One-and-a-half Feet in the Lakes

13 11 2012

Richard and I have just had another trip to the Lakes and, again, I decided I was going to try to get up into the hills. We had great weather for a change and the autumn colours were great. My toe did okay on the first two walks but I ended up wrecking it quite a bit on the third walk – a bit of a bad choice on my part! ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

The first day we had to go up to Eskdale. As Richard has just had a knee op, he decided just to do the walk up both sides of the river between Dalegarth and Doctor’s Bridge – a lovely walk. To break myself in gently, I decided to go up to Burnmoor Tarn as that is one of my favourite walks around there. We arranged to meet in the pub at Boot later…

I set off up the bridleway which goes from Boot Village (over the mill bridge) and over to Wasdale. Shortly after you set off, there is a branch which goes zig-zagging straight uphill on a great path until you get to some wonderful old peat huts – the path then more or less abandons you!

I took some photos back towards Harter Fell – an impressively rugged peak (and a pretty tough little climb!):

From there, I bashed uphill through the boggy grass on vague tracks until I reached the top of the ridge where I turned right towards Boat How. Soon you reach the ancient stone circles at Brat Moss – I find this spot quite atmospheric

Harter Fell was now above Eel Tarn…

Just before you reach Boat How along the ridge, there’s another very miniature imitation of it which is too small to be named on the map – I’ve now named it ‘Dinghy How’! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Scafell was looking great over Great How Crags:

Soon after Boat How, Burnmoor Tarn comes into view with Wasdale behind…

I had a break at the atmospheric (but boarded up) Burnmoor Lodge – there were 2 other large groups there sitting around the garden area. I think this lodge is in a lovely spot and has a great view ๐Ÿ™‚

Sometimes Scafell’s summit came right out

After a break and some shortcake, I headed off down towards the bottom of the hill near the shore of the tarn where the original Wasdale bridleway comes in to join my route. I headed off back towards Eskdale… However, after a short distance, I saw a bridge over the beck and quite a good track heading off in the direction of Eel Tarn. As I hadn’t been to Eel Tarn for years, I thought I’d go back that way instead.

The track did eventually lead to Eel Tarn and was mainly very good. There were a few boggy patches but I suppose that’s only to be expected after the ‘summer’ we’ve had…

When I reached the tarn, I decided I hadn’t seen Stony Tarn for years either and still had an hour before I was due to meet Richard so I ploughed off determinedly uphill on one of the many tracks heading towards Scafell. Stony Tarn was soon reached and looked very gloomy – fortunately my camera doesn’t mind gloomy at all and always makes things like that look better!

I then hot-footed it back down to Eel Tarn to take the main track straight back to Boot Village. I noticed a tall man with a huge pack wandering around – he came over to talk to me… he was a nice young German man and he was slightly off course! He was actually wanting to head to Wasdale but was the wrong side of the river valley and heading up Scafell! I sent him along the track I’d just used to join the main bridleway which he should have taken out of Boot – good job he bumped into me – accidentally adding England’s second highest mountain in a backpack from Eskdale to Wasdale would be a bit tough!

I then proceeded to get lost myself! I was so busy admiring a monkey-puzzle tree outside a farm above Boot that I completely missed the stile over the fence to the lane back to the village. Just after that, I saw a gate with a farm track and assumed that was my track but it said ‘no path’ on the gate. I wrongly assumed the farm had re-routed the path and was a bit ticked-off with them, especially when the path I was following started to head round the hill and back up the valley to dump me on the road about a mile out of the village.

In the end, I decided I didn’t like where the path was taking me and clambered over a wall (not easy with a fairly knackered foot) and down a steeply banked and rough field to the valley floor. I then found another footpath but went the wrong side of the wall and promptly lost it again. After clambering over a barbed wire fence, I finally got back on the path and it took me into Boot. By now I was 20 minutes late to meet Richard. On reaching the village however, I still decided to go to the farm and then follow the correct lane uphill to see what had gone wrong. That entailed another very steep climb of about half a mile until I reached the stile I’d missed on the way down.

By the time I got back to Boot, an hour late, I found Richard wandering about in the village instead of the pub – quite a surprise as he is a real-ale lover. He had been in the pub for a while though…

The next day we fully intended to do Black Combe however, when we got to the carpark at Whicham, a freezing gale was blasting across the carpark. We decided if it was so cold and windy at ground level, heaven help us 2000 feet up! As it was a lovely sunny day again, we decided the front of the fell along the coast-side would be sheltered and warm so decided just to walk along there and back.

It was a lovely warm and sunny walk along the fell bottom – one of my favourite parts of the Black Combe round anyway. We decided to explore a bit and took some higher paths and found this lovely ‘secret valley’ with some fun crags to explore ๐Ÿ™‚

The sheep weren’t chuffed however as they thought this was their secret valley!

