Ullscarth – After a bit of a Search

20 12 2014

Tue 25 Nov 2014
Me and Richard, still in Borrowdale and the weather was not good… However, I was still chasing Richard’s undone Wainwrights and this was the biggest one he hadn’t done. This was the day, I decreed (I do a lot of decreeing – a bit like Herod really! 😉 )

Photos a mix of my film and Richard’s digital – click on for full size/resolution
Richard set off first – he’s still having hip problems and it takes around an hour of walking to wear in and stop hurting – I went to sign out in the book saying where walkers are going for the day. Unfortunately, the track I’d chosen was rougher than we remembered and his poor hip suffered badly and didn’t wear in at all.

It’s around a mile to Stonethwaite village on the rough track and we wished that we’d taken the slightly longer route on the little road instead – it would have been much smoother for him. Rounding the bend in the valley brings the spectacular Eagle Crag into view (Richard’s photo)…

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As we passed Eagle Crag, we got a glimpse up misty Langstrathdale – our second choice of route to Rossett Pike (my photo this time)…

Misty Langstrath

Richard took these photos looking up our route to where Greenup Edge, the point at which we would attain the ridge, was sitting with cloud streaming down its sides…

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Not long after this, we caught up the folks in front and passed them into the thick mist. The route up alongside the spectacular Lining Crag was basically a clamber up the beck and, in the damp air, was cold and slippery – not very pleasant.

I was so pleased to reach the top of the crag, and so sure we were alone in the thick mist, I let out two huge and very unladylike burps which resounded around inside the cloud (I never get on with breakfast and spend most of the day trying to digest it). A second or so later, out of the mist loomed the top of the crag… with some poor guy trying to sit in peace atop it! This started me off giggling hugely which must have annoyed him more. We had a quick look down the drop we’d ascended beside and turned to leave him in peace. At this point, Richard promptly decided to fall and clatter for a long way down the path – probably annoying the guy even more.

We left hurriedly with me still giggling (after checking Richard was okay of course). It was an extremely wet plod up to Greenup Edge and I made the mistake of thinking that the first huge cairn which loomed out of the mist must be the summit of the pass. We had to turn hard left here, I declared, and took a bearing for the first leg of the track. Indeed, there was a path heading off in exactly that direction – we set off along it.

Very soon, the track started to veer off in completely the wrong direction. We stopped and I decided we mustn’t have been high enough and, if we headed straight uphill, we’d cross the proper path. We milled around for a while in that area but no other paths transpired – I knew there was one as I’d used it before from High Raise…

After a bit more milling, I decided we hadn’t really reached the top of the pass and that we should head back to the monster cairn where I’d taken my bearing. Luckily, we soon found it and continued up the original track gaining quite a bit more height and passing many more large cairns before I deemed us at the summit of the pass. I took another bearing and found another track heading that way. A further clue was that there were remains of fence-posts and we noticed on the map that this is one of the fells which had a boundary fence crossing it along our route.

We followed the track which soon reached two miniature tarns marked on the map as being at a corner of our path. I took another bearing for the new direction the path would take and we found our path did turn that way – we must be on the right one then. I’d timed that section to give me an idea how long each leg would take – we’d been ten minutes and the next section would be around the same before our final direction change which would be around 15 minutes to the summit.

Everything went swimmingly after that (well it was extremely wet anyway) and we arrived at the summit within a minute or so of when I said we would. We sat to admire the non-view while I checked and reset my altimeter and took another bearing to get down the other side of the fell. Richard thought this was worth a photo – admittedly, it isn’t often I bother navigating in Lakeland as I know it pretty well…

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It was slightly brighter on the featureless summit plateau and we could feel there was a sun somewhere up above us. I kept an eye open around us and soon decided peaks were appearing mistily to the west. Pretty soon we could see snatches of the Gables but couldn’t get a photo as, every time we got a camera pointed at them, they disappeared again.

We were again on a decent path going in the required direction and on very easy ground so we plodded happily on down. Suddenly, the cloud started to lift and things started to look pretty again. We stopped plodding and got our cameras out for the rest of the descent (my photos for a while)…

Ullscarth Descent Inversion-Standing Crag Approach

Ullscarth Descent-Fence & Clearing Helvellyns

Ullscarth Fence Inversion
I have a fascination with fences against mist!

Helvellyn Inversions from Standing Crag
The Helvellyns starting to clear

Soon there were some lovely little tarns with nice light on them – Richard’s two photos first…

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Digital cameras are obviously more pessimistic in dull conditions as my camera said they looked much brighter (no averaging etc)… It could of course just be that, with my totally manual camera, I’m slightly over-exposing all my shots but I’ve noticed before that my camera prefers dull days and gets the best results in bad weather.

