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Snowdonia Peaks

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Newlands Round 25-3-2017

Well, yet another last minute decision saw me heading North again, to a part of the Lake District I've not been to before and part of the Derwent Fells. A little place called, would you believe, LITTLE TOWN, tucked away down a single track lane a few miles from Keswick. Another walk meetup from yet another Facebook group and yet another great day with like minded people and another five Wainwrights in the bag, not that I'm counting :-)
As I wasn't quite sure where the main meeting place was, it was an early start that saw me get into Keswick for about 8am where a few were meeting up for breakfast at the local Wetherspoons and then heading in convoy to the small car park in Little Town for the 9am meet up time. A convoy of cars pulled up at the small parking spot to find all but two spaces left but with a few more parked up a couple of hundred yards further down the lane. A big group of around 21 people and a few dogs all out to enjoy a summer walk in the fells. I say summer because that's what it was like weather wise. A bit cool to start with but by 10am all sign of gloves and coats were all put firmly in rucksacks, sunhats and sunglasses replacing them, only to come back out on the final descents as the sun was going down.  Despite a good dumping of snow a few days earlier that left drifts waist high in places it was the warmest day of the year so far and even a good summers day will be pushed to beat this day. Just a clear blue sky day with views going on for ever, perfect :-)
So off we all went trooping along the path that took us to High Snab where we turned sharp right and headed straight up the steep bank and on to High Snab Bank and the ridge over High Crags.

Our route for the day
Group Photo
Steep climb up to High Snab Bank
On High Snab Bank with views down the valley with the snow capped fells of Skiddaw and Blencathra as the backdrop
We made our way along the ridge towards the first summit of the day, ROBINSON, where there was a nice cheeky scramble for those that chose it or a relatively easier way round with those that had dogs or didn't fancy putting hands on rocks. Nothing too serious but is was a bit slippery in places after all the snow. This was where we encountered the first small patches of snow and the higher we got the more snow we encountered and also the warmer it became.

