Through the Viewfinder
And What Alice Found There
Last weekend was not only Greg's birthday but also Mother's Day, giving two good excuses to go for walks! We kicked off the weekend with a hike on Saturday starting from Patterdale (back in my favourite valley again!) and parked in the Pay and Display opposite the Patterdale Hotel...
The path took us through the hotel car park and round the back, through a small section of woodland and then up onto the fell path for our first summit of the day - Arnison Crag. I've done this fell before, almost a year ago to the day! Last time I went up with Dad and it ended up being one of the worst weather days I've seen in a long time, resulting in me wearing a bright yellow poncho over myself and my rucksack to stop the rain leaking in and destroying my camera! This left me with not many great memories of Arnison Crag, however Greg had never done this fell before so we added it on to the start of our route so he could tick it off. The walk this time was a lot more pleasant - it was shorter than I remembered and the nice sunny weather helped keep us in a good mood on the way up. By the time we reached the top we were both down to just t-shirts and for the first time in months I wasn't cold! The views from the summit are beautiful, even though it's only a small fell. You can see the beginning of Ullswater in one direction, and the other way reveals Hartsop, Kirkstone Pass and the many fells around them. Standing on the top and looking across to the summits of other, larger, more challenging fells that I have also been up was a wonderful feeling. To know that out of all those fells there is only around three I've not done makes me want to complete this Wainwright challenge more than ever! Seeing the summits with a thin layer of snow made me wonder what the conditions would be like on our next two summits - Birks and St Sunday Crag. I was slightly disappointed that I would probably have to get my fleece back out again and not be able to do the whole walk in the warm sunshine.
Onwards we walked to Birks, suddenly finding ourselves on quite snowy ground which was getting thicker and deeper as we went on. By the time we reached the top of our second summit of the day we were ankle deep in snow in some places! We had a quick stop at the top for some photos before swiftly heading onto summit number three. This part of the walk seemed to take forever. By now, even though the snow was getting deeper by the minute, we were absolutely boiling! The sky was a perfect clear blue and the sun was beating down on us hard, so we didn't feel the cold from the snow at all. The ridge onto St Sunday Crag was fairly wide and long and just seemed to drag on a bit so when a cairn finally came into sight I was so happy that we could soon stop for a picnic at the top as agreed. However - my joy soon disappeared. As we reached the cairn we realised it was not the summit after all and the long ridge continued. Eventually we reached the top but by this point we were so hot and thirsty we didn't even stop for a photo before setting up a picnic area and tucking in to some food!
After re-fueling and having a bit of a sunbathe (a rare activity in March) we took the obligatory summit photos then headed on to our next target - Fairfield. Both of us have done Fairfield and Hart Crag before but our planned route would take us over the tops and back down along Hartsop Above How to make a nice circular route back to Patterdale. The ridge from St Sunday Crag to Fairfield looked stunning in the snow. With the pure blue sky, the snow capped mountains and Grisedale Tarn nestled among the peaks it looked like a scene from the Alps - but who needs the Alps when you've got the Lakes instead! The snow up there was pretty deep - waist deep at times. Most of the time we weren't actually walking on ground at all but we were walking on top of a huge snow drift, with our feet sinking in often way past our knees! It was fun but challenging, and a great chance for me to test out the head strap I recently bought for my GoPro, to try and show the experience of walking in the mountains to other people. You can see a clip from my video below...
When we reached the base of Fairfield it suddenly looked a lot steeper than when we had seen it from back on St Sunday Crag. We began the climb but it was extremely rocky, and as the snow was starting to melt it was very slippy and unstable to walk on. We stood and weighed up our options before carrying on - we could either continue up the rocky face of Fairfield which neither of us were too confident about in the current conditions, or go back the way we had come up St Sunday Crag, or find a way down into the valley. One option was to try and get down to Grisedale Tarn and join the main path from there back to Patterdale. This was the most appealing option as neither of us wanted to carry on up Fairfield, or go back the way we had come and feel defeated, so creating a new route via the tarn seemed the best way forward. There was supposedly a path down from where we were but obviously it was covered by the snow, so we followed some footprints in the snow from a previous walker, trusting that the route must be OK if they had managed to go down there before us. How wrong we were! After a slightly scary walk down the mountain side, which involved more falling than walking for me (as usual) we finally made it on to level ground and the tarn became within reach. After a quick rest by the waters edge we made the final walk back along the valley path into Patterdale, and near enough collapsed into the car when we got there!
