Wandhope – the Daftest Route I Could Find!

12 07 2019

Mon 10 June 2019
As I’ve done all the Wainwrights several times each (some probably hundreds of times), I’ve started looking for new, interesting routes. Wainwright’s guides are a good starting point – this is in his North-Western Fells book. I have to say he doesn’t really recommend it and, after doing it, I most definitely don’t – but it was interesting…

All photos my Zenith manual SLR film camera

The route in question I’ll call the Third Gill route – I’m assuming that’s the name of the gill it follows although it doesn’t say so on the map and it’s actually only the second gill from Buttermere but one of the summits is called Thirdgill Head Man. It was another red-hot day and I parked (for free) on the start of the Newlands Pass – again late afternoon.

I dropped back down to the village and followed a lovely cool path up through the shady woodland on the left-hand side of the beck leaving the bridge. This took me up to join the Sail Beck path where paths take off uphill for either Rannerdale Knotts or Whiteless Pike.

Ignoring those, my path continued fairly levelly above the beck until it wound around into the first gill re-entrant. Here there was a higher track so I took that and it rose gently as it continued towards the second gill. I got a brief glimpse of the top of my ridge but it didn’t tell me much – I’d have to wait until I turned the corner into the second gill to see.

When I rounded the corner into the second gill (but called Third Gill!) my ridge-end looked steep but okay. Wainwright had said all crags could be avoided – there were quite a few small crags on the ridge – more outcrops really. It didn’t look too bad…

As I reached the point where the path crossed the gill, I went straight uphill after the crossing. My route followed a slight reedy watercourse and I kept going until I reached the top of the bracken line (my route was clear of bracken due to the watercourse). This was steep but went okay and I soon gained a lot of height. From the top of the bracken line, I contoured the fellside to the ridge – aiming to hit it just above the first rocky outcrop.

“Third Gill” (even though it’s the second one!) – my ridge is on the right

Apart from it being irritating having my feet on sideways across the steeply sloping hillside, it was an easy enough walk to the ill-defined ridgeline. When I reached the outcrop, I took to the ridge proper – it was wide but very steep.

From here, my day turned pretty bad. The ridge was pathless, thick heather, exceedingly steep and getting steeper (luckily the sun went in for my ascent) – there was no danger though and the craggy sections did seem to be avoidable. When I kept left on the ridge, I could see down into the gill – easy slopes and it looked very interesting.

above the first outcrop

I’m not a great walker when I don’t have a path as I tire very easily – pretty soon I was completely knackered and still had a long way to go. I kept stopping for a break to take photos back down the ridge and ‘admire’ the steepness I’d come up – it doesn’t look particularly steep on the photos though – it’s very hard to capture steep on a photo…

At one point, I saw there was a really interesting-looking level path went out of the gill and onto Whiteless Edge opposite. I’d love to have an explore of that and the gill another time.

I slogged on upwards, soon finding a small crag which couldn’t easily be circumvented – it had a handy gully going up the middle of it and was easily angled so not dangerous. I crawled up it feeling on my last legs and hoping there wasn’t much more. From here the angle eased slightly but the heather was still thick and it didn’t feel any easier!

When I eventually reached grass and the angle eased further I was truly exhausted and virtually staggering up the hillside. I thought it wouldn’t be far to Wandhope Summit but the ridge went on… and on… and on. A path had transpired now – presumably people who’d accidentally taken this ridge for descent. As there were no paths further down, presumably most realised their mistake and turned back up again. Wainwright says the ridge doesn’t really get used and I’d agree with him – I could see why!

I could see people on the normal route on the opposite ridge – they were probably watching the staggering, slow figure slogging on upwards and thinking I’d got lost. Eventually, I reached the summit cairn. I didn’t stop for a rest here but continued down the edge of Addacombe Hole to the col for the scenery and photos.

Crag Hill across Addacombe

It was quite a cold wind across the coombe so I headed off for the other summit and the path which heads down the superb Whiteless Edge for Whiteless Pike.

