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Snowy Dalehead (Mainly Photo Report)

PostPosted: Fri Dec 10, 2010 1:15 am
by mountain coward
After our 3 night stay at Broughton-in-the-Furnace, Richard and I moved up the Lakes (using the main roads round the western periphery due to the blocked roads in the middle) to Borrowdale to our favourite hotel there, the Royal Oak in Rosthwaite. Why is it one of my favourites? well they do excellent and varied vegetarian food for me and delicious tea and scones with home made rum butter free for regular residents every late afternoon! For Richard, it's right next door to the Scafell Hotel and bar and they do real ales...

On our first day we set off in snow of just about the right depth for walking on and in low temperatures just to crisp it up a bit. All the snow was good to walk on all the way round our choice of Dalehead. We took our microspikes as we planned to head off up Rigghead quarries and that route is exceedingly steep up through the quarries and the route is north-facing and never gets the sun so is usually very icy. I also took my ice axe as I feel more confident with it and don't mind carrying it. I offered Richard my spare but he refuses to use one despite me trying on several occasions to persuade him and offering to show him how to use one.

We set off along the lane towards the river and, after a quick look at the snow-capped stepping stones, decided to try those instead of walking along to the bridge. They were a bit slippery on top but not icy and the river was pretty shallow if we fell in. I was okay as I had my ice axe for extra balance but we both managed to cross okay. We then headed off towards the quarries.

Scawdel Fell from Rosthwaite Lane.jpg
Snowy Scawdel Fell fm Rosthwaite Path.jpg
The Rigghead Quarry route goes up the notch towards the right of the photo
Snowy Rosthwaite Fell(into sun).jpg

About half-way up the steep slope we stopped and fixed our spikes as it was getting pretty slippy. I'd already seen a guy really struggling up ahead and another group had gone completely away from the steep route and up the beck instead. We were soon catching the guy ahead up as progress was really easy with the spikes. When we got to the quarries we took some pics of the very icy entrances to the levels with icicles hanging down. I really hated the look of the second one as, when you saw it from the side, the ice was probably around a foot thick and menacingly old and grey! Unfortunately I didn't take that pic and the one I've taken doesn't really look menacing from the front as you can see through the ice better...

Richard digi-camera-ing down Rigghead.jpg
Icy Mine Level Grotto.jpg
Horrible old, grey ice about a foot thick!.jpg

From the top of the quarry route, we crossed deeper snow to Dalehead beck and the tarn. We looked to see where the guy ahead had gone and he was stomping up the slope with the (now-buried) stone-pitching. He looked to be getting up okay despite not having any kind of spikes and just having poles so we decided to continue. The other option had been to go around Scawdel Fell past the pretty Launchy Tarns. We were soon following him up the slope.

Snowy Dalehead-the route ahead.jpg
Snowy Frozen Dalehead Tarn.jpg

The snow was just over boot-deep but just gave good grip really and we mainly followed his foot-steps (as you do - thanks Mister). Richard was looking happy enough even without an ice axe and, because I was taking photos, was mostly ahead of me. We were soon up on the shoulder where you turn for the summit. I wasn't as keen on this bit as it's a bit narrower and, if you slip backwards down the slope or slip to the right, it would be fatal really, therefore I trended to the left-hand side of the slope above the bit we'd just come up (in true coward fashion).

Dalehead Shoulder to Greenup(snow).jpg
Snowy Dalehead Shoulder - Richard Waiting.jpg
Snowy High Spy from Dalehead.jpg
Snowy High Spy face from Dalehead.jpg
Snowy High Spy thru Hole in the cloud.jpg
Snowy Dalehead-final ascent.jpg
Richard Posing on Dalehead.jpg

By the time we reached the summit it was mostly in cloud and was a pretty cold wind so we didn't really stay. I took a quick compass bearing and we headed off down the slope towards Honister Pass. The route down kept coming out briefly and tantalisingly, but then the cloud would take it away again just as I lined it up for a photo. A bit further down we came out of the cloud altogether and we could see the, for once, pretty deserted Honister Pass summit. As progress was now much easier and more relaxing, I was losing concentration a bit and kept tripping over my spiked feet and falling on my front. On one fall I actually managed to land on my ice axe pick and made a hole in my waterproof coat - this was all Richard needed - he now says ice axes are too dangerous to use! I explained to him I'd just been very clumsy but now he persists in his view and I can't see him changing it.

Snowy Dalehead Descent.jpg
Snowy Dalehead Descent1.jpg

When we reached the pass we had a quick break in the shelter of the mine building and some cake and coffee. We were most amused to see silly 4x4 drivers being towed up over the pass one by one by a tractor unit from the mine workings! The road was clearly unusable so I'm not sure why they persist in attempting it really.

Icy Honister Pass.jpg

I looked at my watch and decided it was a bit too early to go back as it was only 1430. I asked Richard if he fancied going up 'The Drumhouse' track to do Fleetwith Pike from the back. He was all for it so we set off. We met a couple coming back down with 2 dogs, one of which was a whippet which looked very cold and thoroughly miserable and shivery. They said they'd had to turn back as the dogs were too cold. We continued up but, as we reached the top of the drumhouse, we found they were right - it really was bitterly cold. The wind was at that point behind us but, if we persisted to Fleetwith Pike, we'd have a long walk back along the ridge into the terrible wind-chill so we too decided to turn back as we'd already done one hill so weren't bothered about another really. As we headed off back down our coats started to ice up (I think my face did too!)

