Category Archives: pictures & trips

Langstrath and back, part 2

There was a bit of overnight rain, but it cleared by early morning. When I poked my head out of the door, it looked like it would be a fine day. My original plan had been to do a shortish day up Langstrath and over to Coledale Tarn. However, that would’ve left me a long day back to Bratihwaite for the next day and the weather forecast was for rain later in that day. So, I decided to change my route to walk back to Newlands and either camp along Newlands Beck or carry on further to Rigg Beck.

The sun was slow in reaching the tent, so I didn’t start until around 10:30, luxuriating in the wonderful spot I’d chosen for a camp. Langstrath is probably my favourite Lakeland valley as it feels wild and is off the beaten track.

Eventually, I got going. I crossed the bridge over the beck and followed the Cumbria Way down to Stonethwaite. The end of Langstrath was quite boggy, but I managed to hop over the pools using some strategically placed stones. The weather was fabulous with even a gentle cooling breeze!

After crossing the bridge by the Borrowdale YHA, I followed the River Derwent north for  just under a kilometre, weaving in and out of the trees.

At Tongue Gill I turned east climb towards High Scawdel. Initially I climbed through pastures, dodging a few sheep along the way. Higher up, there were a couple of broad, grassy shelves that had some good possibilities for camping, although it was way too early to stop.

The upper part of Tongue Gill is quite rough, but the path is quite clear. Just before the mine workings, I stopped for a bite to eat.

After a brief rest it was onwards and upwards. The mine workings were more extensive that I had imagined and quite fascinating. I might return for a longer examination. It must have been very tough working in these mines.Beyond the mine, the path leads to the barren, boggy wilderness between High Spy and Dale Head. Although Wilson’s Bield is marked on the map, it is a rather small, broken down sheepfold. Despite the wet underfoot, the area has a rather bleak grandeur.

From Dale Head Tarn, I followed the well-worn track down to Newlands Beck. I love the head of Newlands. The shadows from the clouds made the valley even more beautiful.

I made a fortuitous navigational error by following the path along the beck rather than contouring below Eel Crags (which is the more normal path). The path along the beck leads to a small sheepfold with lovely close cropped grass and would make a rather nice place to camp. Just before the sheepfold, there’s a spectacular waterfall.

There was some very wet ground after the sheepfold where I managed to slip over and get a wet behind. However, the rest of the path was reasonable and I reached Castle Nook mine quickly. A little look around suggested that it wasn’t a very good place to camp, so I decided to push on to Rigg Beck.

It took me a bit longer than anticipated to get to Rigg Beck. By the time I reached my intended camp spot, the valley was in shadow. Nevertheless, the light lasted long enough to get pitched, get some water and start a meal.

Yet again there was some rain overnight, but the morning dawned fair and my pitch caught the early sun.

By 9 o’clock I was packed and on my way back to Braithwaite campsite. I was back well before lunch and spent a lazy day in the camper van, returning home the next day.

Route:

 

Langstrath and back, part 1

Our daughter wanted to come home from uni for a few days, so it was another opportunity to use the camper van! I toyed with the idea of North Wales, but decided to take the easy option of Braithwaite in the Lake District.

My rough plan was to walk to Langstrath, then possibly over to Coledale Tarn and then back to Braithwaite. In the event, I just walked to Langstrath and back but using different routes.

For early March, Scotgate campsite was quite full with camper vans, motorhomes and caravans. I was glad I’d booked! Before I’d travelled, the weather forecast had been a bit poor, but had cheered up a bit by the time I’d arrived.  It was surprisingly sunny and quite mild when I set off.

After a brief stretch along the A66, I crossed some fields to Little Braithwaite and then followed a good path along Newlands Beck. This is a really lovely walk. Along the way I met a lady with an energetic Collie dog. He laid a stick at my feet, so obliged by throwing it along the path for him.

Leaving Newlands Beck, I followed the lanes to Skelgill. Frustratingly the blue sky was behind me, while the clouds were gathered in the west. From Skelgill, I followed the Terrace Path above Derwent Water. Again, this is a lovely walk, although the best views are in retrospect, rather the in prospect.

Part way along the path, my attention was drawn to a commotion above me on the fellside. An out of control Springer Spaniel was chasing some sheep. It chased one across the path in front of me, nearly knocking over another walker. As it returned up the hill I tried to capture it but it eluded me. It appeared to be reunited with its owner a little later higher up the fell. Hopefully its owner won’t let it loose in future. The sheep were lucky not to be injured.

