Walk date – 11th February 2022
Distance – 8.1 miles
Weather – Dry, breezy at height, some sunny spells, mostly cloudy
A rare break in the seemingly endless round of wet and extremely windy weather was forecast for today. A frosty night would precede a cold but dry, bright, and possibly even sunny, day. The best conditions would be in the east, low cloud would bedevil the fells in the west and south of the park, and it would be much less windy than of late. All of that more or less decided where we would go today. No more than a fifteen minutes drive away from us is the little hamlet of Helton from where the farm access road begins. On the access road above the hamlet off road parking is plentiful and its a favourite dog walking spot for local residents. Its also the start point for today’s walk over to Arthur’s Pike, the summit of Barton Fell, and Bonscale Pike.
Route (out and back)
Off road parking above Heltonhead – Moor Divock – The Cockpit – Long Rigg – Arthur’s Pike – Swarth Beck – Bonscale Pike (returning by same route)
The beginning of the path across Moor Divock. The car is parked off road behind me and we’re kitted up and ready for the off. Its a frosty morning but there is no wind, unlike yesterday when we walked across here hoping to do today’s walk then. We got as far as the old stone circle before abandoning the idea of going any further, there’s no enjoyment in deliberately subjecting yourself to a wind battering.
The fell ponies were quietly grazing on the moor as we walked over the hard frozen path which made a pleasant change from yesterday’s muddy conditions.
One of the fell ponies beside the Cop Stone. Goodness knows what she’s finding to eat as all the edible stuff has been cropped down to the ground by the sheep.
Heughscar Hill is always in view as we follow the path, although as its definitely wide enough for two way traffic its more like a major road than a path.
The result of last night’s freezing conditions. Jack Frost does create some interesting patterns.
We arrive at the path junction where we turn left onto the path leading over to The Cockpit/stone circle.
This path has been ‘improved’ recently although its really no better in wet conditions than it was before. Frozen hard today so no problems on the outward leg but a much different situation on our return. More of that later.
Not a soul around at the stone circle. Its quite extensive but I think I managed to get almost all of it into the shot. Stone Arthur is on the skyline behind it.
The view across Ullswater as we continue on towards Aik Beck. Great Dodd has a scattering of snow although its neighbour, Clough Head, doesn’t seem to have any. Looks as though the snow shower which landed on Great Dodd missed Clough Head altogether. That’s been the case lately, lots of snow showers landing on some parts and not others. We drove to Penrith yesterday in an absolute blizzard of snow but by the time we reached Clifton there wasn’t a snowflake to be seen.
Aik Beck’s water level was low so we crossed easily enough. Of the two paths rising from the beck the left hand one was in the shade and filled with solid ice so we used the right hand one which was ice free …..
….. at the top of both paths is this way marker. Turning to the left leads back down to the beck, turning to the right leads down to the path beside Ullswater path and on to Howtown, straight ahead leads up to Arthur’s Pike.
A look back to Heughscar Hill from the steepish incline just after a we’d had short chat with a chap running down towards the way marker. He was accompanied by his two dogs, one of which was way ahead of him and which tagged along beside us just after we’d turned up here. Once reunited with its owner the dog then bounded off to the left and did some exploring while we had our chat with its owner. The other dog had no interest in bounding off anywhere and just waited patiently until they got under way again. All three had disappeared into the dip by the time I got the camera out.
Arthur’s Pike comes into view as we tramp across the frozen ground. A slight breeze begins to make its presence felt but its only at the hair ruffling level so nothing to trouble us. The firm ground conditions were a big help today and it was good to be able to get a move on knowing that there would be no slithering and sliding around today.
A marker cairn at a junction indicates the way over to the summit where two walkers have just appeared. Heavy cloud has also appeared, hmm.
Up on the summit and looking southwestward, where it looks like the forecast for low cloud to the south and west was correct. Hints of some snow topped fells can be seen here and there but there isn’t a universal covering. Perhaps Mother Nature has decided to provide only isolated show showers so far this year, but there is still enough time before spring arrives for a complete covering. Will it happen?
The view westward to a cloud capped Blencathra, no snow on that fell either.
