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I met up with Michelle, my walking partner for the day, in the car park at Nant Gwynant. It had been a tiring drive but I was eager to get on up into the mountains. The object of today was to explore yet another route up to Snowdon via the smaller mountain of Yr Aran. The weather forecast was promising but, at this point, I wasn’t to know just how good it was going to turn out to be. After kitting up, we headed up towards the Watkin path.

The Watkin Path

The Watkin Path was first conceived by Edward Watkin, a railway owner, and was originally designed as a donkey track. It was opened in 1892 by the fourth-time Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone. As well as being the most demanding path to Snowdon’s summit on account of it starting at the lowest elevation out of all the popular paths, it’s also described as one of the prettiest. The path was apparently used in the filming of ‘Carry On up the Khyber’. Not being a fan of the Carry On films, that didn’t really mean an awful lot to me.

Despite it being an incredibly well defined and well-used path, I still somehow ended up going wrong near the beginning. I somehow managed to leave the path on its left not long after starting and ascended steeply through woodland. The track I was leading us up became less and less defined as we progressed until eventually, it faded out completely around the area of a large stagnant pool. Instead of backtracking, I decided to continue and attempt to circle back down towards the Watkin Path. We were now in uncharted territory as we waded through long grass and navigated a couple of crags. I could see Yr Aran and contemplated attacking it from this angle before deciding instead to get back down to the Watkin Path and get back on route. Eventually, the path came into view at the bottom of a grassy slope so we made a beeline towards it.

My wrong turning led to this pool
Navigating back to the Watkin Path
The path now visible ahead

The weather had really improved dramatically… the sun was out, the sky was blue, and I was sweltering and overdressed. This was t-shirt weather in the mountains in November! The scenery around the Watkin Path in Cwm Llan is beautiful. There are waterfalls, abandoned slate quarries, derelict stone buildings, and all surrounded by some majestic looking mountains.

On the Watkin Path
Old ruins by Afon Cwm Llan
Another old building
Micro hydro-electric plant
Yr Aran

Once we had circled around Clogwyn Brith, we left the path and headed off up the slopes on the left, loosely towards the disused quarries. We aimed for an area on the ridge between Clogwyn Brith and the Yr Aran Summit, and before long a faint track appeared that led us up to our destination. On the top of the ridge, a wall guided us to Yr Aran. Whilst walking, we saw a helicopter land briefly on the top of Yr Aran, and we hoped that nobody was too badly injured up there. Eventually, we veered away from the wall so that we could claim the Yr Aran summit. The views all around us were astounding. Snowdon and the south ridge was to the north. To the north-east was an extremely impressive view across Cwm Llan towards Y Lliwedd. Directly west was the Nantle Ridge (still on my to-do list), and south-west looked towards Moel Hebog (another on the list).

Approaching Yr Aran
Looking across Cwm Llan
Looking back along Yr Aran’s east ridge
View towards Mynydd Mawr and the Nantlle Ridge

We retraced our footsteps back down to the wall then followed a path down to Bwlch Cwm Llan. Though it was a sunny day, many of the rocks underfoot were greasy. We had to be extra careful as some of them were as slippery as ice. We wondered if this was the cause of the accident that had the helicopter out only a short time earlier. Eventually, we reached the large pool by the disused quarry and readied ourselves for the final section. The quality of rock from this point forward improved and it wasn’t quite so treacherous underfoot.

A pool at Bwlch Cwm Llan
Straight ahead to Allt Maenderyn
Allt Maenderyn and Snowdon

The section began with a very brief scramble on sound rock before turning into a steep walk up the ridge of Allt Maenderyn (aka Snowdon south ridge). The path continued along the top of the Clogwyn Du cliffs before merging with the Rhyd-Ddu path that crosses the Llechog ridge to the west. Finally, we crossed the airy and atmospheric Bwlch Main and enjoyed the wonderful views of Cwm Llan once more. All that remained was the steep walk up the slope to Snowdon’s summit.

