The walk noted below was a real nice change for me, as it had been devised by my pal Steve (@LakesRamblings on Twitter) and for a change I wasn’t poring over maps, trying to find somewhere with a bit of interest which I had never visited before, but I know he has a fair selection of Lake District books and guides in his study, and suspect he consulted a Wainwright or a Poucher before settling on this course. I drove up there, so not too much of a change then.
Steve has a penchant for the Lake District, and a couple of years ago very nearly moved to Borrowdale, which would have been both a great bonus and a minor irritant. He is one of my oldest friends, is very well read; up to date on current world issues and offers the salvation of intelligent and thoughtful conversation so his moving up to Borrowdale would have deprived me of some eloquent discussion, however, if he had moved it would have provided somewhere to stay up in the Lakes. Every silver lining has a cloud.
Distance – 2.7 miles
Ascent – 1,111 ft
Estimated Time – 3hr 15 mins
The chosen route was starting at The Three Shires Stone on Wrynose Pass, as this had an 800ft advantage over starting from Oxendale in Great Langdale. As we arrived there was plenty of roadside parking available for us, and I reversed into a nice spot parallel to a Land Rover Freelander. We climbed out of the car and proceeded to change our footwear. We hoisted our rucksacks onto our backs and then set off in a northerly direction.
The routes to the summit of Pike of Blisco are limited if you want to stick to the OS public footpath ways, and so we headed ‘off piste’ over Low Teighton How and towards Green Crag and then on toward Black Crag.
The view down to Little Langdale from Green Crag was wonderful and a dappled sunny day was manifesting itself in the valley below us.
The going was hard as there was no path at all, and we started to follow sheep tracks which headed in the general direction of the summit to make the walking a bit easier. The ground was quite boggy in places so we tried to stay quite close to the various rocky outcrops which littered this high place and there were many tussocks of rough grass. We climbed up and over Green Crag and made a meandering path toward Black Crag whilst taking in the wide and expansive views all around us.
I didn’t know it, but the reason behind Steve heading towards Black Crag was so he could see ‘The Needle’. This is noted in Wainwrights’ fourth Pictorial Guide book about the Southern Fells, and he had obviously researched this prior to choosing this route as it is a bit off the beaten track. It is like a miniature Napes Needle on the flanks of Great Gable.
After spending some time mooching around The Needle, we pressed onward, and upwards. The route was quite steady from here, and there was an obvious path to be taken, well at least more obvious than the sheep tracks which litter the place. As we approached the summit of Pike o’ Blisco, the ground surrounding the top was a maze of rocky outcrops and a circuitous route was taken to actually get to the summit cairn itself.
The summit had a number of grassy areas on which to sit and to take in the view. It wasn’t busy like Scafell, but there were three or four others up there taking in the views and munching on their lunch.
Steve and myself sat on the northern slope overlooking Great Langdale, whilst we consumed the sandwiches he had very kindly provided. The views were very extensive and uninterrupted except for the view up to the North West. This was looking towards Bowfell, Crinkle Crags and beyond to the Scafell range. The clag was down, and it was all shrouded in mist. In fact it looked as through it was a magnet for holding the cloud and mist and thus allowing the rest of the lakes to have clear views. As we sat having our lunch, lone wisps of clouds passed by in front of us which were floating over from Crinkle Crags, and larger amounts of mist tried grasping out towards us, but never enveloping the summit enough to cause concern.
Whilst we were lingering on the summit a rag-tag group of walkers appeared in shorts, trainers and vest type tops and T-shirts. It was a group of young lads, around the very early twenties age group who were over from Newcastle. The Geordie reputation for wearing only a T-shirt in all weathers was ably demonstrated here, as everybody else on the summit had a fleece and shell jacket on – well, I had just just a fleece (..and trousers of course!) but it wasn’t warm enough for just a T-shirt. I got chatting and asked them where they were off, and they pointed over to Pavey Ark and Stickle Tarn. They asked how long it would take, and I estimated about 6 hours. They were going to go along Crinkle Crags, along over Bowfell and Rossett Pike to cross over Stake Pass and thus over to Pavey Ark. I asked them where their map was and they confirmed they didn’t have one, nor a compass. They then set off heading for the the thick clouds shrouding Crinkle Crags – Mon Dieu! No wonder we need Mountain Rescue Teams.
