May Bank Holiday Monday in the Lakes.
Since it was likely going to be very busy, my friend Paul planned us a hike in the quieter and less popular North Western Fells. Our route was to take in 6 Summits, all Wainwrights and were to include.
And the route, when converted from GPX to be viewed on Google Earth, looks like this. I like to view them this way too as it helps me understand the terrain better than my OS maps. (This is actually our final track, downloaded from my Suunto Ambit 3 peak after the event)
It has to be said, looking at this route on the map I didnt fancy it much as it looked a little unexciting. This is probably just due to the fact that I like to couple my hikes with photography and I didnt see much chance of any great landscape photography images of the Lake District on this route. But that said, Ive also set myself the challenge of completing all the "Wainwrights" so these fells needed doing regardless and I guess Pauls suggestion that we do these while all the poular routes are busy on a bank holiday is a very valid one as one of my main reasons for hiking is to get away from cars and people... not easy on a Bank Holiday in lakelend!
So, alarm set for 6am, I get up, make my lunch, pack and leave Blackpool en route for Preston to pick up Paul at 7:45am. The roads are nice and quiet. Suspiciously so in fact. We make great time and thus decide to drop into Keswick's lovely "Filling Station" cafe for a quick cup of tea and a sandwich. After enjoying those, we still get parked up at Powter How car park at around 9:30am. There are only a couple of cars parked here... which is odd again as this is a free car park. Maybe today really will be nice and quiet?
We put on our happy boots, gear up, and leave the car behind in the car park...
We cross the road and take a path up into a forest and along Beckstones gill. Its a nice route and the spring colours are amazing. There are really bright purples, browns and greens all around us. Lovely.
Its a real uphill slog though, a hard start and one of the steepest I recall doing this year actually. That said, at least the secenery all the way up is gorgeous. I cant say I have ever ascending up through a forest before. It makes a nice change, but I did start to hope there was a defibrillator bolted to one of the trees close by...
After about 800ft of ascent, you come to a part that requires a bit of scrambling. Fine by us, its personally my favourite way of gaining height quickly. Its the long angled ascents that kill me, they always cause me really bad calf pain for some reason. Scrambling with a little hands on action is far more fun and pain free! I enjoy this bit, as does Paul...
A few hundred yards after the scramble, your first sense of any height or real progress is achieved. A nice view out over the forest and back toward Keswick. The weather is brightening up nicely too.
The route takes you back into some more forestry, but thankfully the ascent angle has decreased quite significantly, making it a far more enjoyable section for me. (Paul seems impervious to such problems damn him!) What a gorgeous place this is.
The views into the moss covered forest to our left really are quite incredible. I dont think I have ever seen a more beautiful looking forest than this. The moss looks almost like grass.
When you exit the forest, there is a nice thin section of Beckstones Ghyll to cross...
And then Barf summit comes into view a few yards later. The summit is pretty much at the end of the path you see here, although its up to the left out of sight from this viewpoint.
From here, the views back across Thornthwaite forest and Whinlatter are just awesome. Its a great place to stop for a breather and a drink before the final pull up to the 1549ft summit of Barf.
A pull which, it has to be said, is also pretty steep. But there is plenty to look at... the views here are great. We take it slow and stop to catch our breath and take photos... Regularly.
The summit is nice. Better than I expected. Bassenthwaite looks gorgeous from up here and the weather to the west, looking back over Binsey is very nice.
Derwentwater and Keswick to the East look great also. I note that heavy cloud is moving eastwards, so it looks like we are on for some nice weather all being well.
Of course, if you dont want to look East or West, you can always look North towards the mighty Skiddaw range across the road. We did that whole section a few weeks ago, Ullock Pike and Carlside make up the ridge walk you can see ahead of the mighty Skiddaw in this image. Your spoilt for choice on this summit. Its a lovely place to be no matter which way you choose to look.
After enjoying the views, it was time to move on to our second destination... Lords Seat at 1811ft. I took this image as it pretty much shows the descent path off Barf and the route over to Lords Seat which is the highest point in the image below.
The route across was surprisingly boggy and required a lot of small detours to high ground to get round some of it. Once you get to the final ascent section up here, its quite steep but its firm ground so not a problem. This is the highest of the 6 summits we are visiting today.
The views from up here are nice. There was also a rock to sit on. Im not sure if that was once a Lords seat, but I sat on it anyway and had a coffee looking back over towards Grisedale Pike, a fell I have yet to visit.
The next stop is Broom Fell. You can almost see the summit in this image here.
The views to your left are very nice on this stretch of the route with plenty of forestry to enjoy.
And to the right is the last view we will see of Bassenthwaite and Binsey for a few hours.
The summit of Broom fell fell has a nice big trig point on it, as well as a nice sturdy stone shelter. Handy as the wind was strong up here and we had both now donned warmer clothing for this part of the trek as the wind chill was pretty harsh.
The views back into the Lorton Vale were awesome. Not a valley I had ever paid any attention to before I must admit, but this turned out to be one of my favourite images of the day.
Moving on from here quickly due to the biting cold wind, we were considering where to have lunch. We decided to get up towards Graystones and try to find some shelter from the wind so that we could relax for 30 mins and refuel. Its a pretty boring slog from here to Graystones, this next image shows the first part...
