Saturday, November 30, 2013

Half of the Ennerdale Horseshoe

on a frozen Red Pike.  The dip on the horizon is Wind Gap between Pillar on the left and Black Crag on the right.  Haycock is the fell on the far right.  Scafell Pike and Scafell are visible through the gap on the left.

plenty of climbing - 22.2 miles

Well I did the other half a few weeks ago.  We had planned to do the whole horseshoe but we ran out of time and energy and so decided to come back along the valley floor path.  Great weather today, a touch of frost, very little wind and cool.  Perfect fell running conditions.  It did start to get a bit cool as we got up on to Green Gable but all in all I have no complaints.

It was frosty on the steep climb up to Great Borne but a nice run down and around Starling Dodd to pick up the Red Pike path.  We went around to the south of High Stile and then picked up the rocky ridge along to the steep descent down Gamlin End.

dead flat Ennerdale Water from near the start

from Great Borne looking down Ennerdale

from Red Pike looking over to Grasmoor, Whiteless Pike and others across Crummock Water

and another looking over to Melbreak on the left.  Look at the shadow cost by Red Pike!

trying to pick out the best way around High Stile

High Crag Summit.  Green Gable is the fell the furthest to the left.  We will be heading up there.

and looking back to High Stile

the descent down Gamlin End, at the end of the High Stile range.  Paul thought he would see what the scree was like

looking back up to that scree descent.  You can just pick out the path winding up to the left of the scree

the further away you get the steeper it looks

We crossed over Seat and started to climb up towards Haystacks before taking a very rough path to the south.  We eventually climbed back up and passed Innominate Tarn and Blackbeck Tarn before trudging on towards Green Gable.  We were both tired at this point and, with a mind on the remaining daylight, it wasn't too much of a negotiation to decided to stop at Green Gable and take the valley floor path back to the car.

Blackbeck Tarn looking up to Green Gable and Great Gable

looking back towards Haystacks and High Crag behind.

looking up at Pillar Rock from the valley floor

almost there now, a good 10 miles from the turn around point at Green Gable.  Here we are looking over to Anglers Crag on Crag Fell which would have been the last fell if we had done the whole route.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Playing with the 1st Leg of the Bob Graham Round

at the last fence on the climb up to Skiddaw, looking back at Little Man

A nice long run out today on a classic route.  Snowy and icy conditions meant that a descent from Hall's Fell Ridge was not wise so we took a route back to Keswick down the gentler slopes of Blease Fell.  Twenty miles all in all (although I did wind through the streets of Keswick to make up the last mile).

route and elevation

climbing up to Skiddaw, looking over the Coledale fells.

My aim was to keep at a low heart rate as much as possible for this run.  I've worked out that it's a lot harder to pace yourself when you are out with somebody else.  There is a real tendency to race.  Jonathan would get ahead and then I would try to keep up.

We took it very easy up to Latrigg, walking the steeper sections.  Once we got on the main Skiddaw path, Jonathan couldn't help surging ahead.  I thought that we went up Skiddaw a bit too quick for the long run we were planning but we got up pretty easily.

As we were climbing, the top was clear but when we got to the top, it was a whiteout.  Icily cold, we didn't hang around on the summit, carrying on straight over to pick up the track down the fence line.  I slightly overshot the turn off but not by very much and we were soon descending the tracks over to Hare Crag.

I was surprised to find so much of a track, expecting this section to be just a grassy trod.  We soon dropped down out of the cloud but there was plenty of snow and ice around, making the going quite precarious.  We took our time, gently following the track down and over.  It got boggy as the terrain levelled out.  The ground was partially frozen.  Just about enough to not sink if you were going fast but we both still got our feet wet and boggy at this stage.

At the Grouse Butts, I thought about heading over to take the more mellow ascent of Great Calva but decided to carry on straight across.  The path was much better than it looked and we steadily climbed to the summit, taking in a bit of food on the way up.

At Great Calva Summit, we turned around and started to follow the fence back down, around the corner to the East.  In hindsight, we might have been better continuing down here to the Cumbria Way track because the route we changed to after consulting the map was across deep heather which took up lots of energy.

We ended up at the circular sheep pen, then trudged 100m or so to find the river to be quite fast and quite deep.  We thought about jumping at one point but the water was very deep and so we walked south west to where the fence crosses the river, using this as a handrail.

Great Calva summit, looking back down the fence line

Mungrisdale Common
Once over the river, we had the steady trudge up to Mungrisdale Common.  Slow and steady again and with wet feet from the boggy ground before the river.

We eventually reached the rounded top and found the summit cairn without difficulty, continuing on to the back of Blencathra.

This, normally boggy, section was just the right amount of frozen to stop us sinking.  At this point, we had a think about remaining daylight hours and energy levels and decided to head down to the Keswick railway track once we had been over Blencathra.

At Foule Crag we put our microspikes on and climbed up to the flat top, running across to the summit.

just before the microspikes went on - heading up to Blencathra

easy running across the frozen top

the final climb

At the top, we walked over to look at the Hall's Fell path and I don't think Jonathan was in any doubt about my decision to avoid it today.

We carried on along the tops over Knowe Crags and then enjoyed the long and winding descent down Blease Fell.

We took a slightly convoluted route through to the railway track and then enjoyed an easy run back to the car.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Fixing Gowbarrow Fell

From the top of Gowbarrow Fell

Today I took part in a Fix the Fells work party.  It was a muddy affair on Gowbarrow Fell.  There is a path under construction, using quarry waste from Threlkeld.  The path is a nice surface but it finds the natural dips in the landscape, then these fill with water, then people walk around the water creating wider and additional paths.  Today we were spending time fixing some of these dips in the path as well as diverting water from the path by digging a long drainage ditch along the side of the path.

