Another opportunity to have a day out in the hills presented itself and the weather looked like it would be okay so we couldn't say no, funny how we don't ignore the lure of the hills
Where should we go? Grayrigg was an enjoyable day out the last time we were there over two years ago, easy to get to from home and very quiet or the Howgills, mmmm easy decision, Grayrigg but this time we'd have a walk through Borrowdale on the return to the car instead of over the fells on the other side of the valley, something a bit different, not a full repeat
We parked up in the large view point layby on the A685 overlooking the M6,had a leisurely suiting and booting session and were off walking by 09:00.
The walk to the cairns on Grayrigg Pike summit was a slight variation of our last visit, we found that the path seemed to have become more obvious, more worn than last time (either that or we'd lost it two years ago) this time we approached the summit from the right instead of the left and found it a much better direction.
The weather was bright with a few breaks in the clouds, from the summit you get good views of the western Howgills, a bit hazy today but we were looking at all the tops we'd been on this side of the Howgills something that wasn't the case two years ago, we were only planning to explore them then.
From the cairns we headed for the trig point which is off to the west about 0.5km away, there's a slight descent then a lumpy ascent to get to the trig, there is more than one path heading in that direction from the cairns which could be confusing in the mist, we took the one heading SW then West this takes you to a gate in the wall, it's then a case of choose your path from there, there's three of them but they all lead to the trig combining their efforts about 100m from it
Our next port of call were the masts of the repeater station,
from the trig they can be seen but the way over is undulating so you do lose sight of them on the way over, there's a good path to follow but it disappears as you drop down to point 416, it can be seen on the rising ground beyond and once regained it takes you to one of those stone stiles in the wall difficult to spot until you're about a meter away
The path takes you to the track linking the two masts where it's followed until a path leads off it to the right heading for
The climb up to the cairn is fairly steep, it's on a quad track so it's an easy ascent, on the summit there's a large cairn (the beacon) and a shelter cairn.
The weather was looking a bit threatening, we could see rain approaching from the west so we didn't hang about, we set off for Castle Fell.
About half way over the rain caught up with us so it was on with the jackets. Just before Castle Fell summit a very heavy shower came on making our stay by the cairn a short one, no photos this time so we beat a hasty retreat back to the path leading over to our next port of call Mabbin Crag
To get to Mabbin Crag summit the path leads from a stile in the wall at NY566018 through the plantation, this is very soggy to start with, we had to familiarise ourselves with the art of "bog hopping" as well as fighting with the trees to allow us through progress was slow but we managed to get the better of Mirkwood and after a steep final section above the fire break we were at the cairn
We saw this half way through Mirkwood in a clearing, Orc shelter?
Mabbin Crag cairn
Looking back to Castle Fell and Whinfell Beacon
From the cairn we headed north to gain the start of another break in the trees which went down hill to meet a tumble down section of wall then a short climb to gain the wide ridge leading to the top of Ashstead Fell.
We stopped here for a while then set off along the ridge to the final top, the cairn at NY558031.
looking back to the fire break from Ashstead Fell
We met a guy on the top, he was up there to watch a fell race that was taking place today, it was raining again so he shot off to watch the runners lower down.
As we got closer to the A6 and the start of our return walk down Borrowdale we could see all the fell runners on their way up, we just managed to finish our descent off Ashstead Fell before the main leaders of the race started their ascent, we could see runners on mass coming down the Breasthigh Road all heading in our direction so we couldn't have timed it any better, any higher up and we'd have got in their way it was the Lower Borrowdale Skyline Fell Race, more or less the walk we'd done two years ago only they were taking less than two hours to do the distance it's a different kind of fitness, very impressive.
We managed to avoid the runners by keeping to the fellside above the track at NY554036 and plonked ourselves on the track travelling through Borrowdale at around NY555037 keeping out of their way, we started the long walk back to the car.
It's a very pleasant walk, the further along you go the steeper the fellsides become, its very picturesque, it showered again when we'd just sat down to have lunch but we were in such nice surroundings we hardly noticed it.
It's a nice valley
About halfway along around Low Borrowdale Farm the finishing post of the fell race was sited, it went from very a quiet walk along the river side to a hive of activity, loads of people and officials congratulating the finishers there were a lot of cars and campervans we hoped we'd get back to the road before they all decided to leave, it would have been difficult trying to walk along a narrow track/road being followed by that lot
We made it, we were passed by a couple early leavers so we were lucky, Back at the road it was a short walk back to the layby, even that was full of cars so we'd made the right choice to set off from home early
A good day out, I'd recommend this day in the hills to anybody who appreciates solitude and wild places, we'll do it again, in reverse next time I think.
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