Posts tagged ‘Lake District’

March 15, 2014

Winter’s final bite? – backpacking the Grasmere hills

by backpackingbongos

Looking back at my log book it appears that the last time I went backpacking in the Lake District was July 2011.  I think that is far too long.  The reason why I avoid the whole National Park is probably pretty obvious considering that I am a misanthropic backpacker.  It can also be a bit of a bugger parking for a few days.

I suddenly found myself with a Wainwright bagging itch, an urge to tick off a few arbitrary hills listed by another misanthropic hill walker.  I planned an illogical route lurching up one side of a valley to collect a couple of stragglers, before descending to yomp up another set of hills.  All good exercise for the calf muscles.

I arrived at a large and free lay-by on the outskirts of Grasmere late on a Friday afternoon.  Luckily enough the road system through Ambleside had confused me enough to prevent stopping to explore the numerous outdoor shops.

Total distance 23.5 kilometres with 1,400 metres ascent

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The plan was to camp on the summit of Stone Arthur for the night.  It has been a while since I have dragged a backpacking sack up anything resembling steep.  I was a wheezy and sweaty mess, frequently stopping to take in the view and have a few puffs on my inhaler.  It was a punishing introduction back to the Lakeland Fells.


Stone Arthur although a Wainwright cannot be considered to be a summit in its own right.  The futility of peak bagging being that you are ticking off against a list of hills that someone else has deemed worthy.  It does give a good focus to a walk though.  Stone Arthur was however a great view-point.


There was still a bit of daylight left and after the initial physical shock I was keen to gain a bit more height.  I now had the hills to myself, the day trippers having returned to the valleys.  The setting sun bathed the hillside in a warm glow as I plodded upwards before finally picking a spot on the 600 metre contour on which to pitch my tent.



It was a quiet and wind free evening, dew and then frost quickly covering the fly of the tent inside and out.  Stars soon filled the sky, mirroring the lights down below in Grasmere.

I set my watch for 1.00am as there was the possibility of a glimpse of the Northern Lights.  There had been a good display the night before as far south as Norfolk.  Sadly when I stuck my head out of the door I was enveloped in cloud, visibility down to a few metres in the beam of my head torch.


I woke early morning to the sound of rain that somehow was not quite right.  I opened the door to a swirling world of mist and snow, something that had not been forecast.  It was unpleasant wet snow, not the sort to get too excited about.  I punched the snow off the top of the tent and settled down for a couple more hours of sleep.

It was one of those damp and still nights where everything gets covered in condensation.  Luckily I had taken a MLD Spirit quilt to layer over a summer weight down bag.  This meant that the down bag remained totally dry.  The tent when packed was a soaking wet mess, fingers going numb as I wrestled it into its slightly too small bag.


Suddenly the clouds lifted and my spirits soared with it.




I had initially planned to head to Rydal via Alcock Tarn but decided it would be a shame to lose height so quickly.  Instead I climbed to 650 metres and contoured below Great Rigg.  Along this pathless section the clouds would come and go giving views of the snowy fells.


In the end the clouds covered the hills in a thick blanket which was to remain until I had descended all the way down into Rydal.  There was a large amount of foot traffic as I followed the path over Heron Pike.  People were clad in everything from full Himalayan winter gear to jeans and canvas shoes.  It was good to be going against the flow.

Even down below Nab Scar the cloud refused to clear.  I sat for a while on a rock and watched it stream and rise across the nearby hillsides, occasional shafts of sunlight punching through.  All very atmospheric.



I had planned to jettison some rubbish and an empty gas canister when I got to Rydal.  However I was half way up Loughrigg Fell when I realised I had forgotten to do this.  I also managed to misinterpret my map and took an unmarked path instead of the right of way.  This soon disappeared in a tangle of dead bracken.  Unfortunately a couple pointed my way from the car park and followed me. I hid in shame for a while behind a rocky outcrop until they passed.

Hunger pangs timed themselves perfectly with a hefty snow shower close to the summit of Loughrigg Fell.  This resulted in my hunkering down whilst trying to construct a tortilla wrap.  It was far too much hassle to get the Jetboil on for a cup of coffee.

The summit itself was a superb spot, views being much better than is suggested by its diminutive size.  The skies were turbulent after the heavy snow shower, layers of cloud drifting across the higher fells.




