasm) reserves.
You eventually come to a cragg where you can look back on the valley and see most of your completed ascent path through the valley.
After a brief stop here, its time to keep on moving up...
And up some more...
We stop to grab a selfie as we feel the rain moving in and I fear the camera may be going away for the rest of the trip. Being a little vain in the company of my handsome friends, I took my unflattering woolly hat off for the picture. Looking back through these images, my wife found it amusing that it had left marks all over my head and suggested that for vanitys sake I perhaps should have left it on instead. LOL. That said, she also thinks a balaclava would have helped, so I take no notice of her advice!
Hat donned tightly and we are underway again. Yep, you guessed it... its up some more!
Finally you reach the plateau.. its very wet and boggy, but at least we can actually see the halfway point from here. The summit cairn.
Summit one - Done. Kentmere Pike at 2400ft and its blowing a gale! I imagine the view here is quite nice on a clear day, with Windermere quite prominent in the distance and Conniston old man behind it. But today, its a bit "Meh" in my opinion, and we are all keen to move downwards out of the howling wind!
The route down essentially follows this wall...
Which turns into a fence... but over to the left is a cragg called "Goat Scar" and we think the views there might make up for the less impressive views from Kentmere Pike, so we detour across to there...
And we werent dissapointed at all...
The views here of Gatesgarth Pass snaking its way up the valley between Harter fell and Branstree are very impressive. As is the sheer visibility of Steves red Berghaus jacket!
The view the other way, down the Longsledale valley is equally impressive and I wish we had better light to see it at its best.
Satisfisfied and re-energised by the views, we continue on to the summit of Shippman Knotts. A very un-interesting summit in my opinion. No cairn or anything nor any very interesting views, and the wind is doing a pretty good job of telling us to go away, so we dont even stop here at all, favouring dropping off there and down out of the wind. The descent here is steep. This is an image looking back up to Shipman Knotts.
As we were out of the worst of the wind, but still cold and all getting hungry we decided this was a good place to pitch Steves emergency shelter, which is pretty huge! He has a nice big family so bought himself an 8 man shelter. This means the three of us have plenty of room!
Its always nice to get out of the wind and rain and eat inside one of these. Its incredible how fast they heat up with 2 or more people inside. A very welcome respite from the weather. We all warm up quickly and consume our food. Steve, as always, has been well catered for by his wife and seems to have enough to feed any hungry passers by too! Since there werent any passing hungry hikers... I consumed one of his fine sandwiches too, purely to save him the weight of carrying it back to the car of course!
Suitably fed and watered we continue the descent. This part is pretty harsh and we all agree that in the wet this section probably causes a lot of injuries. In the snow, we wouldnt even bother trying this route at all, even with our crampons.
From there onwards, its just a nice gentle descent back to Kentmere on well trodden paths.
It has to be said, there are some awesome little farm buildings round here. What a place to live and work!
Its always nice to see the lambs out at this time of year, and we werent dissapointed today. My favourite were these two characters who hung about long enough for me to grab this shot before their mum flashed her very sharp looking horns at us and the lambs moved on.
From there its just roads all the way back to the church. It really has been a great day... hard on my calves and my fitness feels at an all time low. Im hoping its just due to the hike the day before and the late night taking its toll. I guess the next hike will answer that one but im starting to suspect a pottasium or magnesium deficiency. At least it gives me something to Google in bed.
Oddly - it was at this point, while my calves were on fire and my lungs ready to take a break for 6 months that we decided it would be a brilliant idea to wild camp and climb Ben Nevis in a couple of months. Hmm... watch this space!
All images in this blog were taken with my Canon G7X point and shoot pocket camera. My camera of choice when hiking any distance. The Canon 5D3 SLR stays at home and only comes back with me if I come across any location really worth coming back for with time on my hands to make the best of it.
Here is a little Suunto movie of the trip, showing the route via Google earth.
And some data aquired by the Suunto Ambit 3 peak watch too. Interesting for ascent, descent and mileage etc. (calories are pretty accurate as I wear the Suunto Smart HR monitor too.)
Here is some data from my Viewranger Account.
(This is active and you can change the maps used to OS maps etc instead)
A little about me:
For as long as I can remember I have been passionate about landscape photography. I love nothing more than leaving the house at 4am and heading to some distant landscape with a view to capturing an awesome sunrise during golden hour and then staying out shooting all day until night falls and trying to capture an incredible sunset... this escalated into a love of hiking.
Sometimes it's very successful, as you will see from this website, but other times its extremely frustrating and I just spend 12hrs getting cold, wet and downhearted with the weather, but that comes with the British climate and makes the great captures all the more satisfying.
My equipment centres around the incredible Canon 5D MK3 Body which is a fantastic camera by any standard and with a resolution of 22mp allows me to create very large prints with no loss of detail, and I have the amazing 18mp high speed Canon EOS 7D as my backup body... just in case of disaster! If hiking any distance, or with long, hard ascents I often just take the awesome Canon G7X, a 21mp pocket camera that is almost as capable as my 5D MK3.
I hope you enjoy reading my trip reports and looking at my images. If you would like to hang any on your wall and its not part of my main gallery (A trip report image for example), please feel free to drop me a line and I will upload a high resolution version to the main gallery for purchase.