Author Topic: TR: Pathfinding around Patterdale  (Read 1027 times)

BrionyB

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TR: Pathfinding around Patterdale
« on: 11:56:22, 08/10/20 »
I finally managed to get away for a few days walking in the Patterdale area last week, staying in Glenridding again. After a slow train journey up from London and some unpacking, it was mid-afternoon when I finally got out for a walk.


It was raining lightly and the fells were hidden in cloud, which didn’t look promising, but I headed up towards Sticks Pass and Raise anyway, as the weather was forecast to clear towards the end of the day. It didn’t show any sign of doing so, and it wasn’t really much fun struggling up the steep path; it was one of those still, humid days where you're hot and uncomfortable in your waterproofs but would get slowly soaked through without them. Busier than I expected, as well - you rarely see anyone on this path, but a couple of walkers came down past me, and I'd seen several groups coming down the road-like track from Whiteside Bank as well. I guessed they were coming off Helvellyn and avoiding the ‘edges’ because of the poor visibility. It was fresher and breezier up on the ridge, but still all clag and rain, so I was wary of getting the camera out.


By now it was getting late, so I started to come down the ‘zig zags’ from Whiteside feeling a bit fed up and wishing I hadn’t bothered coming to the Lakes. If all I was going to do was trudge up and down paths and tracks, with no views and lots of people around, I thought I might as well have been on the treadmill in the gym.

As sunset approached, though, the cloud seemed to lift a little and the surrounding fells came into view; I decided to leave the path and head down across the grassy slope to Keppel Cove, which I find a soothing place. It felt good to get off paths at last, and it was really lovely to be alone in the soft evening light with just the rushing sound of the beck and the occasional call of a bird (curlew?), the cloud clinging around the felltops and the marshy ground dotted with little yellow flowers.


Looking down at the Keppel Cove dam. The longer I look at this, the more paths I think I can see...
 

 ::) Maybe they should put one of these on Striding Edge


I crossed over the old dam to where there’d looked to be a faint path skirting around the base of Catstyecam; there was no path to be seen when I got there, but it was just a grassy slope dotted with rocks and easy enough to find a way round if you were careful where you put your feet. There were the remains of a dead sheep with its bones picked almost clean; I wondered if the poor thing had fallen from the craggy fellside above. Memento mori...


Not much of a path here...
 
The light was fading quickly now and I had to turn on my headtorch for a final splash through boggy ground and reeds, a bit disorienting in the dark, until I stumbled on to the Red Tarn path, which I’d known had to be there. I have a complicated relationship with paths – never happier than when I get away from them, but sometimes never so relieved as when I find them again. It was easy to follow the path down into Glenridding, but I stopped to turn off my torch and sit in the dark for a while – the pointy outline of Catstyecam was just visible against the sky with a little star twinkling right above it, and the moon peeked out between the clouds all silvery and dreamlike. I was glad I’d come here after all.

The next morning was bright and sunny, and the car parks in Glenridding were already getting busy, as was the main route up Helvellyn. I had no interest in that today, so turned off onto the path to Lanty’s Tarn, which was very quiet and made for a lovely walk through sun-dappled woods and over little bracken-covered mounds, with occasional glimpses of Ullswater.


Ullswater on a beautiful morning.


 Lanty’s Tarn

Grisedale looking green and pastoral.

Past the tarn, the path meanders gently up the north side of Grisedale. It was fairly quiet here too, and it is a nice path along a pleasant green valley with beautiful views of the surrounding fells against the blue sky, but, you know, paths. I can’t explain it, but there’s something soul-destroying about walking for the sake of going for a walk on paths that are there just for people to go for walks on, especially ‘circular’ walks; it gives me a crushing sense of the futility of my existence.

To escape the existential dread, I left the path just before the wooden footbridge and followed the tumbling beck up the hillside in an attempt to find Nethermost Cove. This was a fairly steep and rugged slope, tussocky grass punctuated with bracken and rocks. I made slow progress, especially as I was feeling quite sore from yesterday’s outing, which had been my first hill walk in over a year. It felt very warm by now and I’d brought hardly any water with me (only expecting to have a gentle amble around the valley), so it was hot and thirsty work and a relief to finally make it into the cove.


Nethermostcove Beck. Steeper than it looks.
 


Are we nearly there yet?
 

Yes! Nethermost Cove appears at last.
 
I do love these little coves, better than summits and ridges really, even though this one, like Keppel Cove over the other side of Helvellyn, is just a rather marshy hollow with no tarn; you just feel so hidden and peaceful, held safe and snuggled in by the mountain. There was a lovely flat rock that made a perfect sun-lounger with my backpack as a pillow, and I lay for a while and watched the clouds drifting by and a couple of birds of prey (I think) circling above the ridges. There were lots of people visible on Striding Edge above and they just kept coming, all getting bunched up at the start of that hard bit where you have to do a bit of a downclimb. Rather them than me – I was very happy where I was, apart from being so thirsty.


