Arthur’s Pike

Walk Date – 14th December 2015

Distance – 6.4 miles

Weather – very overcast & murky, very mild, no wind


On 5th -7th December the whole of Cumbria was subjected to the remorseless assault of Storm Desmond. Where we live, in the Eden Valley, the torrential rain and gale force winds began at 3.00 pm on Friday 5th December and continued  non-stop until late morning on Sunday 7th December, when the sound of rain being hurled against the windows finally ceased and we could venture outside to see what damage had occurred. The storm itself would have been bad enough but prior to that it had rained or snowed practically every day since our walk up Barrow and Outerside on 2nd November so the ground was already saturated before Storm Desmond kicked in. When it did the ground could take no more and so the water simply poured down the fell sides into the nearest gully, beck, river or lake, washing away paths, walls, gates, fences, bridges and roads, marooning livestock, and ultimately finding its way into hundreds and hundreds of homes, creating misery and devastation just a couple of weeks before Christmas. Now, just a few days on from the storm it is very difficult to travel around, dozens of roads are closed and everywhere you go you come across machinery scooping out debris, removing fallen trees and shoring up bankings. As its so close and the approach roads were not closed we drove over to Helton and had a walk up to Arthur’s Pike. It was a gloomy, murky day but at least we were outdoors again after weeks of enforced incarceration.

Route – out and back

Lots of mist around today as you can see, this is looking across to Knipe Scar from the lane just above Helton.

Someone’s been having a bit of fun with their 4 x 4 or quad bike by the look of this.

The snow ‘island’ from another angle.

Snow, snow, snow and cloud, cloud, cloud. Not a lot of colour around today.

Making our way along the path, or what we could find of it. Its a popular dog walking area so there were plenty of foot and paw prints to follow. There were plenty of animal tracks too, fox, deer, and lots of different bird tracks one of which was of webbed feet. If their owner was looking for water along here then the pickings were thin, most of the puddles were frozen.

Frozen pools all along the route.

It looks quite cold doesn’t it, but it was very mild indeed. That clump of trees over to the left is the top of Heughscar Hill and its a useful way marker, if you can see it you always know roughly where you are and you can use it to guide you back to where you started.

 Making our way up to Arthur’s Pike. The snow is slushy and melting in the mild temperature so it was a bit of slip/slide walk today.

On our right, as we climb, is Little Mell Fell across Ullswater, which was just about the only thing we could see in any sort of detail through the murk. Ullswater was very full and unusually still, no ferries and no boats at present, as the flooding and damage caused by Storm Desmond is still being dealt with. We could hear the clank of machinery being used in the repair process across the still air. Its all very demoralising and dispiriting.

The little ford across Aik Beck, around it some of the gravel washed down during the storm.

Aik Beck is normally a trickle of water which you can step over without getting your boots wet, today a bit of careful footwork was needed as it there was more water in it than usual.

Looking towards the Glenridding end of Ullswater, not that there’s much to see in all that clag.

A mirror finish on Ullswater, not a ripple anywhere.

Looking back towards Heughscar Hill from one of the way marker cairns. The lady on the right was the only person we met up here today, and she was only out to give the dog some exercise.

From the same cairn and looking towards the Pooley Bridge end of Ullswater. The bridge, which had stood there since it was built in 1764, was washed away during Storm Desmond. It will be replaced but there is no news on when.

We had planned to continue on to Bonscale Pike, which is the next fell along on the left, but it was getting murkier by the minute so we decided not to bother. We weren’t going to see anything more through all that gloom that we couldn’t see from here so there didn’t seem to be any point in carrying on.

We’re almost at the summit now, this is looking back at the Pooley Bridge end of Ullswater. The two arrows are pointing to the River Eamont which Ullswater drains into. This shows the extent of the flooding, normally you can’t see the river from here.

Arthur’s Pike summit cairn.

We dropped below the summit and headed for the lower cairn.

Looking north-eastwards along Ullswater.

The ‘collapsed’ cairn just below the summit of Arthur’s Pike, looking towards Glenridding. We decided to have a break at this point and get the soup out. I only packed it in case things turned a bit chilly, which it didn’t, but it was very nice anyway.

We’re heading back now and there’s not quite so much grey cloud in this direction, although it was still difficult to pick out any features, Heughscar Hill is visible though.

We’re back on the path across Moor Divock now and looking back across to Arthur’s Pike.

We spotted a couple of what I think were female black grouse in the dead bracken. This one was happy to pose, the other one hid behind a bracken clump and refused to come out. The body was in full view but the head wasn’t so It was doing the old ‘if I can’t see you then you can’t see me’ routine.

Its 2.15 pm and a strange golden glow appeared in the sky. After digging around in my memory bank for a while I suddenly remembered what it was. I’d almost forgotten what it looked like but it was a most welcome sight for the few brief moments it was there.

I decided to take a few shots while the sun was putting in an appearance, just in case I don’t see it again until spring.

Island in the sun?

This pattern of breaks in the ice reminded me of a stained glass window.

The sun even managed to put a bit of colour onto my ‘stained glass window’.

And finally, a close up of the ‘stained glass window’. As you’ve no doubt gathered, good pictures were hard to come by so I didn’t take that many today. The whiteness of the snow and the greyness of the cloud and mist only offered monochrome views, although I was shooting in colour, and it didn’t make for very interesting pictures. Still, it was good to be out and about again although it was very quiet everywhere. The immensity of the storm and the destruction it left behind will take a long time to forget.