A Nanook of the North feeling on Starling Dodd/ Great Borne
by trailmasher » Wed Mar 09, 2016 4:45 pm
Wainwrights included on this walk: Great Borne, Starling Dodd
Hewitts included on this walk: Great Borne, Starling Dodd
Date walked: 05/03/2016
Time taken: 6.41
Distance: 23.73 km
Ascent: 1261m5 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).
Chris was back home for his on shore leave and wanted to get out on the fells again to up his peak bagging score so a choice of one out of two was to be made. The two walks in question was either Carron Crag plus Top O' Selside from Coniston Water, or the Starling Dodd/Great Borne group including four Birkett's and starting from Buttermere depending on the weather. As the forecast was going to be quite user friendly we decided on the Buttermere walk which would clean up the hills for Chris south of the so called Floutern Pass.
This was going to be a fairly long walk that would take in the full length of the pass on our return journey, but as Chris hasn't been in that neck of the woods before it would further increase his knowledge of his way around the Lake District. The way through Floutern Pass is renowned for its wetness both in winter and summer so the wet underfoot conditions have to be tolerated in all seasons around here.
One could say, "Why take that route when a start could be made from the car park at Bowness and therefore cut down on the mileage?" Well, it requires a long drive to get there and it would be a long and boring walk alongside Ennerdale Water back to the car park, plus the views aren't as good as taking the route along the pass.
On the Saturday morning Chris duly arrived at my place at 7:30am accompanied by an unknown to me, Lee, who looks as fit as a flea, damn. He hasn't been walking in the LD before but has made a visit to Cross Fell and High Cup Nick. It was cold and frosty as we set off for Buttermere having to take the route over the Honister Pass due to uncertain although heard about access problems taking the normal route from Braithwaite and down the Newlands Valley.
It was even colder as we parked up on the small car park adjacent to the church alongside only another two cars and was slightly surprised as I did expect there to be more people about on such a fine day as this. Although it is only just 9am.
Dressed for the occasion we were walking by 9:15am and duly set off walking down the hill and past the two inns that obviously were catering for a lot of guests looking at the number of cars in their car parks. It's cold, cloudy, but dry as we took the lane that would take us to Scale Bridge that spans Buttermere Dubs and then turning right along the initially decent path to the footbridges that sits over Near Ruddy Beck and Far Ruddy Beck from where the path gets narrower but is still in fair condition.
In spite of the cloud cover on the fell tops the views are wonderful with the lower reaches of the white topped slopes contrasting greatly against the darkness of the crags and brown bracken. There are a few patches of sunlight though unfortunately not on us and we can be assured of really good views once on top as long as the clouds lift.
We proceeded along the lower path that took us by Scale Island and which now gets progressively softer and wetter as it begins to make its way across the low lying moss and grass. Upon reaching a small and unnamed water course running into Crummock Water we decided to abandon this path and climb up to the higher and drier path that will take us directly to the wall gate and footbridge at the foot of Scale Force and with one drop of 52 metres - or 170 feet - and two of 6 metres - or 20 feet - is the highest waterfall in the Lake District.
Due to the recent rain and snow melt there is plenty of water making its way down the falls as we climbed into the recesses of the narrow ravine for the obligatory photo shoot. Leaving the foot of the falls we then began to make our way along the left hand side of the falls south and upwards on the well made stone staircase until arriving at a point where the ground eased quite considerably to follow a good path that had its moments when it tended to arrive upon previously washed out sections where we had to clamber up and over slightly exposed, rocky areas that today were quite slippery in places due to the general wet conditions of the path.
We passed the lower path that runs southeast up to Lingcomb Edge and continued on the narrow, rock strewn path that eases its way up steadily alongside Scale Beck for quite some distance before leaving the beck side to take a turn southeast and now climbing more steeply up to meet Lincomb Edge at a higher altitude than the lower one would have. Up to this point the walk has been wind and snow free but as we get out of the confines of the gully we meet both.
The path is still pretty good, albeit now getting harder to pick out as it's full of snow that is frozen on the surface but very soft underneath causing one to slip if breaking through the top hard layer. Upon reaching Lingcomb Edge we turned south again until coming across the old boundary fence of which only the cast iron posts remain. There is quite a lot of snow underfoot now and the path although evident when the fells are clear is now impossible to see. But as the fence line runs all the way roughly in our direction we followed it firstly southwest to reach Little Dodd at 590 metres in height and hosts a cairn that is made up of a few stones with lots of the old iron fence posts poking out of them. It looks like a weapon out of the Game of Thrones series.
There is a hint of snow in the air now and the wind is quite strong and very cold. The MWIS predicted a low of - with the wind chill factor - minus 14°c and although I'm not suggesting it is that cold here just now, it is a brass monkey job and will get colder as we arrive at the top of Starling Dodd our next objective. It's wide open up here with no shelter until we get off Starling Dodd and well on our way to Great Borne.
