A record number of 18 members gathered at the meeting point in clearing rain. The walk started out by going across two muddy fields and then onto grassy paths. In some places the tracks were very muddy as can be seen by the pictures. Along with the mud in places the wind which had kept the rain away picked up . After brief coffee and lunch stops, the final return leg was along the Ouse wash which was a challenging walk into a headwind that even the birds did not enjoy. The rain did stay away but returning down the road along the 16 foot drain we were battered by heavy rain and sleet shower with very poor visibility
Friday 20 March 2015. The mapping software on my old Netbook wasn’t working properly during this week’s walking holiday in Keswick and whilst I could find out the precise distance of each walk, I couldn’t find out the total ascents. After a 240 mile and over 4 hour drive, I’m now home and have been able to download the walks data and to ascertain the total ascents. I must say that I was staggered to discover what they are and can now understand why my legs ached so much.
Naismith’s Rule can be used to calculate the time taken for any given walk. There are some variations on this rule to allow for a normal walking pace of 2.5 or 3 mph to which 30 minutes should be added for each 1,000ft of ascent. Using this rule, our 7.15 mile Haystacks walk with 3,143ft of ascent should have taken 4hrs 25mins plus the time taken for refreshment breaks. The walks leaflet that we used as a guide suggested that it would take only 3hrs 27mins which I consider to be more than a little optimistic.
Again, using Naismith’s Rule our 7.5 mile walk up Ullock Pike with 3,268ft of ascent should have taken 4hrs 40mins plus breaks compared to the leaflets estimate of 3hrs 10mins and the Lodore Falls walk should have taken just over 4hrs compared to a leaflet time of 3hrs 15mins. Looking at the walks profiles, it is little wonder that we took longer to complete each walk than had been suggested.
I had considered stopping off on the way home to take in a walk up Dufton Pike but the weather this morning was grey and drizzly in stark contrast to the 3 dry days that we had just enjoyed walking in the Lakes. Each of the walks had their own attractions but yesterday’s walk on a lovely sunny day will take some beating. I make no apology for showing the picture of the Herdy once again as it was one of our favourites from this wonderful holiday.
Thursday 19 March 2015. I decided that we should do a slightly easier walk for the last day of this holiday so we only had a short drive down Borrowdale to the Bowder Stone car park. On the way, I nearly ran over a Red Squirrel as it ran out to the edge of the road but luckily it doubled back and avoided being squashed.
Our 8 mile walk with around 1,500ft of ascent started with a short road walk back to the village of Grange. From here we picked up the route of the Cumbria Way for a short distance and then crossed just below the southern end of Derwent Water. Passing behind the LodoreFalls hotel we had a climb of 450ft up the side of the waterfalls to Ladder Brow. This had both of us sweating, again, and we took a well earned coffer break in the sunshine.
The next couple of miles followed a lovely little path beside Watendlath Beck where we came across a flock of Herdy’s. The NT café at Watendlath provided an ideal lunch stop as we sunbathed and fed the birds with crumbs from our sandwiches.
Suitably refreshed, we mad our way up Pudding Bank and then on the diversion to Brund Fell. The extra climb of 300ft was well worth it as we had a 360 degree view of Lakeland at its best. To the north we could see as far a Skiddaw with its rapidly melting snow cap. To the east we could see the Helvellyn range which had retained more of its covering of snow. To the south we could see the hazy outline of the Scafells and to the west there was Maiden Moor and Dale Head.
From Brund Fell we had a gradual descent of 1,000ft to the Borrowdale road before walking past the Bowder Stone on the way back to the car. For me, this was the best walk of the holiday. It had great scenery, wasn’t too difficult and was undertaken with clear blue skies and warm spring sunshine.
Wednesday 18 March 2105. Today’s 7.5 mile walk had a little more ascent than yesterday with a total of around 2,600ft. Starting from the Dodd Wood car park we had a gentle start but this soon turned skyward as we headed up to The Edge leading to Ullock Pike. Although it was still quite cool the effort of climbing steeply had me perspiring profusely and Jacqui “glowing”. A stop to remove jackets was needed as we made our way up to the highest point of the walk on Carl Side at just over 2,400ft.
