Sunday 27 March 2011

Lengthsman for Fix the Fells

Yesterday I joined a day in Langdale as an introduction to becoming a Lengthsman for the Fix the Fells project.  Volunteer Lengthsmen are responsible for much of the regular maintenance of the paths that have been built up the fells over the last 30years, particularly helping to keep the drainage systems clear so that the paths built with so much hard graft last for many years keeping the erosion on the fells to a minimum.  I'll tell you more about it another time but suffice to say that feet + path + water = erosion.

Walking up the fairly newly constructed stonelaid path up west side of Stickle Ghyll
 About 40 of us met at Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel in Langdale for chat - slides - cake  (not necessarily in that order)  After we had signed up for a series of training days we all walked up to Stickle Tarn with Fix the Fells professionals and other volunteers. Fortunatel since I have an ML and 1st Aid Certificate I only have to learn to lift rocks, use a broom and shovel!! There was plenty of opportunity to see path building in action and to get a good idea of what the role entailed.  Lunch up by the tarn followed by a gentle walk down one of the many routes alongside the Ghyll. 
Lunch by the ouflow of Stickle Tarn

Thursday 24 March 2011

Spring on Catbells

First time this year that I've taken Skye out without needing to wear a coat - really warm though rather hazy.  Feels more like May than March.  Plenty of visitors enjoying both the walk around Derwentwater and climbing Catbells.  Skye loves saying hallo to everyone and I enjoy stopping for a chat.  Saw our first lambs a couple of days ago and today there seem to be daffodils everywhere. 
Causey Pike with its characteristic bump on the top - a nice little scramble!
Didn't have time to go all the way up Catbells today because I need to take advantage of the good weather to get on with painting the house - didn't quite finish it last summer but the views both across Newlands Valley and across Derwentwater to Keswick were lovely.

Derwentwater from Catbells Ridge

From slopes of Catbells across Newlands Valley to Causey Pike

Sunday 20 March 2011

Dog trotting on Barrow

Saturday was another beautiful day - perfect for those who have come walking in the Lake District for the weekend.  Skye and I trotted up Barrow in the afternoon while Barry was watching the rugby!  I used to call myself a fell runner now dog trotting is a much better description - there are as many excuses as you like to stop and rest or have a walk!
View across to Skiddaw from the grassy ridge of Barrow as Skye poses for the picture
The distant views were brilliantly clear with even the Penines, thirty miles away, clear and detailed. The colours on the fells are still those of winter with just a slight glow over the trees from the buds waiting to burst. Frogs think its spring however. I've seen lots of frogspawn; unfortunately it was in puddles on the paths which are sure to dry out well before the spawn can develop!

View from Barrow Gate across Catbells to Helvellyn in the distance
If you blow this photo up bigger you should be able to see remnants of snow on Helvellyn

Friday 18 March 2011

Newlands Valley at its best

Anyone who loves walking in the northern Lake District will have a soft spot for the Newlands Valley.  On either side of Newlands Beck green fields separated by ancient hawthorn hedges rise gently towards the surrounding fells with a scattering of white farmsteads steeped in history. 

grassy path through Newlands Valley with Skiddaw beyond
 Today it was at its best; clear air gave fantastic views of the surrounding hills set off by clear blue sky and fluffy white clouds.  Wind was still a bit keen though and Barry wished at times that he had worn his hat!

looking up the valley towards Robinson & Newlands Hause
 If you would like to join me on this walk later in the summer I shall be leading it with Keswick Rambles on June 14th as a half day morning walk and again in September

Sunday 13 March 2011

Whinlatter Woods

walking through Masmill Wood
I've had a couple of lovely Lake District walks this week in Whinlatter.  On Friday I got a lift to Thornthwaite and walked home through the forest by way of Seldom Seen and Masmill Woods avoiding most of the forest tracks and using the network of footpaths that wind through the woods.  I shall be leading a Keswick Rambles half day walk over most of this route in July. Much of it is through ancient oak woodland and avoids the dense conifer plantations giving super views over Bassenthwaite as well as over to Blencathra and Helvellyn.

looking from Kinn towards Bassenthwaite
Today Barry and I took the car to the carpark at Noble Knott and completed a loop including the part of this walk through Masmill woods and over Kinn which is part of the lower slopes of Grisedale Pike.  It was a beautiful sunny morning with clear distant views.

view up Coledale from Kinn

Tuesday 8 March 2011

Blencathra via Halls Fell Ridge

keeping to the top of the ridge
can you see Skye waiting for us?
Perfect conditions for Halls Fell ridge, my favourite way up Blencathra.  Sharp Edge may be the most famous (or infamous) way up Blencathra but give me Halls Fell ridge anyday! Any Lake District walker who enjoys a bit of scrambling would revel in this walk.  We climbed dry rock with no wind and the misty cloud was just clearing as we reached the summit. Just the conditions for keeping to the knife edge all the way without taking refuge on the earth paths which seem to have developed over the last few years on the sides of the ridge.

Sunday 6 March 2011

Ullock Pike and Dodd

on Longside Edge looking back along the ridge to Ullock Pike
Very little cloud in the morning and clear blue sky by lunchtime as we climbed what I think is by far the best ridge of Skiddaw - Ullock Pike and Longside Edge to Carlside.  The only downside today was that the sky was rather hazy reducing the clarity of the views both over the Solway Firth to Scotland and over Keswick and Derwentwater.  In spite of that we could still pick out dozens of peaks from Helvellyn to Stckle Pike and over to Scafell Pike.  The Lake District walk I did today covers some of the route we shall use on my Keswick Rambles walk on Friday 20th May as part of the Keswick Mountain Festival.  If you would like to join me go on to book.

Friday 4 March 2011

Catbells Terrace

Barry and Skye on Terrace

Being able to walk along the terrace path on the slopes of Catbells in all seasons is one of the joys of living in the Lake District and in particular Keswick. If you have never visited the Lake District and in particular Keswick it is a wonderful introduction to the area.  Several of Keswick Rambles' walks use all or part of the Terrace path and in particular Halle and Alison will be leading a half day grade C walk here on Wednesday 13th April. Yesterday Barry accompanied Skye and I  on a circular walk along the Terrace and back along Derwentwater lakeshore.  It was a mild, slightly misty spring morning with no wind - delightful walking weather. We could see figures up on Catbells ridge and we met various people (and dogs!) along the way.  Skye always enjoys this walk particularly through the woods along the shore of Derwenwater where there are plenty of sticks - small ones to be thrown into the water and big bent ones to be carried!

View towards Skiddaw and Blencathra


Tuesday 1 March 2011

Spring walking in the Lake District

March and it is beginning to feel like spring.  Snowdrops and crocuses are everywhere and seem to have benefited from the cold winter weather before Christmas. I have even seen a few daffodils in a sheltered spot. Today I just took Skye for a valley walk across the fields over to Little Braithwaite. Some warmth in the sun and some lovely views of the Lake District fells.  Valley footpaths are notoriously difficult to follow and I met two groups studying their maps and trying to work out where they were.  It's on these occasions that local knowledge is really helpful.