One of the wonderful things about walking in the Lake District is once you have climbed one fell you can usually walk for miles and miles across the ridges to other fells and see a myriad of other views. It feels like you are on top of the world and it is just wonderful. On these routes you often find silent pretty tarns, rocky ridges, grassy paths and imposing crags. You can see the sea from some fells and as far as Scotland and the Isle of Man. Or you can be looking towards beautiful blue lakes with striking mountains behind in one direction and rolling grassy hills the other. It can take your breath away.
|The Skiddaw Range - Ridge Route Example|
I have walked many ridge routes but there are a few that really captured my imagination for the beautiful views, the type of terrain, how I was feeling at the time or a combination of all of these. Here are the first three of my top six in no particular order and bearing in mind I still have five Wainwright fells to complete....
The first one has to be the High Crag, High Stile and Red Pike ridge from Buttermere. This was one of the first ridge routes I did as an adult (so through choice rather than as a child complaining the whole way....I must have been a nightmare!) I walked along the shore of Buttermere lake and through the woods with a gentle breeze rustling the tree tops, the lake glistening in the sun and the bluebells just coming to life in the warm spring air. I took the path up towards Scarth Gap but then took a “short-cut” that went across the hypotenuse rather than the right angle (if my Mathematics teacher ever reads this he will be shocked I can remember anything given I spent most of my time daydreaming and looking out the window....it was a mystery to both of us why I was in the top Maths class). This was a mistake as I could not find the proper path and it was really steep and grassy. It probably took me twice as long as the normal route! As I rejoined the main path, I was exhausted from the climb and not yet at the top and then a swarm of fell-runners on a “fun-run” came pelting down a scree section barely out of breath! I have such admiration for them as it would be utterly beyond me to run anywhere on fells let alone on scree.
|Red Pike, Bleaberry Tarn & Crummock Water|
As I reached the summit of High Crag, the views opened out to see Buttermere, Crummock Water and the Grasmoor Fells in front, with Haystacks and Fleetwith Pike behind. It was beautiful. All the hard work had been done by then and the walk to High Stile and Red Pike was just a gentle stroll with ever more beautiful views, including Mellbreak (one of my favourite mountains) coming into view and the striking sight of Bleaberry Tarn with the red soil of the appropriately named Red Pike behind. The route down took me passed the Tarn and it was so very pretty I could have stayed and watched the water lap the side for hours. A great introduction to ridge walking.
|Ennerdale Water with moody skies|
The second one is the Mosedale Horseshoe from Wasdale Head, mainly because Wasdale is probably my favourite valley. On this route I began at the pub at Wasdale Head and climbed Pillar via the Black Sail Pass, Scoat Fell, Steeple, Red Pike (not to be confused with the Buttermere Red Pike mentioned above!) and then back down the Dore Head Screes. In future, I would add Yewbarrow to the ending, which would make it perfect! The weather was less promising for the first part of the walk but cheered up later on with sunshine. On the way up Pillar, I met a guy who extolled the virtues of GPS and it was because of his recommendation that I purchased my own system. This man climbs all the Wainwright’s over 2,500 feet every year and after Pillar was off towards Haycock (a fell I have yet to do). The third fell on the list, Steeple, became one of my favourite fells – the views down towards Ennerdale Water were superb and I had the fell top all to myself. It is rarely appropriate to describe a fell as “sweet” but Steeple was a sweet fell. Sitting on top of Steeple all my worries and problems just melted away – it felt like I could conquer the world. However, I decided to delay my bid for world domination and finish the walk.
|Kirk Fell & Great Gable|
The path between Steeple and Red Pike (via Scoat Fell again) was a lovely high level walk with the views of Great Gable, Kirk Fell and the Scafells becoming increasingly spectacular. I decided to end at the Dore Head scree because I thought it would be too much to take in Yewbarrow at that point as I was feeling tired. However, given I could not find the nice grassy path and therefore had to battle scree the whole way down, I am not sure it was the easier option! But then I have a natural affinity with screes as regular readers will know! It did mean I had the absolute pleasure of climbing Yewbarrow separately another time and that was heavenly.
|View from Silver How|
Third is the conclusion of my Langdale Pikes Saga in June 2011, which was a stunning walk. From Grasmere I went up Silver How, Blea Rigg, Sergeant Man, Thurnacar Knott, High Raise and Tarn Crag, returning via Easedale Tarn. This was a simply lovely ridge walk from start to finish. Climbing Silver How was I think one of the only fells where the top really is where you think it is (not hiding further and higher away) and is quite quick to get to. The views opening up behind to Grasmere are wonderful and with each fell summit reached, they get better. The route from Silver How to Blea Rigg was a series of little grassy ups and downs and there was not another soul around. Blea Rigg and Sergeant Man gave way to rockier and more rugged summits with superb views of the other Langdale Pikes.
Thurnacar Knott and High Raise, whilst not particularly interesting terrain (they are rather flat and a bit marshy) were still great as you felt on top of the world and I confess that given the whole saga of climbing the Langdale Pikes I was feeling euphoric! My favourite of the day however has to be Tarn Crag, which is probably the least frequented of that group of fells, which is a shame as it was really pretty. A cairn or two would have been helpful as without GPS I am not sure I would have found the summit as paths do not exist but unlike most other mountains I have climbed, there was a lot of moss and some of the tiny flowers you usually see in rockeries (if I were writing a food blog they would be “micro flowers” reflecting the term “micro salads”). This was really unusual and made the walk fascinating even though I am hardly a budding botanist! The route down via Tarn Crag was beautiful and I confess at this point I sat in the sunshine paddling my feet for a while. Wonderful.
The next three routes will be in the Part Two...