Walk Date – 14th March 2018
Distance – 5 miles
Weather – dry, hazy sunshine, gale force wind
We had a short morning walk over Ling Fell and Sale Fell today. The weather was set to remain dry, but it would be breezy, with the wind strengthening considerably during the afternoon. Not wanting to be battered by strong winds on high fells yet again we opted to spend the morning on these two fells. Walking them can be easily slotted into a morning outing and they are very much at the lower end of the height order, only being in the 1100’/1200′ range. With the wind coming in from the south east the higher fells of Graystones, Broom Fell and Lord’s Seat, behind us in that direction, would provide something of a wind break we hoped. It didn’t quite work out like that.
Brumston Bridge (Wythop Mill) – Ling Fell – Burthwaite Heights – Old Scales – Chapel Wood – Lothwaite – Rivings – Sale Fell – Dodd Crag – Brumston Bridge
Brumston Bridge. The parking area is out of shot to the left just a few paces up the lane. The morning is on the grey side but not cold, and as we get ready we become aware of, and are slightly concerned by, the noise and speed of the wind rushing through the trees, Its very loud and we can hear the branches creaking and straining under the force of it. At ground level though things remain calm as we set off across the bridge and follow the lane up to the Eskin Farm junction. This is one of those short but steep climbs that you always forget about until the next time you have to walk it and it definitely gives the cardiovascular system a decent workout.
At the junction we take a right turn and continue on the lane which by now has mercifully levelled out and we can get our breath back again. If you are only planning on walking over Ling Fell and don’t fancy the steepish walk up the road there are a couple of pull-ins available just a little further along the lane . The gateway on the left marks the beginning of the path which makes use of the old coffin road.
Before going through the gate a gap between the roadside trees offered a good view back to Sale Fell. The sky looks a bit grey and dull but the cloud is high and there is a chance that some sunshine may eventually break through.
We go through the gate, walk along the coffin route for a short distance and at this junction take the path heading up the fellside towards the distant tree. The coffin route continues on over to the right. That’s a gentler climb which winds it way up to the top across the fell’s northern slopes. The path we took is more direct although much steeper.
A pause for breath and a view to the north west towards Embleton and Setmurthy Common.
Three fells for the price of one – Binsey, Sale Fell and Skiddaw …..
….. and, now that we’ve gained more height, beyond Setmurthy Common we have a view of Criffel and the Galloway mountains across the Solway Firth. The path we have been following has now joined up with the one coming up from the coffin route just above the old grouse butts. A few paces further along this wider path we turn off to the right for the short climb up to the summit.
As soon as we neared the crest the wind hit us with such force that we were reduced to crawling on all fours to reach the trig column. It was impossible to stand up and when we reached the column we sat on the small shelf at the base of it for a couple of minutes to get our breath back. This was the only photo I took from the summit, looking towards Skiddaw and the northern fells, and to get to this point I had to crawl once again. I took the shot sitting down to avoid being blown over. We couldn’t hear each other speak and resorted to hand signals to indicate that we should make a move and start to descend in the hope of gaining some respite. Being in the lee of the wind on the climb up we had expected that once at the summit we would begin to feel the forecasted breeze, but this was much, much stronger than a breeze. If, as the forecast had mentioned, the wind would strengthen during the afternoon we wondered how much worse it might get given that it is still only mid-morning.
Thankful that we had chosen to keep away from higher fells today we battled our way down to the foot of the fell. With the gale force wind coming in from the right of the shot once again I had to sit down to take this view of Lord’s Seat, on the centre skyline, with Grisedale Pike just putting in an appearance over on the right. In the middle foreground, to the left of centre, is the little heather covered hill known as Burthwaite Heights, which is a pretty grand name for such a little hillock.
Another sitting down shot, straight into the face of the wind, across Wythop Moss. Across the middle foreground is the Broom Fell to Graystones ridge, which we walked a couple of days ago, beyond which the summits of Grisedale Pike, Hopegill Head and Whiteside can be seen.
