Wet but not Cold Fells

3 05 2016

12 & 13 April 2016
On a recent trip to Broughton-in-Furness, where we stay at Richard’s favourite real ale pub (and a regular winner of CAMRA awards) The Manor Arms, we decided to do a mix of Outlying Wainwrights and Richard’s remaining Wainwrights. We happened to do both Cold Fell and Cold Pike on different days – it was fairly rubbish weather for both but not cold…

Click on photos for full size/resolution – Richard’s as marked

On our first walking day, it was pretty windy so we decided to just pick off a couple of my Outlying Wainwrights – I’m steadily working my way through the list. Not remembering how far it was to drive, I decided to take the A595 coast road all the way around to Calder Bridge to do two short walks from there.

After a lot of miles on my poor Sunny and a seemingly interminable length of time, we arrived at Calder Bridge where we turned off on the Cold Fell road. This road is not for the faint-hearted as it is generally full of people racing along it who work at Sellafield nuclear power station. I suppose if you face danger at work every day, a mad drive home won’t unduly concern you.

Instead of going up the left-hand branch onto Cold Fell, we continued straight ahead at the first junction (about half a mile out of Calder Bridge) and parked up just over the river bridge near Priorling on the map. At Priorling there is a farm with a rough vehicle track which heads east through the fields.

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I know a warm place to sit! (R Wood)

This track goes as far as a place strangely marked on the map as ‘Farmery’ – we headed off up the muddy track to see what it was…

The track was wet and muddy to start (unsurprising after the weather we’ve had for the last year) and then, as it became grassier and less used, was quite overgrown with gorse. The gorse was out though so the pretty yellow flowers were cheering and Richard took a photo along the lane.

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We soon arrived at ‘Farmery’ – just a ruined farm as we thought it would be. It had a huge barn though which really dwarfed the old farmhouse. It was quite a lonely and atmospheric spot and we both took photos as we squelched past.

Farmery

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Huge Ruined Barn (R Wood)

Farmery Trees

Farmery Tree Silhouette

Shortly after Farmery, we found a gated enclosure where we had to cross the beck. The ground here was truly underwater – luckily Richard had just waxed our boots (he does the boot maintenance and I do the grubby clothes washing). We got through dryfooted but I looked ahead to the fell and didn’t expect we’d keep our feet dry much longer. The whole fell was bog grass/reeds…

We squelched uphill following the fenceline to a gate. It wasn’t wise to open this decrepit gate to try to get through it as the opening end was deep in a puddle. We climbed over the hinge end and continued to follow the fenceline uphill hoping to reach dry ground.

When we reached the ridgeline we were no longer paddling and the ground was much firmer. We were soon up the short rise to the summit where a surprisingly substantial cairn awaited – no idea where they found the rocks!

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R Wood obviously – I don’t do selfies!

We couldn’t face returning the same way so decided to head south-west down the middle of the descending ridgeline towards the farm lane at Laverock How. In order to reach the path, we descended the northern slopes of Ponsonby Fell to the proper path we’d ignored on the way up – this was more or less underwater as expected.

The south-western path down the ridgeline was much drier and we made fast progress down to the farm lane. The river at the foot of the farm lane had a good bridge and then we branched off north-west along the far river bank as a path returned to the bridge where we’d parked the car.

This path didn’t get off to a good start as there were two crossings of the beck within a few yards of each other and the stones were too slippery to use. As I’d elected to wear approach shoes instead of boots, keeping out of deep water was a priority or it would pour in the tops of them!

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Cross the river here… (both R Wood)

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Then in a few yards, here!

We then had a quite good path through a forest followed by a further beck crossing – this time thankfully over a bridge.

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Daffies in the wood (R Wood)

After this the path became very overgrown indeed and we had to fight our way through brambles. I was wishing we’d brought a machete. Up till this point, I’d liked this route better but the 2 beck paddles earlier and now the overgrown brambly path made me think that neither route was good to reach this fell! It would be much better to start from Gosforth I think. We weren’t even sure why Wainwright had included the fell as it doesn’t appear to be visible from many places and there are more defined fells surrounding it.

