Saturday, 21 May 2016

Lake District Trek Rosthwaite to Threlkeld via Watendlath

The end!

This was the last day of our Lake District Trek . Jolly good breakfast, complete with soya milk for my corn flakes, at the Royal Oak in Rosthwaite. A good start to the day.

After a few hundred yards along the valley floor we headed up to Watendlath Tarn. The old packhorse bridge at Watendlath was closed, damaged by the December storms, but there was a temporary wooden bridge next to it so we crossed the river with dry feet!

There was a chilly old wind as we climbed up the slope behind the Tarn so I stopped to put on my waterproof, the only windproof that I was carrying. It was still quite bright.

There was a pretty good path to the top of High Tove which we reached as the rain started. Proper rain driven by strong winds of over 25mph.

The next bit to High Seat was horrible. Peat bog with deep soft areas. We had to weave around to find a way through. I was jolly pleased that my boots (Meindl Dovre Extreme GTX) were 10 inches tall so no problem keeping my feet dry, unlike Al with normal height boots.

We reached High Seat after a couple of hours, now with the rain beating down. The next section was a bit easier. No deep boggy bits but it was very wet. We passed lots of people coming the other way. Looked like there was some event on, must have been over 40 people in 4 or 5 groups.

Bleaberry Fell was similarly wet but the rain eased off and stopped as we made our way down. Interesting at times, rain, wind and sunshine, all at the same time. A bit over an hour of rain in total.

There were a few hillocks to the side of the path as we descended and it was brightening up so we went up a couple of them. The last was called Falcon Crag. Quite a view with nice light over Derwent Water and Keswick so I pulled my Mamiya camera out of the rucsac to take a few pictures, the only ones of the day.

We called in at Castlerigg stone circle on the way to Threlkeld. Lots of people here. Just a few phone photos as I already have lots of photos of it, summer, winter, normal, infrared, with and without snow in the background (visit to view them!).

From here it was a short hop to the end, the Horse and Farrier in Threlkeld, which was where we started 5 days ago. I celebrated with a Snecklifter or two!

Our evening meals were good but having 5 dogs in the pub, which is effectively a restaurant as all tables are booked for food, spoilt it. I'm allergic to dogs. The place was packed so I just had to rely on my Ventolin spray for my asthma to get me through the evening.

It was about 50 miles and 12 mountains/hills in 5 days. Just 1.5 hours of rain in total, this compares with 7 days of rain in 8 in Snowdonia last year! I also took 46 proper black and white photographs, all on Ilford 400 Delta 120 film, with my Mamiya 7 camera and 65mm lens.

We also managed about 14 miles to the gallon.....of beer.


Cat Bells from Falcon Crag

Al with a Bad Head, must have been the beer

Derwent Water and Keswick


Bringing in the Sheep 

Horse and Farrier, Threlkeld

Lake District Trek Day 4 Buttermere to Rosthwaite

It was our penultimate day today and the weather forecast was not good until mid-afternoon. We were staying at the Bridge Hotel in Buttermere, jolly nice room and good beer and food last night. Good breakfast too to set us on our way this morning.

It stayed dry for the first 40 minutes or so, then we had very heavy rain for 15 minutes, just long enough for us to put full waterproofs on. The rest of the day was dry with sunny spells from midday. So much for the forecast for rain showers all day!

It was very peaceful walking along beside Buttermere Lake, we didn't see anyone until we reached the other end of the lake.

We started up the steep main ridge of Fleetwith Pike from the road and made good time, passing a couple on the way up. I've been up by this route a few times before but I always like the steep rocky bits, you can get into a sort of rhythm on them.

Jolly good views at the top. Chatting to the couple that we passed when they reached the top, the woman worked in Macclesfield just 10 miles from home! Small world.

Lots of sunny spells as we made our way across to Honister Slate Mine. We refrained from using the zip wire for fear of being disqualified from our trek and walked down.

We originally planned to go straight down to Rosthwaite, our stop for the night. As it was early we changed our minds and headed for Stonethwaite. The Langstrath Inn is open all day and always has good beer. From there it was just 1.5 miles along to Rosthwaite but it was still early so we dashed in to the Scafell Hotel, next door to our hotel. The last time I can remember being in here was on my first Coast to Coast trek in 1979. They had 6 real Ales on today so well worth the visit.

