Walk date – 1st August 2019
Distance – 7.4 miles
Weather – mostly cloudy with sunny spells, warm and humid, light breeze
Since our last outing the weather has been very unsettled, days of overcast skies with frequent, and prolonged, spells of rain, none of which I really minded because my left calf muscle remained very sore following the bout of cramp it suffered during our walk in the Howgills, and the poor weather gave me a few days to get it rested and more or less back to normal. Today was set to be a better day with less frequent showers so we drove over to Orthwaite to take a gentle walk over some of the lower Uldale Fells. The calf muscle was still slightly sore so I was hoping it would hold out for the duration and that I wouldn’t get a repeat performance, I didn’t want that excruciating pain again. J’s affected thigh muscle had recovered more quickly than mine so there were no underlying concerns about it as far as he was concerned. This was a good choice of route for a calf muscle which wasn’t back to full fitness yet, only two steepish climbs to deal with, and all the rest of the height gain being achieved over well graded, and mostly grassy, paths.
Orthwaite – Bridleway below Horsemoor Hills – Burn Tod Bridleway – Brockle Crag – Hause Gill – Frozen Fell – Burn Tod – Trusmadoor – Great Cockup – Little Cockup – Orthwaite Bank – Orthwaite
Out of shot on the right, opposite Orthwaite Hall, is a concrete parking strip, just in front of a couple of farm buildings, which offers space for four or five neatly parked cars. A sign indicates that parking is permitted, above which is a locked metal box in which to put your cash. We couldn’t find any notice indicating what the charge was so we put in what we hoped would be an appropriate amount. Why is the phone wire pole absolutely vertical while everything else in the shot looks as though its leaning over?
Once kitted up and the various satellites orbiting the earth were collaborating nicely with the gps we walked south, down the hill from Orthwaite Hall and the parking area, until we came to our turn off point along the wide track leading up to the gate over on the left. There’s a lot of cloud around but the sun manages to filter its way through and create a little brightness as we walk over to it.
We go through the gate and the good wide track provides some very pleasant, firm and level walking for a while. The sun manages to break through a little more and keeps the brightness going, but one look at the sky ahead shows that it isn’t a wall to wall blue sky day. It is a good day for walking though, warm, but not too hot, and with a very light breeze now and then just to stir the air around a little.
Lush green farmland, and a view of some of the north western fells, to our right as we walk along the track.
Air quality wasn’t wonderful today but good enough to see the Ullock Pike – Carl Side ridge clearly enough …..
….. and immediately ahead of us, the Skiddaw massif with a few clouds hanging ominously above it.
Around the bend in the track and Brockle Crag comes into view, its the bump just behind the pointed top on the centre skyline. Over on the left of the shot a path can be seen rising up through the bracken, that’s the path we’ll turn onto before very much longer.
An old quarry is passed as we walk along with J of the firm opinion that the rock had been dug out in the past to provide someone with the necessary material with which to construct a dwelling. Maybe so, but enough had been quarried out to construct a sizeable building if that was the case. The reason for its existence is probably rather more mundane though.
After only a short distance of walking we reach the start of the bridleway which will take us above Brockle Crag and on towards Burn Tod, two miles distant according to the sign. The bridleway we’re leaving continues on over to Dash Farm, now converted to holiday accommodation and, as far as we could tell, fully occupied this week given the number of cars parked nearby.
The view back over Bass Lake towards Barf and Lord’s Seat as we begin the climb …..
….. and a look back at Binsey in splendid isolation across the farmland. Looking back along the path it looks as though we might have had a bit of a fight to get through the bracken but …..
….. a look ahead illustrates the nature of the path, wide, grassy and nicely graded, and well clear of the pesky, invasive green stuff which was only at knee height and not the shoulder high variety to be found on some other fells. The climb continues steadily over a few undulations, punctuated by the occasional level stretch, over towards the peak on the right skyline.
We left the bridleway to make a short diversion across to the top of the peak and its extensive view to the northwest …..
….. and from where we were also able to take a look down at our route across the bracken covered slopes. Its clear to see that the gradients are quite steady but some sections of it do remind you occasionally that you are climbing nevertheless.
From the pointed top we moved across to the flatter area immediately above Brockle Crag and disturbing a number of sheep who had got themselves nicely settled on the grass to enjoy whatever sunshine came along. We got some very hard stares as they reluctantly hauled themselves to their feet and wandered a safe distance away from us. The light breeze drifting around us was very welcome as we stood gazing across at Bakestall and Skiddaw across the valley.
