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3 posts • Page 1 of 1
A game of find the mountain.
by trailmasher » Sat May 05, 2018 6:50 pm
Wainwrights included on this walk: Great Dodd, Hart Side, Stybarrow Dodd, Watson's Dodd
Hewitts included on this walk: Great Dodd, Stybarrow Dodd
Date walked: 18/04/2018
Time taken: 4.46
Distance: 16.41 km
Ascent: 993m1 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).
It's a good few weeks since Chris and I have been out on the fells together that's been due to work commitments, him having had a bout of flu and me with my lingering chest problem that seems to be hanging on like a leech after contracting flu myself. I have only been out three times in the past few weeks with only the Place Fell walk causing me some early start of walk grief, but today's walk was going to be a different matter altogether as the weather tried its best to beat me into submission.
Chris and I have met up once again as he slowly ticks off the Wainwright's on his limited time onshore, not content with only the Wainwright's he has decided to also work his way through the Birkett's of Lakeland that now means that I will have to do the round of them again but with the proviso that we tick off the ones that fit in with a Wainwright walk and pick up the remaining ones after he has completed his list of 214. Right enough, he has walked a great number of Birkett's with me already but with there being 541 - 542 if Pillar Rock is included - it ensures that he will keep me going for another 2 or 3 years roaming the fells with him. There is no peace for the wicked.
Wednesday, the selected day of our walk dawned cold, wet, cloudy, and totally miserable but we set off in these less than ideal conditions with me commenting that it was a similar day the last time that I was on the Dodd's. Chris did suggest an alternative that was more than attractive but the pubs weren't open at 8:30am in the morning, so we drove on.
Our choice of car parking was to be at the east end of the Old Coach Road that runs from Wanthwaite Bridge to Red Moss - at NY379219 - and can easily be reached by taking the Dowthwaitehead metalled road from Dockray. There are two small parking areas available one - the lower one - may be just for the use of the local farmers but there is still plenty of room to park a car or two on it if the gateway is left clear.
Start of the walk at High Row above Dockray
It may be noticed by looking at the photo that it was still raining, still foggy, and still cold with the added bonus of a strong wind to add to the pleasures of this day out on the fells. Today we are going to walk the Dodd's and whatever Birkett's get in our way and to find the first two we have to cross over Horsemire Head by following a typical for today's walk grassy track that first took us over the minor hump of Little Pike before zigzagging our rising way across the wet ground of Horsemire Head before climbing our first Birkett of Low How at 497 metres before proceeding onto the next and higher one of High Brow.
High Brow from the side of Low How
On the summit of Low How
We could see the rocky tip of Dowthwaite Crag to our left with the large rounded top of High Brow to its right.
Looking to High Brow and Dowthwaite Crag from Low How
The weather was abysmal as we made a zigzag descent of Low How with only a faint outline of Great Dodd to be seen. We reached the col and picked up another track climbing more steeply for a short distance before running into a more gentle slope that meandered its way ever westwards following the easiest contours before we had to leave it and climb the pathless slopes onto Birkett number 2 at 575 metres with a summit cairn of a few small rocks.
The summit cairn of High Brow
Although we have had a track to follow for most of the way so far it has been very wet underfoot, a condition that wouldn't alter until we reached the slopes of White Stones. It was a murky day, everything clag bound with a head wind that caused us to keep our heads down to avoid a rain splattered face. We looked across to Great Dodd and could not see much higher than Randerside. Even Sonny looked like a bag of wet brown rags on legs.
The view west towards Great Dodd
From High Brow we now had to cross Dowthwaitehead Moss and with Whams Moss sitting to the north - albeit at a lower altitude - and Bruts Moss on the higher west slopes of Matterdale Common it doesn't take much working out that it is a wet crossing at any time of year, today it was very wet. As spring has not really sprung yet everything is mostly brown with the only patches of anything looking like green was the large amount of moss that so enjoy living in this area.
Crossing Dowthwaitehead Moss
After a good few minutes of wading taking a look back gave us a misty view of High Brow.