We finished our sandwiches and made our way down. The route Steve had chosen took the path almost directly down to Red Tarn. The temperature had risen considerably now were were off the tops, and we took the opportunity to remove boots and socks and dangle our feet into the cooling waters of the Tarn. I half expected my feet to hiss as they touched the glittering water. It was wonderful to lie back on the soft grass and have the Tarn soothe and cool me plates of meat, whilst I closed my eyes. I could have stayed there for a couple of hours and dozed in the warm sunshine.
After drying my feet and pulling on my socks and boots, we were off again along a well made path leading below Long Scar and heading the direction of Wrynose Pass. We made rapid progress along here and made a steady descent back down to the Three Shire Stone at Wrynose. We passed it by, and went back to the car where we gratefully took off our rucksacks and boots, put them in the back of the car, changed our footwear and set off to Ambleside in search of that Alfred Wainwright favourite, fish and chips.
Whilst sat in a back street fish and chip shop in Ambleside we heard a number of familiar voices. It was the group of Geordie lads I was talking to on the summit of Pike o’ Blisco – the MRT had not been called out for them afterall. They had gone along Crinkle Crags by following somebody else who knew the route, and got to Three Tarns where they threw the towel in. They turned right down The Band and walked back to their cars and then driven to Ambleside for fish and chips like ourselves. I was pleased to see that they had come to no harm.
The walk today was a small circular stroll along easy paths, and was undertaken as an appetite sharpener for finishing in The Red Lion Hotel in Burnsall. Burnsall is a very attractive and compact village sitting on a delightful spot on the River wharfe in Yorkshire, with a very attractive Church, a small village school and a great pub.
Distance – 3 miles.
Ascent – 413 ft
Estimated Time – 2hrs
When we arrived in Burnsall it was very busy, (as it usually is) and we had to park up near St Wilfrid’s Church. On the walk today myself and Mrs Muddy Boots were joined by our friends and neighbours Paul and Sue. We have known them since we moved into the village where we live, and they are great company to be with. We started the walk by first going in The Red Lion and topping up our fluids, and we were fortunate enough to get a seat outside at the front of the pub. (There are seats at the back on the garden which was very, very busy). After having just the one pint, purely as a taster, and reserving a table for later in the day, we left our seats and walked down by the side of the magnificent Burnsall Bridge to pick up the Dalesway path which runs alongside the Wharfe.
Lambs next to the River Wharfe
The path runs alongside the Red Lion rear garden and passes behind the houses which line the main street running through Burnsall. It is a well made and popular route. As we strolled along in the warm May sunshine, the whole world seemed very green and looked idyllic with the sun reflecting off the slow moving river. We made our way behind the old school and Church, whilst seemingly saying a constant ‘hello’ to people coming the opposite way.
We continued along the undulating path, sometimes walking next to the river and other times looking down on it from high above, and all the time being on a well made surface. We passed a family who were out picnicking by the river and were having fun with an inflatable dinghy, although I suspect the water was cold.
When we got to the Stepping Stones and suspension bridge, the Dalesway continued across the river in a north easterly direction, and we started to climb uphill in a south westerly heading. We were passing through lush, green pastures and climbing steadily up towards the B6160 that forms the main arterial road through the valley.
As we climbed towards the main road, the path became easier and flattened out so as to make the walking easy indeed. We crossed the tarmac road, and started walking up the steep single track named Kail Lane. This walled lane lead to the small hamlet of Thorpe. This was a steep climb and soon had us panting for breath. Gradually the road levelled out and the walking, and talking became easier and we took a left turn down down a farm track. We now started walking back down hill and following the track through the fields until it crossed Badger Lane.
We continued following the path down to Starton Beck, and crossed this by means of a small planked bridge, and headed uphill through more green pasture, and passing through a number of small Yorkshire squeeze stiles in the drystone walls.
