Seldom Said

Friday, June 30, 2006

Hartsop Above How

Hartsop Above How

Determined to squeeze in at least one conventional fell walk on our otherwise unconventionally gentle walking holiday, we headed over the Kirkstone Pass to Patterdale. From the car park at Cowbridge, we climbed steeply up through Low Wood, which was something of an ordeal in the sweltering heat. Once above the treeline, however the views back towards Kirkstone, down into the Hartsop vale and along the ridge to Patterdale were wonderful. Ahead of us the ridge led enticingly away towards craggy fells, with views either side into Deepdale and Dovedale. Marvellous.

We only went as far as the summit of Hartsop Above How, a fine vantage point from which to admire the more substantial fells ahead, but that's not to say that we didn't find these various Crags - Dove, Hart and Scrubby - an almost irresistibly enticing prospect. Joined by some inquisitive visitors, however, we settled for having some coffee and cake there while we admired St Sunday Crag on the other side of Deepdale. Retracing our steps along the ridge, we enjoyed some more hazy views of Patterdale and even encountered some unexpected old friends on the way down.

A thrilling high-level walk to end our week on, and one that we shall no doubt revisit at a later date...

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Thirlmere and Launchy Gill

Launchy tarn

Thirlmere can come over all a dark and menacing as you drive by on the A591, but if you turn off at its southern end and follow the single track road along its western shore, it can present a much kinder face.

We stopped at the second car park and followed a path beside the shore, from the little bay at Dob Gill, around Hause Point to Launchy Gill. It was a little overgrown in places, but the shady woodland and delicious views across the lake were wonderful and we encountered surprisingly few other walkers and heard very few cars on the road above. The path goes on and on, but we were restricting ourselves to a short section, determined to gain a bit of altitude.

From a distance, the impressive heights of Bull Crag and Fisher Crag that bracket this tumbling stream might seem a little daunting, but the nature trail that leads up past a series of pretty waterfalls is fairly forgiving - or at least to begin with. Entranced the views back towards the lake and the numerous veils and cascades of water, we didn't really notice that our path (a spur off the well-trodden nature trail) was a lot steeper until we reached the top of one of the falls. At this point the going became a little hairy, but we eventually negotiated the precipitous path and an allegedly walker-proof fence to emerge onto an unexpectedly beautiful plateau.

After tearing myself away from the immediate (and glorious) distractions, we followed Launchy Gill up towards Bell Crags, enjoying a leisurely stroll beside the peaceful watercourse. The weather was completely gorgeous by this stage, so we paused for a long time beside Launchy Tarn before moving on to higher ground, drinking in views of distant Blencathra and the surrounding fells on the way.

There was no shortage of wildlife to slow us down, but we did eventually reach the edge of the forest above Dob Gill. We clambered up onto Brown Rigg to feast our eyes for a while longer on the spectacular views, especially those of our favourite hill and the much closer Helvellyn Screes, then began our descent towards Thirlmere. The lake certainly looked dark, but it was far from menacing and even lower down the views were simply glorious. An unexpected gem of a walk.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Lazy day


Inclement weather and extreme laziness were the dominant themes today, but we did get out later on for a very local walk with some fine views of the Fairfield Horseshoe. We also came across a stunned fledgling who sat still to have its picture taken and then fluttered off to have another go at this flying thing. No visit to Ambleside would be complete without a trip to the diminutive local cinema, so continued our tradition of seeing daft but entertaining tosh here (beginning with The Attack of The Clones on our honeymoon) by going to see The Da Vinci Code.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Tarn Hows and Black Fell

Tarn view

Tarn Hows is an popular area of forest and parkland near Hawkshead, containing a large tarn and visited by over a million tourists a year. It was landscaped by a wealthy industrialist in the 1860s and later acquired by a Mrs Heelis (better known as Beatrix Potter), who sold half of it to the National Trust and left them the remainder in her will. It was designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest in 1965.

Like many popular places in the Lakes, it you don't have to go far to escape the crowds. We left the level paths by the tarn and headed up onto Tom Heights, finding some dainty-looking damselflies and the odd beetle, as well as some fine (but still hazy) views. More winged and shiny wildlife diverted us on our way towards Black Fell, a modest but well-placed hill just off the Cumbria Way.

The route there took us through Iron Keld, a once-densely-forested area that has been drastically thinned by the Trust in recent years. The pervasive haze meant that we could see little more than a nearby ladder stile when we reached the summit, but the views soon opened up to reveal Coniston Water (with Tarn Hows in the foreground), Windermere (with Ambleside on the left) and the Langdales, as well as nearby Wetherlam.

Heading back down to Tarn Hows, we joined the multitude for a circuit of the tarn and almost immediately encountered a section of water much frequented by a certain variety of winged insect. As I stalked my favourite prey with the camera, Alice sat on a grassy bank and marvelled at the huge numbers of damselflies that swarmed all about her. The sun and abundance of suitable habitat nearby had obviously produced a bumper crop of the little blue blighters.

We encountered a few other residents as we wandered happily through the shady woodland and enjoyed the beautiful tarn. Sure, there were lots of gorgeous fells in the distance to tempt us, but it was good to enjoy - and take our time over - a gentle walk for a change.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Hazy day

Hazy view

Continuing the theme of modest half-day walks in the locality, we drove the short distance up the road to White Moss Common and embarked upon another pleasant amble, this time heading up above Grasmere towards Silver How. We had some hazy views of the surrounding fells (see above) and never quite made it to our original objective, but it was a lovely warm day nevertheless and we rewarded ourselves with an ice cream in Grasmere village. Can't be bad.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

First day away

Moss jungle

The first full day of our holiday in the Lake District, staying in a tiny one-up-one-down cottage in the heart of Ambleside. At the beginning of the year, we had planned to go mountain climbing in Scotland this week, but the prospect of our expected arrival (due August 17th) prompted a change of plans. The weather wasn't terribly inspiring and Alice wasn't sure how far she could comfortably walk, so we opted for a modest jaunt over to Jenkin Crag and Skelghyll Woods. The views were unspectacular, but it was great to be out in the fresh air and the sight of tempting fells in the distance and the usual diversions of local flora and fauna whetted our appetites for more.

Inconsequential thoughts rarely worth muttering out loud