Saturday, November 10, 2012

Armboth Fell

The much derided Armboth Fell. Our plan today was a linear walk from Armboth Car Park across to Watendlath, taking in Armboth Fell and High Tove, then continuing on to Rosthwaite where I left my car. It didn't work out like that but we still had a nice walk.

today's route

On arrival at the Armboth car park, the gates were chained up. There was no explanation as to why. We could have probably parked outside the gate but this would have been obstructive if the gates were later opened so we headed back along the shore road to the north end of Thirlmere, parking in the small car park at the end of the dam wall. I decided that we would try to take in Raven Crag. I know that it has been closed off due to a big tree fall in the forest but thought that it might be possible to get through.

looking south down Thirlmere from the car park at the end of the dam wall

Raven Crag from the forest track
Walking through a forest in autumn is a pretty special thing to do: a bit of a sensory overload with the smell of the pines, beautiful light and colours and the crispness of the air. The other sensory experience is the wet, squishy ground that we were walking on for the majority of this walk.
We continued up through the forest until reaching the top of Sippling Crag, which happens to be a Birkett and also affords a brilliant view along Thirlmere.
Raven Crag in profile from Sippling Crag

wider shot with Helvellyn and the Dodds visible to the left

We headed across from Sippling Crag towards Raven Crag.

On the climb down from Sippling Crag my knee started to hurt and so, when I was confronted with a sign saying that the path to Raven Crag was still closed, along with a very muddy track, I didn't need any more convincing to abandon the idea of going up there.

I've been up Raven Crag before, when the path was closed.

Continuing on the forest track past the turn off for Raven Crag, we headed to Castle Crag Fort, another Birkett.

Castle Crag

The good thing about Birkett seems to be that you can usually tell when a feature or peak will be a Birkett, unlike the Wainwrights.

Castle Crag is the site of an Iron Age hill fort. It is beautifully situated on a prominent peak overlooking Shoulthwaite Gill and it's easy to see why it made a good site for a fort.

The actual mound of earth making up Castle Crag isn't all that exciting though (unless you are an archaeologist).

The path goes directly to Castle Crag with a handy sign for anyone in doubt. Once you have had a look around, the best thing seems to be to turn around and go back to the forest track.

It's still a long way over the wet fells to Armboth or anywhere else so that's what we did.

from Castle Crag looking north along Shoulthwaite Gill

After walking 1k south on the forest track, the track splits and heads off on the unpleasant trudge across the top of the soggy fell. The best advice I can give is to stick to the double track. Stick to this double track for approximately 2k. It is wet but largely clean water, rather than mud. My waterproof socks worked well.

sky clearing above the Dodds

looking back along the track

not the top

Now if I am making it sound as if I didn't enjoy this walk, that's not the case.

I enjoyed the varying scenery and terrain.

I also enjoyed practising map reading.

Reading a map on indistinct terrain like the route over to Arboth Fell is more difficult than navigating through areas with definite landmarks.

I was able to use streams and contours to correctly identify where we were.

One thing I should have paid more attention to was having a look online at some pictures to see what the top actually looked like.

the top

At the end of the track, there is a mound of rock directly in front.

We wandered up here and stood at the top, unsure if we were at the summit of Armboth Fell. There was even a small cairn on top.

A quick check of the map showed that there was another rocky mound approximately 300m to the north that was 9m higher - Aha!

Off we went to claim a summit that I think we had both already decided not to return to in a hurry.

After posing for the usual summit dork photos, we agreed to head back down to Thirlmere and back to the car rather than carry on towards Watendlath. My knee was really hurting at this point.

summit dork

summit dork 2 (note the matching jackets!)

Armboth Fell summit

The climb down to Thirlmere was difficult.

Going downhill was much more painful on my knee but I took my time and we eventually made it back to the road.

We had a few kilometres to walk along the road back to the car.

There is a nice track along the shore of the reservoir but I decided to walk along the road as this was easier.

We headed into Keswick where, after the usual coffee stop, I checked out walking poles but decided they looked like too much of a hassle. I stocked up on Mr Vikki's Banana Habanero and then headed home.

My athletic endeavours are going to have to be non-knee using for a while. I think I might have re-injured my ACL which I had reconstructed about ten years ago. If I have, I won't be fellrunning for a while.

Lots of swimming, maybe cycling? Mountain biking is pretty low impact right?

favourite picture from today, looking north from Fishercrag area. Great How visible centre right by Thirlmere

Jonathan tempting fate

can't work out what these are - nearest I can find is Entoloma cetratum but doesn't look right

rainbow over the dam wall



  1. Lovely post - as a fellow knee sufferer you have my sympathies :-(

    1. Thank you. Every set back is an opportunity...