We continued walking along the verdant and vibrant grass until we crossed Badger Lane, which is the access road to Tennant Lathe farm. We climbed up again after crossing badger Lane, before walking downhill into the flat farmland surrounding Burnsall. we passed through a caravan park which I didn’t know existed and crossed a small field before entering the main street of Burnsall via a narrow ginnel in the houses lining the main street.
After we had got back into Burnsall we walked back through the village and down to the Red Lion. It was still busy, and a side of Morris Dancers had turned up and were loitering outside the pub. The deadline for our reserved table was approaching so we didn’t hang about to watch, and made a quick drat inside through the low door to bag our table, have a pint and order our tea. The food at The Red Lion is always good, so I was ready to relax after being the days’ tour guide and tuck into some vittles after an enjoyable walk.
Today’s walk is a bit of something different and I pondered long and hard over the map to try and find somewhere that I was unfamiliar with within the usual areas of the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales. As usual one of the main governing points relating to walking was the inclusion of a suitable pub, and the pub featuring today is the Moorcock Inn which is just down the road from Garsdale Station. I had been the past the pub numerous times previously whilst driving along the A684 towards Hawes. I did a little bit of research on the Internet prior to setting off on the walk and it transpired that the pub was under new management and have been closed for a brief time for refurbishment so this seemed quite promising, and another appealing point about it was the curiosity I had harboured when I had passed previously.
As usual we set off on a Saturday morning and approached via Sedbergh on the A684 Hawes road. We managed to park at the side of the road near the adjacent junction with the B6259.
We got out of the car, changed our footwear and pulled our rucksacks out of the boot and made a start on the route, however, that start proved to be short-lived because Mrs Muddy Boots needed to use the loo and so a visit into the Moorcock Inn was required so she could use the facilities. We walked around to the front of the pub and entered through the door and were pleasantly surprised by the internal layout, with the large room on the left being a relaxed seating area with a counter at one and providing coffee, teas and cakes, and the area to our right containing the public bar and dining area. The ‘coffee’ area had stone/slate flooring whilst the dining area to our right was carpeted, there was a large sign reminding inconsiderate walkers about their footwear when entering the dining area.
Whilst Mrs Muddy Boots availed herself of the facilities I went and purchased two large coffees, a scone with cream and jam, and a substantial piece of chocolate cake and took a seat by the window. I can’t remember the exact cost for this but I did check with the lady behind the counter to see that she added it all up correctly as it seemed a little low, however she confirmed that the price was correct – Yorkshire prices again! You can’t beat’em!
We lingered over our coffee and cakes and then decided we really had to make a move and exited the pub via the front door and turned right onto the main tarmac road. After a short time of walking west along the road we came to a signpost on our left which indicated the Trans-Pennine Bridleway, we took this route and headed towards Dandrymire Viaduct on the Settle and Carlisle line, we passed under the vast structure and then started a gradual ascent of the path leading to Garsdale Station.
We ventured slightly off the planned route and walked onto the platform of Garsdale Station itself, and came to the conclusion that it was a shame that the majority of railway stations in this country were not of the same high standard of architecture and upkeep. It had all the appearance of being a heritage line, not an actual station on the national network. The station was built in 1876, as was Garsdale Head itself, which is a collection of railway workers cottages and the station buildings themselves. It was originally called Hawes Junction however this changed when the line to Hawes was lifted (although the Wensleydale Railway is trying to reinstate the tracks back along their original route)
Whilst mooching about on the platform I spotted a little red squirrel which had come from the pine forests situated to the south of the down platform and it skipped, hopped and darted along the platform, then down onto the track, across the track and then scurried up onto the platform I was stood on and subsequently disappeared between some of the nearby houses – I went to try and find it to get a close up shot, but couldn’t see it anywhere. I was really pleased at seeing this as red squirrels are a rare treat and I was fortunate to have my camera to hand and grabbed some shots of it.
