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Brown, Green and Grey above Borrowdale
by nigheandonn » Sun Nov 06, 2016 10:25 pm
Wainwrights included on this walk: Base Brown, Brandreth, Green Gable, Grey Knotts, Seathwaite Fell
Hewitts included on this walk: Base Brown, Brandreth, Green Gable
Date walked: 22/10/20161 person thinks this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
Fortunately my first weekend in the west was one that could easily be turned inside out - instead of going in from Cockermouth and out at Seatoller I could do everything the other way round, with the benefit of putting the harder day first. And my traditional (if unofficial) Trafalgar Day half term break even let me reach Keswick in time to get the last bus down to Borrowdale that night, sitting in the open top bit in spite of the cold wind and watching the light fading.
I'd decided on a lazy start - tempting in Borrowdale where there's no shop and the cafe doesn't open until 10 - but even at quarter to 10 it was still a very early morning view, all mist and dew.
The path along to Seatoller and the road down to Seathwaite gave good views of my first two obectives (and Great End behind), with Base Brown looking especially striking as a narrow triangular ridge. At this time of year it's definitely brown as well, although that's probably not what the name means!
Stockley Bridge was looking very scenic, with the green and brown valley beyond, and a blue pool in the water.
From there I took the most direct route onto Seathwaite Fell, leaving the main path at the wall, and heading for the gully ahead.
It did look steep, but I knew it was a perfectly possible route, and assumed it was the kind that looks better close up. And it would have been ok if the ground hadn't been so sodden wet, but places that would have been fine in the dry were very slippery now - it never really felt dangerous, but some places definitely took thought.
From below it looked as though the worst would be over when I reached a prominent rowan tree, but although there was more grass and less rock it was very steep and very wet, and I found I quite often had hands and knees down (and really wishing I'd put on my waterproof trousers before I'd started!) - I could tell that I'd probably left the best line, but heading up was easier that trying to climb back over to it.
From where the ground finally eased it was a good bit further than I'd hoped to the first summit - not difficult, but crossing bands of rock and tiring when I was already tired.
The summit itself was a nice rocky place - I'm not sure whether the shoe is art, a sacrifice, or merely the innocent victim of repacking!
I definitely have some sympathy with Wainwright over the summit - it's a nice little mound at the end of the ridge, and if it wasn't for the definite borderline of the Sty Head path and the Great End crags it would be a lot like several others where higher points on the ridge are counted as part of the higher hill.
But I still had a summit to find, following a little winding path to another rocky top with a good view of the two Gables.
From there the path led on past a tiny tarn where a couple had found a wonderful lunch spot, and Sprinkling Tarn with people camping on the almost-island, out to the main path and the crowds.
I met a man I'd passed in the Seatoller car park, who told me he'd envied me my route up Seathwaite Fell - I was kind of envying his! - and passed a whole rainbow going for a walk, all in different coloured jackets, and made my way down to Sty Head, where I had my lunch and finally got my photo of the famous stretcher box.
I'm sure I also took a picture of the Western Fells book with celebratory ginger beer, but my camera seems to have eaten it - in any case I'd forgotten that I would need the battered Southern Fells one for the handover photo, and decided not to bring it for one simple hill...
But I do seem to be doing a good job of defying Wainwright's comment that you wouldn't usually walk in two regions in one day - I had lunch at the Kirkstone Pass between the Far East and East, walked over Sticks Pass to reach High Rigg in the Central Fells (although I can't remember where I ate my lunch that day), had lunch at Rosthwaite between the Central and Southern Fells, and now at Sty Head between the South and West!
Wainwright had no description of a way up Base Brown from this side, but he did describe a route to Styhead Tarn as a simple way down, so it had to be easy enough the other way round.
After passing Aaron Slack and the first rocky bit below Green Gable I started looking for a good place to head up, and then realised that there was no point in losing more height and just went for it - mostly over rough grass, but sometimes bands of rocks - just one long slant, tiring again but not difficult.
