Walk Date – 1st February 2018
Distance – 6.3 miles
Weather – dry with sunny spells, very windy again
Another very windy day came along so heads ruled hearts and we chose a low level walk along Loweswater instead of a hike over some of the higher fells. Even so there was still a strong breeze as we walked above Holme Wood across the slopes of Carling Knott even at the lowly height of 1027′, on the plus side though it was a lovely sunny and dry day for the most part. Yesterday was another very showery and sleety day so we weren’t surprised to see that many of the high fells had a dusting of fresh snow as we drove from east to west so winter hasn’t loosened its grip just yet. This is a grand little walk with plenty of great views and a handful of uphill sections which are just steep enough to give the lungs and muscles a workout, and which take you high enough to appreciate the scenery around you. It was quite a soggy walk as you will see, thanks to all the recent rain and snow, with all the grassy and field paths being especially soft and muddy which made progress a little awkward at times. Despite that we had an enjoyable little ramble and came home with faces which were glowing quite a bit more than they had been when we started out.
Only a couple of cars were parked on Fangs Brow when we arrived with no sign of their occupants anywhere around. As we went through the gate and onto the path up another car pulled in and two ladies with three dogs emerged from it and came up behind us. Did we mind if they took the leads off the dogs, they asked us. No go right ahead, we replied. The leads came off, the dogs took off, with the ladies following at some pace just to keep sight of them. We progressed along the path at a rather more modest rate.
Making our way along the track with a view of Fellbarrow on the left skyline and the humps and bumps of Smithy Fell and Sourfoot Fell between it and Darling Fell on the right. The flat sections of the path were very puddly and stepping on the grass to avoid them was like walking over a wet sponge. Around your boots a rim of water would appear as your feet sank into the grass, leaving you wondering just how much further over your boots the muddy water would reach.
I take a look behind us, over to the west coast, as the track begins to rise. If you look very closely the sea is just about visible, as are dozens of wind turbines.
Another muddy area at the gate where the stone track comes to an end and there is a choice of routes. If aiming for Burnbank Fell you can carry on straight ahead and eventually bear right to climb the steep slope up ahead, but if you’re not that masochistic you can bear off to the right, without going through the gate, and follow a more manageable zig-zag path up to a marker cairn and follow the path from there. Our route today will follow the green path, going off over to the left of the shot, and lead us to the lovely terrace path above Loweswater.
A lovely scene greets us as the path turns and passes above Holme Wood and Loweswater. Darling Fell and Low Fell are left of centre, while to the right of centre are the familiar brooding silhouettes of Whiteside and Grasmoor. Its windy but nice and sunny over here, a little less so around the Grasmoor fells where a bank of cloud is hanging around at the moment.
Looking ahead at the terrace route stretching out before us along the lower slopes of Burnbank Fell as it rises and falls with the contours of the fell.
A view of Fellbarrow across the head of Loweswater
The view over the craggy slopes of Burnbank Fell above Holme Wood towards the foot of Loweswater …..
….. and a little further along you come to the seat with a view. At this point we’d only been walking for less than half an hour so we were hardly in need of a rest. Nevertheless, it had to be sat on, because its there. A little flurry of walkers arrived while the bench and the view were being fully appreciated, a youngish couple with a small dog which managed to bounce into my first shot just as I pressed the shutter, a group of three who were chatting non-stop to each other, and then a solo lady walker striding out with great determination and overtaking all before her. Having paid due respect to the bench and the view we finally move on towards …..
….. the crossing of Holme Beck with Black Crag, a subsidiary peak of Gavel Fell, ahead of us on the left.
A very sturdy footbridge allows easy passage across the beck which is followed by a short but steepish rise which takes us …..
….. along the next section of the terrace path which is now passing over the lower slopes of Carling Knott, still falling and rising with the contours like an elongated roller-coaster. Loweswater is hidden at the moment but Crummock Water is in view by way of compensation.
