Walk date – 25th February 2022
Distance – 8.7 miles
Weather – sunny start, followed by building cloud, cold, light wind
There seems to have been a distinct weather pattern occurring lately in that we have about 10 -12 days of grotty weather followed by one reasonable one, and in keeping with that pattern, another decent weather day turned up today, exactly two weeks to the day since our last walk. Two weeks of strong winds, and day after day of rain, and/or sleety snow showers. We had already decided where our next walk would be whenever the next dry day turned up so off we went to Glenridding for today’s walk to Stybarrow Dodd via Sticks Pass. Before I forget, any ladies wishing to avail themselves of the toilet facilities next to the tourist information office should make sure they have 50 pence about their person for the turnstile payment, otherwise they won’t gain entry. I understand all the reasons behind such a charge being levied but that doesn’t make it any less diabolical. I can’t tell you what charges might be applicable in the gents department as J wasn’t a customer today.
Glenridding – Greenside Road – Stang End – Sticks Pass – Stybarrow Dodd – White Stones – Green Side – Greenside Road – Glenridding
Having calmed down after my rant re the 50p charge for a pee we get underway again with a nice view of Birkhouse Moor as we walk up the Greenside Road.
One of the cottages in Gillside, the occupants will have a good view of Birkhouse Moor from their back door and windows.
The view ahead as we walk up the road leading to the old Greenside mine. Raise is more or less on the centre of the skyline and looks to have a good covering of snow which is rather surprising as yesterday’s Helvellyn report from the Fell Top Assessors mentioned that there was very little snow about on the fells.
Stang End comes into view as we approach the mining area. Some of the accommodation buildings around the mine looked to be having some renovation work done, trades vans were parked up and the workmen were busy fetching and carrying stuff.
Up the hill from the mine now where Catstycam, in full winter covering, is looking very impressive. The path in the shot leads up the valley to the zig-zag route up to Raise but we leave it here and turn off to the right for the Stang End path. The third option is to drop down to the left, cross Glenridding Beck and pick up the path leading up to Red Tarn, Helvellyn and Catstycam. That would mean quite a chilly walk in the shadow of Birkhouse Moor for a while today.
On the zig-zag path to Stang End now with a look along the old water leats towards Sheffield Pike. No water in the leats any more just a few patches of snow left in their deep shadows. The sun is on our backs and we soon work up some extra heat, time to unzip the jackets a little and let some of it out.
Catstycam with Low Spying How over on the left skyline. We’ve reached the snow line on the path now which slows progress down a little. The path is always rough and loose and now that its overlaid with untrodden snow we need to be careful. There are no footprints ahead of us so nobody has walked up here this morning and we’re guessing that all the snow fell during last night.
A look back across the valley towards Place Fell and its neighbours before we round Stang End and lose the view.
We didn’t have a frosty night last night and the snow is wet and yields easily under our feet, we experienced plenty of sinking down into it from Stang End to this point.
We had a short stop here, each of us munched down a chocolate bar while we gave our legs a bit of a rest, snow walking and icy puddle avoiding takes more effort and uses up energy quickly. While we munched I took this shot from the bridge across Swart Beck looking towards Sheffield Pike. A young couple came by, the young man seemed properly kitted out, the young girl wasn’t and appeared more suitably attired for a walk in the park, even down to the fashionable trainers she was wearing.
Once across the bridge we follow the path through the spoil heaps and get our first view today of the next part of our walk, Sticks Pass.
Still rounding the spoil heaps with a look over to Raise …..
….. and when we start the climb a look back towards Sheffield Pike.
We’re a good way up the pass now and its hard going. The route is steep enough without being overlaid by slippery, slushy snow and/or running water which always commandeers footpaths as it makes its way down. Narrow paths full or water and/or soft slushy snow do not make for swift progress and a slide down the fellside into an icy cold beck holds no appeal whatsoever so we take our time and extra care. Spikes would have been a hindrance today as the wet snow would simply have kept balling up constantly beneath them and its a pain having to dislodge them every five minutes. We did consider taking them but I’m happy that we left them in the car instead of carrying them around in our packs for no good purpose.
We’re almost at the top of the pass here so I took a look back before we rounded a bend and lost the view. Swart Beck is making its way along the valley towards the old mine, Sheffield Pike is the great lump in the middle foreground and the far eastern fells make up the skyline. Not a bad reward for all that effort, methinks.