Walkers on Striding Edge.

Eventually it was time to move. I didn’t fancy going back down the way I’d come, and although I thought there were a couple of places it might be possible to get up on to the ridge, my leg muscles protested at the idea, and I knew it would be like Piccadilly Circus up there anyway. It looked like there might be a faint path on the far side of the cove (yes, I know…) so I decided to ‘traverse’ around the head of the valley a bit. There was no path (of course) and while it started off easy enough, it soon got a bit steep and craggy and I had to take it slowly, using my hands in places to feel more secure. It was easier on the rock than the grass; on the steep grassy bits I wished I had stiffer boots for ‘edging’, it was very hard on my ankles. There were fine views down the valley though, and as I rounded the corner I could see tiny figures of people on the main path or clustered around the climbing hut.
 

Looking down Grisedale from a lovely viewpoint, somewhere above Eagle Crag, I think.


There’s a perfectly good path down there, you know…
 

The “climbing hut” comes into view.
 
I’d hoped to visit Ruthwaite Cove and Hard Tarn, but unfortunately I’d drifted too far down towards the valley floor by that point and ended up a bit below them – it had been difficult to keep track of where I was with the sun in my eyes and needing to watch my feet all the time – and I was so thirsty and sore that I just couldn’t face struggling up the steep slope again. There were waterfalls below the cove and it was very tempting to drink, but I was wary of doing so in such a frequented area, especially as Hard Tarn is a well-known camping spot. Instead, I picked my way down through the bracken to the hut, and by now my ankles were hurting so much that I was glad to have an easy path to follow back down to Patterdale and a very welcome cold drink.
 

Little waterfalls somewhere below Ruthwaithe Cove.
 

Back on the path. A glimpse of Dollywaggon Pike.

Wednesday was forecast to be wet and windy with terrible visibility – so what better day for a long ridge walk? I got the bus to Bowness-on-Windermere via the Kirkstone Pass – this has to be one of the most scenic bus routes in England on a clear day, though not so much in the pouring rain – had a little look around the shops, then, having nothing better to do all day, I set out to walk back to Glenridding over the fells.
 

 Dubbs reservoir.


Troutbeck Tongue from Dubbs Road/Garburn Road. Looks like it's brightening up a bit...?

I’d thought this would be an easy enough route, with a gentle approach and then a fairly level walk along the tops; instead it was a long, tiring slog up lanes and tracks at the start with every step hurting my ankles, and then one summit after another (Yoke, Ill Bell, Froswick…) with the descents nearly as painful as the ascents, and it was probably for the best that I couldn’t see what lay ahead because I’d have despaired of ever being able to do it. As it was, it was a case of one step at a time, and just when I was so tired and my leg muscles were aching so much I felt I couldn’t go any further, the next cairn would finally come into view.


Is that a cairn up there or just a pointy rock?


Yoke summit cairn (my phone battery expired in the cold at about this point so no more pics…)

It was really strange being on the ridge, aware of the steep drop to my right down to where Kentmere reservoir must be, but unable to see anything but cloud. I was buffeted by the wind on the summits, but sheltered on the lee sides, where it was eerily quiet. Occasionally I thought I heard whispery voices or footsteps behind me, but there was no one there. Once, I saw what looked like a huge shaggy cow grazing ahead of me, which was a bit unsettling, but up close it turned out to be just a normal-sized sheep  :) ; it can be difficult to judge scale and distance when you have no reference points.

I stuck diligently to the path most of the way on this walk, and the couple of times I strayed off it briefly I was quite glad to see it again. Navigation was straightforward as it was just a matter of heading north along the long ridge, you couldn't really go too wrong (famous last words...) but without a path in sight I felt strangely lost and lonely in the mist. On High Street the wind really got up and I was being pelted by the rain; I was glad I’d decided to do the walk in this direction so the southerly wind would be mostly at my back. The ground was completely waterlogged up there and my boots were soon sloshing unpleasantly and starting to rub my feet to blisters; it felt a bit cold now as well but I didn’t want to take off my jacket to put on another layer. By the time I reached The Knott (which was so windswept that the rain felt like hailstones and was too painful to face into) I felt I’d had about enough, so located the path that drops sharply down to Hayeswater (appearing startlingly out of the mist as I descended) and followed the stony track above the beck into the quiet hamlet of Hartsop.

The difference down in the valley was amazing, it was a mild evening with no rain and hardly any wind. It was tempting to continue down to the main road where I’d probably be in time to catch the bus, but I was determined to finish what I’d started so instead took a lower-level footpath signposted to Patterdale. I hadn’t been along here before, but it is a delightfully pretty path, all gnarly oak trees and moss-covered boulders and little streams and waterfalls. Just outside Patterdale, I passed the first walkers I’d seen all day, and the first people I’d seen since leaving Windermere other than two men repairing the track near Hartsop.

