Walk Date – 20th October 2016
Distance – 7.35 miles
Weather – dry and mild with sunny spells
We’ve had a mixed bag of weather this last week, spells of sunshine followed by longer periods of rain, after which the sun would come out for half an hour or so before it rained again. Today we are promised a more settled day and although wall to wall sunshine wasn’t mentioned there was enough blue sky around by mid morning to tempt us out onto the northern fells. We decided that since we haven’t set foot on Bakestall since 2011 it would be a good day to pay a return visit.
Here we are at the start point of the walk and the car is parked in a pull in just off to the right of the shot.
We pass through the gate and follow the grassy path across the fields with a view of a sunlit Binsey over to our left. The grass is still wet so it isn’t long before my trouser bottoms are damp from the dew splashing up onto them as I walk along.
The view ahead as we continue splashing up the field.
At a junction on the path we head off to the right otherwise we’d have ended up in Barkbeth which isn’t on our itinerary today. Ullock Pike, with cloud swirling around it, is straight ahead of us as we make the turn, and there’s a lot more wet grass to walk across. I should have worn my wellies.
The path turns to the left again and leads us to the first gate …..
….. from where I take a look back at Sale Fell, left of centre on the skyline, below which is part of Bass Lake.
We cross the field from the first gate and arrive at the second one where the view to the left is of a gentle pastoral scene.
The view across the gate to the right is a somewhat less gentle scene where a heavy blanket of cloud is obscuring the tops of Broad End and Skiddaw. Guess which direction we’re going in?
The view back after we passed through the second gate. We had to take off an outer layer here because the sun was warming things up nicely and it was becoming a really pleasant autumn morning.
At this point the path turns up to the right and begins to lead us up towards the valley of Southerndale.
A look back at the peaceful, gentle view behind us while we still have the sun on it.
Ahead of us is the area known as Watches which is situated below Ullock Pike. Thanks to the sheep the grass here is much shorter so no more splashing and a chance for my trouser legs to dry out. The position of the sun made it impossible to take a photo looking straight ahead of us, which was to the left of the shot.
Another look back, as we stop to remove another layer, and on the left skyline is Binsey.
The view over to our left and we are keeping an eye on all the cloud spilling over Great End and Skiddaw.
Walking along the flanks of Watches we pass through this gate and head on towards Southerndale, with Ullock Pike immediately ahead. Down below on the left is Southerndale Beck …..
….. which we cross a short distance further along the track. The track then leads us over towards Little Knott, which is the shaded hill top towards the centre skyline.
Once across the beck I take a look back at the sheepfold below Watches.
From the beck we begin to climb towards Little Knott. On the centre skyline are Little Cockup and Great Cockup, while the sunny little fell over on the right is just Cockup. Its a bit like life this photo isn’t it? Full of cockups.
We’ve passed around Little Knott and we’re now heading into Barkbethdale with tendrils of cloud swirling hither and thither around the fell tops.
Walking through Barkbethdale with the cloud hanging low and heavy over the Skiddaw range, and just when my trouser legs were starting to dry out we’re back in the long damp grass again. The outer layers went back on again to as it became cool and clammy along here.
A tantalising glimpse of the Skiddaw ridge as the cloud thins a little.
As we’re walking along the cloud slowly begins to thin out and dissipate and we can make out the top of Broad End at last.
Now that the cloud has almost gone we are able to see the path we will be joining when we reach the end of this one. Its the one going diagonally across the heathery slopes of Broad End, just below all the grey scree.
Before we left this path I took a look back to show the route we have been taking along Barkbethdale.
This is the point at which we begin to climb out of Barkbethdale and up the slopes of Broad End. Its the crossover point at Barkbeth Gill but there’s no water to be seen here as it seems to emerge just a few yards further down.
From the gill the path rises very abruptly and although it looks very steep it really wasn’t as bad as it looks. The worst thing about it was the narrowness of the path, because there’s not much room for your feet, and the heather growing across it, which will keep trying to leg you over.
Looking back at our route through Barkbethdale we see this large swathe of cloud moving across and blotting out the sun.
A bit higher still and another swathe of cloud begins to arrive from the right. You never really know how the clouds are going to behave so its a matter of wait and see.
Looking back along our route from one of the more level sections of the path to find that the cloud is thickening and racing up the fell side. We may get caught up in it or it could pass us by completely, only time will tell.
Another look back in the direction of Skiddaw which the cloud hasn’t managed to reach, but over to the right of the shot it looks to have covered most of the Ullock Pike – Long Side ridge.
Looking back at the cloud which never quite managed to reach us either so we were able to continue unhampered by it.
