Morning skies over Grasmoor by Anthony Young, on Flickr
Morning over Mellbreak by Anthony Young, on Flickr
Rather than be left wondering if Mosedale Beck was low enough to cross I set off in an anti-clockwise direction and headed for Hen Comb first. As it happens the Beck was fine and it was off up the nice grassy ridge stopping of at the Birkett of Little Dodd on the way. As height was gained the light started to break over the High Stile Ridge flooding parts of the landscape and giving a memorable display. In fact the light on the way to the summit of Hen Comb was some of the best I've witnessed in the Lakes on a walk for quite some time.
Morning glow by Anthony Young, on Flickr
Across the fields to the mighty Grasmoor by Anthony Young, on Flickr
Glimpse of Loweswater by Anthony Young, on Flickr
Crossing Mosedale Beck by Anthony Young, on Flickr
Grasmoor by Anthony Young, on Flickr
Little Dodd with Hen Comb behind by Anthony Young, on Flickr
One tree Valley by Anthony Young, on Flickr
Blast of morning light by Anthony Young, on Flickr
Carling Knott and Loweswater by Anthony Young, on Flickr
Breaking Light in Mosedale by Anthony Young, on Flickr
Rays by Anthony Young, on Flickr
Take me back to the White Light by Anthony Young, on Flickr
The way up had been sheltered but the summit less so. The forecast -6C wind chill was in evidence and so after many photos and soaking in the glorious views I headed off down the path on the South end of the fell. On round one Hen Comb had been ascended direct up the very steep Eastern aspect, this ended up reducing Grace to tears and was probably the low point of the whole round. A small detour back then around the south of the fell would have seen a far better way up, well you live and learn.
To Grasmoor from Hen Comb by Anthony Young, on Flickr
Towards Loweswater from Hen Comb by Anthony Young, on Flickr
Over the Edge by Anthony Young, on Flickr
Hughie above Mosedale by Anthony Young, on Flickr
Hen Comb has developed a bit of a reputation as an awkward fell to negotiate, I heard of a couple who had the finish to their round delayed by months waiting for the weather to be dry enough to cross the beck. Quite why they couldn't have walked along to the bridge up Mosedale is anybodies guess Most of this reputation probably comes from Wainwrights comments about the fell being completely cut off in wet weather with Whiteoak moss being mentioned as an impassable barrier, well even if the bridge wasn't there back then Whiteoak moss didn't seen in any way that bad, even taking into account a dry few days. Old AW did like a bit Hyperbole from time to time.
The easy traverse of Whiteoak Moss lead me to Floutern cop and given my legs had felt a little wobbly on the way down Hen Comb I decided to find a sheltered spot and enjoy breakfast. Ahead of me was the next target in the uninspiring shape of Bana Fell but as it wasn't a great detour and it put off tackling the steepness of Steel Brow for a while I finished my repast and trudged up the easy slopes. Bana fell may have a very dull flat summit but as it provided unimpeded views of distant Scotland and an alternative sighting of nearby Ennerdale it proved to be a worthy detour. I attempted a direct route to Steel Brow but thanks to a double barbed wire fence I ended up re-tracing my steps in order to confront the next obstacle.
Looking towards Floutern Cop and Bana Fell by Anthony Young, on Flickr
On the way up Floutern Cop by Anthony Young, on Flickr
Whiteoak Beck by Anthony Young, on Flickr
Fells by Anthony Young, on Flickr
Floutern Tarn from the Cop by Anthony Young, on Flickr
Hen Comb with Grasmoor behind by Anthony Young, on Flickr
Scotland from Bana Fell by Anthony Young, on Flickr
Where I lead.... by Anthony Young, on Flickr
Ennerdale from Bana Fell by Anthony Young, on Flickr
Back down Bana Fell by Anthony Young, on Flickr
Steel Brow did not disappoint in so far it was very steep requiring a bit of fence clutching to haul my self up on several occasions. The very cold wind also seamed to be hitting the ridge bang on meaning that despite the effort I was exerting I was still feeling a bit cold. Fortunately Steel Brow didn't last for long as the steepness gave way at the same time as the wind did with the bulk of the fell providing welcome shelter. From here it was an easy stroll up to the fine bouldery summit of Great Borne.