In Patterdale I stopped at the White Lion for a much-appreciated hot dinner and drink, and the chance to dry out a little by the fire before walking the last mile along the road – wasn’t sure if I’d be allowed to come in all wet and muddy, but I was, though I did get a few strange looks as I stripped off my waterproofs and soggy gloves and hat with my hair dripping; people must have thought I’d fallen in the lake or something to be so drenched when it wasn’t even raining down there. By the time I got back to the B&B I wanted nothing but a hot shower and bed, but it felt good to have achieved what I set out to do.

The next day looked to be fine and sunny again, but I had a train to catch so only managed an early morning stroll (or more of a hobble on my painful feet and ankles) up the Lanty’s Tarn path again to watch Ullswater appear in the dawn light and enjoy a last bit of solitude and quiet before returning to London.


Ullswater at dawn.
 
 
 
 
« Last Edit: 12:00:14, 08/10/20 by BrionyB »

Ridge

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Re: TR: Pathfinding around Patterdale
« Reply #1 on: 13:34:31, 08/10/20 »
Great report and pictures  O0  the last pic in particular is lovely.


That sounds a really nice route you took on your last day.

richardh1905

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Re: TR: Pathfinding around Patterdale
« Reply #2 on: 15:36:45, 08/10/20 »
Really enjoyed reading your account, Briony - thank you for posting. O0


Not been up into Nethermost Cove yet - looks like a good place for a winter escape. Edit - It would be possible to cross from Nethermost Cove over to Hard Tarn, but you would have to do so quite high up, I suspect.
« Last Edit: 19:27:44, 08/10/20 by richardh1905 »
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BrionyB

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Re: TR: Pathfinding around Patterdale
« Reply #3 on: 19:33:59, 08/10/20 »
Great report and pictures  O0   the last pic in particular is lovely.That sounds a really nice route you took on your last day.


Thanks, it would be a good route on a clear day, I think. Starting at Troutbeck might be a better idea to avoid most of the road walking at the start.


Really enjoyed reading your account, Briony - thank you for posting. O0


Not been up into Nethermost Cove yet - looks like a good place for a winter escape.


I think you'd like it! Interestingly, there is a path marked on the OS map leading (part) of the way up from the Grisedale path, though I couldn't see any evidence of it other than a gap in the wall where it might pass through. Probably it's so overgrown with bracken at the moment that you might as well just go straight up by the beck.

karl h

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Re: TR: Pathfinding around Patterdale
« Reply #4 on: 12:42:28, 09/10/20 »
What a lovely few days, Thanks for sharing it with us O0


The route up to Hard Tarn and then the climb up the east ridge of Nethermost pike is a lovely walk, youll have to try it the next time you visit  ;)
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Dodgylegs

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Re: TR: Pathfinding around Patterdale
« Reply #5 on: 18:09:08, 09/10/20 »
Enjoyed reading your Lakeland adventure BrionyB, lovely final photo.
Hope your ailments are recovering.

richardh1905

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Re: TR: Pathfinding around Patterdale
« Reply #6 on: 18:26:01, 09/10/20 »
I think you'd like it! Interestingly, there is a path marked on the OS map leading (part) of the way up from the Grisedale path, though I couldn't see any evidence of it other than a gap in the wall where it might pass through. Probably it's so overgrown with bracken at the moment that you might as well just go straight up by the beck.


I've been looking on the map, and recalling what I saw of Nethermost Cove from above when I climbed Helvellyn recently - the cove is quite wide and relatively flat bottomed, and looks as if it ought to have a tarn in it (maybe it did once, but it has been silted up), whereas the top of nearby Ruthwaite Cove is steep sided and constricted, yet it has Hard Tarn improbably perched beneath a crag on a steep slope - a strange trick of geology.
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BrionyB

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Re: TR: Pathfinding around Patterdale
« Reply #7 on: 10:17:05, 10/10/20 »
What a lovely few days, Thanks for sharing it with us.  The route up to Hard Tarn and then the climb up the east ridge of Nethermost pike is a lovely walk, youll have to try it the next time you visit 
 
Yes definitely on my list for another time!



Enjoyed reading your Lakeland adventure BrionyB, lovely final photo.
Hope your ailments are recovering.
All fine now, thanks, I am just unused to hills these days, sadly...


 
  I've been looking on the map, and recalling what I saw of Nethermost Cove from above when I climbed Helvellyn recently - the cove is quite wide and relatively flat bottomed, and looks as if it ought to have a tarn in it (maybe it did once, but it has been silted up), whereas the top of nearby Ruthwaite Cove is steep sided and constricted, yet it has Hard Tarn improbably perched beneath a crag on a steep slope - a strange trick of geology.
It's quite wet, marshy ground in the middle so not implausible there might have been a tarn. As far as I know it was never dammed like Brown/Keppel coves, though I noticed what looked like man-made drainage channels (leats?). Would be interesting to know more about the geology and history of the area for sure.