A brief little scramble
Looking back to Yr Aran
View towards Moel Cynghorion
The final climb to the summit

There was another walker on the summit who was just leaving. This was the first person we had encountered since leaving the Watkin Path much earlier. The long shadows cast by the late winter sun added to the beauty. We could have stayed a little longer but daylight hours were rapidly running out. I wanted to make sure we’d at least navigated the steep path down towards Bwlch Ciliau before darkness fell. As we descended, a mist arose above Llyn Llydaw and threatened to flow over the Bwlch Ciliau ridge. Fortunately, it didn’t rise any higher and visibility remained excellent.

The summit is in sight
Look, no queues!
Snowdon’s summit toposcope
A seagull enjoys the evening sun
A mist starting to rise from Llyn Lydaw

We found the Watkin Path on the right, just before the ascent to Y Lliwedd begins, and followed it steeply down the slopes. Not long after this point, it became dark proper and the torches came out. It was a shame as there was no doubt still plenty of scenery to see. The path remained steep as far as the quarries. Once past that point, it was easy walking back to the car. Due to the darkness we, unfortunately, missed the famous Gladstone Rock. This was the rock that Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone stood upon to address a crowd of over 1,500 back in 1892 when he opened the path.

Looking back at Snowdon from the Watkin Path
Moon over Y Lliwedd
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Crowden Clough is always a fun day out for children, especially during a dry spell where they can climb the dried up waterfalls directly. My older two children, Sam and Luke, were visiting for the week and wanted to do something that involved a bit of climbing rather than simply walking. They’d both done Crowden Clough before and enjoyed it so I decided on a revisit.

The last time we did the route, we first ascended Grindsbrook before dropping down the western slopes of Grindslow Knoll to Crowden Clough. This time we decided to skip Grindsbrook and head straight to the excitement. We started at Edale and set off along the Pennine Way. It was a gloriously sunny day but there was still a bit of a chill in the air at the time of setting off.

The path follows a stream for a short while before reaching a fork. The right-hand fork heads up to Grindslow Knoll. The left hand is the Pennine Way and crosses pastureland – eventually ascending up to Kinder Scout via Jacob’s Ladder. We weren’t to go that far. At Upper Booth Farm, a bridge is crossed over Crowden Brook. The footpath that leads up Crowden Clough is immediately on the right.

On the Pennine Way from Edale
…and again

The lower part of Crowden Clough is easy walking and, on a sunny day like this, extremely picturesque. It’s only in the higher section that it becomes a little more exciting with rock hopping, stream crossing, and waterfall climbing. For the less nimble, or for those just wishing to take things a little easier, a path on the left gradually climbs away from the clough and towards Crowden Tower just before the difficulties start.

Climbing steps from the Crowden Brook bridge
Easy walking to start with
A picturesque waterfall
Getting closer to the fun bit

The kids naturally had no intention of taking any easy option and they took their time, leaving no boulder unclimbed on their mission to the top. The climax of the route was a large steep waterfall. In wet weather, there’s usually far too much water coming down to climb directly. Instead, it’s usually ascended via the wall just to the left of the waterfall. This is how I’ve always tackled it before, but on this occasion we were lucky and the brook had dried up enough to allow the waterfall to be scrambled up directly.

The rock hopping starts
Navigating a small waterfall
Sam about to take a leap
More waterfalls
Navigating large boulders
The highlight of the route

Once up, there are a few smaller easier waterfalls to navigate before the top is reached – the top being the point where the Kinder edge path crosses.

Before continuing, we couldn’t help but notice the interesting large rock formation ahead. I hadn’t investigated this before so we decided to go and have a look. From a distance, it didn’t look particularly climbable for kids but, upon closer inspection, it was a nice little playground that kept the kids busy for another twenty minutes.

The top of Crowden Clough
Looking along Kinder Scouts edge path

After finishing on the rocks, we headed back to the edge path and followed it east to Grindslow Knoll before taking the easy descent path back to Edale. By this time, the chill had totally disappeared from the air and we all felt like we were roasting. Sam had even taken his t-shirt off!

