Walk date – 21st November 2021
Distance – 5 miles
Weather – sunny start, cloud later, slight northerly breeze
Now for something completely different, as far as the weather was concerned. The cloud was so low during our last trip out up Gowbarrow Fell that we could barely see anything. Today, on the outward leg at least, we could still barely see anything but only because the sun was shining so brightly out of a clear blue sky, to begin with anyway. The forecast for today was for a dry day with sunny periods but with a very strong north wind plus significant windchill at height both of which would be accompanied by considerable buffeting and difficulty walking. In view of that we decided to stay low and find a valley walk which we hadn’t done for a while. A walk up to Watendlath fitted the bill since it was in 2016 that we last walked this particular route. Quite a few other walkers seemed to be of the same opinion today as quite a few were out and about and I hope they had just as enjoyable a walk as we did.
Strutta Wood car park – Watendlath road – Surprise View – Ashness Wood – Moss Mire – Watendlath Beck – Watendlath – Watendlath road – Ashness Wood – Surprise View – Strutta Wood car park
A look across towards Bleaberry Fell as we begin the walk up the Watendlath road. The Strutta Wood car park, just above Ashness Bridge, is out of shot to the left. The road passes through the woodland so we aren’t feeling the warmth of the sunshine at the moment. Several cars, all heading for Surprise View, pass us as we walk up.
Out of the woodland now where the road passes through a short section of open land. This new house has been built on land where a very run down bungalow used to stand and I expect many viewers will remember what it looked like. The old bungalow also had several equally dilapidated sheds and garages scattered around it, these too have been demolished and replaced by the new and very substantial garage/barn which you can see on the extreme right of the shot. Furniture has been moved in but it didn’t look as though the house was being lived in at present, maybe the owners will move in once the landscaping has been completed.
A look back along the road towards the new house to see the Skiddaw group just beginning to appear above the treetops.
At Surprise View with a look along Derwentwater. We’re still in Ashness Wood so we aren’t getting the sunshine …..
….. which is blazing down on the open fells across the water. This is a favourite spot for both serious photographers and holiday snappers. None of the former were around today although there were plenty of the latter. A quick nip up in the car, jump out, take a couple of shots, back to the car and the return trip to whence they came. Catbells and Maiden Moor across the water.
Only a short distance from Surprise View a footpath junction appears, signposted for Watendlath, so here’s where we turn off …..
….. for our very enjoyable stroll through the autumn woodland, although the photo doesn’t do justice to the piercing sunlight striking the moss covered outcrops.
Most trees grow straight up towards the sunlight, this one decided to take a different approach, probably as a result of being blown over in a gale.
At the end of Ashness Wood is this gate and the path leading down, on the left as you look at the shot, to Mossmire Coppice and Watendlath Beck. In the opposite direction from this point the path leads steeply back up to the Watendlath road.
The footbridge over Watendlath Beck at Mossmire Coppice. Over on the left a couple of walkers pass through the coppice gate, the path they will have been using begins at High Lodore, near the Borrowdale Hotel, on the Borrowdale road out of Keswick.
Over the bridge and following the path alongside Watendlath Beck.
The bright sunlight made it difficult to take any views looking forward along the route but hiding the sun behind the tree branches helps.
Walking beside the beck through Moss Mire and finding that a different bridge to the one we were expecting has been installed. If you want to see what we were expecting take a look at our walk of 4th December 2016. Several people were walking along here today so I had to wait a little while before I could take a shot.
Another look back at one of the rockier sections along the way …..
….. followed by a look up at the steps which take us a little higher and further away from the beck.
A look back along the valley with Ether Knott on the left and Reecastle Crag on the right. Cloud is beginning to build where, about an hour ago, there was nothing but clear blue sky.
Something else we weren’t expecting to see when we reached Watendlath, the installation of a hydro-electric plant across the beck close to the outflow of Watendlath Tarn. More on that a bit later on.
Most of the walkers we had seen so far were sitting on the banks of the tarn just enjoying the views and the sunshine. We decided to go a little further on to try and get …..
….. some longer views of the tarn …..
….. and the Bleaberry Fell/High Seat/High Tove range behind it, the dark top of High Seat is silhouetted against the burgeoning white cloud. The forecasted north wind was beginning to make its chilly presence felt even at this lowly height so we found a sheltered sunny spot and took a short break before making our way back. We could have gone across to Great Crag but decided to save that one for another day.
A closer look across the tarn to Watendlath Farm behind which is the path leading up to High Tove. The cloud above the ridge looks a lot more ominous than it really was.
