Friday 9 July 2010

Walk 25

83. Holme Fell LDW-213 1040 ft
84. Black Fell LDW-212 1060ft

Phil Judy and Treacle walked 7.1 miles and climbed 1700 ft

Route from National Trust Car Park near Glen Mary Bridge
Sunday and it was wet. The MWIS forecast gave an improvement for late afternoon, so we held off before deciding to venture forth from the cottage and make for Coniston Village. The plan was to do a relatively short walk near to Tarn Hows taking in two Wainwrights for WOTA, with one of them also qualifying for SOTA. Parking was (thankfully this time) in the National Trust Car Park at Glen Mary Bridge - grid ref 321998.  I had left my camera at the cottage.....not the last thing I was to leave behind this week - see Walk 27! So for for the photographs on this blog I have relied on another excellent website which I contribute to: Geograph
Path above Harry Guards Wood (© CCL David Brown Geograph)
AW's Southern Fells Pictorial Guide devotes a mere four pages to Holme Fell, mostly drawings. This is a small fell at the head of Yewdale with a very rugged summit with only one practical means of ascent. Most people climb Holme Fell and then leave it via the same route. It would be dangerous to try to do anything else.

We set out for Holme Fell at 1512z on a little used path which headed north through Harry Guards Wood. Turning north west off the rough path we climbed up the Uskdale Gap before turning south to make the top of Holme Fell LDW-213 (LD-051) at 1550z, a 40 minute walk, which we were pleased with. Looking around I knew it would be difficult getting a signal out from this "next to the lowest" of the 214 fells. To the south west the bulk of Weatherlam and Coniston Old Man made us feel like we were at sea level, this cuts out the line of sight path to the Barrow direction. However, due south and around to the south east is not too bad. To the east/north east there was no hope from such a lowly fell of getting through the Helvellyn and Blencathra fells. 

The rugged Holme Fell Summit looking SSW to Coniston Water (© CCL Geograph Michael Graham)
A CQ on 2m FM brought in four stations from Holme Fell. G1KLZ Doug in Ingleton, G1OHH Sue in Lancaster, G1CCL Dave in Morecambe and G4USW Bill in South Lakeland. We left the summit at 1612z and moved swiftly downhill into uncharted territory, losing the path (if their was one). We tracked around to the south of two derelict reservoirs and then climbed over some very rough ground to reach the bridleway at 313012. This excellent track then led us alongside an extremely deep worked out quarry in woodland and at 319019 we joined a rough byway and turned east. This took us to High Oxen Cross where we crossed the A593 Coniston to Skelwith Bridge road.

Climbing again we made for the farm at High Arnside on a tarmac lane. This part of the route came from Stuart Marshall's excellent book "Walking the Wainwrights" but route definition around the farm, which was not shown as a public footpath was sketchy. We decided to make for the farmyard, go through it, which would enable us to get on to Black Crag LDW-212. I WOULD NOT RECOMMEND THIS ROUTE! There may be a way around the south side of the farm, but this would need checking but I suspect the better way up Black Crag is via Low Arnside to the north. The best route is to come in from the south via iron Keld but this does not fit in well with a circular route which has already taken in Holme Fell. So we followed the track to the north side of the High Arnside to end up in the yard where our dog was attacked by a terrier and three sheepdogs. I managed to grab poor Treacle who was being bullied into submission by these four rough dogs and she slipped straight out of her harness. As she fell back to the ground I grabbed her quickly again from the melee and we moved off, leaving the farmer in the yard speechless, with a nasty look on his face which was full of chagrin. We couldn't blame him - we shouldn't have been there. There must be a better way of getting to the top of Black Crag from the west but neither us, or Stuart Marshall had obviously found it. I hope someone reading this blog one day can put me right.

Trig Point on Black Crag (© CCL Paula Healey Geograph)
We crossed the path shown on the map at 337015 and had to circle some crags to reach the top of LDW-212 at 1740z. The National Trust plaque on the top identifies the spot well. Most people have heard and have been to Tarn Hows for sure, but how many are aware of the isolated sentinel of Black Crag LDW-212 to the north?  The view towards Windermere is good - this is the first substantial elevation you come to when looking west from the north end of the longest lake in England.

It was July so after the late start we still had plenty of light and got straight into completing just four contacts, with ODX being Mike G4BLH in Nelson. This fourth contact was a lovely surprise! The other three regulars were G1OHH, G1CCL and G1KLZ.
Byway above Tarn Hows (© CCL Dreamer Geograph)
It was now a case of making our way back to the car via the delightful path around Tarn Hows, but we had to get there first. We soon realised that LDW-212 gets many visitors from the Tarn Hows direction. A well hewn path took us to the bridleway at Iron Keld and then through the plantation there, mostly now felled and replanted. We joined the stoney byway (BOAT) at 336005 and turned north west and then left at 331008 to make south via the Tarn Hows path on the west side of the Tarn. At the south west corner of the lake we took a woodland path that brought us back to the lower NT car park after half mile to finish this challenging and interesting half day circular walk at 1855z.

A drive back to Coniston took us to the Sun Hotel, a popular pub with an extremely surly barman. One of those places in the Lakes that has a long history, indeed this is where Donald Campbell stayed whilst attempting his speed records on Coniston. Here is a place where the landlord can charge what he likes and the staff can treat people as they like! The pork in cider sauce was excellent though, and we sussed out somewhere to park the car for when we came back later to do our big walk of the week across the Coniston Fells.

The Sun Hotel at Coniston © CCL Adie Jackson Geograph
On Monday the forecast was better and we planned a full day walk up to Crinkle Crags above Langdale, taking in Pike o'Blisco and Cold Pike from the Three Shires Stone, a walk previously tackled by Geoff G4WHA. More on that later....

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