Walk Date – 25th July 2016
Distance – 9.5 miles
Weather – everything but snow and hail
The weather forecast for today was somewhat depressing to say the least, in most areas it would be overcast, windy and showery with only a 10% chance of cloud free summits. The best chance of anything reasonable seemed to be in the South Lakes where the showers wouldn’t arrive until mid afternoon. So mid morning found us walking out of Hawkshead towards Colthouse having just waited in the car for it to stop chucking it down. So much for the rain arriving mid afternoon.
(return route shown in blue)
The roads were busy with traffic around Hawkshead as its a magnet for holidaymakers, you’ll see why at the end of the walk, which no doubt is why this walkway has been provided between the bridge parapet and the roadway. The road bears round to the right and leads on to the ferry crossing over Windermere. We will be taking the left hand lane and making our way to Colthouse and then taking the path to Latterbarrow.
Colourful Colthouse, a small hamlet of about a dozen cottages with the road still wet after the earlier downpour.
From Colthouse we continue up the lane passing the entrance gates to Gillbank. No photo of the house as we were well below the bank and the trees.
Just before we turned off onto the track up to Latterbarrow I took this shot looking to the north and the 10% chance of cloud free summits looks accurate. We can see Loughrigg Fell which is the small one over on the left, and to the right of it you should have a lovely view of the Fairfield Horseshoe, but such are the conditions today that the only, and just about, identifiable parts are the two fells at either end of it. If you look towards the centre of the shot you can see a vague U shape on the left of which will be Nab Scar and on the right, just behind the tree, will be Low Pike. At least over here the sun has made an appearance.
Just behind me is the path for the walk up to Latterbarrow, so its through the gate and on with the walk.
Just in case you have no idea where you are, the National Trust has provided a helping hand plus a list of do’s and don’ts.
Just a little further up from the National Trust sign I took a look over towards the Coniston fells where everything looks a bit turbulent, thankfully we still have some sunshine so everything is very pleasant at the moment.
At this point its take your pick time, both paths eventually lead you to the top so it doesn’t really matter which one you choose. We could hear the voices of a noisy group on the one going off to the left so we opted for the right hand one instead.
A bit further on and its another take your pick time, and once again both routes take you to the top. The one on the left takes a more direct route up the fell side, the right hand one leads on to the base of Latterbarrow where you then take a left turn and walk up the nose or front of it. We planned to walk off Latterbarrow down the nose so we took the left hand path to the top.
Now that we’re out of the trees, which were dripping water all over us, and on to the open fell side, we stopped to remove the showerproofs. Despite appearances it was lovely and warm walking up here. Hawkshead village on the left is enjoying some sunshine but the Coniston fells are still looking a bit chilly. Latterbarrow is only just over 800′ high so it isn’t in AW’s list of 214 fells. However, he did write another book called ‘The Outlying Fells’ and Latterbarrow is listed in that. At this point we are just a short distance from the top so you can see how short a walk it is from Hawkshead to Latterbarrow top.
A couple of minutes later and we are on the top of Latterbarrow looking across Windermere towards Ambleside at the head of the water. The fell on the right is Wansfell which, at a little over 1500′, is also attracting some cloud. Views northwards to the left of it are non-existent thanks to the low cloud base. We still have sunshine but its warmth was neutralised by the strong and chilly north-westerly which was blowing straight across the summit area. We had been sheltered from it on the way up so another layer went back while we were waiting for a group of people to move away from the summit area.
The huge obelisk which marks the top of Latterbarrow. Wansfell is now in even deeper shadow …..
….. and things haven’t improved over on the Coniston fells either.
Adding some scale to the obelisk which looks to be about 20′ high. I can find no information about it so we’ll just have to wonder about the who, why and when I’m afraid.
Looking north at the lack of views, however …..
….. just showing in the grass was this tiny common spotted orchid. I had to take several shots before I got one which wasn’t blurred as the wind was blowing it so much. It ended up with the two of us forming a semi-circle around it to create a wind-break, we must have looked very peculiar crouched low with our noses in the grass and backsides up in the air. It was worth the effort though because its such a pretty little thing. I had to use the zoom though in order to get the markings to show clearly.
Off we go down the nose of Latterbarrow, and no, he hasn’t got a pointed head, its the wind still blowing our hair all over the place.
Down at the bottom and we cross the stile to begin the second part of our walk which will take us by some of the tarns in this area.
