Friday 7 January 2011

Walk 39
10.7m / 3500 ft ascent
Time taken: 430 mins

147. Whinlatter LDW-160 1696'
148. Low Fell LDW-196 (SOTA LD-042) 1388'
149. Fellbarrow LDW-199 1365'
150. Ling Fell LDW-205 1224'
151. Sale Fell LDW-208 1178'

Route taken to Whinlatter by Phil G4OBK & Geoff on 7th January 2011
Whinlatter LDW-160
Ascent through the forest
Our first port of call on Friday was a walking shop in Keswick. Geoff needing a walking pole after finding great difficulty in staying upright on the downward slopes of the Loweswater Fells the previous day. This was not helped by his 18 month old Meindl Burma Pro boots that had become devoid of tread!  I only realised this later when I was making quite an impression with my treads on the snowy path up to Low Fell, whilst Geoffrey was making no impression at all.  The irony in all this is that he had a brand new pair of Zamberlan Boots in his car, which were purchased on the Wednesday from Fishers of Keswick.  He put them on later in the day!
I had decided to go for maximum points in Wainwright terms today - this meant we could just find time to climb five grass topped relatively easy summits (Low Fell would also count for SOTA LD-042)  all below 1700ft. To do this would mean three seperate walks and a journey by car between each one.  I would much prefer to walk between fells by linking them together, but this is not always possible when the hills are sentinels or in pairs as these five were.
Profile of our walk from the car parking area at NY 204245 to Whinlatter LDW-160
We were at the top of Whinlatter NY 204245 (free CP) and walking by 0913z. This was after a talking to three police officers at the parking spot. When we arrived there was a white van and a black Ford Mondeo car with three men with dogs dressed in black preparing to go out into the forest. We thought no more about this until I noticed that one of them had a POLICE badge on his jacket.  We got into conversation and what they told us was most interesting, but quite sad. On the evening of December 22nd a 43 year old Cumbrian women called Dr Debrorah Pearson had set off from that car park wearing normal clothing and had not returned to her vehicle. The officers told us that since her dissapearance her body had not been found despite several intensive searches of the forest and fells in the area by a large group of police officers and mountain rescuers.  The two dogs, a black labrador and a spaniel had been brought in from Manchester and  were specially trained to search for human remains.  We wished them success with their search and went on our way.  (Nothing yet found as at 15th January).

Whinlatter Top LDW-160 (under ccl by Michael Graham)

Our route up to the summit of Whinlatter was an easy one taking us through the Comb Plantation on a track leaving the forest at 204247. From here we followed the forest fence for a while and then took a path across the moor to the highest point of Whinlatter. The time taken for the ascent was just 30 minutes and we hit the snow line as we left the forest. Going was easy on a well established path.  We had great views to the north and east with the previously visited Broom Fell, Greystones  and Lord's Seat visible just a few kilometres to the east.  Radio operation on 2m FM was quite successful with 8 stations being logged including MM1MPB in Scotland. ODX was with Colin G4UXH who lives in Milnthorpe. Colin has a good VHF station with a directional yagi antenna and this makes all the difference when signals are marginal. We left the fell at 0957z  and on reaching the car park noted that the dog van and Mondeo were still there, so the search was continuing I expect for the rest of the day.  We had a cold morning, crisp and sunny, with a hard frost.  The road through to Thackthwaite to our 2nd walk was ice bound in several places. 

Route taken to Low Fell and Fellbarrow by Phil G4OBK & Geoff on 7th January 2011
Low Fell LDW-196 and Fellbarrow LDW-199
Ascent from Thackthwaite

Parking place just north of Thackthwaite
Profile of walk up Low Fell & Fellbarrow
We had hoped to drive to Lorton and cross Lorton Low Bridge, however this was closed for repair work, so we had to once again make a detour south to Scalehill Bridge and then drive  north to our parking place just north of Thackthwaite at grid reference 149238 (seen above - room for about six cars).
We followed these fox tracks to the top of Low Fell
A public footpath took us above the Vale of Lorton to the top of the charming Low Fell via Watching Crag. We were walking by 1055z. This really is a delightful walk on a grassy path, which in our case had a light covering of snow. This is a route suited to anyone, or a group of whatever ability with a gradual ascent on a good path up to the summit.  As we started to climb I was aware that another local Wainwrights activator Derek (callsign 2E0MIX) was expected to be active on his VX-170 radio in my pocket and a fully extended antenna in the rucksack. At 1108z when I was around 500ft ASL, I heard Derek calling and I was fortunate to be one of five stations he worked before a blizzard forced him off the summit. The weather was very different at 2300ft for Derek than it was with us and we reached the summit of Low Fell at 1145z to complete contacts with G1OAE, G4ILO, MM1MPB, G4WHA/M AND 2E0XSD.

