Saturday, 21 January 2017

The Kentmere Fells

Relaxing after a good walk in the hills is always nice. Today I completed 12 miles and bagged seven new peaks, all in five and a half hours.

It was my first visit to Kentmere and a cosy, tucked away village it is too. I arrived at 8:30, avoiding the rush of walkers and other adventures (they'll turn up later) and set off up Garburn Pass under gloriously clear skies. It was cold, possibly still below freezing in the shade, but the wind was quiet so it was an easy enough start.
     An attempt at a (marked) shortcut proved slightly misguided when the boggy grass was suddenly no longer frozen and I ended up with a boot-full. Not good after only an hour, but I soon rejoined the main path and the bright sun did a good job of drying the outside of the boot.
     The first peak I topped was Yoke (706m), a fairly gentle summit, although with a sudden drop on the north side that appears out of nowhere. Then it was on to the more challenging peak of Ill Bell (757m) which I arrived at after about a hour and half's walking. Ill Bell offers wonderful views on all sides; south to Windermere, east to the Dales, west to the rest of the Lake District and north to my next summit.
     The descent off Ill Bell (on the north side) is steep but then it's a quick jaunt to Froswick (720m) - possibly my favourite name for a mountain. I didn't stop here but continued on up a longer slope towards the well-known High Street, but then nipped off to the left to bag Thornthwaite Crag (784m). It's a rather plain and level summit. Indeed the on the approach it could have been that I was walking in a field anywhere in Britain, with a low, tumbledown wall to my right. Only turning around revealed the majestic mountains and reminded me that I was actually quite high up - that and the dainty patches of snow huddled under the wall.
     Unimpressive though Thronthwaite may be, it does boast probably the best cairn I have seen in the Lakes. Built as a solid tower of rocks the beacon must be at least 10 feet tall!
     Coming down from Thornthwaite I again cut the corner off, this time more successfully and got some good views of the peaks I had just covered, then I nipped along to Mardale Ill Bell (760m) before 12 o'clock and sat down for some lunch. Sadly this was cut short, as the clouds, predicted so wonderfully by the weather forecasters, decided to show up 3 hours early. I had seen them building in the south and east, but wisps of mist started to whip in over the hills.
     I packed up again and headed down to the ridge that joins the hills together and then ascended up the steepest climb of the day, passing through the cloud onto Harter Fell (778m). It seems that everyone in the area today was playing some elaborate game, with the instruction 'all players gather on Harter Fell'. Having seen very few souls all morning there were suddenly swarms of people arriving from all directions. Lone walkers like myself, pairs, mass groups and enough runners for an Olympic games (almost - but there were a lot of runners today), all saying equally unimaginative things about how nice the day was and how interesting the clouds were. I moved on.
     By 1pm I passed Kentmere Pike (730m), my final peak of the day, and soon after began a slippery descent back to Kentmere itself. I say slippery, this was not because of ice, I left that behind on the mountains, sadly, but reeds and mud. My recently dried boots were wet again.

My first three peaks of the day, from the left: Yoke, Ill Bell and Froswick

1 comment:

  1. Excellent day by all accounts. I remember reading about Kentmere Fells in Hunter Davies book on the Lake District and it seems like an overlooked area. Being on the east Mum & I shall have to give it go from Bentham