Walk Date – 23rd November 2016
Distance – 5.4 miles
Weather – mild, sunny, no wind, no cloud, a glorious day
We’ve had two rainy days since our last walk on Sunday with the temperature staying above freezing so the weather has turned milder. The forecast for the next few days is for a settled sunny spell and having no other commitments today we drove over to Braithwaite and on into the Newlands Valley where we parked up. It was an absolutely fabulous day today and the only cloud to be seen was a long way away over to the east above the northern Pennines.
From the parking area there’s a grand view of the Skiddaw group of fells which were looking wonderful against the clear blue sky.
I took a closer look at Skiddaw with Carl Side just below it on the left, the snow line has retreated further up the slopes just as it has on Blencathra which we passed on the way here, so the rain and milder temperatures have had an effect. The much lower Mell Fells, which we also passed on the way here, have lost their snow covering with only odd patches lingering here and there.
Having kitted ourselves out we set off up the track which runs up alongside Stoneycroft Gill. I took a look back to show what it looked like, nice and dry with an absence of snow and ice, so to begin with we have a firm footing and can settle into a steady walking pace.
As we round the first bend in the track we get our first sight of Causey Pike, it looks to have lost quite a bit of the snow which we noticed on it on Sunday.
Further up the track and we still have no snow. The path and lower slopes are dry and snow free, and the amount of water flowing down Stoneycroft Gill is indicating that some thawing taking place.
Sunshine on Causey Pike and a crescent moon above it.
We’re much higher up the track now, just below Outerside, and we’ve reached the snow line. At this time of year this side of Causey Pike is always in the shade so the snow is still fairly crunchy and the stony track is iced over, time to put the spikes on methinks.
The north slope of Causey Pike in permanent shade. The view from that plane must make it look as though several tons of icing sugar have been dropped on the fells and the Scottish mountains.
The view back down Stoneycroft Gill as we continue to climb, the fells to the east still with plenty of snow cover.
Despite walking in shade I had to stop and remove a layer at this point as it was so mild. I think I over-dressed for today’s conditions and the thick fleecy mid-layer just had to come off and get stowed in my pack. Once my jacket was back on I took this shot looking back to Stile End, the sunlit area in the centre, with Barrow behind it over on the right. Skiddaw is just putting in an appearance over on the left.
Just below this point and out of shot over on the left is a sheepfold, where we had a short break, had a snack and discussed where we would go next. Should we bear left just beyond the sheepfold and take the traverse path across the slope of Causey Pike and then on to its summit, or should we head over to Outerside? Going over to Causey Pike would mean a bit more walking in the shade while the slopes of Outerside, in full sun, were just a few steps away. As you can see, the lure of the sun won out, so here we are, heading up to the top of Outerside and looking across at Coledale Hause, the low point on the skyline. On the left of the shot the sun is lighting the top of Sail very nicely.
On our left, from left to right, we can see Sand Hill, Hobcarton End and Grisedale Pike. There was one set of footprints across here which came in very useful by providing a handy little staircase up to the top.
In no time at all we are on the top of Outerside looking across the vale of Keswick at Skiddaw and some of the other northern fells. Kinn, the brown area to the left, looks to have lost much of its snow since Sunday.
There isn’t a breath of wind up here and its surprisingly warm. We weren’t in any rush so we spent a good bit of time just enjoying the warmth and the views. Here I’m looking across Kinn towards Bass Lake, and over on the left the snowy top peeping up above the greenery is Lord’s Seat.
Immediately opposite us we see the sheer sides of Hobcarton End and Grisedale Pike dropping straight down into Coledale.
Behind us is Coledale Hause, the low point on the skyline, with Crag Hill to its left and Sand Hill and Hobcarton End to its right. Coledale below us is in the grip of the deep shade.
A closer look at Sail and Crag Hill, with a little bit of Grasmoor appearing behind them.
Down in the gloom of Coledale the paths around the Force Crag Mine are picked out by the snow.
Another look eastwards at the fells beyond Causey Pike. That line of cloud in the distance hovered around over there all day.
Enjoying the sun and the views on Outerside.
