Fells, Circles & Highways

19th february 2011

This weekend had been planned as  a stay over in Lakeland, Tim my walking buddy had a free weekend so something mammoth from Eskdale had been planned, then as the weeks got closer I found I had to shelve the stay over & plan something a little less epic, the Kentmere Horseshoe, something as a walker of the Fells nearing four years I still hadn’t completed the whole round, a burning stomach tickling sensation ensured that this weekend after putting it off twice before the Kentmere Horseshoe was going to be completed.

Weather watching has been become a weekly exercise for me, keeping up to date on a daily basis especially if I have an excursion ahead of me has become something of the norm, as I guess much more a hardened fell walker. This week in particular we found  the snow had returned & as much as I love the snow & many a wintery scene I’d damned had enough of the white stuff now so as imagined I wasn’t best pleased at having to rearrange yet another weekend walk due to the weather.

Ok, something else I also enjoy is the plan of a walk, & it was up to me this weekend to find something much more low key yet still enjoy the lesser heights of high ridge walks & brutal twelve mile hikes this I have never done before,  planning this little tour of Lakeland came to me the thinking ‘you don’t always have to be 800 Meters up a ridge to enjoy all of what Lakeland has to offer’

The weather however I can do noting about.


Wainwright Guidebook

The Northern Fells

Latrigg is to Keswick what Loughrigg is to Ambleside and Helm Crag to Grasmere : a small hill, an excellent viewpoint, a great favourite of local folk and visitors. Latrigg is pastoral and parkland in character, not rough fell, and the summit is the easiest of promenades, so that this is not a climb calling for old clothes and heavy boots ‘Sunday best’ is quite appropriate.


Ascent: 239.5 Feet, 73 Meters
Wainwrights: 1, Latrigg
Weather: Over Cast & Blustery Highs Of 4° Lows Of 3°
Parking: Car Park,Top Of Gale Road Latrigg
Area: Northern
Miles: 1.2
Walking With: tim Oxburgh
Ordnance Survey: OL4
Time Taken:  

Map and Photo Gallery



We didn’t bother to shoulder packs for as as Wainwright explained ‘this is a small hill fit for Sunday best’  I didn’t get wise to the fact it would still be blowing a gale up there & held my camera ‘in hand’ & with no gloves my hands & fingers soon began to feel the numbness from the biting wind.

Looking back at the top of Gale Road car park & Skiddaw’s massif looming under low cloud.


We really didn’t expect views as good as this, here over looking the town of Keswick, Derwent Water & the north western fells. I was a little intrigued as to ‘where was all the snow’ that had been forecast, so much so that I had even packed a snow shovel in the car, my heart on the way up had been panicking to say the least, yes we saw from  the motorway the Pennines had had its fair share of snowfall but the Lake District escaped relatively untouched except for the higher fells of course to which today we would be avoiding.


Commanding views towards Keswick & Derwent Water.


Menacing cloud over Clough Head, the small Tarn you see is Tewit Tarn & Low Rigg.


‘Clough Head’ Picture courtesy of Tim Oxburgh.


Sunlight spilling over Walla Crag,.this our next destination but not before paying a visit to one of my favourite Lakeland haunts… Castlerigg Stone Circle.


Overview - Walk 2 Walla Crag from Castlerigg
Ascent: 577.5 Feet, 176 Metres
Wainwrights: 1, Walla Crag
Weather: Low level Cloud Remaining Between 500/600 Meters, Blustery  With Outburst Of Sunshine, Highs Of 4°
Parking: Castlerigg Stone Circle, Castle Rigg
Area: Central
Miles: 4.4
Walking With: tim Oxburgh
Ordnance Survey: OL4
Time Taken:  


After leaving Latrigg behind we hit the road towards Keswick & Castlerigg, this, the second part of the days proceedings found us at one of Europe’s oldest Neolithic Stone Circles predating 3,000 BC.

