Friday, 12 July 2013

A Lake District Road Trip

The eighth and final volume of Mark Richards’ Fellranger guidebooks has just been published by Cicerone with the majority of his 227 “Fellrangers” being either a Wainwright or an Outlying Fell.  But one of the few exceptions is the lowly Wallowbarrow Crag in the Duddon Valley.  I’ve climbed here on a few occasions but never stood on the summit despite a couple of top-outs being very close.  A simple hour’s walk gave me the “tick” and served as an easy warm-up for the day.

Harter Fell, BowFell & Crinkle Crags from Wallowbarrow Crag

On the hottest day of the year so far, I drove north over the Dunnerdale fells, through Coniston and Ambleside and via the western Thirlmere road to arrive at the Old Sawmill Tearoom at the bottom of Dodd.  I took advantage of the steadily rising forest road to quickly gain height, soon reaching the tree-line.  I had last been on Dodd in 1994 but that was in the days of complete conifer coverage.  More recent times have seen the top of the fell being cleared of trees leaving a clear view from the top – something previously not available for a person of average height !

Although I had ticked Dodd before, I just wanted to walk up it again in its new guise before completing my round of Wainwrights and it made a welcome distraction from my recent campaign of ticking previously unvisited summits.  I took the green track as recommended in the Fellranger guidebook which leads to a super viewpoint overlooking the Lake District’s only lake.  I heard a branch cracking in amongst the trees and edged my way to the track’s edge to spot a Roe deer, which decided to avoid my gaze by bounding off into the woods.

From the viewpoint, a clearly worn but narrow path winds its way amongst the stumps and felled tree trunks up the northwest ridge.  Although it was hazy, the summit afforded a magnificent southern view of many of Lakeland’s major peaks.  I took the more orthodox way down on a good path and then the forest roads to make a very quick descent.

Driving to Patterdale from the A66 is one of the great routes of the district, leading eventually to the Kirkstone Pass.  A busy car park (and pub !) greeted me at the start of the route up to Caudale Moor.  Almost 25 years had passed since I walked up here in less than ideal December conditions with my polytechnic room-mate Andy and although I have claimed the tick, a thought in the back of my mind had long been nagging me that we may not have visited the actual summit, despite there being no nearby ground above us.

Atkinson Memorial, John Bell's Banner

I soon passed the scramble up to St Raven’s Edge, chatting to a Geordie about the stifling heat and then a Scouser who was waiting for his friends to catch him up.  The wall led unerringly uphill and I cut across to the monument on John Bell’s Banner before reaching the minor summit of the moor.  A simple stroll past the tarn led to Stony Cove Pike and the summit cairn, stated as the summit by both wainwright and the Database of British and Irish Hills.

Froswick, Ill Bell & Yoke

Stony Cove Pike summit

At last, on this glorious summer’s day when Andy Murray became the first Briton to win the Wimbledon men’s singles championship for 77 years, I could lay my Caudale Moor doubts to rest !