As we leave Little Dodd still following the old fence line and upon looking back to it from the col between it and Starling Dodd the path off can clearly be seen through the snow but we simply tramped down the fell side as best we could.
Despite the snow and wind we arrived at the twin cairns of Starling Dodd at 633 metres only 11 minutes after leaving Little Dodd.
One cairn is made from rocks and the second one once again is made from remnants of the old boundary fence posts.
Looking around from here the views are being restricted by the coming and going of low level clouds that are being motivated by the strong wind. One minute we have very good views and then in a second they've gone under cloud.
We didn't linger on this one with just a few quick photos taken and then we continued on now northwest alongside the snow filled and wide path towards Great Borne.
It was easier to walk in the heather than through the snow of the path and doesn't give us much of a problem until later on as we neared the foot of Great Borne.
It was decided that it was time we stopped to refuel and this we did in the hollow at the head of Clews Gill before starting the pull up to the summit of Great Borne. It was quite sheltered from the wind and most of the snow had vanished from the hollow and although there are two shelter cairns on the left at the foot and one on the top of Great Borne we have been going long enough exposed to the elements. We stopped for only about 10 minutes but in that short time our hands were beginning to get cold so getting a push on we set off once again for our next and third top.
Once on our way again the hands soon warmed up but problems were in front of us as the snow had by now got quite deep over the path and the going was hard. As we got higher the going got rougher due to the fact that we had to abandon the path and start to clamber over the rock strewn fellside. This option was the better of two evils, as although the rocks themselves were snow bound at least the tops were poking through making for better progress. After a few metres of pussy footing about alongside the path we decided to simply go for the summit following the easiest and safest way through the rocks and arrived at the top quicker than I thought that we would have.
The summit like its sides is covered in rocks on which is sat a large shelter cairn and a stone built trig point. As we arrived at the top the sky has cleared for the moment and we can see the Isle of Man as clear as anything. We are surrounded by snow covered fells and have a 360 degree outlook north to Scotland and the Loweswater Fells, moving round there is Grasmoor, Whiteless Pike, Robinson and all in between. Going south is the High Stile range, around to Great Gable, Kirk Fell, Pillar, Scoat Fell, Steeple, Caw Fell and Lank Rigg plus many in between them too numerous to mention.
From here we are now going to pick up three Birkett's that are sat on the southwest corner and under Great Borne the first of which is Herdus at 562 metres in height but around 85 metres below us to the top of Rake Beck and then about a 40 metre climb to the summit of same.
The way down is via a pathless and snow covered rocks route so care had to be taken. Now that we have left the top of Great Borne we are out of the wind and it feels almost tropical as we made our way down. The going was fairly slow leading down to the head of the gill until we could see the makings of a path leading onto the top of Herdus. Like the ground we are crossing just now Herdus is covered in rocks and heather with some grass on its top. Once we had found a path it wasn't too long before we were on the summit of grass and thin heather with a summit cairn of small rocks.
We are above Ennerdale Water but due to Bowness Knott being inconveniently placed we can't see the full - or almost - length of it.
Below us we can see Brown How with the tree scalped sides of Bowness Knott sat behind it whilst the views in all other directions are alright but restricted apart from looking North over Lorton Vale and the surrounding countryside. Photo shoot over we left Herdus and instead of following the path back off we set off southeast down the rough fell side heading towards the narrow gully that contains Rake Beck. There is no path shown on the map, but I have read of one, so hoping the report was true we made our way over to it and sure enough we could see a short section of it on the far side to us. We then followed the beck down the steep sides until we reached a suitable place to cross over to the path which was found to be rather rough and steep with lots of loose stones/rocks, wet, and some bare rock areas.
Once again the going is fairly slow due to the nature of the path and its close proximity to the beck which is some good few metres below and which by now is in a steep sided rocky gully and it would have to be a recovery job for the mountain rescue team I'm afraid if taking a tumble down into the depths of it. There is a nice waterfall at one spot but without attempting to get into the bed of the beck a decent picture couldn't be got of it. The photo that I did take doesn't do it justice really as it is higher than it looks. From the side of the beck a good view of Brown How and Bowness Knott is to be seen with an old stone built fox trap built by the side of the lower section of path.
I have read about these and they are built with concave sides drawing narrower to the top - a bit like an upside down funnel - the trap is baited, the fox goes in and then finds that it can't get out as the pit is about 1.5 metres deep, too high to leap out of. The walls on inspection are at least .600mm - 2 feet - thick so no chance of scrabbling its way out.
We had a swift drink here before setting off once again to reach and climb the easy grass and heather coated slopes of Brown How to get on to the grass covered but cairnless rocky knoll that forms the top of this 320 metre high Birkett.
From here we have a good view of our final hill for today with it's once extensively pine covered slopes now denuded of pine trees but with the usual mess left behind.
We surveyed the landscape to try and pick out the best way forward and even though there is a stile through the newly erected wire fence it would mean too much of a loss of height something that we don't want right now.
