With the weather forecast being really good this weekend Mandy and I decided at last minute to head for the hills on Sunday in an effort to cheer me up as I have been feeling a little under the weather of late due to one thing and another and as a result, spent Saturday feeling sorry for myself.
There had been reports of fresh snow in Lakeland which was a slight worry as our crampons and B2 boots are now packed away for the summer, but I figured since we weren't going too high, and the snow was fresh and soft, all would be well.
This sight of the snow covered Howgills on the M6 north lifted my spirits no end and Mandy grabbed a shot on her phone!
We had actually planned to do Bowscale Fell, but by the time we arrived you couldn't park a bicycle around there let alone a car, so with a dark cloud descending upon my day again Mandy encouraged me to park up where we could, grab a map and plot a route up something different there and then.
This is where Viewranger scores very highly. I sat and plotted a route in the car and figured I had found one that was about right for the 5-mile maximum limit Mandy likes. (Mandy has a bad hip from birth and long hikes can see her in serious pain)
Today's summit is to be:
Alfred Wainwright rated Carrock Fell as the second most exciting and interesting fell in the northern area of Lakeland (after Blencathra and before Skiddaw), it has special appeal regarding geology, mining and history and its rocky nature makes it stand out from the neighbouring fells which are mainly grassy and smooth. Carrock Fell is bounded to the south and east by the River Caldew into which all drainage from the fell goes to find its way eventually to the Solway Firth.
Our route today looks like this on an Open Top Map.
We walked clockwise from just above the bottom right hand corner. (This image is orientated correctly North to south).
The route looks like this on Google Earth. (Walking clockwise from furthest left)
We parked up at a place the OS map marks as "Apronful of stones"
Here is Mandy stood behind the car with the ascent path directly behind and to her left. I can't make an image represent this ascent properly. In the flesh (Or rock I guess) it looks much steeper. See that crater behind Mandy here?
This image is taken from just after it. See how far away the car is?
For some reason, this terrain and light today is skewing perspective on this particular scene.
And from there onwards it gets very steep. The peak gradient recorded is 53% and I think that was about here.
Mandy took a great shot of me coming up here.
Just before you reach a point on the map labelled as "Scurth" you meet the little stream running down the front of the fell.
It's the perfect place to sit down and enjoy the views with a coffee. For Lakeland, these views are a little strange as its all flat. This is the most north easterly of the Lake District fells.
Selfie Time. Me and my gorgeous wife with our sunglasses on for the first time in 2016.
Onwards now, through some thick foliage. The ascent angle has lessened a little, but its still steep.
Into a section called "The Trough"
There is a useful waypoint here by way of an old sheepfold. That said, Carrock Fell is also the site of an Iron Age hill fort which crowns the summit. Only the foundations of the walls remain. So I guess this could easily have been a military outpost as we noticed a few unusual stone structures around here.
As you exit the trough, the views start to really open up to the south west.
And even the flat bits to the south east still look great. We can't believe our luck with the weather today.
Looking north from the navigation cairn situated at "Pike" on the OS map.
Same place, but looking south over Bowscale to Blencathra. Mandy and I did that a couple of weeks ago in a complete white-out. An awesome day, but we are a tad jealous of the views others will have up there today. At times, we couldn't even see each other on the summit. Mandy's first true white-out. Great training conditions and nice conditions to experience at least once in your life... but also conditions that make you glad to get down safely.
The view west reveals the summit. Which was once upon a time, the oval shaped Fort. You can just make out the original walls in this image.
And there is also some snow up here... Mandy loves snow!
To our north, a fell named "West Fell" is playing home to lots of paragliders. What a perfect day for it.
Mandy at the 2'169ft summit of Carrock Fell. Her 24th seperate Wainwright summit.
(Like me, she has done lots of repeats to our favourites)
The view up the valley to Skiddaw.
This is our onwards path to the descent point.
It is quite boggy and wet, but perfectly passable.
Ahead of us now, Round Knott. (A Birkett summit)
The view back from Round Knott to Carrock Fell summit.
As it was 13:30, we decided this was a great place to set our rucksacks down and make some lunch. Mandy got a shot of me preparing the cooking tools.
The spam is cooking... the buns with butter and tomato sauce are prepared and the coffee is poured!
We spent about an hour here just chillig out and enjoying the weather and views. You cant really beat a nice hot butty on the fells. I really love this little MSR stove. After we have eaten and are nearly ready to leave, I boil up some fresh hot water and fill the flask with it so we can enjoy more hot brews later.
The path onwards is easy and uneventful. Eventually you come to "Miton Hill" (Another Birkett summit) and our descent path is just after it, down "Red Gate" which is in the dip you can see in this image. The fell beyond, is High Pike, an easy extra summit for anyone happy to tag an extra mile or so onto the trip.
We turn right and descend along the path down "Red Gate" towards Carrock Beck.
The view back up to High Pike summit.
The view of the descent with Carrock Fell to the right.
As an added bonus, we got to watch the paragliders sailing silently around the sky up above us.
This descent path has to rank as one of the best I have walked. It's a great angle, nice and shallow and the views today are amazing.
We eventually meet the road down at Quaker Hill Ford.
There aren't many Fords around nowadays. Its nice to see one.
From here its about a mile back to the car. What a road to walk it on!
We decided that it would be rather rude not to make a slight detour towards Scales and call in at the White Horse Inn on our way back. A steak burger and a pint of coke is a perfect end to any days hiking. Mandy of course enjoyed a nice glass of wine along with a tasty looking lasagna.
And that was the end of our day... Just an hour and a halfs drive back to Blackpool and its all over.
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.
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 the route we took, its active so you can zoom in and scroll around.
If you want a navigation GPX file for the route, just drop me an E-mail, I am happy to supply it. (For free)
Here are the ups and downs.
Some data from my Suunto Ambit 3 Peak.
And a little 60 second animation of our route courtesy of Suunto Movescount.
On a personal note, that ticks off my 130th Wainwright. Just 84 to go...
(Todays fell is the top right hand green icon)
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 April 10th, 2016 with Mandy Sanderson
New Wainwrights: 1. New total: 130 of 214.
New Birketts: 3. New total 183 of 541.