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Four Northern Fells from Fell Side.
by trailmasher » Tue Apr 04, 2017 8:29 pm
Wainwrights included on this walk: Brae Fell, Great Sca Fell, High Pike (Northern Fells), Knott
Date walked: 28/03/2017
Time taken: 3.39
Distance: 13.3 km
Ascent: 657m1 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).
Earlier in the year E and I had a drive over to Fell Side with the intention of climbing Brae Fell plus any others that took our fancy, and as there are various escape routes we could have done as many as we liked and dropped down back off the hills at anytime. However the snow was deep and crisp and even across the fells that day and E - as is her wont - played the refusal card so we ended up having a long walk along the side of Dale Beck and right the way up to the head of the valley that was the sight of much mining activities and also where the 3 gills of Silver, Clints, and Roughton conjoin to form the larger Dale Beck. It was a glorious day with sun and clear blue skies with many great photos taken - I thought - but when we got home and downloaded them they all had a blue cast to them that I can only put down to the reflection of the sky on the pure white snow. That is the reason that it wasn't posted on WH and why I - or should I say we - am back again but this time with two much more adventurous playmates, Chris and Daniel who haven't been out for around six weeks so are now raring to go.
The usual meet and drink of coffee took place and then we set off on a glorious Tuesday morning to drive up the M6 to J41 for Wigton and then just made our way to Hesket Newmarket driving straight through to the west on the minor Uldale road and then upon seeing the small sign for Fell Side took a left for the short drive to the car park. The decent sized but fairly wet and muddy car park held only one other car that proved to belong to a couple of dog walkers and is between and just behind the buildings of Fellside Farm.
As we got ready to walk it was around 7°c, sunny with blue skies, but with a cold breeze blowing just now it meant that despite the sun a warm coat to start was the order of the day. The walk begins with a short walk to the top of the car park and beneath some trees to access the fellside via a wooden gate from where a good lane leads off first southwest and then south climbing easily along with a great view Brae Fell, our first fell and a long 2½ mile climb to the large summit cairn and small shelter.
Within a short while the lane begins to gently lose height passing a disused pit on the left and shortly after leaving the dry stone wall we took the grass track that follows Ingray Gill down to the ford at Dale Beck.
This is where we came upon the small problem of how to cross the beck that is wide and was running fast and fairly deep, too deep for boots and too wide to use the poles to assist in the leap across.
The rubble bags tip from Alteknacker came to mind and would have come in handy at this point so must invest in a pair.
There is a footbridge about half a mile upstream but that either means walking back the same half mile or climbing the fell by way of Ramps Gill and although the Ramps Gill route would have been alright it is a bit closed in around there and we wanted a bit more to see on our climb up other than the confines of the accompanying gill although once above Wet Smale Gill the views along the valley would have probably been worth the effort of that route.
In any event we walked along the bank of Dale Beck…
until we arrived at a spot where there is a small grassy island more or less in the centre of the beck. I was the first to go thinking that's going to be like leaping onto something the size of a Frisbee, if I misjudge this and come short, I'm in the water. Too far, and same result. If it collapses I get wet and continue across whilst the other two laugh their paps off but will have a longer walk than I. Everything crossed I take a leap of faith and would have done Jonathan Edwards proud as I sprung from bank to clump to bank. Now follow that one guys.
Once across and camera at the ready I urged the others on hoping like hell that one - or both - would have a moment of hesitation and lose momentum and leave me with the shot of the day, but once again both being in a selfish mood they made it across safely and we continued back to pick up the initially steep grassy path leading from the beck. This path is fairly wide and what was once a narrow path through the grass is now a well used quad bike track that will allow us easy access right up to the summit of Brae Fell.
Once we began the long climb up the fell we began to warm up fast so the coats were shed off and either stuffed in the bags or tied on the back. It was a glorious day with deep blue skies and a few clouds but the one spoiling factor was the haze that surprised me really as with the cold breeze I wouldn't have expected a haze today. A haze that would mar what could have been some good pictures of the distant fells today, although it is much more preferable to rain, clag, or both combined.
After the initial short but steep section of path the ground eases off to become a nice gentle incline over grass…
and although it seemed take an age to reach the summit cairn it was in fact attained in 1hour 10 minutes, and that was with stopping to take photos and a couple of rest stops to take in the views.
Brae Fell is a brute of a hill in the sense that it is massive in size although an easy walk along its 4 kilometres and 350 metres climb during its long journey from Fell Side to the summit. The large and broad summit sports a very large cairn of stones and a rather tumbledown stone shelter with far reaching views in all directions looking over the Caldbeck countryside to the north, Over Water, Binsey, Longlands Fell, and Lowthwaite Fell lie to the west, moving round further south we have Meal Fell, Great Cockup, and Burn Tod, whilst to the south we have Little Sca Fell, Great Sca Fell, and just the top of Knott with the Skiddaw hills out of sight behind Knott and the haze that is being a problem as long clear views are concerned.