At the end of Holme Wood the collapsed section of wall over at the bottom left offered some handy flat stones so we stopped for the Mars Bar and coffee break and admired the view. A solo lady walker came up the hill alongside the fence along the edge of Holme Wood and had a chat with us. She was out checking the fence line for breaks where sheep are apparently getting through into the woods and making a nuisance of themselves in one way or another. Coffee break over we climbed back up to the path from where I took this view of the Grasmoor group of fells across Lorton Vale.
From there its a steady descent down to Highnook Beck which lost its footbridge in the Oct 2017 storms. There was quite a lot of water flowing down the beck today so we had to hunt around for a suitably narrow crossing over which we could jump, mission eventually accomplished without mishap.
Safely across and we turn our attention to heading for the path leading down to High Nook Farm with a lovely view of Low Fell as we did so.
The path we have just descended can be see along the lower slopes of Carling Knott, beginning just above Holme Wood on the right and descending gently to Highnook Beck in the dip on the left.
Looking along Lorton Vale as we head over to the right to pick up the path to High Nook Farm, it was a squelchy, splattery, slurpy sort of crossing.
Across the soggy area and back to the bliss of a solid path beneath our feet. As my feet adjusted to the normality once again I took a look back. Behind the slightly rising ground across the centre of the shot is High Nook Tarn, and the beck in the distance on the right is flowing between the slopes of Carling Knott and Blake Fell. The beck in the shade on the left is flowing between Blake Fell and Gavel Pike. Both becks feed into Highnook Beck.
With the sun on our back and the wind on our faces we have a rattling good tramp down to High Nook Farm with Darling Fell and Low Fell for company all the way along.
Cloud still hovers over the Grasmoor group but we have clear blue sky to enjoy, as does …..
….. Carling Knott as I take a look back as we approach …..
….. High Nook Farm where there was no-one around except the cows. No barking dogs either, the first time ever in our experience.
The bridge just below the farm also suffered in the 2017 storms when the force of water undermined it and washed out its foundations stones. A temporary bridge has been put in place and I think the route re-opened just after Christmas. Here’s a link if you want to read more about it –http://www.newsandstar.co.uk/news/Emergency-bridge-brought-in-after-flood-damage-cuts-off-Lake-District-farm-and-walking-route-6cad2e75-3409-4719-839a-03cdf704affc-ds
A look back at Carling Knott as we walk the farm track down to Maggie’s Bridge …..
….. and a look across at Darling Fell from the same spot.
More mud and puddles as I look back at Carling Knott and Burnbank Fell from Maggie’s Bridge …..
….. together with a view of Gavel Pike, part of Blake Fell and Carling Knott from a very muddy field path.
We turn northwards from Maggie’s Bridge and head across the surfaced but puddly track towards Watergate Farm where this gnarled old tree framing Darling Fell caught my attention.
Darling Fell and Low Fell over on our right as we head towards the farm.
A good solid road for walking, not so good for vehicles though. One did come along to the farm as we were just reaching it, I wondered if the driver had managed to avoid all of them. From this view Grasmoor and Mellbreak look as though they are standing guard on either side of the track which of course they aren’t.
On we go now with a full frontal view of Carling Knott, the path we walked across over there was just above the tree line.
On the left is the silhouette of Hen Comb and on the right the one for Gavel Fell.
Before the track curves left towards Watergate Farm we have a view along the length of Loweswater where the wind is hovering around force 4 to 5 and whipping up white tops to the waves.
In the opposite direction the Grasmoor fells and Mellbreak are still not getting much sunshine thanks to that persistent bank of cloud.
A dusting of snow on the higher tops of Grasmoor, Whiteless Pike and Robinson.
The track passes in front of Watergate Farm and continues on through Holme Wood …..
