Friday, April 18, 2014

The Old Crown Round Fell Race Route

popular day on Skiddaw

A red hot Good Friday was the day we chose to have a crack at The Old Crown Round fell race route.  The route exists in different guises but the premise is that you visit fells that have a beer named after them made by the Hesket Newmarket Brewery and served in The Old Crown Pub.

route and elevation - 22 miles all in

Apronful of Stones - our track up is the one on the left
The race starts and ends at The Old Crown pub but we decided to start and end at a place called 'Apronful of Stones' at the bottom of the track leading up to Carrock Fell.

This is a fairly steep initial climb but then the gradient evens out.  It was cool as we set off, at about 8.30am, but we soon warmed up.  Conditions were very dry making it easier going than the last time I was here in full waterproofs, low cloud and midgie swarms.

Being Good Friday and hot, there were lots of people out and we met the first few on this initial climb and then another person at the summit.

Carrock Fell looking over to Bowscale Fell, our next objective

Heading down from Carrock Fell, Paul guided us on a decent route avoiding the gorse and worst of the rubble and scree.  We danced around a bit looking up and down the river before deciding there was no ideal part to cross and that we should just paddle across.  I wasn't too happy about getting my feet wet so early but there was no other alternative.

at Bowscale Fell looking back to Carrock Fell
Once across, we took it easy on the climb to Bowscale Fell and then took in the nice easy descent to the path junction where you begin the climb of Foule Crag.  Looking over at the mass of people on Sharp Edge, I said to Paul that I had never been over it, so we decided to cut across and head up Blencathra that way.

There were throngs of people crossing Sharp Edge.  Who can blame them, it was ideal conditions, dry with no wind.  I enjoyed going this way, another thing to tick off the list.

Soon enough we were at the top and then we headed down.  We set off descending towards the Cloven Stone but then Paul suggested heading down the gill to the Cumbria Way track.  We did this and aimed our exit onto the track just right, coming out at a bridge about a mile from Skiddaw House, our next point.  Lots more people to say hello to on this track.

Paul tries to count the people on Sharp Edge

zoomed in

looking down to Scales Tarn from Sharp Edge

sharp edge

looking down Hall's Fell Ridge, famous Bob Graham Round descent route from Blencathra

bank holiday Blencathra summit

at the top of the Sale How track looking south to Skiddaw Little Man, a paraglider and lots of fells

up to Skiddaw
The climb up and over Sale How to Skiddaw was difficult.  I've come down this track before and it's a brilliant descent but today, in the heat and with miles already in the bag, it was tough going.  We took it easy, had a few stops, fuelled up and eventually got up to Skiddaw.

We watched a paraglider effortlessly float around above Skiddaw Little Man then joined the bank holiday crowds on the top.

Skiddaw summit
The descent was via the Bob Graham track down Blake Hill and Hare Crag.  A fast descent in good conditions and then another climb up to Great Calva.

This track is always wet but we trudged it out and eventually got to the top.

Great Calva was windy on top.  We checked the map, I adjusted my shoes and socks which hadn't really been right since crossing the river earlier and then scoped out the rest of the route.  The track to Knott looked very manageable.  It was, but it did get steeper as we got nearer.

Great Calva
From Knott we picked out indistinct tracks to Lingy Hut, a bothy type shed building on Great Lingy Hill.  We checked the hut out, I signed the guestbook and then we continued on over on the Cumbria Way.

After not too much more time, the welcome sight of High Pike, our last fell, rose up from the horizon and we trotted up the path to bag the summit.

There is an old mine track that takes you nicely along Carrock Beck and back to the road.  I thought that this would be a nice end to the run but actually found it tough going as my legs were so tired.  
A short run up the road took us back to the car and completed the run.

Knott summit, looking back to Great Calva in the middle, Skiddaw on the top right, Lonscale Fell behind Great Calva on the left.

Lingy Hut

High Pike, last fell - well done Paul!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Hart Side, Dodds and Clough Head

Clough Head summit looking over towards Lonscale Pike, Skiddaw and Blencathra.  Dodd, the fell we walked up yesterday can be seen jutting out on the left.  Hazy conditions today.

A nice run out today taking in the Dodds from a less popular starting point.  Cockley Moor is about a mile down the road towards Dowthwaitehead.  Dowthwaitehead brought back memories of the GL3d from 2013.  Very fond memories, after running down the road to Dowthwaitehead, I would start to follow the same path that we began the GL3d on before heading off towards Hart Side, the fell that I thought I had been to on Monday, only to realise further downhill that I had been to Whte Stones.  When I got to Hart Side, I confess that I got my gps out to confirm I was where I thought I was but I was pretty sure I was as I remembered the cairn I rested behind the last time I was here.

From Hart Side I picked up a nice path up to Stybarrow Dodd.  I looked left towards Raise and Helvellyn, still a bit of snow around and it was tempting to run along to Helvellyn and back but it was windy and I knew it would be more windy up there so I headed the other way over to Watson's Dodd and then on to Great Dodd.  I had the option of a route back down to the car here but I decided to carry on to Clough Head, visiting Calfhow Pike on the way.  From Clough Head, I found my way down to the Old Coach Road and carried on along it back to the car.