The walk ended up being 9 miles and took us just over 8 hours because of the slow pace we had to go at in the deep snow. It was really beautiful and such a gorgeous day for hiking - it definitely got me excited for summer hiking again! Not to mention, on the top of the fells it was so quiet it was actually unbelievable. I had to stand and just take it in for a few minutes, cherishing the rare peace and quiet.
The downside to the walk was the major sun burn we both suffered from afterwards. We hadn't expected it to be warm enough to not wear a fleece or a coat, so we made the mistake of not wearing or taking sun cream. This added with the sun reflecting off the snow resulted in two very burnt walkers by the end of the day! It is definitely a lesson learnt though and from now on I will be wearing sun cream on every walk as you never know what the weather will turn out like! The route we walked is below:
After Saturday's adventure I have to admit I wasn't really in the mood for another walk the next day, but seeing as it was Mother's Day and we had planned this walk for a while, I couldn't really say no. It was another sunny day, not as warm but still warm enough to be out without a coat. Spring must finally be here! After a lovely lunch at the Hare & Hounds pub at Bowland Bridge (the grilled halloumi salad was amazing!) me, Mum, my sister Hannah and our dog Dexter headed over towards Gummers How. The car park was fairly busy but we still got parked easily. It was clear to see that a lot of families were out for Mother's Day walks as the crowds flocked towards Gummers How. But we went a different way. After seeing a post on Instagram a few weeks ago showing a photo of Simpson Ground Reservoir I had to find out where this beautiful place was. To my surprise it was right near to the car park at Gummers How - I couldn't believe I had never heard of it before! Heading up the road from the car park we took the forest path across the road from Gummers How, sign posted for Sow How Lane. The path was very muddy in places - much to Dexter's delight! While the three of us tried to avoid the mud as best as possible, Dexter just walked right through the middle of every possible bog! The forest path soon opened up and eventually led to a road. We turned right and followed the lane for a short while before taking a footpath back into the forest area. The path was wide and stony and surrounded by trees - it reminded me very much of Grizedale Forest!
It was a nice peaceful walk, following these forest roads until eventually we turned off onto a small footpath heading straight into the trees. I love walking in woodland like this - the sun rays peeking through the trees and lighting up the moss covered floor, the dark shadowy trees hiding all sorts of secrets and the sound of wildlife all around - a woodpecker somewhere above us, a rustling in the undergrowth...forests just feel so magical to me and remind me of fairytales and myths.
Eventually we came to Simpson Ground Reservoir - quite a large reservoir so we didn't walk all the way around it, but it was very peaceful and beautiful. After admiring the view we headed back into the woods to try and find a way back to the road. We took a different route back through the forest and found some trails that had wooden walkways put in - this was especially helpful for getting over the extremely muddy ground!
The path soon looped round and joined up with the large forest roads we had walked on at the beginning, so we followed these back to Sow How Lane, and back along the path to Gummers How car park. It was a really nice walk and I still can't believe I've lived in Kendal all my life and been to Gummers How so many times, but never done that walk until now! It's somewhere I will definitely go again and hopefully next time I will be able to spend more time at the reservoir, and maybe explore some of the other forest paths on offer.
If like me you have no idea where this beautiful place is, then you can see our route below!
This weekend will be my final chance to do another walk before I go to America for a month - hopefully the weather is good on Sunday and I can tick off 3 more Wainwrights to bring my total to 70! Watch this space for updates...