My ascent ridge is the dark one on the left

Whiteless Pike from ‘the Edge’

It was lovely to descend and the slight rise up to Whiteless Pike was hardly noticeable, even in my exhausted state. I took some photos of my ascent ridge from here…

My steep ascent ridge on the right

My ridge does look steep from the side!

It was lovely, sunny and warm on the summit so I sat for a rest. At this time, I had a really bad back which hadn’t bothered me at all on the walk (walking helps bad backs) but, when I tried to rise from my seat on the fellside, I found I couldn’t get up! There were some girls sunbathing a few yards lower down the fell – I hoped I wouldn’t have to shout them to help me up. Eventually, I staggered to my feet.

Ascent & descent ridges again from summit – I do quite fancy that gill!

I passed the girls with a quick hello and set off down the Pike. I hadn’t been on this route for years either and it was as loose and rocky as I remembered. I went slowly but enjoyed it. I kept looking back for more photos of my awful ascent ridge!

As I descended, I was looking at how level Rannerdale Knotts looked below me and wondered whether I had enough energy left to go for that as well. I decided I would as it was only around 1830 so a lot of the sunny day left…

Adding Rannerdale Knotts in was probably a mistake as I was knackered the whole way along, struggling up every little rise. It’s a very scenic fell though and I took lots of photos. I had a break at the summit and felt a bit better coming back along the ridge and soon reached the steep descent back to Buttermere.

Lad Hows Ridge & Cinderdale Beck

Whiteless catches the last sun

I was dreading the short walk up the start of the pass from Buttermere village to my car but it went okay and I was soon back at the car. I’d been toying with the idea of driving over the pass – all the routes I could take back home were equally long but, of course, the pass is rougher for my old Sunny. Also, the car would be cold and I wasn’t sure I should set off up a steep hill with a cold engine.

As it happened, the pass doesn’t really go very steeply up at all, especially in the early stages, and I enjoyed the drive over it. The Newlands valley had more or less emptied of cars and so was a pleasant drive back to Braithwaite and the main road home. A bonus was that the car still had some suspension left too as I’d managed to avoid most of the rough bits!

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29 responses

17 07 2019
George

I was up on Whiteless Pike and Wandhope last week. Whiteless Edge is a fantastic ridge, but as I looked back at it, I noticed your ascent ridge and wondered what that would be like. Now I know! Thank you.

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17 07 2019
mountaincoward

Wait till you see the report on the gill!

Liked by 1 person

16 07 2019
Ron Lanham

Your journey sounds amazing. Once again the photos are breathtaking. Great stuff.

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16 07 2019
mountaincoward

Thanks Ron – not often we get such good weather for photography in our hills – I was just lucky…

Liked by 1 person

15 07 2019
tessapark1969

Ye gods that looked a steep way up!

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16 07 2019
mountaincoward

Wait till you see the next route! πŸ˜‰

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14 07 2019
underswansea

Wonderful post and photos. Great country and mountains.

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14 07 2019
mountaincoward

I’m really glad I’ve finally moved to the Lake District – I’ve always wanted to as I’ve walked there all my life – first of all with my parents and then coming back very regularly on my own. Now I don’t have so far to drive! πŸ™‚

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12 07 2019
Blue Sky Scotland

You seem to be getting more adventurous and daring the older you get Carol. A reverse of the normal life curve. Rock climber by 66 perhaps?

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13 07 2019
mountaincoward

I started rock climbing at 58! I’ve written quite a few posts about it – your memory must be going – an age thing! πŸ˜‰ I just don’t ‘lead’.

This wasn’t really a scary or dangerous route (although going to have a look at an unknown ridge is pretty adventurous admittedly) – it was just an unpleasant slog. The gill looks superb though!

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14 07 2019
Blue Sky Scotland

My memory of your back posts is still excellent thank you Carol πŸ™‚ I meant taking up rock climbing as your main hobby at 66 rather than hill-walking, seeing as how you only started a few years ago doing the steeper routes. Feels very different leading routes- like swimming into deep dark water from the shallow end the harder the grades get. I always had a tendency to jam my protection in tight just in case I fell off but seconds usually cursed me trying to get gear back out again..

