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A wander around the Wythburn Fells.
by trailmasher » Sun Mar 22, 2015 8:50 pm
Wainwrights included on this walk: Ullscarf
Hewitts included on this walk: Ullscarf
Date walked: 20/03/2015
Time taken: 3.35
Distance: 13.7 km
Ascent: 785m2 people think this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
I wonder where the birdie is.
Some say the bird is on the wing,
but that's absurd, the wing is on the bird.
I wonder who wrote this little ditty. Not Wordsworth I'm sure. Maybe it was Spokeshave.
It's the Vernal Equinox today - the first day of spring. Whoopee!
I was late getting away this Friday morning due to un-foreseen commitments at home but no matter, I am now parked at the Dob Gill car park on the west side of Thirlmere with my £4.50p reluctantly in hand. I get booted, gaitered, and bagged up before I attempt to put any money in the machine. The reason that I am having to pay is that just about 50 metres to the north of the car park there is a small area which will fit three cars. It was full when I got there so hence, having to pay.
Before parting with my weekly spending brass I thought that I may as well go and strain my greens in the small and run down toilets. It looks like it has been used as a home for pheasants or some such bird as it is full of droppings. They're everywhere. Right, payment due, so puts my cash in the machine, presses the button and nothing happens. Press again and £3.50p drops out. It's robbed me of a quid. I put in the £3.50p hoping that this time I will get a ticket and not £2.50p or less back, less a ticket. I get my £3.50p back.
I'm now in a quandary. The sign by the machine tells me that there is a fine of £60 if no ticket showing in the car. What do I do? Leave the car and hope that I don't get hit with a fine or move on. I decided to risk it and make my plea about said cash machine if it comes to that. Off I goes and upon reaching the afore mentioned small parking area I met a man who said he was moving as he wanting to go up Armboth Fell and this was too far away for him.
Back to the car then, wait until he pulls away and slips in to the vacant spot. It is now 12:15p.m. but happy and bagged up once again off I goes down the road for about 150 metres before going through the gate and onto the fell.
The grass path is heading roughly north and is of a reasonable gradient. After a short while I came upon a round metal cage, quite high and sat on a pile of rocks. It was reminiscent of the ones that protect trees from grazing animals but what this is for I wouldn't like to speculate.
As I approach Bank Crags the path steepens and the glory beads begin to flow from my brow. It is 11°Centigrade and it's spring down here, but by the time I get to Ullscarf its mid winter again.
Passing over the crags I pass a couple of old sheepfolds of which there are many on these fells.
I make my way across the rough, pathless ground climbing around 60 metres until I reached the summit of Brown Rigg which has a large rock on it and which appears to be balancing a bit like a see-saw.
From Brown Rigg I then took a north westerly course passing over Stone Hause, then west until finally reaching Blea Tarn Fell. This is where spring turned to mid winter. The mist dropped, it started raining, and the cold wind was knocking me about. Time for the wet gear then, and we all know how difficult it is to don the coats and over trousers in a strong wind. Looking north I saw that there are some old quarry buildings on the top of Bell Crags and once again wonder why come up here for stone when there is a copious amount of it a lot lower down the fell side.
Leaving this fell I then squelched my way south to reach the bottom of Standing Crag from where I followed the path up the grassy rake and finally to the top of the crag. On a good day the views are far reaching but today…
The rain has stopped but I am still fighting the wind and I'm now taking a south easterly course over rough ground which will take me over the heads of the two gills that feed Blea Tarn. From the head of the second gill I then turned more or less north west for 500 metres, until after a short climb I gained the top of Low Saddle. It is a struggle taking photos in this wind and there not being much of anything to crouch behind on these here fells I take multiple ones of the same views in the hope that one of them turns out alright.
I am beginning to get a touch of tightness in the back of my upper right leg. Feels like cramp coming on. Never had this before so dig in and walk it out.
Again I followed a wet path which is going south and gain the summit of High Saddle which apart from Standing Crag is the craggiest of all the tops that I have visited today. At this point I take shelter and have a bite to eat - hells bells, cheese and mustard again - and a hot drink but don't linger too long as trying to beat any adverse weather that may decide to come along.
Continuing in the same direction I now head for Ullscarf the highest point of my walk at 726 metres.
