There was little apprehension of the weather being bad in the Lake District as we drove up the M6, it was more a factual resignation that we would get wet sometime during the day. We hoped that the rain and snow promised would be late in the afternoon and we would just miss it.
We stopped at the best bacon butty van in Cumbria. Dave and Pete's in the first lay by on the A590 Kendal road after Junction 36. Our usual bacon and sausage changed to spam and egg that sizzled and spattered on the griddle plate as we exchanged banter with the two lads that own the van.
"It's going to be bad weather." They said pretty conclusively.
Looking at the grey mass of cloud that obliterated every inch of view of the distant fells, it was hard not to agree. But, as the last moist smidgen of spam and egg was wiped from the corner of my mouth and my mention of going west to Settle and the Yorkshire Dales was dismissed by Keith of being wimpish, we decided on Place Fell at Ullswater.
|Keith orders heavenly delights|
" At least the rucksack will be lighter." Keith always puts an optimistic slant on every setback.
|Light !!!! Rain as we set off|
I had bought a hand held Satmap Navigation unit the day before and this was to be its test run. I had only about an hour to read the instructions but it seemed easy enough so after setting it up I hung it around my neck. We took a normal map as well as batteries don't run out on paper but this high tech baby was capable of guiding us to Africa. After a while I checked it and sure enough on the OS map screen there was a circle showing where we started and another circle showing where we were 1.7km along the path to Place Fell. Fantastic!!
It was really pouring down and we both decided that cameras would remain in the rucksacks today. We would still do our route but it would be wet and miserable. Then without warning it stopped raining and the sky cleared.
|Gateway to the fells|
The path from Hartsop heads basically Northwest following the valley of Ullswater and at NY407140 it crosses Angle Tarn Beck that tumbles from Angle Tarn almost 1000ft above. Here there is waterfall that from a distance looks dramatic but doesn't quite live up to the billing close up, even in heavy flood. It could be the big tree that sits in the middle of the fall than lessens it appeal and makes it hard to get a decent photograph.
|Angle Tarn Beck|
|Looking back at Keith on the climb|
|Looking forward to Glenridding|
It was hard to believe such a beautiful view had appeared so soon after tumultuous rain and it lifted our spirits. The climb became pleasant as we watched the light dancing down the valley picking out the greens and russets of the vale and the pure whites of the distant snow on the mountains. What could be nicer we thought as the increasing gradient steadily took us up and out of the valley. The wind began to get stronger which was only to be expected with altitude but then as we turned to look back at our route up the path we got a surprise.
Here is there is a Cairn NY 407157 and meeting of paths which gave us the various options. One was go back, not an option. Two was follow the path to the left and drop off down to Patterdale NY 391161. This also was not an option, or we could make our way to the cairn at NY 408157 and drop off to Boredale Head NY 418169. This would be a low level route that we could have taken that would have eventually led us to Ullswater and on to the path back to Patterdale and Hartsop.
We of course decided on the remaining option to go straight on and up Place Fell in driving snow.
|Snow starts to stick as Keith climbs Place Fell|
The wind got stronger and stronger and the path got steeper but the snow stopped. Above us blue sky flashed through cloud as we reached the rocky knoll on which the triangulation pillar sits. NY405169. I went first and almost turned into a human kite as the full force of the wind hit me. It was hard to stay on my feet and I held on to the pillar as I negotiated my way to a sheltered spot to wait for Keith.
|Keith being blown backwards Place Fell summit|
|Looking down to Glenridding from Place Fell summit|
|A splash of colour|
The splendour of the ever changing views was truly breathtaking and it was a pity that I had to concentrate on my camera, not sadly to take photos but to delete a load of images I had left on my card from my last time out with it. I always check before setting off that I have a clean card but with the heavy rain today at the start I didn't.
|Just before I filled my card. Photo: Keith Butterworth|
|Over the Rainbow. Photo: Keith Butterworth|
|Snow Storm in Boredale|
It was easy going now along the good path. Ahead we could see grey heavy cloud and anticipated that sometime before we reached the car we may get some rain. Near Silver Bay at NY397182 the path splits and we took the path to the right to keep on the lake shore but ventured out onto the headland as the view up the lake to Patterdale was not to be missed.
|View up Ullswater|
The area above Glenridding held Greenside Lead Mine the profitable mine in the whole of the Northern England and possibly one of the deepest. Imagine now the scene looking from our viewpoint. The noise from the mining would pervade every valley, dust and smoke would be rising above the village and the jetties and roads would be the arteries taking the valuable produce to the whole world. This was one busy place and fortunes were made and probably in the latter years of the 1960's lost.
We were now subject to a heavy rain shower and the feel of lets get it over began to infiltrate our thoughts. We had got to the point when even the best boots began to feel damp and the drum of water on our hoods began to irritate but a bit of tiredness does have that effect. We tramped on though passing through some nice places.
We also met a very nice lady taking her Trail Hounds for a walk. An old Lakeland sport though now the hounds follow a trail of aniseed laid over the fells instead of foxes.
|A very nice dog walker|
|Angle Tarn Beck from Dubhow|
Familiar paths in pouring rain exactly the same scenario as when we first walked them in the opposite direction, led us back to Hartsop and the car park. Now incredibly the rain stopped as we reached the car. You couldn't write a script for that happening.
|The view when we got back minus rain|
|Elevation and Distance Graph|
Time taken: 5.5 hrs including Photography