The Blengdale Horseshoe

20th January 2013

It’s been far too long since I found myself way west, in this I mean where the southern fells clash with the western: Wasdale west I like to call it.

My yearly winter climb on Helvellyn was calling & up until I woke this very morning said climb was what I slept upon…that was with the laptop on standby during the night as the Met Office website left a dull glow in my study, a dull glow covered in mist.

Damn it.

They don’t half like leaving the user on the edge that Met Office lot, okay I needed a plan B before my head hits pillow – a scurry across the landing as I checked my chances west, Wasdale west & indeed, Haycock faired slightly better than my Helvellyn plans.

I didn’t take much persuading, okay, I lie I did, my new plans will take me nearly two & a half hours to reach covering around 112 miles, 51 of them along pitch black A & B roads, still, there’s always a snag isn’t there?

I’m going to bed… night.

A winter circular over the Blengdale Valley.


Wainwright Guidebook

The Weatern Fells



Ascent: 3,772 Feet. 1,150 Metres
Wainwrights: 4, Middle Fell – Seatallan – Haycock – Caw Fell
Weather: Summits Seen, Overcast With Mono Conditions Due To Recent Snowfall, Cold. Lows Of 2°C Highs Of 3°C Feels Like -17°C On Tops with Winds 35mph Winds
Parking: Off Road Parking, Greendale
Area: Western
Miles: 12
Walking With: On my own
Ordnance Survey: OL6
Time Taken: 6 Hours 20 Minutes
Route: Greendale – Middle Fell – Seatallan – Pots of Ashes – High Pike How – Haycock – Little Gowder Crag – Caw Fell – Hause – Stockdale Moor – Sampson’s Bratfull – Blengdale Forest – Greendale

Map and Photo Gallery



Buckbarrow from Greendale Cottages 8:13am 2°C

I left Wigan slightly later than I would of liked to, for this I blame my sat-nav & its incapability to take me to Wasdale without a tour of the Ulpha Fells & Devoke water, why O’ why must my sat-nav see this route as the fastest (it probably is if your Colin Mcrae, god rest his soul) route is beyond me. I reach the likes of Newby Bridge – Grizebeck – Foxfield under the cover of darkness & I’m thinking it’s a good job I know the area better than my sat-nav.

I arrive at the south western tip of Wast Water & greet the fells accordingly, tipping my bowler hat if I had one, it’s me I say, I’m back… I get nothing in return in my morning madness, as I gaze upon a snow covered high range of mostly whites & greys.


It’s a gentle start as I leave the hamlet of Greendale behind & make my course for Greendale Gill (C) My frozen path then takes me right towards Middle Fell, but that’s a little while away yet.


A distant Scafell range seen from my morning ascent.


Looking back on Buckbarrow as I reach the Snowline.

It was becoming fairly obvious that my lack of fell time in recent months was becoming more & more apparent so early into the walk. I am yet again a yard off pace & find the ascent difficult to accustom to at first, this hits the best of fell walkers at times but I can’t help beat myself up a little, its not the right way forward so only positive thinking from now on.

It’s not to last.


Looking back on Whin Rigg & Irton Fell just beneath Middle Fell summit.


The Scafells in mono from Middle Fell summit cairn.


A close up of Lingmell, Scafell Pike & Scafell from Middle Fell summit.


Seatallan & Haycock from my Middle Fell descent.

I blaze fresh prints in the new snow as I make my descent off Middle Fell, the snow underfoot is compact & a pleasure to descend at this stage.

It all goes mono from here…


A western skyline including from left to right, Haycock, Scoat Fell, Red Pike (Mosedale) & Pillar far right.


Middle Fell & Greendale Tarn from my Seatallan ascent.

The path that left Middle Fell was clear & easy to follow even with a heavy dusting of snow on the ground. I eye up my route up the steep flanks of Seatallan & ascend in a rather slow fashion…it seems I still haven’t found my walking legs as the ascent seems more like a fight than anything else.

What is becoming more & more apparent by the minute is just how cold the wind is getting. Of course I am dressed in full winter clothing but this wind is like no other as it freezes my bones through to the core even under a sweaty workload.

My hat falls below my left eye… I leave it there.


The summit soon appears & the fight seems more than worth it.

Time to re-adjust.


The Scafells from the expanse of Seatallan’s summit.

I really cant afford to hang around the summit for too long as the wind cuts through me & makes time spent here as uncomfortable as one can imagine, it was time to leave but not before one more photograph.


A distant Kirk Fell & Great Gable from Seatallan summit.


Descending Seatallan as I gaze over Pots of Ashness & Haycock bound, the time is 10:33 with -17°C wind chill.

As I make my descent I am overcome by cold, sheer cold that cuts through my clothing as If I am standing naked, nothing works here just descend Paul – The wind hits me at 35mph which doesn’t sound much, indeed it is not, but add the wind-chill which just cuts through my exposed skin leaving the cheeks on my face almost raw like. Gone are the pins & needles, the brain freeze, its just sheer pain – as if someone was holding a blow-torch over my raw & exposed skin, my face is on fire & extremely painful at this stage.