If I thought this fell wasn’t worth including in his list of Outlying Wainwrights, I was completely dumbfounded by his next one. We’d headed, in the car, onto the Cold Fell road proper as I wanted to bag Cold Fell itself. By now Ponsonby Fell had disappeared into a mist and, when we reached it, Cold Fell couldn’t be seen from the road either despite being a very short ascent from the roadside.

I parked at Cold Fell Gate as most do – a crossroads of roads and tracks – and got out into the rain to bag the fell. Richard stayed put. In less than half an hour I was back at the car. The whole walk from there to the summit and back is a mile or less and the ascent barely noticeable. The hardest part was trying to find the summit itself. I eventually found a flat rock with a smaller rock atop it – that must be the summit. I returned to the car down the wet fellside…

After visiting Cold Fell, I decided it was too miserable to bother visiting ‘Monks Bridge’ which I’d highlighted on the map. If I’d remembered I’d highlighted the bridge because it is also known as Matty Benn’s Bridge, talked about by Wainwright and one which I was keen to visit, I might have made the effort after all! Here’s an amusing link with a bit of history about Matty Benn and the bridge…

Matty Benn’s Bridge

To cut down the return mileage we decided to come back over the Corney Fell road (it really was too misty to take the high fell roads all the way back but Corney Fell saves around ten miles). The Corney Fell road is just as mad to drive as the Cold Fell one with mad locals driving way too fast over the fell. I ended up being in the front of a long line of frustrated locals and, after going as fast as I dare along the misty and rough road for a few miles (but trying not to wreck my precious Sunny on the potholed surface), admitted defeat and let them all come screaming past. There’s no way I’d have liked to have tried to keep up with them in the conditions or on that particular road – completely mad!

The next day was drier in Broughton at least but the forecast said there’d be a band of rain late morning, drying up again at 1300 hours. Maybe it did brighten up in Broughton but where we were going it stayed wet all day. That’s probably because we’d decided to get Richard one of his remaining Wainwrights, Cold Pike. This is very much in the centre of the Lakeland Fells where the weather is invariably worse than the perimeters.

We’d been turned back from this fell last time we’d attempted it towards the end of last year due to gales and heavy, horizontal rain. As the fellside appeared from our drive up the Duddon Valley, things didn’t look much better but, while it was raining, it wasn’t at all windy.

I drove up to the famous Three Shires Stone and parked up. We put full waterproofs on and, this time, I put my proper walking boots on as it would again be a very wet walk. Luckily this time, as we set off up the path towards Red Tarn, we found there at least wasn’t a river running down the path like last time!

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Much-mended 3 Shires Stone (people who can’t reverse back into it!) R Wood

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Looking Back Across The Valley to Wetherlam (R Wood)

As we reached the flattening of the path nearing Red Tarn, Cold Pike appeared out of the mist looking very close. Rather than do the same path out and back (something which I hate doing), we decided to cross the bogs and head straight up the fellside to approach the peak from the opposite end to normal (south-east).

Cold Pike - our approach

Red Tarn Valley & Great Knott
Red Tarn Valley & Misty Great Knott

This led to us visiting more knobbly and rocky little summits and was more interesting than the approach from the Crinkle Crags path. We had a few little short, slippery scrambles where we had to make sure we had good handholds but there was no real danger.

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R Wood

Cold Pike Tarn
Shoulder Tarn (my photo above, Richard’s below)
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After crossing a couple of smaller rocky peaks we arrived at the summit proper.

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Taken by me but Richard’s digi-camera

There were no real views from the summit as the cloud was still quite low and, on leaving the summit, we looked around and found Cold Pike had gone back into the mists too. We sploshed down the wet fellside now on a path – at one point I fell in an invisible bog up to one knee – it looked like ground but was just a mossy water hole I think.

