Walk date – 9th December 2019
Distance – 9.4 miles
Weather – mostly rather cloudy with occasional sunshine, and a very cold and strong northwesterly wind
I can’t really look back at this walk as anything other than a disaster, although perhaps that’s too strong a word given that the world didn’t come to an end, neither of us came to harm, and the weather was reasonable. The disaster only became apparent when we were back home and I downloaded the photos from the camera onto the laptop. As I made a cursory scroll through the images I saw a very dramatic change in their appearance with a corresponding sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. A day’s worth of shots and three quarters of them totally ruined and unusable. But why, for heaven’s sake? It worked without a hiccup all the time I was using it, the card wasn’t full, the battery didn’t run out, and its a new camera so something can’t have gone wrong so soon, can it? On close inspection of the camera I saw to my horror that the indicator on the mode dial was pointing to ‘Effects”, a setting I never use, never have done and never will on any camera that provides it, because as far as I’m concerned the whole range of effects offered in this setting is quite unnecessary and totally lacking in any kind of appeal. So how had the mode dial ended up on this setting? As I looked back and considered just where the change had occurred I think I may have discovered a reason although it is difficult to be absolutely certain. My initial response was to bin the whole lot and not bother doing a walk report. However, Its not in my nature to give up and after thinking things over I decided I would discard all those that were absolutely too far gone and upload the remainder, the first few of which are ‘Before Effects’ and the remainder being the more recognisable ones of the ‘After Effects’ debacle. Anyway, when that tipping point is reached I’ll explain further. On a more positive note the gps software and J’s updated laptop are now back on speaking terms so at least I can offer a total mileage and a decent route map. Swings and roundabouts eh?
Glenridding – Greenside Road – Glenridding Beck path – Raise zig-zags – White Side – Raise – Sticks Pass – Greenside Mine – Stang End – Greenside Road – Glenridding
It all started off well enough, with a bright sunny morning and just a little chilliness in the air. We won’t feel the full effects of the strong wind until we break out onto the col between White Side and Raise so for the moment things are pleasantly enjoyable. There weren’t many vehicles in the car park, maybe less than a dozen, and the latterly arrived occupants of one of them were still getting their gear together with ‘Helvellyn here we come’ written all over them. Birkhouse Moor is just catching its first rays of the morning.
Apart from a couple of delivery vans doing their rounds there was nobody at all on the Greenside Road track so we had it all to ourselves. Lots of cloud up ahead which seems to be moving along quite quickly so hopes are high that things will be clear enough for us on White Side and Raise when we get there.
Looking ahead towards Stang and a snowy Raise as we head for the Greenside Mine.
Further up the Greenside Road and we get a welcome burst of sunshine. Guess where the bulk of the cloud is today? Right where we’re heading!
One of the blocks of residential accommodation provided by the Bury Jubilee Outdoor Pursuits Centre, the other block is out of shot on the left. No-one around today though.
Swart Beck in full flow after all the rain we’ve been having recently, and every other stream, beck and gill was exactly the same. Some of the run-off didn’t even have the decency to find itself a proper beck and simply streamed willy-nilly over the grassy slopes.
We keep to the right of Glenridding Beck, also in full flow as you can see, the path beyond the bridge leads up to Red Tarn and from there onto whichever of the fells up there takes your fancy. With many walkers Helvellyn will probably be their destination via this route.
We keep to the high road and head on up towards Keppel Cove, although the lower path will also lead on into Keppel Cove. You pays your money, you takes your pick.
A snowy Catstycam ahead of us, its top smothered by the cloud bank from time to time, as we make our way up the track. Its quite a long walk up and the scenery doesn’t change much so it can feel like a bit of a trudge. Today it meant that we were out of the wind which is why we opted for it.
J gives a cheery wave as I take a look back at Sheffield Pike, in the sunshine like everywhere else, apart from where we’re heading of course.
Climbing up the zig-zag path on Raise at this point with a look over towards the broken dam in Keppel Cove. Beyond it the fell tops above Brown Cove are swathed in cloud.
A few steps later and the ridge line above Brown Cove is clear once again. That was to be a permanent state of affairs on the Helvellyn range today with heavy and intermittent cloud continually drifting across the tops.
White Side in the centre of the shot as we continue the slog up the zig-zags, parts of which are very steep while other parts are less so. Its a well made path but just a little inconsistent in its gradients. J leans into the task as I take the shot.
Further up the track and the tops of Catstycam, Helvellyn and Lower Man become clearer at last …..
….. although you might have to squint a bit to spot the very top of Lower Man in this close-up. We’re just about on the very last of the zig-zags at this point but it is quite a long and steepish pull up to the ridge line. It was on this section of the path that we met another walker, and his dog, coming down towards us.
