Kendal Rambling – Hay Fell & Scout Scar

14 12 2017

Tue 12 & Wed 13 December 2017
Richard and I have just come back from our favourite winter Lake District Hotel – Castle Green at Kendal. We did as much walking as my knackered leg would allow but what with that and the weather, nothing high or difficult.

Photos a combination of Richard’s digi camera and my film camera
At breakfast on the Tuesday, the sun was trying to come out over an extremely frozen landscape. We’d deliberately got up late as it was so cold as I won’t start early in cold weather – it’s bad for chests and for slipping and falling!

Richard had never done Scout Scar above the Kendal bypass and I hadn’t done it since about my 30s when I walked it with my mother. As it is a very gentle ascent, we decided to drive up to Beast Banks at the top of Kendal and walk it from there – even if it was dangerously icy everywhere, the fell is pretty safe!

We parked up outside the pub (closed) and Postman Pat’s Post Office!

It was but a short walk up the Underscar road over the bypass to the footpaths at the start of the fell. We set off up the second footpath – there is also some more parking opposite the start of the path which we didn’t know about but my car was parked in a warmer spot so I didn’t mind.

We passed some lovely beef cattle up the very gentle path raking around the fellside – we noticed it was much warmer up here than it had been in town! The cowpats, however, were frozen so hard they were like boulders…

The path rakes gently for just over a mile when it meets the escarpment of Scout Scar – on a nice day this is a lovely viewpoint but the weather had now gone hazy, dull and grim.

Here you turn right to follow the escarpment edge…

As we rambled along, peering periodically over the escarpment edge (careful as some of it is crumbly crag), we met a guy with a white ‘Santa beard’ – he was obviously embarrassed about wearing it as he professed it was just in lieu of a balaclava and was just keeping his chin warm! We didn’t embarrass him further by taking a photo, we just took more escarpment photos (or rather, Richard did – these are all his digi-photos so far)…

We soon reached the summit where there is a metal shelter and crosswall – I had a little sit…

We then continued the escarpment edge until we met the road and carpark at the other side of the fell and then returned to just below the summit to find the other path heading back to Kendal.

Back at the hotel, we took photos of the wallpaper! Why? We thought at first they’d had murals painted on the walls and mused at how expensive that would be with a couple of hundred rooms. Then I saw a slight join and realised they’d had landscape photos turned into wallpaper. If you google ‘digital photo wallpaper’ you can get your own done – I’m going to! These are two sections of the wallpaper in our room…


The Head of Buttermere

The next day was sleety, very cold and miserable so we waited until dinnertime and then set off down into town on foot – me in my best ‘town snowboots’… As we walked down the road, I noticed the weather was clearing up and looked around at a fell above the hotel I’d been eyeing up for the last couple of visits. I suddenly announced I was going up the fell instead – Richard declined and continued down into town.

Apart from having my winter walking coat on, my list of omissions for hillwalking was vast. It was absolutely freezing and I had no fleece jumper, no warm drink and no proper boots or socks – still, it was only a small fell and I’d remembered to grab Richard’s digi-camera as I set off…

There is a footpath which takes off from a steep road heading over the hills behind the hotel – at one point there is an underpass under the railway which has obviously been built for midgets – here is Richard’s photo from our last recce of the hill when my leg had forced us to turn back…

I headed up through woodland where there is a little tarn and spotted the white rump of a deer. I didn’t try to get a photo as I’m never quick enough and I don’t like to upset wildlife anyway. I was soon up on the pretty and quiet lane passing below the full length of the fell…


My fell from the lane

After about two miles my lane ended and I crossed the railway. I had no map and was perturbed at this as it’s an electric railway so not one for trespassing on and my fell was on the other side now. I then met a very main road with no verges – oncoming cars had no view of me until the last minute and this perturbed me even more. Luckily it recrossed the railway almost at once though…

I was sure my path should have taken off up the fell by now and was thinking of turning back and just bashing up the fellside – as this would involve wallclimbing though and my leg isn’t really up to that now, I didn’t really want to do that. Luckily, in another quarter of a mile or so, I saw a barn with a vehicle parked outside and, on reaching it, saw a footpath sign pointing off up the lane past it.

Neither farm worker spoke to me at all which surprised me. Also, the sign had said ‘Hay Fell’ whereas I thought my hill was called ‘Beacon Knott’. I couldn’t see very far up the fell from here but thought I’d soon see if it wasn’t the right fell. Eventually, the whole ridge loomed into view and I could see it was the right track.