….. along the lakeshore path where a Dept. of the Environment boat had been hauled up on the grass and tied to a wall. Apparently its there to be used for checking the water quality from time to time. We had seen a notice at the entrance to the wood about the possible presence of blue-green algae which might be toxic and warning people not to drink the water or swim in it, and not to allow dogs to do so either.
A moment or two of respite from the breeze as we reached this little sheltered bay and listened to the deep wash of the undertow as the waves unfolded onto the shingle.
Further on we reach the National Trust bothy which is available to hire if you like camping but don’t want to lug a tent. You will need to provide everything else though as it offers extremely basic accommodation i.e four walls and a roof, a calor gas cooker and a wood burning stove (initial supply of wood provided), after which you’ll be foraging for fuel I imagine. Everything else you’ll have to bring.
On the plus side it offers this fantastic view along Loweswater plus two swings which, of course …..
….. had to be tried out, on the ‘because they’re there’ principle. A bigger piece of wood for the seat however would make for a more comfortable experience because there’s not much to sit on. Having perched myself on the seat my feet then barely touched the ground so it was a little tricky to get going. Great fun though once I managed it. The other team member declared his intention not to have a go but, as usual, once I had …..
….. he decided that he would after all. Having much longer legs than me he gets a better push off from the take off point and consequently a better swing out …..
….. and then silliness takes over and he turns into Tarzan all of a sudden. A few minutes of fun follow before the rope begins making life uncomfortable and brings an end to all the shenanigans. We move swiftly on …..
….. and arrive at the little beach where Holme Beck enters Loweswater …..
….. and I walk out onto the shingle for a shot of this view along the water.
Back on the shoreline path again with a view of Darling Fell and Low Fell still bathed in sunshine across the water.
We met the fence checking lady again as we were reaching the end of the path through Holme Wood towards the end of our walk and she gave us an update. She had found a couple of places where the sheep were getting in and had been able to close those gaps, but there were other breaks which needed two people to do quite a lot of work on them so all she could do was report back. I think it was volunteer work she was doing and, along with many others doing similar activities, so helping to conserve and enhance the Lake District for residents and visitors alike.
The woodland track comes to an end at Hudson Place and from there …..
….. we have a tramp across some very, very muddy fields where from time to time we sank in up to the ankles. Having started out with bluish grey boots they are now sporting a fetching shade of sludge. The line of ancient hawthorns adds a dramatic touch, as does a line of cycle track. Cycling across that lot must have been a nightmare, it was hard enough staying upright while walking across it.
Another view of Darling Fell as we pass above Jenkinson Place.
Another look back towards Loweswater as we leave the soggy field behind and make our way up a firmer track towards …..
….. Iredale Place where we branch off to the left. The lane straight ahead would only lead us into Iredale Place.
The view from the track down to Iredale Place which is currently on sale, by Mitchells should you be interested in putting in an offer.
From Iredale Place there is yet another very muddy field to cross which makes this last little uphill section more of a slog than it otherwise would be, the view of Fellbarrow and Darling Fell makes up for it though.
Finally, we’re back on the track we started out on earlier and heading back to Fangs Brow where there are a few more cars now than there were then.
A close up view of Grasmoor’s snowy summit from Fangs Brow …..
….. where I could hear a commotion behind me and found a spot of sheep herding going on as I stepped back onto the road. I’m glad they hadn’t turned up a minute earlier as we’ve only just walked through the gate they’re turning into. On the left is one of the chaps helping with the herding and the state of his boots and trousers bottoms will give you a good idea of what our gaiters and boots now look like. As I mentioned earlier, a fetching shade of sludge.
So, there they go, off to pastures new for the next week or so until its time to move them once again. Its time for us to be off too so muddy gaiters are thrown into a plastic bag, boots are rinsed off in a roadside puddle, packs are stowed and we’re good to go. A grand little walk, as I said at the beginning, with lots of interest, and a little bit of fun and silliness thrown in for good measure, and a good weather day in which to enjoy it. What more could you ask for?