A Pre-Dawn Hike Up Place Fell In The Lake District

November 01, 2016  •  1 Comment

Morning folks,
This weekend was a special one. Its my wedding anniversary. Mandy and I had a long weekend in the lakes, staying at the wonderful Whitbarrow Hotel in the northern lakes. On Saturday we both did a nice 6-mile hike up Bowscale and tagged on Bannerdale Crags too (Trip report coming soon). 

As we had spent quite some time out on the fells that day, come Sunday night Mandy didn't fancy doing Place Fell the next day but was insistent that I still do it. Given that it was our 2nd wedding Anniversary that day, and being keen not to spend it without Mandy, I hatched a master plan. I was going to set off at 5am and be back just after breakfast. That turned out to be great timing... not just by way of avoiding this being my LAST anniversary, but also by way of what I experienced due to the early start.


Today I visited 1 Wainwright Summit:

Place Fell (2'165 ft)

Parking Location:

Patterdale - Layby outside the White Lion Pub. (CA11 0NW) 


Time & Distance Info

Distance walked: = 4.7 miles
Time Taken: = 4.5 hrs
Total Ascent: = 1'844 ft


Please Note:
All image description text is "above" the image that it is referring to on my blogs.
Some find that odd... But then so is the author.


This route, when viewed in Opentopo map looks like this: (North / South Orientation correct)
(Walking Anti-clockwise from the left)


And the view of the route as seen on Google Earth. (Walking Anti-clockwise from the bottom)


Here is the elevation profile: (Height on the left axis, and mileage along the bottom)


I couldn't sleep as usual (I struggle to sleep in hotels) so I was up at 3am packing. I left at 5am as I needed to find an all-night garage to get some food, and was duly parked up in a layby next to the white Lion pub in Patterdale at 5:30am. It was pitch black and silent, but also very misty. It was time to switch on my head torch and get moving.

As an aside, if anyone is in the market for a good head torch I can't recommend the LED lenser H7R.2 enough. It has everything you need and more - rechargeable via USB and a very long battery life that will easily see you safely off the fells. At full power (which you NEVER need) it will last a minimum of 4hrs. At minimum power it will last up to 30hrs. I use it at about 50% power as a rule.

It has fully adjustable beam from spotbeam to full spread , a rotary brightness adjuster, a red LED at the back with various modes and automated SOS flashing... a transport lock and many more features. It is so good that after a few test hikes I bought another as my backup. 

Anyway... my outward path takes me over the bridge that crosses Goldrill Beck and on towards Rooking. Here is said head torch in action at approx 50% power and about 50% beam angle. If I have it set to full wide, you cant tell its dark, so I always adjust it for blog images.


I Imagine this is a beautiful path up onto the fells. Lots of little streams and such like and it runs right round the outside of Place Fell and gains height well. I can't see much of it really... but the sounds at night make up for the lack of views and of course, it makes it all the better when you come back and do it all again in daylight.


I hack onwards and upwards for a while and the mist seems to start clearing. At around 1000ft it clears completely and I am greeted with this... A full temperature inversion stretching the length of Ullswater. What a view!


As I reach Boredale Hause at 1250ft the path turns North. Its 6:35am now and well into blue hour. The view ahead is gorgeous.


For a while now I have heard the wild deer making quite a racket. This area is deer country and there are a lot of them. I had always hoped to bump into some on the Lakeland fells but as yet I've only seen them from afar, bar one I once saw just wandering down the A591 past the Travellers Rest pub at Grasmere. That was about to change... I heard the sound of hooves and saw this lot running away from me...


And then I saw them all settle a good distance away. I so wished I had my SLR and long lenses with me, but I made the best of the little Canon G7X and managed to grab a few decent shots of them. I love this one.


The view behind me is starting to turn pastel shades. Just incredible.


But what do I do? Carry on up to make my summit deadline of 7:10am for sunrise? Or carry on taking pictures of deer? What a quandary!


This one's my favourite I think. A lone deer looking down on Patterdale from 1300ft.


The uncropped version. Hmm... Maybe I prefer this one with Helvellyn up above the deer?


Almost as if the deer understood my lack of decision-making power, they made the decision for me. They all just disappeared. That's that then, upwards we go! Plenty of nice solid steps on this section so I can make faster progress than expected now.


Which is good, because its getting light very quickly now.


I didn't quite make the actual summit for sunrise. Once I saw the clouds turn gold I knew I had to stop and dig the tripod out fast. Who cares if we are still 150ft from the top with a view unfolding like this?