Water was running freely down the fellside and my poor town boots were having their slight waterproofness tested thoroughly – luckily there was no ice though. Having said that, I’m finding them less slippery than my hiking boots on ice!

As I ascended the wind blasted across the fell and straight through my clothing – I was absolutely frozen! I kept plodding upwards as fast as I could to keep warm. I could see a wall ahead and was unable to see any gates so headed straight for it and then followed it left until I reached a corner of walls – here were two small walkers gates.

After a bit more ascent, I met another wall and did the same – just short of another corner of walls and a woodland, there was a gate and a plaque detailing the ‘open access’ fell area. There were apparently two separate fells – Hay Fell and Beacon Knott. On looking over the wall I could see they were very close together indeed!


Hay Fell, the parent peak on the left and Beacon Knott

I saw a track headed for each fell which led me to believe that people just did a circuit of the two fells from this side. I had no intention of retracing my long, wet, and very cold walk however – I was determined to head down to Fisher Tarn Reservoir – the point we’d reached when recce-ing the fell from the other side when my leg gave up! I suspected this might mean some wall climbing though as there doesn’t appear to be a right of way to Fisher Tarn.

I went to Hay Fell first as this kept me out of the cruel wind most of the way…

It was a quick hop across to the trig-pointed Beacon Knott…


Hay Fell from Beacon Knott

I noticed tracks left the far side of both hills but headed back to the farmer’s vehicle track on Hay Fell – that was most likely to lead to a gate. As I set off, I looked back at Beacon Knott and saw it was in lovely light. The light, however, was nothing like how the digi-camera has painted it – the sky was very dark and not blue, and the ground was bright and golden – I’m sure the Zenith film camera would have done better – it is usually very accurate with colours.

My leg was starting to stiffen up by now as I sploshed across the wet fellside. The vehicle track didn’t lead to any gate which I could see (although one was lurking around the corner) but just to a livestock feeder. I cut across to the lovely, brackeny fellside to my left which went around the wall corner hoping I’d get some way through the next two walls. I was very nearly at the tarn now…

Over the next hump there was a gate through the first of the two walls into a sodden field – I sploshed across this to the corner. When I’d been at Fisher Tarn last, I’d noticed a little unofficial path heading for this corner and hoped there’d be a way through the wall. There wasn’t, but there was another gateway with a very strong and firm gatepost which helped me over the wall.

Anyone following this route is probably best to go through the gateway and turn left towards the road across the next field as I think it takes you all the way to a road gate.

I was now in the Fisher Tarn reservoir enclosure. The reservoir was frozen this time and looked bluer than our last visit…


Hay Fell from the Fisher Tarn enclosure – the unofficial way over the wall is in the far corner behind the trees

The following photos of Fisher Tarn were taken on our recce visit when we followed rough paths all round the reservoir – the first three are my film camera…

On one side you walk across the top of the long dam and Richard took these digi-photos…

As I rejoined the road, the cold wind and height of the road meant it was pretty icy so I proceeded very gingerly indeed. Once I’d passed the crossroads with my lane under the fell, the road surface was no longer frozen – luckily as it’s quite a steep hill down into Kendal. It started sleeting though and I felt very cold and wet – my feet were pretty soaked too.

When I drew level with the hotel, I was supposed to continue downhill to the road junction and then walk all the way back up to the hotel – quite a height loss. As my hip no longer wanted to do ‘up’, I decided to do a quick cross-country as it was only two fields to cross to the hotel.

The farmer was there feeding his livestock in the next field however. I realised it was his car which had passed me while I was walking down the hill so gathered he’d be leaving soon in his car so I hung around. He soon drove off and I trespassed into his wet fields as I thought I could see a stile in the corner.

On reaching the field corner I found it was an old stone stile and I slithered over it carefully. There was just one more, luckily drier, field with a ‘how’ and trees to reach the hotel. I had a quick visit to the top of the how and then descended to the final gate into the hotel grounds. This was locked but out of sight for climbing over so I was soon back at base where I could get warm and dry at last.

The walk had taken just short of 3 hours and was around 6.5 miles


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21 responses

17 12 2017
Dan Hudson (aka icemandan on Walkhighlands)

My home town.

Scout Scar offers a lot of drama for not much effort. Cunswick Scar is less dramatic but has a more satisfying top with an unobstructed view all the way round.

The Riflemans is a nice cosy pub that does a nice pint but be aware that they don’t do food.

I was impressed by your other walk. I’ve lived here twenty odd years and never done it (incidentally the hill is known to Kendalians as Benson Knott). I’ve only done a much duller route from the north.

