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The wind and Whinlatter
by nigheandonn » Fri Oct 26, 2018 9:30 pm
Wainwrights included on this walk: Whinlatter
Date walked: 26/08/2018Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
The final version was for strong winds from 'the middle of the day', with probable accompanying clouds and rain, although those were more likely to be patchy in the north. So there was a chance that if I got out early I would get round at least some of it - it was the narrow ridge between Whiteless Pike and Wandope that really worried me, and then the descent to Sail, but at least once I was up I could always drop down into Coledale if it got really wild.
So it was still fairly early when I set out, although not the crack of dawn - since this might be the last time I was in Buttermere, I made the tiny detour into the church as I passed.
The church has a beautiful decorated gate - the outside has more details, but I loved the shepherd and his sheep showing against the landscape behind.
With a choice of starting routes I took the path by Mill Beck on Wainwright's advice - a little path through a wooded area on the bank.
This brought me out onto the path along Sail Beck, then a steeper little climb through the bracken to the main path on Rannerdale Knotts and a view back towards the lake, looking slightly forbidding.
At the junction with the Rannerdale Knotts path I was still undecided, and I did climb a bit further, but up here in the open there was more wind than I had expected so early and some stronger gusts coming over, and I decided just to be a wuss, not liking the idea of not know how much worse it might get higher up.
The immediate alternative was to drop back onto the path I'd come from and keep following it, along first Sail Beck and then Rigg Beck to come out where I'd come off the hills the last time, and walk out to Braithwaite and the bus - I wasn't really sorry to get a chance to do it, because I'm always fascinated by through routes on the map.
But I wasn't all that keen on a day with no hills at all, and although I'd climbed all the lower hills in the immediate neighbourhood, if I was going to try to squeeze the whole cluster of hills between the Whinlatter pass and Bassenthwaite Lake into one day later on, then I had had one main problem, which was Whinlatter itself - well off the main ridge and barricaded by forestry plantations. So that would make a useful objective if I could figure out how to get there - a look at the map confirmed that there was no way through the hills, but if I made it to Braithwaite I could easily walk up by the road.
The map shows a path running from the hause to join the Sail Beck path, but with the bracken still high it can't have been obvious, and I retraced my steps, with a good view of the road opposite as well as the path below. It's not very clear what made anyone think of putting a road there, but I suppose the route as far as Newlands Hause coming south is so obvious that from there on it's just a case of making the best of it.
The road and the path run parallel at first, and I could see two people with big packs plodding up the road - my route was a bit slower, but I think I preferred it. Where the slopes of Knott Rigg come down the road swings off east to pass them on one side and the path sticks to the other, turning in along the hillside twice for stream crossings.
The third stream was Addacombe Beck, where piles of stones and the remains of walls suggested old mining operations, although neither map was admitting to them.
Not far beyond that the path leading up towards Sail Pass was marked with a little cairn, which I ignored, not wanting to be any higher, and then I was over the highest point and looking down the other side.
Going down the path was looser and stonier in places, and although I must have been sheltered from the worst of the wind occasional gusts tried to move me from the path, particularly if they caught me on one foot. It was cold, and although it was never desperately wet neither was it exactly dry, and altogether it was far more like a winter day than like anything I expect from August.
As I got nearer to the road I could see my descent route from Ard Crags coming down to join me - the last part of the path was good, and then I was on the road and resisting the lure of wandering about Newlands for the lure of a hill.
The lucky coincidence of a dry spell and a bench provided me with a spot to eat lunch, but the cafe in Braithwaite still held out the lure of hot tea - it really might as well have been winter, because my hands were so cold and useless that I couldn't push them under the waistband of my waterproof trousers to fish out the change that was in my back pockets, and eventually had to pull my waterproof trousers down to let me in.
The tea, however, came in a great big pot holding about five cups worth, and I spent a bit too long slowly warming up and drinking more than half of it before giving up. I also made the useful discovery that a bus stopped at the Whinlatter visitor centre about 5 to 5, which would be a useful alternative to walking down to catch the Penrith bus an hour or so later - I never seem to use that side of the 77 loop, so had no real idea of where it went.
Braithwaite is a strange curly place - all the roads just run into each other, but I found a way onto the pass, and then it was just up and up. Even on a day without many views the views over the valley were pretty good.
It's not a very exciting place, the Whinlatter road - further up the views are mostly of trees and more trees, not that trees are not a good thing. Some of the buildings near the visitor centre are tantalisingly in view for quite a long time before the entrance appeared, although once it does it does its best to make things more exciting with sculptures.
I was on a quest to follow the green posts, but at first the track was shared with various other paths and bits of playground, before leaving them to head up on a smaller path through the woods.
Despite getting mixed up in various children's trails further down, I still wasn't really expecting to meet a monster in the woods - I first spotted him lurking against the light in a gap between the trees, which did make me jump a bit! However it turned out to be a very friendly monster, who let small people climb up him to sit on his head.
The green route duly delivered me to the Horsebox crossroads (which has no horsebox), but without giving me any idea of which road was which, since the path isn't on the map - I had to have a good look at the angles between the roads and make an educated guess before setting off along a nice track which fortunately turned out to be the right one.
At the fence everything changed - no more trees, only grass and heather. The only steep part of the climb is a little bit by the fence to reach the top of the ridge, and then it's just a nice wander.
Scraps of cloud were still floating around up here, touching the forested hills to the east as well as the high hills to the south, but the wind was behaving itself reasonably well at this level and with nothing to channel through.
The eastern summit is, as Wainwright argued, the higher, although the western is more distinctive - it's unusual to find the OS arguing for the lower point, although they've sorted the maps out since then!
The way to the western summit leads on over a tumbledown wall - it looked further from here than it really was.
It's nicer walking on the far side of the wall - less grass and mud and more tiny paths through heather.
This second summit has an impressive shelter, and sits at the edge of the high ground, looking down the far side of the pass to the Vale of Lorton.
The really good view from here, though, was back up to yesterday's hills, Grisedale Pike and Hopegill Head all ridges.
The same green way led back, over the summit towards the edge of the forest.
Keswick and Derwentwater looked quite near, and artistic wisps of cloud were decorating the hills.
I knew that hurrying down would only mean missing the bus by 5 minutes rather than 10 or 15, but the forest paths were so tempting - broad and solid and gently sloped - that I hurried anyway, because it was easier and more fun to run down, more or less, than to walk. And round those roads there was always the chance that the bus would be 5 minutes late, or more, but it wasn't, and I walked back down to Braithwaite with plenty of time before the next bus, finding a different route through the tangly streets.
Signs in this part of the world seemed to be always in the wrong place to be useful - earlier I had passed a sign inviting me to tea and cake in Newlands church once I was too far past the church to head back, and now I discovered that I could have spent the afternoon in a church in Keswick listening to Bach and knitting - two things I enjoy! But really I was quite glad not to have been led astray by cake or music, because it was a nice little hill.
by Sgurr » Fri Oct 26, 2018 9:43 pm
by nigheandonn » Fri Oct 26, 2018 9:57 pm
A nice wee hill, though. I didn't meet any squirrels, only two Gruffalos (dad lurking in the woods and daughter asleep), so we can't have taken quite the same route.
by Sgurr » Fri Oct 26, 2018 10:26 pm
by trailmasher » Sun Oct 28, 2018 9:13 pm
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