After the Terrace, there’s a short road walk through Grange, before resuming on a footpath to Castle Crag. Again this is a lovely walk, although the clouds made the light a bit dim for photography. There are some interesting quarries along the way but I didn’t bother to investigate. Part way up the path between Castle Crag and Low Scawdel, I stopped for a bite to eat as it was sheltered from the wind.

I was tempted to go up Castle Crag, but decided instead to push on. I stayed high, crossing Tongue Gill by the footbridge. Below was the contrast of the lush green of Borrowdale and the browns of Rosthwaite Fell and Stonethwaite Fell.

Above Seatoller, I glimpsed the snow-capped mass of Great End.

I took the paths to Borrowdale Youth Hostel, then roads to Stonethwaite.

Beyond Stonethwaite, I walked through the empty campsite until I reached Langstrath Beck and turned south.

I’ve not walked along the western side of lower Langstrath before. I knew I could camp at Tray Dub, but was on the look out for a place to pitch before then. A  few hundred meters beyond the bridge, there is a grassy strip on the river bank, which looked ideal.

Although it was a bit early, it was too good a place to pass up, so I decided to camp there.

I’ve not used my F10 Nitro Lite 200 for nearly two years. I was a bit nonplussed when I unpacked it to find that the flysheet was stuck together and I literally had to peel it apart. In the event it was no harm done as the waterproofness didn’t appear to be compromised, keeping me dry in the overnight rain.

I had a rather good view from the tent door!

Cat Bells

For the second day of my brief Lake District visit, the weather was a little less “breezy” and some of the snow had melted, so I decided to visit Cat Bells. I’d not been to Cat Bells for about fifteen years. Although one of the more modest fells, it has superb views and the weather conditions looked good for a few photos.

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From Braithwaite, I followed the A66 back to Keswick for about 500m, using the parallel cycle way until I came to the footpath heading south towards Little Braithwaite across the fields.

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From the bridge at Little Braithwaite, there is a delightful path along Newlands Beck to a minor road that leads to Stair. From Stair, I took the lane to Skelgill.

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From Skelgill, there’s a track which contours around the base of Cat Bells heading south. The low angle of the sun and the snow made for some good photos, even for a poor photographer like me.

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After a few hundred metres, there’s a track that gently climbs the flank of Cat Bells towards the col with Maiden Moor.  This is not marked on the 1;50,000 map but provides excellent walking and superb view of the fells to west of Cat Bells (Causey Pike, Sail and Ard Crags).

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Although there was a light covering of snow and ice, the gentle incline of the path made it easy.

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Even from this distance, you could make out the zigzag path up Sail (a bit of an eyesore IMO).

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Before reaching the col, there was a grassy path which cut straight up to the southern end of Cat Bells. Once on the ridge the snow was a bit thicker, but the views opened out all around.

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To the south-west, Robinson and Hindscarth looked quite alpine.

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To the north, Skiddaw and Blencathra were magnificent with plumes of cloud flowing from their summits.

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The blue of Derwent Water contrasted with the green lushness of Borrowdale.

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To the north-west, I could see the snow-clad hills of the Scottish Southern Uplands.

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Descending the north ridge of Cat Bells was a bit tricky with the snow and ice, but it afforded wonderful views across the northern end of Derwent Water.

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Back down in Newlands, I reversed my route back along Newlands Beck. I arrived back at the campsite mid afternoon. While it wasn’t a long walk it was wonderful for the views. Cat Bells has to have some of the best views in Lakeland.

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Coledale

Last week I took our daughter back to Manchester Uni, so it was an excuse to steal another couple of days in the Lake District using my totally brilliant Wellhouse Toyota Alphard camper van. I parked myself at Scotgate campsite in Braithwaite, which I’ve used on numerous occasions.

dsc02866Not surprisingly, there weren’t many people at the campsite.

dsc02868There was plenty of snow on the hills and a chilly breeze so I decided a saunter up Coledale would be a pleasant diversion.

dsc02870The mine track made for easy walking.

dsc02873In the shade it was perishing cold!

dsc02877I’ve never been to Force Crag mine before. It’s being restored by the National Trust. The wind almost blew me off my feet, so goodness knows what it was like on the tops.

dsc02879It was too cold and windy to hang around so I turned round and walked back the way I’d come.

dsc02869Back down the valley in the sunshine, it was quite pleasant.

dsc02880It was nice to get back to the warmth of the van for a late lunch. Luxury!