A couple of other walks in the area you might want to try are the Helm – a ridge with a hill fort on it south of Oxenholme Station which has a pub at both ends – and the Whinfell Ridge north of the town – which has de facto access and an unofficial path all the way along. You can return along (the other) Borrowdale.

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22 12 2017
mountaincoward

Hi Dan – long time no hear! Didn’t know that was your home town! We’re getting to really like Kendal, in fact, I was trying to get Richard to move there but he couldn’t afford it – seems pretty expensive.

I’ve done The Helm from the eastern end but want to do it from the pub at the western/Station end next. I’ve done Cunswick with my mother years ago but we said we’ll do that next time. I’ll have a look for Whinfell Ridge though as I’m keen to find some new, small walks in that area. We’ve designated Kendal as our winter walking/hotelling area 🙂

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17 12 2017
Dan Hudson (aka icemandan on Walkhighlands

My home town.

Scout Scar to me offers a lot of drama for not much effort – a good place to go at sunset. Cunswick Scar is less dramatic but has a more satisfying summit with a view all the way round.

The Rifleman’s is a nice cosy pub but be aware that it doesn’t do food.

Despite having lived here for 20+ years, I’ve never done your other walk (incidentally Kendalians know this hill as Benson Knott). It looks a lot more interesting than the normal route from the north. I shall give it a try.

An even easier walk from Kendal is along the Helm – a mile long ridge south of Oxenholme station with a hill fort on it. This walk has the added bonus of a pub at either end.

Sounds like you had a good time anyway

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22 12 2017
mountaincoward

Sorry I didn’t approve your comments earlier – I’ve been offline for a few days. The pub at both ends of The Helm is a superb advantage – we really liked the pub at the western end – they do nice food too.

And, whoops… seems like my eyesight is really crap now – I think you’re right – it is Benson Knott and not Beacon Knott! I’ll have to go and peer at my map again when I get home!

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16 12 2017
tessapark1969

Liked the look of Scout Scar – an Outlying Wainwright presumably?

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16 12 2017
mountaincoward

Yes – and there’s also Cunswick Scar which is a continuation of it the other side of the road (and handy carpark)

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15 12 2017
chrissiedixie

I never realised Postman Pat was actually real……

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16 12 2017
mountaincoward

I don’t think he was, although the plaque seems to be a bit deliberately misleading. I think they mean his author had him born there in that year. Mind you, PP is like very many country postmen!

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15 12 2017
Mark

Scout Scar; that takes me back. I must have been in my mid teens when last went up for there. The cold weather has made parts of the Dark Peak more accessible. Frozen bog has its benefits.

Think I’ll be looking these hills up again. These outlaying fells are attractive, not overrun with people.

Have you been to the Mortal Man in Troutbeck? Good food and beer with easy access to the fells.

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16 12 2017
mountaincoward

Richard has probably dragged me into the Mortal Man as he insists on visiting every real ale pub and, of course, I’m the driver! We haven’t eaten there though and we should really.

The Outlying Wainwrights are great for solitude – especially those up the side of the A6 – I’ve loved those so far – the only bits of the Lakes which seem like a wilderness!

Definitely winter and frozen conditions are the best times to do boggy fells!

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15 12 2017
George

Great photos and a noble trek into the unknown with a bad leg!

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15 12 2017
mountaincoward

I enjoyed the impromptu-ness of it even though I was badly clad!

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15 12 2017
RockChick

Another r great walk idea, thank you. Looking forward to coming up for a couple of weeks, finally.

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15 12 2017
mountaincoward

You can park on the lane under the fell to the south in lots of places and that is probably best.

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15 12 2017
Gaslight Crime

An interesting and quieter area of the Lake District. Grand photos too.

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15 12 2017
mountaincoward

Thanks John – Kendal area is great for in winter as there is a lot of smaller stuff around

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15 12 2017
Jim R

I’m not very familiar with the terms fell and rake. Would you describe them for me? Thanks.

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15 12 2017
mountaincoward

a fell is a hill in Cumbria or Yorkshire (or possibly anywhere in the north of England) – can be any size. A rake on a hill is a grassy way between crags or rocks – usually diagonal. But you can rake about looking for something too…

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15 12 2017
Jim R

Thank you. That is helpful.

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15 12 2017
Blue Sky Scotland

Glad to see you are still getting out and about and enjoying yourself. It’s been really cold recently anytime I’ve been out with black ice on the pavements so late starts for me as well. Same here- not much snow until yesterday but plenty of ice. Looks cold there as well.

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15 12 2017
mountaincoward

it’s horribly cold but the thing which is annoying me most this winter is that it will keep raining and then freezing – lethal!

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