But once you breach that hill, the views open up again and we spot a potential windbreak for our lunch stop. A nice thick plantation of trees called the Darling How Plantation. It looks dense enough to break this wind so we head for it. Our path is to the right of it and the summit behind is Graystones.
Lunchtime! We are joined by two others who appear to be taking the same route as us today as we have seen them behind us from time to time. They seem to agree its a great place to stop for lunch. Just out of the wind enough to allow us to warm up.
The trek from here up to Graystones is uneventful. Nothing much to see really, we just hack on up until we found the summit. Thankfully, the views up here are great, with Grasmoor at the back and Hopegill head and Causey Pike visible.
The forestry you can see from up here looks incredible too. A lovely dense green colour.
I shot a quick 7 portrait shot panorama here showing the views out across the valley. We take a last look across the valley and then head across what was to be the worst leg of this hike... Graystones to Ling fell.
It doesnt look much, but it was wet, boggy, waterlogged and pretty uneven with plenty of potential ankle breakers as you tried to dodge the worst of the waterlogged areas. The heavy rain this weekend had taken its toll on this little travelled route. From Graystones - this is the view of your path to Ling fell.
When you reach the foot of the fell, you start to appreciate how steep it is and also come to realise that there isnt a defined path up this side either. It becomes all too clear why most people dont include this fell amongst the other 4 we have already done. This fell is only easily accessible from the other side. Undeterred, we find a way up it, choosing a slightly easier diagonal route than the tough pair of hikers you can just make out in this image. (One is wearing red, just above centre past the kink in the wall).
Thankfully, at the top we are rewarded with better views than I expected and a nice big trig point. The view across to Binsey is quite nice from here.
But the view back towards Ullock Pike and Skiddaw is much nicer.
After a pretty grim ascent up the wrong side of this fell, it was nice to see the very clear, easy and defined path that has been created on the other side. Thankfully, this is our descent route across to our 6th and final Summit of the day. Sale fell.
It really is a great descent path. Nice and easy on the knees and its a lovely day. From here you can see our final Summit, the only fly in the ointment being you have to descend from 1200ft right back down to Eskin at about 300ft before you can start the ascent up to the near 1200ft summit of Sale fell, so its a pretty big hack to finish the day on as we are already pretty tired now, having done 5 summits and about 8 miles already. The boggy ground between Graystones and Ling fell has tired us both out more than we had expected or planned for.
When we reached the bottom of Ling fell, we decided to take a 20 min break just before we dropped onto the road into Eskin. I like to get my boots and socks off if my feet are very hot as I find cooling them off helps to avoid blisters and reduces heat swelling, making my feet much more comfortable, so we found a perfectly placed rock and I did just that. It was wonderful!
Boots back on, we move forwards. Its a reasonably short and pleasant walk towards Eskin from here, then a left turn towards and over Brumskin bridge where you then turn right...
The ascent path up Sale fell begins at a formidable lump called Dodd Cragg, but only if you want to go up the steepest edge. However, after you pass Dodd Cragg you will see a small, not very defined path upwards in a more diagonal fashion. This is our planned ascent route. It zig zags left and right all the way up. The first left turn is up by the yellow heather you can see here...
And that turn also reveals and rather well placed and welcome bench there for a quick breather. After a quick stop we following the path up further.
After you have zig zagged your way up there, the view starts to open out and you can see out over Eskin and back to Ling fell which we have just left. Its certainly a lot nicer looking fell from this side... you can see the descent path we took on the right of Ling fell and over to the upper left you can also see our prior (4th) summit, Graystones too. Its been quite a walk.
The view from the top of Sale fell is quite nice, with Binsey taking centre stage. I plan to do that one with Mandy, Steph, and maybe Ella too one day soon as its quite an easy one by all accounts.
Our 6th and final summit done, the only way from here is down. A quick check of the map confirms this is the descent path, and it takes us through Wythop woods which you can just see on the horizon there.
Its quite a nice descent path, and we figure its about 3 miles to the car from here.
The sheep around here were really very tame and brave, its quite unusual for sheep not to run away when you get close, but these guys were quite interested in us which was nice. I must admit, I do like to photograph sheep.
Lambs were in abundance. Lovely little things running around and making a right racket!
Of course mum (or Dad?) was never far away.
Once you enter Wythop wood, the main road and Bassenthwaite soon come back into view. We havent seen a road or heard a car for about 7hrs. Its always a grim reminder that real life beckons and your adventure is now almost over. I jokingly suggest we extend the route back to "real life" by going back the way we came over all 6 summits. If we had the energy we probably both would have done it. I make a mental note to double my lottery direct debit when I get home...
But at least we still have a nice wood to wander through...
With a few nice streams and small falls.
And the last section is about a mile of misserable tarmac complete with cars and other reminders of returning to real life. It has to be said, I suspect the local line painters around here havent won many awards for accuracy lately...
And thats it. Whilst it wasnt as exciting as Skiddaw or Scafell Pike, in its own right its a brilliant little 12 mile route and takes in quite a lot of summits to boot. Looking at the pathways and errosion I would say this route was always pretty quiet so definately a good one for you to do when the honey pots are going to be busy.
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 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.)
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.