The path from the stile enters an extensive area of tree felling and the mess left behind. Apparently its left to rot down to benefit the forest eco-system and bio-diversity. That may be so, but they could have taken a bit more care while they were at it and not destroyed large sections of the fine dry stone walls.
Devastation and desolation alongside the path.
Once we were above another area of forest I took a close up of the view behind us. It doesn’t amount to much but on the left you can just about make out Low Pike with High Pike behind it. Over on the right a large part of Red Screes is clouded over.
Here’s a longer view behind us, the cloud has moved away from Wansfell but it still looks very grim back there.
A very large and very high stile across a high deer fence. Naturally I had to go up and take a look. There was no path on the other side, just long grass with the dense forest beyond it, and there was no way anyone could get through. Made me wonder what the its purpose was and the only thing I could come up with was some sort of fire spotting lookout station.
From the top of the stile there should be a view of Sour Howes and some of the fells on the western side of the Kentmere Horseshoe. Oh well, the white cloud spilling over them is providing a bit of drama and atmospherics.
A close up of the obelisk as I look back from the top of the stile.
On we go through more forested area …..
….. and eventually arrive at this junction. We’ve just come in on the path to the right, we’ll be back here a bit later to take the path on the left, so the path we need to take now is the one behind me …..
….. which eventually becomes quite a wide forest track which will easily accommodate large forestry vehicles and machinery. More felling has taken place here too so its not the most picturesque view in Lakeland at the moment. The two mobile phone masts over on the left don’t add anything to the setting either. This is the area named as Long Height on the route map.
At this junction we join the forest road. We’ve just come in on the path to the right and now we take the one going off to the left.
The view from the junction. Easy walking and we’re out of the wind, but the sun has taken his hat off and gone somewhere else at the moment.
Blimey, we have a view! The cloud has cleared from Sour Howes over on the right, and to the left of it we can just make out part of the Kentmere Horseshoe.
Tramping on through the woodland and beginning to feel spits and spots of rain, I try to convince myself that it is just water blowing off the trees but deep down I know it isn’t.
Well, its not much good as a gate, but it does, more or less, mark the end of the woodland and brings us out …..
….. into more open countryside, just as the spits and spots of rain turn into something a little more persistent. Its not very heavy just yet but you can see from the cloud that there is every possibility that it will be before much longer.
Scale Head Tarn and the dam wall at the end of it eventually comes into view. The round blurry bit in the centre of the photo is one of the spits and spots of rain. I’m not sure whether its a spit or a spot but either way its a blob of water, and the blue sky is going thataway.
Another view of Scale Head Tarn and its very tranquil setting.
I did my tightrope walking act along the top of the dam wall to bring you this view from the other side of the tarn. Not that I needed to risk life and limb …..
….. because I could just as easily have walked across to this side but that wouldn’t have been as interesting. Adrenaline junkie, that’s me! Its quite a sturdy dam wall for such a little tarn.
Just yards away from Scale Head Tarn is this much bigger one, Wise E’en Tarn, in its lovely setting. What a shame the weather has turned its back on us, it would look lovely in the sunshine with the fells as the backdrop.
A view along Wise E’en Tarn and not a soul around, although a few Canada geese came across and splashed down on it, spoiling the peace and quiet with their raucous calls. We wandered along to the shelter of some trees by the shoreline to have something to eat and get out of the rain for a while.
After our lunch stop we continued on to Moss Eccles Tarn. I didn’t take any photos along the way as the rain couldn’t decide whether to stay or go and I got fed up with faffing about wiping moisture off the camera lens. It had stopped by the time we arrived but it had become a quite a lot cooler. Here’s a few views of the tarn …..
This is the outflow end of the tarn and there’s a dam wall, another spot of tightrope walking?
Well hardly, because it bears no resemblance to a tightrope, but it gives a view back over to where we’ve just walked so I thought I’d include it anyway. The ripples on the tarn showing that we were still getting quite a breeze even down here.
Water lilies at the edge of the tarn.
Information from The National Trust which reveals the following …..
….. it would be difficult to find a more tranquil spot in which to spend a summer evening and I’m sure they enjoyed it tremendously, I know I would have. Thanks to Beatrix for leaving it to The National Trust so that we can all enjoy it now.
One last shot of the tarn before we make our way over to the next one, which will be Three Dubs Tarn.