Height was quickly lost on the descent towards the Youth Hostel, a narrow muddy path being wet and slippery.  I was soon climbing once more, the Langdale Pikes rearing up at the head of the valley.


The undulating ground after Silver How was a joy to walk, easy-going and deserted.  A cold wind was picking up and the skies to the west were getting heavier.  Wet and windy weather was forecast to sweep in after dusk so I became eager to seek out a sheltered spot for the night.


The Scarp was pitched in the lee of a grassy knoll, sadly the wind soon changing direction.  A scenic spot but one that I did not enjoy outside for very long.  Spots of rain were carried along on the wind in the gathering gloom.  The final job after collecting water was to deploy the crossing poles as insurance in case it got stormy in the night.


After dinner I decided to rest my eyes for a moment before escaping into a good book.  I must have been tired as apart from being woken by wind and rain battering the tent I slept solidly for nearly twelve hours.  The book remained unread.

Thankfully the wind had dropped and the rain had stopped when I got up.  The higher hills once again had a dusting of snow, the clouds just above the summits.


Packing my rucksack mist rolled in, quickly followed by rain.  Visibility was down to a few metres as I trudged up to the summit of Blea Rigg, tricky due to the complex terrain.  I had no qualms about navigating with my Satmap.  Even with GPS technology it took me a while to find the path that led me down to Easedale Tarn.  It was a thoroughly miserable day, even the lower Easedale Tarn was hidden in the clouds.   What surprised me was the sheer number of folk out on such a grim morning.  There was a constant stream climbing up the path next to Sour Milk Gill.

I was soaked by the time I reached the car. ¬†My Rab eVent over-trousers had completely given up, even though they were proofed before setting off. ¬†I could have wrung out my trousers they were so wet. ¬†A naked bearded man then spent ten minutes drying off in the car with the windows steaming up……

December 1, 2013

A weekend in Eskdale with a dirty high

by backpackingbongos

The Bongo in winter is like sleeping in an upholstered freezer, a lack of heating requiring piles of down clothing to keep warm.  A purchase of an electric hook-up and a small radiator gave the promise of warmth and comfort.  A campsite in Eskdale was booked and I headed north with Reuben early on a Friday morning.  It had been a whole year since my last visit to the Lake District.

High pressure had settled over the UK, the centre sitting slap bang over the Lake District.  Blue skies and light winds I hear you shout.  Indeed this was the case on the first afternoon and the final morning.  The rest of the time it was benign cloud and murk.  A dirty high.

Black Combe – 13.5 kilometres with 430 metres ascent

Black Combe

The single track road between Duddon Bridge and Waberthwaite was surprisingly busy, a convenient short cut from the coast road. There is parking for about four cars at its summit, most of the space taken over by one solitary car who had parked as stupidly as possible.

Starting at 380 metres made the ascent of Stoneside hill a breeze.  A woman with her lively Jack Russell warned me of the bogs ahead if I was heading for Black Combe.  I inwardly smiled to myself thinking that this Pennine bog trotter can handle a little bit of bogginess.  Ten minutes later I heard a splash as Reuben disappeared into a pool of slime, struggling to drag himself out.  The large area of rushes we had walked into was booby-trapped, the ground oozing and quaking.  My Pacerpoles are handy for crossing boggy ground but they were sitting nice and comfortably in the Bongo.

A quick bag of the cairn on Stoupdale Crags and what felt like a long detour to White Combe.  This Wainwright outlying fell has a large cairn with an even larger view.  A late lunch was enjoyed but I did lament the lack of fluids, my water bottle was also sitting nice and comfortably in the Bongo with the Pacerpoles.

The final climb to the summit of Black Combe was done in shadow, the sun heading towards the horizon.  Already the grass was crunchy underfoot, ice glazing over areas of bog.  Arriving at the summit it was hard to see, the sun reflecting off the sea was the deepest orange.  The quality of the light was fantastic, it made even the array of wind turbines and the nearby nuclear power station look beautiful.  It was tempting to stay and watch the sun set.  However it was a long way back to the van so we reluctantly headed the way we had come.  The last half hour done by head torch, the battery very close to empty.





I probably should not mention one of my outdoor secrets. ¬†The week before heading north I joined the Camping and Caravan club. Shhhh keep that one to your self. ¬†This was done so that I can access their numerous certified sites, designed for five ‘units’. Somewhere to escape the crowds but with electric hook-up if needed in the colder months. ¬†The campsite close to Boot in Eskdale is not a certified site but it may as well have been this weekend. ¬†It was pretty much empty and I got nearly a whole field to myself. With light and heating, time progressed really quickly until Chrissie and Geoff turned up in their van. ¬†Time for a convivial couple of beers before turning in for the night.