Ullscarth Descent to Standing Crag

Standing Crag from Ullscarth Descent Tarns

High Saddle from Ullscarth Descent
Beautifully-shaped peak on a descent ridge we could have taken but I wanted to see Standing Crag

Richard took this photo for me as I didn’t want to waste a film shot on it but thought it might be nice…

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We detoured to the top of Standing Crag for a biscuit and a hot drink – Blea Tarn and our route back appeared (Richard’s photo)

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As we reached Blea Tarn, there was some sun breaking through the cloud and shining on the end of the tarn – we both took these photos straight into the sun – another comparison between film and digital – I can’t decide which handles it best. Richard’s digi photo first…

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Blea Tarn to Misty Ullscarth

Dalehead started to clear above the end of the tarn – I asked Richard to take this shot for me…

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Then the sun came out and it turned into a lovely afternoon… shame all the best scenery was mainly behind us now. The route back is notoriously wet and, this particular day, it excelled itself – we sploshed along for the next few miles towards Watendlath. When the tarn appeared way below us, we both took photos of it but Richard’s photo came out much better than mine…

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The route down to Watendlath is stone-pitched and we hoped the rocks wouldn’t be slippery. Luckily, when we descended, they were fine and we were soon down at the lake and tiny hamlet. These are Richard’s photos again…

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We had another hot drink and biscuits and then set off back down for Borrowdale. It was the last hour of daylight so we’d timed our walk just right – we’d set off at our usual time of around half ten or eleven. As we breasted the rise out of Watendlath’s valley, the Gables came into view. I wasn’t at all sure they’d come out as it was quite gloomy by now so asked Richard to take these shots too…

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Then I decided to join in on our descent and took this one – came out after all…

Upper Borrowdale sunrays

The descent from Watendlath is quite steep and loose in places and Richard’s hip started complaining again and he started leaning heavily on his pole. I waited for him further down the track and, when he caught up, cheerfully said to him:

“Never mind, it’ll either wear in or wear out”

My humour wasn’t much appreciated I don’t think!

The walk was 10 miles and took around 5 hours.

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12 responses

25 12 2014
fedup

Happy Christmas Carol 🙂 Great route, Greenup Gill is a favourite of mine – I usually follow the ridge down over High Saddle & Low Saddle, there’s usually a few deer between there and Dock Tarn.

Bit of a coincidence but I broke my finger descending the Bridleway down to Rosthwaite after coming off the bike on the 21st, the day after you posted this report! Cheers SImon

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26 12 2014
mountaincoward

I liked the look of High Saddle and Low Saddle and think it would have made for a much drier route!

Sorry to hear about your finger – is it going to cause you lots of trouble? It won’t help you type anyway (unless you’re a 2-finger typist! 😉 )

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26 12 2014
fedup

2 finger typing – I haven’t reached that advanced level yet – still use just the one 😉 The doctor at the fracture clinic said I can’t ride the bike for 5 weeks – which seems excessive so depending how much nagging I get from SWMBO I might give it a go next week!

There’s quite a boggy bit (no where as bad as Greenup Edge or the High Tove fence approach towards Standing Crag) marked as Green Combe on the map, then a bit of a heather bash near Dock Tarn – Its quite a good route up Ullscarf if Greenup Gill is full of tourists!

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27 12 2014
mountaincoward

Yeah, luckily there was virtually no-one on the Greenup Edge route as it was well out of Coast-to-Coast season. Just that poor chap I burped at! 😉

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22 12 2014
razzah

Nice photos! I have only been walking in the Lake District once, about 10 years ago. I can’t for the life of me remember where I went – just followed routes on maps rather than any specific walk. I do remember being at a campsite near Patterdale and running around all the hills nearby. One day I’ll return – it was really enjoyable.

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23 12 2014
mountaincoward

Patterdale is one of the best areas of the Lakes to walk – there are some superb hills around there. I don’t get there as often as I’d like.

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22 12 2014
McEff

I love that walk. Done it a couple of times, and once even with the wife. Did you stop in the tea shop at Watendlath? It’s always a good cuppa.
Alen

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23 12 2014
mountaincoward

I’m not sure the tea room was open – it was around 4pm when we got to Watendlath. Also, we were heading back for tea and scones (and lovely home-made jam and rum butter) at our hotel which was only half an hour away so we wouldn’t really be stopping at Watendlath. I did have coffee and cake there once though…
Carol.

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21 12 2014
bob

Nice set of photos Carol. (both cameras) You’re wearing that poor chap down to a nubbin :o) I think it’s about ten years since I had to navigate over mountains in earnest using map and compass. Honest!

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22 12 2014
mountaincoward

It’s not often I have to navigate with a compass in the Lakes as the paths are normally huge and you just have to pick the right one. But some of the less popular, grassier hills like this one don’t have such good paths…

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21 12 2014
underswansea

Lovely post and photos. I’m with Richard – I need a few miles to loosen up. No doubt the aches well start catching up. I can’t get over the fence lines and rock work in your country. It looks like incredible country. Thanks for taking me along.

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22 12 2014
mountaincoward

The boundary fences are great when they take you right across a fell like that – certainly makes you feel happier in a mist even when you can navigate – always nice to have something to back up your compass readings!

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