Whilst we took a minute or two to take a drink and a bite to eat we surveyed this scene set under sunlight and blue skies. Large rolling hills splattered with various sized patches of snow that we have yet to walk on as they gleam white in contrast to the brown grass of the fells that they lay on. These northern fells are very similar to the Howgills, big and rounded giving easy access and a chance to stride out and get the miles covered fast.
We are going to walk in an anti-clockwise direction on wide paths that are clear to see as we see them stretch out into the distance before us linking up each fell as we progress ever forwards. Daniel has removed his thermal leggings and we have now cooled down so it's time for the off again to follow the path off the south side of Brae Fell and to now make our way to Little Sca Fell the lower neighbour of Great Sca Fell and Knott…
that sits directly behind it. The path up to the top of our first summit was good underfoot with it being firm and dry and the one that is taking us to Little Sca Fell…
is similar with just a few wet patches in the lower area but it is destined to get a whole lot wetter underfoot as the walk progresses.
The distance between these two fells was quickly eaten up and it is just a short climb then to reach the summit with its decent cairn of stones and quite a long shelter wall. Another photo shoot for the benefit of the two male models that are with me and then a look around the surrounding fells. Skiddaw has now come into view - or should I say partly into view - but although its bulk and shape cannot be denied the haze was making it difficult to pick out any features of it or its surrounding fells.
We quickly got on our way once a few photos had been taken and now we are off to Great Sca Fell that is just a few minutes away and a further climb of just 27 metres or so between the two. Once again the path was reasonable but wet in places and we can expect that with the snow melt and the ground just starting to thaw out with the still frozen ground being able to be felt just below the softer surface. The top of Great Sca Fell is true in nature as its neighbours, large and rounded, almost flat, grass covered with just a very few stones scattered about.
Strangely enough the top has a much smaller cairn than its lower fellow and we still have a good view - haze permitting - of the surrounding fells with Carrock Fell and High Pike with Great Lingy Hill sat between and in front of them now visible.
Next on was Knott and at 710 metres is the highest point of our walk with High Pike - our next summit - being some 50 metres lower though no less imposing on the landscape. From Great Sca Fell to Knott is around 1.25 kilometres with only about another 75 metres of climb to reach its typical for these fells large rounded top that held a rather too small cairn for its dominance over these fells around it. The path from Great Sca Fell…
to here has now deteriorated and is now much wetter and boggy…
especially in the lower area between the base of both hills and with snow now more in evidence and melting quite fast in the heat of the sun it is understandably so. In fact from when we left Knott the way forward was perhaps the wettest and boggiest that I've been on for a while. The temperature had dropped slightly and we made our way to the summit passing across a large area of soft snow and Chris and Daniel had put their coats back on. Mustn't be walking fast enough!
From the top of Knott we now had a good view of Skiddaw, Great and Little Calva, Bakestall, Sale How, and some of Blencathra and Souther Fell through the annoying haze.
We could also see our way forward with Great and Little Lingy Hills stretching out to the horizon with Carrock Fell and High Pike sat high and pointed behind them.
We had a quick drink at the summit but our venue for lunch was to be the bothy on the side of Great Lingy Hill - a place that I have visited many times in the past - and as it's right on the Cumbria Way with a good view down Grainsgill Beck and into Mosedale it's a perfect place to linger on a sunny day such as this.
My original route was to be from Knott to Little Lingy Hill, Iron Crag, Great Lingy Hill and then the bothy but as the ground was now getting worse underfoot I didn't fancy the struggle across the rough and low wet area that lay between us and Iron Crag. We left Knott behind and now walked east with the waterlogged path disappearing fast into a wide morass of sodden grass, moss, and sticky peat and it left me wondering that if it's like this here we may as well as gone on my original route but it's too late now and we'll take what there is.
Just before Coomb Height we struck off to the northeast with the slope getting very slippery the steeper it got as we dropped the 150 metres or so but soon enough we arrived at Gunner Well and after passing that we then strode across the head of Grainsgill Beck to then commence the climb up to the hut. The path leaves the beck well enough and what was once a very good path very soon begins to break down to a mash of boggy grass, peat and stones with the many signs of wheel tracks giving evidence as to why this path is now goosed.
The sun was beating down and Daniel and Chris must have been melting under their jackets but it looks like they were persevering with them on until we reached our lunch spot.
Great Lingy Hill hut is a great place to stop awhile with good views across Mungrisedale Common, east towards Mosedale and further around to the west there are the Blencathra fells, all in all a good place to stop and rest.
Whilst we were enjoying the break from tramping through wet ground a consideration was given to maybe fitting in Carrock Fell, a hill I was on with E a few months ago although it would add another 4 miles to our walk and sitting at the hut it looked really tempting so it was agreed that we would go ahead and go for it.
When lunch was over we set off once again to continue the climb up to Hare Stones from where we would turn off to the east and head for Carrock Fell.