Looking back to High Brow
We splashed on across the Moss following the track, such as it is today, steadily westwards fighting the wind and rain and then finally leaving the boggy ground behind as we began to climb the east slopes of Matterdale Common. The last time that I came this way a couple of years or so ago I found myself climbing to a point further north than today over rough and pathless ground, now there is a half decent track to follow that arrives on the southwest ridge just below Randerside that will be Chris's third summit and Birkett so far today. Once that we had arrived at the ridge path to Great Dodd the wind and rain hit us full on making it very difficult to walk and this is also where I began to suffer from breathing problems again due to the very damp, nay wet, and windy conditions. I was obviously still suffering from the aftermath of the bad flu problem that I had a few weeks ago and with the wind in my face, breathing in lung full's of wet clag, plus the steepish climb I was having difficulty with my breathing as I couldn't seem to get it in sync with the rest of my body.
We battled on to Randerside that was just a few metres further up the ridge where the obligatory photo of Chris was taken…
with its large cairn and rocky outcrop.
From there we continued on to the summit of Great Dodd with Chris having an Elizabeth moment halfway there when he stopped and asked if I was alright to continue on. "Yes", I gasped as I certainly wasn't giving up when the hard work was nearly over but with having to stop with monotonous regularity on the way up it took us all of 37 minutes to arrive at the summit cairn where another quick shot was taken…
Great Dodd summit
before we scuttled off to find the shelter that is a little further down on the south ridge.
Great Dodd shelter cairn
The weather was abysmal, rain, wind, clag, and cold now we've stopped walking and with nothing to see there will not be much more to say as we continue to play find the mountain until we arrive in better climes on White Stones.
The view from the shelter on Great Dodd
We were both glad of the rest, me especially so as my breathing had improved once that we had reached the easier slopes near the summit of Great Dodd and from thereon I had no more moments of gasping for air like a fish out of water. We both gratefully consumed food and drink as we hunkered down amongst the rocks of the shelter and now it was Chris's turn to suffer as his hands got really cold for some reason so with a good enough incentive to get him warmed up we didn't linger before once again setting off into the murk of the eastern fells.
All there is to be said about the next hour is that we walked along the well used and very wet tracks and paths to pass over Watson's Dodd…
Watson's Dodd ahead
Watson's Dodd summit
and then Stybarrow Dodd…
Looking back to Watson's Dodd as we leave for Stybarrow Dodd
which we didn't actually summit as we just missed the top by just a few metres due to the atrocious weather, not an excuse really but we'll be back again doing other things later this year so Chris can then truly tick it off.
On the way to Stybarrow Dodd
Next on was White Stones that we would use as a stepping stone to get us onto our remaining fells for today…
Now for White Stones
and as we ascended the west facing slope we began to leave the wet paths behind, for a while at least. White Stones at 795 metres is a large grassy mound with an abundance of rocks and stones scattered across its flanks but it was easy climbing…
Approaching White Stones summit
and although it was still raining - as my camera lens can testify - at least we were now leaving the clag behind and had a bit of a clearance before us. As we arrived at the summit the rain stopped its incessant falling and at last and with relief we were able to drop our hoods and open our waterproof coats that have stood up well in the past few hours. Like its sides the summit is scattered with rocks and stones and a much larger cairn could have been constructed if anyone had been bothered to make a clearance of the fell top.
White Stones summit
It was much clearer now and looking around especially to the north we could see a great patch of sunlight sweeping the lower fell sides of Blencathra, Souther Fell, and Great Mell Fell. We felt as though we'd been robbed.
Looking around we had a good view of Raise to the south with the ski tow plain to see although the sparse patches of snow warranted no clients with skis today.
Raise from White Stones
Apart from a half decent view north all of the surrounding high fells were covered in a blanket of fog, cloud of the thickest order whilst the lower ones were covered by a haze that did nothing to enhance any photos that were taken today. North was our best aspect of today with views towards both of the Mells and Gowbarrow Park sitting behind our next two fells to visit, Hart Side and Birkett Fell before descending down to the fells of Watermillock Common. Blencathra and Skiddaw etc covered in cloud are just over slightly to the northwest with the Pennines making for a hazy backdrop in the far distance.
Hart Side and Birkett Fell from above Glancoyne Head
The path now took us in a north easterly direction down the gentle ridge and it was quite a pleasure to be now walking in fair weather. The path is good and clear until the shallow col is reached above Glencoyne Head and Scot Crag where once again it was very wet and the path all but disappears to then reappear as higher ground is reached. This ground water is maybe the stuff that drains down between the crags of Glencoyne Head to form the watercourse of Deepdale Slack that itself feeds Glencoyne Beck and ultimately Ullswater.
Typical of the ground conditions above Glencoyne Head and Scot Crag.