Top of Steel Brow by Anthony Young, on Flickr
Low Light by Anthony Young, on Flickr
While going through the photos from this walk I was reminded of the first time on Great Borne with both Nicola and Grace on what was also a beautiful winters day. Please excuse the clunky prose but I felt poetically inspired:
As the towering skies of winter construct memories of days past. My thoughts drift to our happy band of three (plus one).
Together from Catbells to Great End, over Glaramara, Blencathra and Scafell Pike, those halcyon days enriched by time and times shared, return in a flood.
But children grow, and go, their own way, and loved ones tackle challenges anew, consuming days, weeks, years, leaving me to walk these hills alone (plus one).
So on Great Borne I stand, as winter's cold light streams across the fell tops and the baltic blast bites at my face, look down at my plus one, ruffle his ears as he wags his tail, and say, "come on lad, on we go".
It was too early to eat so I kept moving, now into the teeth of the wind, on the way to Starling Dodd. I decided to detour to the Birkett of Gale Fell which was somewhat underwhelming in all honesty. The OS map suggests the corner of the fence is the high point and although I wasn't convinced at the time I saw little value in scaling the fence to plod around the featureless felltop. (Hill bagging website has the true summit being 13 meters to the north but I'm certainly not going to lose sleep over it) The final ascent up Starling Dodd proved to be somewhat torturous into the teeth of the ever strengthening wind and I was somewhat relieved to reach the cairn and start descending to get out of the icy blast.
Gale Fell....Meh by Anthony Young, on Flickr
Hughie looking back to Great Borne by Anthony Young, on Flickr
Ennerdale on the way to Starling Dodd by Anthony Young, on Flickr
A very windy and cold Starling Dodd summit by Anthony Young, on Flickr
Gods of Ennerdale by Anthony Young, on Flickr
On another day I may have been tempted by Red Pike but with the odds being the wind and cold would be even more intense up there I decided discretion was the better part of valour and left the path to contour around the hill side until I met the main path coming down from the High Stile Ridge. A bit of roughish ground was crossed before the almost as rough path was found which I followed down to Scale Beck to have lunch in a sheltered spot.
Red Pike, not today thanks by Anthony Young, on Flickr
Crummock Water from the way off Starling Dodd by Anthony Young, on Flickr
Lunch Stop by Anthony Young, on Flickr
Following lunch we followed the very erroded and at times completely washed away path down Scale Gill. After a while I heard voices coming from the ravine, bit odd but as they didn't sound like they were in trouble I presumed they were OK. The path improves considerably towards the bottom and I made the short detour to see Scale Force encountering the first people since the car park.
Scale Beck by Anthony Young, on Flickr
Scale Force by Anthony Young, on Flickr
So only Mellbreak remained, I set off along what seemed a very old path before dropping down to cross Black Beck and start the last ascent of the day. It was slow going but the wind was having very little effect now so my slow upward trudge via Scale Knott was largely comfortable. To me, Mellbreak is a quite underwhelming fell, an enticing and exciting prospect from the North but once the initial climb is over it becomes a broad and boggy trudge with views curtailed by the width of the flat ridge. At the moment it doesn't even have a cairn to mark the summit so I barely paused as I made my way over the top. The thought of climbing up to the North top before a precipitous descent didn't appeal so at the col we took the path that traverses the Western flank.
Buttermere by Anthony Young, on Flickr
Top of Scale Knott by Anthony Young, on Flickr
Crummock Water and Buttermere by Anthony Young, on Flickr
Almost the top of Mellbreak by Anthony Young, on Flickr
This path was a little narrow and awkward at times and briefly a little exposed but by in large it was an OK alternative to avoid descending the north end of the fell. The OS map has it running out but a faint trod continues all the way to link up with the main path up the fell.
On the traverse path by Anthony Young, on Flickr
Loweswater and Carling End by Anthony Young, on Flickr
Steep way up/down Mellbreak by Anthony Young, on Flickr
This was a memorable day out blessed with some great light as we wandered lonely as clouds around the fells. Just five to go to get to my target of sixty for the year which, fingers crossed, I should manage.
Back to the start by Anthony Young, on Flickr