Sunday, January 18, 2015

Snowy Lonscale Fell

at the car park

The roads were treacherous this morning, I nearly slid right onto Cockermouth roundabout in my brand new car so our proposed starting point of Peter House Farm was off limits due to the fact that the road up there would be very dodgy.  Instead we parked at Spooney Green Lane and headed up the Latrigg Path.  It was snowing heavily as we went up, I was pleased to be able to make it all the way to the car park and thought I had made good time but when I got home, Strava told me I had previously done the same stretch almost five minutes quicker.  Oh well.  We headed steadily up to the turn off point.  Enough snow on the ground to make the going soft and difficult.  It was when we turned off to head towards Lonscale Fell that we experienced the worst conditions of day.  To start with, the snow was very deep and we were not able to see the path.  As we got higher, we were going straight into the wind and snow was whipping into our faces.  As we got to the fence and walked up the final stretch to Lonscale Fell, it got a bit better but this was our highest point of the day and the wind was very strong.  We took a few snaps at the top and then headed back to the wall which would guide us down to the lovely Burnt Horse ridge.  As we got to the steeper part, the snow had really banked up and was very deep.  I was able to jump onto my front and slide down, kind of swimming across the top.  There was deep snow on Burnt Horse too.  Usually a really nice little ridge run, it was unrunnable.  A few times I got stuck up to my waist in snow and needed to roll and climb out.  The run down to the Cumbria Way path was nicer.  There was less snow here and the snow made the, usually rocky, path much nicer to run on.  We crossed over the valley to the track which runs along the base of Blencathra to the Blencathra Centre then we went back along lovely rolling trails through Brundholme Wood.

Paul and Dean pressing on up to Lonscale Fell

Dean having a "is that it?" moment on top of Lonscale Fell

coming down was more fun

Dean striding out

looking across the valley to Lonscale Fell/Lonscale Pike

looking back to Lonscale Fell, becoming a favourite.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Rannerdale Knotts after work

top of Rannerdale Knotts

It was a full moon tonight so we went to, what we thought would be a dark, low light pollution Buttermere valley, thinking we would have a lovely moonlit run.  There seemed to be quite a bit of cloud cover but we still had a nice run.  Very nice night, no wind.

We parked at the corner just by the wall before the road bends and then ran a little way up the road before climbing steeply up to the summit.  From here we ran along the ridge and down Rannerdale Valley, back around to the car adding a tiny little road section to make it up to 5k.

It was dark, very dark on top of Rannerdale Knotts.  We turned our headtorches off for a while and there was no way you could have made your way down without light.  Even though I had a spare battery and a separate spare headtorch, I was still glad to get back to the car.

looking down from the top of Rannerdale Valley

at the summit

Jonathan and man leg catalogue pose

Saturday, January 3, 2015


looking back down to Little Man and the lights of Skiddaw

On Tuesday, I was planning on an easy five mile road run.  Tuesday was day 30 of my challenge to run every day in December.  My mate Jonny sent a text asking if I fancied going up Skiddaw.  I said yes.  We parked at the Latrigg car park and just went straight up and down.  Pretty cold on top and I was pleased when we had dropped down to the fence.  Nice gentle jog back down the main track to the car.

from the car park, outline of Skiddaw just visible along with some stars

there was a thin icy snow layer from the gate at the top of Jenkin Hill

frozen summit

playing around with my phone capturing Jonny in a motion shot

Skiddaw Loop

across the frozen top of Skiddaw

I got off to a pretty late start today so just headed to Keswick and up Spooneygreen Lane towards Skiddaw.  I took one of my favourite routes, heading off from the main track up Skiddaw towards Lonscale Fell and down over Burnt Horse.  I then headed to Skiddaw House and climbed up Sale How to Skiddaw.  I came back via Carlside and through Dodd Woods across the fields back to Keswick.  A good 14 miles, timed just right with the daylight fading as I was near the end of the run.