Heading towards Grindslow Knoll
On top of Grindslow Knoll
Warm for some but not others!
Fantastic view of Edale
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Outdoor Adventures with Children – Lake District‘ is a new guidebook from Cicerone Press detailing 40 family days with under 12’s exploring, biking, scrambling, and much more. The book is written by Carl McKeating and Rachel Crolla who, between them, have written a number of other books for Cicerone including the new revision of ‘Scrambles in Snowdonia‘ and ‘Cycling the Way of the Roses‘. My kids and I joined Carl and Rachel to test out a couple of the routes, and I can vouch that they had a fantastic time. I managed to get back in touch with the pair of them for a brief question and answer session about the new book…

Q1: What inspired you to write Outdoor Adventures with Children?

Carl: Obviously having two kids ourselves was a key factor. To be honest, we were really surprised that there was not an equivalent to this book. It was a bit like when we wrote Europe’s High Points: Reaching the summit of Every Country in Europe, we wanted to buy a guide book that did not yet exist so we thought we better write it! Rachel has been particularly driven by the societal value of this book, you know, her desire to change the world for the better – this one is definitely her brainchild.

Rachel: Well I kept hearing news reports about ‘nature deficit disorder‘ and how kids these days are glued to screens and supposedly getting fatter and lazier; getting outside less and having more mental health problems. I’m also a primary school teacher and I’ve worked in both inner city and rural schools. So I believe it has given me some perspective. I’m a big fan of getting children outside and having adventures, getting fit and playing in the great outdoors because I’ve seen first-hand how much children and parents get out of it. This book hopefully will inspire parents and children, but importantly it really facilitates family adventures by giving parents all the information they need to go out and do something inspirational with their kids. I am proud of this book because parents will know that these routes are clear, reliable and have been tried and tested by real families. Above all they have been given the thumbs up by the harshest of critics – the under twelves! Getting outdoors is not always an easy sell is it?

Approaching the summit of the highest peak in England
© Carl McKeating & Rachel Crolla
Full of beans on the way up Loughrigg
© Carl McKeating & Rachel Crolla

Q2: What would you say to any parents out there who want to get their kids into the outdoors, but can’t get them off their iPads?

Rachel: There are ways. My instinct is to say – and I’m going to sound like an unfashionably strict teacher here – take the Ipads off them and remind them that you’re in charge; don’t give them a choice about whether they want to go out or not and they’ll quickly discover you were right all along and the outdoors is a whole lot more fun than Minecraft! Obviously, sometimes that is easier said than done. To be honest though, technology does not have to be the enemy; it can also be your road to success. I know some parents who were keen to get their children to go on hikes and so on, but were finding it an uphill struggle until they discovered geocaching. Geocaching is essentially treasure hunting for kids. You use a free smartphone app that functions on a GPS system and usually has clues. With phone in hand you go on a hike tracking down hidden treasure (well, Tupperware boxes filled with tiny ‘swapsy’ trinkets!). It sounds ridiculous, but it really works to get techy kids enjoying the outdoors. For younger kids, rebranding a ‘boring’ walk as an ‘adventure’ or ‘going exploring’ works really well. Failing that, there’s just good old fashioned bribery!

Carl: Yeah, I used to be a secondary school teacher. I lost count of the amount of times kids thanked you afterwards for getting them to do something they thought they didn’t want to do. Sure, it can be hard for them to try something unfamiliar, but then are we as adults any different? If children climb a mountain or complete a bike ride, you can be certain that even if they found it difficult at the time they’ll be really proud of it afterwards and will want to tell their friends all about it.

Great traffic free cycling in Great Langdale
© Carl McKeating & Rachel Crolla

Q3: What adventures do you remember having in your own childhood?

Rachel: My parents were quite outdoorsy. When my mum was eight months pregnant with me she had to help my dad down Scafell because he’d twisted his ankle. So it’s in the blood really. I went to the Lake District a lot as a child and remember doing some of the adventures in this book myself. I particularly enjoyed taking a blow-up rubber dinghy out on some of the lakes. Thankfully there are still a lot of the lakes which allow public access for swimming and boating – it’s all in the book!