I just sat there and rattled away with the little Canon G7X until its battery went flat. Then I put another battery in and carried on. Absolute nirvana. The world was silent bar the wild deer howling in the distance, I hadn't seen a human since the fuel station at 5am and the views unfolding around me were enough to bring a tear to my eyes. My ONLY regret right now was that my wife & daughters weren't with me now to see this. Well... I suppose my SLR and filters would have been very nice too!

From time to time I picked up the tripod with camera still attached and ascended another 50ft vertical feet or so before setting down for more images. It wasn't long before I made the summit cairn, which as luck would have it has a nice large trig point on it to use as an anchor for the images.


And just to prove that a modern phone can pull off decent images in the most extreme light nowadays, here is a panorama from my iPhone 7. It struggled with banding due to the massive dynamic range, but overall it did an amazing job.


Behind me... the view over to Helvellyn and the Dodds.


From time to time, the cloud lifted in the wind leaving me in a misty diffused light that images just can't do justice. Imagine these next few scenes, with this mist moving all around you... It was amazing.


My daughter Steph and I did Helvellyn via Striding Edge and Swirral Edge last weekend. She was firmly in my thoughts as I zoomed in to get an image of where we were both stood last weekend. Birkhouse Moor on the front right-hand side, then the walk left onto Striding edge, up and over the Helvellyn Summit and then down the razor sharp looking Swirral edge. We had to miss Catstycam out as the weather turned on us... but what a day. (Click for a trip report in a new window)


And of course a Selfie of me looking across the same way. Totally off topic, I am sporting my new Rab Vapour Rise winter trousers in this image. Highly recommended, like all Rab VR gear it's designed to manage sweat and feels so light its almost as though you are wearing nothing. But I can confirm they are very warm and the matching Alpine Light VR jacket I have on is well tested now with over 100 summits to its name and is kept on as my main exposure protection with just a Rab base layer below it down to around 4 deg C before I need to consider something warmer. Very pricey, but very good indeed and it manages sweat exceptionally well, certainly better than any other garments I have owned. The pants are a nice addition. I was worried they would be too cold but so far so good. Very happy.


Enough fashion waffle, you will be thinking I sell torches and hiking clothes at this rate!
So... Back to the views... I can't quite decide where I was pointing here but I suspect that is Blencathra over there.


The view over to Martindale and Beda Head.

The view South to the Hartsops.

One of my favourites from the day. Place Full summit as a silhouette.


And one with its shadows recovered in Lightroom.

While I was up here, I shot a quick video on my iPhone.


Sadly... It's really time for me to go. Its my wedding anniversary today and Mandy will be rising from bed anytime now so I need to get myself back to the hotel for breakfast with her, otherwise I might be opening a D8 divorce petition instead of an Anniversary card. 

It's a fair old descent from here so let's get moving... This is the route ahead.


The route I had plotted visited two more Birketts while I was up here, but time spent enjoying this inversion calls for me to cancel those for another trip. So now, I will keep to the left of "the Knight" which is in the top right-hand corner.


When you get there, you bear left to be treated to this view of Patterdale down below you, flanked by its amazing mountain range.


What a view!


It's a steep, wet, slippery descent and common sense dictated that I didn't take many pictures on this section. Not just because I needed my poles to descend it but also because I don't take as many risks when I am out alone. Had a hiking buddy been with me I could have messed about here with a camera for yet another hour or so!

The path turns from rock to grass about halfway down. I am glad of this as I've slipped a few times and at least on grass it doesn't hurt as much if you do go down.


This is the first time I have seen Glenridding and Patterdale from this side of Ullswater. It really is quite stunning!


An iPhone Panorama. I love the quality this phone can pull off when the light is favorable!


The Ullswater steamer setting sail on its first trip of the day.


One of those randomly placed benches you find in the lake district. They are always a welcome discovery!


And a random cave!

The path eventually takes me off to Side Farm. I had made a note on my route plan that this has a tea room and was looking forward to a nice pot of tea! It was closed. Bah... That's what I get for being here so early!


Now I just follow Side Farms driveway off the fells and back to the A592


A quick shot of Place Fell as I cross the bridge over Goldrill Beck and leave her behind. She has afforded me some incredible memories today.

Thanks for reading folks. I hope you enjoyed taking a little trip with us and that it inspired you to try the route.


Remember, take your time... never rush. The fells are there to be enjoyed, not endured.

While you are out there enjoying the beautiful fells, remember the golden rules...
"Take only pictures, leave only footprints and keep only memories".


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.


Camera Details:
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 October 31st 2016.

New Wainwrights: 1. New total: 151 of 214.
New Birketts: 1. New total 207 of 541.


Thanks for sharing wonderful and informative as ever
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