On the ridge with Robinson looming large
Approaching Robinson
On top of the short sharp scramble
Looking down on the scramble
Once over the scramble it was onwards and upwards through snow patches a foot deep in places and following a straight forward path to the summit of Robinson where the views stretched all to way to the Isle of Man and the Solway Firth and Scotland. A great place to sit and rest with a bite to eat while we took in the views and enjoyed the warm conditions.
looking back down the valley and the snow capped fells
On the approach to the summit of Robinson
Deep snow patches on the plateau
Robinson summit views
Robinson Summit pose
Summit views to a distant Scotland across the Solway Firth
Summit group photo
After a good rest it was decided that those that wanted to do all the original route would go on and bag the summit of HINDSCARTH before heading across to DALE HEAD where we'd all meet up again. There was a fair bit of descent and re ascent and through the snow is was quite tough going especially in the warmth of the day.
Across the snowfields from Robinson to Hindscarth
Looking across the snowfields to Hindscarth, on the left, & Dale Head to the right.
On the snowy slopes of Hindscarth
The deep snow of Hindscarth
Hindscarth summit plateau looking across to curved features of Dale Head
Hindscarth summit
Dale Head our next objective
Looking back across to Robinson
We made our way off Hindscarth and rejoined the main path between Robinson and Dale Head. More snow and some great views were to be had, especially down the NEWLANDS VALLEY where you can see how the glacier of the ice age has carved it out making it a spectacular view with the bulky SKIDDAW as the backdrop, awesome.
On the snowy path to Dale Head
Looking back to Hindscarth on the right and a distant Robinson
The snowy face of Dale Head
The glacial Newlands Valley
The final push up to Dale Head
We got to Dale Head summit and found a place to rest and wait for the others who weren't that far behind us. Another very relaxed summit where there was the sound of children enjoying building a snow man, laughter and chit chat coming from the various parties on the plateau. We had about 30 minutes rest time as we all took in the views and just soaked up the atmosphere of the place and the common consensus was that no one wanted the day to end and just wanted to laze about till god knows when, it was that relaxed.
Snowman and family
Mr Snowman trying to keep cool :-)
Enjoying the summer like conditions on Dale Head
Dale Head summit with Hindscarth and Robinson behind
Dale Head summit group photo
From here it was heading straight down to Dalehead Tarn and an old sheep fold. Most took the path but some went straight down the snow covered bank thinking it was quicker and easier on the knees. It may of been easier on the knees but certainly not quicker but good fun nonetheless :-)
Making our way off Dale Head
The way off Dale Head with High Spy & Maiden Moor as the backdrop
Dalehead Tarn
Dalehead Tarn
Resting at Dalehead Tarn
This is where we split in to two groups again as 5 of us went on to complete the original circuit while the others made there way down the valley that took them straight back to the car park at Little Town. We said our goodbye's and hoped that we'd all meet up in the pub after. So the five of us did some more ascent as we made our way to the summit of HIGH SPY. Despite this pull up and it was quite boggy in places, the first boggy ground we had encountered all day, I was feeling in good shape and really enjoying the day to full max. The pace was at a leisurely one that certainly suited me and the pit stops we had certainly helped and created a very good atmosphere amongst us all. Lots of laughs and chatter about almost everything made for a great meet where everyone seemed to get along just fine. A really great day.
On reaching High Spy, we were greeted by yet another snowman and great views of our route ahead over MAIDEN MOOR, a fairly flatish walk with a nice easy descent that offered some great views over DERWENTWATER as the sun was starting to disappear. It was also where you could tell it wasn't the middle of summer as the temperature dropped a notch or two that saw an extra layer go on.
Through the bog field on our way to High Spy
High Spy Summit
High Spy Snowman
Our way off High Spy on to Maiden Moor
Derwentwater coming into view
Looking back to High Spy and Dale Head
Maiden Moor summit as the sun goes down
Derwent water with the snow capped tops of Skiddaw & Blencathra as the backdrop and the elusive Catbells in the foreground
As time was getting on and the warmth of the sun had now disappeared it was decided to leave the final summit of CATBELLS for another day as it would of meant at least another 90 minutes walking and getting back in the dark. A straight forward walk back through the old Yewthwaite mines, saw us get back to the deserted car park about 7pm so a good decision was made.
Yewthwaite mines
Two lonely cars
As the car park was now empty and time was getting on we knew we wouldn't see the others but we made our way to the pub a short drive away for one last rest and chat before we all went our separate ways. For me, this was a great meet up that gave me the chance to see another part of the Lakeland Fells and enjoy what turned out to be yet another fantastic day in the most amazing weather with another great bunch of people. A joy to be out and about and long may it continue.
Thanks to all 
Cheers :-)

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Crinkle Crags & Bowfell 4-3-17