In the most foreground you may pick out tiny black objects, these are the boulders I am aiming for & the shelter I yearn for, it is here I dig in, take off my pack & apply my ever awaiting neck gaiter over the backs of my ears covering my cheeks at the same time, I top this off with my hat & hood which now gives my ears & head & triple layer.

I have never experienced cold like I did whilst on this descent, I never thought for once that I should end the walk early through the brutality of the cold, for I know this was momentarily & indeed it was.

It was more than a wake up call I guess, now was the time to make something out of this walk should I make the decision to turn around.

The question that was now playing on my mind as my fleece neck gaiter slowly brought my skin back to life was.

Do I have the legs for Haycock?


Haycock & Gowder Crag from Pots of Ashness.

Decision time…


Seatallan & Middle Fell over Pots of Ashness from my Haycock ascent.

It was a tough call, because finding my walking legs right now was easier than finding Charmers Grave, I fight & battle my way up the steep snow covered crags & play the blame game…

What the hell is wrong with you today…

Its a fight you will never win.


Nether Beck & Knotts End from my ascent.

I take the ascent half a dozen steps at a time whilst I cut fresh holes in the deep snow, It is a tiring ascent but I persevere all the time trying to change my mind set.


Red Pike (Mosedale) & Scoat Tarn from my ascent.


lllgill Head, Whin Rigg, Seatallan & Middle Fell from Haycock south cairn.

It was  just under a hour & half ago did I ponder upon Haycock’s summit from the summit cairn at Middle Fell, with tired & heavy legs so early into the walk did I say to myself ‘you just need to get to Haycock Paul’

Little did I know back then that my legs would feel so desperate, so heavy & left so behind.

I’m thinking right at this moment it was my sheer stubbornness that got me here, a fight that I won albeit with a bloodied nose.

I don’t quite know what went wrong & when it happened during this mornings ascents, I questioned my integrity on why I carried on, I answered with the only answer I know.

I then press on towards the main summit cairn.


Haycock summit cairn.

The wind oddly didn’t equal my descent from Seatallan & although it was still bitterly cold I spend some time knowing that it is all down hill from here, time to take a couple of pictures.


Scoat Fell & Steeple from Haycock summit.


Looking west towards Little Gowder Crag (foreground) Caw Fell (L) & Iron Crag (R)


Little Gowder Crag.

Caw Fell can be seen far left as I make my way towards Little Gowder Crag, I have only once took the liberty to go over the top of this noblet of rock, most times I flank it which can be easily done by crossing the stone wall & picking up a well worn path.


The same path navigates Stockdale Head seen left in the photo, the same valley my walk is centred around today.


Seatallan seen over Stockdale Head & the Blengdale valley.


Caw Fell bound.


Haycock & Little Gowder Crag seen from Caw Fell summit cairn.


Bearing down on the Hause as I prepare to make my descent.

With no real paths to speak of the next three miles will be done with the lay of the land in mind. I tussle my descent with frozen grassy tussocks almost causing me to lose my balance on more than one occasion, I figure I am in need of a rest but with no real shelter to speak of I tell myself to wait until the end of the ridge whilst at the Hause, which is towards the end of the ridge at the end of the snowline.


It can be a lonely place…


The ‘Hause’ summit cairn & the nearest thing I have seen to a structure for the past three miles.


Stockdale Moor.

In all essence one of the main reasons I penned this walk over a month ago was to include ‘Samson’s Bratfull’ a collection of Neolithic Long Barrow antiquities.

Again the moorland is almost pathless with just a faint passage through yet more frozen grass tussocks, I check my G.P.S for the location of the Neolithic stones & decide with the faint middle path.

I ponder at this point if I am on any path at all of my choice, only the far right path resembles anything path like -  I continue over frozen ground breaking ice & sinking through frozen bog, this was not one of my finer choices but I stick with it & soon come across the ancient stones


Hause & Caw Fell from Sampson’s Bratfull.

Sampson’s Bratfull, Stones dropped from the apron of a giant as he strode across the moor, or so legend has it.


Lank Rigg & Boat How from an adjacent set of stones.

Time to rest.


A distant glimmer from the River Esk as it makes its way into the Irish Sea from Stockdale Moor.


Seatallen & Haycock as I cross the River Bleng.


Frozen icicles along the River Bleng.


The Scafells above Greendale.

My mood picks up more so above Nether Wasdale, it is here I sight familiar territory with a glimpse of Whin Rigg over frozen moorland. The sun is slowing setting at the end of another day, my body is returning back to normal, over heating at some points, but I leave my neck gaiter on for the duration of the return to Greendale, sweating or not.

I question my fitness & rule out the time spent in the past months & weeks under the strain & tensions that I have been under, I go on to blame my appetite or rather lack of it, rather than what I know is the truth.

I figure I have a bit more time to come until I find my true legs again, today I punished them with a twelve mile walk in the mist of winter, something that I have never done, so was today a learning curve or just the kick up the ass you needed?


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