After ‘Effects’ …..
Warning – some viewers may find the following images distressing, as I did! Feel my pain!
The walker on the path below is the one I’ve just mentioned who was coming towards us on this path. As he stopped for a chat his dog decided to pay me some attention just as I was putting the camera away after taking the previous shot. The marked difference between these two shots makes me think that this might have been where the mode dial got nudged into the Effects position as I pushed the dog and its unwanted attentions away from me. I wish dog owners would consider the fact that not everyone loves their dog as much as they do, or wants them jumping up and slobbering all over them. Anyway we finished our chat, the walker began running down the zig-zags in pursuit of his dog, and we stayed where we were for a couple of minutes while I took a few more photos. We had another burst of sunlight which lit up the surrounding views very nicely so naturally I clicked away completely unaware that I was now taking shots in the Effects mode. All the shots from now on are in this mode so are not very appealing although it is possible to identify what’s what. So here goes …..
….. looking across Stang End towards Place Fell, across the middle, …..
….. sunshine on Sheffield Pike …..
….. Heron Pike and Glenridding Dodd to the left, Place Fell centre, and Birkhouse Moor on the right …..
….. a little more of Birkhouse Moor, and one of the zig-zag sections just below us …..
….. another look back as we begin to reach the snow line …..
….. and finally we reach the col and walk straight into the strong, biting wind just as we knew we would. Apart from us there was only one other walker, a young woman with her dog, making her way up White Side. Conditions underfoot were extremely icy in places.
On the way up White Side and a pause to look back at Raise, the path coming in from the right is the one we’ve just arrived from. The wind is very strong and cold and progress is slow and difficult in the teeth of it.
On White Side summit and a view from the cairn back towards Raise. The ground and the snow are frozen hard and the solo lady walker and her dog have just left to walk back over to Raise.
Great Dodd, Stybarrow Dodd and Raise from White Side where its now just the two of us.
Despite the chill I take a few more shots while the sun is out with a look across towards Catstycam, High Spying How and Helvellyn, this was the only one of several which wasn’t completely useless …..
….. eventually we carefully descended the frozen path back to the col. All the snow patches on the path and the grass were frozen solid with no giving way under our feet, plenty of sheer ice patches too but could be avoided fairly easily, but with some care nevertheless.
Crossing the col and heading up Raise where I took another look across to Catstycam and Helvellyn where both Swirral Edge and Striding Edge can be identified.
Ice filled footpaths on the way over to Raise so we keep to the frozen grass instead. The wind is now over to the left and doing its best to hurl us down the slopes on the right. The sun might be out but its quite weak and there’s no warmth in it at all. The solo lady walker has just crested the rise and disappeared from our view so its just the two of us again.
The summit cairn on Raise, everything is completely iced over and the wind isn’t letting up one bit so …..
….. a quick summit shot where J gives us a cheery wave once more …..
….. and then we’re off down Raise’s very icy north facing path and making our way down to Sticks Pass …..
….. with a lovely view of Ullswater on the way down. It would have been lovelier had the camera not been in the Effects mode, grrr.
The view back up to Raise from the marker cairn at the Sticks Pass junction. I have no idea what is going on to the right of the shot, all that whitish area definitely isn’t snow. If you peer hard enough you’ll be able to pick out J coming down the path.
A much anticipated turn down Sticks Pass where we’ll eventually lose the battering we’re taking from the wind. Ahead of us Sheffield Pike is once again bathed in sunshine, we won’t be getting any of that as we drop down into the shady and chilly side of the valley.
The tops of Green Side and Sheffield Pike are longingly gazed at as we descend deeper into the chiller.
Another view from the long walk back down the valley, on the plus side we are out of the battering wind at last.
Back amongst the spoil heaps on the valley floor now where I took a look back at Raise and the Sticks Pass route.
Plenty of blue sky and sunshine still to be had over on Green Side and beyond …..
….. but our ration of sun is pretty much over and done with for the day since the cloud and the higher fells around us are hiding it from us. We make our way down to Stang End …..
….. and pause briefly for a look down along the valley below …..
….. and then the steady tramp down the Greenside Road back to …..
….. Glenridding and the end of our walk. Obviously I didn’t know at this point the huge disappointment which lay in wait for me when I got back home and we walked through Glenridding commenting on the good day we’d had despite the strength of the wind and only enjoying fleeting moments of sunshine. So, that’s today’s walk and the ‘warts and all’ photos, and I’ll be keeping a very close eye on that Mode Dial in future, especially if any dogs come bounding anywhere near me.