White Stones from the south side of Hart Side
The climb up the slopes of Hart Side is easy enough with the path climbing more or less dead straight along the easy gradient and once we had done the best that we could to dodge the bog the summit was reached in no time at all.
Hart Side summit
Once at a height again we felt the chill of the wind once more and we could now see that the clouds were clearing over towards the route of the Roman Road from High Street with Loadpot Hill, Wether Hill, and High Street in part now visible through the haze. If the weather had been clearer the views from these fells are very good indeed but today as on so many other occasions in the past Chris has done the hard work and got no decent views for his efforts.
Apart from the summit cairn there is a strange feature on the top of Hart Side in the shape of a long channel that runs across the top - or near enough to it - and part way down the east and west slopes. Mining was quite prevalent in the area many years ago so it was probably something to do with that. A windbreak has been built at the western end of which we took advantage of to take another and more pleasant break than the last one up on Great Dodd. Sheltered from the wind, dry, and sat in weak sunshine was sheer luxury as we fortified ourselves before the next and final part of our day out.
Rock strewn channel on Hart Side
Looking west along the channel
Next on was Birkett Fell as we left our shelter and walked southeast to the shallow col before turning to the northeast on good paths once again, although it was still very boggy in the low area. As one stands on Hart Side and looks towards Birkett Fell there are many and varied tracks and paths to be seen leading to various points of the compass, Glencoyne Head, Sheffield Pike, and into Deepdale with most of them unmarked on the OS Map.
Birkett Fell cairn on the left hand ridge line
Again another easy walk to the summit of Birkett Fell from where the views were now a lot better as the sun was out with plenty of blue amongst the white and grey of the clouds. A fair stretch of Ullswater can be seen sprawled out between the Eastern Fells and the Far Eastern Fells. Hallin Fell, Loadpot Hill to High Street, Beda Fell Place Fell and more on the one side and the Mells, Blencathra, Skiddaw, Gowbarrow etc on the other whilst behind us from whence we came cloud was still dominant over the high fells.
Northeast towards Ullswater - Hallin Fell - Loadpot Hill ridge etc
Lingering for a while enjoying the first decent views of the day we could also see our way forward far below us across the hills and humps of Watermillock Common that would see Chris claim his last tops for the day. We left Birkett Fell by walking northeast towards the very long drystone wall that rises up from Deepdale and continues over the top of the fell and then drops down onto the rocky patch of Glencoyne Brow before turning northeast to make its way to just south of Dockray. Now that's one hell of a long wall and it's a task trying to imagine the toil and hard labour that must have been employed to quarry, cart, and build such a thing as this wall.
Within a few metres we were at the wall where we now turned southeast to follow it down to a step stile that would allow us to pass over the wall and get onto Brown Hills. The path down is wet and steep and always has been. I have walked up this way to Hart Side and Birkett Fell a few times and have always found it to be wet with running water in some places, and its hard work. Following the wall up from Dockray though does give some give some beautiful and magnificent views of Ullswater and the surrounding fells.
As we followed the wall we could see the cloud covered fells before us.
Southeast towards Sheffield Pike with the High Street range under cloud
Across to our left we could see the last three Birkett's of this walk sitting along the long ridge that makes up part of the Watermillock Common massif.
Ullswater and our ridge of descent
Looking to our right as we descended we caught a glimpse of Catstycam.
Catsycam behind Sheffield Pike
The descent to the step stile was uneventful apart from Chris falling over due to the mud and water combined with the steepness of the path but selfishly wouldn't re-enact the tumble for sake of the camera and posterity. Arriving at the stile it was found to be sat in a lake of ground water but it was easy enough to find a gap in the wall as they are in great abundance much to the chagrin of the original builders if they could see it now.
We were now on the ridge of Brown Hills and walking east along a grassy path that made its way through the grass that gave this fell its name of Brown Hills. There is nothing but brown grass apart from a couple of small rocky knolls and some beds of green moss.
A moss covered rocky outcrop in a sea of brown grass
The walking is easy and it’s a pleasure to be doing it with the weak sun shining down and the wide open spaces around us, it was glorious indeed.
The southern end of Ullswater
Stretched out before us was the whole ridge of easy walking on grass.
This is a massive fell
After walking for a short time we arrived at the summit of Brown Hills from where we looked back to see the mass of Sheffield Pike with Raise sat in the background to its right. There is nothing but grass on this fell top.
A view of Sheffield Pike from Brown Hills summit
Hart Side and Birkett Fell looked fairly impressive from this lower elevation also.
Hart Side from Brown Hills summit
From this top we continued on the same line for a short time before turning north to pick up Swineside Knott that bears a small rocky knoll and cairn on its summit, a pleasant feature to see after the great expanse of brown grass surrounding us. I took the usual photo of Chris posing on the summit but for some reason I can't find it so I must have inadvertently deleted it somehow. But I did save this photo.
Ullswater from Swineside Knott
Leaving this one behind we somehow lost the path in the wet ground as we made our way along to Common Fell…
the last one of the day but after swinging more to our left we picked it up again and soon found the top of Common Fell. A mound of green decorated by a small cairn made for a welcome change amongst the brown of this very large common.
Common Fell summit
We could now see the way that we had to take to get back to the car that we would have been able to see but for the few trees blocking the view. The views are much better from here due to the clearer sky, but again, mainly to the north.
Dowthwaitehead Crag with a cloud topped Blencathra behind
We were looking down into the small and narrow valley of Dowthwaite that we will have to cross at some point as we make our way back up the opposite side to the car park.
North from Common Fell
The walk down to the valley bottom was now pathless as we made our way down amongst the many rocks that litter the fellside…
High Row is top left of photo
until we arrived at an old and sunken track that took us over the head of Blake Sike following it for a few more metres to reach easier ground before heading off to the northwest to cross back over the sike. The reason for this re-crossing was that we thought that we had seen a gate in the intake wall far below us at a point where there is a footbridge shown on the map, but we were mistaken, it was just a quick wall repair with posts and wire. There is a second footbridge shown on the map just further to the southwest of the first one but we could see no gate leading to it, just yet anyway. We followed the course of the sike along its west side and after getting much lower we could now see a small and old gate stile in the wall near to a small copse of trees. After descending some more we then had to re-cross the sike to get to the gate from where there is a very steep, muddy, slippery bank down to the footbridge that allowed us to cross Aira Beck.
From the footbridge we again followed the beck for a few metres before having to cross a watercourse that was now running down between two walls that on the map has all the appearance of a walled lane leading up to Crookwath and High Row. This is where we had our third and short break before climbing the last 200 feet or so up this last hill. If it once was a lane it now isn't as there is quite a good bit of water running down it so a bit of off piste walking was now demanded. First of all along the east side of the 'lane' and then having to cross over to the west side that allowed easy passage up to the holiday lets of Crookwath.
Birkett Fell and Hart Side from Crookwath in Dowthwaite
From the houses it was a simple matter of walking along the metalled road back to the car park.
A fairly hard walk done in harsh conditions for the first and biggest half of it, made harder by my 37 minute struggle from Randerside to the summit of Great Dodd. Reaching the top I soon recovered my get up and go and suffered no more such consequences but we still had a struggle against the elements to contend with as we continued on with the remainder of the walk. With good weather this is a good walk, an easy walk with plenty of good views to keep one stopping and viewing all that surrounds you. Plenty of photo opportunities were missed due to the bad conditions and indeed, one summit was closely missed due to it, such was the power of the clag today. Chris will have another opportunity to 'properly' tick off Stybarrow Dodd as we shall be walking this way again when we take on Clough Head and its surrounding Birkett's one of which - Little Dodd - is on the west side of Great Dodd two thirds of the way up the west ridge from Calfhow Pike so a short detour will soon put right his list of Wainwright's done.
The many wet areas that we crossed are usually no different after a spell of dry weather, today's conditions made them considerably worse but we both arrived back at the car dry in all quarters from where a short drive took us back to one of those places where copious amounts of the local brew can be imbibed in more favourable conditions than we have had to endure today.
by johnkaysleftleg » Tue May 08, 2018 4:00 pm
A fair old yomp with a bad chest and horrible weather TM, at least the fells showed mercy and gave you some sunshine to finish off with. Hopefully you've been enjoying some of the far better conditions of late, you both certainly deserve it after that.
by trailmasher » Wed May 09, 2018 7:21 pm
johnkaysleftleg wrote:A fair old yomp with a bad chest and horrible weather TM, at least the fells showed mercy and gave you some sunshine to finish off with. Hopefully you've been enjoying some of the far better conditions of late, you both certainly deserve it after that.
Thanks JK and chest a lot better now ta as a good walk in sunshine on the following Saturday proved. I was climbing good and steady at all in front of me It's just taken a while to shake off these damn recurring flu symptoms Again thanks
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