A snowy skirmish onto Gowbarrow Fell
by trailmasher » Tue Jan 19, 2016 1:22 pm
Wainwrights included on this walk: Gowbarrow Fell
Date walked: 17/01/2016
Time taken: 2.35
Distance: 8.39 km
Ascent: 450m3 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 had arranged to meet Chris on his next visit home from the rig where he works and our choice was to be some of the Kentmere group of fells. A few emails and texts later it was established that he would be accompanied on the Sunday by his daughter and niece who between the pair of them have clocked up a total of two walks in the hills and both by Eva, Chris's daughter.
Anyway, no worries there, as, although there is snow lying on the high fells it is not too bad, yet. When it started snowing hard on Saturday afternoon until late evening the situation changed somewhat, and as Chris with living in Middlesbrough wasn't aware of the changing conditions and they get no 'weather' over there a change of plan had to be made. A quick email - which he didn't get until Sunday morning - still resulted in them setting off early from the North East to arrive at our house at around 7:45am. Over a cup of coffee it was decided to have a go at Gowbarrow Fell, a much lower and amenable hill for the two girls to tackle and it would give them some experience of walking in the snowy conditions.
With the new plan sorted we set off and arrived at the Dockray small parking area by the side of the bridge that sits across Aira Beck with no other cars or persons in sight. The temperature was -2°c as we got booted up and observed by the car park attendant who looked as though he had been there all night.
Leaving the car park we crossed over the bridge and then turned right between the buildings to follow the lane past the new building on the left and down to Millses also on the left. We passed a small flock of sheep that were milling around a feeding station before crossing over the newly - well new last year - built footbridge which spans Ridding Beck.
Following the lane we passed through the first gate to reach the next one which we accessed to allow us to turn left - north east - more or less alongside the wall until arriving at a third gate which will lead us onto the fell proper. The snow is not too bad here but care is taken as the ground is very wet underneath the snow making for slippery conditions for the unwary.
We continued more or less alongside the wall containing the small tree plantation with the snow now covering the usual and obvious path up the fell side. As I have been up here a few times before I know that there are rough stretches of ground underfoot with many rocks and holes now covered by the snow. There are a few short, paved, and stepped sections which are almost impossible to see but we're getting there. The snow is pristine and virginal so no boot prints to follow, the wind is blowing cold and causing spindrift to form ripples like tiny waves across the snow and deeper drifts in other areas.
As we looked back and around us even at this low height the views are good with the snow picking out the contours of the fells in a way that doesn't happen at other times.
We made steady progress trying to pick out the best way to go and as the fell eased in steepness the snow got deeper…
until at the bottom of the short climb just below the summit it was knee deep. Arriving at the OS column the wind was strong and bitterly cold so a few hurried photos was taken before leaving for less windy climes. It was noted that there are a couple of dumpy bags on the summit so path repairs are either in the offing or ongoing once the weather breaks. It has taken us an hour to reach the top, a climb that I normally do in half that time when underfoot conditions are better than they are today.
For such a small hill the aspects all around are wonderful. It's a clear day with a bit of sun showing through the clouds and we could see for miles. Across to the Pennines over to the north and east, the High Street range looking south east, south we can see the Helvellyn set of peaks and west there is Hart Side sitting in front of the Dodd's. What a view and one that can't properly be conveyed onto photos without losing that sense of distance and magnitude.
Leaving the top was a short, slippery affair but once down we continued to follow the unseen line of the path as it headed north east and downwards through knee deep snow before easing off and the path becoming more obvious as we reached the head of Kirkstyle Gill where it swung south east to follow the gill on a narrow path until reaching the tumbledown shooting lodge where we stopped for a break. The sheep had done a good job of flattening the snow down on this lower path so it was much firmer underfoot. As we are in the lee of the fell we are sheltered from the wind and it's much warmer as we munched and drank our fill.
After this short break we just followed the path as it meandered up and down, round and about…
but mostly directly south crossing over three small becks…
on the way to the view point and memorial seat at Yew Crag. From here a great view along Ullswater in both directions can be found, maybe one of the best places to stand and look around with Hallin Fell, Sleet Fell, and Place Fell directly opposite the view point.
We now start the descent across Hind Crag and under Bernard Pike and continue down until we reached level ground where we now turned north west through the trees to make a visit to Aira Force a place that the other three have never seen before. The slate covered steps needed care to negotiate as they were covered with snow but once down it was worth the effort as the waterfall had a fair amount of water falling down it.
After snowballs had been thrown we made our way back up to the path which would take us north through the trees, past High Force and then climbed back up to the main Gowbarrow/Dockray path.
It was now just a case of following the track back to our starting point at Dockray. This has not been an epic walk by any means but did give the young ones a taste of what it is like to walk in snowy conditions. They could have done with having gaiters on but with stepping where I had been and donning their over trousers they got away without getting wet feet by snow going down the tops of their boots.
On the whole walk we had seen a total of eleven people, ten of those on the woodland paths and one at the old shooting lodge on his way up. The weather has been good with a strong cold wind at height, some sunny periods amongst the clouds with the mist dropping over the high fells later in the day but obviously didn't affect us.
by The English Alpinist » Tue Jan 19, 2016 3:25 pm
by dav2930 » Tue Jan 19, 2016 7:38 pm
by thefallwalker » Tue Jan 19, 2016 8:54 pm
by johnkaysleftleg » Tue Jan 19, 2016 9:34 pm
by trailmasher » Wed Jan 20, 2016 6:16 pm
So difficult making headway through all that white stuff.
First time in snow for the young ones and they struggled a little bit but just got on with it I went up last year and had to turn back at the summit as the snow was too deep. Thanks for your comments and good luck on the remainder of your mission
by trailmasher » Wed Jan 20, 2016 6:19 pm
dav2930 wrote:That looked a lovely walk you all had in a winter wonderland! Excellent photos.
Thanks very much Dav it was a great walk and pleased that the pics came out so well, for me anyway. It's always good to get encouragement from other users of WH
by trailmasher » Wed Jan 20, 2016 6:24 pm
johnkaysleftleg wrote:Looks great TM, a simple little fell but with stunning views made all the better with all that lovely snow, funny thing is the snow was every bit as deep just a few miles from your mates house up on the North York's Moors.
Thank you Anthony and for a small fell as this it must have some of the best views going and I do tease TFW on how they don't get any 'weather' up there Thanks again for your comments
by ChrisW » Mon Jan 25, 2016 5:35 am
by trailmasher » Mon Jan 25, 2016 12:38 pm
ChrisW wrote:Now that's a little beauty TM, some wonderful shots of the snow covered tops too but that waterfall is a bit special
Hi Chris and thanks again for your welcome comments haven't heard from you for a while hope that you are both alright
by ChrisW » Wed Jan 27, 2016 4:24 am
trailmasher wrote: Hi Chris and thanks again for your welcome comments haven't heard from you for a while hope that you are both alright
All good here mate, just a little lazy over the Christmas period then just kind of forgot about the hills
The snow means there are so few that are achievable for hiking/scrambling purposes (many trail closures over huge areas due to avalanche potential, road closures for winter, hills closed for skiers, some are just too risky in snow or too long of a walk in on snowshoes) it becomes easy to catch up with other stuff and forget about hiking sometimes
Might give it a go this week though as the weather is ludicrous right now (14 degrees today ) I think a short walk may be in order