With this recent turn for the better in the weather, my youngest, Ella (Age 7) was excited to get out and do a new "Mountain". I have been hoping to do Walla Crag with her for ages as the views are spectacular, and Sunday the 28th Feb looked a great option. Given I had done a decent sized hike with my mate Steve the day before, it was also nice to just be doing a little one today. As an added bonus, my daughter Steph wanted to come along too, she has done this one before in the snow but was keen to spend the day with us, so I got a nice day out on the fells with my girls. Perfect.
Today's Hike will take in one Wainwright summit:
The route looks like this in Google Earth.
(This is my exact route, recorded from my Suunto Ambit 3 peak with GPS fix set to record every 1 second)
And the route looks like this on a map.
(GPS recorded every 5 minutes on my Viewranger iPhone App so mileage etc isn't as accurate)
We left home in Blackpool about 8:30am and went straight to our favourite cafe in Cleveleys for a pre-hike fuel up. We were parked up in Great Wood National Trust car park in Keswick by about 10:45am. This parking location takes you straight into the woods at the foot of Walla Crag, a great little path.
You need to ignore the "Walla Trail" signs and follow Cat Gill signs for our route. Eventually you will come to one of those signs that makes you groan... from here on upwards its hard going. Not that you can tell from Ella's expression.
Its a great trail, nice and rocky, Ella and Steph really like stuff like this.
Ben Nevis the bear however... maybe not so much!
(I brought him home from Scotland for Ella after I climbed Ben Nevis, so that's how he got his name)
This route never really levels off, it's a short sharp climb to the top.
With plenty of scrambles for little legs.
And great views back across Derwentwater to Cat Bells to enjoy on those breather breaks.
Ben has hitched a ride up front with Ella now. She has stripped down to her base layer to let some heat out! Like myself, she gets hot fast so I let her regulate her own temperature within reason. She has also nicked my cap. The first outing of the year for my wonderfully vented Outdoor Research cap and its gone already. Typical. My bald head will have to suffer.
The view as you approach Lady's Rake. I normally stop there for a brew but as Ella was in good spirits with no complaints of sore legs, tiredness, hungriness, needing a wee or any other such drama kids tend to fire at us, I decided to press onwards while the going was still good.
Ella taking a breather.
It was getting colder up here as we came out into the open, so Ella put a thin fleece on and then spotted some ice. She has always been fascinated by ice on the fells, she really loves it and can't help but break it up and play with it, despite my warnings that she will get very cold fingers.
Ben didn't seem to mind it dripping icy water on his head either so I guess if Ella and Ben are happy, then Steph and I are happy too.
The summit is ahead! Current elapsed time is 1hour. What else can you do with kids that is as rewarding, healthy and as much fun as this in such a short time frame?
And what a view as a reward for that 1hr climb. Walla Crag really is the small fell with a big view. There isn't much to challenge it anywhere in the UK in my opinion. This is the view back over Keswick to the mighty Skiddaw. A summit that Steph will be visiting very soon.
And Walla Crag has ice on it too so Ella is double happy!
The view across to Ella's next summit in a couple of weeks all being well. Cat Bells.
And the beautiful Derwentwater with Bassenthwaite Lake in the background.
To our right, the gorgeous Blencathra.
While I am taking pictures, Ella is playing around, enjoying stamping on ice.
However - To her dismay, one of the iced puddles was a lot deeper than it looked and she got very wet and cold feet. There was no option other than to strip her shoes and socks off to try and dry them out. Meanwhile, Steph was unpacking my rucksack.
Ready for some lunch. Bacon butties and coffee. You can't beat a fry up above 1000ft.
What a view to eat our lunch with too. We were very lucky with the weather today. Virtually no wind either, which was a blessing as a strong wind chill would have made it a little more dangerous for Ella to have bare feet while we dried her socks. As it was, the 2deg C temp was a nice little lesson in the need to keep your feet dry on the fells.
Lucky that I brought portable radiator with me eh? What a waste of gas this was. Kids!
Steph enjoying the view over to Cat Bells with the amazing Skiddaw range behind her. I am excited to climb that one again with Steph. We will do it via the Ullock Pike ridge from the north.
While we ate, Ben had gone off to do some exploring of his own. I caught an image of him on his final ascent back onto the summit.
It seems he had a helping paw from Ella though.
Ella has chilled off now and is back in her favourite Bear Grylls windproof fleece. She loves Bears new series "Survival School" on kids TV. I enjoy it too.. it is well worth a watch.
Here are a few final summit pictures before we leave this place.
A nine portrait shot stitched panorama of my girls and one of the best views in Lakeland.
We planned our next trip while we sat and ate. Our next hike will see us sail across Derwentwater on the launch from Keswick to the foot of Cat Bells which you can see in the background. I can't wait for that trip.
Sadly, it's time to go. We have stayed up here over an hour and a half and still don't really want to leave, but Ella has school tomorrow so it's bath night and its a 2hr drive home too.
There is a little spot just off the summit to the north that actually has marginally better views in my opinion. We stop here for a moment.
To take a selfie!
And a snap of my gorgeous daughters.
Before we head away towards Skiddaw. This route off the fell is quite thin and on the edge of a drop, so it's exciting for kids.
It then drops back heading east along the rear of the fell which is much less dramatic. A nice easy grass route.
Ella practiced her jumping skills around here. I love how kids can find enjoyment in the things that just trip adults up and annoy them.
Sisters enjoying the fells together. Priceless. This path terminates at a dead end track to Castlerigg Farm. You turn left there and follow the road until you come to a sign that directs you back towards Great Wood and across...
A lovely stream. We stopped here for a nice hot coffee. Ella as always was keen to light the stove up with her Bear Grylls fire steel which she is getting better at now.
And Ben went to get his paws wet with a little ghyll scrambling.
The path from here onwards is just a nice easy track back through Great Wood and terminates...
At Great Wood car park.
And that was the end of another great day on the fells. We spent 4hrs exploring 3.2 miles of a fine area of the Lake District. There is no better way to spend a Sunday with your family.
Here is some data from my Suunto Ambit 3 Peak watch.
The Ups and Downs.
And a little 60-second video of the route courtesy of Suunto Movescount.
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, don't ever rush. The fells are there to be enjoyed, not endured. If you want a navigation GPX file for the route, just drop me an E-mail, I am happy to supply it. (For free)
While you are out there enjoying the beautiful fells, remember the golden rules...
"Take only pictures, leave only footprints and keep only memories".
All images in this blog 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 worth of the 5D3's talents, I usually return one day to make the best of it.
Route Completed on February 28th, 2016 with Ella and Stephanie Sanderson