Above the floods on Blencathra
by dav2930 » Wed Dec 09, 2015 9:40 pm
Wainwrights included on this walk: Blencathra
Hewitts included on this walk: Blencathra
Date walked: 06/12/2015
Time taken: 4
Distance: 7.25 km
Ascent: 746m6 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).
As we drove up through the village, water rushed down one section of the road like a beck in spate. Gradually the feeling crept over us that all was not well. There was a lot of gravel and detritus strewn along the road and the lane up to the walker's car park was almost as stony as a river bed. People were standing outside their houses holding shovels, looking dazed, or resigned. When we got parked and booted and were about to set off, a sprightly little woman said hello and started describing how sheets of water had flowed through her neighbour's house, destroying carpets and furniture. And she spoke as if she thought we knew what had been happening. It was only just beginning to dawn on us. Setting off on a fell walk, amidst people who were trying to come to terms with the aftermath of an extreme weather event, made us feel rather guilty. But set off we did, not really knowing what else to do.
It was to be expected that the Gate Gill beck would be trickier to cross than usual, but we managed it without getting our feet wet. Just across the other side, a tiny cairn on the grass marks the start of the delightful, zig-zag path up Hall's Fell. The wind, however, was disappointingly strong. What would it be like higher up?
A bit higher up we could begin to see the extent of flooding along the Glederamackin and into St John's in the Vale.
As we approached the rocks at the start of Narrow Edge, the strength of the wind made it difficult to walk in a straight line, so we were content to follow the main path, which ducks to the right in the lee of the ridge crest.
Further up, the path goes onto the crest itself, but mercifully and mysteriously, the wind had died down a bit at that point, so we could enjoy the mild scrambling.
Even on the summit, where we met a few other walkers, the wind wasn't too bad. The high level walk along to Knowe Crags promised to be a pleasure.
We found a nice grassy ledge under the top of Knowe Crags, sheltered from the wind, and sat down for a bite and a coffee, looking out over the watery landscape. The sun was beginning to break through the clouds and reflected brightly from that element which, as well as defining the district, can also threaten to overwhelm it.
We arrived back at the car at about 1.20pm. It was too early to go home, so we went into Keswick. The main road through the town centre was closed off, so we sneaked up a side street and found a free parking space. Many cafes and shops were closed due to staff shortages (people unable to get to work). The west side of Fitz Park was a waste land of mud and the wreckage of uprooted trees. The car park of Booths supermarket was submerged under a foot of water. Staff were sweeping silty water out from the extensive floor space of Trespass outdoor gear shop. We learned that the river Greta had spilled over the top of the flood barrier installed after the floods of 2009. And later we were to learn that the barriers built in Carlisle at the same time had also failed to contain the Eden. It had been a strange and sad day.
by Riverman » Wed Dec 09, 2015 11:53 pm
by johnkaysleftleg » Thu Dec 10, 2015 11:59 am
by The English Alpinist » Fri Dec 11, 2015 8:16 pm
by dav2930 » Fri Dec 11, 2015 9:20 pm
TEA - you did well to sneak in Fairfield from Patterdale (can we look forward to a TR on that?). It's surprising you were able to get over Kirkstone Pass (and back again!) - Glenridding has been utterly devastated. Being based in the Eden Valley, I generally approach from the north, but it's nice to know Ambleside is reachable from the south (touch wood).
by simon-b » Fri Dec 11, 2015 11:37 pm
Well done on getting up Blencathra. Sunday's weather was ok, and my route home past Penrith was open. It was when I got home I realised the full level of the devastation via TV and the web. You'll have seen the pictures of the A591, your route to the Fairfield horseshoe! Absolutely devastating. I wish Cumbria a speedy as possible recovery, but it's bound to take some time.
by dav2930 » Sat Dec 12, 2015 12:22 pm
When you were in the Sportsman's I expect you wondered if you'd be able to get home on Sunday! But as you say, it did turn out to be a much better day, fortunately. I have a feeling it's going to be a long time before things are back to anything like normality here.
by ChrisW » Sun Dec 13, 2015 3:37 am
by dav2930 » Sun Dec 13, 2015 6:23 pm
ChrisW wrote:Great report Dav, you really captured some of the terrible nature of the flooding. It's such a destructive force and so sad for those involved.
Thanks Chris. I can only imagine how frightening and heartbreaking it must be to have your home wrecked by a flood - and to know that it is likely to happen again and again in the future. One feels almost guilty to be among the lucky ones unaffected.
by trailmasher » Sun Dec 13, 2015 7:29 pm
by dav2930 » Sun Dec 13, 2015 8:45 pm
trailmasher wrote:Great report and effort with good shots of the flooding for the history books Blencathra is my favourite mountain giving good views over the Keswick area but unfortunately not this time It's when it's seen from a great height that the full impact of the disaster can be seen. Thanks for sharing
Thank you Trailmasher.