|Date:||4th Mar 2008|
|Stats:||12.5 miles, 2600 feet|
|Weather:||Clear blue skies, warm in the sunshine, bitterly cold on the tops|
|Trig Points:||2: TP3614 – Hardings Booth, TP3813 – High Wheeldon|
|Other Info:||Free parking in small town square in Longnor, toilets and pubs nearby|
|Summary:||Longnor, Heath House, Shining Ford, Hollinsclough, Stoop Farm, Chrome Hill, Hitter Hill, High Wheeldon, Longnor|
Key to symbols:
= Trig Point
Rather oddly I was on a training course this week. Which in itself is not odd at all. The odd part is that it was a virtual learning course, conducted over the web with special software and unfortunately being run from California! The result is a 16:00 start to my working day and a 23:00 finish. This time shifting allowed me to get out on a couple of walks though and take advantage of the reasonable weather this week.
I decided to start in the Peaks, a recent snow shower dissuaded me from attempting anything high in the Lakes; simply because that’s when you start to need ice axes and crampons – hardware I don’t think i will ever possess. Judging by Rambling Pete’s walk up the Old Man though – I missed a treat (his walk report can be found here). I chose a route along the Dragon’s Back; a series of exposed coral reefs running end-to-end for a couple of miles near Longnor. There was also a pair of trig points that I should have bagged on a previous walk, but had missed due to time constraints.
The drive in to the Peaks was wonderful, everywhere was covered in a couple of inches of snow and there were small drifts alongside many of the roads, certainly off the main thoroughfares. This is Chrome Hill seen from the Hollinsclough to Longnor road. I couldn’t resist stopping to get a shot.
Although the depth is deceptive, this is Longnor with High Wheeldon in the background. The snow was already beginning to melt off. When I was in the sunshine and sheltered from the wind this was a lovely warm walk. Unfortunately when the wind hit and I was in shade it was bitterly cold. I started the walk in just base layer and thin fleece but soon had to don my coat to combat the wind and cold. In fact I put my coat on and took it off again, three times during the day.
First stop of the morning was the trig point at Hardings Booth. A good covering of snow underfoot here. I needed to trespass a little bit to bag this one and it was overlooked by a caravan park all the way. A surprising number of “tin tents” were already in-situ in the park – takes all sorts I suppose.
The sheep and early spring lambs were delighted to see me! I think they were hoping for a hand-out. These lambs look to be a few weeks old already and bleated for ages, even after I left them behind – the other side of a cattle grid.
In the lower sections of the walk the snow has mostly melted away, except in the shade of walls. Looking towards Chrome Hill here.
And the prize for the most pointless stile goes to…. In fact this is not quite as pointless as the stile Mich and Sid came across recently. The fence has been removed temporarily just out of shot 🙂 The next stile along this wall gave me the biggest fright I’ve had since I started walking though! The top step had come away from the supporting pole and as I placed my weight on it the step slid away and my leg fell between the top plank and the bottom step, I lost my balance and fell sideways to land on the floor in a heap. If the top step had slid the other way my leg would have been stuck between the two steps and my body weight falling in the other direction would certainly have snapped my trapped leg. A sobering thought to say the least.
The rutted farm track leading down to Hollinsclough, the ever present Chrome Hill in the background.
Parkhouse Hill is another of the hills that make up the Dragon’s Back.
You know what this is by now. Nearly all the snow has gone from the western flanks of the hill, highlighting the contours nicely.
Looking down the length of Parkhouse Hill with High Wheeldon behind it.
I’ve looped around Hollins Hill now and I’m approaching Chrome Hill from the north west. Although there is no public right of way across the hill and it’s not actually on access land, there has been a concessionary agreement reached with the landowner to allow access to this superb pointy summit. I guess it was either that or just live with all the walkers who were trespassing on the hill anyway.
The best way to get on the hill from the north is to head for the Stoop farm access road that leaves the minor public road at SK065683. From here there are signposts showing the concessionary path to Chrome Hill. The path runs around the north of Tor Rock and then drops down steeply to the base of Chrome Hill.
Still some of the deeper drifts of snow hanging around to add an interesting foreground fill to shots like this.
Approaching the summit. Very, very windy at this point and bitterly cold.
The view of Parkhouse Hill, Hitter Hill and High Wheeldon from the summit of Chrome Hill. I’d decided to skip the steep climb up Parkhouse Hill, just so I had the energy to reach the top of High Wheeldon, which has a trig point. I like the way the hill is green on one side and white on the other.
A closer look at Parkhouse Hill, you can just see the path leading up from the base.
Of course, now that the snow and ice have melted, its mud everywhere! The stark contrast of smelly farm and beautiful hills which you get quite a lot of in the Peak District.
Made it! The summit of High Wheeldon, looking back along the route. Hitter Hill in the foreground, with Parkhouse Hill in shade and the curving sharp ridge of Chrome Hill.
The foot of High Wheeldon. Lovely and warm in the sunshine down here, it was bitterly cold on the top of the hill. The rock wall ahead was being scaled by two climbers – they didn’t seem to appreciate me telling them there was a much easier footpath to the top, just round the side of the hill.
|Date:||24th Mar 2008|
|Stats:||10.0 miles, 2900 feet|
|Weather:||Clear and sunny, deep snow, very cold and windy on the tops|
|Wainwrights:||3: Arnison Crag, Birks, St. Sunday Crag|
|Other Info:||Free parking and toilets in Patterdale village, gets very busy!|
|Summary:||Patterdale, Arnison Crag, Birks, St. Sunday Crag, Deepdale Hause, Grisedale Tarn, Grisedale Forest path to Patterdale|
Key to symbols:
= Wainwright Summit
Rob was available this weekend for a walk and despite wanting to do Scafell Pike, I sort of vetoed the idea on the basis of the recent weather and the fact that I own neither ice axe or crampons, both of which I felt would be needed for an ascent of the tallest peak in England. As it was we decided to do St. Sunday Crag instead and we could have made good use of both these items of equipment, as well as snow shoes!