Its fascinating to watch what goes on below when you aren’t in the cloud yourself. We had a grandstand view of a sea of cloud swirling and billowing along below us. Then, for no obvious reason, it begins to break up and gives you tantalising little snippets of views. One gap closes and another one breaks open, but before you can identify what you are seeing they close. You know there’s nothing magic about any of it and that it can all be explained scientifically, but leaving that aside and simply standing watching it does give you a sense of something magical happening. Here are a couple of shots which give an idea of what we stood and watched, and maybe why we watched it …..
Eventually the show came to an end, the cloud just vanished and normal service was resumed, almost as if nothing had happened.
We continued on around the slopes of Broad End and eventually Bakestall comes into view. That’s it just below us, in the middle foreground, with the large green patch on its slopes. We keep walking to the right and eventually meet up with …..
….. the well trodden path coming down from Broad End and Skiddaw. You’d have to try really hard to lose the path along here even in the densest cloud, wouldn’t you? Here I’m looking along the path in the direction of Bakestall. Despite the name there is no-one selling biscuits, buns or birthday cakes over there.
Now looking in the opposite direction up towards Broad End. There isn’t a soul around, in fact we only saw two people during the whole of the walk.
I leaned on the fence to take this shot of Great Calva across the valley. The light coloured line you can see running across the bottom of the valley is the Cumbria Way which we will eventually be joining towards the end of the walk.
Another view from the fence, this time a close up of a sunny Mungrisedale Common with a cloudy Blencathra behind it.
Turning slightly to the right for another close up, this time of Lonscale Fell with its distinctive peak.
Well, the summit cairn on Bakestall has nothing much going for it, has it?
The view northwards from Bakestall summit. The fence on the right, beside which is a path, goes down Birkett Edge and joins up with the Cumbria Way at the bottom. We could have descended that way but opted for a different route today.
Notice the jackets are back on again, and the gloves are going on too now that I’ve finished taking photos for a while. It wasn’t really windy up here but there was a slight northerly and nippy little breeze which soon began to make its presence felt when you stood around for a while.
From the summit cairn we took the track over to the second cairn on Bakestall.
The second cairn does at least look like one, and while we were here we had a spell of unclouded sunshine which lit these northern fells quite nicely.
The view across to Blencathra from Bakestall’s second cairn.
The Uldale fells to the north across Little Calva from Bakestall’s second cairn.
In the centre foreground below us is Cockup, and that’s where we are heading for next. As soon as we left the summit we lost the nippy little breeze and could enjoy the warm sun on our backs as we made our way down.
A small step for man (and woman) across Dead Beck and onto the path on the opposite side. I can’t look at this photo without thinking that those two pools look like eyes!
Looking back at Bakestall and Broad End as we make our descent.
Cockup’s summit cairn. Well, it is only a diminutive fell after all so you don’t expect to find some magnificent edifice, do you?
From Cockup we descend its grassy slopes and make our way down to the wall running through the brown grasses across the bottom of the fell. Binsey is the isolated fell on the centre skyline.
When we reached the wall after our descent from Cockup we turned to the right and made our way along towards Dead Crags, on the right, to join the Cumbria Way. The fell in the centre is Great Calva.
The view to our left as we head for the Cumbria Way. The building over on the right was once Dash Farm, its now known as The Dash and is a luxury holiday cottage. If you fancy renting it just type The Dash, Bassenthwaite in the search box to find out more.
Here’s where we emerged from behind the wall to join the Cumbria Way, with Dead Crags right behind.
Turning round to look ahead and we see the Cumbria Way stretching out in front of us, so its an easy stride back to the road now. Opposite is Brockle Crag catching a splash of sun.
Coming towards us are the only people we met today, and I think they were only out for a short stroll judging from their appearance.
Another splash of sunshine lights up the valley and Brockle Crag, and it was a really pleasant walk along here this afternoon.
We’ve reached the point where the Cumbria Way meets the traffic road so I lean on the gate and take a look back.
Walking for about a mile down the lane back to the car a few things caught my attention. Its not yet time for tea but the calf is tucking in, and so is mum by the look of it.
Hay bales strewn any old how alongside the lane …..
.. and opposite them was the scruffiest farm I think I’ve ever seen. This bit was tidy compared with what things looked like over the fence on the right, but I couldn’t take a picture of it as there was someone there. He also looked as though a good tidy up wouldn’t go amiss. The goose was having a go at the black cockerel with lots of wing flapping and loud vocals, the cockerel seemed largely unmoved by any of it and continued to saunter around as if he owned the place.
A look across to our left towards Skiddaw and Ullock Pike as we continue down the lane. The skies have clouded over, the sunshine is just a memory and we are approaching the pull in where we are parked.
Here’s the gate where we started out earlier, so we’ve come full circle, and there’s the car tucked away in the pull in. Time to go home and get the kettle on, and, in case you were worrying, my trouser legs are now bone dry. A grand little jaunt and perhaps we should try and not let another few years go by before we return.