Walk Date – 14th March 2016
Distance – 6.5 miles
Weather – dry, warm and sunny
After a weekend of unremitting grey cloud cover and general low light gloom it was a treat to hear yesterday that the weather up here will be dry, settled and a good bit warmer for the next week or so. Its something to do with the jet stream apparently having shifted position and stopping all the cold, nasty, wet stuff getting at us. Anyway, I missed the detailed meteorological reasons because my thoughts immediately went off in another direction – its going to be a good day tomorrow, where shall we go? So this beautiful sunny Monday morning sees us parked near Darling How Farm on the track leading off the B5292 Whinlatter Pass road. One other car here already when we arrived and another one just coming up the track as we got out of our car.
Here’s a view of Ladyside Pike over on the left as we get ready to start, the other car I mentioned is just turning up the track towards us.
Off we go then, along the main forest track into the Aiken Beck valley, to walk the 2.6 miles and ascend 1100 ft or so up to the top of Lord’s Seat. The track, wide enough to allow access for forestry vehicles, is like this for the majority of the way as it steadily climbs towards Lord’s Seat. Dry, firm ground under our feet for the first time in months and just look at that sky, its a fantastic morning to be out and about.
Looking back towards Graystones from the forest track, that will be the last fell on our walk today.
Over on the left is Broom Fell, which will be the second fell we visit today, and on the right is Lord’s Seat at the head of the valley.
We pass through a large area of cleared forest as the road begins to climb towards the head of the valley, you can just see the bare slopes of Lord’s Seat in the centre above the tree line.
Eventually a way-marker post beside the forest track indicates the start of the path through the forest. This is looking back down the track, it did get quite muddy and squelchy along this bit.
From the same place on the path a look ahead at where the track is leading, the shade was very welcome through here as the temperature was rising steadily and a couple of layers of clothing had already been removed.
After a short distance the path through the forest leads us out onto a heather clad ridge between Lord’s Seat and Ullister Hill. It was rather muddy up here too but there is a good path crossing it which is what I’m standing on to take this shot of Skiddaw and its neighbouring fells. Very little snow is left anywhere now and I think that will probably be the end of it until winter comes back round again.
Further along the ridge path through the heather and a view of Grisedale Pike on the left, Hopegill Head in the centre, and Whiteside over on the right. The brown and green coloured fell sandwiched in between is Whinlatter Fell.
The summit of Lord’s Seat comes into view. The laid path ends at the stile in the fence from where its just a short distance, up the well worn grassy path, to the summit. The lone walker up ahead was the driver of the car which was just coming up to the parking area in the first photo. We kept ‘leap-frogging’ one another all the way, we stopped to remove jackets, he passed us. He stopped further along to remove his jacket, we passed him, and so it went on all the way to the top. He passed us again at this point as I stopped to take some photos.
Over the stile and a view of Broom Fell, on the right, and the treeless summit of Graystones over on the left.
From Lord’s Seat summit the view looking towards the Skiddaw group of fells, with Barf, the heather clad fell, directly below us.
Bass Lake, looking very blue, with Binsey behind it.
Beyond Ullister Hill a view of Clough Head, and still with patches of snow, the Dodds and the Helvellyn range.
Lord’s Seat summit, no big fancy cairn here, just an old iron fence post and a meagre scattering of stones,
Taking in the views from Lord’s Seat summit.
There’s even a view across the Solway Firth of some of the mountains over in Dumfries and Galloway.
Time to head off to Broom Fell using the path over on the right. Its not a huge distance and, depending on how fast you walk, twenty to thirty minutes should see you on the summit.
A look over at the Skiddaw group over on our right as we start the descent off Lord’s Seat.
Almost at the bottom so I take a look back at the descent path from Lord’s Seat. The path was a bit slurpy here and there but stepping over on to the grass kept our footholds slither free.
Approaching Broom Fell summit.
Broom Fell has more summit ‘furniture’ than Lord’s Seat – a rather grand column cairn, a wind shelter, not forgetting the stile and the fence, of course.
Its quite a tall cairn too, as you can see, I didn’t measure it but it looks to be more than six feet high. Did I mention that it was windy up here? Notice the absence of fleecy top, jacket, hat and gloves, and I was wishing that I wasn’t wearing lined, winter weight trousers too. Its very warm for mid March.
Broom Fell summit.
From Broom Fell summit looking over to Graystones, the path over on the right is the one we’ll use to get there.
Making our way across the moorland path towards Graystones. It was a bit squelchy in places but nothing too unpleasant or difficult to deal with. You can really get a good stride and pace going along this sort of terrain.
A look back at Broom Fell from one of the squelchy sections across the path to Graystones.
We’re approaching Widow Hause, the path runs to the right of the tree line so we’ll be walking in shade for a while. Its no great hardship though as the sun is quite hot now, so we can cool down a little before the climb from the Hause up to Graystones summit.
There’s a short but quite steep climb from the Hause up to Graystones and we’d lost the tree shade, so we had a ‘brow mopping’ stop at this point. Above the trees in the centre is Broom Fell, with the snow topped Skiddaw just peeping over the top of it, and Lord’s Seat is now way over in the distance to the right.
A view down to Ling Fell, and out to sea, from the climb to Graystones.
Binsey on the skyline with Sale Fell below and in front of it.
That’s the climbing over and done with so now we’ll look for a little sun trap somewhere here and have our lunch.
We find a convenient and flattish area of rock for our lunch stop, which gave us this view looking south westwards. Out on its own over on the left is Mellbreak, over on the right is the rounded grassy hump of Fellbarrow, and on the centre skyline are Gavel Fell and Blake Fell.
Lunch break over and as we leave I take a look back at our lunch spot up there on that lowest group of rocks.
Its just a very short distance from where we had lunch over to the summit of Graystones, where we have this view of Broom Fell and Lord’s Seat with Skiddaw providing a majestic, late winter backdrop
Looking south from Graystones summit a close up view of, from left to right, Grisedale Pike, Hobcarton End and Hopegill Head.
Making our way along to the steep descent from Graystones.
Below us is Darling How Farm and the forest track we started out on earlier. Behind it, the tree covered slopes of Whinlatter Fell.
This is a very, very steep descent, thankfully dry and largely non-slip today. If you zoom in you might just be able to make out a walker down at the bottom. That’s the chap who kept leap-frogging us at the beginning of the walk, he even had his lunch only about 100 yards away from us back up on Graystones. I was glad to see him so far in front of us down there as his constant presence was beginning to irritate. I’m sure he wasn’t stalking us but it felt like it at times.
It was such a lovely day, and still only 1.30 pm so instead of descending right to the bottom we decided to extend our walk by crossing over the stile to walk along one of the forest tracks.
From the stile a look ahead along the forest track.
The track eventually brought us down alongside Aiken Beck …..
….. and then on to Spout Force, best viewed when the trees have lost their leaves and after lengthy periods of rain. Looks like we timed it right then.
Footbridge across Aiken Beck, but we continued along without crossing, making our way instead to the road at the end of the path at Scawgill Bridge.
Walking back up the road from the bridge to the car park I took this shot of Graystones. The descent path runs down alongside the wall and the forest.
Back where we started at Darling How Farm. Its still only early afternoon and it seems a shame to have to go home. As I’m changing out of my boots and stowing my stuff into the car boot I realise that this is the first time since 2nd November 2015 I’ve been out on a walk and not had to put my gloves on at any point, let’s hope I can put them away permanently before too much longer.