Thursday 22 March 2018. I entered full tourist mode today with a visit to Beatrix Potter’s Hill Top House at Near Sawrey. This entailed the use of the car ferry across Lake Windermere (£4.40 each way) in order to avoid a longer drive through Ambleside and Hawkshead. My Scottish National Trust membership expires at the end of the month so I thought that I’d take advantage of this by parking at Hill Top, visiting the house and then going for a walk nearby.
Non-NT members are required to pay £12 to visit the house which has just 3 rooms on the ground floor and 4 rooms upstairs. There is no on-site tea room so my visit lasted all of 10 minutes. Hardly value for money although the thousands of Chinese and Japanese visitors must think it worthwhile.
It was a grey overcast day with a chilly strong breeze blowing which made my mind up to give the walk a miss. I did it last year in warm spring sunshine and didn’t want to spoil good memories by freezing today. I can do the walk when staying in Torver during August when it will be a little warmer.
Wednesday 21 March 2018. It got down to -7 last night so it was still pretty chilly when I started my walk from nearby Beetham. I had deserted the Lake District National Park in favour of Arnside & Silverdale AONB and wasn’t disappointed. I was following a route outlined as “Beetham Heritage Walk” which suggested that it would be 7 miles. Whilst I made a couple of minor alterations, I was surprised that it turned out to be only 5 miles with a total ascent of 700ft.
Much of this walk was in woodland and on limestone outcrops which added to the interest. I wasn’t expecting to find large expanses of limestone pavement similar to that found around Malham in the Yorkshire Dales but this came as a very pleasant surprise. The other highlight of the walk was the “Fairy Steps”. As can be seen from the picture these lead down to the foot of a limestone cliff. It looked like a tight squeeze and my route meant that I would be going down them. All a little too difficult for me so I opted for an easier bypass to get to the foot of the steps. Folk-lore has it that if you can climb the steps without touching the sides, then you will see a Fairy. I doubt that I could even get through the narrow gap so I had no chance of seeing the elusive fairy.
More woodland walking followed before I finished by passing through a deer park with a magnificent group of stags.
Beetham – walk route
Tuesday 20 March 2018. Just 8 weeks after my heart attack I returned to finish the walk that almost saw me off. I caught the bus from Ings to Grasmere and started the walk a little later than usual at 11am. Passing the hotel that I stayed at, The Grand at Grasmere, I continued along Red Bank road and through Red Bank Wood to arrive at the end of Loughrigg Terrace. It was here, on my heart attack walk, that I decided that I couldn’t do any more and returned to my hotel. It was the best decision I’ve ever made!
Today, I seemed to be back to normal although making the odd stop to catch my breath due to a lack of fitness. The second picture shows something of the climb that lay ahead of me to get to the top of Loughrigg Fell. It only just tops 1,000ft but felt much higher as it was steps all of the way. No sooner had I reached the trig point than it was time to descend, just as steeply, towards Loughrigg Tarn. It would have been nice to have a level walk back to Ambleside but my route included many more ups and downs before finishing at about 3pm, just in time to catch the 3:19 bus back to Ings.
The walk, which was just 5.5 miles, had a total ascent of 1,428ft. For me, this was a tough walk and just about as much as I can manage at the moment. However, it was reassuring to know that I was able to complete the walk with no ill-effects.
Loughrigg Fell – walk route
Monday 19 March 2018. Although it was a bright sunny morning, the bitter east wind was still blowing strongly so, rather than doing Loughrigg Fell, I decided to stay a little lower by doing another of my favourite Lake District walks.
I drove the short distance to Ings where I parked the car and then caught the bus to the Brockhole Vistor Centre on the shore of Lake Windermere. From here the next mile and a half was all steadily uphill until joining Robin Lane which runs out of Troutbeck towards Ambleside. The views from here are spectacular taking in much of Lake Windermere and the fells right round from Coniston Old Man and Wetherlam, across Crinkle Crags to Bowfell, and Great End.
This is a popular route and despite it being a cold Monday morning there were many walkers with the same idea as me. Passing through Skelghyll Woods the path eventually took me into the centre of Ambleside from where I caught the bus back to Ings. Although the walk was only 4 miles it included a total ascent of over 800ft.
Robin Lane – walk route
Sunday 18 March 2018. It only started to snow at about 4pm yesterday but this didn’t really matter as I’d already made the decision to spend the weekend watching sport on tv.
I awoke this morning to find a good covering of snow; about an inch or so with flurries still blowing about on the wind. I’d brought a thermal jacket with me for my external water tank but didn’t fit it, thinking that it wouldn’t get too cold. I was lucky as there was a layer of ice floating on the water inside my aquaroll, but the pipework hadn’t frozen solid and I was still able to use the caravan shower. I’m not risking it again and the thermal jacket is now securely in place until it gets a little warmer.
I hoping that the snow will melt at lower elevations over the next 24 hours leaving a good covering on the tops. If this is the case then I might give Loughrigg Fell a try tomorrow as it was here that I had my heart attack just 8 weeks ago. Watch this space!
Friday 16 March 2018. It was a cold grey morning so I decided to combine photography with walking instead of doing anything too long. I drove down Great Langdale and parked (for free) at the NT car park near the New Dungeon Ghyll hotel. From here there was only one way and that was up. I hadn’t really planned the walk. If I was feeling good I might go up to Stickle Tarn and if I was feeling really good, I could take in some of the Langdale Pikes.
Erring on the side of caution I decided, after half a mile of walking but 500ft of ascent, to turn round and follow my tracks back to the car. I could have pushed myself as far as the Tarn but there was 600ft more to climb to get there.
I stopped several times on the way up to practice waterfall photography, changing the exposure time starting with 1 second which overexposed the image. I then progressively reduced this to around 0.2 or 0.25 seconds which produced the optimum results. On the way up I encountered a group of school children who were ghyll scrambling. I felt sorry for them as the water must have been freezing.
Stickle Ghyll – walk route