Castlerigg stone Circle


We were here early enough to have the place to ourselves, as I skirted the rolling field in search of the perfect shot Tim took time to have a wonder about these ancient stones & reflect upon his Grandmother of whom her ashes lay scattered on this very spot.


We discussed in which manner should we get to Walla Crag from Castlerigg, we both agreed to walk as if ‘driving’ seemed cheating almost, If we had of chosen to drive we wouldn’t of had the experience of walking this quaint narrow  lane with views ahead to Walla Crag. The name of this lane? what else ..Castle Lane.


Walla Crag nearing the end of Castle Lane with the junction of the A591.


Rakefoot Farm with Walla Crag Behind.


Crossing Brockle Beck ‘There’s a perfectly good bridge there Tim’!


The given scene in every direction, Blencathra laid low today.


Walla Crag summit cairn, with a cloud topped Bleaberry Fell in the distance.


Tim, taking in the breathtaking views.


A snow capped Catbells & the north western fells.


Looking towards Latrigg.

I would imagine this fell being ever popular with tourist come spring & summer, after all with views of this proportion who could blame them, I was glad on the other hand we had the summit to ourselves for a good five minutes until the next jeans & trainer clad walker ascended onto the summit.. as Tim explained ‘this is a jeans & trainer walk Paul’


A close up of Derwent Isle House, circa 1788.


Cloud briefly lifting to reveal the Dodd’s & a small glimpse of Calfhow Pike.

Overview - Walk 3 Great Crag from Watendlath
Ascent: 836.6 Feet, 225 Meters
Wainwrights: 1, great Crag
Weather: The Cloud Had Dropped Dramatically During The Morning & Into The Afternoon, Visibility Down To 50 Meters, Small & Blustery Snow Showers, Lows of 2° Highs Of 3°
Parking: Car Park in Watendlath. (Pay & Display) £4.20 For Four & Half Hours
Area: Central
Miles: 3.3
Walking With: tim Oxburgh
Ordnance Survey: OL4
Time Taken:  


Crossing the pack horse bridge over Watendlath Beck, the weather had notably got colder & bleaker as we gained what little altitude it was in getting here, what ever it was, Latrigg seemed a long time ago…


Watendlath Tarn with Watendlath Fell in the distance.


The snow was wet & slippy for the rest of the duration, not good under foot at all, we also seemed to be losing the views.


Grange Fell from our ascent, under any other circumstances this peak had our names written all over it, however the weather was closing in & we didn’t much fancy wading & slurping our way through the snow covered bog land in order to get there.

‘Grange Fell’ you was haplessly close to a summit today but you will have to wait until finer weather arrives. A little disappointed yes we were.


A somewhat murky summit shot on Great Crag, I’d just dropped the camera in the snow wading through what Alfred Wainwright described as ‘arduous and difficult’ heather walking, he was right, it isn’t nice at all & for the rest of the walk I had to let my camera dry out on whatever I had dry on me,..which was nothing!


Dock Tarn, a place I had always wanted to visit but hopefully in better conditions than we had today, it was such a shame the days walking had been reduced to low visibility shots, I was happy with our work throughout the morning, equally Tim was but the latter end of today’s hike had turned a little disappointing to say the least.


I know Dock Tarn has its beauty, but on days like this the beauty is almost hidden with the bleakness of the low cloud & isolation.


Back in the wonderful hamlet & beauty that  is Watendlath, smears on my camera lens showing signs the camera is not fully dried out!

My plan had been executed & I & Tim were more than happy with the day we’d spent in Lakeland on what was to be supposed a ‘Five weather warning day’ I felt for the walker sat at home just like I could of been possibly feeling wasted at not being on the fells.

Today has been a huge turn around for me in the way I look at the fells, This was the first time I had a used transport in between fells on a scale such as today, a first time I had walked a ‘lane’ & crossed the A591 on foot. Parking as close to a fell & gaining height is all I am used too.

Today I changed all that, I feel I’ve broke into a different way of enjoying Lakeland in all weathers


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