Lake District, November 2019

Whinlatter Forest parkrun

At one point I’d visited all of the parkruns in Cumbria, but new openings mean that currently isn’t the case. Whinlatter Forest has the status of being the hilliest in the UK, and so was both a Mecca to visit for that fact and its scenery, as well as being somewhat intimidating as a largely flat terrain runner.

An early start from Broughton sees mist lingering in Little Langdale as we make our way north.
Approaching the top of Whinlatter Pass, several vintage cars passed us – indeed there proved to be lots more in the car park of the visitor centre, and it was somewhat chaotic as the departure of the old cars coincided with the huge influx of runners’ cars.
Typical scenery of Whinlatter Forest parkrun.

The parkrun starts with a downhill of about 40 metres descent, where Brindley and I could have gone quite a bit faster – I would have been somewhat constrained by the other people if I’d been on my own, but trying particularly hard to keep the combined Brindley+Stephen unit out of people’s way slowed us even further – a shame as all that excess potential energy wasn’t converted to kinetic energy to the extent that it might have been. As snow flurries fell around us, we then started the long climb of about 150 metres ascent, the biggest hill I’ve ever attempted to run up. Brindley helped a little, but not much, and I was very pleased that I managed to keep running the whole way. There was then about 60 metres of descent, part on a wide forest track which was exhilarating, and then on a steeper narrow path, which was a bit scary with Brindley pulling me, and me calling “steady!” over and over. We made it safely down and then had that height loss to regain, before heading down the broad track again to the finish, gaining a nice bit of speed and peaking at under 4 mins/km.

Brindley afterwards, rightly looking very pleased with himself. A really enjoyable outing.

Catbells

After Brindley and I had conquered Whinlatter Forest parkrun, we headed to Catbells for a enjoyable little fell walk before the rain was expected.

On the way to Whinlatter Forest first thing, a look across the mists of Little Langdale
Beginning our ascent of Catbells, and already I am clear that Brindley is going to return with a coat full of bracken
Looking north to Skiddaw
Skiddaw and Blencathra across the northern end of Derwent Water
Brindley leads the way towards the summit
“This way…”
Newlands valley
From the summit looking south. From here we continued to the col then descended back to the car. The rain arrived on schedule and our busy morning was very satisfying to reflect on from the dry and warmth.

Coniston fells

Alfred Wainwright judges the ridge of the Coniston fells one of the best in the Lake District. Although I’d visited all of the summits, I’d not walked between Brim Fell and Swirl How, and to this I added a new ascent for me of Coniston Old Man and a new descent from Swirl Hause.

Coniston Water as we climb away from the Walna Scar Road at Boo Tarn
The southern part of Coniston Water, looking to the sea. The north coast of Wales and Snowdonia were visible in the distance.
On the summit of Coniston Old Man, with our ridge in view, and the Scafells in the distance.
Brim Fell and the Scafells and other Eskdale fells
Brindley heading for Swirl How
Approaching the cairn at the summit of Swirl How
A busy summit of Great Carrs, with the Scafells beyond
Swirl How with Wetherlam in the distance behind the cairn
Heading down Prison Band to Swirl Hause
Levers Water and away from the wind it is time to remove the hat, scarf, coat and fleece.

Dunnerdale Fells

The walk up Stickle Pike from Kiln Bank Cross is the walk in the Lake District I’ve done most often. It is short but still a real fell walk within its diminutive size, with great views on the right days.

Ascending, a look back, up the Duddon Valley, to Harter Fell on the left with Bow Fell and Crinkle Crags on the right.
The winding, and wet, grassy path leads to the final rough ascent onto the summit of Stickle Pike
Brindley by Stickle Tarn, where a number of our dogs (and Lucy) have been before.
The Duddon estuary
From one of the twin summits of Stickle Pike, looking north over the other to the high fells of Eskdale either side of Harter Fell.
After a little wander across the damp fell, we’ve reached Great Stickle, and look back past Stickle Pike to the north once more
And to the south from Great Stickle
Brindley by the trig point on Great Stickle
Heading back to Kiln Bank Cross, with Brock Barrow looming in the background
Brindley looks ahead along the grassy old mine track which will take us easily back to the road and the car.

Esk Pike and Bowfell from Great Langdale

Today was part of another of Wainwright’s great ridge walks – most of this I’d visited at some point, though Esk Pike to Ore Gap was new to me.

We are ready to set off: Great Langdale from the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel
The Band (centre) will be our route of descent later; to its right is Bow Fell
A look back: we’ve walked along the Mickleden spur of Great Langdale, and are now starting the ascent to Stake Pass
Brindley looking less than fully shevelled as we ascend alongside Stake Gill
Langdale Combe, and we are almost at the top of the pass.
Turning left at the top of the pass, heading for a short while towards the Glaramara ridge
Looking back, the cloud is starting to fill in around Bow Fell. The forecast gave an 80% chance of cloud-free summits today, but it looks like we’re getting the 20% day.
Brindley as we ascend beyond Angle Tarn
A determined Brindley. Today was his highest walk, his longest walk, and his snowiest walk, but he took it all in his stride.
The wall shelter below Esk Hause
Brindley looks around to check the route
On the summit of Esk Pike
Having made a pathless descent to Ore Gap, here the line of cairns is clear in pointing the way towards Bow Fell, but they had a habit of disappearing leaving some tricky route-finding. The snow was also awkward – mostly icy on top and enough to support Brindley, occasionally it would give way to let me fall up to my knees.
When the snow started falling, I put on my own coat and put on Brindley’s too.
On the summit of Bow Fell
Brindley looks around on the Bow Fell summit
Looking down Lingcove Beck towards Eskdale from the summit of Bow Fell. The cloud swirled around and gave glimpses down into the valleys, a tease that it might clear, but it was only a few seconds before it filled in again.
A tantalising glimpse back to Esk Pike with the Scafells just visible beyond on the left, before the cloud closes in again.
The Great Slab of Bow Fell
And an hour later, the world has changed back to green and brown, as we finish our descent of The Band back into Great Langdale.

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