Carl: It’s funny, I had traditional working class parents from inner city backgrounds and I used to think I had grown up without really accessing the world of outdoor pursuits. Looking back now I realise the opposite was true. We used to go out and play on the local gritstone outcrops in Yorkshire – Almscliff, Ilkley Moor, places like that. And while I thought we were just mucking about playing hide and seek or soldiers or whatever, it was all scrambling and even rock climbing without ropes – we just didn’t know it. Even today I laugh at my parents’ attitude to risk: some of the stuff we used to blithely clamber up I now know are graded rock climbs – in retrospect, it was total madness! I was in cubs and scouts; at that time they did crazy outdoors stuff that would turn a health and safety inspector ghost-white. Most of all I remember a week-long school trip to the Lake District where ours was the only class that had army instructors. Those nutters let me do forward abseiling: it was fun, terrifying fun – but that was total madness too!

Navigating to Wild Cat Island on Coniston Water
© Carl McKeating & Rachel Crolla

Q4: Who is the book aimed at?

Rachel: Primarily the book is aimed at outdoorsy parents who want the best ideas about routes that will work to keep the whole family entertained. It’s for people who want to do a range of outdoors activities like camping, scrambling, going to caves, kayaking and biking. That said, this book will also work for parents who might not be sure they are outdoorsy – it’s for the converted and the yet to be converted!

Treasure hunter finding a geocache
© Carl McKeating & Rachel Crolla

Q5: How did you decide which routes to put in?

Rachel: Not too tricky, we know the Lakes really well. We also did a lot of consulting other parents and asking about their experiences and what things they’re kids had enjoyed in particular. We were keen to ensure a wide range of activities and to make sure the majority of routes had options for families with younger and older children. In the end we have a mix of classics and off-the-beaten-track places. We kept the routes within the grasp of under-12s. At the harder end you’ve got routes that we tested with your sons, like the Corridor Route on Scafell Pike. We also tested out Jack’s Rake on Pavey Ark with them because we knew they were strong scramblers with good mountain instincts. While Jack’s Rake was a potential route for older kids, it was deemed in the end just that bit too hairy to recommend in this book, even for older fairly experienced kids.

Descending to the tremendous falls at Aira Force
© Carl McKeating & Rachel Crolla
Jack’s Rake was deemed to be too extreme for inclusion in the book
© Carl McKeating & Rachel Crolla

Q6: How does the grading system work?

Rachel: We went with a ‘ski run’ system. Green routes are for everyone, blues for those wanting a bit more challenge. The idea is that you build experience on the greens and blues before tackling the red and black routes. Most of the harder routes have easier options too. That said, a green or blue route is not just for beginners, it will be enjoyed at any age.

Q7: Will there be similar books following for other areas?

Carl: We’re hoping so. As we live on the border of the Yorkshire Dales National Park that’s the next logical area. Then the Hillexplorer site is a mine of useful information about the Peak District and of course, we’re always keen to get back to Wales, where we worked on Scrambles in Snowdonia… they’re in the pipeline!

‘Outdoor Adventures with Children – Lake District’ was published on the 11th April 2019, and will be available directly from Cicerone Press themselves, or alternatively from any number of other book retailers.

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The day before this walk, I completed the Fairfield Horseshoe in glorious weather. That night, as darkness fell and I sat in my car preparing to snooze, the thick fog rolled in. It was no surprise, the weather forecast that I’d been regularly checking had predicted as much, and the fog was here to stay all day. One thing was for sure – there would be no outstanding views on this walk.

Pike of Blisco

The walk started at the Old Dungeon Ghyll car park, a normally popular starting point for walks around the Langdale Pikes. It clearly wasn’t so popular on this morning as the car park was empty bar 2 cars, and I certainly wasn’t complaining about that as I love a quiet walk. From the car park, I headed south along an unnamed country lane that eventually led uphill towards Blea Tarn. After a short spell of walking, the lane briefly followed the line of Redacre Gill which signalled to me that my turning point was coming up soon. A footpath veered off on the right, following the line of Redacre Gill upwards towards its source. The footpath initially starts to the left of the gill before eventually crossing over to its right. I’ll be honest, this part of the walk was a real slog and it seemed to take a lifetime of walking and wheezing before the top was reached. To make matters worse, there’s at least 2 false summits on the way that do the usual job of dashing your hopes. And of course, there’s always at least one show-off fellrunner that overtakes you whilst you huff and puff, doing their best to make you look physically unfit to be on the hills.