Sca Fell – 16 kilometres with 1,080 metres ascent

Sca Fell

I woke totally sold to the whole heated campervan in winter idea.  Outside was a world of white frost, inside was snug and warm. Even Reuben who I am beginning to realise dislikes camping appeared to be happy.

Three humans and three dogs met outside the vans and set off in pursuit of Sca Fell, a reasonably long day with short daylight hours. Chrissie and Dixie walked with us until we got close to Stony Tarn before turning back.  Dixie is a twelve year old Boxer and the climb to the summit of Sca Fell would have been too much for her.  Geoff and I continued on upwards, Reuben impatiently leading the way, Tilly looking for objects that she should could carry (this often would include large stones).

The first destination was the cracking little summit of Great How.  Detached from the higher hills it gives great views in all directions. We sat and had lunch number one, watching the play of mist and light on the surrounding fells.

A boggy walk across Quagrigg moss was followed by a steep pull up to the summit of Slight Side.  There we met a couple who were celebrating completing their round of the Wainwrights.  No offer was made to share their whisky!

It became increasingly wintry as we approached the summit cairn of Sca Fell which was sadly shrouded in mist. ¬†As we had lunch in the shelter Reuben let me know that he was feeling the cold, enthusiastic when I put his warm coat on. ¬†I had managed to leave my microspikes in the Bongo (a bit of a recurring theme during the weekend) but had managed to borrow Chrissie’s¬†when she turned back earlier in the day. ¬†They came in very handy for the steep descent down the western slopes towards Burnmoor Tarn.

Daylight deserted us during the final half hour, and I realised that I still had not changed the battery of my headtorch (don’t worry I always carry spares, it’s just that I could not be bothered to stop and change it).












The evening was spent at Chez Crowther where Geoff filled our bellies with Chilli and apple pudding.  It became full on glamping when we sat and watched Dr Who afterwards!

Green Crag – 16 kilometres with 710 metres ascent

Green Crag

I had booked the Monday off work so was able to go for a full days walk on the Sunday.  Geoff and Chrissie were heading back south after lunch so we said our goodbyes in the morning.

The stepping stones over the River Esk were easy to cross with the water levels being low.  A sheltered climb brought us to Stanley Force, a great waterfall hidden deep in a gorge.  The climb up a path soon led us to a rocky viewing platform 150 feet above the falls. It was a giddy vertigo inducing spot, Reuben kept well away from the edge.

The hills around Green Crag are small in altitude but make up for it in terms of ruggedness.  A circuit taking in Great Worm Crag, White How, Green Crag and Crook Crag involved numerous ups and downs.  The summit of Crook Crag even involved a spot of easy scrambling to get to the top.  The best thing however was that there was not a soul to be seen all day, pretty rare for the Lake District.  A spot that I would like to return to in the summer for some wild camping.

A well-defined track that is barely marked on my map led us easily back down into the valley to Low Birker Farm.  The marked right of way would have been impossible down the loose steep slopes.

A path along the River Esk was taken in favour of the road for the walk back to the campsite.  Darkness had once again fallen at this point but thankfully my head torch was shining nice and bright.  This however did not prevent me from getting us temporarily misplaced.

Back at the campsite I had pretty much the entire place to myself.











Rough Crag – 3.5 kilometres with 150 metres ascent

Rough Crag

Ambitious plans were hatched which involved getting up before dawn and marching over a long list of hills before heading home. The reality involved waking up at 10am after a very deep sleep before relaxing at the campsite for a couple of hours.  Even at midday the insulating screens on the van had frozen solid to the glass and took a bit of persuading to be removed.

I parked the Bongo near the summit of the Birker Fell Road, determined to stretch both of our legs before the long drive home.  It was a very pleasant there and back walk across the summits of Rough Crag and Water Crag.  Two small hills that give excellent views for their height.

I will have to make sure that I don’t leave it so long before my next visit to the Lakes.






