Date walked: 01/10/2021
Time taken: 3.49 hours
Chris and I have had some on-line dialogue about his intentions regarding No. 214 and he has decided that it would be sometime this month, October; however a couple of walks to loosen up beforehand seemed to be an appropriate requirement and check on how things are working. A shortish walk of about 14.5 kilometres – 9 miles - involving about 980 metres – 3,200 feet – of height gain that included Wandhope, Crag Hill, Sail, Ard Crags and Knott Rigg was decided upon with options to bail out after dropping down from the saddle between Sail and Scar Crags opposite Ard Crags therefore missing out the last two fells. The bail out did happen although earlier than anticipated and not at the place where we had initially chosen.
We arrived at the small car park behind Buttermere Church to find only another two cars there so worth setting off early to get here. The weather was as forecast, windy, full cloud cover and damp as I took the first of today’s photos in the direction of the church showing a low cloud base over the High Stile range...
Dodd with Ling Comb to the right of it
whilst a look further around to the south showed all three tops under cloud and a very full and white Sourmilk Gill rushing down from Bleaberry Tarn.
Dodd - High Stile - High Crag
We booted up and strode down the road to pass through the small metal gate opposite the Bridge Hotel into the wood to follow the rising path above Mill Beck as it tumbled over the rocks and fallen branches, full, noisy and plenty of white spume as it fell from small waterfalls into frothy pools.
Even as we walked the leaves were dropping from the trees as they got ready for their winters sleep and although the path is good there are a few areas where exposed, slippery and worn tree roots are looking for the unwary boot to make a mistake and after a good few metres of easy walking we were properly inside of Ghyll Wood and its beautifully covered mossy slopes and fallen trees.
It’s a pleasure just walking through these trees, a tonic in itself, a place where the low clouds don’t really matter as they are no bother to us high up above the trees, later they will be no doubt, but for now we’ll enjoy the walk without them.
Ten minutes later we had climbed up the few steps to pass through the stile and see blue sky behind Knott Rigg and Ard Crags...
Northeast towards Knott Rigg
whilst looking back over to Buttermere there was the High Stile range, Haystacks with Great Gable sat behind it and even though its damp and cloudy it seems to enhance the beauty of the scene, atmospheric, almost ethereal.
High Stile - High Crag - Haystacks and Great Gable
We were taking the lower path for now and would start our easy climbing along the well graded path at NY18087 17524 where the path breaks away left from this lower one but it was just before we arrived at the first climb of around 25 metres along the unnamed watercourse before I grabbed a shot along the valley and Mill Beck before it morphs into Sail Beck.
Northeast towards Sail - Scar Crags - Causey Pike
The bracken is dying off although that won’t help us later on as we reach Addacomb Beck. A look across and up Bleak Rigg gave us a fair view of the eastern crags of Whiteless Pike and Whiteless Edge.
Looking to Whiteless Pike and Whiteless Edge
All the way along to Addacomb Beck the path is good and well graded with just the short steady climbing up and out of the unnamed beck and Third Gill, around halfway between the two I took a photo along the valley and what is now Sail Beck.
A view along Sail Beck
So far the weather has been kind to us although there was a cold, strong wind blowing a few drops of rain possibly from the edges of over passing but unseen rain showers and by now we were walking into Third Gill losing about 11 metres of height before we crossed over the gill and started the climb out the other side. Third Gill starts its journey at the northern end of Whiteless Edge directly below the summit of Wandhope firstly tumbling through a few crags before reaching kinder ground in this narrow defile. It actually looks – albeit with a little difficulty - as though a way could be made up to Wandhope. We’ll give it a miss this time round. At the lowest point along the gill there is a steep path bearing off to the right and not necessarily the quickest looking at the effort required to get up it. The green slopes were bathed in a soft patch of sunlight making the crags look softer than they are.
View along Third Gill towards Whiteless Pike
Having climbed back out of the gill we were well on our way to Addacomb Beck where we would take a break and some shelter from the wind. A look back showed that the High Stile range were no longer visible due to the mass of High Snockrigg, the edge of Robinson and lower slopes of Knott Rigg.