The initial slog
Scrambling ahead on the Pike of Blisco

Visibility wasn’t too bad at the moment. It wasn’t good enough to see any surrounding mountains but good enough to see a decent distance in front and behind. And more importantly, it was dry. Eventually, the final slope to the summit of the Pike of Blisco was in sight. This section added a bit of interest to the route as the path became a series of easy mini-scrambles. The top was reached quickly and I soaked up the amazing views all around me of grey mist.

Somewhere on top of Pike of Blisco
The summit
Cold Pike

The route now headed initially south downhill before eventually turning to more of a westerly direction. The next stop was Cold Pike and it was just about visible through the mist as I made my way down the slope towards Red Tarn. The valley floor made a good place to stop for a breather before the next ascent.

Cold Pike from Pike of Blisco
Pike of Blisco from Cold Pike

The path continues on the opposite side of the valley but doesn’t ascend directly to Cold Pike. It instead passes it on its northern side. A detour needed to be made in order to bag the summit of Cold Pike but I unfortunately became a little disorientated in the mist and missed my turning off spot by some distance. This section unfortunately added a lot more time to my journey than I was intending. The map at the bottom shows my intended route. I was actually almost at Crinkle Crags before realising my error and backtracking. Eventually the summit of Cold Pike was reached, and again I was treated to occasional glimpses of nearby mountain tops through the mist. I imagine that the view from here would have been amazing on a clear day.

Cold Pike summit
Tops of mountains poking through the mist
Crinkle Crags

I apologise for all these photos looking a bit bland and similar. There really wasn’t much to capture apart from rock with a backdrop of mist. From Cold Pike, I headed back to Crinkle Crags and made my way up to the top of the first crinkle – named South Top. All of a sudden, the mist parted and I had a lovely clear view of the second crinkle ahead of me. I thought for a second that the mist was going to continue to disperse leaving the rest of the route clear. I was wrong. The view lasted for about 30 seconds before the mist came back in, thicker than ever. Visibility was now very poor and to make matters worse, the drizzle started. I made my way down from South Top to the supposed highlight of the route – the bad step! This is a small simple scramble that can be avoided by skirting around and following the path to the left. The bad step itself is navigated easily by climbing the wall on the right. Once up then it’s a brief walk to summit the second crinkle – Long Top.

The mist parts on Crinkle Crags
Navigating the ‘bad step’

I’d love to describe the rest of Crinkle Crags but unfortunately I could barely see a thing from this point on in the mist and drizzle. I lost my way a little bit on Long Top and ended up wandering west instead of north before realising my mistake. The plan from here on was to simply climb anything that looked high and hope that they included all the official summits on the crags. I’m confident I did that so I’m claiming them. I continued following the route north, gradually downhill over rocky terrain, until I arrived at the area on the map labelled ‘Three Tarns’. The original plan was to continue on to Bowfell and then Rossett Pike but daylight hours were running out fast. I decided to cut the walk short.

Somewhere on Crinkle Crags
Somewhere else on Crinkle Crags

I headed east from the three tarns down a steady track known as The Band. The track follows the ridge all the way back down to Langdale. As I descended, the mist started to thin out and I was rewarded with a view down into Oxendale to my left. It wasn’t much of a view due to the mist, but it was much better than what I’d gotten used to up on the top of Crinkle Crags. Eventually I arrived back at the car, just in time for darkness to fall. And after a tough day up mountains in the mist and drizzle, you just can’t beat following it with a quality 4 hour car journey back home again! OK, maybe not…

The path back to Langdale
Oxendale below
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Ringing Roger