Phil G4OBK on the summit of Low Fell LDW-196 / LD-042.  Loweswater and Mellbreak are behind
Geoff makes his way up Fellbarrow
We left the felltop the way we came up until we reached the fence at Watching Crag, Grid Ref 137233 when we struck off left along the line of the fence towards Fellbarrow LDW-199. The route in the clear air could be seen tracking across Sourfoot Fell and Smithy Fell and we reached the top of Fellbarrow at 1230z. Here Geoff is pictured toiling up to the summit, and lagging behind me due to his worn out boots which were now on their last winter outing as he put on his new Zamberlan's after this experience!
The contact rate on Fellbarrow was on the low side with five stations logged, however John G0TDM in Penrith was contacted for the first time on this two day trip. It was a steady trek back down and we rejoined our route up at 142237 where we chatted to three walkers, the only people seen all day so far apart from the Police Officers at Whinlatter.  On arriving at Geoff's car it was dinner time, so we tucked into our food and flasks - the tea being much warmer than we had the previous day.  At this point we both felt fit and well which was my cue to text message Geoff G4WHA who alerted our decision on the WOTA Website to go ahead with a late afternoon activation of Ling Fell and Sale Fell which were just a few miles north of our present position and part of the North Western Fells group. 

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Route taken to Ling Fell LDW-205 and then Sale Fell LDW-208 from a parking place near Eskin

Ling Fell LDW-205 and Sale Fell LDW-208
Ascent from Eskin

Geoff drove the 8 miles to grid reference  NY 184291 (near Eskin) where we set off at 1410z for the summit of Ling Fell. A corpse road runs around the periphery of the hill and we followed this for further than we needed to.  Tracing routes out of Stuart Marshalls book are not an exact science as they aren't OS Maps, just sketch maps, and in this case my estimate of his route up LIng Fell was slightly out resulting in a  more steepening climb than had we struck out for the top a little earlier - see the map above. Our downward route was better and is on the right hand side.

This was Ling Fell seen from the flank of Sale Fell on the day we climbed it
I was on the air at 1436z and G1OAE was first in the log.  A most welcome nine contacts were completed with ODX being with the station of Colin G4UXH in Milnthorpe.  Part way down the side of Ling Fell I heard  Richard G1JTD/P who was operating west of Keswick calling CQ from the summit of Catbells LDW-189.  After repeated calls I managed to break through and make a contact. We ventured back down and when we reached the corpse road we chatted to a terrier man (he had four!) who was a former fellrunner  and Munro Bagger, an interesting guy to have had a pint with.  Moving the car was an option as parking is also available at the bottom of the Kelswick road at 185293, but why spoil a good walk when you are part through it by using the car to save less than half a mile?   We continued on foot. 

Profile of our route Ling Fell LDW-205  on left Sale Fell LDW-208 on right

Parking place for Ling and Sale Fell
 A tarmac road took us to Kelswick and just before the farm we took the path to the left to follow the stone wall. This route proved to be a poor one once we left the track and I would advise others to follow our downward route above the top of Dodd Crag which is longer but less steep. This steep approach required a couple of "breathing breaks" and we reached the bland summit of Sale Fell at 1539z - Sale Fell is the cornerstone of the North Western Fells and is not to be confused with Sail, another Wainwright a few miles to the south west. Although the top was indeed bland and of quite a low altitude at less than 1200', the views of the west Cumbrian plain and the Solway Firth over to Criffel were indeed lovely as we approached sunset.  The radio work for WOTA was successful with contacts completed with ten stations including the two stations in Penrith of G4WHA and G0TDM. Mark MM1MPB was booming in from Scotland and ODX (as usual!) being with Colin G4UXH in Milnthorpe.  The total contacts made in the day were an improvement from Thursday at 38. 
This proved to be quite a hard day and one of the few where a car  by neccessity, was used to travel between the different summit areas. Geoff drove back to our Hotel in Keswick where after a quick wash and brush up I was ready for the drive back home to Pickering (with Geoff heading south to Worcester). The road conditions on the A66 over Bowes Moor were quite dangerous with snow, slush and ice around. The second lane was ususable other than by the foolish. Three vehicles were off the road on the top of the Moor and the police were there. One vehicle had come to grief by landing on its side on the nearside verge. ...and still people were using the outside lane at speeds in excess of 70 mph. Madness.

I picked up fish and chips when I got to Pickering and was home enjoying them with my XYL Judy by 8.00pm. 

Sale Fell LDW-208 from Ling Fell LDW-205 on the day of our activation

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