Back in Watendlath where the repairs to the 2016 storm damaged bridge are weathering in nicely. The gate over on the other side is where we came in from earlier.
Back to the hydro-electric installation, which should have been carried out in 2018 according to this article from 2017 in one of the local newspapers: https://www.newsandstar.co.uk/news/16698530.10m-hydro-power-schemes-for-cumbria/ so the timeline obviously slipped a bit. Anyway after a four year hiatus the installation is under way and this section looks to be nearing completion as the ‘blending in’ work with local stone shows.
The large and very long pipeline which presumably will eventually return the water back into Watendlath Beck and …..
….. what looks like a fallen tree, over on the left, is more of the pipeline dropping down the hill …..
….. to where the beck awaits. It was difficult to make out exactly how everything fitted together given that equipment and other stuff was strewn all over the place but eventually it will blend into the landscape and will be hardly noticeable. This area looked to be the site HQ.
We leave all the upheaval behind and carry on down the road enjoying the sunshine and the view of Ether Knott over on the left.
Further on we have a sunny view, for the time being, of Goat Crags. The cloud continues to build.
Reecastle Crag in full sun …..
….. but they became a little gloomier from the other side. They do look interesting though and possibly worth exploring for a couple of hours sometime.
Maiden Moor and Catbells come back into view as do the tops of the fells making up the Coledale Horseshoe just behind them. Even down at this level the north breeze has been in our faces since we left Watendlath and it was chilly enough to make us pleased that we hadn’t ventured out onto the fells today. It was only light breeze down here but the tissues were still having to work overtime.
The stone marking the summit of the road although the lettering could do with a lick of paint to make it a little more obvious and readable.
Back to Surprise View where things are rather brighter than they were when we were here earlier. Only the northerly breeze ruffles the water surface, the launches are still running but with a limited timetable until 24th November. Another limited service will be available on the 27th/28th November weekend with a couple of Father Christmas cruises (pre-booked online only) on 11th/12th December, after which they won’t be running again until February 2022. My thoughts return to the summer and how alive with activity Derwentwater was then, such a contrast as it now settles back into its winter rhythm.
The earth turns and the sun passes its high point as I take a look down at the shadows beginning to lengthen along the foot of Derwentwater. Its only early afternoon but daylight hours are short now and getting shorter daily. By the time we reach the winter solstice on 21/22 December we will be down to seven and a quarter hours of it, and that’s on a good day. When the cloud is down it will feel even less. Zooming in on the photo I noticed that the path from the ‘Chinese’ bridge is no longer underwater although some of the surrounding area still is. Brings to mind our aborted walk around Derwentwater back in October.
Dropping down the road now and making our way back to the car park with only about ten or fifteen minutes left of our walk and as I noticed the Skiddaw group forming a backdrop to the new house build below I thought it might be a suitable shot for the last photo of today’s walk. A short but sunny little stroll through some lovely autumnal woodland beside a sparkling beck which has been most enjoyable. Shorter days can often be quite gloomy but a walk on a sunny day definitely lifts one’s spirits quite considerably. Mentioning lifting the spirits reminded me to include the link to a video interview given by Riccardo Bosi. He is Australian and a former soldier in the Australian SAS who is determined to do something about the current state of affairs in his home country whose citizens have been subjected some very lengthy and often brutal restrictions and physical ill-treatment over the past 21 months. The video was put up on 19th November and in it he refers to the protests which were to take place throughout Australia the following day. His hope that the protests would be well attended were more than fulfilled when hundreds of thousands of Aussies turned out in all the major cities of Australia. So too did the citizens of many cities around the world as they took part in the 20th November world protest day, although anyone viewing only the established media outlets would never have known anything was taking place as these establishments somehow managed to forget to mention them. Being an ex SAS soldier he doesn’t mince his words and when the interviewer mentions that some people have suggested that Mr Bosi is ‘controlled opposition’ his response and his language become ‘colourful’ to say the least. If you are of a delicate disposition you may wish to move the video on a little when the interviewer mentions those words. The video last 57 minutes and here’s the link: https://rumble.com/vpgiau-ric-bosi-and-dave-oneegs-chat.html
I wonder if any of our ex SAS soldiers are in contact with Mr Bosi?
Update – Extra video added
A compilation of photos and videos of the world wide protests which took place around the weekend of 20th/21st November 2021, none of which saw the light of day on any of the mainstream media. Bear in mind that where violence occurs ‘agents provocateurs’ are often placed amongst the crowds to instigate it. Protest marches like this have been taking place in London on a regular basis since 2020, they haven’t been reported either. Viewing time 21 minutes.