Walk Date – 9th May 2016
Distance – 9 miles
Weather – dry, warm and sunny, very strong easterly winds at all levels
The dry weather continues and for today’s walk we are over in the west once more. There’s no-one around except a man on a quad bike rounding up his fell ponies, who gives us a cheery wave as he drives back onto the road from the fellside. The car is parked down there on the Cold Fell road, its the only one there so its looking a bit lonely. As soon as we got out of the car we felt the full force of the wind sweeping down the road.
We’re on the path which winds its way around the lower slopes of Blakeley Raise and on the skyline is Knock Murton, in the centre, and on the right Blake Fell. We had hoped that the slopes of Blakeley would offer some shelter from the wind but they didn’t.
The path continues beyond the gate through the tree plantation.
Further up the path and a look back and out to sea across the coastal plain.
A little further on and Grike, the first fell on our walk, comes into view.
Blakeley Raise, and the other fells around, have had quite a number of their trees felled in recent years, so what’s on the ground doesn’t now equate with what’s on the OS maps. Below the trees over on the right is the path we have just walked up from the road. We noticed this path going across Heckbarley so we decided to see if it continued on to Grike.
We were battling the strong winds, which were blowing from right to left as you look at the photo, as we walked and wobbled our way up here. When we reached the top of the rise over there on the left we could see that the path was veering away from the direction we wanted to go in so we cut across and re-joined the forest path which you can see rising diagonally across the lower slopes of Grike. I still call it a forest path but it isn’t now that the trees below it have been felled.
Eventually the track passes alongside this gate and stile where we cross and take the path across the fellside which leads up to the summit of Grike. As you will see this was the first of several stile crossings we made today.
We reach the fence crossing the top of Grike and have to cross stile number two. The forest track is clearly visible below us and the car is parked way back there on the road below and behind the trees on Blakeley Raise.
We’ve reached Grike summit and have a closer view of Knock Murton, on the left, and Blake Fell over on the right.
The summit cairn and shelter on Grike. We had a short break in the shelter although it didn’t offer any protection from the wind as the sides weren’t high enough. The wind was behind me at this point and doing its best to push me headlong into the shelter.
Hair and trousers demonstrating the force of the wind on Grike summit. The walking poles were put to good use as stabilisers throughout the walk today.
From Grike we start to head across to Crag Fell which is normally a very wet, boggy and squelchy affair, but after a week’s worth of high winds and no rain it was drying out very nicely and the ground was fairly firm beneath our feet.
Straight ahead, to the left of centre, is Pillar standing tall above Ennerdale although that isn’t on view just yet. The aerial mast isn’t a thing of great beauty but its a handy marker in poor weather.
Across from us is Lank Rigg which will be the last fell on our walk today.
We’re down off Grike now so this is a look back at it together with aerial mast and fence …..
…. and where you have a fence you often get a stile, so this is stile crossing number three. There was another one just off to the left so you could get across that fence if you needed to.
From the stile crossing its just a short walk up to the summit of Crag Fell where the strength of the wind increased even more. The heather covered fells behind are Herdus, left, and Great Borne to the right of it.
A view along Ennerdale Water from Crag Fell. At this point I was having to be stabilised to avoid being blown over backwards such was the ferocity of the wind as it came straight down the valley. Had it been blowing the other way I wouldn’t have been standing here. Notice the surface of the water as the wind blows over it. The tiny fell on the opposite shore is Bowness Knott, above it is Great Borne, then Starling Dodd, and beyond that are Red Pike, High Stile and High Crag where we walked on 20th April.On the right of the shot is the huge bulk of Pillar.
Looking back to Grike from Crag Fell summit, where the swept back look is the latest hair style. We had a variety of hair styles during the walk depending on the direction in which we walked.
Another view along towards the head of Ennerdale Water …..
….. and a view of the outflow end of Ennerdale Water before we escape from the battering we’re taking.
Looking along Ennerdale as we descend Crag Fell. In front of Pillar is the ridge rising up to the summit of Steeple with Scoat Fell and Haycock behind it.
We’re almost at the bottom of Crag Fell and on the way to cross Black Pots with a view of Boathow Cags on the left. The wind is coming straight at us from across that ridge over there and that’s the next part of our route. We’ll go to the wall corner and then cut across to the right for the walk across to Whoap, that’ll be another change of hair style then. Oh look, there’s another stile as well.
Another look along Ennerdale from stile crossing number four.
More fun was waiting for us in the form of this improvised crossing of one of the deep dark pools, where who knows what might be lurking beneath the surface. The bridge comprised of nothing more than a few wooden poles slung across and using the walking poles for balance wasn’t an option as there was nothing solid to plant them into. You just had to get on and hope for the best and I had the honour of going first.