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Descending main path to Red tarn – R Wood

Once we reached the Crinkles path we were soon down at Red Tarn. I really wanted a misty, atmospheric photo of Great Knott but it refused to come out of the cloud enough for its superb profile to be visible so I gave up and we continued back to the car. Even Red Tarn wasn’t worth a photo that day!

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17 responses

8 05 2016
mark Ingram

Wow, there’s no stopping you. I hope you haven’t done with Scotland now you’ve completed the Munros. Thought you might like my latest http://www.mark-pict.blogspot.com. I’m sure it will bring back some memories.Kind regards, Mark.

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12 05 2016
mountaincoward

I’m doing Munro Tops now – I’ve got 6 left. Scotland will be ‘under review’ after that though as my family and people I walk with are getting very fed up with me spending so much time north of the border!

Had a read of your post but can’t comment as I don’t have any of those ID types Blogspot wants me to have! Even my WordPress one doesn’t work over there! No idea how you cycled up things like the Bealach nam Bo or Mam Ratagan though. As soon as I see a hill on my bike, I get off!

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4 05 2016
McEff

It does you good to have a couple of dank, miserable days every once in a while. Then when you do get a spot of decent weather, things look even better.
Alen

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5 05 2016
mountaincoward

I don’t just have a couple though – that’s what I usually get!

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5 05 2016
McEff

Ha ha.

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4 05 2016
fedup

I think Cold Felll is the Mungrisedale Common of the outliers! Cold Pike I think is ignored for Crinkle Crags & Pike O’Blisco although it is an enjoyable fell but don’t tell the hordes 😉 The Birketts are a bit ‘Chalk & Cheese’ – some are absolutely pointless (how some could be considered as a separate fell is beyond me!), while others are enjoyable and make a great viewpoint. There is another list beyond these of the Synge’s which are even more pointless!

Well done for getting out in pretty miserable weather – I seem to be loosing any motivation to go out in the clag – roll on summer 🙂

Cheers Simon

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5 05 2016
mountaincoward

that’s if we get a summer this year…

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5 05 2016
fedup

We may have had it last week 😉

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7 05 2016
mountaincoward

No, I think we’re having 2 weeks this year! It’s still nice now…

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4 05 2016
underswansea

Sounds like a soggy hike. I bet The Manor Arms made up for it. Great shots of the old ruined farm. I would love to poke around those old sites. Good to hear Richard got to cross a couple off his list. Take care! Bob

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4 05 2016
mountaincoward

I don’t mind the Lake District in bad weather as it’s pretty unchallenging and makes for a relaxing break whatever the weather.

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3 05 2016
Blue Sky Scotland

Not the sort of trip I’d enjoy given the weather conditions and I usually carry a good book nowadays so I can sit in the car happy and occupied while others that like rain and mist on their hills can enjoy them without me moaning about how crap it is with no views. A good effort though. They all seem to be a bit mad near that power station from the times I visited that area of an evening in the past. Some great pub nights there away from the tourist haunts..

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4 05 2016
mountaincoward

To be honest, most of the short-cut fell roads are pretty dangerous if it’s around work leaving time…

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3 05 2016
tessapark1969

Yuk re the bog. Know that feeling though!

Not done any of the outlying fells (though I have the book) – does sound a bit as though the ‘looks like a hill from somewhere’ thing went a bit to pot. Still, it was his personal list.

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4 05 2016
mountaincoward

Yeah – apparently the Birketts are even worse!

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3 05 2016
bowlandclimber

I agree with what you say about Cold Fell – a waste of time. Ponsonby was marginally better with more of interest and better views. I did the same circuit as you last month and wondered how anyone would negotiate the beck path once the brambles were in vigour. Shame as its a pretty valley. How many Outliers have you left to do?

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4 05 2016
mountaincoward

I think the local Ramblers Association want to get busy around there with the machetes! I’m probably about 2/3 of the way through the Outlying Wainwrights – hard to say exactly how many because it tends to be pages in the book with several minor lumps and bumps included…

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