Skiddaw fell group from the climb up to Latrigg

on the main track up SKiddaw looking back over Derwent Water

turned off now towards Lonscale Fell

from the very edge of Lonscale Pike looking over with Burnt Horse on the left and the Cumbria Way track visible below

running along Burnt Horse.  One of my favourite ridge runs

from the climb up Sale How.  Lonscale Pike is visible centre right with the little fluffy cloud above it.  Blencathra to the left.

the top of Skiddaw was frozen.  Here looking back down to Little Man.  The fence over Little Man carries on pretty much to the summit of Lonscale Fell.  A much easier way than the way I had just come but not as much fun.

very lucky with the cloud today, just experiencing a bit of whiteout on top of Skiddaw

even that soon cleared.

at the summit.  Turn around point.

the steep track down to Carlside.  Carlside Tarn is just visible with only a small climb back up to the top of Carlside

steep run down from Carlside to Long Doors.  I did plan to go up and down Dodd (the little fell below left) but time was a bit tight in terms of daylight.

heading across the fields, looking back towards the Skiddaw group.

route and elevation

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Helvellyn to Calfhow Pike

Helvellyn summit

This running every day in December thing has got my legs a bit sore but I was determined to get out today on some high, snow covered fells.  The forecast was great and, as we drove towards Keswick, the skies were clear.  As we turned past Bassenthwaite, and got our first views over to the Dodds, we were a bit surprised to see heavy cloud cover.

Having failed to amass seven pound coins to pay for parking at Whythburn or Swirls, we moved slightly north of the Swirls car park into a layby.  I've nothing against paying for parking but it would be helpful if these machines took cards as many now do.  We ran up to the Swirls car park and then took the path up over Browncove Crags to Helvellyn summit.  A thin layer of snow started quite low down but it wasn't icy and we actually managed the whole day without the need for microspikes.

As we climbed, it looked as though we might get above the cloud and towards the last few hundred metres of ascending we did.  This gave an additional reason to stop as well as the usual photo opportunities, we could use the excuse of naming distant fells.

clear skies now above Browncove Crags

above the cloud

The summit of Helvellyn was eerily quiet.  We considered carrying on over to Dollywagon Pike but instead turned around to start heading over to the Dodds.

from Lower Man, heading up towards the summit - beautiful Catstye Cam across Swirral Edge.  Plenty of cloud inversions to the east as well.  Beautiful day.

at the summit trig

From Lower Man, there is a nice winding path down to the start of the climb up to Whiteside.  I've got a new phone and it does some cool things with pictures.  Unfortunately, it seems to decide at random what these things are.  We took a series of pictures hoping the phone would make them into an animated GIF.  It worked for Jonathan:

It didn't work for me though, it made the pictures into a panoramic.  Here's a pic of me running down the same section though:

Raise summit
We carried on over Whiteside and over to Raise, stopping on the way down to watch a lone snowboarder on the ski slope.  The lift was working.  I wouldn't say that the conditions were fantastic for skiing or snowboarding although it would have been fun traversing over the Dodds today.  We saw a few different tracks of people that had done just that.

ski lift on Raise
Just before Sticks Pass, we ran into Andrew Foster and Lesley Whittaker, people who I had never met but recognised from various antics on Facebook including being top contributors to my very own Summit Dorks group, the purpose of which is to record acts of daftness on top of mountains.  We chatted for a while, took a few photos then went on our opposite ways.  Lovely people.

We told Andrew and Lesley that we were heading down Sticks Pass but, even though it was only about 20 feet from where we left them, we had changed our minds by the time we got there and decided to continue on to Stybarrow Dodd, over to Great Dodd (missing out the detour to Watson's Dodd summit) and then enjoying a nice run down to Calfhow Pike where we decided to adventure down a dodgy looking path on a part of the map where the lines are close together and there are lots of craggy bits.