December 20, 2012

A magical morning on Great Mell fell

by backpackingbongos

Sleeping in a metal box is not the best way to keep warm on a sub-zero winter’s night.¬† Metal really is not a great insulating material.¬† Thankfully I had made a nest on the floor consisting of a memory foam mattress topper, a duvet, two sleeping bags and a shivering dog.¬† I woke at first light and pulled up the blinds to see, nothing.¬† The windows were covered in ice both inside and out.

The ¬£10 stove that lives in the Bongo was sluggish but it did manage to eventually boil enough water for a cup of coffee.¬† I stood outside in the empty car park with plumes of steam rising from my mug, enjoying the silent morning.¬† It took a bit of coaxing to get Reuben out and then I realised why, he was a broken dog.¬† He resembled a crab as he shuffled over to the verge for a pee, limbs appearing to have been removed and put on backwards in the night.¬† I’m not sure if he was putting it on for my benefit but it was a sorry sight.¬† The day before we had done the Newlands round and the wind must have got to his brain as he spent the day racing around constantly.¬† He was now paying for his canine over indulgence.

My plan had been to crack out the spikes and climb Helvellyn, but it was evident that he would not be up for it.  I decided it best to head on home for his sake, a real shame considering the stunning weather forecast.  Over another cup of coffee in the van I could not resist a quick look at my map.  The summit of Great Mell Fell always catches my eye on the drive along the A66.  Reuben would want a walk at some point during the day.  I thought we might as well make it a scenic one.

There is room to park a couple of cars next to the track on the south east of the fell.  We took to this track for a bit before entering the woods through a gate.  I let Reuben off the lead once in the woods where he decided that maybe he was not too stiff for a bit of a run around.  We contoured along a narrow trod for a bit before climbing directly up through the trees.  Boggy patches were well camouflaged by a thick carpet of fallen leaves.

After a while we headed further west and finally picked up the main path to the summit.  Breaking out of the woods the view was of snow clad hills rising above the Matterdale Common.


Further up the hill the path passed through an area of old pine, weatherbeaten from the westerly winds that must hit this isolated hill.


The sun felt warm in the completely still air, there was not even a hint of a breeze.  I really could not have asked for more perfect conditions.  Great Mell fell itself is a bit of a dull pudding, but the views are anything but dull.  The snow topped Blencathra dominated the view and I found my eyes constantly being drawn to its bulk.  Helvellyn would have been stunning but the low light meant that it was just a dazzling flash of light due to the reflecting sun.  I spent a good half hour just quietly savouring the conditions and the views.  Reuben intently looking out for anything that he could provide with a bit of love.





The long drive home was soon calling so I reluctantly set off back down the path, passing three groups on their way up.  I had timed the walk perfectly to get the top all to myself for so long.


Next time you are whizzing along the A66, pull over for an hour or so and climb Great Mell fell, the views are definitely worth it.

December 14, 2012

Winter perfection – a Newlands round

by backpackingbongos

At dusk after a day on the North Central Fells it was already below freezing.   Having parked high on the Watendlath road I was cautious driving the van down the steep icy stretches near Ashness bridge.  Thankfully I arrived at the Borrowdale road without incident and drove into the Newlands valley via Keswick.  My planned spot for the night was just past the hamlet of Little Town, however I made a serious navigational error on the network of minor lanes in the valley.  I found myself ascending a short but steep hairpin bend which was covered in a sheet of ice, there was some spinning of wheels but somehow I got to the top.  It was then that I realised that I was on the lane at the northern tip of Cats Bells.  There was no way that I was going to attempt to drive back down the icy road so reluctantly did a huge circuit into Borrowdale, back into Keswick and finally onto the minor road to Little Town.  A loop of well over ten miles just to avoid a hundred metre stretch of road!

I had a peaceful night in the van, dismayed to wake at one point to the sound of rain.¬† So much for a weekend of clear and crisp weather I thought.¬† The car park I was in started to fill up before 8.00am and by 9.00am it was totally full.¬† Sitting in the back of the van eating breakfast it was evident that just about all the cars belonged to a walking group led by a man with a fluorescent arrow on his rucksack.¬† A real pity that people had arrived in one’s and two’s, their cars dominating pretty much the only parking in the valley.¬† Surely a bit of car sharing could not be too difficult to arrange?

9.5 miles with 1,080 metres ascent

Newlands Round

The wet and grey weather that had greeted me when I first woke up had quickly been replaced by clear skies.  It was evident that the temperature was beginning to quickly drop now that the weather front was out of the way.  The wet surfaces were starting to ice over so I packed my micro-spikes just in case.  We walked back up the lane towards Little town before taking a track to the south.  The sun had not yet reached the valley and our breath rose in plumes in the cold air.


