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A wander in the Uldale fells

A wander in the Uldale fells

Postby nigheandonn » Fri Sep 27, 2019 9:12 pm

Wainwrights included on this walk: Great Calva, Great Cockup, Knott

Hewitts included on this walk: Great Calva, Knott

Date walked: 01/06/2019

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The beginning of June saw me heading back to the Lake District, to head into the Northern Fells for the first time. By an accident of timing it was only a day and a half since I'd come rushing back from Skye, and I was still pretty tired, but I was only going as far as Carlisle on Friday night, to get the bus down to Caldbeck in the morning, and with a dorm room to myself I could have an early night.

I went deep down into sleep, and woke up with absolutely no idea where I was - after a baffled moment I managed to produce a vague hypothesis that I was somewhere in the north, but all I knew for certain was that I wasn't still in Skye, and it took a while longer to figure out that it was Not That North!

It was a pretty early start, as the one wandering bus leaves Carlisle at 7:45 - it was obviously a regulars' day out, wandering through the villages and picking up people who all knew each other. At 8:30 in Caldbeck only the village shop was open, but that was fine, as I would be passing through again later - I had a prowl round just the same, down to the old watermill and along the path by the river.

My first objective was the Outlying Fell of Faulds Brow - my plan was to go up past Brownrigg Hall and down to Whelpo, but Caldbeck is confusing to leave, and I found myself well along the road towards Whelpo before I was sure where I was, so just went round that way instead - over a good old bridge and up a road full of corners to the unenclosed road running across the hillside.

The upper road

I didn't think there was a path, and so headed straight up from opposite the farm entrance, only to meet a little path running in from somewhere further over. The top isn't far above the road, and there's higher ground about a mile to the west which doesn't seem to have interested Wainwright, but it does have a very good cairn.

Faulds Brow summit

Apart from the impressive cairn, there's nothing much to the hill except a good view of the main Northern Fells.

Northern Fells

The thread of path led on over the hill, and I came back down to the road past a little unused quarry which was now clearly a playground for adventurous sheep.

Old quarry

I turned off downhill at the first junction, but although it was still marked on the map as a road, long stretches of it had almost entirely vanished under grass.

Grass-grown road

The main road leads down past an old chapel and a green with free range cows, back into the village the way the bus had first arrived. This time I could go and eat a scone in the watermill cafe, and have a look in a wool shop, and go to the village shop to stock up on lunch, and generally potter round, including admiring this very precise old sign on the wall above the petrol pump - I wonder if someone had actually measured the 3/4 of a mile on the way to London, or if this is the result of a table showing that it was 300 miles from Hesket Newmarket to London.

Caldbeck sign

I set out of Caldbeck by the same road as before, passing the school and turning left through Upton to work my way up to the little fellside road which runs along the edge of these hills - green fields and scattered houses and the first slopes rising on the left.

The fellside road

Beyond a little junction at Green Head it stops being officially a road and continues on as a track towards Longlands - farm access at first, and then a rougher green track.

The track continues

The last stretch was a gentle descent with Over Water in view ahead, down towards Longlands where the track joined the road again. I was looking out for somewhere to sit and eat lunch, but there were quite a lot of nervous sheep about, and I ended up perched precariously on the stone edge of the bridge.

Descent to Longlands

There was a kind of logic to my original plan - I wanted to go through the little pass of Trusmadoor rather than dotting about above it, so the little hills on this side could wait until later. I was heading for the high point of Knott and Great Calva with its view straight through the district, and if I had time to wander up to Mungrisdale Common, so much the better.

Track by the wall

The path from Longlands looked good at first and quickly became worse, although it was clear enough for a while, and then faded away or wandered off in another direction, so that I was wandering about pathlessly somewhere near the river.

From here I could see Trusmadoor, which was a beautiful little natural pass, but I could also see something that I really didn't want to - cows prowling about on the lower slopes of Meal Fell quite close to the pass.


I did seriously consider being brave and walking on past, but I didn't like the emptiness, and I didn't like the way the cows were prowling about, and as I got closer and some of them started marching purposefully in the direction of the pass I decided against it, and turned away from them up the slope of Great Cockup

Great patches of cloud now started swirling about quite decoratively - I thought this was quite a good thing, as it might hide the cows from me or me from the cows, and anyway I needed something to look at while climbing a dull green slope.

