Expeditions, Navigation, Guided Walks and Trekking
Its taken a while to get around to completing this blog and update on my completion of one book of Wainwrights Fells.
I was having a lovely conversation with the owners of our picture-framing shop when I took my Andy Beck pictures to be framed. The two women were telling me about a customer who wanted his Wainwright Fells completion plan to be framed as an incentive to complete them. They talked him out of it, suggesting he came back and frame his actual completion details. So, that sounded like a good plan so now I am on a plan to complete rather than going about it in the rather haphazard fashion I have until now.
So I packed the car, intending sleeping in the nice large boot for the first time, put in plenty of dog food and set off to the NW Lakes, intent on finishing that book.
There was five fells left to complete Book 6, Catbells and the four outliers at the north end of the area. I parked up at Wythop Mill, below the old school on the side of Ling Fell. This was to be my last of the round of Sale Fell, Broom Fell, Graystones and Ling Fell. Apart from the walk between Broom Fell and Graystones, none of these had ridge routes connecting them so this was to be a test of my route planning skills!
Sale Fell has 12 pages covering it in the book, a lot for such a low altitude. It is also partly covered in forestry, from the main A66 road it looks just dense woodland. From the lovely Wythop valley however, it’s grass and bracken, a gentle slope up from the Wythop Mill and Kelswick Farm road. An interesting outcrop at Dodd Crag breaks up the climb, the close-cropped pasture a delight to walk on and to take a tea break after the short climb.
Apart from a couple escaping the crowds of Keswick and a couple of fell runners, I had that top to myself and then didn’t meet anybody else until much later in the day on the way up Graystones.
The path took me east through the few stone piles of old quarries down to the edge of the plantation and through Wythop Hall. The remains of Silica Brick works from the 1930’s were now shelters for sheep and lambs from the Hall farm. The works tracks are now all that pass for footpaths in this little area. The farmer isnt keen on walkers around here, access to the open fells barred by barbed wire and securely fastened gates. After the first gate and onto open access land other strong fences had no way across them. So it was a matter of finding the safest place to heft Luna dog over without touching the sharp new barbs.
The most used route in these parts is the way up to Lords Seat, but I had been there a few years ago and so planned to skirt around the lower slopes and up to its neighbour, Broom Fell. It could have been easier on the legs to actually go the extra distance to the top of Lords Seat to avoid the barbed wire and deep heather slopes.
Anyway, eventually the saddle was reached and I headed NW to the top of Broom Fell. It’s all a bit flat around the top although there is a splendid pillar cairn at the end of the ruined fell wall. This was Wainwrights top, the actual high point some 200 metres SW there. Looking down onto Wythop Moss meant I could spot the only way across the rather wet area up to Ling Fell. Before dropping down the moss I continued along the fell top ridge to the edge of more forestry at Widow Hause. The wood had recently been harvested but the barbed wire fence now replaced the fell walls of Wainwrights day. So there was no way up to the top of Graystones, again Luna and I had to fight the fence to reach the summit.
Using the helpful Wainwright map (Broom Fell 4) I picked the way across Wythop Moss, it actually goes through old fence posts, although these are difficult to pick out in the deep vegetation and bog. Not many people go this way, it felt like a short trip across the Dead Marshes in Middle Earth.
A steep climb up the east side of Ling Fell led to the flat summit with its Trig Point and our last fell top of the day. An old shooting track joined up with the Corpse Road below the fell top and into a field full of sheep families. Keeping Luna on a tight rein we made our way through the flock, onto the Green Lonning old track. Lonning is apparently an old Cumbian name for a green track. This one looks like its forms the old road from Lorton to Wythop and beyond. A lovely track to end the day with.
We camped next to Brumston Bridge below Sale Fell after a lovely pub dinner at Embleton.
Next morning, the forecast had been dire, so I planned to just dash up and down Cat Bells, the last fell in the North Western Fells to complete. As it was, after the rain cleared, it was a lovely day and the walk was completed up from the Gutherscale car park over the top with a school party on an activity week and dropping down to Hause Gate and passing the old shafts above Little Town.
So that was it, all 29 NW Fells done. I’ll reflect on these fells sometime in the future, so now its off onto the Central Fells and expedition in Africa.