A bit windier than yesterday but still not bad at all and a nice 11 mile round.

down the road towards Dowthwaitehead

Birkett Fell is a subsidiary of Hart Crag - here looking over Watermillock Common and Ullswater

from Hart Side looking towards Stybarrow Dodd

looking back from the climb up Stybarrow Dodd to White Stones on the right and Hart Sid beyond on the left.  I took the path around White Stones which was a great running track.

from Stybarrow Dodd looking West

at Watson's Dodd looking back to Stybarrow Dodd.

and up to Great Dodd
at Great Dodd looking back across the Dodds to Helvellyn

and north to Clough Head with Calfhow Pike in between

from Calfhow Pike looking down to Thirlmere

at Clough Head looking over to Blencathra

down at the Old Coach Road after a rough descent down Clough Head.  Wolf Crags ahead on the left.  From here it was a nice easy two miles along this track back to the car

looking back along the track to Clough Head

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Dodd with the Family

Hannah and I atop Dodd, her seventh Wainwright

I tend towards having my holidays at different times to the kids but now and again, they have to intersect.  Hannah is six years old and was keen to get up a mountain.  She's gradually ticking off her Wainwrights with the obvious little ones under her belt.  With the whole family coming, I had to pick somewhere pushchair accessible and the only one I could think of was Dodd.

Hannah has tried going up here before but gave up before the top.  Today we had another family with us which obviously motivated Hannah to complete the job.  They all had their tired moments but I think they were all very happy to get to the top.

initial steep climb

a nice viewpoint around the corner

the gang

lots of good climbing practice

almost there now

we did it!

found a lizard on the way down

Monday, April 14, 2014

Glencoyne, Watermillock Common and Gowbarrow

looking south down Ullswater from Brown Hills area on Watermillock Common

looking towards Glencoyne Head from the climb
I was out on my own today so it was an opportunity to explore new ground.  I've been looking at the nice ledge track around Glencoyne for a while.  We ran a bit of it on the GL3d last year where we crossed Glencoyne to get to Birkhouse Moor.

path and wall junction - where I eventually wanted to go
My plan today was to park at the Glencoyne car park (this is the NT car park right by the side of Ullswater before you get to Glenridding) and then head up the side of the valley, around the top and then pick up the track that goes along the wall below Watermillock Common.  This is a track that I spied on Google Earth, looking like it is a nice long descent.  I wasn't wrong, but more of that later.

As I climbed the path, I noticed that the path continues to climb up to the point where I wanted to head off along the wall.  I knew that it was passable with a little bit of care at the top of the valley, Glencoyne Head, but thought it might be better to climb up to the top of Glencoyne Head and then drop down to the wall.

Once up Glencoyne Head, I decided to carry on over to Hart Crag.  There are tracks in the grass here and the gradient levels out.  It was only when running down to the aforementioned wall that I realised that I had missed Hart Crag and instead visited an area known as White Stones.

Once I had dropped down to the wall, I followed the track north east for about two miles.  Very nice running here, single track, a few easy climbs but mostly very comfortably downhill.  At the car park in the disused quarry, there were a couple of NT Rangers that I recognised from Fix the Fells.  They are doing a lot of work at Aira Force, around Gowbarrow Fell and along Ullswater shore.  There was an option to shorten the run here, heading back down the road and picking up a path back to Glencoyne but the run around Gowbarrow is so nice that I couldn't resist.

looking back down the track at Glencoyne

the track I am on carries on all the way around the valley and can be seen intersecting with the wall at the top centre of this picture.  The wall halfway down this wall is the one I want to pick up and run along.

up to a snowcapped Helvellyn from Nick Head (the top of Glencoyne Valley)

Helvellyn and Raise from - duh, White Stones.  The ski lift can be seen on Raise
the (general) direction of travel - really nice running from here to the road at Parkgate Farm

looking back to where I had come from, lots of good running here.  Just beyond this point I took a right instead of a left which would have taken me to the top of Hart Crag.

Watermillock Common is the long fell below.  I'm running down to it and then along from right to left, dropping down to a really nice path along the wall.

looking back across Glencoyne.  The track I took looks steeper from here.

looking south down Ullswater.  The path I want is along the wall below and runs very nicely all the way to Parkhouse Farm, our usual parking spot for Gowbarrow Fell.

on top of Gowbarrow and I think that might be the wall I ran along in the middle of the picture

great singletrack around Gowbarrow
I was getting a bit tired by now and walked all the way up to the summit of Gowbarrow rather than the usual run I do from where it levels off a bit.

I had an option of crossing to bag Little Mell Fell via Great Meldrum (great name) and coming back through Swinburn's Park but my knee was twinging a bit so I had an easy run around the usual route.

It was quite busy around here, lots of people enjoying the sun, sat on the various promontories that sit just off the path.

view south west from Yew Crag on Gowbarrow Fell
I stopped at Yew Crag to refuel and check my onwards route on the map.  Across Aira Beck just above the visitors centre and then onto the new lakeside path for about another mile back to the car.

11.7 miles all together.  A good day out and some new areas explored.  I think I can adapt this route to go up from Glenridding up Greenside Road, up the windy track to Whiteside and Raise.  Then from Stybarrow Dodd, down over Hart Crag (ahem!) and on to pick up the route I took.

busy day at Aira Force

great new lakeside path

where I sat to chill after the run, over the road from my car

11.7 miles