The view to the north east which is where the blue skies have decided to go.
A look back to the summit cairn as we get underway again after short stop for a hot coffee. The two walkers who appeared on the summit have started to descend using the path we came up on.
Crossing over to Bonscale Pike which is looking very dour at the moment in the muted light.
Hallin Fell and Ullswater below us as we tramp across to the Swarth Beck crossing.
Approaching the old sheepfold beside Swarth Beck, always a boggy crossing and not much different today despite last night’s frost. Still, the path up to the summit from the boggy area was nicely frozen so it was easy going after that.
Up on Bonscale PIke and the marker cairn comes into view. Feeble sunlight lands on us and Gowbarrow Fell across the middle of the shot. Anyone tackling Blencathra at the moment won’t have much of a view and that lump of cloud hasn’t shifted at all while we’ve been out.
Splashes of sun land here and there on the fells as I take a look to the south west along Ullswater.
Directly below us is Skelly Nab, one of the many bits and pieces of land which jut out into Ullswater, with Swinburn’s Park just behind it. The light still hasn’t been switched on over poor old Blencathra.
Looking along Ullswater towards Pooley Bridge.
From the cairn just a few steps down will take you to this great viewpoint which provides a peep down to the Howtown jetty in front of Hallin Fell. The Ullswater steamers have had a rough time of it lately having had many days where sailings have had to be cancelled because of the windy weather.
Slightly to the left of the previous shot brings the Howtown ‘zig-zags’ and Steel Knotts into view. J is now worrying that I’ll fall off so here’s a couple more shots from the viewpoint before I go back up …..
Arthur’s Pike ahead as we return to the path and make our way back to the Swarth Beck crossing.
I dropped down from the path a little way for this shot of the column cairns just below the summit. J is worrying again!
Back on the path now and heading back to Swarth Beck and the return leg of our walk.
Back at Swarth Beck where the stepping stones were just about usable as only a thin amount of water was flowing over them.
Back at Arthur’s Pike and the cloud has advanced quite a lot so now we’re only getting the odd splash of sunlight from time to time.
Making our way back down to Aik Beck now and a splash of sun lights up the buildings of Penrith over on the left …..
….. and then its Heughscar Hill’s turn to be illuminated.
Pooley Bridge backed by Dunmallard Hill and an increasingly dull sky from our downward path.
Back to Aik Beck where we also got a slight glimmer of sun.
Back at the stone circle which again had nobody around it. There were lots of walkers and cyclists passing by but no-one seemed to notice it at all. Very strange because there’s usually one or two folk taking a break here.
From the stone circle we followed the ‘improved’ path back to the junction. The ground has thawed out during the morning and now the path had returned to its un-frozen state. I’ve no idea what material has been put across the surface of the path but in damp conditions it becomes very soft and sticks to your boots just as clay does. It is difficult to remove and even after swishing our boots around in several puddles between here and the car it was still clinging on when we got back. It took a great deal of hard scrubbing when we were back home to finally be rid of it.
Glory be! A burst of sunlight lit up the Cop Stone just as we reached it. The stone marks the end of today’s walk as the access road is just a few yards off to the right and where there are many more cars parked than when we started out earlier this morning and lots more people taking a walk. Having seen off the coffee we’re both ready for a cup of tea now and there’s only a short drive home before we can have one. Before signing off I’ll add a link to something which some viewers may be interested in:
The link gives details of Dr Reiner Fuellmich’s ‘Court of Public Opinion’. Some people will know that he has been collecting evidence/information regarding the Covid-19 situation and now all this information is being presented to the public in the style of an American ‘Grand Jury’ procedure. The first broadcast took place on 5th February 2022 and the second one is taking place tonight at 5.00 pm UK time. The grand-jury website gives details of what tonight’s broadcast will be concerned with, there’s a link to a video of the 5th February broadcast, plus a pdf file to download which explains the background to the situation. There is a link to tonight’s broadcast which will be on Odysee and is available in English and German. We watched on Odysee and it lasted just under an hour and a half. All the broadcasts will be subsequently available on video so anyone who can’t watch them live can view them at a time more convenient to themselves.