So, the last walk of our week in the Lakes. We’d planned for a nice long ‘easy’ stroll up St. Sunday’s Crag to Fairfield and Dollywagon Pike. However, the night before, as you’d expect from an ex military man and a female with OCD, a plan ‘B’ had to be made, especially as the weather was looking decidedly more grim than the start of our week, Oooh the start of the week, Friday evening in the sun and a pint at the Coledale with the ‘Happy Hiker’ Mr. Dickinson. The weather now resembled an early November, than late Spring.
Anyway, Wednesday morning shows its misty head and the Pennines were covered with low cloud and no doubt a few drops of rain. But, we were a good few miles away from our goal but we’d made an alternative route, keeping lower but still taking in a couple of Wainwrights.
We’d planned a route over High Seat, Bleaberry Knott taking in Walla Crag, starting and finishing at Ashness Bridge. But we still had hope and planned to use the Blencathra-o-meter to decide our quest.
Breakfast was a slow affair as we awaited the much wanted clear cloud that the Met App had promised, and to be honest, the Pennines were starting to stick their feet out from under the cloud and the Deer at the bottom of the caravan site were basking in the odd ray of sunlight squeezing itself through the otherwise grey day.
We got ready at a leisurely pace, picking at fruit and finishing coffee. It had been decided, seeing as it was probably going to be a low level walk, I would carry everything leaving Kel only burdened by her Pinot Flu and her iPhone with the Betty Ford clinic’s number on speed dial.
We set off down the A66 once again to our latest quest. The road works seemed a little bit too frequent and a little bit unplanned for a jubilee week, half term and a horse fair….oh yes… the horse fair. I have no problems with the traditional horse drawn trailers, but how many white transits and scrap laden flat beds can you fit in one county?!?!
As Saddle Back came into view, or rather didn’t, we realised plan B was a goer!
The rain sprinkled Keswick and the low cloud burdened most of the high peaks as I bustled through a still packed Keswick into the Barrowdale Valley.
The turning for Ashness was soon upon us as we rattled the cattle grid. The famous climb up to the car park was choked with hikers but an unusual amount of spaces at the car park.
We parked and looked at the sky and the droplets on the windscreen. I’d conditioned myself to starting the walk in waterproofs and Kel the same. But the day wouldn’t start itself and lunchtime was fast approaching accompanied by the usual dramas if Kel didn’t eat, made worse by a drop too much wine the night before. Kel sat in the car and put her boots on, I braved the rain and got ready. A few more cars pulled into the car park with the occupants staring through the trees at the grey sky. My passenger door opened and Out popped a few fumes of Pinot followed by Kel looking a bit rough.
The route we planned was to walk up the footpath up the side of Barrow Beck, however, the path vanishes and he walked up the fence line to the bottom of Dodd. The path joins the original path near the top of the waterfall, which for the third time this visit was just a trickle. The rain was more like a heavy mist now as we climbed to the top of Dodd and the featureless Ashness Fell. The sky was lowering and most of the surrounding fells had their heads in the clouds. For a change this week, we were totally alone. Our usual walking partners weren’t with us and the crowds had filtered off and we were left with the usual odd lonely hiker and the friendly smiles.
To be honest I had thought about food before Kel had mentioned it, but I knew she’d be hungry so I said we’d stop for bait. We found a sheltered rock and sat down to eat. A family steamed passed us, dad at the front closely followed by mum and trailing behind was the usual stroppy teenager who looked wet and not amused. After a swift greeting the trio plunged into the depths of borrowdale and we were once again alone. Kel tweeted our position and a piccy, someone tweeted straight back saying we were just above their house and to give a wave. Damn you Lakeland residents, I’m so jealous!
Lunch done and back to the search of High Seat in the low cloud. The top of this little range is very boggy, but the path has is clear and before long, High Seat was popping its head in and out of the mist.
The top had a trig point I’m sure would’ve had a lovely view, if only. A few more people were appearing out of the clouds trudging their way to the summit. It was very eerie in the mist, the silence only broken by Kel demolishing half a Sig bottle of water, the sound not dissimilar to someone filling a water bowser.
Visibility down to about 50 metres I took a bearing. It wasn’t too hard as Bleaberry Fell was exactly north. We dropped into a dip and the cloud dropped with us. The map shows the path following a fence line but it doesn’t, it takes in all the bogs to muddy your boots and loads of heather to clean them. The thing with these moorland fells is, without a view, they are a bit boring.
Bleaberry Fell came and went with only a crack in the cloud to break clear the view. Next stop Walla Crag and the big drop off Bleaberry. The sun was out, just not on Ashness Fell, the weather became very pleasant as we passed the big sheep fold on Low Moss. A few families were making their way up to Bleaberry, the cloud was still covering the peak, you’ve read my views on such matters so I’ll stop there.
Keswick was clear and Derwentwater was its usual picturesque self as we peered over Walla Crag. It wasn’t long before Kel’s iPhone was out and the Geocaches were pinging up, after scurrying around in the undergrowth for half an hour we were back on track and heading over the fall at Cat Gill. There are many views over Derwentwater that are photographed, but this one is a first for me and I’ve never seen any pics from this view.
The weather kept friendly and the views were excellent of the popular lake, Catbells hugged the sunshine and kept it to itself. The crowds had began to increase as we caught sight of Ashness Bridge. It was getting late but we had made the right choice of a later start, god bless the British summertime.
We returned to the car feeling refreshed, well I did, and had left it just in time to hit the Royal Oak for tea.
There’s no denying the lakes offer the best views that can be seen, the waters are astounding, the fells are on par to many in Scandinavia and the quaint little villages can not be matched. Kel doesn’t agree but I like the moorland, the Grouse, the smell (in summer) in the heather and the array of colour when it’s in colour. Some walks are without incident, which this was, apart from me going my length looking for a Geocache, but this is the Lake District and the weather tells you what to do, not the other way round!