The Royal Oak Hotel was a little bit different to our other hotels. We booked dinner, b&b for a change. Our 4 course Dinner started at 7.30pm. Quite a few of the others were walking Wainwright's Coast to Coast so a lot of others were staying just one night. We couldn't get in to the Scafell or Langstrath because of it being just a 1 night booking.

The bar area was very small with just 1 real ale and a keg beer. It was local beer from near Ullswater but not my favourite. The meal was excellent and they catered very well for my allergies.

After the meal we ran next door to the Scafell in the rain for a couple of nightcaps, of the Snecklifter variety!

Last day tomorrow. We walk up to Watendlath Tarn then over 3 peaks to Castlerigg stone circle and back to the Horse and Farrier in Threlkeld to finish.

Buttermere from Fleetwith Pike 

Buttermere from Fleetwith Pike Summit 

Honister Slate Mine 


Thursday, 19 May 2016

Lake District Trek Loweswater to Buttermere

It's day 3 of our trek in the Lake District.

Scales Force Upper Falls and Al

Today is a sort of rest day as it's just 6 miles and 1500 feet (less than 500m) of ascent over a small peak called Mellbreak. 

We were well looked after by the staff at the Kirkstile Inn in Loweswater. The Grasmoor Dark Ale was very nice, as was the steak pie last night. The full English breakfast was a bit much for such a short day but I forced it down anyway. 

Suzi, our luggage transfer supremo from Keswick (Suzi'z Taxis) obviously couldn't sleep very well as she came to pick up our bags shortly after we'd started breakfast. Fortunately, she didn't mind waiting a few minutes.

Once again we excelled by getting out by the crack of 9.25am! Immediately we saw a confusing sign obviously designed to stop you going any further. See picture.

A good farm track led us to the small wood at the foot of the northern end of Mellbreak. The track started off grassy then became loose rocks so I headed off to the right of this to climb the smaller track through the heather just as it steepened. There was a short section where no track existed but it was easy enough to the ridge above.

Al seemed somewhat subdued when he reached the top. He soon pointed out that he hadn't enjoyed climbing through heather wearing shorts, his legs were covered in cuts and grazes and were bleeding. This reminds me of rule number one when climbing steep heather covered mountain slopes 'Don't Wear Shorts'!

Al's legs, not a pretty sight!

From here it was a short romp to the lower top then a broad ridge took us to the main top at the other end. Good views all round as we marched along. The southern slopes of Mellbreak are steepish grass but easy underfoot and we soon found ourselves at the bottom looking back at our route.

Immediately opposite is a narrow steep sided gorge, home to Scales Force waterfalls. There wasn't a huge amount of water but it was still impressive. The waterfalls are split into 2 main falls, the lower one about 15 feet high, the upper falls about 150 feet, maybe more. 

The rocks were dry to the side of the lower falls so Al climbed up to check it out while I took more shots below him, as if I don't have enough photos of these lower falls already from several previous trips!

Al gave me the nod that it was worth me clambering up to take some proper photos with my Mamiya. I must say it was impressive. The bottom section of the upper falls in particular was beautiful. I went in as close as I could without getting soaked.

After this short interlude we returned, carefully, to our rucsacs and made our way to Buttermere. We had just bought our beers and found a table to sit down at and it started raining outside. The first rain of this trip and we avoided it. Makes a change to last year's trip where we had lots of rain on 7 of our 8 days in Snowdonia.

So far in 3 days I've taken 34 photographs with my Mamiya 7 camera, 67mm lens and Ilford 400 Delta 120 film, all handheld as I can't carry the weight of even my lightest carbon fibre Gitzo tripod with my bad back.

There must have been a mistake on booking as our room at the Bridge is extremely good and reasonably spacious. There was even a towel shaped to look like a swan in one of our 2 washbasins!

Tomorrow we move on to Rosthwaite for our penultimate day.

Here are a few phone photos.

Loweswater from Mellbreak 

Crummock Water and Buttermere 

Scales Force from below 

Scales Force Upper Falls 

Colour version 

Bluebells on the hillside 

Our luxury bathroom 

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Lake District Trek - Braithwaite to Loweswater

It was day 2 of my 5 day trek in the Lakes with Al.

