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Skirting the edge of the north
by nigheandonn » Wed Oct 09, 2019 2:00 pm
Wainwrights included on this walk: Carrock Fell, High Pike (Northern Fells), Souther Fell
Hewitts included on this walk: Carrock Fell, High Pike
Date walked: 01/09/20192 people think this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
I went for a last wander around the village after breakfast, and turned aside from the main path through the churchyard out of curiosity as one of the gravestones seemed to have a mown path to it, to find that it was the grave of John Peel - not that I know very much about him, because I always get him muddled up with Johnny Cope (not that I know much about him either, to be fair...).
I was heading straight uphill from Caldbeck this time, no wandering about on the fellside road, and I decided to stick to the Cumbria Way from the start, bypassing Upton to cross an amazingly green field, with my hill in view ahead.
Beyond that I got rather tangled up in some lanes, and then I was back onto a little road, and then on farm track beyond Nether Row.
The hillside beyond would have been quite clearly the site of old mines even if the map hadn't said so - no obvious open shafts, but old walls and spoil and occasional fenced places. The track was grass through bracken at first, but soon became gravel, leading up towards the top of the valley.
The track crosses the top and heads on, but a trodden path leads on towards the top of the hill - a fairly dull climb until the summit comes into view, although the views back are good.
The summit is well decorated - a huge cairn which is also a shelter and a stone trig point which is also a view indicator and a bench which is just a bench.
I was running a bit behind, as so often in the hills, and although it was after 12 I was only at the elevenses stage - I was soon joined in the shelter by some people settling down for lunch.
Carrock Fell was clearly in view, and looking a bit more substantial than I had expected, but I had a small detour to make first - the first part of the way would be a detour anyway, along a broad path running gently downhill.
Great Lingy Hut is, as the people on High Rigg had suggested, just like a garden shed put down on the path, but it turned up very conveniently as the rain came on and I dashed inside, to be joined by a man from the National Park who had come to see how it was getting on. It's all very neat and new inside, but sadly graffittied - I wondered if dark varnish might help to discourage people, or even better a mural of outside on the inside, like Roseberry Topping's trig point.
The best feature is possibly the view, straight down a surprisingly cheerful looking Mosedale.
I turned off onto a tiny path before climbing back up to Hare Stones, following it along towards the main ridge and path to Carrock Fell.
This brought me across the edge of a fenced area, a steep little valley possibly an old mine working and now very new woodland, with Bowscale Tarn in its strange scooped hollow on the hillside beyond.
All the hills here and all the views were more dramatic than I'd expected - I'd enjoyed my time in the Uldale Fells, but nothing there, even at Skiddaw House, had really prepared me for these hills.
Another little thread of path led up towards the broad main path along the ridge, and it was quite a walk still to the summit, although without much of a climb until the end. The summit area is an odd stony mound, possibly the carrick of the name, although if so it's a natural one.
The weather had been beautiful ever since the Great Lingy Hut shower had passed over, but I had been watching a great shadow sweep in from behind me, and by the time I reached the cairn I was under the cloud, although there were still patches of sunshine on the hills around.
The most stunning view was to the southwest, up an autumnal Caldew valley towards Skiddaw, and I realised that this must be the reverse of my morning view from Skiddaw House,
I could have sat and looked at that view for quite a while, but the shelter was all on the other side of the cairn, and so I ate my lunch with a view to the Mell Fells and the Pennines.
Quite unexpectedly yesterday's weather seemed to have reappeared as I started down the hill, but for now it was sweeping down the valley beside me and leaving the hill alone.
I was aiming for the nose of the hill just on a broad theory that there must be a way down, and a good path led in that direction to encourage me.
Just as I reached the little lower top the rain swept over, worse than anything from the day before - it was obviously going to pass over, but it was fairly unpleasant until it did - this stretch of the hill was quite different from the grassy slopes on the other side, deep in wet heather.
Eventually the sun returned, and I could look back up the copper and purple slopes.
