St Sunday Crag 25th March 2015

Walks go wrong for all sorts of reasons. Today it was a cock-up in the catering department. I started out with only enough food for a shorter day instead of the big day I’d planned. I wasn’t too unhappy, it was such a beautiful morning.

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Ullswater on the ascent path to St Sunday Crag
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Ullswater, Patterdale and Glenridding

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Still quite a few snow patches in the high north facing gullies and although it was t-shirt weather when I started it was pretty cold at the top when the sun went in. Quite a good view of striding edge and the cornices on the edge of Hellvellyn.

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The route along from Dollywagon Pike (left) to Hellvellyn (just right of right edge of picture). The Tongue is the facing left hand ridge, the east ridge of Nethermost Pike is the central facing ridge.
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Nethermost Cove, bounded on the right by Striding Egde and Hellvellyn summit the high point on the right.

The clouds cleared again for the way down so I took some more shots of Ullswater.

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Ullswater from near St Sunday Crag summit.
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Serendipity

On a humid day, walking fast up a steep hill, you get pretty sweaty and your camera picks it up. I took this shot without checking the lens was clear first and found it was covered in condensation but as luck would have it the focal point of the shot also turned out to be the only part of the shot that was clear. I could probably have got the same results after the fact using some Photoshop blurring effect, but that would have been cheating…

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Taken with the lens misted with condensation on a sweaty humid day.

Langdale round, 17th March 2015

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Redacre Gill looking to Harrison Stickle just after leaving the road to start the ascent of Pike o’Blisco.
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The start of the day looking towards Crinkle Crags. Still snow patches to make the tops look nice.

I’ve never been on Pike o’Blisco before. I was surprised the route up was so little trodden. Great views almost from leaving the road. Near the top it gets very pleasantly scrambly and only then did I see other people (though the whole route was quiet all day). It had been hot sunshine until then but now the clouds formed and a lot of the tops disappeared. Very hazy all day so photography was difficult (though lightroom and raw format come to the rescue). Still plenty of snow patches around to make the tops look pretty though.

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Pike o’Blisco summit looking to Crinkle Crags (left) and Bowfell (middle).
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Clouds and thick haze formed early on and stayed until late afternoon.
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Descent to Red Tarn

Dropping down to red tarn and it became more familiar. I’d done the crinkle crags section the other way round fairly recently and knew it was special. This time I didn’t miss out on the “bad step”, which I’d accidentally avoided last time.

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The “bad step” on one of the crinkles. Go up the scree fan to the small cave and take the right-hand wall to escape. Or, take the easy way on a path leftwards that skirts round this top.

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Despite the hot sunny start it was still winter on the tops with plenty of ice patches and frozen ponds but nowhere near enough to be a problem. Next stop Bowfell but I took the rocky scramble right of the path, which I’d been thinking about for several years. It wasn’t hard and was soon over but I think good route selection could make it both longer and more difficult. Certainly more fun than the path. I’d like to take a look at the Bowfell Links scrambles next time, they looked really good from three tarns (though the guidebook gives them pretty faint praise).

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Bowfell and Three Tarns with a good view through the haze to Bowfell Links and some scrambling possibilities. The main path is on the right and I took the easy rocks just right again.
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Looking over the path from the rocks.
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From the Rossett Pike path towards the head of Mickleden and Pike o’Stickle beyond. I took a line from left to right via the small top in the middle of the picture.

Down Ore Gap to Angle Tarn then up to Rossett Pike, which is a really nice little summit. From there along the edge to Langdale Combe was very little used with not much trace of a path and it was really nice to make my own way along this section, which has lots of interest.

I was aiming for Pike o’Stickle and didn’t want to lose too much height dropping into the top of the Mickleden path so I made sure to keep contouring towards the head of the path. Then I took a direct line back up again and saw three deer fairly close up. They ran away with no effort while I slogged up breathing heavily. I was going quickly. I’d worked out I could do the remaining route in time but without much margin. Looking back I could just see the unmistakable top of Great Gable in the haze.

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Pike o’Stickle
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Pike o’Stickle summit, which is a fairly small lump from the north side but a very impressive sweep of rock from the south.

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I didn’t bother with the final few metres up to Pike o’Stickle summit and jogged quickly past and over the boggy section towards Harrison Stickle and the descent route. I knew where to find it, but every time I’ve done this I’ve aimed for the Mark Gate path but ended up on the Dungeon Ghyll path instead. Not a problem but one day I’ll have to go up the Mark Gate path and see where it tops out.

The sky above had been clearing steadily for the last hour and now it was clear blue above, though still very hazy all round. The photographs were getting better again with some lovely pinks and mauves.

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The head of Dungeon Ghyll looking to (I think) Little Langdale tarn.

Down to the car park by 6:30 with plenty of light left but not much energy and very creaky muscles.

Langdale, Scafell Pike and the Isle of Man

Driving to the lakes from home for a day walk limits your options to the more easily accessible valleys. I figured though that I could get over from Langdale to Eskdale, Wasdale, or Borrowdale. I decided to start with Bowfell and along to Esk Hause then see what time it was and what else I thought I could do.

The forecast was sunny and still but it started off with a heavy overcast over the hills. The mountains often make their own weather. Most of the snow had gone but some small patches remained – small from a distance, anyway. I did wonder about the gully to Bowfell summit next to great slab but this was filled with snow which I thought would give a dangerous ascent without crampons or axe.

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I think this is Browney Gill, seen from The Band on the ascent
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South west from three tarns, the col between Crinkle Crags and Bowfell.
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Bowfell near the summit, you can see the top of Great Slab lower right.
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I think this must be the view south west down eskdale from bowfell summit.