Well what another great day on these iconic Lakeland Fells. Another last minute decision as I was torn between this and another visit to the Carneddau in Snowdonia but the weather seemed to make the decision for me as it seemed more settle up here. It was also the chance to get to know a few folk off one of the walking groups connected to Facebook that I'm a member of and to put names to faces. The other walk in Snowdonia was also connected to the same group so that would of been another opportunity to get to know fellow walkers. As it happened, I knew one of the group I was with which always seems a good way of breaking ice to gel with the other members and as it happened we all got on like a house on fire, good stuff :-)
This was a near repeat of the walk I did in March last year but with different weather. Last year a mixture of blue sky, sun and strong wind while this year was more of a snowy walk with little wind and a bit warmer. We also did a different and longer (killer) descent route that felt like it was never going to end!!    CLICK HERE
An early start of about 8am in the car park of the Old Dungeon Ghyll in Langdale, saw us start walking about 8.20 through Stool farm and along the track that should of took us to the wooden bridge over a quite swollen Oxendale Beck, only the bridge wasn't where it should of been, i.e, fixed over the water!!. For some reason it was lying on it's side with on end in the beck and looking a bit precarious to get over, but where there's a will, there's a way :-) and with a little bit of thought and carefulness we all made it across all in one piece and dry :-)
Our route for the day
Collapsed Bridge
Easy does it
Once we all got safely over it was the start of the steep ascent that takes you up past Browney Gill between tHE two lumps of Pike O' Plisco and Great knott and on towards Red Tarn. We swung round and headed on to Great Knott just before Red Tarn, and this is where we encountered the first bits of any lying snow. The snow here didn't look much but it did prove a bit difficult to walk on as it was lying in the path and was a good few inches deep in places, in fact one or two deep pockets that were like traps as you lost balance now and again.
Taking a breather @ Browney Gill
Great Knott and the Crinkles
Pike O Plisco
Snow covered path
Snow getting deeper over Great Knott
The depth of snow in places made for very tough going as there was times when you'd sink to you knees unexpectedly. With the rocks and tuffts of grass poking out of the snow it looked straight forward enough but then you'd get caught out by the unseen sink holes, fun in the snow :-) The weather was quite unexpected as the forecast said it would start to deteriorate as the afternoon went on, where in fact it actually got better and reasonably warm despite the alpine look. Although hats and gloves were on at rest points, mine were in the bag for most of the day as the wind also stayed away. A little breeze on the tops but nothing more and once the low cloud started to disperse it made for an excellent day with some great views all the way to the coast.
A frozen plateau
Sink holes in the snow
Small cornice forming between the Crinkles
Low cloud starting to lift
Pit stop view on the Crinkles

There's a fair amount of up and down on the Crinkles as you make you way over them and judging by the tracks in the snow there hadn't been a great amount of folk up here in the past few days. There were a few tracks that made the going a bit easier to follow and it showed where folk had been caught out by the sink holes and with the cloud lifting it made route finding a bit easier which is always on the helpful side. Between us though, we did have an assortment of maps and gps's to help us out along the way. By the time we had reached the three tarns the sun had made an appearance and all tops were clear of any cloud. In fact it had a warming effect as we stopped to take a layer off where we should of been adding a layer, but no complaints as we headed upto the highest summit of the day, Bow Fell.
Easy does it

Low cloud moving away to reveal our route so far
Langdale Valley coming into view
Sun hitting the Scafells with Bowfell all clear
Langdale Valley with a distant Windermere
One way to get down
Frozen tarn with the Scafells as the backdrop
Blue sky and sun over Bowfell as the layers come off :-)
The ascent of Bowfell
Bowfell Summit group photo
Summit view towards Mossdale/Eskdale
Summit views over to the Scafel range
Summit view down to Langstrath and beyond
Summit view back along Crinkle Crags and beyond

Summit views video
The initial plan of descent from Bow Fell, was to head over to Esk Pike, follow the path round and down past Angle Tarn before heading up to Rossett Pike and down the path following Rossett Gill, joining the main Cumbrian Way path back down to the car park. Because of the time it had taken us, because of the conditions, it was decided to bypass Esk Pike and Rossett Pike and just head straight for Angle Tarn and keeping to the descent path from there. A little disappointing as I would of liked to of ticked those two off but a sensible one as time was getting on. It just means another excuse to come back again but I'll not be looking forward to this descent path as I found it to be a bit off a killer after a tough long day. As we headed under Esk Pike the ground conditions were changing as the snow was turning more soft and slushy and therefore a bit more slippery. Again we all made it in one piece and it was good fun in parts :-)
Coming off Bow Fell
Keep away from the cornice
Blue sky & snow wasn't in the forecast
This is where it started to get a bit on the slushy side
On the slushy slippery descent

Angle Tarn with Rossett Pike
The descent path skirting under Rossett Pike
Heading into the Langdale Valley
Looking back up to the Crinkles and Bow Fell
 We got back to the Old Dungeon Ghyll for a debrief about 4.30pm so about 8 hours spent in this great area. A big thanks for Tony for organizing the walk and also the great company of Sharon, Nicci, Jay, Johnathon & Peter.