t’Other Wasdale Round

14 12 2016

Richard and I were staying at the lovely Best Western ‘Castle Green Hotel’ in Kendal – becoming a favourite of ours, especially in cold weather as it’s convenient, well equipped and very warm, quiet and comfortable.

I’d had a terrible day chest-wise the day before re-doing part of my earlier Potter Fell round as I needed to do Brunt Fell – I was basically knackered all the way round. I decided to pick the easiest day out of all the remaining Outlying Wainwrights I had to do in the area – Richard went boozing in Kendal instead as this isn’t his sort of thing!

All photos my digi-camera – not the sort of scenery to bother with the Zenith film camera really

Although this isn’t a particularly scenic round, my chest behaved itself and I had a really great day, really relishing the isolation up there. As with Mosedale valleys, there is also more than one Wasdale and Borrowdale – I had a choice of a walk in either of the two alternates but chose this one as it had a higher start and was easier.

As I drove past the entrance to the lovely other Borrowdale, I was very tempted to pull over and do those hills instead but kept my foot down and continued up to the A6 summit where there was parking for my Wasdale walk.

First of all, I parked on the far side of the road but couldn’t really see my round from there and there was a bitter wind blowing across the layby. I noticed there was another layby a bit further on which should be more sheltered and also give me a view of my hills – I wanted to check with the map I’d definitely got the right ones!

wasdale-round-the-yarlsides
Doesn’t look very exciting from here does it?

After cross-checking the map and ground I decided I was right and those were my hills. I noticed some guys building pylons near the start of the walk. I was a while getting my boots on – I already had my winter coat on as it was bitterly cold when I set out for the drive. I completely forgot my hot flask and was about to set out for the track past the pylon-builders and my first hill, Whatshaw Common, when suddenly one of the workmen hailed me…

“Are you alright ducks?” he asked worriedly, “are you lost?”

“I’m fine thanks – I’m just setting out to do these hills” I replied.

They all looked at me like they’d rather be up there on the wild A6 summit building pylons than setting off into the boggy desolation indicated! I was quite chuffed they’d taken the time to ask if I was okay though – after all, I could have broken down or something.

A good track passed the workmen and headed very easily up Whatshaw Common – an exceedingly boggy hill. I crossed the fence near the top as that’s where the summit lies – lots of other people had also climbed over and beaten a path to where they thought the highest bit might be – it was pretty hard to tell!

After recrossing the fence and tackling even worse bogs, which were luckily quite frozen, my track (a quad bike track) turned right alongside a wall and continued towards the two most interesting hills on the whole round – Little and Great Yarlside.

the-yarlsides-from-whatshaw-common

On the slippery descent down the icy grass, I looked across to the Borrowdale Hills I could have done and Wainwright’s recommended route to them up the valley of Crookdale. I decided it actually looked quite nice – again desolate but pleasant. I’d originally been going to do those hills via Borrowdale but decided I will probably include both valleys now.

crookdale-from-wasdale
Crookdale

It was quite a drop down to the dip of Wasdale Mouth and then a long, steady plod up Little Yarlside…

whatshaw-common
Looking back to Whatshaw Common

At the long summit of Little Yarlside I met snowdrifts against the wall and on bits of the path but it had melted quite a bit and was shallow. Great Yarlside looked very nice from here…

great-yarlside

I crossed the wall for the ascent of Great Yarlside as I could see the summit would be that side. Either side had a quad bike path and the short ascent was still steady going.

over-little-yarlside-to-whatshaw-common
Looking back at the route so far

wasdale-from-great-yarlside
And looking down t’other Wasdale

At the summit there was a small cairn (not many rocks around here) and an Ordnance Survey stone instead of a trig point (these are apparently quite unusual)…

great-yarlside-os-stone

great-yarlside-to-harrop-pike
looking to Harrop Pike & the Haweswater Fells

great-yarlside-to-haweswater-fells

There were some lovely fluted snowdrifts against the wall here…

great-yarlside-walldrifts

There was then a long, snowy and gentle descent towards Wasdale Pike my final ‘hill’ – although really it was more a shoulder end of Great Yarlside in my opinion.

snowy-path-to-wasdale-pike

Sometimes the snow on the track was very hard frozen and I could stay on top of it, sometimes not. I soon learned when I was going to crash through it though. My boots were getting pretty full of snow as I never bother wearing my gaiters.

Eventually I reached Wasdale Pike’s summit – I’d thought I was there a few times but the map said ‘cairns’ and these were the first I met on this section. The ground descended much more rapidly from here and I could see the col I needed to descend from – straight before the small hill with the radio mast…

wasdale-pike-cairn-muirburn

There was a small muirburn going on and I wondered whether to divert to that to warm up but it was on the wrong side of my hill. The path soon gave up on the descent and I ploughed down rough and holey heather to the wall around the old farm.

