Tuesday 16 November 2010

Walk 36
Whinlatter Fells Tuesday 16th November 2010
7.5m / 2770' ascent

Phil G4OBK (solo)

131. LDW-185 Barf 1535ft
132. LDW-147 Lord's Seat 1811ft
133. LDW-169 Broom Fell 1677ft
134. LDW-187 Graystones 1483ft

Barf  LDW-185 > Lord's Seat LDW-147 > Broom Fell  LDW-169 > Graystones LDW-187 GPS Track
I was in Keswick for a somewhat sombre family visit - my dear father in law, Ron, who loved the Lake District and who had given me his Wainwright Pictorial Guides in 2009, passed away in September.  So five members of the family came to the Lakes to scatter his ashes in the place he used to sit in his final years near to the disabled car park above Tarn Hows, with its view of Weatherlam, Coniston Old Man and the Western Fells.  That was on Monday.
View whilst climbing Beckstones Gill
Tuesday was free. We all took a walk from Keswick to Threlkeld and back in the morning walking along the former railway line (closed in 1972), sighting a kingfisher and coming back through Brundholme Woods.  This left me free to go off and activate some Wainwrights in the afternoon.
The most convenient walk to maximize the WOTA count in the time available was from just north of Thornthwaite on the edge of the Whinlatter Forest Park. I parked up by the bus stop near to the former Swan Hotel, a smart building now called Swan House - seemingly converted to flats for the wealthy.   There is free parking here for several cars close to houses - a fairly secure location to park up.  A phone call to John G0TDM in Penrith to let him know that I was on for a late start (1.00pm), and off I went to climb Barf LDW-185.  
The path goes steeply up in the woodland up the south side of Beckstones Gill. There is actually more than one path, but I only discovered this later when I came down in the dark after reviewing my GPS track (see above picture).   At the top of the Gill the Beck is easily crossed, then over a stile and you are onto the flank of Barf. 

From Barf a snow and cloud capped Skiddaw LDW-004 with Dodd LDW-174 below right

View north from Barf LDW-185
Leaving Barf for Lord's Seat
The walk up took 35 minutes and   the view was commanding once I got there. Skiddaw was snow capped with cloud just skimming the top. The conditions were perfect for fell walking. This was a nice change from recent forays into the hills.  The first CQ got me a contact well south into the station of Colin G4UXH in Milnthorpe followed by the regulars, including Sue G1OHH in Lancaster. Then surprisingly on a direct path right through Skiddaw Little Man and Blencathra both G0TDM and G4WHA were easily worked! I finished with 8 contacts in my log and moved off to Lords Seat LDW-147 (SOTA LD-033) which was reached in 20 minutes. The view got even better in all directions.  For future reference I noticed that there was a metal support pole on the summit should anyone wish to fasten their fishing pole to it. I did not require this today as I was using my usual rucksack special vertical and VX-170 handheld.  12 contacts were completed here, the most notable being with my friend Gerald G4OIG/P who was on Aye Gill Pike NP-023 for a summit to summit SOTA contact.  
Lord's Seat looking north 
One more summit to go, or so I thought, and off I descended on the 15 minute walk towards the cairn on  Broom Fell LDW-169.  The contacts were harder to come by here, without the SOTA interest, and only seven QSOs resulted.  
Cairn on Broom Fell LDW-169
I looked across the the next ridge and decided that must be Graystones LDW-187 just over a mile away.  My watch said 2.55 pm but I was equipped for walking in the dark so I decided to go for it rather than leave it for another day, knowing that my descent down Thornthwaite Gill would be in darkness.  I yomped down to Widow Hause taking a slightly circuitous route after that to one of three distinctive summits within the activation zone on Graystones LDW-187. I chose the small cairn to the south at NY 17760 26485.  I came down on a better path - for future reference when coming from Broom Fell to Graystones I would advise climbing the stile/fence in this picture: 
Fence at Widow Hause
I arrived at 1520z quickly made six contacts with M0AYB, G4ILO, 2E0XSD, MM1MPB, G4WHA/M and G1OAE and I was back on my way for 1530z. Thanks to all for keeping it brief as the daylight was now against me with almost a five mile return walk back on the same route (omitting Barf) ahead of me. 
I checked in en-route on both Broom Fell and Lord's Seat and thanks to  Phil M0AYB and Colin G4UXH (both keen activators themselves) for being there to acknowledge my calls. There was no time to waste from Lord's Seat. It was now 16.25z as I started my descent. If there was a distinct path to the west of Barf I did not find it but walking on the heather in the twilight was no problem. As I reached the area under Barf I put on my Petzl Myolite 3 LED headlamp.  That really was a "Godsend". Purchased two years ago and never used in anger before, apart from inside a beach shelter in NFD for one hour last June!
I safely crossed the Beck to briefly join the forestry road north west of Birch Crag. The "breadcrumb" trail on my GPS enabled me to find the cut downhill, off the graded track and down the path into the gill. It was then just basically a case of following the beck down in the pitch dark, watching my footing as I dropped steeply downhill. 
The Petzl Myolite 3 headlamp - got me down safely
I arrived safely back at Swan House by 1710z.  An exciting and worthwhile adventure!  When I downloaded my route from GPS to Memory Map I was surprised to find that after a few hundred metres the path I came down on was some distance away from the path which I used on the way up. 
Stations worked on all four summits:
G4ILO Julian
G1OAE Tony
G4WHA Geoff
G0TDM John
M0AYB Phil 
Station worked on three summits:
2E0XSD (not worked on Barf)

Thanks to the Chasers and Spotters for enhancing what was a great half day walk. 

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