High Spy and Maiden Moor

At the end of last week I spent a couple of days in the Lake District before collecting our daughter from university. I based myself in Keswick at the C&CC camp site in my camper van. Unfortunately, on the first day, the weather was poor with the tops under clag and high winds, so I mooched around Keswick. 

On the second day, the weather improved a bit and the forecast was a bit more optimistic, so I decided to do a day walk up the Newlands valley to Dalehead Tarn and then back over the High Spy/Maiden Moor ridge.

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From Keswick, there’s an enclosed footpath across fields to a rather impressive suspension footbridge to Portinscale. Spurning the attractions of the hotel and cafe in Portinscale, I followed the road south to Fawe Park, where I cut over the hill, through a wood, flanked by rhododendrons, where a number of pheasants were wandering aimlessly around the woods.

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Then I followed a good path past Lingholm and over Silver Hill, past a field of Llamas, which was a bit of a surprise. Emerging from the woods into a rough field, Cat Bells loomed ahead of me. I toyed with the idea of reversing the walk and going over Cat Bells, but the forecast was for improving weather in the afternoon, and the photographic opportunities were likely to be better heading back to Keswick, so I continued with my plan to walk along Newlands.

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After reaching Skelgill, I followed the bridleway that skirts along the flank of Cat Bells along the Newlands valley. Newlands is one of the prettiest Lake District valleys. Even when the weather is not very good, it still looks beautiful. The clouds were still thick over the fells and provided some moody pictures.

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Just above Little Town, there’s some mine workings. I noted that there’s some decent wild camping spots there, amongst the levels. The wooden bridge across the beck had been washed away, but it was easy to cross on the stones. If it was in spate, you’d have to go down to the road to cross.

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Beyond Little Town, the valley, narrows, enclosed by the slopes of  Maiden Moor on one side and Scope End on the other.

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After the end of the fields, there’s another mine spoil heap, Castlenook Mine. Thus far the weather had been OK with only the odd spot of moisture in the air. Amongst the spoil, it was relatively sheltered, so I decide to sit down and have some lunch. While it was tempting to dawdle a bit, the prospect of losing daylight by four o’clock meant I had to push on as it was already well past midday.

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Just beyond the mine, the path begins to contour up the fellside. Ironically, looking back there were some patches of blue sky, but over Dale Head the cloud was the cloud was thickening.

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Tantalisingly, as I reached the waterfalls, it looked like the cloud might lift. Frustratingly, just as I reached the beck before Dale Head Tarn, the clag came down.

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I wanted to take a quick look at the sheepfolds by the tarn to check whether they might be good for camping (they are), but I was dismayed to find excrement and tissue paper left by one of the walls.

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By now, it was nearly two o’clock and I knew I had to get a move on to make it along the ridge and down to the valley by dark. As I ascended the slope towards High Spy, the wind picked up and it started to rain, scuppering my chances of good views of Derwent Water and Keswick.

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Even with poor visibilty, it was easy to follow the path and eventually, the summit cairn of High Spy came into view. Behind the cairn, I sheltered from the wind, putting on my overtrousers.

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Every so often the mist would lift briefly, to reveal the path ahead. I bypassed the summit of Maiden Moor, as I’d been there before and carried on to the col before Cat Bells.

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Very briefly, Cat Bells emerged out of the clag for a photo opportunity, before disappearing again. I decided not to bother to go over Cat Bells as I only had an hour more of daylight at most and took the track down to Skelgill.

By the time I got to Skelgill, dusk was falling. I reversed my route of the morning, although I bypassed Fawe Park, using a track. By the time I was at Portinscale it was fully dark and I had to find my way back to Keswick by head torch, eventually getting back just after five o’clock.

Total distance for the day was about 15 miles with 828m of ascent, taking just under seven hours.

Daundering

  
About this time last year, I went on a rather wonderful pre-TGO Challenge  “Daunder” in the sunny Chilterns. Today, I had planned to join the 2016 Daunder in the northern Pennines. Unfortunately, my wife is struggling with her health, so I’ve had to stay at home. The weather looks like it’s going to be a chilly and possibly snowy Daunder, in contrast to last year. Even so, I was looking forward to going.  Hey-Ho! So this year, no Daunder, no TGO Challenge. Due to various commitments, the next window for a walk is the end of June. All a bit disappointing ☹️.