As I approached and crossed the wall, the ground became very boggy indeed and, as it wasn’t frozen here, I had to be much more careful. I could now see the ruin of the old farmstead below me – I have to say I’m not surprised they left it really. The grazing here is terrible and it would be a very desolate spot to live, especially in winter…

wasdale-head-farm-ruin

At the farm, I decided that, rather than take the old ‘farm access road’ through the bogs, I’d follow a wet but firmer-looking track I could see running along the wall to the forest. I could see that quad bikes had gone up the wallside of the forest back to the A6 road.

wasdale-head-ruins

Looking back to Long Fell mast – the famous Shap Pink Granite Quarry is under the south side of this hill…

long-fell-mast-wasdale

There were a couple of becks to cross along the forestside but they were low and easily dealt with. The quad bike track up to the road was pretty wet and boggy though. As I reached the gate through the wall at the A6 I decided I’d get my breath completely back after the slight ascent before joining the fumes of the passing traffic. I sat for a while in the sun on a banking gazing at the poor old farm ruin…

It was then around a quarter of a mile to walk back along the side of the road. The A6 is nothing like as busy as expected as nearly all traffic now diverts onto the M6 instead so my lungs didn’t get much more diesel particulate lodged in them. There are actually a couple of short sections of track the other side of the road fence which you could use to avoid the traffic still further.

I was soon back at the car where the pylon riggers gave me a relieved or perhaps just friendly wave. I waved back with my best smile – they were just packing up to go home.

By the time I’d driven back to the hotel, it was only 1430 and Richard was still away so went for a little explore. The hotel had a ‘woodland trail’ behind it and I set off up that hoping to reach the West Coast Mainline Railway which I’d heard at night. A train rushed past but was in too deep a cutting so I set off across a field for a bridge with a better view.

After train watching for a while I noticed that the enclosure I’d trespassed into to get a good view on the bridge actually contained some interesting old ruins. I have no idea what they are and the map doesn’t say anything about them, although the hotel quite possibly know. There was an old ‘needle’ and a ruined enclosure wall with interesting openings. Anyone know anything about these?

needle-behind-castle-green-hotel-kendal

ruin-behind-castle-green-hotel-kendal

Wainwright has the walk down as a shade less than 6 miles with 1130 feet of ascent. The start at the summit of the A6 is around 1400 feet and the biggest hill, Great Yarlside is a respectable 1986 feet. I took around 2 3/4 hours…

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14 responses

26 05 2017
fruitshealthimpact

Nice one

Like

29 05 2017
mountaincoward

I found it good

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26 12 2016
McFadzean

Nice area that, though a little damp underfoot. My experience has been that I very rarely saw another person in that corner of the Lakes, even in the warrmer months.
Cheers, Alen

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27 12 2016
mountaincoward

It’s actually been one of my favourite areas so far in the walks I’ve done this year – I think that the desolation was similar to that which I’ve got so used to in Scotland!

Liked by 1 person

26 12 2016
chrissiedixie

Well, I never knew there was another Wasdale! Looks wild and windswept round there though – my kind of country. 🙂

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27 12 2016
mountaincoward

Great Yarlside would be a pretty nice campspot I think – some sheltered areas looking towards the Haweswater fells. That Crookdale valley looked nice for camping too. It is quite wet though so you’d have to choose your spot carefully.

Liked by 1 person

25 12 2016
tessapark1969

You get ‘duck’ in Staffordshire (where my family is from) too. Must admit I think I’d have been taking Richard’s approach to these ie the pub – think the outliers are a step too far for me!

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27 12 2016
mountaincoward

I think I’ve done the Wainwrights themselves so many times, I’m looking for a new challenge or list to do

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16 12 2016
Blue Sky Scotland

Good commitment shown there despite the weather. The type of hills I would hate although the snow and frost always improves things. I’d have stayed in Kendal and explored suburbia as ‘The Right Stuff’ was rained out of me long ago… smart man Richard…

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16 12 2016
mountaincoward

Definitely nicer with snow and frost – or in a really dry summer. But I really enjoyed it – I like an isolated walk once in a while and the pylon guys bucked me up at the start 🙂

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14 12 2016
bowlandclimber

Those workmen must have been from the Nottingham area if they greeted you with “ducks” – usually ‘me duck’.
When we walked up the Yarlsides from the A6 we completed a boggy horseshoe of Crookdale having previously climbed Wasdale Pike from Wet Sleddale. All glorious open fell tramping.

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14 12 2016
mountaincoward

my Grandparents were from South Yorkshire but very near that border and they always called us ‘ducks’ – it’s quaint isn’t it! 😉

Liked by 1 person

10 01 2017
M.Barrett

I live in Nottingham and to be honest, I don’t hear it very much. I hear it much more in Mansfield.

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10 01 2017
bowlandclimber

Thanks for the local knowledge Lad.
PS Like your blog.

Liked by 1 person

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