We departed the railway station and descended the tarmac access road until we got back onto the main Sedbergh to Hawes Road. We crossed at a farm called East Clough and then headed upwards through a field with Highland cattle and plenty of mud. Mrs Muddy Boots wasn’t happy about the cattle at all, as she convinced herself that they were all bulls and they were going to charge, in my view they look quite friendly and just generally disinterested.
We soon reached a wild, grassy plateau and looked down into the valley to our left in which ran Grisedale Beck, and tried to see what was highlighted on the map as Clough Force, however there was very little to be seen, except an excavator down in the bottom where the beck ran which appeared to be clearing the remnants of the recent flooding; it was possible that Clough Force had been swept away or we were looking in the wrong place. We continued walking along the footpath and came across a recently renovated vernacular Pennine farmhouse which is marked as Blake Mire on the map. It had a new access road created to it and the view from this location was quite extensive and uninterrupted which gave the appearance of it being quite isolated, which it could be after heavy snow.
We passed through the small picket gate in the surrounding drystone wall, past the shippon end of the farmhouse and we picked up the new access road rather than the public footpath and this quickly took us down to Grisedale Road, which is the main public thoroughfare that runs up the valley and forms the main access route for these isolated farmsteads. Grisedale Road is marked as a public road on the OS map but is really single track tarmac strip and has clumps of grass growing through the centre of it due to its lack of regular traffic. We continued walking north on Grisedale Road and gradually ascending the side of the valley. Grisedale itself is now largely unpopulated but was at one time an area of quite extensive farming, and higher up the valley there are a large number of now derelict farm buildings such as West Scale and East Scale farms which have an romantic, secluded isolation to them, although it is a bugger of a trip to nip to the local shops – I presume Tesco would do deliveries here though.
We continued walking up the metalled road until we got to East House which is the last farm on this road. The tarmac road continues past East House, going steeply uphill until the tarmac abruptly stops and the route turns into a gravelled bridlepath that runs along the side of the valley at high level. This appeared a little odd at first, as though the tarmac gang decided to knock off on a Friday afternoon and then come back on Monday to continue laying the black stuff and just didn’t turn up again to continue the job. Once we got to the end of the tarmac road the path actually levelled out and we had a choice of turning left, up and over Grisedale Common, or continuing along to South Lunds Pasture. Being the gluttons for punishment that we are, we turned left up the hill and across the tussock strewn moorland grass, and headed along the bridlepath over Turner Hill and then down towards High Shaw Paddock. The steep uphill climb soon had us out of breath and panting, and we had to stop a number of times to get our breath back and to take in the extensive views. As we were ascending Grisedale Common we were being followed by two other people with large rucksacks who gave the impression of backpacking somewhere, although the major long distance routes were not nearby. We continued along the bridlepath, reached the summit of Turner Hill and began the easy descent down to High Shaw Paddock.
On the approach to High Shaw Paddock took an offshoot footpath to our right that led to Shotlock Tunnel. The field in which we walked through was a little rough underfoot with very little definition of the path and made for quite hard going, it was obvious that the footpath through it had not been used in years. We quickly descended the hill and arrived at a small metal gate along which which was a gravel track parallel to the railway lines, we passed through this and turned right over Shotlock tunnel and back onto the B6259 road leading up to Mallerstang.
After crossing the tunnel we arrived at the road and took a right turn to the south west and after about 100 yards we climbed up a steep road embankment to a public footpath that lead through a wall and down a hillside to an area called Beck Side. As in Grisedale, there were a number of run down and derelict farm buildings here, and it must have supported a much larger population that it does currently.
We crossed over the infant River Ure and walked alongside it for a short distance, this obvious riverside path removed some of the planned route and we bypassed some recently rebuilt farmhouses in an area called Lunds. The footpath we took actually ran past what appeared to be an old chapel with a number of long neglected grave stones within the consecrated ground surrounding it. We paused here for a short time and actually went into the chapel itself which was a small stone structure the small valve tower at one end and was whitewashed internally with a timber pew against one gable. There was very little information about this building so I made a mental note to look it up when I got back home to find more about it. It was quite sad looking at the structure and the surrounding gravestones as they have long been forgotten by the families that had paid for them to be erected and to act as a memorial to their loved ones. The majority of the headstones were over 200 years old and date from when the population of this area would have been much larger than it is now. The descendants of these people are most likely moved on to other parts of the country or even the world and wouldn’t know they even exist.