The lower slopes of Knott Rigg and High Snockrigg below Robinson
From Third Gill it’s almost level walking to Addacomb Beck along the 350 metre contour and one of the first things that we spotted was the large washed out scree gully that starts from below Scar Crag cutting a swathe through the path.
Storm damage below Scar Crag on Sail
It seems hard to imagine the power and force of water that can wash away so much stone and cause such damage as it does.
We were now at Addacombe Beck with its multiple waterfalls running out of or near to Addacomb Hole.
Addacomb Beck below Scar Crag
There are the remains of three stone built structures that due to the shape of them were surely not sheepfolds. The stones have been cut and set purposely so maybe the remains of long forgotten mining activities?
Remains of old buildings on Addacomb Beck
It’s quite some time since I was last here, probably 10 years or more and it’s a place that I like very much in its isolation it being about halfway between Buttermere and the old quarry car park at the metalled lane opposite the new Purple House at Rigg Beck bridge.
Casting my mind back to when I first climbed the east ridge to Wandhope summit from here I remember that it was fairly hard going and the route was up the easiest contours – if there are any easy ones – that begin slightly south of east just below the first of the stone structures but looking at it just now it didn’t look too attractive a route as it was covered in bracken as far as the eye could see up the bank. Anyway, I had heard a rumour that there was maybe a path that followed the beck up to the Hole and right enough we could see the makings of one just behind the old buildings and decided to give it a course of looking at after we had a short break.
Break over we began to follow the faint path alongside the beck with it almost disappearing in places as we started the climb but within just a few metres it had run out as the fellside steepened. We continued on at a slow rate as the going was rough and tough with moss, bilberry, and heather with slippery stones hidden beneath it all as we worked our way through some small crags stopping frequently to get our breath back. This must be one of the hardest climbs that I’ve done.
A rest and photo from the 413 metre point showed up the waterfalls as they collected to fill Addacomb Beck.
Addacomb Beck from the 413 point
Twenty one minutes later and only 62 metres further forward we stopped as I took another look back towards Ard Crags partly hidden by the south slopes of Sail.
Ard Crags behind the slopes of Sail
A patch of pale sunlight fighting through the clouds helped to lighten the scene but not our spirits as we battled on up these steep slopes until finally after another 35 minutes we stood on the edge of Addacombe Hole and the site of sheepfold that we would gladly step into for a well earned break.
Addacomb Hole below Wandhope
That was hard work to say the least and a combination of being 10 years older, a long layoff from decent walks due to Covid and a bad knee did nothing to make this climb any easier and the elevation graph taken from my GPS will show just how steep this fellside is at this point of climbing. At least the knee didn’t give me any real problems on the way up, but it did later on the way down, though my legs as we stood on the relatively level ground felt as though I had just disembarked from a storm tossed boat and was still on my sea legs.
Addacomb Hole elevation graph
Addacomb Hole is a big bowl and looks like a giant ladle has scooped out the ground from between the ring of crags the largest being Scar Crag on the north face.
Scar Crag overlooking Addacomb Hole
Working around to the west from the crags there is a scree gully that looks as though it has been used as an exit on a good few occasions followed by a face of pink coloured scree with a second scree run and finally moving around to Wandhope are the crags along the side of the ridge from the Hole to the summit.
We walked over the rough grass to the sheepfold where we had a bite to eat and reviewed our options for this walk finally deciding that we had had enough and it was more prudent to retrace our steps than continue and struggle especially with the weather starting to break. We saw four walkers descending Sail ridge but they looked to be struggling with the wind so we didn’t see any value in continuing at this stage and the hills are going nowhere. The climb along the ridge from the Hole is actually not too bad with a decent path all the way up to the summit so we will retreat after our break and tackle it from the easier slopes when the bracken is down. As it was windy the fold was a welcome spot to take our break with far reaching views towards the east.
An eastern view from Addacomb Hole
Old sheepfold in Addacomb Hole
I can see the value of having a sheepfold in this spot as it's hidden, sheltered, and there's food and water. It may have been built so far back in time as to be a safe place to hide the sheep from the Scottish Reivers but to what other purpose to drive sheep into this large bowl I couldn't start to guess as it's such a steep climb whichever way one takes, either up or down. Maybe someone out there knows the reason?
