Monday, 2 September 2013

Sunshine & Hail

View to the valley
The hail storm on top of Hindscarth was unexpected I will admit. So much for a few “light showers”! It was one of those rare moments on the fells when I huddled in the wind shelter and asked myself what on earth I was doing climbing mountains when I could be sitting in a nice warm cafe somewhere.

I had climbed Hindscarth from the pretty church at Little Town in the Newlands Valley and whilst cloudy, the views had been good all the way. The valley to Keswick spread out behind me with Skiddaw standing proudly at the end. I took the route up Scope End, a steep but lovely climb amongst heather and I had only sheep for company. In the valley below between Hindscarth and High Snab Bank is Goldscope Mine. German miners used this in Elizabethan times to mine lead and copper and the lode they followed links with shafts that effectively meant you could walk under the mountain. Yet another part of the mining history of the fells.
Just sheep for company

Two minutes from the summit however, the heavens opened and the hail came down. The shelter did little to protect me from the elements so I decided to keep moving. My plan had been to head to Robinson and then follow the ridge round to Dale Head, High Spy and Maiden Moor. The sudden hail though did not tempt me to make the detour to Robinson so I headed instead towards Dale Head.
As I reached the ridge, the hail stopped, the clouds parted and all of a sudden a beautiful view of Buttermere and the surrounding fells appeared. Bizarre weather indeed but within an instant all thoughts of warm cafes were forgotten.

Sunshine appearing over Buttermere
I have said before that I love ridge walks. Once you are up you can walk for miles with ever changing views but with little effort. This route was just that and Dale Head gave superb views to the Scafells, Great Gable, Great End and towards the Langdale Pikes. The menacing clouds that came and went gave a forbidding look to the mountains but they were no less magnificent. Of course I love sunshine and blue sky when I am walking but there is something about being in the Lake District that takes your breath away even when the skies are steely grey.
Dale Head Tarn

I headed down to Dale Head Tarn, a little oasis between the fells with a ruined shepherd’s hut to the side and then up the other side of the valley to High Spy. From this fell, the views start to change again, with Derwent Water and Bassenthwaite Lake coming into view with better and better views of the Skiddaw fells and Blencathra. The sun was becoming much more determined now and Derwent Water mirrored the blue of the sky.

Looking back to Hindscarth & Dale Head
The ridge from High Spy to Maiden Moor is spectacular as you make you way over little ups and downs and between crags and grassy mounds. The Helvellyn range to my right was still in cloud but Skiddaw and Blencathra were looking very inviting. 

Blue skies over Skiddaw
It was a busy day for fell walkers and as I looked ahead to Catbells it was teeming with people on the summit. It was great that so many people were enjoying being out on the fells even with the less than inspiring weather.

A short descent to Little Town ended a lovely walk just as the rain came back again. One of my favourite walks in the Keswick area.
Derwent Water
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  1. Great spirit! I am always inspired by your blogs. Thank you.

  2. Love the Skiddaw photo. You are a real ambassador for Cumbria. Any plans to write more about the Wasdale area?

    1. Thank you :-)
      I have walked a lot in the Wasdale area. Yewbarrow is my favourite fell. Going back to do the Mosedale Horseshoe soon so watch this space....