It was very cold on top of Bowfell and very grey, which was disappointing, but it was still great to be up there. At Esk Hause I reckoned I still had lots of time and energy, with the contingency that I only needed to get to the bottom of the head of Mickleden in the light, I could do the long track back in the dark if I went more slowly than expected. So I took the path upwards to the saddle between Great End and Ill Crag. This was fairly quick, with a snow patch (now big, close up) to get up, and I carried on towards Scafell Pike, now with the clouds clearing. The neck between Broad Crag and Scafell Pike was really good, with a nice scrambly ascent (with snow patches) to Scafell Pike summit. Plenty of ice and rime around showing how cold it still was. It was now properly sunny.

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Esk Hause, looking north/north-west. The summit slopes of Great End are in the middle ground top-left of the picture.
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Great Gable, probably taken from the final ascent to Scafell Pike.
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Sty Head tarn is in the middle of the picture, the corridor route (my return route) heads towards it. This is looking north, so I think it’s Bassenthwaite lake in the distance.
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Looking west from Scafell Pike summit, with Great Gable, Kirk Fell and Pillar.
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East from Scafell Pike summit seeing Bowfell (left of centre) and Crinkle Crags (right of centre).

I dropped back down to the neck then leftwards to pick up the corridor route. This was in great surrounding but the scree underfoot was almost fluid. That didn’t last too long and then the corridor route began. A wonderful path, contouring high above wasdale with Great Gable over the valley on one side and incredible rock scenery high on my right and some very impressive gorges, especially Piers Gill.

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The scree slope down from the “neck” between Broad Crag and Scafell Pike, down which you need to go to pick up the corridor route. You need to be careful of larger rocks, which go bounding down the slope if you knock them loose.
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Looking down the other way from the bottom of the scree slope. The corridor route goes right to the slight col in the middle distance.
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Looking along the corridor route, I think Great End is the large summit in the right with, I think, the climbing crag of round how in front of it.
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The corridor route with Great Gable in the distance.
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The arrows show the route of the corridor route path. It’s a simple, easy and short scramble up.

I turned right at Sty Head to ascend the pass up to Angle Tarn. I could see views northwards but haven’t worked out if it was Buttermere or Keswick. As I ascended I got a text message from my mobile network saying “welcome to the Isle of Man”.

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Sprinkling Tarn looking north-east, probably Glaramara in the distance.
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North-ish from nearby Sprinkling Tarn, I can’t be certain which lake this is, could be buttermere, derwent water or bassenthwaite.
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Great End north face crags. Very popular winter climbing venue.

By Rossett Pike, just before the descent, I had my last bite to eat and watched the shadows creep up the hillside towards Pike o’Stickle summit, which was still in the last sun. I did the knee-wrecker descent down to Mickleden and began the two miles back to the new DG hotel in the failing light. It was properly dark as I got to the old DG hotel but it was then easy to walk along the road to the car, now really starting to feel the miles on my feet.

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Highest point on the Sty Head to Rossett Pike path, just before the drop down to Angle Tarn, Pike o’Stickle and Gimmer Crag in the distance.

To Luddenden Dean, 7th March 2015

  • 9 1/2 miles, 5 1/2 hours

Joy, Gill and I wanted a good walk but with a pub for lunch. I traced this out on the map with the Cat I’th Well at about the half way point. There are few walks around Calderdale with better and more extensive views. It started over the moors from the parking area just up the Keighley road from Pecket Well and walked south-east over to the trig point at High Brown Knoll then down into Luddenden Dean and Jerusalem Farm before ending up at the Cat I’th Well. We hadn’t been there before but may well go back. Nice food, nice pub, nice and quiet on a saturday afternoon.

Return was skirting Midgley Moor on the Calderdale way to start, ending up back at the trig point and then the car. Great weather all day, definitely spring.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Pavey Ark, 25th November 2014

A quick round from the New Dungeon Ghyll hotel up to Pavey Ark by the main paths.

A very heavily overcast day, so you have to be happy with whatever photos you get. I quite liked this one of Stickle Tarn showing just how low the cloud was.

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The summit was almost at cloud-top level and I did have a few moments of seeing blue skies but not many. If you have a flat grey sky then you’re often better off keeping it out of the picture altogether.

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The clouds lifted a little on the way down so the view down the valley didn’t look so dull and the sky was worth including in the shot.

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Longsleddale, November 2014

  • Sadgill, Shipman Knotts, Kentmere Pike, Harter Fell, Gatesarth Pass, Longsleddale, Sadgill.
  • 8 1/4 miles, 640 metres ascent
  • 17th November 2014

I’ve never been to this part of the lakes before, it’s a little out of the way (and doesn’t have any climbing) but it’s easy to get to in a day from home. Heavy grey skies didn’t hold much promise for photographs but you can sometimes get good close-up shots in this light and the grass and bracken had plenty of colour.

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I had the walk to myself, not surprising on a wet winter weekday, and walked quickly to the first tops, Shipman Knotts then Kentmere Pike where I stopped for a picnic. Sitting in the shelter of the wall I took the first pictures of the day, close-ups of the brown grass. If you’re out in dull grey weather then look for close-up shots, the colours come out at their best in these conditions.

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Past Harter Fell you get to Harter Crag and then a spectacular view of Haweswater, or would have been if the cloud hadn’t been so low. It still looked quite dramatic as the hill side suddenly becomes very precipitous as you slant down to Gatescarth Pass.

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Now the light became interesting and a break in the clouds let in shafts of low sun and created a tremendous drama.

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Back at the car the light was still doing interesting things so I dropped my bag in the car and walked the start of the route again but this time with really good light in the valley. The best way to take good photos is to be there when the good photos are happening.
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