From the pass summit there's a lovely track which cuts around the side of Scawdel Fell and goes back to Rosthwaite so we set off along that. I managed to trip over my spiked feet a couple more times including one spectacular fall where I nearly fell off a bridge but managed to grab the fence at my side as I fell. My knees were black and blue by the time I got back though! We met up with the couple with the dogs and the whippet really didn't look any warmer even in the sun and behind a wall where they were taking a break.

Snowy High Doat from pass path.jpg
Snowy Jaws of Borrowdale.jpg
Snowy Greenup & Eagle Crag.jpg

We were soon back at the hotel and I was scoffing my scones and rum butter and Richard was drinking the tea which comes with it... :D

Re: Snowy Dalehead (Mainly Photo Report)

PostPosted: Fri Dec 10, 2010 1:35 am
by mountain coward
Adding more icicle pics, although they're from Black Combe, as I won't be writing a separate report to put them on... Will also probably add a couple of Richard's pics when I've ripped them off his digi-camera - he has a nice stepping stones one at least...
Ice Blobs, Black Combe.jpg
Ice Flowers, Black Combe.jpg
Icicle Grotto, Black Combe.jpg

Re: Snowy Dalehead (Mainly Photo Report)

PostPosted: Fri Dec 10, 2010 9:42 am
by fedupofuserids
Pleasant wanderings again MC, haven't been up Rigg Head since I was a kid !

What did you think of Black Combe, a must do or not worth the effort ?

Re: Snowy Dalehead (Mainly Photo Report)

PostPosted: Fri Dec 10, 2010 9:54 am
by mountainstar
Mainly Photo Report! :?
Looked a cracking day.
I've heard of these Hotel things, not sure how they work though!

Re: Snowy Dalehead (Mainly Photo Report)

PostPosted: Fri Dec 10, 2010 10:16 am
by mountain coward
You've stayed in a Travelodge recently MS! :D

Fedup: just typed a huge long reply about Black Combe but this silly PC at work logged me out when I pressed send so this is a much abbreviated one :(
Black Combe's a really nice hill and being so near the coast makes it a bit of a novelty, especially views-wise. It's great in snow. While it's pretty round and grassy, there are more exciting rockier, steeper routes up - let me know if you want more details. My usual route is up from Whicham, down one of the NW ridges and back under the western side of the mountain on a really nice track with great views :D

Re: Snowy Dalehead (Mainly Photo Report)

PostPosted: Fri Dec 10, 2010 10:30 am
by mountainstar
You've stayed in a Travelodge recently MS!

Yes, at between £9 and £22 per night per room :D
I've heard that hotels charge more than hostels do! :shock:

Re: Snowy Dalehead (Mainly Photo Report)

PostPosted: Fri Dec 10, 2010 10:35 am
by mountain coward
Normally yeah :(

Re: Snowy Dalehead (Mainly Photo Report)

PostPosted: Fri Dec 10, 2010 10:42 am
by fedupofuserids
Mountainstar - There's a secret cave up Langstrath you could stay there for nothing :


MC - It takes over an hour to drive down so I'll probably make a longer day out of it and try a circular route including White Combe, Stoupdale Head and dropping down to Whicham Mill from Black Combe. This & your report on the Dunnerdale Fells has made me start re-reading Wainwrights Outlying Fells!

Re: Snowy Dalehead (Mainly Photo Report)

PostPosted: Fri Dec 10, 2010 10:46 am
by mountain coward
There are some really nice routes that way (White Combe, Stoupdale Head). The most 'exciting' route I found up the hill is from the valley which goes up from Whicham Mill towards White Combe. There is a spur coming down the right-hand side of 'the screes' which is a rockier and steeper way up the fell and you arrive quite quickly at the summit. You can take that instead of the zig-zag which goes up White Combe (although that's a nice track as well).

Didn't know about that cave up Langstrath though... gonna spill the beans whereabouts? The valley's about 5 miles long so probably need a few more directions...

Re: Snowy Dalehead (Mainly Photo Report)

PostPosted: Fri Dec 10, 2010 11:00 am
by fedupofuserids
A guy I worked with gave me rough directions years ago - it originally had a sprung door, but its location appeared in a popular walking magazine and it was vandalised shortly after.

I was last up Langstrath about a month ago and now the bracken has died back you can actually see a track heading its way. I'm sure if you google for it, you will find it or you could try Wikileaks :lol:

Re: Snowy Dalehead (Mainly Photo Report)

PostPosted: Fri Dec 10, 2010 11:09 am
by mountain coward
:lol: Yeah, if it's info they shouldn't be giving out freely, it'll be on Wikileaks!

Re: Snowy Dalehead (Mainly Photo Report)

PostPosted: Tue Dec 14, 2010 4:53 am
by mountain coward
Adding some of Richard's digi-photos!

Setting off(Richard).JPG
Rosthwaite Stepping Stones(Richard).JPG
Spiking Up Thru Quarries(Richard).JPG
Climbing Thru Rigghead Quarries(Richard).JPG
Dalehead from Drumhouse(Richard).JPG
High Spy&Scawdel Fell in snow(Richard).JPG
Rosthwaite Packhorse Bridge(Richard).JPG

Re: Snowy Dalehead (Mainly Photo Report)

PostPosted: Sat Dec 25, 2010 11:11 am
by monty
Top class report MC,
Excellent photos with the ice and snow. Shame we didn't get one of you falling over hahaha :thumbup:

Re: Snowy Dalehead (Mainly Photo Report)

PostPosted: Mon Dec 27, 2010 2:43 am
by mountain coward
Yeah, I'm surprised there are none of those! Especially either the one where I nearly fell off the bridge or where I fell on my ice-axe pick! :lol: