Walk Date – 16th July 2016
Distance – 12.9 miles
Weather – warm and sunny with just the right amount of breeze
A dry, sunny and warm, but windy day was forecast, windy enough for it to impede walking on the higher fells apparently. Having been severely battered by wind on some of the higher fells this year we opted for a walk up Lingmoor Fell, at the modest height of just over 1500′, in the hope that once up there the wind would not be too lively. Lingmoor Fell stands alone between the two valleys of Great Langdale and Little Langdale so there is no opportunity to walk to any neighbouring fells via any connecting ridges. That is no great disadvantage as the two valleys it overlooks are lovely in their own right and a walk through either of them is well worth it. Today we have opted to descend into Little Langdale and from there continue on to Holme Fell which stands at just over 1000′. A walk of two halves in effect, with plenty of variety in all of it.
Here we are walking out of Elterwater and once across the bridge we’ll bear left and continue on until we reach the start of the path just a little further on.
Just beyond the Eltermere Hotel we turn right onto the path for Little Langdale where the tarmac eventually gives way to a rough stony track.
The track rises through Sawrey’s Wood to this gate at the end of the uphill section. This path was running with water, as were quite a few of the ones we walked today so this area seems to have had plenty of rain recently. Over on the eastern side where we live it has been mostly dry but overcast.
The gradient eases and the path levels out as it heads towards Little Langdale. Over to our left we get our first view of Wetherlam, on the left skyline, and to the right of it are Swirl How and Great Carrs.
The path and its puddles continue on to Little Langdale but here’s where we turn off and go through the gate on the right to begin the climb up Lingmoor Fell. The path heads through the bracken towards the wall where we will go through a second gate.
A look back from the second gate and above the top bar of it you can just see the path where we turned off. Notice the bracken on the right, its now peak bracken season and it grows very, very tall.
Climbing steadily now and below us on our left is Dale End Farm. The greyish areas over on the top right are the spoil heaps from the now defunct slate quarries.
Further along still and Little Langdale Tarn comes into view with Wetherlam towering above it.
Approaching gate number three. Once through the gate the path curves off to the right through the bracken and threads its way through the outcrops up to the beginning of the ridge.
There were lots of these Bog Asphodel flowers around, and although they may look very sunny and bright they are also an indicator of very wet ground, so if you see a patch of it its best not to go barging through it.
The path leads on to run alongside the ridge wall and, as its grassy, it makes a pleasant change from fighting the bracken.
A pause to take in the views of the Helvellyn range on the centre skyline, and the Fairfield group of fells on the right skyline.
Turning a little to the right and in the middle is Elterwater with Windermere over on the right. In the bottom right of the shot is the path going into Little Langdale which we left earlier.
We made a short diversion from the main path to visit the cairn on Bield Crag
From the cairn on Bield Crag a look across at the next part of the route. The path we diverted from can just be made out on the extreme centre right of the shot and follows a gently rising course over to that dark green notch in the fellside to the left of the large crag on the centre skyline.
From Bield Crag there is a grand view of Wetherlam, Swirl How and Grey Carrs. I would imagine it was busy up there today as the Coniston Fells are very popular. You can visit a large number of Wainwright summits all in one walk once you are up on the top. I wondered how strong the wind was up there, since for us it was quite breezy even at this low level. It was a welcome breeze though, helping to keep us cool but not strong enough to be a nuisance, perfect walking weather.
We rejoined the main path below which were these remains of old quarry buildings, and over to the left you can see the cairn on BIeld Crag. Note to self – come back and explore the old quarrying area sometime, looks like it might be interesting.
Further along the path and we see another old quarry building and get a lovely view of Little Langdale Tarn. The path over on the right is the one we will use to get to Holme Fell. Holme Fell is the dark fell to the right of centre, just below the fells on the skyline.
Before we turn up to the next part of the ridge we have this imposing view. Just peeping out on the left is Cold Pike which is mostly hidden by the next one along which is Pike O’Blisco. On the centre horizon are Crinkle Crags and over on the right is Bowfell.
Up a small incline from the previous shot and we have this view along the ridge of Lingmoor Fell. The summit is the sunny, grassy area directly above line of crags to the left. The path now follows alongside the wall so you’d have to try very hard to get lost up here.
A dip in the wall and we can see the Silver How – Blea Rigg ridge, and beyond it the Helvellyn range.
Looking back along the route as we make for the summit. As you can see there is nothing really difficult to deal with on Lingmoor Fell, just a few ups and downs, twists and turns and a complete absence of bracken, at the moment. It was just lovely on here today and thoroughly enjoyable.
Now, I know it can’t hold a candle to the Great Wall of China or even Hadrian’s Wall but the great wall of Lingmoor Fell is very impressive in it own quiet way. Its a dry stone wall running along the length of the fell held together by nothing more than the skills and experience of the craftsmen who constructed it …..
….. and who did not shy away from building it over every little hump and bump which stood in their path. How long it has been standing here I have no idea and you cannot fail to be impressed by the skill and fortitude of its creators.
At this point the path veers round to the left, away from the wall, to avoid those low crags, and then continues up a steepish scree slope in a gully through the middle of the crags.
From the top of the steep slope a look back at the route we have taken along the ridge.
From the top of the slope its just a short distance to the summit of Lingmoor Fell, which goes by the name of Brown How. The last time we were up here the stile was in such a poor rickety state that you wondered if it would collapse the minute you stepped on it, so I was pleased to see that it has been repaired and now offered a much firmer footing.
The views from the summit are superb, especially this one of the Langdale Pikes. Below us at the bottom right of the shot is Lingmoor Tarn and one of these days we really must go down there and take a closer look at it. I always think that but then it gets forgotten about until the next time you come up here and you remind yourself all over again.
The Coniston Fells from the summit cairn on Brown How.
Moving the camera a little to the right and behind me Is Pike O’Blisco with Crinkle Crags behind that.
Below us is Great Langdale above which rises the Blea Rigg ridge, and beyond that is the Helvellyn range to the left and the Fairfield group to the right.
Moving further to the right and below us is the village of Chapel Stile with the Burlington quarries over on the right. These quarries are still being worked and the quarrying area is unbelievably gigantic and makes the huge machines working in the quarry look like Tonka toys.
The view to the south across Windermere, followed by a couple more views from the cairn …..
We could continue along the ridge and at the end of it drop down into Little Langdale, but that would take us too far along the valley and we still have a lot of walk left to do, so we decided to descend …..
….. straight down alongside this wall. We had the summit to ourselves for about five minutes before a walking group and a family arrived so we left them to enjoy the views and began making our way down.
Making our way down over the lumps and bumps alongside the wall. We spotted a nice little sun trap just to the left of that patch of bracken so we decided it might be a good place to stop, have something to eat and take in the views in front of us.
With the lunch break over we continue on down alongside the wall with this view of Blea Tarn below us. It had a sort of Alpine quality about it I thought, not that I’ve ever been to the Alps so I’m not really qualified to say, but if it had a wooden chalet somewhere on the lower slopes you could almost imagine yourself to be in Switzerland.
A view into Mickleden as we descend into the bracken. There is a footpath through it but it was very hard to see below the arching fronds of the bracken and it was necessary to pick your way carefully. The bracken hides the hollows, stones and rocks and its quite a steep way down so its easy to take a tumble if you aren’t ultra careful.
At last we get a view of the Pikes with no cloud shadow on them, well you’ve just got to take a photo haven’t you? No matter how many times you see them you still have to stop and stare at them. Well, I do anyway.
Safely down on the road in Little Langdale and a look back at the ‘Trial by Bracken’ route down. For most of the way only our heads were visible so it must have looked quite funny for anyone looking up at us.
Seeing as we were almost paddling in it we strolled down to the edge of Blea Tarn to take a couple of photos. There were plenty of people around but no-one was paddling/swimming. If you watch ‘Countryfile’ on BBC1 on Sundays this tarn features in the opening sequence with a brief shot of someone swimming in it. The view is much better than staring at the tiled walls of the local swimming pool, now if only it wasn’t so cold in there. I wonder how much wet suits are, or would a large bucket of goose grease be better?
I moved the camera to the right to include Side Pike in the shot. Side Pike stands at the end of the Lingmoor Fell ridge after which the slopes drop down into Great Langdale or here, into Little Langdale. We could have picked up the next path we wanted from here, you can see it coming towards us over on the left, but we decided against and returned to the road instead …..
….. the road is running parallel with the valley path which is out of shot over to the right. We opted for a spot of road walking down to Fell Foot since its firmer under foot and we wanted to get a bit of a move on.
At Fell Foot we left the public road and turned right onto this lane leading to Fell Foot Farm to reach Fell Foot Bridge. Before crossing the bridge I took a look back at Lingmoor Fell, so that’s the first part of the walk behind us. Just to my right is …..
….. Fell Foot Bridge crossing the River Brathay.
Across the bridge the track leads us through the meadows to the southern side of Little Langdale. We’ve lost the breeze down here and so its bit on the warm side, to say the least, but we are not complaining. Its lovely to have after the long spell of dull, overcast weather.
On we go through Little Langdale and reach the cottage at Bridge End. Property of the National Trust it says on the plaque by the front porch.The back view was in the shade as we approached so I took a shot of the front which looked much more attractive.
I took a look back along to Bridge End cottage and the Langdale Pikes before the view disappeared.
Still heading through Little Langdale and a view of the extensive quarrying areas on the slopes of Lingmoor Fell on our left.
Little Langdale Tarn looking lovely in the afternoon sunshine.
Low Hall Garth and big puddles along the lane. We had a short stop here as over to the immediate left was a small, white painted iron table and two chairs with no-one making use of them. The perfect spot to sit and remove a small piece of grit which had somehow got into my boot and which had been annoying me for about half an hour. That done, and with a swig of fruit juice down us, off we went again.
When you see that path rising up the little hill ahead you know that you are getting near to Slater’s Bridge, but there’s quite a bit of puddle jumping to be done before we get there.
We didn’t bother making the little detour to the bridge so I took a photo of it from the footpath as we passed.
Just a short distance further along from the bridge is the little hamlet of Stang End, with about half a dozen cottages to its name. The little lad in the doorway was shouting “Daaad, can I?” but dad wasn’t having any of it.
We’re on the path rising from Stang End now with a view over the cottages of Little Langdale to Lingmoor Fell.
Heading for Hodge Close along the forest track, the shade we got from time to time was more than welcome.
Wythebank Cottage, a very smart holiday rental at Hodge Close.
Another cottage at Hodge Close not looking quite so smart. I don’t know if its inhabited or a rental, but the last time we were along here there was a large group of people outside having a barbecue party so it seems that it does get used from time to time. The rug on the fence has definitely seen better days.
A short distance from the cottages is Hodge Close Quarry. A very, very deep hole filled with murky brown water. I couldn’t get the whole of the opposite wall in the shot because the camera wouldn’t zoom out any further. Its a heck of a long way down and if I’d got any closer to the edge I’d have been giving Olympic divers a run for their money.
Over to the right I spotted a couple of climbers on a little ledge …..
…. so I zoomed in so you could have a closer look at them. I’d have jelly legs just standing on the ledge so high above the water never mind trying to climb up a sheer rock face which doesn’t appear to have anything much to grab hold of. More about the climbers later on.
Water pouring down that great slab of rock over there. You can get down to the quarry floor via a path which goes down behind the rocks over on the left and brings you out in a large cavern. You can see the cavern opening on the bottom left of the shot where the rusting ironwork is.
A look back at the parking area as we leave the quarry to take the path up to Holme Fell. The quarry is only a short drive from Coniston so its quite a popular place with visitors.
We take another pleasant woodland walk as we make our way along the path to Holme Fell …..
….. which climbs steadily upwards until it eventually reaches …..
….. a couple of disused reservoirs from where we have a view of Ivy Crag on the left and the summit of Holme Fell on the right. As you can see its not a huge climb in front of us but its a bit squelchy in places and there’s lots of bracken so that will hamper our progress a bit.
We cross over to the other side of this reservoir as we want to pick up a path over to Ivy Crag before we go over to Holme Fell summit, which is up there on the skyline.
A look back at the reservoir, which is down there in the middle in front of the trees, as we slosh our way through the wet bits. Lingmoor Fell and the Pikes are on view above the trees.
Another look back as we reach the higher, and drier, path on the approach to Ivy Crag.
There are lots of little heather covered knolls to thread your way around on Ivy Crag, none of it difficult but a lot of it was wet. Here’s a view of Coniston Water as we reach the top.
Having five minutes peace and quiet in the sunshine on Holme Fell summit with not a soul around. I expect it’ll be different in week or so when the schools break up and families are here on holiday, youngsters might enjoy having a walk up here. On the other hand perhaps not, there are so many gadgets for them to play around with nowadays that taking a walk might be seen as a little bit dull and ‘uncool’.
From Ivy Crag its only a short distance over to the summit of Holme Fell. The path below goes over to, and below, the large outcrop on the right, and then its just a case of a bit more threading your way around and up it to the summit.
The view northwards from Ivy Crag. Not such a bad view from a tiny outcrop of rock is it?
We’ve made our way across from Ivy Crag and are approaching Holme Fell summit.
Looking south along Coniston Water from the summit cairn.
Eee, by ‘eck, its nice to have a sit down for a minute or two.
One last shot of the summit cairn before we make our way down.
The view before us as we begin to make our way down …..
….. and a quick look back from the descent …..
….. and in no time at all we are back at the reservoir.
Ten minutes later we are back at the quarry. I had just taken this photo and was putting the camera away when down the path to the right of me came the two rock climbers. ‘You made it then” I said as they approached me. “Aye, we got out alright, it were grand”, the one wearing the yellow top replied as they strode past. I looked back into the quarry and could only wonder and marvel.
From the quarry we made our way along the woodland tracks and then headed down this water filled path which would lead us down through Moss Rigg wood. This really is a path but the nearby beck has decided to take it over so walking down it becomes a bit of a splashy affair.
A look back along the path through the woods which is typical of the paths we have been using this afternoon. They were very pleasant walkways on a hot afternoon.
A little further down is this opening in the wall which gives access to the path leading up to another old quarry which has become known as the Cathedral Cavern.
Now, we’ve been to Hodge Close, we’ve just returned from Tilberthwaite, so it’s a left for Elterwater then.
Dropping down the hill from the signpost we reach the bridge over the River Brathay which had plenty of water flowing down it today. On the far side the footpath was largely under water and we had to use the raised walkway which runs alongside the wall.
The route map shows a blue pint pot just to the north of the river crossing, or ford as it is named on the map. This is what the pint pot stands for, The Three Shires Inn near Wilson Place. It had been mentioned quite a few miles back that we could call in seeing as we were passing it and where one of us wouldn’t mind partaking of half a pint before driving home. Somewhere between there and here the half pint morphed into a full blown pint, and a good slug of it disappeared almost as soon as the barmaid put it down on the counter. I don’t like beer so it wasn’t me.
Suitably refreshed we gear up again and take this left turn just a few yards beyond the pub for the last mile back to Elterwater. You can see it isn’t a steep hill but we had been sitting in the pub garden for about twenty minutes so the legs thought they had clocked off for the day. When they found out that they hadn’t it took them a little while to get going again.
The lane petered out and became this inclined track up and across a field where I took a final look back at Wetherlam. The sun decided it had done enough for the day so the cloud took over, but even so it was still very warm.
When we go through the gate at the end of the path we will be on the path back to Elterwater. It seems a heck of a long time since we were on it this morning. We were being keenly observed by this inquisitive lamb, although it was almost as big as its mother so it seems a bit odd still to be calling them lambs.
Here we are at our journey’s end, the Walthwaite Bottom car park where we’re parked between the camper van with the TV aerial on its roof and the vehicle with the yellowy orange top which wasn’t there when we arrived this morning. The sky has well and truly clouded over, there are food smells coming from the Britannia Inn behind us, and walkers are arriving from all points of the compass and returning to their cars or their night’s accommodation. We’ve walked just shy of thirteen miles in lovely weather and had a thoroughly enjoyable and interesting walk in a wonderful area of the Lakes. The legs are weary and the food smells are making us hungry so its time to get the boots off, get into the car and get off home. I hope you’ve enjoyed the walk as much as we have, and as there is a mini heatwave forecast over the next couple of days it won’t be too much longer before you can come with us on another outing. See you soon.