Reuben made me chuckle as he crossed a rather large iced over puddle.  Half way across it could no longer support his weight, there was a look of confused surprise as he found himself up to his knees in cold muddy water.

We crossed the beck by a footbridge and doubled back on ourselves, a path above the farm at Low Snab leading steeply on the ridge to Scope End.  I thought that the rain in the night would have washed all the snow away but the fells above Grasmoor were still covered in the white stuff.


It was hard work gaining height but we were soon on the ridge proper, a delightful path winding its way through the heather.  I took my time, in no particular hurry and savoured the setting in such good weather.  We stopped frequently, finding sunny spots sheltered from the wind.  I grazed from my substantial lunch box, enjoying hot coffee from a flask.  It probably took twice as long as needed to reach the cairn and shelter on the northern slopes of Hindscarth and I loved every minute of it.  Solo walking can bring its rewards, one of which is relaxed dawdling.






Throughout the ascent, Reuben was like a dog possessed, the wind in his sails.  He was lolloping around like a loon, throwing himself on his back and rolling around.  He even managed a couple of impressive forwards rolls.  When we reached the shelter to the north of the summit he curled into a ball and had a little doze whilst I scurried round clicking away with my camera.  I really could not believe just how clear the air was.


Once again the Helvellyn range was the star of the show, a uniform world of white above the 750 metres contour.  The weather was meant to remain the same the following day, so I started making plans to dust off the ice axe and crampons.


The way to the summit of Hindscarth was a bit slippery, a combination of bare earth, ice and rock hard snow.  The conditions did not make it necessary to get my micro spikes out but I needed to take care to remain upright.  We met the first people of the day and their dog at the summit, they were walking in the opposite direction to me and were surprised that they had the hills to themselves until they reached Dale Head.  As they left a bank of cloud drifted up from the valley below, adding further drama to the mountain scene.




An easy path took us along the narrowing Hindscarth Edge, before the final climb to the summit of Dale Head.  Once again I found myself frequently loitering to take in the splendid view.  I really could not believe how lucky with the weather I had been.





The summit of Dale Head was deserted.¬† It’s a well know viewpoint but as it was exposed to the wind I did not linger for more than a minute.¬† I measured the temperature with my Kestrel 3000, which showed a wind chill of -10c.¬† The exposed skin on my face soon started to ache so we started the descent to the east.



We passed two couples who had ascended via the right of way shown on the map that leads directly from Dalehead tarn.  Both warned me off a direct descent as the steep grassy slopes were frozen and covered in a thin layer of hard snow.  Therefore we instead headed onto the path that leads to Dalehead crags before a steep descent to the tarn.


A wall close to the tarn provided a perfect sheltered spot to enjoy the rest of my lunch.  As Reuben watched rather sadly I felt guilty for leaving his meaty sticks in the van.

Although not even 3.00pm the light was rapidly changing signalling the approaching sunset.  I never get used to these short days, the fact that light starts to fade not that long after lunch.  However it does give me the opportunity to witness some spectacular displays of light.  Once again I found myself dawdling as we crossed High Spy, the setting sun lighting up the hills around me.








The light started to fade as we crossed Maiden Moor and it had almost diminished completely on the ascent of Cats Bells.  I managed to pick my way to its rocky summit without resorting to my torch.  The lights of Keswick sparkled in the darkness below.  I could trace the line of traffic along the A66, feeling far removed from the busy road.

Finally in the pitch black I used my torch to walk back down into the Newlands Valley, Reuben leading the way in his hi-vis jacket and light attached to his collar.  Care was needed on the icy bridleway into Little Town, thankfully I avoided a slip in the darkness.  The van was the only remaining vehicle in the car park, already encrusted in frost.  It was going to be a long cold night.

December 9, 2012

Watendlath and the North Central Fells

by backpackingbongos

It was gone 11.00pm by the time I parked the Bongo in the woods, high on the narrow lane that leads to Watendlath.¬† The drive up the steep sections near Ashness bridge had been tricky in the freezing weather.¬† Water that had run off the fells in the recent rain had turned into sheet ice.¬† The Bongo is 4×4 which makes it easier going uphill in icy conditions.¬† However I started worrying about the fact that I would have to go back down the following day, 4×4 gives no advantage when going down hill.