Back over to the northeast the steep slopes of Sail look daunting in their ruggedness.
Scar Crag and Sail
There is a fairly well trodden path leading away from the fold towards its eastern edge so we decided to see where it went to as the one that we used at the bottom ran out soon enough but as soon as it got to the edge where the feeder watercourse ran out of the bowl it ran out and it was at this point that I took the next photo...
A view towards Ard Crags - Robinson and an eastern fells skyline
and as we left the edge a look back gave a good view of the ridge up to Wandhope summit, a photo that belies the steepness of this lovely and airy ridge.
Wandhope summit as we leave Addacombe Hole
We got down the fellside quicker though no easier than we got up it as the steepness of it knocked seven bells out of the legs with both of us now complaining of sore knees and I was actually beginning to cramp up in my right leg – the troublesome one – something that hasn’t happened in the past. Chris was no better as I could hear him bitching and cursing behind me and even descending warranted a few stops to ease the legs somewhat.
From the 494 point this is what Ard Crags looks like with a good portion of Knott Rigg also.
Ard Crags and Knott Rigg
Arriving once again at the old structures we took time for a drink and leg rest before setting off back to Third Gill from where we would drop down to the old sheepfold and lower path that runs alongside first of all Sail Beck and then Mill Beck as we get below Knott Rigg. As we set off once again I took a picture of the ridge once again.
Wandhope's east ridge
There’s nothing else for it now but to take a few photos and the easy walking back to Buttermere and from below Wandhope I got a photo of its highest crags on its south eastern face and a good front view of Sail. Somewhere before reaching Third Gill is where the gusting wind blew me over, fortunately with no lasting damage apart from crap on my cloths.
Crags below Wandhope
Scar Crag and Sail
It didn’t take too long to reach Third Gill where the rain finally caught up with us as can be seen on the next photo...
The rain caught us in Third Gill
and from where we followed it down to where we left the higher path and followed a path through bracken down to Sail Beck and the aforementioned sheepfold long ago collapsed and overgrown with bracken from where there is a long view along Sail Beck.
Northeast along Sail Beck
The path following Sail Beck is, and falls very gently on its way down to Buttermere and just before the beck changed its name to Mill we could see the bowl of Bleaberry Tarn between Red Pike and High Stile with light rays shining into it lighting up the green of the grass.
High Stile behind High Snockrigg
The lower slopes of Knott Rigg was now to our left, slopes that we would obviously now not be descending, the beck was running fast, the wind in our faces. In fact it’s been so cold that gloves had to be worn for most of the walk. Some steady walking soon had us below the south slopes of Whiteless Pike from where could see that the cloud had lifted off the high fells.
Ling Comb edge - Red Pike behind Dodd - High Stile with Great Borne far right
Despite the heavy cloud cover the area around Bleaberry Tarn is still lit up.
Rays over Bleaberry Tarn
It was now but a short walk to pass by High House Crag behind Ghyll Wood from where the last few photos were taken.
The dead amongst the living
A southern view from High House Crag
Lower southern slopes of Whiteless Pike
And finally, Buttermere where a distant view shows Warnscale Beck as a white slash amongst the dark background of rocks and rough fell grasses whilst Sourmilk Gill and High Stile’s unnamed beck refuses to hide themselves.
A view over Buttermere from High House Crag
Despite the disappointment of not fully completing the walk and the weather being a bit iffy this has been a decent one in which retreat was the better part of valour, as they say, and can be tackled again on a better day when both weather and fitness levels are somewhat improved. It’s a walk that I’ve done before without any bother but circumstances were a bit different then with better weather, no bracken and better legs but no bother, we’ve had a decent walk so we can now console ourselves with a trip to the local hostelry for the inquest and a couple of the best.
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- Location: Near Appleby - Cumbria
- Activity: Mountaineer
- Mountain: Blencathra
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- Camera: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS35
- Ideal day out: A good mixed walk with scrambling leading to a good ridge walk.
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- Joined: Nov 26, 2014
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