We left the little chapel at Lunds behind and ascended Cowshaw Hill with its lone timber signpost indicating the route of the public footpath we continued making our way along to Blades Farm. On the way to Blades Farm we happened to cross one of the worst fields in existence.
The footpath was marked across the field on the map, however we could see no sign of it when we got there.
nd had to make out an approximate route from A to B. The ground underfoot, which could not be seen due to the length of the grass, was rutted and uneven and increased the risk of twisting one’s ankle. After struggling across this extremely poor ground for fifteen minutes we arrived at the farm track that led to the Blades habitations, and we both agreed that this was the worst path we had ever crossed in a long long time and just walking steadily on even ground was a blessing. We continued along the farm track that led to Blades and passed left through a small gate, behind the buildings and crossed a small secluded beck, and ended up on a gravelled track that provided access to Blades.
Soon this left the Blades access road and turned into a public footpath running alongside the River Ure we stopped at Ure Force where the river tumbled down a number of limestone slabs and created an interesting waterfall and pools.
At this point we walked onto a well made track and a substantial bridge crossing the River Ure which led from Yore House back to the main tarmac road leading up to Mallerstang. We took an obvious shortcut of a footpath along the nice grassy swathe which brought us out directly to the rear of the pub.
We arrived back at the car and changed our footwear (again!) and decided to go back into the Moorcock to rebalance our fluids and also to peruse the menu. We entered the pub and as I approached the bar and ordered a couple of drinks, Mrs Muddy Boots found a table and read through the menu. The menu wasn’t huge, but appeared to be good home cooked food; nothing fancy, nothing drizzled, just good cooking which one would expect in a pub like this. It turned out on reading the menu that this was a “temporary menu” and was only in place until the new owners had managed to find their feet and produce something better – I really hope they stick to well produced ‘pub food’ and not gastropub stuff with jus’, drizzled this and that and pan-seared stuff. The pub was busy but we found a table, sat down and sipped our drinks and studied the menu. A large number of people in the pub were eating too, so we could see what was on offer as various plates of food were brought out, and it looked good too, so we proceeded to go back to the bar and order our evening. We both went for steak pie and chips; the pie was home-made and the proportions provided were more than ample for two hungry walkers. We got stuck into the food when it arrived and really made short work of it, and due to the proportions we had to decline the pudding. After finishing our evening meal and ordering some more drinks the time to leave arrived and we had to reluctantly face the long drive back home.
As we made our way along the A683 towards Sedbergh, and the M6, and drove west into the setting sun, we were treated to a superb sunset with the sun dipping behind the Howgills which was a fitting end to a great day’s walking.
This is the first blog post this year! My! how time flies? I haven’t been out walking for a while, well, since before Christmas to be honest. My forays into the great outdoors were curtailed in the New Year by a very heavy cold, and once this had started fading I had the sybaritic pleasure of a trapped sciatic nerve which figuratively and literally was a pain in the arse. The occasional weekend has been lost to home decorating too – a toss up between the sciatic nerve and decorating as to which was the most pleasurable. I’ll let you decide.
The walk featuring on this post was up Helvellyn. I had been knocking the idea around my friends and neighbours in the village pub where I live, and a number of them quite fancied doing it, but trying to get a consensus on who could do what, and when, was proving a difficult task. I do find that one has to be spontaneous with the outdoors, and you cannot plan on the weather being right so you have to seize the day when the weather provides the opportunity. Unfortunately my friends and neighbours social lives do not work around spontaneity due to football games, grandchildren minding duties, assorted family commitments and wanting to be back home on a Sunday at 4:30pm to start cooking tea when you live alone. As a result of this potential hassle, the walk was just me and Mrs Muddy Boots. It was by no means a new experience for me as I have been up Helvellyn more times than I actually remember and from a variety of different routes at all compass points.
