Martin in Gatineau Park - 2018

Martin in Gatineau Park - 2018

Friday, 11 June 2010

Thursday 10 June 2010 - A Great British Ridge Walk - Number 22 – Helvellyn by Striding Edge and descent via Swirral Edge

A planned (at very short notice) stravaig over Place Fell was foiled by a ‘steering rack that was leaking hydraulic fluid faster than that leaky oil rig in the Caribbean’. 

So, no Pie Man or Bruno today.

But I couldn’t let this stop me from enjoying a day in the hills, especially as I now have my own independent means of transport.  Just as well, as Sue was to enjoy her first taste of work for many months today.

Some folk I’d bumped into on this year’s TGO Challenge just happen to live by the start of a Great British Ridge Walk, which coincides with the start of the aborted stravaig.  Moreover, Marian was happy to join me for a day in the hills.

So after a leisurely coffee in Patterdale with Mike and Marian, the two of us set off along an exclusive route to Lanty’s Tarn and thence to the fellside above Miresbeck.

Bluebells seemed to be getting the better of a section of bracken steeped hillside, but for how much longer, I wondered?


The forecast had predicted that the low cloud would clear.  The ‘Place Fell’ plan would have seen us out of the cloud for longer than this back-up plan, as demonstrated by this last view to Glenridding and across Ullswater to Place Fell, before we entered the thin cloud.

Glenridding, Ullswater and Place Fell

It wasn’t unpleasant, though gloves and a windproof top were deployed for a while.  We traversed Striding Edge in a fairly purist manner, Marian being an accomplished climber, meeting and parting with a variety of folk who were avoiding the ‘airier’ sections.  Eventually a large party of schoolchildren, queuing to descend the final steep little chimney gully before the easy ascent to the summit of Helvellyn, briefly held us up.  We were happy to wait, but their attentive leaders insisted on us passing through.

Once on the summit plateau, we passed the Gough Memorial, erected in 1890 after both Walter Scott and Wordsworth had alluded to the death of Charles Gough in their poetry.  The memorial reads:

Beneath this spot were found in 1805
The remains of Charles Gough
Killed by a fall from the rocks 
His dog was still guarding the skeleton

Today the wind was light.  Nobody would fall.  A happy bunch munched in the mist at the trig point.

Helvellyn Summit

Marian and I didn’t attempt to locate the other memorials, one of which commemorates the first landing of an aircraft on a British mountain on 22 December 1926.  We headed down Swirral Edge and on to Catstycam, where we enjoyed Part Two of a lunch that had been commenced in a sheltered spot above Bleaberry Crag.

The route down the steep north west ridge of Catstycam seems to have become popularised since Marian last used it (I’d never been there before – I think), and a clear path ran most of the way down.  We paused for a while after emerging from the mist below a steep, slippery section above Kepple Cove Dam, abandoned in October 1927 after after a cloudburst caused it to burst, resulting in devastation to Greenburn lead mines and Glenridding.

  Kepple Cove Dam

Marian, on the lower slopes of Catstycam

After traversing a disused leat (an open watercourse conducting water to a mill, etc) to join the path from Red Tarn, we descended to Glenridding Beck, where a group of helmeted youngsters were in the beck, making their way up the gorge.

We found some Starry Saxifrage and Cuckoo Flower here, as well as this little cutie, who turned out to be a champion jumper.

A common frog

The cloud never really cleared, despite the encouraging forecast, but Rake Cottages, on the Greenside Road, did seem to be basking in their own little private oasis of sunshine.  I’m sure they deserved it.

A Glint of Sunshine over Glenridding

Near Lanty’s Tarn, Marian pointed out the small Round-leaved Sundew plants.  They were everywhere!

Round-leaved Sundew

Well, not here, but I am probably standing on some Tormentil whilst posing for this photo with an Ullswater backdrop.

A dull day, with Ullswater

I’m glad that Marian could join me today.  We enjoyed a good chat – the opportunity for that eluded me for most of the TGO Challenge – spotted a few items of interest, and I would never have discovered her excellent routes between Patterdale and Lanty’s Tarn, returning down one of which we passed a rich collection of wild flowers and some exotic trees.  You’ll have to go to the short slide show to see them, if you’re interested…

Here’s an overview of today’s route.  Bill Birkett’s version starts from Glenridding, but the start and finish at Patterdale has lots to commend it.  It was about 16 km, with 1100 metres of ascent, and took 6.5 hours, though you could easily knock an hour of that timing.

Our route - approx 16 km, 1100 metres ascent, in a leisurely 6.5 hours

We saw not so much bird life, but lots of wild flowers today, including:
Cuckoo Flower
Greater Stitchwort
Herb Robert
Common Milkwort
Wavy Bittercress* (Cardamine flexuosa)
Round-leaved Sundew
Starry Saxifrage
Umbellifers - various, including Pignut* (Conopodium majus)
Wild Pansy
Wood Speedwell* (Veronica montana)

* = as subsequently confirmed by Marian.


The Odyssee said...

Good route Martin. And a fine day generally.

I recall how steep that decent off Catstycam was. I have come down that way a few times and gone up it only once.

Alan Sloman said...

"It was about 16 km, with 1100 metres of ascent, and took 6.5 hours, though you could easily knock an hour of that timing"

I love all that, Martin!

You could easily add a few hours and have a nice kip at Lanty's Tarn with some soup. All this modern rushing about!

Phreerunner said...

Your concern is appreciated, sir from the flatlands, but this was a day walk from Manchester and others who follow the route may wish to go a bit quicker than we did. To describe Marian and me as 'rushing about' would on this occasion be an insult to the phrase! Bill Birkett describes it as a five hour excursion for an average person. Some excellent overnight routes with high camps would offer an alternative for those with more time, but Lanty's Tarn? You may as well enjoy a beer or two in Patterdale, surely?