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14 07 2019
mountaincoward

I won’t ever be leading climbs – not on trad climbs anyway. I wouldn’t trust my protection at all. I tend not to want to do multi-pitch either. I just like single pitch where someone’s already gone up and are sat firmly belayed at the top, top-roping me up!

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12 07 2019
Stuart Templeton

Wow that was certainly a challenging walk – I can’t decide if it was brave or bonkers! πŸ˜€ Fantastic photo’s as always, you really manage to bring those hills alive!

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13 07 2019
mountaincoward

I think that, because I’m doing walks later in the day (partly so I can get parked for free), the light is lower so the contrasts are better for the hill photos.

Challenging it definitely was!

Liked by 1 person

14 07 2019
Stuart Templeton

You’re braver than me!

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16 07 2019
mountaincoward

The next route is much, much braver up the same hill!

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12 07 2019
Alli Templeton

And it was all going so well… I don’t know how you do it, Carol. You must have some huge reserves of stamina. I hope you weren’t too achy the next day. This does sound like one of your more challenging hikes, but judging by your photos it was staggeringly beautiful nonetheless. How you manage to capture the light so effectively to show this sublime scenery off at it’s best I’ll never know. Fantastic. πŸ™‚

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13 07 2019
mountaincoward

I’m lucky never to have ill-effects the next day. I can pretty much do what I want walking-wise and know I’ll be fine in the morning πŸ™‚

The light and contrast was good partly because it was a beautiful day but mainly because I set off late afternoon and walked into the evening when the light was lower. That always gives better photos.

Liked by 1 person

13 07 2019
Alli Templeton

Goodness, you are lucky then. Do you do stretches? I have to. I’m off on my Welsh castle quest next weekend, so I’ll be stretching so much I’ll probably grow taller by an inch or two!

I can see why you’d set out later in the afternoon. It’s a nicer time to walk and it really does make a difference to your pictures. I feel as though I could walk into them, they’re so inviting, and they’re so alive. I wish you were coming with us to Wales, you could capture the castles much better than we’re likely to! πŸ™‚

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13 07 2019
mountaincoward

No, I’m fairly bad about warm-ups/downs too. I walk all the time though so I suppose that must help. I tend to start off slowly and try to start walks with a flat section if I can. I also try to walk slowly for the last half mile or so if I remember

Liked by 1 person

13 07 2019
Alli Templeton

Wow, you do well then. Stuart says what do you put in your water?! πŸ™‚

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13 07 2019
mountaincoward

just coffee! or Carbon Dioxide – I hate ‘flat water’ πŸ˜‰

Liked by 1 person

13 07 2019
Alli Templeton

Ah, maybe that’s where I go wrong. I can’t drink fizzy water! πŸ˜‰

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12 07 2019
John Bainbridge

I suppose the real Wainwright challenge is to do every Wainwright by every Wainwright route.

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12 07 2019
mountaincoward

Yep – I know folk who are starting on that. I’m not sure I’d ever do Sharp Edge though – I think it’s just plain dangerous!

Liked by 1 person

13 07 2019
John Bainbridge

Amazes me that Wainwright did.

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13 07 2019
mountaincoward

Yeah – when you consider he was quite big and clumsy, it’s amazing where he got to. He certainly did better than me in his later years for energy too I think

Liked by 1 person

12 07 2019
mbc1955

I’ve climbed Wandope three times, twice as a cheap add-on ‘from the back’ off the Coledale Horseshoe, the other from Whiteless Pike. On that occcasion I (deliberately) descended by this route and enjoyed it, though when it came to the last steep section, on grass, I improvised with a high speed ‘spider-scramble’, using feet and hands to rattle down the grass on my back. Odd, but definitely fun.

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12 07 2019
mountaincoward

I’m definitely going for an explore of that gill!

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