Distance – 7.12 miles
Ascent – 2801 ft
Estimated Time – 6 hrs
We decided to drive up to Glenridding and go via Shap and the Penrith M6 exit, certainly not shortest of routes to Glenridding, but it does avoid Kirkstone Pass and so could be quicker. On the exit from Penrith we called at the Rheged Centre to buy a pair of tickets to the forthcoming Premiere Weekend of Blencathra: Life of a Mountain, the second Lake District documentary by award winning producer and director Terry Abraham, and sequel to the excellent Scafell: Life of a Mountain. Terry is not your ‘usual’ media type, he has a passion for the hills and also for what he does, and more to the point, he is an all round good bloke too. Watch his stuff, it is well worth it – see here for more details of Terry’s web pages, and Terry’s YouTube Channel
Having procured the tickets, and safely stored them away we continued our journey down past Stainton, which holds a number of special memories for me, and then alongside Ullswater to Glenridding. The evidence of the recent floods was still writ large here, with construction machinery and scaffolding still in evidence. We parked at the large car park in Glenridding, and when we went to pay the parking fee we found the card readers for paying the car park fees were out of action, and this posed a dilemma, as being like the Queen and not carrying any cash we had to go and park elsewhere. We drove up towards The Travellers Rest and left the car near there. A quick change to more suitable footwear, and hoisting the rucksack onto my back, we were off. We progressed up the valley to Greenside Mine, a now disused, but still utilised lead mine. The old mine buildings now form a motley collection of outdoor type hostels, including an official YHA place. It is good location to stay, being surrounded by some superb fells.
We took the zig-zag path up by Swart Beck and as we climbed we looked forward to the delights of Lucy’s Tongue. The sudden and steep climb up had us soon gulping for air and stopping frequently to take in the view, and to get our breath back. The path here is a continuation of the Bridleway that forms Sticks Pass and had the appearance of a cart track – I certainly wouldn’t like to be the horse pulling a cart up this slope. We continued plodding upwards and followed the line of Swart Beck and as we approached the summit of the beck we came across a number of cave rescue personnel undertaking a training operation in what was possibly an entrance to the old mines themselves. The ground began to level out and the going got easier as we got closer to the old mine tips. The landscape was quite bizarre up here, and really resembled a moonscape which was the end result of years of mining. At one point we came across a large expanse of sand which formed a ‘beach’ adjacent to Sticks Gill which did look out of place – all that was missing was a bucket and spade and an ice cream seller. In the far distance to the East, below the line of Sticks Pass, we could see the small, triangular shaped, wooden huts of the Lake District Ski Club.
We decided to take the route along the line of the old chimney flue instead of walking along the flanks of Greenside and the Sticks Pass bridleway. The chimney flue route is regularly used as a path to the Ski club huts by its members. What on Earth is a chimney flue doing up here you may ask? The chimney flue was part of the processing works at Greenside Mine. The lead ore processing gave off quite toxic fumes, and so this chimney and flue were constructed to avoid poisoning half of Glenridding when the wind was blowing in the wrong direction. It is some substantial achievement too, however the chimney at the flue termination is nothing Fred Dibnah would be proud of. We continued up the line of the flue along the flanks of Raise, and steadily made progress towards the Ski huts. We decided to take a break near to the chimney and have a sandwich, and to my surprise Mrs MuddyBoots had secreted a sneaky can of beer in her rucksack which certainly made a nice addition to our lunch stop.
After attacking the sandwiches we continued our way upwards and leaving the chimney behind, the path became very indistinct; it is very different in winter as you can see the route others have taken, but once the snow has gone the path disappears too. We slowly worked our way to the toblerone shaped Ski Hut, passed through the timber fences either side of the piste and got ourselves onto the eroded walkers highway that is Sticks Pass.
