~In Wainwright's Footsteps~
22nd February 2010
I honestly felt that I was in AW's footsteps on this walk. Armboth Fell was slated in his Book 3 and I read the chapter many moons ago and made my mind up not to bother with it. However, my ambitions have changed and Armboth Fell needed to be climbed, I walked with Book 3 in my hand almost all the way round.....
Thirlmere Dam ~ The Credits
Scroll down for photos and a description of the walk
Quite a sight! I left Burnley at about 10.20, arrived in Keswick at 12:10, parked near the B&B on Blencathra Street and went to catch the bus from the nearest bus stop. But the buses are being re-routed and I had to get to the bus station. I got there with 2 minutes to spare, not enough time to buy a sandwich from Booths's and the 12:25 to Lancaster left on time. Soon enough I was walking on the dam. I thought I would be on the 13:25, so the start one hour earlier was appreciated and the benefits were enjoyed later.
Frozen Thirlmere (again)
Well, it's a rare sight, so lets have another look. I had to walk along the road for a mile and a half to the start of the climb at Fisher Gill.
Start of the Climb
So, this is the start of a walk into the unknown. AW: "It can be said of very few fells that they are not really worth climbing; Armboth Fell is one of the few." Gosh, what am I doing? He calls "the flat desolate top", "little better than a quagmire".
"A balanced boulder 12 feet high alongside the footpath from Armboth"
Wainwright Book 3, Armboth Fell 2
Looking Back towards Helvellyn
Helvellyn from Armboth Fell
Of course there was method in my madness. All the bogs and waterlogged sections were frozen. This fell has merits in such circumstances, mainly by virtue of the views, but also it's a place for those who are not comfortable in crowds.
The Central Fence on High Tove
The "Ridge Route" to High Tove was a trudge across snow and heather; "dreariness and desolation".
High Tove Summit
"It is hard to imagine that anybody feels any affection at all for High Tove ... it is without any redeeming feature except as a viewpoint .... <the summit> is a dreary place with no feature of interest." Well here I might argue the case for the defence. The piece of fence protruding from the cairn does seem quite interesting, a classic piece of 4" x 1" (or thereabouts), cut cleanly and, I reckon, treated for protection against premature rotting.
Me on High Tove
There I am, ready for the walk to High Seat (behind); my guidebook tells: "Minor Depressions ....it is 1 mile away and the first half-mile is all swamps and peat-hags."
High Seat Summit
Does anyone else suffer from "High" disorientation? I get my "Seats" "Toves" "Raises" Streets" "Riggs" "Stiles" etc. a bit mixed up at times. This is my highest point today at 1995ft and if I'd stood on that column, my head would have attained 2000ft. But I didn't.
The Summit from The Man
Another of those fells with two competing summits. This view shows us some North Western Fells, can you name them? (Save me a job)
Catstycam (l) and Helvellyn
Snowy out East. This is the same day as the avalanche on St.Sunday Crag.
Snow Shower on The Dodds
A light flurry reached me as I prepared for the ridge route to Bleaberry Fell; this really caught my imagination: " This is a walk to wish on one's worst enemy, especially after rain." Hmmm, I hope it stays frozen. Well, it did and the route was not too difficult across the hard surfaces of ice, snow and bog.
Blencathra from Bleaberry Fell
If you look carefully, somebody's left a pair of quavers on Blease Fell, proving that the hills may well be alive with the sound of music.
Skiddaw from Bleaberry Fell
At last, AW finds something to cheer about on the Central Ridge: "it is a superb viewpoint, ideally situated for a long and lazy contemplation of a beautiful panorama. What is more, and here it scores heavily over other fells along the ridge, it can be climbed dryshod and the short springy heather of the top is a joy to tread."
A Wider View
The Route to Walla Crag
Here's the benefit of the earlier bus, time for a longer walk. Fortunately, I keep a Mars Bar in my rucksac and so, at this point, I took a late lunch. The descent to the path shown is very steep, but once on the path, I could safely stow my compass and map away as the path was quite clear.
Sheepfold and Bleaberry Fell
Hmmmm, what's this then?
Sheepfold on the way to Walla Crag
Keswick from Walla Crag
It was here that I found my voice and greeted four other walkers. The first folk I'd seen over the last four hours of walking.
I descended down from Walla Crag and made my way back to Keswick. High Tove comes back to mind, it's the only one of the five summits visited today, that I'd visited previously; so four new tops for me. On the way through Keswick, I came across this roadsign:
That's more like it!
So, an afternoon with Wainwright comes to a close. The early shot of the boulder was enhanced in Photoshop (really?), to try and make it look as close to the one in the book as possible. The graffiti in the sheepfold is also a product of my devious mind and I apologise to Derek Hatton, or anyone else with those initials, for any offence caused.
Walkers: Just Me
Time taken: 5hrs 20mins over a distance of approx 10 miles
Route: Thirlmere Dam, Armboth, Fisher Gill, Armboth Fell, High Tove, High Wotsit, Bleaberry Fell, Walla Crag, Borrowdale Road, Keswick - Blencathra Street.
Weather and conditions: Sunny spells and increasing late afternoon cloud.
Greetings Count: Wonderfully Low.
Richard's Refreshment Review: The Bank Tavern. Pub in Keswick. When you're on your own, you need a fairly busy pub to blend into, so-to-speak. I found one and the food was OK, nothing more. In order to make myself look less like Billy No-Mates, I texted a few folk whilst waiting for the meal and that way it looked as though I had some friends.
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That Dam Sign!
All photos copyright Richard Ratcliffe 2010 ©