I devised this as a walk to take my 4 year old son, Harry, on. He doesn’t quite have the legs yet for a long hike but likes to feel that he’s climbed a mountain. The route to Ringing Roger is the shortest and most direct option available from Edale. After parking in the main car park at Edale (where we literally took the last available space), we headed off up the road before taking the Grindsbrook path on the right. After crossing Grinds Brook, we emerged onto open pasture land. The path to Grindsbrook Clough continues north, following the line of the brook, and the path that forks off on the right uphill is the path that ascends The Nab up to Ringing Roger. Naturally we took this path and headed on up. It was slow going as his little legs worked hard to power him up the hillside but eventually we arrived at the foot of the gritstone outcrop known as Ringing Roger. It’s possible to bypass this and continue along the path but, to a small child, clambering on rocks is the highlight of any walk. I carefully guided him up a few of the trickier sections and tried to give him a real sense of climbing up a mountain. After reaching the top, we took a short break and he fuelled up on Fruit Shoot and jam sandwiches.

Starting the steep section
Ascending ‘The Nab’
Enjoying a minor scramble
Admiring the view to Grindsbrook
A not so comfy seat
Golden Clough

The original plan was to attempt to walk around the edges and return down at Grindslow Knoll, however we’d spent so long playing on the gritstone that I was worried it would be dark before we finished. Instead, I decided to return back down via the under-used path in Golden Clough. It’s a lovely tranquil path and I don’t think I’ve ever encountered another person on it. Even on a sunny Sunday like today, there was nobody in sight. The track higher up is rather loose with some larger steps down. No problem for my legs but I had to keep a hold of Harry’s hand the whole way down as he frequently slipped and stumbled on the path. He enjoyed the many little waterfall features near the bottom though. Eventually, we arrived at the bottom of the clough which meets up with Grinds Brook. From there, we walked back along the well-used path and back to Edale.

Heading down Golden Clough
Enjoying the tranquility
Admiring a small waterfall
Another sit down!
Even the grass is fascinating
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This walk was a bit of a last minute decision. The weather forecast told me that Wednesday would be the last day of the freakish February mini summer we were having, and I really hadn’t made the most of it in terms of getting outside. I booked a couple of days off work and decided to head up to the Lake District for a bit of Wainwright bagging. As I’ve said in my previous Lake District posts, the walks I’m following are from the excellent ‘Walking the Wainwrights’ book by Stuart Marshall. He has devised just 36 walks that cover the whole of the 214 Wainwrights without any having to be repeated.

I parked in the Pelter Bridge car park, normally £7 a day, and my luck was in. The ticket machine was broken! I took it as a sign that today was going to be a very good day. The sky was already a gorgeous shade of blue when I began walking. I headed north up the lane past the beautiful St Marys Church, and past Rydal Hall and Rydal Lodge. The first footpath that you come to on the left is called the coffin route as it was historically the route used to take the dead of Rydal to the church in Grasmere for burial. The footpath that I needed was the next one on the left after this, which headed up into the hills towards the first Wainwright of the day.

St Mary’s Church
The path to Nab Scar

I always find the first ascent of the day the hardest and this was no exception. It was one of those routes that are made up of never-ending rocky steps and is a common theme here in the Lake District. I wheezed my way upwards and onwards towards the first Wainwright of Nab Scar and the beginning of the Fairfield Horseshoe proper. The views looking back over Rydal and towards Grasmere were fantastic but unfortunately, I was having problems taking photographs in that direction due to the low winter sun.

The view from Nab Scar
Probably the Nab Scar summit

From Nab Scar, I continued north along the horseshoe, ascending not too steeply past Lord Crag, and it wasn’t long before I’d reached the second summit of the day in Heron Pike, standing at a fairly modest 612 metres. The next target needed a bit of a diversion. Stone Arthur sat north-west of my position on Heron Pike, and the valley of Greenhead Gill separated us. Rather than walking all the way around the valley then retracing my steps (I don’t like retracing steps), I descended gradually diagonally down the slope towards Greenhead Gill, eventually meeting it at a perfect height so that I could easily contour around on the other side towards Stone Arthur. Though Stone Arthur is a Wainwright, it doesn’t really feel like a hill – more of a viewpoint. It’s actually the lowest part of a craggy ridge before it steeply descends towards Grasmere.