The strenuous ascent was made with snow covered Skiddaw as a constant backdrop. We had considered extending the walk to take in the summit of Skiddaw but this would have added a further 700ft of ascent and the snow covered path didn’t look too appealing without full winter gear.
We stopped part way down the descent from Carl Side for lunch and made our way down over 1,000ft to the foot of Dodd. An excursion to the summit of Dodd added a further 300ft of ascent to the walk but was worthwhile to tick-off another hill. The last 2 miles of the walk back to the car was on good wide forestry roads which came as a welcome relief from the rocky paths encountered previously.
We finished of the day with a visit to the recently opened Lakeland Distillery and a sample tasting of their Gin.
Tuesday 17 March 2015. The drive to today’s walk was “interesting” to say the least. Leaving Portinscale we headed towards Buttermere on what would have been a very narrow and twisting road. We hadn’t gone more than a couple of miles before discovering that the intended road through Stair and across the Newlands Beck was closed and we had to divert via Little Town. This took us down an ever narrowing lane before coming to a bridge which barely looked wide enough to accommodate my car. It was so narrow that Jacqui had to get out of the car and see me across the bridge so as to avoid scraping the side of my car on some very solid stone walls. It came as something of a relief when we finally picked up our intended route to Buttermere although this was little better than the roads that we had already encountered. Needless to say we didn’t come back this way after our walk and took the relatively safer route up the HonisterPass and back to Keswick along Borrowdale.
The walk started from Gatesgarth Farm where we were lucky enough to see a flock of Herdwick sheep being brought down from the hill. This was a nice coincidence as Jacqui and I went yesterday to see an exhibition of photographs featuring the Herdy’s and the countryside that they are reared upon. We walked across the head of Buttermere before starting the steady climb up to Hay Stacks via Scarth Gap. This section of the walk involved a climb of about 1,000ft to Scarth Gap where we stopped for coffee. This was needed as we then had to face a further climb/scramble of 400ft to the top of Hay Stacks where we had lunch looking across to Great Gable.
We made the obligatory visit to Innominate Tarn where AW’s ashes were scattered before heading for the Dubs Bothy and another climb of 600ft to Fleetwith Pike, enabling me to tick-off another Wainwright.
The descent (1,800ft) from Fleetwith Pike back to the car wasn’t too bad I to start with but much of it was on a very steep and rocky path which made for slow going. It took us the best part of 2 hours to come down and complete this 7.15 mile walk with a total ascent of nearly 2,500ft. The guide that we were using suggested that this walk could be completed in 3hrs 27min. I don’t know how they came up with this figure as it took us a total of 6hrs. We didn’t hang around or have any extended stops and although it was a relatively short walk, the ups & downs and rocky terrain meant that a minimum of 5hrs would be a more reasonable figure.
Sunday 15 March 2015. 9 walkers turned out for this 8.3 mile walk including Fiona who has just started walking with the group and Fran who was walking with us for this first time. Leaving Wells we headed inland to Holkham Hall where we stopped for coffee. From here, we walked briefly alongside the lake and through HolkhamPark where we encountered the resident deer herd. We now headed for the coast and a bracing walk along the beach at HolkhamBay. Crossing in front of the many beach huts we turned the corner at the lifeboat station to stop for lunch in the vicinity of the nearby café. From here we had a mile or so to walk alongside the harbour before heading up through the town and back to the cars.
Sunday 8 March 2015. After a week of largely solo hill walking in the Yorkshire Dales it made a change to be back to walking with the group on much easier terrain. It was gratifying that 15 walkers, including a few guests from other local groups, turned out for today’s 7.4 mile walk from Hockham. It makes the effort of finding new walks all the more worthwhile.
Much of the route was through the margins of Thetford Forest or The Brecks and the first leg took us to Illington where we stopped for coffee. From here we followed the course of a small stream on the forest edge into Stonebridge and then picked up the Peddars Way for a mile or so to Hockham Heath where we stopped for lunch.
The last leg of the walk took us a little further along Peddars Way before turning off through Cranberry Wood to cross the line of the Great Eastern Pingo Trail. After a mile or so of more forest walking were back at the cars. The route included a massive(?) height gain of 370ft. The walk was undertaken in spring-like weather conditions and was well timed as it started to rain on my drive home.