Making our way roughly south off Brown How we strode over the fence and picked our way through the pathless jungle of fallen trees and branches that were stripped off the trees prior to removing from site and found that the higher we climbed the clearer the ground got until we finally reached the path that comes from the fence stile a lot further down the fell. This path led us to another flattish and heather covered top with a small cairn poking its way through the long straggly ground cover. More photos are taken and then we set off on the path to the stile and our long walk back to Buttermere.
Leaving the fence and Bowness Knott behind us we followed the good path down to Rake Beck which was crossed to put us on the green lane that shortly started to climb quite steeply up around the base of Herdus until it levelled out somewhat as we met the fence that runs northeast until it arrives at the bottom of the path coming off Great Borne. It is at this point where we now cross over the fence and wet ground to pass over another stile that will allow us access onto Floutern Pass proper.
We now have a long walk down the valley as we pass between the Birkett of Floutern Cop to our left and Floutern Tarn on our right. Passing these two landmarks we now walk between Hen Comb and Mellbreak also on our left with the fells that we have just walked on our right.
The view down the valley towards Crummock Water is full of the mountains of Grasmoor, Whiteside, Whiteless Pike, Rannerdale Knotts, all apart from Rannerdale Knotts with a grand head of snow on them.
Apart from the views there is not much to say about this path only that it is very wet, soft, and dirty with the appearance of the odd sheepfold and a tumbledown structure well up the fellside under Starling Dodd that doesn't look like a sheepfold and could be a relic of the old mining days of this area to break the monotony of trudging along through the swamp lands. As we approach Scale Force once again we have to pass over the massive landslip that occurred in 2014 taking a tremendous part of the fellside with it.
From here we simply retraced our route in to here, the only small difference being that we kept to the high path all the way back to Buttermere, a rougher although drier option than the lower one.
This has been a long and enjoyable walk done in cold but decent weather that consisted of cloud, some sun, a flurry of snow then rain, a strong and very cold wind at height over a mixed terrain of good paths both rough and steep, rocks, snow, and plenty of wet ground. The views have been good although covered at times by the low clouds that kept skimming by. We found a fox trap which must be quite a rarity nowadays and covered some new ground. This has been a good day out.
by thefallwalker » Wed Mar 09, 2016 8:05 pm
by Guinessman » Wed Mar 09, 2016 8:41 pm
by dav2930 » Wed Mar 09, 2016 11:53 pm
by ChrisW » Thu Mar 10, 2016 4:05 am
by trailmasher » Fri Mar 11, 2016 9:35 pm
Thanks Chris and I've never known anyone fall over like you NE lads you seem to spend more time on your backs than on your boots
by trailmasher » Fri Mar 11, 2016 9:40 pm
Guinessman wrote:An excellent report Trailmasher, thanks for that. I haven't been on Great borne yet, this route looks good.
Thanks very much Guinessman done it a few times and just a pity that the views up Ennerdale were spoiled by the weather When and if you get on it there is a quick way off by following the fence down to Floutern Pass
by trailmasher » Fri Mar 11, 2016 9:43 pm
dav2930 wrote:That looked a great day out TM; long way back to Buttermere from Bowness Knott though! Nice shot of Scale Force and great report.
Thanks a lot dav it was indeed a good day out and it is a long way back but the lads needed the exercise
by trailmasher » Fri Mar 11, 2016 9:49 pm
ChrisW wrote:Great read TM, I've never seen a fox trap like that before, it's a pretty neat idea, well, unless you're a fox of course That low grey sky makes great photos difficult to get yet you still came up with the goods The one of Whiteside-Grasmoor-Hopegill Head-Grisedale Pike-Whiteless Pike and Rannerdale Knotts with a glimpse of sunlight halfway up it is fantastic
Many thanks again for your comments Chris That is only the second fox trap that I have seen on my wanders through the fells and this one is in superb condition I would have liked some good views down Ennerdale but the low cloud beat me to it I think that I was fortunate to get that shot of Whiteside etc as the sun had missed us today
by The English Alpinist » Sun Mar 13, 2016 8:47 pm
by trailmasher » Mon Mar 14, 2016 8:50 pm
The English Alpinist wrote:That's quite a roudabout trek TM. Energy sapping in wet, snowy heather. My knees are feeling a bit done in from a similar experience on the Lowesater Fells. Very interesting to learn a bit about Great Borne and Starling Dodd, as they are among my cluster of Wainwrights left to do. Also, congrats on uploading possibly the first 'comfort break' pic on here!
Thanks for your comments TEA and yes hard going but a great day out. Re the 'comfort break' photo, just to portray the lack of portaloo's on the fells
by johnkaysleftleg » Tue Mar 15, 2016 11:38 am
by trailmasher » Wed Mar 16, 2016 8:58 pm
johnkaysleftleg wrote:Another great report of what looked a fairly hard day out. Given my current fitness levels I'd have probably been crippled for a week following that one.
Thanks very much JK and it was fairly hard going with the underfoot conditions You are going to have make the effort Anthony now the weather is getting better and I'm missing your four legged pal