Still battling to stay upright I resort to sitting down once again for this view of Sale Fell, Rivings and Ladies Table across the middle foreground, with the Ullock Pike ridge and Skiddaw behind. Our pace quickens as the path turns away from the wind and takes us down to join the path which runs alongside the trees at the foot of the fell. Right in the centre a man and his white dog are also making their way down. It was a blessed relief to reach the bottom path where we took a couple of moments for our legs and bodies to adjust to being vertical again before taking a right up the track and following the fence line to make our way around to …..
….. this gate which allows access across Wythop Moss to Burthwaite Heights…..
….. which is the low hill right in front of us. We follow the mushy route across and then turn up the central green pathway through the heather. Being so much lower now we were at last getting some protection from the higher fells around us and it was wonderful to be able to walk across normally and not be having to fight against the wind.
A look back at Ling Fell as we climb up Burthwaite Heights where, for the time being at least, I can stand to take a photo, now that we’re only experiencing a hair ruffling strength breeze.
Looking across Wythop Moss, with Graystones on the left, from the walk up to Burthwaite Heights.
On Burthwaite Heights with Lord’s Seat over to the right and Barf below it to the left.
A close up of Graystones across Wythop Moss from Burthwaite Heights. Where the wall begins to rise from the junction we can make out the traverse path we used to reach the summit on our last walk. We’re glad we aren’t up there in today’s strong wind.
Looking in the other direction, in the centre, below Skiddaw and the Ullock Pike ridge, is Ladies Table and tucked in snugly below it is Wythop Hall.
The view along the lovely Wythop Valley as we descend Burthwaite Heights and make our way down towards Old Scales Farm which, at the moment is out of sight below the slopes on the right. Once there we will walk along the road in the centre of the shot, then cross the fields and pick up the path running up through Chapel Woods on the left. The sun has at last found a gap in the clouds, we have some protection from the wind and things return to normal for a while.
The sheep obviously thought we were the farmer bringing food and began making a beeline for us, bleating in anticipation of some lovely fresh hay. On the left skyline is Sale Fell, below which is Kelswick Farm, with Rivings and Lothwaite over on the right.
We continue down the slope giving the sheep as wide a berth as possible in the hope of discouraging them and they eventually gave up hope of us providing anything by way of food, settling back down to what sparse pickings were available to them. It looked as though all of them were in lamb and they’re probably as keen as the rest of us for spring to arrive.
Old Scales Farm eventually comes into view so we follow the vehicle tracks to the bottom of the field and then skirt around the field fence, in the trees to the left of the farm, to a gate and back down onto the road.
Its a pleasant, wind free walk along the valley road from Old Scales and not too far along the road is this gate with a signpost for Keswick beside it. Here we leave the road and cross the fields heading for Chapel Wood.
A look back towards Old Scales Farm as we cross over, Burthwaite Heights is behind the farm with Ling Fell behind that on the right.
The path across the fields ends at a high deer gate, climbs up the slope and brings us out at this junction where we take a right turn for a lovely walk through Chapel Woods. We can hear the wind rushing through trees above us again now but it isn’t giving us any trouble as we walk along in the hazy sunshine. Walking through these woods on a sunny day in early spring, when the trees are newly in leaf and at their fresh green best, with the path dappled by sunlight is utterly delightful.
Lord’s Seat and Broom Fell across the peaceful Wythop Valley from the path through Chapel Wood. If I had to pick a favourite valley out of all the ones in the Lakes it would definitely be this one. Only one road, which terminates at Wythop Hall, thus no cars, no cafes, no shops or tourist attractions. Yes, those things have their place but it is lovely to still have somewhere to walk which remains completely rural and tranquil and which refreshes both body and spirit. Long may it remain so.
We leave Chapel Wood behind as the path rises over open land below Lothwaite with the Ullock Pike ridge and Skiddaw just peeping over the crest of the hill.
On our right a view of the still snow covered eastern fells between the tops of Dodd on the left and Ladies Table on the right.
We take a left turn off the path, which continues on, through the gorse bushes below, into Wythop Woods, and begin to climb the fellside towards Lothwaite. As we gain height we are once again feeling the force of the wind behind us. We try to look on the positive side and be thankful that at least it is blowing us up the slope and not trying to push us back down it.
The views of Bass Lake open up as we climb higher but the wind is very strong again now and so we decide to give the top of Lothwaite a miss and sneak around the western end of it instead.
That brings us out on the northern side of its slopes where once again we have some temporary relief during which we make an uneventful and pathless crossing over to Rivings on the left, with Sale Fell over to the right. Between us and Rivings is a small depression and we know that the wind will be howling through it when we reach it.
The wind rushes through the depression and once more we fight to stay upright as we reach the gentle slopes of Rivings and a little more protection. We decide not to take a further battering by going over the top of Rivings, especially as we know that between it and Sale Fell there is an awful lot of open grassland where we will just have to put up with whatever comes our way. Looking at this photo would lead anyone to believe that it was a calm, sunny day where you could look forward to a leisurely stroll across to the summit. It was anything but.
Before leaving the comparative safety of the slopes of Rivings I managed a shot of Binsey beyond the deforested hill above Wythop Woods. I say ‘comparative safety’ because this was my fourth attempt at this view before we crossed the wide open space over to Sale Fell. The wind was so violent it was difficult to keep the camera steady and the previous three shots turned out to be several degrees off the horizontal.
I’m now back to the sitting down method for this view back across where we have just walked. It might be flat but against the wind it was hard work and it only got harder as we climbed up to the exposed top of Sale Fell. The wind was at full strength on this diminutive summit so what the heck it was like on the higher ones didn’t bear thinking about. Once again we found it impossible to stand …..
….. and I resorted to lying down and peering over the scrape of stones marking the summit to take this shot. The lady in the picture reached the top just after we did and on her approach the wind blew her a few feet sideways, with only some very quick footwork preventing the inevitable. Just like us she was finding it difficult to walk in a straight line across to Rivings.
Still prone full length on the summit for this view across the valley to Lord’s Seat and Broom Fell, and it was far too windy to try standing to take any more. So now for the difficult bit, standing up and starting the descent. First, a rear end shuffle a few feet off the summit rise, once there try standing up by digging in the walking poles and leaning into the wind. It sounds easy enough but the wind was absolutely ferocious up here and it was definitely ‘generally impeding progress’ – the usual description given by forecasters to give you some idea of how strong the wind will be. I would guess that today it was in well in excess of 40 mph.
The descent to Dodd Crag was a fraught one, the high wind coming at us sideways and, short of making the entire descent on all fours, there was nothing for it but to tough it out. Walking poles were almost whipped out of our grasp the moment we lifted them and trying to keep to the path or walk in anything approaching a straight line was hopeless.
Dropping onto my knees and squatting on my heels for this view looking back up to the summit, which is the hump behind the one in the centre.
At last we reach Dodd Crag where, now we’re in the lee of Ling Fell, we finally gain a degree of respite from the extreme wind.
From Dodd Crag we follow the path alongside the wall down to the path beside Wythop Beck …..
….. from where we are just a few paces away from the parking area. Without the extreme wind it would have been a much more pleasant day because the sun did manage to break through the thin veil of cloud eventually and it wasn’t at all cold. We both feel as though we’ve gone a few rounds with a heavyweight and, other than arms weary from the taxing struggle to hang on to the walking poles, we emerged not much the worse for wear. It was more of a battle than a walk though. We decided we’d struggled hard enough to deserve a treat so off we went to Keswick and tucked into a fish and chip lunch at our favourite chippy. Delicious.