Through the Viewfinder
And What Alice Found There
Last week I came back to the Lakes again (I just can't seem to stay away for long!) and this time I took a walk up to the top of Wansfell. This is a fell I don't think I had ever been up before, and with it being another Wainwright to tick off my list I thought, why not!
The forecast hadn't been good for the whole weekend but we took a chance and last Friday morning we headed out in the car towards Ambleside to begin the walk. It was quite cold so we wrapped up in hats and gloves and headed up to the waterfalls, known as Stock Ghyll Force. The falls are very impressive and with all the recent rain we'd had earlier that week they were very full and fast flowing, making them even more magnificent to look at!
We carried on up and broke off the waterfall path to join up with a road that lead us to a stile in the wall, where we continued up onto Wansfell. As we began the climb it started to get a bit colder and there was a bit of a breeze as well. Looking back onto the surrounding fells gave us a stunning view, and there was even some snow on the top of Fairfield! Patches of sun broke out every now and then, bathing the fells in warm light and highlighting the bright autumn colours in the trees. It was quite a pleasant walk and not too steep so the initial climb was fairly easy. However, when we were about 5 minutes walk from the summit, we turned back onto what had just been a lovely sunny autumn scene and we now saw a huge cloud drawing closer bringing a band of rain with it! The clouds moved in extremely quickly and we soon discovered that it wasn't rain at all, it was in fact hail! We took shelter next to a nearby wall but the hail was so strong the the wall didn't really offer much protection! The downpour lasted only a few minutes , enough time for me to get a few quick pictures and a short video, and then we carried on up towards the summit.
After the brief hail storm the sun came back out along with a rainbow, but as we climbed up onto a more exposed bit of the fell we were hit by a huge gush of wind that nearly blew us over! We then came to a part of the path where we could either follow it round but with a drop on one side of us, or scramble up a small rock face - we chose the rock face as we didn't want to risk the cliff path in such strong winds! However, this didn't prove as easy as we'd thought because the winds were getting so strong that we couldn't climb very easily and ended up clinging to the rocks trying not to get blown away - a very interesting experience! After eventually managing to crawl up onto the grass again we quickly headed to the summit where the winds were stronger than I've ever experienced before! It was incredible - very exciting but also quite scary. I leant forwards with my whole weight and the wind just held me up! We spent a while up on the top laughing at each other trying to just stand up (which was a very difficult task) and I even tried to take some photos. However, a second hail storm soon hit which was much bigger and heavier than the first one!
This second hail storm was incredibly painful to stand in - the hail stones were blowing horizontally because of the wind and felt like mini knives cutting into my legs, it was horrible! The wind had also picked up so much that me and Dad couldn't even hear each other speak. I was busy trying to get my camera safely back into my bag that I didn't realise he had gone to take cover by the wall, but when I tried to join him I couldn't move because of the force of the wind, so instead I crouched down into a ball to try and stop the hail stones hurting my legs so much! It was a very strange experience and not the most pleasant! After a rough 10 minutes or so the hail had moved over us and we were just left with the wind again so we got a few more photos then quickly made our way back down the fell the same way we'd come up.
The wind died down a bit after we left the summit but it was still fairly strong, and we were also hit by a third brief hail shower just as we arrived back at the car! Overall, the weather wasn't the best I've had on walks, but it was a good experience and I've come away with some really nice shots that fit in well with my university project which is focused on sublime landscapes. It was a good walking route which I'd like to do again and it offers beautiful views of Lake Windermere from the summit. I won't be back in the Lake District again until December but look out for more posts before then about what else I'm getting up to!