Through the Viewfinder
And What Alice Found There
Many times I have driven past Troutbeck Tongue on my way to climb bigger mountains in the Kirkstone Pass area, and have often thought "I really should walk that one some day". But whenever I plan hikes, this smaller Wainwright Fell is often overlooked and forgotten about, pushed out the way by higher, more challenging peaks. However, after abandoning a hike up Helvellyn on Saturday due to a mix of illness and bad weather, I really felt like I needed to get out today even though I'm still not feeling 100%. A weather forecast of heavy rain and thick clouds wasn't going to stop me - I needed to get going and start ticking off some more Wainwright's if I'm ever going to reach my target of 100 by the end of 2017! So the decision was made - I was going out but I needed a fairly small fell that was less likely to be under thick cloud, close to home so it didn't take ages to get to, and that wouldn't take all day to climb in case the weather did take a turn for the worst. Troutbeck Tongue fit all these points, so off we headed into the misty morning...
We began our walk just north of the Queen's Head Hotel (which is still closed after being destroyed by a fire in 2014) - there's parking in a layby, or alternative parking in another layby just south of the hotel. After parking up we headed down the road towards Queens Head and took the steep narrow road opposite, past some very lovely looking cottages. When we began walking the weather was dull and grey but for the moment it was dry! We followed this road for quite a while, passing a farm then pleasantly wandering along the lane amongst fields and trees.
The walk along here was lovely - very quiet and peaceful, and very enjoyable even on quite a dull day. We could see the Tongue in the distance surrounded by the larger peaks of the Kentmere Horseshoe to the right and Stony Cove Pike to the left. The tops of these peaks were dipping in and out of the clouds and looked pretty bleak so we were glad to have chosen a smaller fell for a change! The lane carries on over a small stone bridge and eventually you will come to a large wooden gate. Pass through the gate and continue to follow the track until you see a wooden stile in the field. On arrival at the stile we were quite confused as it was in the middle of the grass with no wall or fence on either the side - so the stile was pretty pointless! We climbed the stile anyway (just for fun) and followed the sign post for High Street going diagonally across a muddy field until you reach another gate at the top.
Once through the gate at the top of the field the path heads round to the right and for a while we felt like we were just skirting around the side of the fell and couldn't work out where we needed to go up. However, follow the path until you reach yet another gate and immediately after this on the left is a faint path heading steeply up the side of the fell. The path was very boggy and quite difficult to climb as it was so steep, but eventually it winds around and brings you out on the craggy flank of the Tongue. The path seemed to disappear at this point so we had to decide whether to scramble up the rock or go around the edge - we went round the side and joined back up with the path later on. This may be an easier route but again it was quite boggy so you need to watch your step in places.
At last the summit cairn came into view! But typically, as we neared the top the weather took a turn for the worst - the wind began to pick up and what had started as drizzle soon turned into heavy rain. We quickly took some photos at the top and were about to move on, but luckily it had just been a quick downpour and the sky brightened again. We stayed at the top a a little while longer to take in the beautiful views of a light dusting of snow on the highest peaks, then started to head along the ridge. This part of the walk was also very enjoyable - it was easy walking and not too steep so it almost didn't feel like we had even started the descent as it was so gentle! After walking for what felt like ages we soon decided that we should head down as we didn't actually know where the path was leading us. We climbed a stile in a small fence then headed sharply down to our right to join up with a lower path, bringing us out on the farm track we had been following earlier. The track led us all the way back along the base of the fell and we soon passed the faint path that we had ascended at the beginning. Continuing on we headed back through the gate, down the field to the pointless stile, and back along the road to the car.
All in all, this was a really good walk. It was easy to get to (only about 20 minutes drive from Kendal), easy walking most of the way, not too high and doesn't take long to complete! This route was just over 6 miles long and took us 3 hours. It makes a great walk if you don't want to be out all day like us, or if you want to walk the dog, or even go up after work (that's better in summer when the nights are longer). Even though the weather wasn't great I enjoyed the walk and would definitely recommend it to others! And it's another Wainwright ticked off my list, bringing my total to 57!
If you'd like to try the walk your self please see my route below: