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Two Central Fells and a closed road.

Two Central Fells and a closed road.


Postby trailmasher » Tue Jun 05, 2018 7:54 pm

Wainwrights included on this walk: Armboth Fell, High Tove

Date walked: 22/05/2018

Time taken: 4.19

Distance: 15.75 km

Ascent: 531m

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Armboth Fell and High Tove.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts


It was Tuesday, a glorious day again, and Chris and I are off on our third walk in a week, something that doesn't happen very often for him but he had extended leave onshore so was taking advantage of the time as he was due to be back on the following Thursday. His chosen route for today being a couple of the Central Fells deemed by some to be the wettest underfoot walking in the Lake District and having been around those fells quite often I would have a problem disagreeing with that.

Our plan was to start the walk from the Armboth Car Park and as it isn't a National Trust one and me being a Yorkshire man I'm struggling with the thoughts of having to pay a fee for parking but, as things worked out the Forestry Commission killed that one.

We arrived at the A591 and the entrance to the metalled road that continues on across the dam wall and runs down the west side of Thirlmere to find Forestry signs declaring that the road was closed, no access and so on…

ImageForestry warning signs on the A591

but we drove down it anyway to see what the problem was and came across a barrier blocking the road with a second one further along consisting of the high security type and was not only chained together but was also bolted into the rock on one side and the reservoir wall on the other. We turned the car around and drove off and made our way south to the other end of the road to see if there was access from that end, that too was blocked off. We drove back north and parked up at the side of the road at Legburthwaite just opposite the Forestry Commission warning signs to this time walk down and have another go at getting through the barriers.

Passing over the dam wall I grabbed a couple of photos.

ImageRaven Crag across Thirlmere Reservoir wall

Looking along the smooth waters of Thirlmere the surface captures the reflection of the blue sky beautifully and standing here gazing along its length I wonder what it must have looked like a hundred years ago when it was a valley with two tarns, farmsteads and green fields with sheep and cattle grazing away, it must have looked as peaceful as it does now that it's full of water. If the old Wythburn Church is anything to go by there must have been quite a thriving community in the area as it's - or was - quite a substantial building.

ImageSouth along Thirlmere

Although I was game to climb over the 1st barrier and pass over the wall to get by the second one Chris wasn't too sure now, but as we were contemplating our next move a chap came along in a Thirlmere Reservoir van and upon asking his advice he replied that he had seen many people storming the barriers and then drove off again. Well, that was our cue to go for it as our sneaky skirmish onto Dodd came to mind. The first barrier was no problem as it was just a stride to get over it but the second one was a different matter as it was a 2 metre - 6' 6" - high security fence with bolted chains. But not to be deterred any further my man mountain walking companion somehow managed to get the nut of the chain bolt off making it easy to open the barrier enough to pass through.

This walk should have been a short one just to finish off Chris's walking week but with the extra leg work now the walk has grown from around 5 miles long to nearly 10 miles, albeit with the extra being road walking.

Passing below Raven Crag and looking across Thirlmere we could see Helvellyn and company sat under cloud.

ImageHelvellyn ridge under cloud

A few steps past the barriers and we could see the tree damage in all its glory, with massive pine trees straddled across the road with the wall smashed down where the trees had fallen across it, pine cones and branches littered the roads surface in great abundance. The last windy storms of a few weeks ago had caused this damage and makes one wonder how such large trees can be dropped by the wind, that is until the sparseness of the roots that have been clinging onto thin soil covered rocks are seen. After all the storms that we have had in the district over the past few years this obviously was just one too many for a lot of these trees.

ImageStorm damage around Thirlmere

The photo of the fallen trees was only one of many that I took that depicted a scene of pure devastation and I can't understand why, with the holiday season coming up fast, the number of car parks on this west side that are used not only by tourists for the scenery - which is outstanding - but by the many people who enjoy their outdoor activities such as cycling, walking, and fell running to name a few, yes, why the hell the trees and debris haven't been cleared as a priority, the wall made safe and the road re-opened is beyond me and I suppose many others who have seen this mess. Surely with the specialist machines that they use this road and access could be open again in just a few days. Maybe they just don't care.

We worked our way around and under these obstacles that now present no danger as they are well settled where they have fallen and managed to take another picture from below Birch Crags.

ImageAnother view south along Thirlmere

After a few more minutes of walking we found this chap looking a little worse for wear.

ImageHe didn't have a map and compass

A few minutes later and we arrived at our preferred start of walk…

ImageGateway to the fells

directly opposite the Armboth Car Park with its two gates, finger post, and a small and well constructed bridge over Middlesteads Gill from where our path runs directly up the fellside to pass below Cockrigg Crags…

ImageCockrigg Crags

following the course of Fisher Gill that runs alongside Fishercrag Plantation a large area of pine trees.

It was a hot day and although the going was easy and initially over grass we were in a sun trap with no signs of a breeze whatsoever. As the path gains height it leaves the grass behind and becomes stony with large boulders that have fallen off the crags littering the ground either side of the path.

ImageLarge boulders littered below the crags

A glance back and we had a view through the trees.

ImageA tree covered Great How with cloud covered Dodds behind

Soon the stones and cobbles beneath our feet was a pitched stone path now steepening as it began to zigzag up the steeper part of the fell and after a while we left the pitching behind to now be on a path of dirt and stones along which we soon made it up to the intake wall at the head of the plantation. Not long after passing through the gap in the wall we lost the path in the soft ground so had to make do with making our way in the general direction of High Tove that we couldn't yet see. Part way along this pathless part Sonny found a really good filthy hole to play in coming out more black than brown, but at least he had cooled off, something that we hadn't managed to do yet.

ImageSonny cooling off and the Dodds clearing

After a while we picked up the path again just as High Tove and its large cairn came into view and within 10 minutes we were at the summit enjoying all round views once again as we had done already twice this week. There are vast wide open fells all around broken only by small rocky crags and we seemed to be in a circle of surrounding high peaks on all sides, even to the north although they are quite some distance away.

ImageThe view west from High Tove

ImageSouth to Coldbarrow Fell and Ullscarf

ImageRaise - Whiteside etc from High Tove

ImageChris at High Tove with western mountains behind

It's warm and quiet, it's a pleasure to be here and apart from Chris there is no one else around. I just love these wide open spaces and although many people are not keen on the moors or fells such as this I love them, especially when I'm alone along with my thoughts. Planning and problem solving seem easy with no distractions to throw one off track, a sit down and ponder comes all too easily especially when a good viewpoint is found. It would be even more perfect if I smoked a pipe like the great AW, but I don't, nor cigarettes, so I wonder and ponder at will until it is time to move on again.

Although it is possible and quite easily achievable to walk all of these fells in one go in a day's walking I have had to split it into three so that Chris is able to achieve his ambition of not only bagging the Wainwright's but also everything in between including the Birkett's that at times can be a damn nuisance to get at during a long walk and quite often not a practical proposition. This group of fells fall into that category as the Birkett's are scattered all over a great area and would require a massive amount of rough walking and loss of height only to have to gain it again more than once so the whole of this ridge from Keswick and Walla Crag to Ullscarf has been split into 3 shorter sections that can be done when legs and body are weary from earlier in the week walks.

We were now going to walk south over ground that is always wet and boggy although with the past few days having been dry and sunny we may stand a good chance of arriving at the other side with dry feet, alas is was not to be. Somewhere between High Tove and the Birkett of Middle Crag we were attempting to find a way around a particularly large patch of wet ground when I, thinking that I had got it sussed stood on what looked like a solid turf and immediately sank down to my knees - not the first time this has happened to me up here - and with Chris laughing his rocks off I really struggled against the suction to extract myself from same boggy ground.

I squelched along to Middle Crag…

ImageMiddle Crag

in a pair of pants that were blue grey from waist to knees and then a deeper shade of black that took over down to the boot soles. I comfort myself with 'Never mind I'll soon dry off in this heat', a comfort that took quite a while despite the heat and breeze of the day.

Next on was the Birkett of Shivery Knotts that was just a few metres further south directly in line with the fence and appearing as a black and grey mound of rock and heather sheltered beneath the much larger fells of Coldbarrow Fell and Ullscarth.

ImageShivery Knotts - Coldbarrow Fell - Ullscarf

ImageChris on his way to Shivery Knott

The ground was a bit drier along this stretch although I kept to the west of the fence and as high as possible.

This mound of rock, grass and heather is near a twin of Middle Crag with only 7 metres difference in height between the two but from where a look back endorsed just how large these fells are.

ImageView back to High Tove and High Seat

From Shivery Knott the ground begins to rise up to the summit of Watendlath Fell that at 515 metres in height is but a bump on the landscape on which the old wire fence runs over.

ImageColdbarrow Fell and Ullscarf from Watendlath Fell

We were now looking at one of our future visits to these fells, another short walk with 7 tickable hills for Chris, but if the west side Thirlmere road is still closed it will again mean diversifying as they have not only closed the road off just past Wythburn Car Park but also closed the car park even though the road is open to past its entrance.

From this meagre summit we had a half hearted view of Blea Tarn…

ImageBlea Tarn below Coldbarrow Fell and Ullscarf

lying in the basin at the feet of Coldbarrow Fell, Standing Crag, Watendlath Fell and Long Moss, a natural gathering place for water as it drains off the fells by various unnamed watercourses.

The breeze had turned a bit chilly so a lair was added to the thin ones that we were wearing before setting off over pathless ground taking a course roughly northeast towards Armboth Fell with nothing but heather, rough grass, and a few small up thrusts of rock to keep us company on our way to another rounded block of grey stone away in the distance. On our way over we looked for somewhere to stop for a refuel and found a sheltered place under a low peat hag and good enough for what we wanted it for. Soon enough we were on our way again and headed for a small rise in the ground from where we had our first decent view of Armboth Fell.

ImageThe grey rock of Armboth Fell

From this small outcrop of rock and grass we had a good view of High Tove and High Seat and we could now see two groups of walkers one of which were heading for High Tove and the other our way and looking at their line of travel must have accessed the fells by the same place as us. There is also a decent path running from where we were straight to Armboth Fell.

Once again this fell is nothing to shout about it only being the largest smooth rocky outcrop amongst many other smaller groups of rocks that lay around this immediate area.

ImageHigh Seat from Armboth Fell

Apart from the view of Chris and Sonny there was a much better one that kept still whilst I took its picture.

ImageHigh Seat and High Tove from Armboth Fell

ImageFrom Clough Head to Raise from Armboth Fell

Whilst we were walking from Armboth Fell to Fisher Crag we espied four deer on a rocky outcrop quite a distance away and although I got a shot of them it wasn't very good. I was quite excited about seeing them as I had just told Chris that I had only on one other occasion ever on all my visits to these fells seen deer, and then four pop up, magic.

We were now moving over more over to the east where we would find Fisher Crag sat at the top of the forest high above Thirlmere and as we progressed over the pathless ground once more we came across a path that led us down a wide grassy rake from where the ground levelled out and became boggy as Chris was to find out after a few minutes.

ImageMixed trees on Fisher Crag ahead

As can be seen, Fisher Crag is an island of green against an approach of various shades of brown grass and heather that lead unsuspectingly into very wet ground in which the unwary - Chris - can get bogged down. The crag on the crag is verdant green with grass and various species of trees and looks much better than the last time that I was here in the late winter months about 3 years ago. But to get to it we have to get passed the boggy ground. Chris went straight for it but me having been here before swung over to the right and made my way across slightly higher ground that was just high enough to keep me out of the worst of it without getting wet again.

ImageUnnamed tarn and boggy ground before Fisher Crag

Last time that I visited this spot there was quite a number of felled tree trunks roughly stacked about, and they're still here, but now going rotten where they lay between the fence and the old and tumbledown dry stone wall the original protector of this fell.

ImageYears old forestry debris at Fisher Crag

We climbed a chained gate and made our way easily up to the fairly level top of the crag that is covered in grass, heather, bilberry and a few small pine trees grown from seed that was probably blown to here from their parents on the surrounding steep and rocky north, east and south facing slopes.
This is one of the best viewpoints around this neck of the woods with a fine view of Thirlmere far below and the fells on all sides. It's a wonderful place to be on a good day such as this.

ImageHigh Seat and High Tove from Fisher Crag

Thirlmere lies far below, like a smooth and calm blue oasis, edged with a light coloured collar that contrasts nicely between the blue of the water and the green of the surrounding trees. With Blencathra and High Rigg at its head, Clough Head and the Dodd's to the east this is a most spectacular view indeed.

ImageNorth to Blencathra

And it's just a shame that I didn't have a saw in my bag so that I could have enhanced this shot a little. :lol: :lol:

ImageNorth to Blencathra

After a drink and a few more minutes gawping at the scenery we managed to tear ourselves away and began to make our way off the fells by way of a path that leads down a rock strewn gully running north and into Fishercrag Plantation and with the trees on the one side and crags on the other a sense of enclosure is felt, although not of the claustrophobic kind and it's maybe because we had been on the open fells for a while. This path leads down to a wall and ladder stile and whereas it was once the head of a narrow lane there is now a large lay down area for an upcoming logging operation. That must be the idea and plans for the future as where there was once a nice path through the trees there has been constructed this.

ImageThis used to be a path through the plantation

It seems like the Forestry Commission have no bounds at what they will do to achieve their aims, no conscience, no qualms about what they do and the destruction and wreckage that they leave behind. Fair enough, they have to get to their place of work somehow. But why not just leave these trees as they are? They have matured into the surrounding countryside and although I'm not too keen on pine plantations at least these would look better left alone as all that will happen when these are lopped down is that they will plant hundreds more amongst the wreckage and debris that they always leave behind.

It's not all that long ago that they were going to run a fence all along the top of the fells to enclose the forests below until there was such an outcry that it was put to one side, but no doubt they will have another go in time.

We made our way down this stoned up highway and eventually reached Fisher Gill that has to be crossed at a place that is covered in large rounded cobbles, dead roots and branches where a slip is easy to be had and damage caused to some part of the body as there is no easy place to land on this little lot.

ImageFisher Gill in its lower reaches

Turning around to speak with Chris I saw that he was doing his bit for conservation.

ImageChris contributing to the flow of Fisher Gill

From this point it was a more pleasant walk through the trees and before too many minutes had passed we were back at the road and a short walk back to the car park where we sat awhile to quench our thirst. We now had but the walk back along the road to the car at Legburthwaite with Chris working his magic on the secured fence once again and the thoughts of a Tuesday night drink or two in some hostelry before us.
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trailmasher
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Re: Two Central Fells and a closed road.

Postby Skyelines » Tue Jun 05, 2018 8:56 pm

The forest and land round Thirlmere belongs to and is managed by United Utilities not the Forestry Commission.
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Re: Two Central Fells and a closed road.

Postby trailmasher » Wed Jun 06, 2018 11:18 am

Skyelines wrote:The forest and land round Thirlmere belongs to and is managed by United Utilities not the Forestry Commission.


Okaay! Thanks for putting me right on that one :) but whoever owns it shouldn't linger in re-opening the road to save disappointment to the many visitors who visit the LD. Again, thanks for your comments :)
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Re: Two Central Fells and a closed road.

Postby Skyelines » Wed Jun 06, 2018 12:19 pm

trailmasher wrote:
Skyelines wrote:The forest and land round Thirlmere belongs to and is managed by United Utilities not the Forestry Commission.


Okaay! Thanks for putting me right on that one :) but whoever owns it shouldn't linger in re-opening the road to save disappointment to the many visitors who visit the LD. Again, thanks for your comments :)


I agree a bit more haste would not go amiss. However it's unlikely that United Utilities have in-house forest workers and machinery so they have to wait until a contractor becomes available and they are usually well booked up on scheduled felling etc.

Great report by the way :D , reminded me of part of a winter walk 50 years ago while on a 3 day expedition when at Outwardbound Ullswater. The forest was very different then. :)
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Re: Two Central Fells and a closed road.

Postby johnkaysleftleg » Wed Jun 06, 2018 2:34 pm

When I look at my Birkett bagging map and see the un-climbed fells in the area my heart does sink a little, rather like ones boots into the morass :wink: These two Wainwrights are far from my favourites, probably numbers 213 and 214 to be honest but at least this route takes in the 'edge' of the central fells which is far more pleasant than the ridge. I'm not really a big fan of United Utilities, they seem to have very little respect for walkers or the landscape for that matter.
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Re: Two Central Fells and a closed road.

Postby trailmasher » Thu Jun 07, 2018 6:55 pm

johnkaysleftleg wrote:When I look at my Birkett bagging map and see the un-climbed fells in the area my heart does sink a little, rather like ones boots into the morass :wink: These two Wainwrights are far from my favourites, probably numbers 213 and 214 to be honest but at least this route takes in the 'edge' of the central fells which is far more pleasant than the ridge. I'm not really a big fan of United Utilities, they seem to have very little respect for walkers or the landscape for that matter.


Correct on all counts there JK :thumbup: and if Charlie were making a visit I'll bet the trees would be cleared pretty sharpish to let him through :lol: :lol: Apart from the bog trotting between High Tove and Watendlath Fell the walking is pretty good both sides of it. Thanks for your comments :D
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Re: Two Central Fells and a closed road.

Postby johnkaysleftleg » Wed Jun 13, 2018 6:44 pm

For the sake of balance given my less that complementary comments regarding United Utilities, last night Springwatch featured a fantastic regeneration scheme they are involved in in the Peak District. They are funding the replanting and regeneration of some blanket bog with quite outstanding results. The rub is, the water which drains into the reservoir is now far cleaner and therefor can be processed at less cost, not to mention dramatically reducing flood risk.
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Re: Two Central Fells and a closed road.

Postby trailmasher » Tue Jun 19, 2018 3:47 pm

The rub is, the water which drains into the reservoir is now far cleaner and therefor can be processed at less cost, not to mention dramatically reducing flood risk.


Not all bad then :clap: :clap: 8)
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Re: Two Central Fells and a closed road.

Postby Alteknacker » Wed Jun 20, 2018 9:23 pm

Nice report on - with the exception of the bogs - what looks like a very nice area.

At least you only went in up to your knees...

sinking.jpg


Think of that poor guy in the news yesterday who got stuck in Norfolk marshes... :roll:
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Re: Two Central Fells and a closed road.

Postby trailmasher » Fri Jun 22, 2018 7:48 pm

Alteknacker wrote:Nice report on - with the exception of the bogs - what looks like a very nice area.

At least you only went in up to your knees...

sinking.jpg


Think of that poor guy in the news yesterday who got stuck in Norfolk marshes... :roll:


Thanks AK :D and considering the wetness of the area and my complaining of same there is a certain beauty that keeps dragging me back up there :? Maybe the lovely views have a lot to do with it not to mention the challenge of bog trotting :lol: Didn't read about the chap in Norfolk and must have been a real scary experience for him, lucky someone was in the area to help out.
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