Things weren’t quite so tranquil when we reached Three Dubs Tarn. There was a huge group of people sitting in front of the boathouse and beside the water’s edge over to the left of the shot. It seemed as though they were having lunch and, not wishing to knock over any drinks or squash sandwiches under our boots, we decided to skirt round them. This involved threading our way through their encampment, avoiding tripping over guy ropes, and stepping on clothing and sleeping bags which were lying around.
This is the boathouse they were all sitting in front of and you can see a couple of participants over on the right. It was no good trying for photos on the other side of the boathouse because there were just too many people over there and we didn’t want to interrupt their lunch break.
A bit more tightrope walking as we crossed over the two very bendy planks which had been placed across the outflow. More group equipment scattered on the banking by the boathouse, and a film screen dangling in the window. Perhaps its a team building course. I’ve been on a few of those, hated every minute of them, and never found any team I was in at the time to have gained much benefit from the experience afterwards.
We’ve made it round to the opposite bank and beat a retreat by climbing the hill behind us and leaving them to whatever fun activity was in store for them. Then when you’ve done for the day you get to sleep outdoors in a tent as well, whoop de doo!
Its only a short hop from Three Dubs Tarn back to Wise E’en Tarn from where we will start our return leg back to Colthouse. We’ll follow the same route back for part of the way and then use a different path when we get to the Long Height area. Heavy grey clouds are still over us, and although it has stopped raining it is still quite chilly.
A view of the boathouse and water lilies at Wise E’en Tarn.
The earlier sunny weather has moved further south so things are looking rather grey at the moment.
Just a few yards away from Wise E’en Tarn is Wraymires Tarn but we didn’t bother making the crossing over to it.
We’ve retraced our route back to the Long Height area now. Wansfell, on the left, remains clear of cloud but there’s still no view of the Kentmere Horseshoe fells, to the right of it, as the cloud continues to boil around the tops.
A touch of the deja vu here. We’re back at the point we left earlier on, and on the route map its the spot where the blue arrows part company with the red arrows. This time we take the path which goes straight ahead between the walls.
This is Lily Pond, although it is so overgrown it hardly warrants being called a pond or a tarn, its more like a marsh. Its on private land, but even if it hadn’t been I wouldn’t have ventured any closer as everywhere around the edges was squelchy and I didn’t relish the thought of wet feet for the last part of the walk back. It was quite easy to see it over the wall anyway.
Gigantic bracken alongside the path, but I did notice the odd sign of it beginning to die back here and there along the route today. That brings mixed feelings, yes its horrible stuff and you can’t wait to see it go, but on the other hand it signals the beginning of the end of summer. That’s not too hard to deal with when its been a good summer, but when it hasn’t your thoughts can tend towards the frustration end of the spectrum. Banish the gloomy ponderings and get on with the walk because we haven’t much further to go now …..
….. and in no time at all we are through the gate at the end of the path and on the lane back to Colthouse. Somewhere between this photo and the previous one the greyness above us disappeared and we were back down to t-shirt level and sweltering in the boiling heat which stayed with us for the rest of the day. Why does it always happen at the end of a walk?
Walking back down the lane we passed Cragg Cottage, which you could say is a fairly typical Lakeland cottage.
Back in Colthouse, the left turn would take you up to the Quaker Meeting House and the right one goes to Sawrey and Hawkshead, so we’re going round the bend. Before you all agree, by that l mean geographically!
Back in Hawkshead we left our packs in the car and had a wander around the village. The next few photos may help to explain why the village is so popular with holidaymakers and day trippers. Its very picturesque, it doesn’t look to have changed very much over the years, and the houses are so close together that good neighbourliness surely has to be essential …..
That brings us to the end of the tour of Hawkshead, and to complete the day’s entertainment …..
….. you could always call in at The King’s Arms and have a chat with its poetically inclined Mine Host. As for us its just an ice-cream and then the drive back home for tea. I was very surprised to find out that the GPS gadget gave us a 9.5 mileage as it really didn’t feel as long as that but you can’t argue with a satellite. Well you could but it wouldn’t hear you. Once again it wasn’t a day for the high fells as you’ve probably gathered, and from what we saw to the north of us the gentle landscape of the South Lakes got the best of what was on offer today. Yes, we were rained on, it was very windy and cold at times, but we also had spells of hot sunshine which were lovely when they arrived, so things didn’t turn out too badly in the end. Maybe we’ll get out on the higher fells quite soon, this unsettled spell has to end sometime, hasn’t it?