Through The Viewfinder and What Alice Found There
Once again life seems to have taken over and despite my last post promising I'd get back into regular blogging, it's now been another 4 weeks without a post! Everything has been happening so quickly lately (where has August gone?!) and I've also had a wedding to do which has taken up my evenings with editing. However, in amongst all the chaos I have somehow managed to find time to complete my 90th Wainwright! I started ticking off the Wainwrights about 2 years ago but it's only been the last 12 months that I've got really into it and seen it as a challenge. With going away for a month in April this year and with so many things planned for weekends over summer I was worried that I'd miss out on loads of opportunities to go hiking and maybe struggle to reach 100 Wainwrights by the end of the year. So to finally reach 90 felt so good, and with more walks planned for the next few weeks my target feels within reach at last!
The first couple of Wainwrights that I ticked off recently were Little Mell Fell and Great Mell Fell near Ullswater. I wanted a fairly short walk that wasn't too difficult and wouldn't take all day, and these two were the perfect solution. Parking at Little Mell Fell was a small lay by, probably big enough for 3 or 4 cars, with the footpath directly opposite. After a short steep section at the beginning, the rest of the climb was fairly easy especially on a hot day like we had! The gradual climb up grassy but well marked paths only took us about 15 minutes but on the top you are rewarded with fantastic views over Ullswater and the surrounding peaks. There is a tall trig point marking the summit and plenty of open space which would make a perfect picnic spot with unbeatable views. However, on this occasion we didn't stop long at the top and instead headed back down to the car to start on Great Mell Fell.
The walk up Great Mell Fell was about twice the distance of Little Mell Fell but still only took us just less than an hour and a half to complete. Parking was at the entrance to a small lane with space for about 4 cars with a few spaces on the road side as well. We got the last space which was lucky! The walk takes you up the track and we then went over a stile into the woodland which was signposted for Mell Fell. However, this is the wrong path so don't take that route if you're heading for the top! Instead keep going up the track until you reach a larger stile next to a gate. This path will take you through a lightly wooded area and then up onto the open fell. This walk was lovely as there was another small area of woodland near the top so the landscape was a bit different to the usual rocky cliffs I've seen on larger peaks! The top is marked by a small cairn with great views over towards Blencathra and Skiddaw. After a short while taking in the views we turned and headed back down the same way we'd come up.
Either of these walks (or both put together) make a great short trip out for anyone looking to spend a few hours in the Lakes, without having to hike up a huge mountain. It also seems fairly quiet around that area so it's a good place to go to escape the crowds, especially in summer holidays! Although there were a few cars parked we didn't really see anyone on either walk except at the top of Great Mell Fell, but it's still a lot quieter than a Sunday down by Lake Windermere for example! The other nice thing about these walks was that we didn't have to carry rucksacks for a change and think about taking enough food and drink for the walk. Instead, we spent a total of about 2 hours walking, ticked off 2 fells, and still had the afternoon to relax and enjoy the rare sunshine!
The second walk I've done recently was Brock Crags, Rest Dodd and The Nab starting from the car park in Hartsop. We were originally planning to hike Blencathra via Sharp Edge but a swift change in the weather meant we changed our minds and decided to stick to slightly lower ground and try and dodge the rain showers and the mist. And for once we made the right decision with the weather! We had a very sunny start walking from Hartsop up to the filter house about halfway along the path to Hayeswater. We then headed up a grassy path to zig zag up the side of Brock Crags, which was quite steep in places! Once the initial climb was over we followed a wall up to quite boggy ground which is when the summit cairn finally came into view. Once on the top we had great 360 views taking in Brothers Water, Hayeswater, Angle Tarn and the beautiful valley leading towards Patterdale. I love it so much around there and up to this point we hadn't seen a single other person around - it was lovely!
After the obligatory summit photos we moved on to Rest Dodd which was a slow climb up fairly rocky terrain to a small cairn which we at first thought was the summit. We then noticed a second cairn further along but seemingly at the same height. I don't know which was the real top but we took photos at both just in case before settling down out of the wind for a picnic of soup and sandwiches.
After our picnic we headed on to the final summit of the day - The Nab. This fell was deceiving and at first looked like a short stroll across fairly even ground but turned out to be a long slog involving the tricky navigation of some large boggy patches! The Nab is also home to some deer which we have seen before when hiking on Grey Crag and other nearby fells, but we didn't see any this time. After what felt like an age of jumping across bogs we finally reached the top - a small cairn with good views down to Ullswater and looking back at Rest Dodd and Kidsty Pike. Although The Nab wasn't quite the spectacular peak I had in mind for my 90th Wainwright it still felt good to have got so far and be within reach of my target at last! After summit photos we begrudgingly headed back across the bogs, scaled Rest Dodd for the second time that day, then dropped down a different path to Hayeswater and followed the usual route from there back to the car.
Since first drafting out this post I have now also done two other walks and I'm edging closer to my target, so watch this space for more Wainwright updates shortly...
Landscape & travel photographer from Cumbria, UK.