Oxford Crag, the first (but by no means the last) steep climb of the day
More artistic folk have already passed this way (but not today)
As we reached the snow line, Rob marked our names in the snow by the path. He became a little upset that I had a walking nickname and he didn’t. We spent the next 5 hours trying to come up with something suitable, with varying degrees of success. He insisted on the name being something walking related and appropriately rugged and manly. Finally on the way home in the car, after dismissing several hundred options during the day he roared his approval at my suggestion of Tex Gore!! A name to strike fear into the hearts of evil madmen everywhere (or at least those who wander the hills of Lakeland).
Catstye Cam poking its head above the ridge leading to Striding Edge, the wall in the centre contains ‘Hole-in-the-wall’
The beautiful vistas we experienced today were unprecedented, I’ve never walked anywhere so glorious
Hartsop, sheltered in the valley, backed by Hartsop Dodd and Gray Crag
Our path up the side of Birks follows the thin dotted line from middle left, which is the old broken wall. Following the broken wall up the side of Birks was slippery going, with the snow getting deeper and covering the stones and rocks.
On the ascent of Birks, another steep slope.
The snow was by now well over a foot deep in places, drifting even deeper in parts. There is no path here, even when there’s no snow, so its just a matter of picking your way up the side of the hill.
Snow is drifting to knee level now and we keep falling into deep drifts
Wherever we looked there were stunning views. The weather was superb for winter walking. Although it was bitterly cold in the wind, with a wind chill factor of something like -10 degrees, there was no haze to spoil the long shots.
Rob approaching St. Sunday Crag across the windswept tundra – now there’s a word you don’t use very often 🙂
Looking across the snowdrifts towards St. Sunday Crag
Snow tracks, very deep in places, on approach to St. Sunday Crag
An almost Alpine quality to this shot of Rob approaching St. Sunday Crag. Much deeper drifts now, above the knee as we climb higher.
Very windy, with snow being driven across the summit of St. Sunday Crag
Me on a very, very windy and bitterly cold summit of St. Sunday Crag. The water has frozen in the tube of my Platypus
I have four layers on the top and two on the bottom. Fortunately the only cold part of me is my ankles. When you’re walking through deep snow, it gets over the tops of your boots and in the cuffs of your trousers, I’m not complaining though – this is going to be a hard walk to beat in 2008.
Helvellyn (right) and Striding Edge (far right) from St. Sunday Crag
Fairfield from the path down St. Sunday Crag
Inverted footprints in the snow on the way down St. Sunday Crag. Snow compressed beneath a boot is revealed as the loose snow around it is blown away
Grisedale Tarn (looking like a
puddle of mercury) with Seat Sandal behind, from the path down St. Sunday Crag
The path up to Fairfield (left), Grisedale Tarn and Seat Sandal (centre) and our path to Patterdale below Dollywaggon Pike (right)
Fairfield looms ahead.
Rob is wearing every layer he has brought with him and he tells me he is just about warm enough. The wind chill is around -10 we guess. It is here we meet the first walker of the day – several hours into our walk – he has just walked up from Deepdale. He is somewhat surprised to see us and we all try to avoid the wide yellow stain he has just left in the pristine snow bank nearby.
Hart Crag from St. Sunday Crag
Another shot of Hart Crag, taken from Deepdale Hause. Its about to get hairy from here!
The descent from St. Sunday Crag – hairy at times, but great fun
At Deepdale Hause, I had planned to follow the narrow path down to Grisedale Tarn, avoiding the climb up to Fairfield. However, the snow had completely obliterated the path and we spent an uncomfortable 40 minutes slipping and scrambling down to the tarn. The snow had filled the gulleys and without the path to aid us, we both dropped into deep drifts, sometimes up to our waists, where we had to roll down the drift to more stable surfaces. Despite one or two hairy moments, we both agreed it was a lot of fun – but only once we reached the path by the tarn.
We’ve been skittering over hidden rocks, wading across snow filled gulleys and scrambling over frozen rocks and grass for 20 minutes now and we’re still a long way from the tarn.
Despite Rob’s suggestion, we couldn’t cut north down the side of St. Sunday crag towards the valley, as we were separated from the path home by Grisedale Beck and a steep climb on the other side of the beck. We had to push on to the tarn and pick up the path there.
20 minutes later and we’re almost at Grisedale Tarn. The weather, a capricious beast at the best of times in the Lakes, has closed in. We’d got down from the peaks not a moment too soon. Fortunately it changed back within 15 minutes, to clear skies.
We didn’t linger at the tarn. Preferring instead to push on for the warmth of the car at Patterdale. We started to meet lots of other walkers now, from both directions. The path is treacherous and icy, and runs between deep snow, thanks to many many boots. But it’s heaven compared to the scramble we just experienced down the side of St. Sunday Crag.
Ahead, the snow gives way to grass on the fellside
Ruthwaite Lodge – a landmark on the Coast to Coast – only 80 minutes to Patterdale from here
Snow storm on the way back to Patterdale
We ended the walk by spending over 3 hours in Bank Holiday traffic on the M6.
To coin a phrase from Rambling Pete: Walking…. it’s great… Traffic… it sucks!!