Brockle Crag’s quartzite rocks poke up through the grass as we look along the valley where Dash Falls are just about visible at the head of it. The afore-mentioned Dash Farm can be seen amongst the trees below the wall over on the left of the valley.
A closer look at Dash Falls and Dash Farm through the gloom which descended for a while, with the smoky grey peak of Lonscale Fell peeping above the skyline.
From Brockle Crag we made our way back to the bridleway where we begin to lose height as we drop down to the foot of Burn Tod where we will cross Burntod Gill. From the gill we’ll pick up the path which will take us around the foot of Burn Tod and on up Hause Gill which can just be seen to the right of the shot. If scaling Burn Tod is your heart’s desire then there’s nothing to stop you climbing straight up those steep slopes to its summit at 1952’/595m, but doing so via Hause Gill is a much pleasanter and interesting experience. Even better is knowing that height is being gained without the lung busting, and uninteresting, slog up an upturned pudding basin.
As we were about to cross Burntod Gill a pair of runners came down towards us and not wishing to break their stride we stopped to let them go by. We needn’t have bothered as it turned out, its was a bit boggy around the gill and they had to slow down to negotiate it. As they came up the slope towards us they stopped for a chat so perhaps they were ready for a bit of a break anyway. It was only a short chat about each of our routes and when we mentioned Hause Gill one of them said how much he liked it and what a lovely run down it was. They went on their way eventually running on the path in the shot which we had just descended. We joined it at the Y junction from the left hand path having just been to Brockle Crag. They also took the Brockle Crag route but they aren’t in this shot as once we had crossed the gill we took a short break before picking up the path leading up Hause Gill. We watched their progress as we took our break and by the time we were ready to go again they were over the hill and far away. On the left of this shot is an old sheepfold at the bottom of White Hause, and across from us, on the lower slopes of Great Cockup, was another old fold. Both are marked on the OS Explorer OL4 map but not on our route map.
Mars Bar consumed, drinks taken on board and packs hoisted once again we set off around the base of Burn Tod and along the path up Hause Gill. Before we reached this more open section there was a clump of rushes to walk through, the path was clear to see but it was wetter underfoot than we had experienced so far. We had been surprised at quite how dry all the paths were given the amount of rain we’ve had lately. Another old fold lay just below the path at this point, this is also marked on the OL4 map but not on our route map.
As can be seen, to begin with the gill is some distance below although it could still be heard as it splashed its way along. The path wandered through heather which was just coming into flower …..
….. occasional patches of bracken …..
….. and then gravelly footpaths which ran closer to the gill …..
….. and which took us across numerous patches of scree, heather and, now and again, the occasional clump of bilberry.
Walking through here reminded very much of walking Gasgale Gill from Lanthwaite Green to Coledale Hause although the atmosphere through here was much less stark and inhospitable …..
….. we wind around numerous twists and turns as the sides of the gill become closer together but it never feels oppressive or intimidating, it was very much the opposite as it seemed so friendly and welcoming. It didn’t become overly humid either, as it can in some gills, and the light breeze somehow managed to waft around us occasionally and keep the humidity at a tolerable level.
On the way up to this point we gradually realised that we could no longer hear the water splashing down the gill and when we got here we found out why. When I took this shot I was standing at the point where the water had vanished leaving only bone dry stones in the bed of the gill …..
….. but a swift about turn reveals running water in the gill above. We couldn’t identify the exact point where it vanished but with wet stones above me and dry ones below there had to be a seepage point somewhere around here.
J was thoroughly taken by Hause Gill and kept declaring this particular part of it ‘a lovely little spot’ and so it is …..
….. with enchanting miniature falls splashing over the stones at some points and …..
….. longer cascades dropping down grassy stairways in others.
Hardly aware that we were climbing we crossed the gill at several points, all of them easy and perfectly straightforward to deal with …..
….. eventually reaching the last crossing point with the path rising on the opposite side just a stride away.
The path from the last crossing point leads up, out of shot to the right, but before carrying on I took a look into the higher reaches of the gill as it branches away from us to the left of the path.
A look back down before we leave the absolutely delightful walk up through Hause Gill and its been a real treat to walk up here on such a pleasant day. None of it is steep or unpleasant and it has something about it which is hard to describe but which utterly captivates you. The shot shows how much we have climbed but we were not aware of it because around every bend there is something else to stop and investigate, or just be simply charmed by. A lovely, magical place to be savoured, not to be rushed through.