Heading towards Heron Pike
Heading north along the ridge
Making my way down to Greenhead Gill
Stone Arthur

It was this ridge that I headed along next, slowly ascending towards Great Rigg, the fourth Wainwright of the day standing at 766 metres. To the left, across the valley that houses Tongue Gill, lies the great lump of Seat Sandal. Ahead is the highlight of the walk – Fairfield. I was starting to struggle a little with the relentless sunshine. It was amazing to think it was just February. I’d been wearing just a base layer for the walk so far, and I still felt too hot.

Looking across at Seat Sandal
Fairfield ahead

The summit of Fairfield, which stands at 873 metres, was rather less craggy than the other Wainwrights on this walk. It had a large flat plateau similar to being up on the top of Helvellyn. In his book, ‘Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells’, Alfred Wainwright wrote about Fairfield “From the south it appears as a great horseshoe of grassy slopes below a consistently high skyline…but lacking those dramatic qualities that appeal most to the lover of hills. But on the north side the Fairfield range is magnificent: here are dark precipices, long fans of scree…desolate combes and deep valleys”. Before continuing around the horseshoe, I made a short journey to the north of the summit plateau so I could enjoy the great views across to Dollywagon Pike and the Helvellyn range. It was clear that, up until now, I’d been shielded from the harsher elements. Once I hit the summit of Fairfield, I was greeted by a cold bitter wind and it felt like I’d just stepped from summer into winter. It was actually quite refreshing because I had been feeling far too warm and so, rather than layer up, I continued in my base layer, relishing the chill.

Viewing the Helvellyn range
The flat plateau of Fairfield

I carried on along the route to the east, enjoying a brief section of easy walking before a steep drop down to Link Hause followed by the immediate ascent up onto the next Wainwright of the day, Hart Crag – standing at 822 metres. The walking from here is straight forward. During the descent of Hart Crag, a wall is met. This wall is followed along the whole rest of the ridge, all the way back to the bottom. After Hart Crag, there’s Dove Crag (unspectacular from this approach), High Pike, and Low Pike before the day’s collection of Wainwright’s is complete. That makes 9 in total. Not bad for a single outing. This may sound like a more tedious section of the walk but the terrain is actually quite varied as the wall manages to find a way through a variety of craggy features. Eventually, an easy path branches away from the wall on its eastern side around the area of High Brock Crags. I personally recommend not taking this path and instead continue following the line of the wall for a more interesting walk. There is a touch of scrambling required though just past this point as a craggy section needs to be down-climbed, so be careful.

Approaching Hart Crag
On Dove Crag
Walking towards High Pike
Looking back at Low Pike

At the bottom of the slope, just before I arrived at Low Sweden Bridge that crosses Scandale Beck, I took a footpath on the right across pastureland, following the line of the beck. This eventually brought me out onto the Rydal Park path, which I followed north (turn right). It’s a nice easy finish to the walk on a pleasant path which passes Rydal Hall. If you have enough energy left in your legs, you could take this opportunity to visit the ‘Quiet Gardens’ in the grounds of the hall. The route also passes a beautiful waterfall and ‘The Grot’, which claims to be Britains earliest known purpose-built viewing station. Eventually, you emerge on the road back where you started near St Mary’s church.

Path through Rydal Park
The Grot

I enjoyed a nice plate of gammon and veg at the wonderful Badger Bar in Rydal before returning to the car (aka my bed for the night). I’d had a great day and the weather had been unbelievably good. I had another walk planned for the next day but I knew I wasn’t going to be quite so lucky this time with the weather. The Met Office app on my phone informed me I was to spend the day walking in drizzle and fog. Oh well… variety is the spice of life!

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The post Beacon Hill Country Park appeared first on Hill Explorer.

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The post Bamford Edge and Moor appeared first on Hill Explorer.

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The post The Simonside Hills appeared first on Hill Explorer.

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The post Rothbury Terraces appeared first on Hill Explorer.

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