Crossing Mitchell Gill was easy enough, but I met the second unnamed gill a bit too low and had to turn uphill to cross it.
I finally came up just beyond the lowest point of the col - not quite as far along as I'd intended, but I'd got tired of going along and started heading up instead. The summit was a bit further along still than I'd hoped, but it was easy walking.
From there I turned back towards Green Gable - I'd always liked the idea of the neglected hill being the high point of my walk. And it was a nice walk, along past the great scoop of Gillercomb, uphill, and then on up a gentler slope towards the summit.
Coming up onto the main ridge I got my first ever view of Buttermere - Bassenthwaite Lake shows up in views from the east since it lies in a gap, but Buttermere is so tucked in behind the western hills.
I reached the summit before I expected it, which is rare and always nice - there was just suddenly a great gap in front of me. And it was a lovely place - the crags of Great Gable towering in front of me, over the gap, and the new hills and valleys on one side and old friends on the other. I could have sat there for a long time, but I needed to get on - I'd happily go back, though.
Instead I was heading down the ridge to Brandreth - I easily avoided veering too far right, onto the path I'd come from, although the junction isn't very clear, but instead found myself too far left on a path apparently heading for Moses' Trod, and had to drift right again to come out by the little tarns.
Looking up behind me the sun had gone in, and it was possible now to take a picture of Great Gable. Presumably this is the side Green Gable was named from, with the green triangle of the summit in front of the rocky dome of Great Gable beyond.
Brandreth from here was a fairly gentle climb to a broad top with several competing cairns - I'm not sure if Wainwright's was the highest, but it was definitely the most photogenic. Old metal and new wooden fenceposts seemed to be scattered all over the top!
I wasn't sure at first if there was still a fence to follow to Grey Knotts, but it turned out to be only hiding a bit further down - just a wander over, with rocks and tiny tarns scattered about.
Once again there were two competing summits, one tucked into the corner of the fence and another a little bit to the west, both looking much the same height.
The original plan for the day had included Fleetwith Pike, and at one point it had still looked like I might have light for an out and back - but between the late start and the extra hill and the slow gully I really didn't, and also there didn't seem to be any point doing it if I couldn't go right up or down the nose. So first trip in the west and I already have a stray hill to fit it!
So instead I was following the fence down to Honister, making sure not to take the route that led to Sudden Death. For most of the way I was on the wrong side of the fence, not having realised I was supposed to cross it, but it didn't seem to matter very much - slightly more bog but fewer actual puddles. Then over an edge in the slope and I could see the road running up the pass towards me, and another and I could see the Honister yard, and down through the little rock cleft where it wasn't so much that you had to touch rock as that it was so close that not touching it would be ridiculous.
And then a long walk down the pass to Buttermere as it got dark, with new hills all around me, and confusion with the wrong key, and down to the village, which was oddly hard to find in the dark - I knew there were two pubs in theory, but I went into the Bridge because at least I could see where it was. And a state of tiredness which has happened before, where I order fish and chips, eat all the peas in about two seconds and sit looking at the fish and the chips as if wondering what they are for...
by johnkaysleftleg » Mon Nov 07, 2016 9:53 am
by nigheandonn » Mon Nov 07, 2016 10:42 am
Green Gable was a lovely little perch - I need to go back when the sun isn't quite so directly above Gable Crag...
by trailmasher » Mon Nov 07, 2016 1:04 pm
by nigheandonn » Mon Nov 07, 2016 4:12 pm
by ChrisW » Mon Nov 07, 2016 9:28 pm
I think the shoe may well have been a sacrifice, perhaps moving a few of the cairn rocks would have revealed the associated leg ....
by nigheandonn » Tue Nov 08, 2016 2:55 pm
by ChrisW » Tue Nov 08, 2016 10:37 pm
nigheandonn wrote:Have you been talking to Caberfeidh too much?