It's windy, it's misty, it's miserable as sin up here with nothing to see only mist and wet paths running into the white shroud. Expecting the Baskerville Hound to leap out at any moment and take me on for my last cheese sarnie. The times I've been up here. Why? Must have some sort of sado masochistic streak in me. No point in lingering here then so I left the top and headed off in an easterly direction passing over Black Knott, some un-named lump of rock
until finally reaching - after much meandering around the peat hags and bogs - the top of Wythburn Fell which is reasonably rocky and has a bit of character unlike most of the high spots around here.
I am finally out of the mist and the views from the top of Wythburn Fell are quite something. Looking back west there is nothing but desolate brown coloured fells. North is looking to the Skiddaw and Blencathra ranges. South towards the many fells of Lakeland, whilst east we have the Helvellyn Range, a glimpse of the Fairfield hills, and closest of all and right in your face is Steel Fell. More or less directly below is the south end of Thirlmere and the hamlet of Wythburn, if indeed it is a hamlet. There aren't many buildings, the farm and the odd house, so maybe that's all that's left of the village from the flooding of the valley to make the reservoir for Manchester folk.
Can't take in the views for much longer as it's time to leave and head north down the fell side negotiating the many small rocky spurs until I reach the path which runs alongside Ullscarf Gill. The path turns away from the gill and follows the wall which passes under Birk Crag until reaching Harrop Tarn and Dob Gill.
Harrop Tarn is shrinking. It doesn't seem so long ago that it was twice the size it is now but it appears that the reeds and such like are winning the battle for ground. Once again the Forestry Commission have been cutting trees down and leaving desolation in their wake. Doh.
Crossing Dob Gill I now take the path which runs down at a rather steep pitch through the woods under Swithin Crag and down Dobgill Bridge. Rather nice in here with the moss covered trees and various shades of brown leaves. Care has to be taken on this path as it is covered in leaves, and a lot of the stones that have been used for paving it are covered in green slime which comes from the damp nature caused by the lack of sunlight. No matter, I descend as quickly as possible and gain the banks of Thirlmere without any untoward incident.
Back at the car I disrobe from my walking attire and finish off the remaining dregs of coffee whilst feeling windswept and with the usual sense of achievement after completing another decent walk safely.
In a couple of my previous reports I have complained - nay grumbled - about the state of the United Utilities car parks, conveniences, and access roads. If I may, I will have another whinge, this time about their - United Utilities - plan to erect a 10 kilometre (6 mile) fence across the fells above Thirlmere, giving the reason that the sheep tramping across the fells is causing run off that discolours the water running into the reservoir.
At a rough count there are at least 24 sources of water running off the fells into Thirlmere. The peat on the fells is brown and acidic. The gills, becks, rivers, etc all transport this brown, acidic water down to the reservoir. Granted that the water does appear clean when viewing it as it runs down the watercourses, but it's still not clean. I was always under the impression that our drinking water was well filtered before being let into the system for use by the consumers. Seems like a poor excuse to me and maybe it's just another cost cutting exercise.
Sorry about the rant.
by OpenC » Sun Mar 22, 2015 9:01 pm
by ChrisW » Mon Mar 23, 2015 5:17 am
Expecting the Baskerville Hound to leap out at any moment and take me on for my last cheese sarnie
by trailmasher » Mon Mar 23, 2015 4:27 pm
OpenC wrote:A good read, ranting and all That part of the Lakes was always on my "must get there some day" list, but I go to the Lakes so infrequently these days that I suspect it might never happen, alas.
Keep on hoping that the day will arrive when you can 'make it' back to the LD. To be fair and after a spell of dry weather and on a good summers day it's a good place to be.
by trailmasher » Mon Mar 23, 2015 4:35 pm
ChrisW wrote:Another great read Trailmasher, parking for a quid is better than 4.5 anytime....even if it was a bit convoluted, if that guy was a minute or two faster it would've been a freebieExpecting the Baskerville Hound to leap out at any moment and take me on for my last cheese sarnie
Thanks for your comments Chris and being a Yorkshire man 'freebie' is good. I don't mind paying if the benefits of doing so, show.
by johnkaysleftleg » Mon Mar 23, 2015 4:48 pm
by trailmasher » Mon Mar 23, 2015 4:59 pm
johnkaysleftleg wrote:Having quite recently been up Ullscarf I'll echo your comments on both the fell and parking. It does look like you took some superior route options to what I did. Avoiding the alleged Bridleway was something I could certainly have done with.
I read your report on that trip out and felt for you. Having been up there a few times I now know what to expect and dodge if possible but the first time, did the same as you JK, and it's not good.