The path got no better; in fact it was worse than ever the higher that we got with massive wheel tracks and ruts having devastated the once green path across the fellside. As we reached the turn off point Chris first looked at Carrock Fell and then High Pike before looking at me and commenting that High Pike was looking good, that gave me an unspoken message that he wanted to give Carrock a miss today.
As I lifted my eyebrows he mentioned that he was a little burnt out as he hadn't been out on the fells for quite some time now so with that we quietly continued on but this time directly to High Pike. I'm pleased that he spoke up as even though he hasn't been on Carrock Fell before he had realised his situation and manned up to say so. Carrock Fell is going nowhere and we can catch it again sometime along with the Birkett's that he also wants to see off.
From Hare Stones it was now but a steady walk up the easy rising fellside to the summit. Since leaving Hare Stones the path has improved and we made good progress up the top with its trig column, cairn, and slate seat. Another linger and another feed just to see off our remaining food but keeping some fluid to one side for the remaining part of the journey that is all downhill and more or less over.
We left High Pike by its north ridge on a good path and then left it to turn off to the northwest and Deer Hills from where we would - or should - pick up an old mine track if it's still about. Within a short distance out from the path and whilst walking through the rough we came upon a quad bike track that was going in roughly our direction and which we readily used as it took us towards Deer Hills and round the head of the watercourse of Short Grain where the ground was wet for a short distance in the lowest spot. From Deer Hills the track swings around to the west following the edge of the Short Grain/Hay Gill and overlooking the deeper depression and watercourse of Dale Beck.
Arriving at the top of Hay Knott the old mining track takes a turn to the north heading directly for the head of Ingray Gill, the same gill from where we dropped down to Dale Beck to start our long climb to the top of Brae Fell. From the head of the gill we then turned northwest over Fellside Brow to follow the good track back down to the car park at Fellside Farm.
Despite the atrocious ground conditions between Knott and Hare Stones this has been a great walk across some great fells. The fells themselves - including the likewise surrounding ones - are big, broad and round, and apart from Skiddaw and Blencathra don't have the magnificence or stature of the 'big boys' of the other parts of the Lake District but these fells have a bigness of their own. They are sprawled out dominating the ground behind Skiddaw and Blencathra with their own grassy backs falling down to the main tributary of the River Caldew and the Cumbria Way. From the river they rise steeply up to form a mass of high ground separated only by the many gills and becks that themselves were a hive of mining activity many, many years ago, Over the years I've poked about many of the gills in the area investigating the places of old mining works and, as I've said before I never cease to wonder at the work and effort that the old miners and quarrymen put in to make a meagre living so that they could make rich people out of the mine/quarry owners.
Out with two friends on a great weather day and walking some great hills where it is easy to stride out and cover much ground quickly if so desired, easy gradients and good views made for an excellent day in the northern fells.
by thefallwalker » Wed Apr 05, 2017 8:41 am
by trailmasher » Wed Apr 05, 2017 11:15 am
thefallwalker wrote:What a lovely change to be out in the sunshine most unusual but welcome a good report on the day's events apologies for "dipping" out of Carrock Fell but I was feeling it & Daniel didn't put up a fight so I reckon a good senior decision made & the weather "was" due to take a turn for the worst until the next time bud
Thanks TFW and it was OK for you to have a 'senior moment' and despite Daniels bravado I suspect that he also wasn't really up for it.
by hooter2014 » Wed Apr 05, 2017 12:07 pm
by johnkaysleftleg » Thu Apr 06, 2017 10:36 am
by trailmasher » Fri Apr 07, 2017 8:44 pm
hooter2014 wrote:Will have to get back to these hills at some point, it was rather murky when I did them and I only managed a few glimpses of the views. Great report
Thanks for your comments hooter and they are great hills to walk, big and rounded, a bit reminiscent of the Howgills but fine walking indeed Good luck with the weather next time you visit 'em
by trailmasher » Fri Apr 07, 2017 8:57 pm
johnkaysleftleg wrote:Now your're making me yearn for the Back O'Skidda fells TM, perhaps my next outing will be there. On the subject of the ruined green paths; while bagging Carrock and High Pike a few years back a lovely day was a little marred by an "event" that seemed official where dirt bikes where allowed to stink up this quiet corner of Lakeland and of course mash the paths to a pulp. Not saying any of the riders where anything other that courteous to walkers but quite why it was allowed is beyond me. Having said that Grouse shooting probably causes just as much damage
I've never seen many people on these fells JK and maybe a lot of walkers forgo them in preference for the 'big boys' but they are well worth visiting more than once
I was walking in the South Yorkshire Dales on Thursday and whilst eating a sarnie at the side of the PW 5 trail/scrambling bikes came roaring past skidding and kicking up the ground as they went by closely followed by 2 chaps on mountain bikes who were also not treating the path with the respect that it deserves Mountain bikes usually ok but the other lads obviously didn't give a stuff how they had left the path
Thanks for your comments and concern about the hills and environment
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