Walk Date – 1st October 2016
Distance – 3.9 miles
Weather – mild with heavy showers
After a gloomy morning which was punctuated by persistent rain showers we decided to risk a short walk up Raven Crag this afternoon. We parked in a lay-by at the northern end of Thirlmere, there is a small car park further along the road to but you have to pay for the privilege of parking there so we didn’t. The lay by also has the advantage of being directly opposite the start of the path up Raven Crag.
There’s the gate immediately across from us so off we go …..
….. straight onto the path through the forest. There’s no chance to get the legs nicely warmed up as its steeply uphill from the start. It was also very wet and slippery after all this morning’s rain.
Five minutes walking up from the gate brings us to this forest vehicle track.
Looking along the track which has Raven Crag towering above it. Don’t be thinking that we’re about to scale it directly, just out of shot to the right of the photo is another section of path which leads to …..
…. this rather tall gate, which we pass through and continue the steep climb through the forest. About halfway up we could see another walker coming towards us and as we neared each other the poor fellow slipped and landed hard on his rear end. It must have been painful because the path is very stony as you can see, but he assured us he wasn’t hurt and seemed to be walking well enough as he continued down. He may have some aches and pains tomorrow but he probably suffered more from embarrassment than anything else. You always feel a bit foolish anyway if you slip, its even more acute if others witness your tumble.
Five minutes later we go through another fenced area which brings us out onto …..
….. another forest vehicle track and even closer acquaintance with Raven Crag. Once again we cross the track and pick up the path which is out of sight to the right of the shot. As you can see its all pretty steep going and, as it wasn’t at all cold, it was beginning to be very warm work.
Starting up the next section of path and over my left shoulder are the fells belonging to the Helvellyn range. The forest track continues on its way below us.
We continue up the steep, stony track, picking our way through the trees uprooted during winter storms, and begin to feel the first spits and spots of rain. The round blob on the photo being one of the rain spots.
A break in the trees offers us a view of Great How, the tree covered hill below us on the eastern shore of Thirlmere.
Higher up and another break in the trees shows us the cloud heading our way. Its rolling in very quickly across Great Dodd and Watson’s Dodd.
At the top of this section of the path we are met by these new gates which appear to have been installed quite recently. We didn’t have to use them since we were going to take the path heading up on the left side of the shot.
Someone has obviously been very busy up here as a new path has been put down too. We were last here on 4th April 2015 and most of the path from this point on was quite a muddy trudge. I’m not sure what to think of it, yes its not muddy and you can get along much better, but its beginning to have overtones of a theme park.
At the top of the first flight of steps we turn a corner where more new steps have been installed.
Round the next corner and the steps are now wooden and covered with chicken wire to prevent slipping on the wet wood.
Just before we reach the summit this view along Thirlmere catches my attention.
This is what we find at the summit, a viewing platform which wasn’t here in March 2016. I really don’t know what to think of it but I don’t feel comfortable with it. It looks out of place, it feels like an intrusion and what AW would have made of it I don’t like to imagine, it probably wouldn’t have been his cup of tea at all.
The clouds were darkening over The Dodds but there was this little gem of a rainbow hovering around Castle Rock as I looked down from the summit.
The darkening clouds are also rolling across Blencathra over there on the centre skyline.
Looks like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is somewhere at the bottom of Thirlmere. I don’t think I’ll be going down there to look for it though.
The viewing platform began to irritate so we dropped down a little way for our more familiar view along Thirlmere. There is one alteration which I do approve of though, the removal of the dead trees which used to stand just below and which prevented anyone having an uninterrupted view along the water. This is now much better although they could have finished the job properly and removed that dead branch while they were at it.
Its a great view now and even those heavy clouds can’t spoil it, I think they may even be adding a hint of drama to the scene.
The clouds have reached us and its now raining so we leave the summit and I’ve decided I’m not overwhelmed by the steps. Perhaps I’ll feel differently when their newness has worn off and I’ve got used to them.
This type of path is much better, it looks more natural and blends in with its surroundings.
Making our way back down to the clearing.
Down at the clearing so I take a look back at the new path we’ve just descended. It doesn’t look too bad from a distance, it just hits you smack in the face when you’re closer to it. I suppose I’ll get used to it.
Rather than return by the same route we decided to use the forest track, which although it is a longer route it isn’t wet and muddy like the path we used on the way up. However, its wet at the moment because its pouring with rain, hoods are up, heads are down and its quick march all the way.
The crags of Bleaberry Fell looming behind the rain spots on the camera lens. The pitter-pattering of rain on my hood has become a continuous splat, splat, splat as the rain continues to pour down.
Now its Skiddaw’s turn to have the rain clouds over it.
On we go through the downpour …..
….. passing this sign telling us where we’ve been, although we didn’t go looking for the fort as there really isn’t anything to be seen. Its not the sort of fort which you might see in a cowboy film, its just a mound which was once the site of an iron age hill fortification and any structure which might have been there has long since disappeared.
We’re almost at the end of the forest track and to our left we have a view of the Skiddaw fells, on the left skyline, and over on the right is High Rigg. The rain has stopped but the sky still looks full of it despite the odd patch of blue sky.
The rainbow is long gone from Castle Rock but the skies above Watson’s Dodd don’t look quite as dire as they did.
From the forest track we joined the tarmac road and as we rounded a bend we were delighted to notice this deer standing very still beneath a tree. We approached very quietly and I hoped it would stay long enough for me to get the camera out and get a shot of it.
However, our delight soon began to turn to concern. Normally this animal would have been long gone before we got anywhere near as close as this so why hasn’t it run away from us? We watched it for a while and it began to lean over to its left side, so much so that I thought it would be bound to fall over. It managed to steady itself but it seemed as though the hind leg nearest the camera wasn’t giving it quite as much support as the other hind leg and perhaps that was why it began to lose balance.
My knowledge of deer isn’t great but I think its a red, and I do know that they wouldn’t hang around as long as this. We tried to make some encouraging sounds to see if it would walk away but all it did was look at us. It didn’t show any sign of fear or alarm and even if it had it didn’t seem to want to run. Other than having a problem with the hind leg we couldn’t really work our why it continued to simply stand in the same spot. While its lovely to see a wild animal at close quarters it is disconcerting to see one which must have been under some sort of duress. I just hope it recovers from whatever ails it.
There’s the car up ahead in the lay-by so our walk comes to an end under damp and dreary skies, and my thoughts return now and again to the red deer sheltering under the tree behind us, and although there is nothing I can do to help it, its hard to let nature take its course.
The lay-by is just to the right of the bend in the road so on the way out we stopped to take this shot of Raven Crag from the road side.
I swing the camera round to my left for this dark and dramatic view along Thirlmere. Its only 4.15 pm but it looks as though the skies will remain overcast for the rest of the day as this was how they looked in all directions.
Immediately behind me is this inscribed tablet telling me who were the ‘great and the good’ of Manchester Corporation in the days when consturction began on the dam at Thirlmere way back in 1890. The construction was completed in 1894 during the course of which the village of Wythburn and the hamlet of Armboth were flooded, with the loss of a school, vicarage, inns, farms and houses. Its starting to rain again so its time to hurry back to the car and get on with the drive home. It hasn’t been the best of afternoons for a walk, and the photos are a bit on the gloomy side but its always good to be out and about because you never know what you might see. To get so close to a red deer, even if it was unwell, was worth getting wet through for.