I saw some nice light on some trees on the walk back…

The day after that was our final walking day and, yet again, nice and sunny but with a cold wind… I decided it was time I tackled ‘The Connies’ (Coniston Range)… Richard came with me as far as the foot of the start of the real climbing up the Miners’ Track when he branched off for Boulder Valley and Levers Water.

I continued up The Old Man and found that, despite having a still slightly-knackered foot, I still passed everyone else on the hill! I was going pretty well uphill and my foot and ankle weren’t really bothering me.

I sailed up the final very steep slope (which has now been stone-pitched quite a bit) passing several groups who looked to be on their last legs – still, at least they were getting out and up into the hills. At the perpetually busy summit, I stopped for a quick break and a biscuit in the sun and out of the wind as I knew the next section would be bitterly cold – I wasn’t wrong.

Not many people were doing the whole ridge but I set off after the couple striding out ahead. I wasn’t going badly along the ridge either but my legs were starting to freeze inside my Ronhills. I toyed with the idea of putting on my light waterproof trousers to keep the windchill out but couldn’t be bothered.

Descending from Brim Fell was directly into the wind and even colder than the ridge had been. Just as my muscles were about to completely freeze up, I reached the col and warmth at last. I caught the couple up and they asked me which was Swirl How – I told them it wasn’t the next summit (Great How Crags) but along the ridge from there – not much further.

It was pretty pleasant to Swirl How where I had another short break and my second biscuit. I then set off down Prison Band – one of my favourite routes but a very bad mistake in my current condition. From here my walk went from bad to worse…

Wetherlam and Prison Band from Swirl How

Firstly, I had no real balance, having lost the relevant muscles from my left foot and ankle, so had to use my hands quite a bit. Also, descending steep rocks on uneven ground really did for my toe – I squawked loudly a couple of times when I hurt it badly and ended up worrying I’d broken it again. Instead of my usual 5 or 10 minutes, it took me a full half-hour to get down the Band ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

The fellside was quite wet and slippery down to Levers Water but I didn’t do too badly on this section. I knew I’d suffer on the stony descent from the tarn though. In the end, I ended up suffering more than I should have. Descending from a boulder on the lakeside, I decided I shouldn’t drop down onto my ‘bad foot’ (although that is the foot I usually drop down onto) and that I should drop down onto the other one. All well and good except my muscles aren’t used to me doing it that way round and aren’t ‘set up’ to do that so I ended up badly hurting the muscle in my groin on my other leg ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Great How Crags were looking nice above Levers Water so I took a couple more photos…

My groin injury continued to plague me all the way down the stony track back to Coniston and I ended up making the slowest descent I’ve ever made from a mountain. My leg was collapsing under me every few strides and I kept yelping and swearing. I was glad to reach the village and the cafe.

Luckily, I’ve had no ill-effects since the walk but I was worried for a couple of days. Guess I’m not ready for the rougher, harder, rockier stuff yet! ๐Ÿ˜ฆ




11 responses

13 11 2012

You sound like me – impatient to get going again and not necessarily taking it slowly enough for long enough… ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s hard isn’t it though, when you’ve been out of action for a while.
I just love ancient stone circles…must spend a night wild camping near one sometime!


13 11 2012

To be fair though, I was okay until the last, stony walk – I think I just can’t deal with hard surfaces and tricky places where I need balance yet. I’m working on it though ๐Ÿ™‚

I’d love to camp up at that stone circle (or any for that matter) too – but I’m not keen on the typical British weather for camping out. I suppose one night would be okay!


15 11 2012
Scotlands Mountains

I slept inside a burial chamber at Kilmartin in Argyll one night.up until 2am when I got spooked ๐Ÿ™‚ The stone circle seems a less claustrophobic option.!
Glad to hear the toe survived at the end up.Just think of all the petrol money it has saved you ๐Ÿ™‚


15 11 2012

Yeah, my petrol bill has certainly taken a huge dive this year – that is one good thing ๐Ÿ™‚

I’m debating about another trip to sleep in the Arrochar Caves sometime soon so I might be putting out a general invite on here. Isn’t a burial chamber a bit damp? I’d be afraid of some ‘creatures of the soil’ coming out to get me! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ


13 11 2012

That happened to me after I got knocked down.I was putting most of my weight on my good knee for so long I developed a limp on that even after the original injury on the other one cleared up.
An area of the Lakes thats new to me.Looks enjoyable.Good to see you are still following Doctors advice ๐Ÿ™‚


14 11 2012

That’s just it – the doctors haven’t really given me any advice! ๐Ÿ˜ฆ


13 11 2012
Paul Shorrock

That was a good effort Carol, especially as you have been out of action for so long – don’t overdo it though!


14 11 2012

I’m trying to break myself – sorry break myself in, gently! ๐Ÿ˜‰


14 11 2012
Paul Shorrock



13 11 2012

Great Autumn colours Carol ๐Ÿ™‚

You must be pleased to be out & about after your unattended sabbatical from the hills. ๐Ÿ™‚


14 11 2012

I’ll be even more pleased when I can get Munroing again!


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