After a big breakfast at the Royal Oak in Braithwaite we were on our way at the crack of 9.45am. Golly what an early start!

From the village we climbed steadily to the summit of Causey Pike. Views improved as we waited a few minutes but it wasn't that bright.

From here we followed the ridge over Scar Crags, Sail, Eel Crags and on to Grasmoor. That's 5 Wainwright's in a day. We didn't realise this until we looked at the Harvey's map, that has them all marked, down in the valley.

We came down beside the stream between Grasmoor and Whiteside. So many waterfalls, what a beautiful walk! In several places the path had been washed away by the December storms but it was mostly easy to find an alternative since water levels weren't that high.

The pictures in black and white I also took on medium format film with my Mamiya 7 camera. The images here were taken on my Moto-X phone so that they were immediately available but I did take 16 photos today on my Mamiya.

We're staying at the Kirkstile Inn tonight, complete with it's own brewery. The Grasmoor Dark Ale was excellent!!!

Tomorrow is a short day to Buttermere, over Mellbreak then on to Scales Force. Keeping fingers crossed it stays dry.

View from Eel Crag 

Grisedale Pike 

View from Grasmoor 

Al posing, as usual 

Al being creative or in need of a toilet quickly, not sure which!

Bluebells and Whitebells


Liza Beck Falls 

Crummock Water 

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Lake District Trek - Threlkeld to Braithwaite

Today was the first day of my annual hill walking trek with old friend Al from Gloucester.
It's just 5 days this time as I wasn't sure my bad back would last the usual 8 days.

We started from the Horse and Farrier in Threlkeld. Jolly nice Snecklifter on draught. The forecast was for a sunny day but it was overcast with low clouds on the hills.
We stayed in Threlkeld so that we could climb Blencathra and I could take some photos from the top. Unfortunately, the view extended for all of 20 yards, so no pictures.

The descent wasn't that interesting either as there was no view until we were quite low. 

As we made our way down to the river we started seeing bridges half washed away by the December storms. Then further on our route was completely blocked by fencing, 2 bridges had been washed away making the path impassable. One of the bridges was an enormous old metal railway bridge, it was sitting in the river bed quite a way from where it was 2 years ago when we walked over it!

The shortest alternative added just under 2 miles to our route but there was no choice.

We walked into Keswick and headed for the Oddfellows Arms, an old favourite in the town centre, for a swift Snecklifter. Then it was along to the Royal Oak in Braithwaite, our lodgings for the night.

I carried my Mamiya 7 camera all day but didn't take any photos, just the few snaps below on my Moto-X phone.

Tomorrow we head over Causey Pike to Loweswater to stay at the brewery!

View near Blencathra Centre

Waterfalls Above Keswick

Woods near Keswick

Keswick Oddfellows Arms Bar

Skiddaw from outskirts of Keswick

Monday, 16 May 2016

Photography Courses and April Weather

We have run quite a few landscape photography courses here in the Peak District during March and April. Fortunately we hardly had any rain, certainly nothing to stop what we were doing but it was a bit variable. As we moved into April there were some really nice skies and then snow and hail at the end of April. Here's a few phone photos to give you an idea of what it was like.

Wednesday 27th April 2016, view to Kinderscout with fresh snow and great clouds hugging the skyline.

Friday 29th April 2016, view near Chapel-en-le-Frith. Snow in the Peak District has previously stopped a county cricket game (Derbyshire vs Lancashire 2nd June 1975) in the summer so maybe not too surprising.

Tuesday 19th April 2016, 3 Shires Head, a blue sky day for one of our 2 day Experience Black and White Photography courses. Later in the day we processed the films and the following day made some big prints from them to go on Adrian's wall at home. The whole process for taking black and white photographs on film through to making the final darkroom prints.

Thursday 24th March 2016, Padley Gorge. Overcast but a few sunny spells.

These 3 photos were taken by Penny Williams, wife of John Williams who booked the private course for 24th March. I'm the one in the green jacket and black hat.

Here are some photos all taken by Chris Sheils who came over from Prague for a private course on 21st March 2016. They show the range of subjects that we find on a typical course.

Lawrence Field Tree

Bole Hill

Bole Hill

Bole Hill Woods

Padley Gorge

Padley Gorge

Padley Gorge

Mam Tor from Rushup Edge