Occasionally I thought I had lost the path, but it always led on if I looked in the right place, passing the very solid remains of a sheepfold or shelter. A bit further on I could see the road, looking almost directly below, and the little cluster of houses which was Bowscale at the foot of the next hill, but it wasn't clear how on earth I would get there from here.
The key was not much further on, a short slither down to a precarious little stone terrace where I had the choice of more or less hugging a gorsebush or leaning away from it over nothing.
Beyond that, however, it eased again, and the path curled on round the nose of the hill to finally reach the road opposite the last house in Mosedale, just inside the side valley.
The Quaker Meeting House in Mosedale was temptingly open as a tearoom, but although I would have loved to stop I knew I didn't have time - my careful descent had taken a bit longer than I had allowed for, and I had to finish my great curve round the hills by going over Souther Fell if the next trip was going to work out.
So I pressed on as quickly as I could, past the double bridge between Mosedale and Bowscale, and on to the odd junctions at Mungrisdale.
This was where I really wished I had the Wainwright book with me - once again I had confidently assumed that I could just pass right over the hill, but it was obvious that wherever I could climb the hill from, it wasn't here.
This really messed with my plans - it was about quarter past 4, and I had to be on the Scales road by about 6 to walk along to the Mungrisdale road end to catch the last bus, and I knew I didn't have time to go round by the Glenderamackin and the Mousthwaite col - I'd wanted to be at the foot of the hill by 4 to have time to do it at all.
I felt really quite deflated - while I had been walking this weekend I had been figuring out a route for the 'last' trip that would let me do the things I really wanted, Halls Fell and another night at Skiddaw House and a Friday evening in Keswick as so often before, and I knew this would be a detour too far.
But I went on by the minor road just in case, and at the tables outside the pub stopped to get out the orange map which turned out to be far more hopeful, showing a slanting path up from a gate a bit higher up the road.
I still had no idea if I had enough time left, but it seemed worth a try - I could set a turning point and still have time to come back and head down the main road straight to the bus stop. So I went marching up the hill - the path was all the same, a lighter green streak of grass through the bracken, but it was smooth and fairly gentle and it turned out to be surprisingly fast climbing this way.
And there were glorious views to lure me on - for the first time there was nothing really between me and the hills to the south.
Up here it looked like I might be coming towards an end of the slope ahead.
I had meant to follow the path to its end, but I got impatient, and when the bracken faded away I turned straight up through tufty grass, coming out surprisingly close to the summit, which was only marked with a scattering of stones.
In the end it had taken 35 minutes from leaving the road to reaching the top, which would have amazed me even if I didn't have a general theory - based on experience - that it always takes at least an hour to climb a hill, however small!
The top of the hill is a broad ridge, tending gently down to the south, and a tangle of southern hills was now in view. It was so long since I'd seen these hills from anything like that angle that I didn't really know where to start, especially without my old clue of the cleft of Mickledore.
The Mousthwaite col was another surprisingly dramatic place, with the steep valley of the Glenderamackin and the oddly shaped summit of Blencathra towering overhead - right in front of the sun, sadly, so that I couldn't get a good picture. The main path led down the far slope of the Comb, but I wanted a smaller one which wound its way across the end of the hill and finally dropped steeply towards Lowside farm.
I had expected to have to cross the main road and detour along the minor road to the south, but the main road turned out to have quite a lot of verge and not too much traffic, so I decided I might as well stick to the direct route and ended up with about 15 minutes to wait for the bus - caught up with a vengeance, as I hadn't particularly hurried down.
I'd had a great day on these hills, in spite of rain and rushing - attractive themselves, the thing which really stunned me was the space all around and the wide ranging views - from the Solway Firth in the morning to the North Pennines close enough to be real at lunchtime to the rest of the Lake District in the afternoon - I couldn't fit in nearly enough photos of them!
The only problem now was that the Ag in Penrith was so full that I couldn't get in for some food and had to slip off ignominiously to McDonalds, so that's another traditional thing I'll have to make sure I manage on the final trip - even during the world cup I don't remember it being anything but quiet!
by Pointless Parasite » Fri Oct 11, 2019 10:41 am
by trailmasher » Sat Oct 12, 2019 11:07 am
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