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Two sides of Stonethwaite
by nigheandonn » Tue Sep 22, 2015 11:12 pm
Wainwrights included on this walk: Great Crag, Rosthwaite Fell
Date walked: 30/08/20152 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).
So I eventually settled on just going for Bessyboot, and worrying about all the rest later - it's a bit untidy to be sitting on 99, but the 100th now looks like Crinkle Crags, which is fine, and the halfway point is pushed from the Old Man of Coniston to Swirl How, which is quite pleasing - nice to see it getting its rights for once!
Great Crag was the morning's business, and if I was going to do an up and down it might as well be a proper Sunday stroll, so I left my main bag at the hostel and went off with more or less just map, waterproof jacket and water bottle
It was back down the familiar road to Stonethwaite and left over the bridge, but this time I was barely onto the track before I was leaving it again on the path that slants uphill. I was being followed by a great bouncy white dog - ears and fur and tail all flying - which suddenly took great exception to me trying to turn back when the path ran out and I realised that I should have gone over a stile I'd passed - but once I was over the stile and following the path up through the trees it became very friendly again and followed me most of the way up, so maybe it was just worried that I was going the wrong way.
Beyond a second wall the path climbed even more steeply, as a stone staircase - I quite enjoyed it, although I kept having to watch that my new friend wasn't literally under my feet!
Above the trees there was a good view right up Greenup, so I could see where I'd been the night before, and a little valley ahead, which the path dodged round. It was all bracken and grass and heather up here, very west coast of Scotland.
After another wall - and with the dog reclaimed by its owners so it couldn't bounce after sheep - I could have turned off to try to follow a smaller path straight to Great Crag, but decided to go for Dock Tarn first. Having got a view of it, though, I was led tempted by another small path up a heathery lump, which led me into a great sea of purple heather and a succession of lumps, surrounding a low soggy area apparently owned by a sheep and its large lamb.
The wander through the heather gave me good views of the tarn but brought me back to the main path before I'd come to any conclusions about where the summit might be.
I realised that I did need to be quite a bit further on past the tarn, and followed the path along looking for the bend to turn off at to reach the summit from behind.
The junction had lost its fragment of wall - if it was the right junction - but gained the semblance of a path, which led up between two rival summits.
On the one which seemed to be higher I was joined by a man who told me that he had 99 summits to go - I thought I could mirror him by being on my 99th, but realised it was only the 98th - and then by his friend who announced that you were never alone on a summit. He was mostly teasing his friend, but it's true - I can walk for hours, even in the lakes, without meeting anyone, but come to a summit and there is almost always someone else around!
Back on the path it led quite steeply down to a wall, and then across a flat and sometimes boggy place to the main Rosthwaite-Watendlath path, where the junction was marked with a precise National Trust signpost.
The path was busy with people coming up, so I felt quite efficient with a walk already done. Back in Rosthwaite it was getting on for lunchtime, as I'd been taking things reasonably easy, and I decided to sit down at the cafe for my lunch, since I rarely get the chance. Then it was back to the hostel to change one book for another and set out again.
This time it was through Stonethwaite itself and along the track towards the campsite, then turning uphill on the path by Great Stanger Gill, heading for the gap between two sets of crags.
This was quite similar to the morning's climb, but quite different as well - more bracken, rougher path, more crags around, and just less of a Sunday stroll feeling about it.
It was steep from the start, but that did mean that the views got good quite quickly, when there was a gap in the trees to see them.
The burn had been tumbling down in waterfalls from the beginning, but as it got higher it cut deeper into a little gorge, so that the path climbed well above it although it was running parallel.
I was trying to avoid a mad rush down, so I was sketching out a timetable with time to spare - quarter past 2 at the stile, half past at the stream crossing, 3 at the summit - to give me an idea of where I'd got to. The stile felt a lot further up than I'd expected, so I was quite pleased to find it was only 20 past when I got there.
I was up about the level of the first crags now, and there was an unexpected small descent that brought me roughly onto the same level as the burn for the first time in a while, and then I was round a corner and climbing well above it again, and couldn't see how the path was going to get across it.
There was no heather anywhere on this hill, which made it look and feel quite different. It wasn't nearly as steep now, and by the time I crossed the burn it was running quite normally along the ground.
Once over the burn (now 10 minutes behind schedule), I was to follow it until it ended up in a marsh, which I did, but none of the rocky places to the left looked at all like the 'easy ridge' on the route plan.
Looking around I saw that the path actually went on over another bump further on, so I followed it round the corner into another bog, with various rocky summits round the edges.
There were a few people wandering about on different bumps, apparently playing the 'pick a summit, any summit' game. I went for the nearest to me without very much hope - no one else seemed to want it, and I'd lost the path - but thinking I'd at least get a better view of the various options, and it turned out to be the right one after all, with the views down to Tarn at Leaves and up to Rosthwaite Cam. Despite the wanderings, it was only 10 past 3, and I was quite proud of myself!
The view was a bit hemmed it by higher hills around, but there was enough to give me the feeling that I really was in a new area again, with Great Gable no longer a shape on the skyline but a nearby hill.
The next navigational game was trying to find my way down between Dry Gill and Rottenstone Gill when neither was visible from above - I managed to overshoot slightly, following a tiny valley,and ended up just the other side of Dry Gill, but I couldn't see that the terrain was any better on the other side, so just stayed there. It was steep enough to have to take it a bit careful, but it was still quite a quick and simple way down.
There were men climbing on a crag over to the right - I couldn't work out at first why one of them was standing on top of it. Further down the ground was rockier, but not so bad that you couldn't pick out a grassy way through. I came down with plenty of time in hand feeling quite grown up and sensible, but also a little bit sad because I knew that as soon as I was down I would be leaving the quiet behind.
I decided to cross the burn to the good path on the other side, and followed it out to the road and the path to the hostel, where I had just enough change for celebratory tea and chocolate.
For once, the panic at the end was not really my fault - I was waiting at the hostel road end before the bus was due, but it was 10 minutes after its time when it came along, and although the trip along the single track roads west of Derwent Water was great fun, it wasn't exactly conducive to making up time, so that I ended up literally running for the Penrith bus as it started to pull away. And the less said about the train journey home the better!
by johnkaysleftleg » Wed Sep 23, 2015 10:56 pm
by ChrisW » Thu Sep 24, 2015 4:31 am
by nigheandonn » Thu Sep 24, 2015 10:41 am
Great Crag I thought was a nice walk - I was in the mood for not too much up - but the top would have been nothing special at any other time of year without the sea of purple.
As far as there's any logic to Wainwright, he does seem to like ridge summits as seen from the valley - presumably Bessyboot is one of them!
by trailmasher » Fri Sep 25, 2015 9:44 pm
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