Same here. It was a lovely day to be out, jacket unzipped and no gloves on. We also noticed that the rocks and scree on the slopes of Skiddaw were starting to show as the sun blazed down on those southern slopes.
Looking back to the head of Coledale and the surrounding fells.
A close up of Sail and Crag Hill. We didn’t see anyone up there, it wasn’t until we got down to Stile End that we began to meet a few people coming up, so we had the place pretty much to ourselves for most of the time.
A close up of Skiddaw to check that our eyes weren’t deceiving us, and yes, the snow has melted on the rock and scree, compare it with what it looked on the first pictures I took and you’ll see the difference.
Look to the right and left of Skiddaw Little Man and more snow has melted revealing the brown grasses beneath.
A close up of Lonscale Fell with Blencathra just behind it. Visibility is superb today.
Well, we’ve been on Outerside for fifteen minutes doing nothing else but looking around and enjoying the sun and the views, so its time to move on and head down to Stile End, that’s the snowy and heathery area just below us.
Crossing over to Stile End was a bit of a squelchy affair. The path is nothing more than a deep furrow through the heather and because the sun was so bright and casting such deep shadows it was impossible to see the bottom of the path. Along the length of it were icy, muddy puddles which it was impossible to be aware of until you heard the splash as your feet hit them. I got fed up with all that malarkey so I tried walking above and along the side of it hoping that the snow on the heather would be firm enough to hold me. It wasn’t so, after dropping thigh deep in the gaps between the heather a time or two, I gave up on that daft idea and took to the path again, thankful that I’d kept the gaiters on and didn’t end up with wet trouser bottoms flapping around my ankles.
Passing a small frozen tarn on the way to Stile End with Skiddaw for company all the way along.
Before dropping down from Stile End I take a look back at Outerside and Grisedale Pike the scene reminding me of a block of ice cream covered in rich dark chocolate. Mmm, I could have just eaten one of those at this point.
A shot of the graceful lines of Grisedale Pike before we descend and lose this view of it.
We’ve descended Stile End and arrived at Barrow Door, which is what the gap between the two is called. Directly in front of us is the path up to the top of Barrow. This has also lost a fair amount of its snow since Sunday.
There are no difficulties with deep snow on Barrow, most of it has gone just leaving a wet and muddy path behind, and a few patches of snow lying around amongst the heather. As we climbed I took a look back, the middle foreground shows Stile End, behind and to its left is Outerside. You might be able to pick out the path just below Outerside which we walked up earlier.
Another view over to Stile End and Grisedale Pike.
From the same spot I turned the camera to the left for a view of Causey Pike, Scar Crags, Sail and Crag Hill. We could see a group of three people already on the top of Barrow who were getting their packs on ready to move off, so we hung back a little while they did so.
On Barrow summit looking across the very green Newlands Valley, the very brown Catbells, and the very white eastern fells. I’m thinking ice-cream again, this time a mint chocolate chip cornet with a flake bar dunked in the top. Just stop obsessing about ice-cream for heaven’s sake!
I can’t show you a picture of a cairn on the top of Barrow because there isn’t one, it does have a scrape of rocks on the top though so that’s what this is, plus the blue of Derwentwater and the snowy eastern fells. Don’t start on about ice-cream again, please.
Across Derwentwater is the shady side of Walla Crag, with Clough Head and Great Dodd right behind it.
A closer look at Walla Crag, Clough Head and Great Dodd.
We took a break on Barrow and had something to eat and then made our way back down. The cairn marks the start (or end) of the path up (or down) Barrow and at this point we re-join the path to Outerside which we walked earlier. A quick shot of Outerside then we turn around and go down the track back to Newlands.
We’re almost at the end of the path here so a last look across Stoneycroft and the Newlands Valley to Catbells.
Almost the end of today’s walk. Its just a few more yards back to the car park where there are several more cars parked now, when we set off this morning ours was the only one parked there. If this fine weather continues for as long as they are forecasting (into the middle of next week apparently) then there’ll soon be a lot less snow around. You can see the changes on Skiddaw already after only a few hours. However, officially its still autumn, we’ve the winter months yet to come, so if it goes, it’ll be back.