Sunday, May 22, 2016

A Skelwith Saunter: Black Fell and Holme Fell

Date: 20th May 2016
Start/Finish: Skelwith Bridge
Wainwrights: Black Fell & Holme Fell
Distance: 8.1 Miles
Height Gained: 2013 feet
Time Taken: 5 hours

View of the day: Windermere from Holme Fell

The route: Clockwise from Skelwith Bridge (top right)

The forecast was poor. Low cloud and some rain. I figured it might be a good day to tick off some of the smaller Wainwrights that had a chance of staying below the cloud base. This was a blessing in disguise as I was feeling particularly unfit after a 3 month absence from the fells. From the 'to-do' list, Black Fell and Holme Fell looked good for a nice low level circuit. 

The little road from Skelwith Bridge

The scent of spring

The first of many lovely little cottages seen today

The walk started well enough. A nice woodland path lined with bluebells and freshly unfurling bracken. There wasn't an obvious path up onto Black Fell so I just headed upwards along vague forestry tracks until one materialised near the summit. It's a nice little fell, well placed to peruse the surrounding area and offering particularly good views of Windermere.

Views over to Loughrigg
Black Fell

Windermere from the summit

Summit trig - named Black 'Crag', despite there being minimal 'craggyness'

From here my intention was to make a beeline straight towards Holme Fell but that route looked a little dull. I consulted the map over a Coffee and a Tunnocks wafer and decided that I should probably extend the walk around Tarn Hows which would be far more picturesque.   

Looking over to Holme Fell and Wetherlam beyond

A path and some trees

 At this point the rain set in. The forecast predicted a few fleeting light showers and so I put my trust in the met office and stubbornly left the waterproofs and rucksack cover in the pack. The rain became heavier. I passed a few goretex clad people who glanced at me with knowing looks of superiority. The rain became torrential. Eventually I accepted defeat, took shelter under a tree and begrudgingly donned the shell jacket and fitted the rucksack cover. I set off with renewed purpose. The rain stopped. I stubbornly left the waterproofs on as I convinced myself that the clouds still looked threatening. The sun came out. I passed a few people in T-shirts who glanced at me with knowing looks of superiority. I started sweating. Eventually I accepted defeat and took off the waterproof garb. I continued on with a niggling feeling that there was probably a lesson to be learned here about using layers effectively but convinced that my many years of hill walking experience meant I was already an expert in such matters.

Tarn Hows looks pretty in any weather - even though it is entirely man made

Tarn Hows in October 2012 - from a previous walk in better weather

I followed the waterfalls path down from Tarn Hows to Yew Tree Farm and then up onto Holme Fell.

Yew Tree Farm

Holme Fell, looking quite ominous for its size

Wild Garlic - You can almost smell it!
A giant killer slug
The slugs were out in force today. This one was the size of a small dog and delighted in worrying sheep. I also think it was after my lunch, until the threat of a ready salted crisp sent it packing.

A fell cow
I've never seen 'fell cows' before. This one was blocking my path in a 'Gandalfesque' manner. It was looking like a stand off until I commented on her good looks, she bowed her head in modesty, and I slipped past. 

A fell cow savaging the local flora

Hunting in packs
The path steepens near the summit, which turns out not to be the summit but a prominence called 'Ivy Crag'. The real summit winks suggestively from the other side of a little, but steep depression, which required a bit of scrambling to get to the top.

Views over to Langdale from Ivy Crag

The real summit of Holme Fell is over there, with Wetherlam beyond

Lunch spot view of Windermere from Holme Fell summit

 Objectives achieved, it was now time to head back. I set off down towards a lovely little tarn which was labelled simply as 'Reservoirs (disused)' on the OS map. 

Funny looking 'Reservoir'

I guess this must have been a water source for the old Hodge Close slate quarry. Now it's simply one of many little un-named tarns in Lakeland. From here, a path winds it way through the old quarry to join the Cumbrian way back to Skelwith bridge.

The old slate quarry

Venue for next years 'Red Bull cliff diving' event

Yeh I could live there ...

... and there

Lingmoor Fell

A cryptic message asking dog owners to introduce their pets to leads

Ahhh ..... or should that be Bahhh

I could live there too ...

Yep I could definitely adjust to such squalor 

I could even tolerate the ram shackled garden
I really need to win the lottery. For the time being though, I really need to knuckle down and plan the next hike. 56 fells to go.

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