It was a lovely day to be out.  There were 17 volunteers plus park rangers and some bigwigs from the National Park and we all got stuck in.

I had a go with Peak Scanner, a new App on my iphone.  The idea is that you point it at a fell and it tells you about it.  It worked better than I expected, picking up Arthur's Pike and not doing too bad on Little Mell Fell (which is the left hand mound in the picture above.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Ennerdale Run

up on the climb up to Pillar.  An early start today meant that I ran along the valley floor and got to about here before it was light enough to take my headtorch off.

a bit of light
I wanted to get a decent length run in today.  I also needed to be home for 2pm so that meant that I would need an early start.  There were rumours of cloud inversions but they were not to come true.  Most of the run was done in cloud.  Luckily, there is a wall that runs along much of the route I was taking so the navigation was easy enough.  My run started at about 5.20am with the first six or so miles done in the dark.  I got to Black Sail Youth Hostel and decided it was still a bit dark to be climbing up Black Sail Pass and so I sat on the toilet for ten minutes.  On emerging, I picked up the track, which is fairly easy to follow and when I got to the footbridge, decided to just continue up along Sail Beck, eventually reaching the familiar fence posts.  By now it was starting to get lighter and I took the track over to Pillar.  Pillar looked the most promising out of the whole day for cloud inversions.  When I got to the top though, it was within the cloud and so there was not a whole lot to see.

Yewbarrow and Dorehead Scree on the right

Pillar - cloudy and bland today

On top of Pillar, I sat in the shelter and took a compass bearing to take me over to Wind Gap.  Once up at Scoat Fell, I picked up the wall which I followed for the remainder of the high level portion of the route along to Haycock, Caw Fell and around until I got to the forest (which has all been logged) and the climb up to Crag Fell.  It was pretty much misty all the way but good terrain for running.

Mosedale opening up a bit, just before I reach Wind Gap

Black Crag looking up to Scoat Fell

Scoat Fell wall summit cairn


my wall

Grike and Crag Fell ahead (on the map there is a forest there but all the tress have been chopped down).

Crag Fell looking over to Grike


Grike was at the 16 mile mark.  From here there is a nice downhill to Ennerdale Bridge and then I ran along the road, cutting through on a footpath to follow the shore line for the last six miles back to my car.

map with elevation data

Friday, November 15, 2013

A wide Newlands Round

looking down into the Newlands Valley from Dale Head and my route of ascent along the ridge from Catbells

I picked a good day to take off this week.  Tuesday was bright and dry, a little windy on the tops but I really shouldn't grumble.  The Newlands Round route is a classic.  I put a bit of a twist on it by continuing over Robinson, dropping down to Newlands Hause and then taking in Knott Rigg and Ard Crags as the last two fells on the return section.  I didn't pick the most direct route across the valley bottom, I was feeling good and, having not got the map out all the way around, it seemed a bit silly to use it once I was back on the road so I just followed road signs back to Skelgill where my car was parked.  This route was just over 14 miles and took me about 4 hours.

Elevation profile - peaks from left to right: Catbells, down and up to Maiden Moor and High Spy.  The second big dip is at Dale Head Tarn and then the climb up to Dale Head, the highest point, down and up to Robinson, almost as high as Dale Head, and then the big drop down to the road.  You can see the point where I tried to descend along Moss Force but then decided against it and climbed back up for a bit.  The last two high peaks are Knott Rigg and Ard Crags, probably the toughest climb on the route, then there is the long descent to the valley bottom.

climbing Catbells with the sun shining over Borrowdale

looking back to Keswick over Derwent Water

the route opening up ahead.  The day would see me visiting many of the fells in this picture descending down Aikin Knott on Ard Crags which I think is the fell 3/4 of the way across with the green going further up than the one on the far right (Rowling End).

looking back down Catbells and over to the Skiddaw range

Catbells summit

now looking back to the summit (can still see people on top) from the climb up to Maiden Moor

from the northern edge of Maiden Moor looking back to Catbells

over to Borrowdale

Maiden Moor summit cairn with the track up to High Spy visible on the left.  Dale Head and Hindscarth middle and right.  Great Gable is visible to the left of Dale Head.

now at High Spy looking over to waves of fell ridges.  My descent route is in there somewhere.

almost at Dale Head summit

Dale Head

my onward route over to Robinson in the middle of the picture.  Buttermere is on the left.

climbing up Littledale Edge looking back towards Fleetwith Pike and Honister Pass.

Robinson summit

looking down over Crummock Water with Rannerdale Knotts prominent in the centre.

The Coledale Fells with Knott Rigg and Ard Crag looking quite easy from here.

starting the climb up Knott Rigg looking back to Robinson and the road

Knott Rigg summit

from Ard Crags summit looking back towards Buttermere

now descending Aikin Knott.  It's a really nice run along the ridge but it gets steep here and care is required.  The green track I would take is in the centre of this picture.  Catbells (and my car) are ahead across the valley with the blue of Derwent Water just visible between Catbells on the right and the flank of Rowling End on the left.

on the flat(ish) looking back

I think that's Robinson on the far left above the gate, Hindscarth and then Ard Crags.  This is looking back from Little Town, home of Mrs Tiggy-Winkle.