25 Nov 2013
On an early winter trip to Braithwaite, Richard and I had one glorious day – or at least to start with. As I’ve decided he’s now collecting ‘Wainwrights’, I said it would be really nice to go to Loweswater and do the Mosser Fell group – very low, easy and pretty fells.
(Click on photos for full size/resolution – all photos mine except where indicated)
As it was a frosty morning, we had a little debate about whether we should drive over Whinlatter Pass or whether we should take the long route round via the A66. In the end, I decided to give the pass a try – this was possibly not the best decision. The ascent of the pass is in the forest and so sheltered from the cold and the road was fine, however, going down the other side certainly had its moments… The worst section was the dangerous bends with the big drop off above Blaze Beck’s gill. From there to the exit of the bend after Scawgill Bridge was pretty lethal and there was a car coming the other way! :-o
I was relieved to reach Lorton safely where we cut across the valley for the little village of Thackthwaite. The Thackthwaite road was pretty icy too so we proceeded along it very cautiously. Just after the village, we found some sunny parking by an entrance to a wood and left the little Polo there to sunbathe.
We walked the short way back to the village, passing three guys just booting up for the same route and turned left up the right of way which heads out of the village centre and towards Low Fell, our first Wainwright of the day. The weather was lovely and sunny at this point.
It’s a pleasant route which ascends the fields to the foot of the fell and then contours around the base on a lovely rising track with superb views. First to catch my eye was an unnamed hill which didn’t appear to have any paths to it (from what we could see at that point). As I was desirous of including it on the way back, I named it ‘Trespass Hill’.
The path rose gently around the base of the fell until we dropped out of the sun on the northern side – things were pretty frosty up here. I wanted to get back to the sun and didn’t want to miss the end of the fell so I suggested we cut straight up onto the end of the ridge. A bit of a path set off… The path didn’t go very far however and we were soon stomping steeply up ling and heather and Richard got fed up and went back down to the proper path.
I slogged on up until I reached the sun and the fell-end and saw I’d definitely made the bad choice. Richard’s path continued to rise steadily and pleasantly to the little col at the top of Watching Gill and my ridge, which I originally thought would be flat, was very undulating indeed. I slogged up and down steep little humps in the sun, puffing and panting heavily but determined not to arrive after Richard and the three guys as I would then look stupid!
I was glad to arrive at the top of Watching Gill shortly before the others and waited nonchalantly, trying to get my breath back and look normal! The views were good…
Richard caught up shortly behind the three (younger) guys who’d overtaken him and we continued in the lovely sunshine along the ridge. This was the point where we noticed our mistake – never walk this fell on a sunny morning! All the best views are ahead towards Crummock Water and up the Buttermere valley – but these are straight into the sun! The evening is a better time to do this walk – it’s only short anyway…
Views behind were sunny and lovely…
but ahead were not so good…
We soon reached the summit and joined the three guys. At this point, we were stunned to see them turn and head straight back along the ridge, presumably for their second Wainwright of Fellbarrow. There is so much more to this ridge than simply reaching the summit in the middle of the long and beautiful, undulating ridge. I’m an out-and-out bagger but wouldn’t dream of turning back until I reached the end of the fell and saw the views down to the surrounding lakes!
We continued on the lovely track to the fell-end where, along with 2 sheep, we stayed awhile admiring the views – the sun had by now pretty much gone.
As this is such a short day, I headed us down the steep western descent to Crabtree Beck for Darling Fell. The descent was very icy and we had real trouble staying on our feet – the only way we managed really was to hang onto the wire fence – naughty! There is a short, steep ascent onto Darling Fell where you are met with even better views of Loweswater.
From there I said we had two choices to reach Fellbarrow – my preferred option of a bog-slog straight across country taking in the humps and bumps on the way, or the other option of a steep re-descent and re-ascent of Low Fell and back along the ridge we came on. There is a third choice of a boggy valley in between the two but it looked horrendously wet!
Richard agreed we should just go straight across country and so we headed north straight for Fellbarrow. There were fences to climb, bogs to cross and few small hills to trek over but most of the way there was a sketchy path…
En-route, we passed over the summits of: Loftbarrow, Sourfoot Fell and Smithy Fell – the path on the descents from the last two was impossibly slippery. For some reason, we didn’t take any photos of Fellbarrow as we approached – no idea why! On our ascent of Fellbarrow we again started to meet walkers who were just doing the two Wainwrights.
From the top of Fellbarrow, we headed down further north where there were some attractive rocky humps and bumps around Hatteringill Head – we proceeded to bag every rocky lump we could find. After we’d amused ourselves doing that, we headed off descending east towards ‘Trespass Hill’ as I was determined to get onto it somehow.
The descent was very easy and grassy and we soon came to a sturdy and high drystone wall encircling Trespass Hill.
Richard continued on down the hill while I wandered in both directions along the wall looking for somewhere to get over it but there was absolutely nowhere I could get over. In the end, I headed back to join him and eventually found that the wall had a section missing with just some metal fencing – now was my chance. I hopped over the fence and rushed off for my hill.
There was an interesting thicket of low-growing trees on the ascent which would make great shelter for the many sheep grazing the hill.
There were nice views from the summit but, as I was in view of several farms, and still believing I was trespassing, I didn’t stay long but headed off back down.
I re-climbed the fence and headed along the fenceline through increasingly steep, rough and overgrown ground. I was starting to struggle when Richard called to me from below. he said I’d have to get over the fence, which was now atop a broken-down wall somehow to join him. I found a place and clambered over with difficulty to join him and found him on a perfectly good path. On looking back up the path, I could see it headed for my hitherto-supposed forbidden hill. I couldn’t see anything marked on my map though…
All that remained was to get back onto our original outward path and back to the car. We then scooted off back up the now unfrozen Whinlatter Pass to Siskins Tea room where I had a slice of their strawberry and also their coffee cake – very greedy! :-)