Whinash Ridge, Westmorland

6 12 2019

Wed 2 Oct 2019
This wasn’t as interesting as the ridge the other side of Westmorland’s Borrowdale valley, Whinfell Ridge, which I did with friend and fellow blogger Simon back in Spring. Simon was again my companion but we also had Richard with us as it was a nice day…

my Zenith manual film SLR and Richard’s digi point-and-shoot where marked
click on photos for full size/resolution

This walk was done as a 2-car shuffle this time. When we did the opposite ridge and then walked back along the valley, we found it pretty tiring towards the end of the long valley. We decided it would be better to do this ridge with both cars so we agreed to meet up at the Tebay end of the valley where there is some good car-parking…

I was whizzing along the Wigton-Penrith road at a good pace and, looking in my mirror, was almost sure it was Simon’s car behind me. As we slowed up for a minute behind someone turning, he gave me a wave.

We continued to zip happily along at the usual speed for this road (and my new area) of a comfortable 70mph. I rounded a bend and saw a yellow van squashed into the bushes about half-way down a really long straight (the road is full off really long straights). I slowed a little thinking it might be a farmer and he might pull out across the road.

As I got nearer, I noticed it was a bloody police camera van! 😦 😮 I obviously slowed to 60 as quickly as I could and looked in my mirror to see if Simon had seen it. He’d obviously seen it was a camera van way before I had and had dropped a long way back. Later he reckoned he might still get a ticket as the guy probably clocked us when we came around the corner and he said he registered 73 on his more accurate digital speedo when he looked.

I was fuming – it’s really unnecessary on this particular road to have a speed camera at all. There’s only one village/speed restricted area of 40 and everyone slows down to 40 for that. The rest of the road is fenced, virtually uninhabited, very few junctions, long straights, and everyone bombs along happily at around 70. As everyone does 70 on there, we’re always well spaced out (about 4 second gaps rather than the recommended 2 seconds), there’s no overtaking as it isn’t necessary and no agitation or ‘fighting’.

Accidents are also pretty unheard of on this road – in fact, as everyone gets a move on and doesn’t cause tailbacks and frustration, there’s very few accidents in my new area at all! Therefore, I don’t see a need to suddenly start having speed cameras all over the place when we’ve never had them before.

We were both pretty upset about it when we arrived at the Tebay parking and, while Simon drove us around over Shap Summit on the A6 to the parking by Hucks Bridge at the opposite end of the valley, we were still talking about it.

Anyway, back to the walk… we kitted up in the layby near the start of the track into the valley. As we set off, I noticed on a noticeboard in the layby something about a byway closure. I wondered if it was ours. We stopped to read it… in the end, we figured out it was a path on the north side of the river and our track is on the south.

Heading down to the river below the hill I missed out till another day

We headed on down to the river on our track, looking at the stepping stones all the while – a couple looked to be missing! When we arrived at the river we saw that, after all the rainfall recently, two of the stones were completely under a good flow and depth of water.

I thought this no problem and, after going to have a close look at them, sat down to take my boots and socks off to wade the relevant sections. Richard and Simon were horrified and asked what I was doing? I said I was off across the river. They said no way were they wading round the two stones and set off back up the hill to the road for the long walk round (must be getting on for a mile).

It was a nice day so, after I’d crossed the river within a couple of minutes, I sat sunbathing on a rock and letting my feet dry while watching their laborious circumvention just to use the road bridge!

We all met up again and followed the good byway (vehicle track) up the hill. This seemed to go very quickly and we were soon on the col between the first hill (which we decided to miss out until another time) and the rest of the ridge.

Richard’s photo of the lads’ long detour around via the road bridge! cowards!

At the highest point, a decent track (I believe it’s a quad bike track) set off across the boggy ridgetop. Actually, I’d thought it would be really very wet and had had Richard wax our boots thoroughly before we set off (I do the walking clothes washing, he does the boots), but we found it really wasn’t bad at all.

Another of Richard’s digi photos looking back

The first little summit had an electrical box of some kind and the remnants of a rusty mast pole lying at the summit. I arranged some of the metalwork into a more arty arrangement on the cairn and peered inside the box. A later google showed that this was an ex-anemometer as they’d done a survey to see how feasible a windfarm would be on the ridge. Unfortunately the wind farm application got overturned anyway as usual (I’m not sure people are against climate change really despite all their protestations).

My photo of the anemometer box view (above) Richard’s digi-photo of my metal artwork effort (below)

We followed the track easily on… it mainly stayed on the ridgetop but sometimes went below on the Borrowdale side. There were superb views to our other ridge from our last walk here and most of our photos were of that really.

My photo of Ashstead Fell on the ridge we did last time

Richard’s digi-zoom shot of Ashstead Fell

Richard’s digi-photo of a superb dyke running down Ashstead Fell (r/h side of photo)

My photo looking out of the valley behind all the way to Ill Bell in Kentmere

At one point we were passing a rounded and wide higher section of hill so I went hunting for a summit just in case. There were no cairns and I just scared some grouse so obviously no-one goes up to that bit.

The second actual summit (my film photo)

Castle Fell across the valley (my film photo)

Westmorland Borrowdale – my photo (above) Richard’s photo (below)

Simon and me ambling on (Richard’s photo obviously)

Soon after we saw, in the distance, a couple of Fell Ponies and, unusually, a piebald gypsy-type pony. As we got nearer they headed towards us and more and more of them kept appearing. In the end we counted ten – mostly proper blacks but the odd ‘dark brown’ so obviously a bit interbred. True ‘Fell and Dale Ponies’ are pure black.