The going underfoot was certainly easier, but the wind was incredible! We had been in the lee side of the hill on our way up and had felt very little breeze at all, but now we were on a high ridge that runs straight to Helvellyn summit with the wind funnelling straight up the hills to our right overlooking Thirlmere and gaining further speed in the process. It was the sort of wind that catches a hold of your legs as you walk and tries to make you misplace your feet. We continued onwards along the wide path and lost altitude going down to a col above Red Screes only then to climb back up to the summit of Whiteside Bank. To our surprise a couple of mountain bikers appeared over the summit and were making their way down, which was impressive due to the fact that they must have pushed their bikes up to the summit of Helvellyn first in order to make this descent. The MTB’ers passed by us and the ride down looked great fun. The view from the summit was excellent though, with great long range visibility right up to the Solway Firth, and beyond.
Yet again, we went on the roller coaster walk downhill to a ‘Pile of Stones’ according to the map, to then get to the steep rocky approach of Lower Man, which was just one huge pile of stones. From this low, foreshortened angle it really did look quite steep, and my memory of it being like this had faded with time. We gradually ascended Lower Man, and between the puffing and panting we got onto the path leading to the summit of Helvellyn. The approach to Helvellyn summit gradually got easier and the path snaked south west well away from the North East facing cliffs. There was still a substantial cornice overhanging the cliffs and the steep drop down to Red Tarn beyond them and fortunately no footprints in the cornice either – the foolhardy mustn’t have been up here for a while. We passed by the summit cairn and made our way to the summit shelter, a cross shaped stone wall with built in stone seating. This was the first time ever that I had got to the summit of this place and had it to myself (well, apart from Mrs MB). We sat and finished the sandwiches, and she magically produced another tin of beer! The highest beer I had ever had in England. We sat at the summit for about twenty minutes whilst we finished our lunch and consumed the beer, and gratefully took shelter from the incessant wind. I did note a number of cigarette ‘dog ends’ scattered around. I know smoking is classed as anti-social, but I didn’t think smokers were so inconsiderate as to leave remnants of their habit up here too. I had a mental image of someone struggling to get to the summit with all the fresh air that was blowing around, lifting their yellow, bony, nicotine stained fingers up, sparking one up, taking a huge lungful before declaring loudly “..That’s better!“… with a couple of lung wrenching, rasping coughs afterwards just to emphasise the point.
We packed our rucksacks back up and made our way down. For the first part of the route, the way down was the same as the way up. As we picked our way down the ‘quarry’ that was Lower Man and reached the lowest part at the Pile of Stones, the sight of another upwards plod to Whiteside Bank didn’t really fill us with any joy whatsoever. We trudged onwards, the wind still doing its best to knock us over and step by step we arrived at the summit of Whiteside Bank on the return leg. It really didn’t look this far on the map.
At this point our route diverted from the one we came up and lead us south of Raise summit to a path that crossed above Red Screes which gave a great view down to Brown Cove and Keppel Cove. The path here was superb and looked to be recently refurbished, possibly by the ‘Fix the Fells’ team, I don’t know who did it but it made for pleasant going. This was the lull before the storm, as the path progressed it got very steep and took in a number of S-bends that would make an Alpine pass a walk in the park. It is great to find a well made path such as this, but my knees really took a hammering on this way down. I usually find a walking pole helps take some of the punishment off my knees, but I didn’t bring it with me. It does become hard work juggling a walking pole and a DSLR at the same time and a third hand would sometimes be useful.
We continued zig-zagging down the gravel track at the side of Glenridding Common until we got onto the route leading from the disused dam below Keppel Cove. Here the gradient thankfully levelled out and we then had a steady and rapid descent all the way back down to The Travellers Rest.
We usually call in for a pint at the nearest pub at end of any walk, but today we felt so weary that we just changed our boots, climbed in the car, sat there for a while and decided to drive straight back home, where we had a curry awaiting us. The Travellers Rest would have to wait until another time.
It is a good route to take to get up to Helvellyn summit and does avoid the ridge of Striding Edge and Swirral Edge. I have done Striding Edge a number of times, even in winter with crampons and axe, but Mrs Muddy Boots didn’t really fancy doing it again (once was enough apparently), hence this alternative route.