Walk date – 28th October 2019
Distance – 8 miles
Weather – frosty start then sunny all day, no wind
The ‘bus principle’ came into play once again as the second fine day on the trot dawned, bringing another opportunity to get out on the fells and put yesterday’s chaotic outing behind us. A ten minute drive takes us to the farm access road above Helton where there is roadside parking in abundance and a distinct lack of crowds, especially on a Monday at this time of the year. The first icy windscreen of the autumn greeted us as we got into the car and there was still quite a definite nip in the air when we arrived at Heltonhead. Nevertheless it was a brilliantly sunny morning and the blue sky day lasted until we were almost back at the car at the end of the walk, by which time the cloud had built up and the sunny spells became less frequent. We didn’t mind by then, we’d had a good long walk in the best of the day’s weather and you can’t ask for much more than that.
Roadside parking at Heltonhead – Cop Stone – Tarn Moor – Barton Fell – Arthur’s Pike – Swarth Beck – Bonscale Pike – Arthur’s Pike – Long Crag – White Knott – Aik Beck – Cockpit Stone Circle – Cop Stone – Heltonhead
From Heltonhead a look across to the North Pennines and the very thick inversion covering the Eden Valley where we live. The inversion hadn’t reached us today because we aren’t in the flattest part of the valley so we didn’t even know it was there until we drove up the hill onto the A6 and looked across at it. No similar situation up on Askham Fell though where the sun is blazing from a cloudless blue sky.
The view across to Loadpot Hill as we muffle up and begin our walk across the moorland. Winter weight trousers, jackets zipped up and hands thrust into winter gloves, its mid morning but its still chilly despite the sunshine.
Looking over to Heughscar Hill as we pass by the Cop Stone just a couple of minutes into our walk.
We eventually turned off the main track to cross over Tarn Moor using a variety of small sheep trods. This can be a very wet route and today was no exception but it does enable a bit of corner cutting. J meanders on ahead to pick up one of the established paths as I stop for this shot of a boundary stone.
Meeting the path over more solid ground which we follow and head up towards Arthur’s Pike, although the cliff edge showing in the shot is White Knott and not the actual summit
A little further on I take a look back to see how the Eden Valley inversion is progressing. The flat smooth top is beginning to break up, a sure sign that the sun is beginning to work its magic. It won’t take long for the whole thing to dissipate once it gets going.
Blencathra comes into view as we plod steadily upwards.
There’s a definite thinning out of the inversion now as I take another look back. The gradient is quite gentle although it is continuous, the heat from the sun increases as it rises higher and the combination of effort and heat results in my jacket and gloves being removed at this point. J’s jacket stays on for the time being although it has been unzipped and his gloves have been stowed away.
The path became a bit of a trial at times being very wet and downright boggy in a lot of places but the day is lovely and there is absolutely no wind to speak off. A slight movement of air now and again was all that we experienced. At this point we leave the long uphill path and cross over to the summit of Arthur’s Pike where one lone walker had just disappeared from our view. This is my eighth visit to this summit and never once have I arrived here to find it crowded and busy. Peace and quiet aplenty today.
A look over to Blencathra from the cairn on Arthur’s Pike ……
….. followed by a closer look as I zoom in across Matterdale Common.
The view eastwards from the summit cairn.
Man and machine at the cairn. That gps had better be showing Arthur’s Pike or we’re seriously dis-located.
I wander on ahead for this view down towards Hallin Fell and a little more of Ullswater. The Dodds are on the skyline and a closer look at Raise, on the skyline immediately above Hallin Fell, seems to show traces of snow/frost still present on the north facing slopes. Its difficult to be sure at this distance though.
Bonscale Pike directly in front of me.
J eventually catches up with me and we begin making our way over to Bonscale Pike enjoying the day and the views as we tramp across.
Another view of Blencathra, on the right, together with Clough Head and Great Dodd, on the left skyline, as I look down to Skelly Nab, the little promontory jutting out into Ullswater just below me. I try to avoid thinking about yesterday’s walk as my gaze lands on Gowbarrow Fell across the middle of the shot!
We drop down to the squelchy crossing by the old sheepfold at Swarth Beck and then …..
….. take the path directly ahead of us up to the top of Bonscale Pike. The shot looks back to the Swarth Beck crossing.
The superb view from the summit cairn on Bonscale Pike and …..
….. the view gets even better when you drop down just few feet to the next little ridge from where I took this close up of one of the steamers heading for Howtown just below us.
The longer view from the little rocky ridge we dropped down to from where Hallin Fell can be viewed almost in its entirety and the whole scene is just fabulous to see on such a lovely day.
Another close up, this time of the familiar Howtown hairpins winding their way down the steep sides of Hallin Fell, and very interesting too to have a bird’s eye view of some of the very familiar paths down there.
The view along part of Ullswater, and the flatlands beyond, from the same little rocky ridge just below Bonscale Pike summit.
The three ridges of Steel Knotts, Beda Fell and Sheffield Pike jutting out into Martindale. Its a real treat to see them as the distinctive individual fells that they really are rather than viewing as a smudgy lump under low cloud.
Back up to the cairn on the summit where we decide to sit in the sun in a little hollow, out of shot on the right, and tuck into our sandwiches and coffee. A very enjoyable and sunny lunch break.
After our break we retraced our steps back to the Swarth Beck sheepfold …..
….. and back up the fellside to Arthur’s Pike from where …..
….. we dropped down the well trodden, and mostly dry, path to the stone circle, ably assisted by two fell savvy trailblazers and with views of Penrith and the North Pennines in the distance. A sunny and very enjoyable tramp was had by all four of us.
There’s a lovely expansive view across the Eden Valley to the North Pennines from Long Crag so we stood a while in the warmth of the afternoon just to gaze across and take it all in. The cloud is beginning to build now but for the time being it adds interest to the view rather than detracting from it.
A look back along Ullswater as the path begins to lead us away from it and we eventually lose the view.
Heughscar Hill from White Knott, another impressive vista especially when the colours are so vibrant.
The cloud builds steadily but the landscape continues to hold onto its colour as we reach the Ullswater Way signpost at Aik Beck. On Heughscar Hill the dead bracken was being cut back and rolled into large bales suggesting that the dead fronds may have some commercial value.
From the crossing at Aik Beck we make our way over to The Cockpit, the ancient stone circle below Heughscar Hill. The arrangement of walkers seated on the stones seemed to convey a strong sense of balance and calm as I looked at it. The couple seated side by side occupying the south side, the walker in red at the western edge and J, in the black jacket, sitting at the eastern edge. Each quietly thinking their own thoughts in the silence of the place and just enjoying the lovely autumn landscape.
From the stone circle we followed a path eastwards and eventually met the main path with its relatively new signpost pointing out some of the various walking routes around Askham Fell. Here we turned right and carried on along the main path back to …..
….. the Cop Stone and the end of today’s walk. Our car is parked on the grass verge just off the tarmac road at Heltonhead so only another couple of hundred yards are left for us to walk. Two immediate comparisons with yesterday’s walk spring to mind, first the weather was much better today than yesterday, and second the complete absence of large crowds, the combination of which made today’s walk so much more enjoyable than yesterday’s.