With some reluctance we leave the gill behind and head up the path towards the hause with two guardians of the fells keeping a wary eye on J.
Out at the hause where we join up with the path running between Little Calva and Knott with this hazy view of Mungrisedale Common and Blencathra directly ahead of us. Foule Crag is nicely silhouetted against a patch of lighter sky although the summit area of Blencathra looks as if it may soon be enveloped in cloud.
Over to the left of Blencathra where Bowscale Fell and Bannerdale Crags are also plunged in gloom under the much cloudier skies over there.
A little less in the gloom to the right is Great Calva …..
….. but as we turn to the left we still have a sunny spell. This is the path up to Knott but we will not be following it the whole way today. We were only up there in April this year when I was just getting over an infection which had affected my breathing and it was still a laboured ascent with plenty of heavy breathing on my part. Today I have a sore calf muscle so it seems I’m fated to climb this steepish path with some ailment or other. So far the soreness hasn’t been a problem but it came to the fore up here and I had to take a couple of rest stops to let the ache die down a little.
The first rest stop coincided with another brief sunny spell hence this shot of Great Calva and the long ridge walk leading to the path over here …..
….. followed by another look across to the left where Bannerdale Crags, Blencathra and Great Calva are on the skyline. Blencathra isn’t quite so threatened by low cloud now but its still very gloomy across there.
We eventually left the path rising over to Knott and walked across the rough grass northwards towards Frozen Fell taking this shot of Burn Tod and Great Cockup as we walked along. We stopped for a lunch break somewhere between Burn Tod and Frozen Fell enjoying both the food and the sunshine for about fifteen minutes before getting going again. The walk across was mostly pathless but we did eventually pick up a trail coming down from Knott over to Frozen Fell.
On Frozen Fell now with a view to the west of Brae Fell, Little Sca Fell and Great Sca Fell from left to right respectively …..
….. with a zoom in for a closer look at Brae Fell and Little Sca Fell. We didn’t find anything by way of a summit marker while we were up here.
A walk across to the edge of Frozen Fell for this view of Cumbria’s coastal plain, and Meal Fell, Lowthwaite Fell and Longlands Fell down below us.
A little further to the left and Great Cockup in on the left, Meal Fell on the right and little Binsey stuck out on its own in the middle of the flatlands.
A closer look down to Great Cockup and the initial steepish climb up from Trusmadoor indicated by the white line close to the craggy edge. The gradient becomes much easier when the subsequent grassy path levels off beyond the top of the crags.
From Frozen Fell we make our way over the rough grasses back to Burn Tod and eventually …..
….. pick up a narrow grass path across it where there isn’t a lot to be seen for the time being.
On the summit of Burn Tod which is marked by a very small piece of white quartzite accompanied by a larger, but otherwise unremarkable, lump of rock. It wasn’t too difficult to find amongst the greenery on a bright day but it would be extremely missable when snow is down.
Meal Fell on my right with Lowthwaite and Longlands Fells to its left and Brae Fell in the distance on the right as I leave the summit area and head over the rough grass heading towards the descent path.
Meanwhile, J is some distance away plotting his own course down from the summit. Frozen Fell is right behind him followed by Great Sca Fell and then Little Sca Fell.
I’m still plodding down the fellside with this view of Lothwaite Fell and Brae Fell ahead of me.
We join forces again having reached the proper descent path with another look back at Frozen Fell and its near neighbours.
The summit of Meal Fell is over on the left where we saw one tiny figure moving around so, apart from the two runners we met back at the gill crossing, this was the first person we’d seen walking these fells today.
The view down to Trusmadoor as we begin to descend the zig-zag path …..
….. and a Swaledale keeping a watchful eye on us as we do so. I’m wondering about now how my sore calf muscle will cope with the initial steep climb up Great Cockup. Its quite content at the moment and so it should be as it isn’t being asked to do very much at the moment.
Frozenfell Gill from the descent of Burn Tod.
I spot movement on the Great Cockup path and see a walker in a white t-shirt and dark trousers making his/her way up. Two other walkers are also making their way down to Trusmadoor from Meal Fell. So we see no-one all day and now there’s a flurry of folk all heading for Trusmadoor, perhaps its the old ‘bus principle’ at work again.