The path down to Fornside Farm was not very pleasant.  At least it wasn't icy but it wound very steeply through the crags.  On reflection, we would have been better carrying on to Clough Head and taking one of the paths or the blunt slope down to the old coach road. Although it would have been a few miles extra, it would probably have been quicker.  Oh well. Still some new ground found.

I couldn't see a legitimate way across to the road but there is a permissive path through Fornside.  Once out on the road, Jonathan took a real dive, hurting his ankle quite badly.  It turns out a pothole had jumped out and swung his legs from under him.  He made quite a clunk as he slapped against the road.  Yes, Helvellyn in the snow - no problem.  Flat road with a little hole in it - floored!

We walked quite a bit of the rest of the route.  Luckily, we only had about three miles left to go and we just ran bits that Jonathan could manage with his cankle.  We took a nice bit of track around the south end of High Rigg (I'll be back here to explore) and then crossed the A591 to pick up the Great How path, continuing on along the side of Thirlmere, back up the road from Dalehead Hall Hotel and a hundred metres or so along the road back to the car.  Day 28 of run every day in December was a good one.

from Great Dodd summit shelter looking back over ground covered

bridge over St John's Beck with Blencathra behind.  We had just descended the crags on the right

last leg - along the forest track at the side of Thirlmere

Friday, December 26, 2014

Raven Crag and High Rigg

from the start, bit rainy but the car park meter wasn't working - every cloud....

Raven Crag from half way through the woods
A Boxing Day outing has become a bit of a tradition ever since, three years ago, Jonathan had his first fell walk up Dodd, then on to Carlside and Longside Edge.  He's come a long way since, dropping lots of weight and becoming a half-decent runner.  Good on you brother.

We had vaguely talked of "something epic" for this year's Boxing Day run but, as Christmas Day came to a close, I was feeling rather bloated and sent a text suggesting that we meet up a little bit later and don't go quite as far.  Jonathan, as ever, was happy to go with it.  

Jonathan on Raven Crag
The climb to Raven Crag from the car park at the bottom is straight forward navigation, run along the road a little bit and head up the signposted footpath.  We tracked on the map as it passed over two forest tracks and then found the branch off path, just before the track gets to the top forest track.  This is a rough track, slippery today.  It winds up through the forest.  There's always plenty of fallen trees around here, maybe because the ground is too rocky for a decent rooting or maybe because of the exposed area getting high winds.  There were one or two which had fallen over the path but nothing that couldn't be stepped over.

At the top, the cloud had come over obscuring Thirlmere and the Helvellyn range apart from fleeting glimpses in the momentary clear bits.

view down to the dam road through the fog

heading over to High Rigg
From the top, we went back to the forest track and then enjoyed a long easy downhill to pick up the footpath through Shoulthwaite Farm, over the road and across to begin the climb to High Rigg.  My map reading skills told me that if we climbed straight up the side of the wall, we would get to the top or thereabouts.

When we got there, it didn't look as though there was a track by the wall (there was because we came down that way) so we snaked up the side of the fell, did a bit of scrambling and eventually came out on the top of a nice runnable section which went over to the summit.  Some really nice running ground up here, we will need to come back to explore more.

Calfhow Pike sticking up over the Dodds from the little tarn on High Rigg

Dorking on High Rigg

From the summit, we went back the way we came initially and then followed the wall down to the footpath.  The run down the side of the wall was nice but would have been nicer with some grippier shoes (something like Mudclaws) on.  We followed the footpath back around the forest, then back down the road to the car.

Having completed the Wainwrights some time ago, I'm always remembering the last time I was at certain fells.  Here are a few pictures and links from previous visits to these fells:

I first went up Raven Crag in 2012.  It seemed like a good place to go in bad weather, I remember climbing over those trees.  Some pretty awful photos but this one stands out, at least it wasn't cloudy like today.

High Rigg was also first conquered in 2012 in an after work run from Castlerigg Stone Circle.  Very different conditions:

March 2012

December 2014