We aren’t done with the ‘up’ yet though and at the path junction we turn right and make our way up Stybarrow Dodd. We did give ourselves a five minute break before we did though.
A view of the path up to Raise from a short distance beyond the junction and quite a few walkers walking between it and Stybarrow Dodd. I think ourselves and the young couple mentioned earlier were the only ones ascending Sticks Pass today but we did meet a few folk using it for their descent route. We went a little further eastward along the path to have a look at the views beyond Thirlmere but they were very dull and cloudy so I didn’t bother taking any shots.
We returned to the junction and began the climb up Stybarrow. The eastern views were much better since they were getting the sunlight. High Raise, Rampsgill Head and High Street are on the skyline, and the long dark line on the lower slopes of Raise across the middle foreground is the collapsed flue which used to serve the old mine.
Directly across from us is Raise and beyond it Helvellyn and Catstycam are in view. The cloud is building steadily and we keep losing the sunlight so everything begins to look a bit monochrome …..
….. although everything stays brightly lit over to the east.
We’re almost at the top of Stybarrow now just as some sunlight landed on Bleaberry Fell across the middle foreground. The snow on Skiddaw and Blencathra helped to highlight them too.
A few shots before we wander over to the cairn, here’s Watson’s Dodd backed by Skiddaw and Blencathra …..
….. Great Dodd …..
….. and Stybarrow Dodd. We’ll leave the established path a few yards further along and make our way over to the summit cairn as the established path by-passes it. As you can see there’s not a lot of snow on this side of Stybarrow so we make our way over very easily.
On the summit now and looking towards Catstycam, Raise and Helvellyn on an increasingly cloudy skyline.
J does the honours beside the cairn. I noticed that the tarn, out of shot to the left, was full of snow, one of these days we might get lucky and see it full of water.
You get a good view of the ski slope on Raise from up here, nobody using it today though. Perhaps they weren’t expecting this much snow, we certainly weren’t.
Still plenty of brightness in the eastern sky as we begin to make our way off Stybarrow. The snow is thicker on this side and …..
….. we make new footprints in the fresh snow as we make our way over to the path for White Stones. Its just as much fun now as it was when we were kids!
A very enjoyable tramp across to White Stones. A few walkers are following us down from Stybarrow but there’s no-one making their way towards us at the moment.
A look back at Stybarrow Dodd just as a trio of blokes go by and give us plenty of cheery greetings and big smiles as they go past. Visitors to the fells given their accents and they were obviously enjoying their day out in the snow.
Great Dodd with Blencathra’s snowy Sharp Edge just peeping up behind it over on the right as we reach White Stones.
The alpine view on the other side of White Stones is simply breathtaking. Helvellyn, in the centre, and its two ridges, Striding Edge and Swirral Edge, are clearly visible despite the cloud, as are the north and east ridges of Catstycam. On the extreme right is the ridge leading up to Helvellyn Lower Man. Today the cloud stayed high enough to be able to see them all, just wonderful.
Saint Sunday Crag and Fairfield under a cloud beyond the lower slopes of Raise.
The snow thins out as we descend over Green Side but there’s still a little bit of fun to be had as we approach another snowdrift which is just waiting to be walked through.
The cloud is gradually moving eastwards and the fells over there become duller and less defined as the light level drops.
A sunny view from Glencoyne Head would have been nice but even in the low light its not too shabby a view.
Sheffield Pike is in view for much of the way down and we had considered going over there depending on how the weather situation developed. As it was I don’t think even the sunniest of afternoons would have enticed us over. There’s always a lot of watery areas over there as a matter of course and that, together with the thought of more walking through more wet snow with wearying legs decided the matter.
The spoil heaps below Green Side. Imagine this as a jigsaw puzzle!
Looking down to the mine area as we round Stang End. This is not the best of paths to finish a walk on when legs are tired but at least the snow is now completely gone which makes the descent a little easier.
We’re on terra firma at last as we walk down the last of the zig-zags and join the Greenside Road again. All that’s left to do now is walk back down to Glenridding and flop thankfully into the car seats. We’ve had a great walk, despite the slushy and slippery climb up Sticks Pass, in mostly dry and sunny weather, and the snow was a completely unexpected extra. Now will we have to wait another 10-12 days for the next fine day? We can only wait and see.