Down at Burntod Gill where we take a short break, splash refreshing cold water on hands and faces, empty a bottle of warmish water and refill it with cold before setting off up the rise to gain the path heading off up Great Cockup. I’ve also given my calf muscle a bit of a massage in the hope that it won’t seize up on me halfway up the path.
Before hitting the stony track I took a look back at the zig-zag descent route off Burn Tod which I think shows up reasonably well in the shot …..
….. followed by a brief look along Burntod Gill which is heading down to join Hause Gill at the point where we met the two runners earlier on today. Skiddaw is still in gloom as it has been for most of the day.
We’re over the steepest part of the climb here, during which the calf muscle behaved itself allowing me to get up here without too much by way of aches and pains. As I took this look back at Frozen Fell I noticed that the two walkers who had been descending Meal Fell were no longer in view and they would have reached the bottom of it by the time I took the shot
Still making our way over the grassy path over to the summit the solo walker in the white t-shirt I mentioned earlier came down towards us. A young woman who had obviously just walked over to the summit and was now on her way back, probably back to Longlands as she had already walked down Meal Fell. We wondered where the other two walkers had gone since there is still no sign of them coming up here. Maybe they’re on their way back to Longlands too.
The gradient eventually levels out and we’re just left with a straighforward tramp across to the summit. To our left, and to our amazement, some sunlight has landed on part of the Skiddaw massif and brightens the whole thing up at long last.
So here we are at the less than magnificent summit cairn on Great Cockup looking towards a sunny Skiddaw group …..
….. and now looking towards Little Cockup where we are heading for next. As I turned to take this shot I noticed the two walkers just appearing over the rise at the eastern end of Great Cockup and making their way over towards us. We leave this summit and head off on the short walk over to Little Cockup …..
….. which has much more of a cairn than its next door neighbour despite being rather smaller in stature. Below us is Over Water with Binsey in the distance.
Still sunny on Skiddaw although the clouds are thickening and the sky is beginning to look a little more ominous.
All that’s left to do now is follow the path off to the left and enjoy the steady tramp down across Orthwaite Bank.
Skiddaw still getting sunshine as we pass one of the grouse butts which had fallen in on itself …..
….. and taking a look back to Little Cockup as we pass another one which is still in good condition and perhaps just as it was when it was first built. The little speck on top of Little Cockup are the two walkers who were making their way over to Great Cockup previously. They had obviously seen us making our way over there and had decided to go and have a look for themselves. At this point they were probably wondering where the heck we were heading for. The next time I looked back they had disappeared, more than likely back to Great Cockup and then down to Longlands as they didn’t come over this way.
There’s a good clear path all the way across and we didn’t come across any squelchy patches either today. The only moisture problem came from the sky and at this point we began to feel the first raindrops which eventually developed into a short but quite sharp shower, happily with no thunder or lightning attached. We didn’t bother with wet weather gear but I put the camera under cover so this was the last photo I took for ten minutes or so.
By the time we reached the bracken patch the shower had passed over, we had dried out and so the camera came out of hiding once more. Even at full growth the bracken hasn’t taken over the path so it remains clear and struggle free. At the top of the rise towards the end of the bracken …..
….. the houses at Orthwaite come into view. The path goes down as far as the wall and then takes a left turn and leads down to the gate where we started out from. The wall is high, is topped with a tall wire fence and there is no gate, all of which indicate that the fields beyond it are no go areas.
Further back there were much better views of Over Water but as they occurred during the rain shower I had to be content with this shot. The small hill over to the left shares a name with a much more well known fell, that of Latrigg close to Keswick. Its a little lower than its famous namesake though by about 150′.
We turn down to the left beside the wall and there at the bottom is the gate we went through at the beginning of today’s walk so we’ve come full circle with only a short walk back up the road to Orthwaite.
We pass by a couple of bijou residences, first one is Orthwaite Farm, according to the sign on the wall, but it seems not to be a working farm nowadays …..
….. and a little further along is Orthwaite Cottage …..
….. and finally the parking area in front of a very large barn and an open sided storage building which probably belong to Orthwaite Hall just across the road. The car park sign and money box I mentioned at the beginning are in the shot over on the left. No-one else is parked here so maybe we were the only ones using it today. Well, that’s the end of our walk, the skies have clouded over again and not a hint of sunshine can be seen anywhere so we’ve probably had the best of what the day had to offer. Its a grand little walk and we’ve really enjoyed it, especially the walk up Hause Gill, and in ideal walking weather despite the shower towards the end. More than anything else it was good to be outdoors again.