Hill and cloud

There really was nothing much to be seen here except green curves and occasional sheep - a patch of grey stones was quite a welcome change.

Grey stones

However, as I came up onto the ridge of the hill the view opened up on the other side - Bassenthwaite Lake shining silver under low cloud.

Bassenthwaite Lake

The first cairn on Great Cockup in much better than the one at the summit, but it is marked, at least.

Great Cockup summit

The descent from here brought me out at the far end of Trusmadoor, a neat narrow spot with a cairn at the high point of the pass, and a steep slope hiding me from the cows.

In Trusmadoor

From there I was back on my original route, climbing the zigzag path on Burn Tod and then following a faint path above the edge of the valley - a nice enough walk at first, but the cloud was sitting on the tops of these hills, and beyond the head of the everything had been swallowed up.

Path into the cloud

The path also vanished into nothingness, but as long as I kept climbing gently it seemed like I would have to meet one of the paths across Knott somewhere along their line. I kept trying to drift left, so that I would know it was the Great Sca Fell path I'd hit and that I had to turn right for the summit, but it only kind of worked, because when I hit a path the summit cairn was already in sight - it did presumably keep me from drifting too far to the right!

Knott summit cairn

There's a good cairn at the summit, and the converging paths, but nothing else in sight.

Knott summit

I knew where I'd come from, and I knew that the Great Calva path should go off at an angle from the almost straight line made by the other two paths, so I was fairly confident, following the path back almost in the direction I had come - it was still a nice confirmation, though, when the cloud suddenly split and showed me Dead Crags right ahead.

The path up Great Calva from the col was clear but very wet - a soggy climb, with the cloud parting briefly to show me the way on and back, and gathering again before I reached the fence along the top of the hill.

Fence on Great Calva

I plodded on by the fence, hoping earnestly that the next split in the cloud would coincide with my arrival at the summit - there was no particular reason why it should, but the timing seemed roughly right, and I just badly wanted it to.

I arrived by the summit cairn still in cloud, however, although the cairn was doing its best to make up for the lack of exciting views elsewhere.

Great Calva summit

But it turned out that my luck had held after all, because as I made my way down to the lower cairn the cloud split again, and the view was there - a bit hazy and capped with low cloud, but right down the fault to Thirlmere and the hills around Windermere.

Great Calva view

From here I only had to make my way down by a tiny path in the heather to meet the track to Skiddaw House, now in view with its surrounding trees on the slope opposite.

Descent to Skiddaw House

There was a choice of ford or bridge, and then a last short climb on the track. Mungrisdale Common was also going to have to wait until another time - the light would have held, but it was nearly 7, and I was wet and very hungry.

Climbing the track

Skiddaw House is an odd looking place, surprisingly solid for the emptiness, and it deals with food in an unusual way, selling you a meal in a bag and and a go of a bag of rice or pasta - it might be the lack of communal dinner that makes it feel a bit less like Black Sail than I expected, although it's still a lovely spot

A fairly quiet evening, and another early night - darkness all around was good for catching up on sleep, although once again a bit disconcerting when I woke in it.

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Posts: 1696
Munros:25   Corbetts:10
Fionas:8   Donalds:26+10
Sub 2000:65   Hewitts:142
Wainwrights:214   Islands:34
Joined: Jul 7, 2011
Location: Edinburgh

Re: A wander in the Uldale fells

Postby trailmasher » Sat Sep 28, 2019 11:45 am

Now that was a great wander on some fine northern fells :clap: and just a shame that the cloud was a tad low for the best views :( it's always wet around Great Calva even after a spell of dry weather so no change there then :? A good walk and a peaceful night at Skiddaw House, what more could a man want :) :wink:
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Location: Near Appleby - Cumbria

Re: A wander in the Uldale fells

Postby nigheandonn » Sun Sep 29, 2019 3:01 pm

A woman can always want more, even if it's only a whistling kettle ;-)

But it's a really nice place, and I'm becoming quite attached to these hills.
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Posts: 1696
Munros:25   Corbetts:10
Fionas:8   Donalds:26+10
Sub 2000:65   Hewitts:142
Wainwrights:214   Islands:34
Joined: Jul 7, 2011
Location: Edinburgh

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