What you might call a leap into the unknown as the ground on this side was none too solid either, but wet feet were somehow avoided.
A few yards further on from the watery obstacle we negotiate stile crossing number five and begin to climb alongside the wall, which you can see in the picture four photos back, so we can make our way to the ridge crossing to Whoap.
At the wall corner there was another stile, but right beside it was a gate so I used that instead, consequently no picture of a sixth stile. Here’s a look at the featureless open moorland we crossed on the way to Whoap, not somewhere you’d want to be on a bad weather day as there isn’t a ha’porth of shelter. I wonder how many viewers will know what a ha’porth is/was.
On the way across to Whoap on our right we have this view of Grike and Crag Fell, and we’re being blown even more sideways. We must have looked like two drunks as we tottered across here.
There’s the wall we turned away from and behind it are Great Borne to the left, with Grasmoor on the right.
Grike and Crag Fell from the summit of Whoap. This summit isn’t on AW’s 214 list and, with the best will in the world, there isn’t a lot to it or that you can say about it, other than its a large, grassy mound with a big rock on top of it. However, it is handy for …..
….. getting across to Lank Rigg, which is on AW’s 214 list, as it provides this handy connecting ridge. You can imagine what the strength of the wind was across there.
From Whoap summit a look across at the Grasmoor fells behind Great Borne and Starling Dodd.
Well, the big summit rock came in handy for something, a brief sit down with our backs to the wind while it gave us both yet another hair style. We’re in t-shirts which tells you that it wasn’t a cold wind at all. The temperature was 24C or 75F so we should have been constantly brow mopping, but we weren’t, so I suppose the wind was blowing the sweat from our faces before we could get too hot and bothered by it.
A look down the valley as we cross from Whoap to Lank Rigg. The treeless slopes of Grike resembling a pudding basin haircut.
We’re a little way up the lower slope of Lank Rigg so this is a look back at Whoap and the route we took off it. It would have been a pleasant ramble but for the wind …..
….. where we experienced its strongest level on the summit of Lank Rigg, as the surface of the tarn illustrates. The spray from the water was blowing onto us as we walked by.
There was nothing by way of shelter back there by the trig column so we had walked over here where we knew there was a wind shelter where we could stop for something to eat. Unfortunately the entrance to the shelter was right in the face of the wind so that idea was a non-starter. Behind me was a small rise with a cairn on it so we found a slightly more sheltered spot behind and below the slight rise where we’d get a little less battered while we ate.
After lunch we walked back to the cairn and trig column where I took a couple of quick photos. I had to kneel down to take this one as it was just impossible to stand long enough to take it without being blown over. The skyline shows Red Pike on the left and High Stile to the right of it.
The hair style now takes the form of a ‘comb-over’ with deep side parting. Why is the hair going in one direction and the trousers in another? The windproof isn’t on because its cold it just hasn’t been removed since we finished eating lunch.
We descend Lank Rigg as quickly as possible to seek some shelter on the lower path which passes below the connecting ridge and Whoap summit. This is the first time today we’ve been able to stand without worrying about being blown over, it was absolute bliss just to stand in the hot sunshine in the lee of those steep slopes. The path veers left below the summit of Whoap …..
….. continues along the flanks of Whoap …..
….. and carries on all the way to the end of the valley.
Three curious calves giving us the once-over as we continue down the valley. I don’t suppose they get much company around here, its not exactly remote but it doesn’t feature prominently on the tourist map either. We’ve only seen four other people all day and that was miles back on Crag Fell.
Fording the first of the two becks running down the slopes of Whoap.
The infant River Calder winding its way down the valley. It will eventually run right through the middle of Sellafield nuclear power station and enter the Irish Sea just to the south west of Sellafield.
Making the crossing of the second beck.
We are almost at the end of the valley so I take a look back at Whoap on the left and Lank Rigg on the right. Looking at Lank Rigg you might wonder why we didn’t just descend from the summit straight down the front. The problem with that is the preponderance of wetness on the lower slopes and around the bottom and we couldn’t be sure how wet it might still be. After some humming and hahing we opted for the route we took which we knew would definitely be the dryer option.
Here the path meets the Cold Fell road so today’s walk is virtually at an end. All we have to do now is walk along the road back to the car which is parked just about at the bottom right end of that little grassy hill to the right of the shot. We look like Wurzel Gummidge on a bad day and our heads are still drumming from the pounding they have been subjected to, but apart from the wind the weather was great and the hot sunshine was most welcome. I checked up on the winds once I was back home and the Met. Office figures for the wind speeds were Easterly 35 to 45 mph (force 7-8) sudden gusts 55mph (force 9). I told you it was windy!