I warned Richard and Simon not to feed them anything, in fact, I made sure Simon knew never to feed ponies out on the fell or on a walk. Basically, when you run out of food for them, they can turn very nasty indeed! Consequently, Richard and Simon walked straight past them.

Richard prefers sheep to horses (his photos)

I stopped to see if any would come and talk. A good few of them were very friendly indeed and they didn’t even ask for any food – they just wanted a chat and pat 🙂

Reluctantly, I left them to catch the other two up. The last pony I passed was heavily pregnant and looked quite old – I hope she does okay…

Richard and Simon strolling on – Howgills in the distance

We saw one very large group of walkers pass over the fell past where the ponies were and descend to the valley – not sure what walk they were doing. Those and one guy descending the byway at the start were the only other people we saw all day…

The couple of fells towards the end of the walk got more defined and ‘peaky’ and had steeper (but still very short) ascents. As we’d started at the high end of the ridge (quite deliberately), we’d mostly been descending throughout the walk.

descending to more defined final hills (Richard’s photo)

my similar photo

Howgills again (my photos)

The M6 and the Howgills (Richard’s photo)

We were soon puffing up the last short hill – it had seemed a very short and easy ridge.

Simon heading for final hill (my photo)

Richard’s digi-photos looking back along the ridge

Final summit (Richard’s again)

If you’re going to do both ridges eventually and walk the valley on the return from one, this walk would be the best to include the valley in. The Whinfell Ridge was a good deal harder walk (and, I have to say, much more interesting).

We decided not to bother with a break in the sun as we were so near the end. It had been a cold NE wind all along the ridge but we dropped down out of this for our descent into lovely warm sunshine.

We’d headed back from the last hill to the previous col and then straight down towards the fell wall to pick up the path which contours the fellside just above the wall. This was pretty brackeny and the bracken was long and troublesome. It kept grabbing my feet and legs and trying to trip me up. As I was in front, I was ‘trailbreaker’ for the others – I’m not sure it helped them much though.

Richard before the bad bracken started! (my photo)

In the end, we got fed up of the bracken and went down close to the wall. Soon we reached a farmer’s field-gate and there was a good track from thereon down to the road.

Improved path near the bottom (my photo)

For people setting off the other way to the ridge, the path starts about quarter of a mile along the main road in the direction of Tebay just as you reach the crags of the cutting on your left. It goes back hard left and then through a gate…

All that was left now was to pick up my car and drive (at the speed limit) back up the motorway to Shap and then down the A6 to Hucks Bridge to Simon’s car.

We enjoyed our half day on the ridge but I don’t think I’d do this particular ridge again. I’d definitely do the Whinfell Ridge again though with two cars.

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9 responses

14 12 2019

Sounds like a good hike. I enjoyed the photos. There is nothing worse than getting a photo radar ticket in the mail.


14 12 2019

We were lucky in the end that we didn’t. I think everyone else probably flew past him a lot faster! 😉

Both sides of that valley are a nice walk – that’s the very easy side in the direction we did it. The other side is harder but more interesting. 2 cars helps…


8 12 2019

The only time I’ve visited this area was back in the 1970s. I was cycling with a group of friends late one winters afternoon. Back then off road cycling was know as “rough stuff”. We’d heard that this Borrowdale was due to be flooded under a reservoir so we were keen to take the track through the valley to the A6. Inevitably it was well dark before we regained the tarmac and we slithered about in the icy convictions. Things didn’t improve much on the road. We’d hope for a fast run down the hill to Kendal but large patches of ice had to be negotiated with great care. We made to the railway station at Oxenholme in a bedraggled state for a very late train home to Preston. Those were the days; bikes free and brake vans with bags of room for dozens of bikes……..


8 12 2019

I used to put my motorbike in the guards van back then – those certainly were the days! Mind you, our fold-up bikes can go free and unbooked on the trains. If the guard says he doesn’t want a bike on board, you can legitimately fold it up and then it’s classed as luggage.


7 12 2019
Alli Templeton

Well, you may not think this is as interesting as the other side of the valley, but it’s still fabulous compared to the landscape round here! Fantastic photos, as always, and it looks a really appealing walk. The ponies look cute, and it’s hard to imagine them getting nasty – but I guess most animals will over food eventually. And I’m sorry you got ‘caught on camera’ – I sympathise, because that’s happened to me recently too, even though I was only doing 6mph over the limit when I had no idea what the limit actually was as there were no indications around. It’s horrible.

Still, glad you enjoyed the walk. It looks gorgeous. 🙂


7 12 2019

The great thing is that I don’t think either of us got a ticket in the end. I’m assuming that’s because everyone will have passed that camera doing at least 70 and many were probably doing 80 so I’m guessing he just went for those in the end.

Liked by 1 person

7 12 2019
Alli Templeton

Oh well done! Sometimes it’s just that they’re not fully operational at the time, and I’ve had that before. Glad you weren’t caught after all though. 🙂


7 12 2019
Blue Sky Scotland

Nice Ponies. Bad luck about the potential speeding fine but at least it’s going to a good cause :). That looks a nice round of hills there.


7 12 2019

We didn’t get a ticket in the end – I’m assuming he didn’t bother with us 70mph folks and just nabbed the 80 plus ones 😉

It would be a very nice round but pretty hard. You’d have to do Whinfell Ridge on the way out and Whinash on the return and set off from the M6 end and not the A6 end for the round – otherwise it would be way too hard!


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