Reuben had not had a walk so we wandered along the empty lane, coming to a clearing above a steep drop to Borrowdale below.  The views in the moonlight were stunning, the calm glassy surface of Derwent Water backed by the snow clad Skiddaw.  The contrast from working in a city earlier that day to standing surrounded by silent mountains could not be greater.

With the luxury of a duvet and two sleeping bags I slept warm in the van, Reuben adding his own warmth to my bed sometime in the night.

Dawn comes late on the last day of November, the woods silent under a blanket of frost.  I made a coffee and wandered over to the clearing to see the view in the morning light.  A fantastic place to watch the start of a new day.


9.6 miles with 770 metres ascent

High Seat

With lunch made and rucksack packed we set off down the lane towards Ashness bridge.  Parts of the tarmac were rather icy and it was easier to stick to the verge, especially with an enthusiastic dog on the end of a lead.  The bridge which is a popular beauty spot was totally deserted, which is probably unusual.  Although pleasant I did ponder why it is so well known and gets so many visits.


Just past the bridge a right of way started its ascent up the hillside.  I was glad to be able to let Reuben off the lead as it was hard work with the ice under foot.  There was a confusing section where the path split in all directions, none of which were marked on the map.  I picked one which was heading in my direction and headed up the hill, all the time enjoying the views back up Borrowdale and across Derwent Water.


The summit of Walla Crag only reaches 379 metres but the view far surpasses its lowly stature.  I wandered around for a while snapping away, Reuben providing his modelling services.  I then sat and had a cup of coffee from my flask.  Although still below freezing there was not a breath of wind.





We retraced our steps for a bit before branching off on a path heading towards Bleaberry fell.  I regretted not bringing my sunglasses or cap as the low sun was directly in my eyes.  I had my mountain cap but it felt far too warm to wear it.  Despite the icy conditions I climbed the steep slopes in just a baselayer to avoid my jacket being soaked in sweat.

Close to the summit I suddenly found myself sprawled on the ground, verglas covered rock providing an unsuitable foothold.  Thankfully no damage was done and I arrived at the cairn with only a slightly bruised ego.  Already the sky was turning milky, the light taking on a strange flat aspect.  However the clarity remained, although difficult to capture in a photograph.  The Helvellyn range looked impressive under a mantle of snow.



The path to High Seat was easy going with all the boggy bits frozen solid.  It was good not to need to wear gaiters, which I find uncomfortable (I need to find a pair that actually stay up).  I arrived at the trig point with spotlessly clean trousers.  Being pretty much in the middle of the Lake District the views were extensive.  In the strange light everything felt like it was really close, like you could reach out and touch the other mountain ranges.  The trig point sits on a small crag and I found a perfect sheltered seat to the north to sit and let Reuben watch me eat.




I’m sure on most days that the walk to High Tove would need waterproof boots and a sense of humour.¬† However we skipped and slid across the frozen bogs.¬† The ice occasionally cracking below my feet but thankfully forward motion preventing a soaking.¬† High Tove is a bit of a non-summit but its cairn gives good views to the south east.

Armboth fell was a kilometer away across rough ground.¬† It is a Wainwright so I felt compelled to pay it a visit, even though its ‘summit’ only rises a few metres above the surrounding moor.¬† As I arrived there was a trio sitting having their lunch on the top, unfortunately Reuben spotted their small terrier before I did.¬† He gatecrashed the party to say hello which was not appreciated by either the humans or their canine.¬† I think that bad words were involved.¬† I had planned to sit there and finish my coffee and lunch but decided on a strategic retreat instead.

Rather than retrace our steps to High Tove we set off across trackless ground towards the ridge south of Middle crag.  A frosted patch of grass made a comfy seat to finish lunch whilst Reuben stayed on lookout for anything else he could make friends with.




Descending directly to the west we soon picked up the bridleway that led us steeply down to the hamlet of Watendlath.  The path in the steeper sections were pitched with stone which was lethally covered in patches of ice.



Apart from a couple of vehicles in the car park the place was deserted, smoke rising vertically from a chimney in the still air.  There is a path marked on the western side of Watendlath beck but I stuck to the minor road instead which gave rapid progress back to the van.  I was nervous about the drive back down the road past Ashness bridge.  Before setting off I walked to the viewpoint one last time to take in the dusk light, mist just beginning to form, not a ripple on the surface of Derwent Water.