At this time of year, East Lancs LDWA traditionally arrange a trip to Ghyll Head Bungalow, just south of Bowness on the eastern slopes of Windermere’s shore.
After zooming back from Center Parcs a quick turnaround saw us heading on up to Ghyll Head, where the LDWA group had already been in residence for a day. Most of them had enjoyed a circular walk to Staveley, including a visit to Wilf’s Café, under the expert guidance of Peter Haslam.
Tuesday – Holme Fell and Black CragWe woke to cloudy skies and a light drizzle that pestered us all day.
Whilst a few folk headed up to Borrowdale for an assault of Cat Bells, and Reg headed south for some ‘essential repairs’, the majority, pictured below at Glen Mary Bridge car park, took the road to Coniston for a pleasant, albeit short stroll over Holme Fell and Black Crag.
A field path from Glen Mary Bridge to Yew Tree Farm led to a gentle ascent over rough ground through a meadow occupied by hardy sheep and a herd of Belted Galloways.
Our first summit, Ivy Crag, was soon under our own belts. This modest peak which fails to measure up to even 300 metres sports excellent views to the south down the length of Windermere. We were able to savour that view despite the lingering cloud.
Beyond Ivy Crag, a steep gully led to the 317 metre summit of Holme Fell. We spotted a small group of deer as we ascended, though Little Ann may have missed these as she needed all her concentration to master the climb to these dizzy heights, where elevenses and fudge brownies were utilised to resuscitate everyone.
Nearby, the snowy slopes of Wetherlam were cloaked in cloud, but there was a clear view north to Little Langdale and Lingmoor.
Soon we reached Hodge Close Quarry, a site of Cathy’s erstwhile diving exploits. She recalled finding a wheelchair in the depths of the quarry, but thankfully no skeleton was attached to it.
After lingering for a while at the quarry we enjoyed a pleasant path which led to High Oxen and an idyllic cottage notwithstanding the drizzle.
We continued past Low Arnside for an al fresco lunch in light rain near Iron Keld. “Where’s the pub?” clamoured my charges, somehow forgetting that I’d told them that despite the proximity of the Drunken Duck, there was no pub on this walk!
After that we wound our way up to the high point of the day, Black Crag, 322 metres. Barbara showed off…
Dancing on the trig point became de rigueur, as most of us took turns to occupy the pedestal.
The pleasant stroll was soon under way again, and the slithery path past Pullscar Plantation proved too much for Little Ann's slippery soles. A number of my assistant leaders manfully rescued her whilst Cathy and I looked on, puzzled as to why some of the group were taking so long to descend the stony path.
After we had plodded about in the rain for a while, Tarn Hows finally put in an appearance and its ducks were duly fed.
One Peter then found a money tree, which delayed his progress for some time, enabling the other Peter to do his Plank Impersonation Trick. [Later, John 'The Plank' Picton showed everyone how that should be done by remaining in situ as a Plank for well over three minutes.]
The descent from Tarn Hows to Tom Gill Waterfall, in gathering gloom, proved most scenic.
The steep path soon degenerated into an easy stroll back to the car park, from where a scenic journey back to Ghyll Head preceded an evening of good food and frivolity, the latter being stage managed by Quiz Mistress Cathy.
Today’s route was about 14km (9+ miles), with 600 metres ascent, taking 5 hours or so.
Wednesday – Birch Fell and Gummer’s How
Wednesday morning brought fine views (see header image) as we looked up from our breakfasts and gazed across Windermere to the Coniston Fells as they were slowly emblazoned by the rising sun.
After breakfast I set off with Roy and Sue, up Ghyll Head Road, whilst others headed to Helm Crag or to indulge themselves with some seasonal treats (ie a shopping trip!).
Soon we left the road and headed up towards Ludderburn Park, from where there were fine views across the M6 divide to the snow-clad Howgill Fells.
Passing puddles frozen into delicate ice formations, we proceeded rather erratically to the summit of Birch Fell, which was in a forest.
From there an easy stroll took us to Gummer How's 321 metre summit, an excellent viewpoint from which many photos were taken. That's Windermere and the Helvellyn massif in the distance.
After chatting to some children who were enjoying a stay in the main building at Ghyll Head, we soon followed them down to cross a minor road then head east towards the Mason's Arms at Strawberry Bank. We had taken butties, but they weren’t needed. Beer and soup was the order of the day for me and Sue, whilst Roy was somewhat more indulgent.
We didn’t feel any need to hurry, so by the time we left the pub the sun had dipped low and we made our way back across waterlogged fields to cross the River Winster in the gloom of the afternoon at Birks Bridge.
From here a cool breeze blew us along, past an old lime kiln, towards Winster, where a clay pigeon shoot was in progress. It was coming to an end as we arrived, and the shooters seemed friendly enough.
Moving on towards Ghyll Head, we took a roundabout route and circled anti-clockwise around some woodland to reach an impressive memorial bench at Rosthwaite Heights, before moving on to the actual summit, which sports a fine view across Windermere.
Later, we enjoyed another excellent meal at Ghyll Head. Sue had to work the following day, so sadly we had to skip the bingo and quizzes and shoot off homewards.
Our route today was about 20km (12+ miles), with 600 metres ascent, taking a little over 6 hours.
This was a most pleasurable couple of days, in excellent company. Thanks, everyone.
There’s a fairly comprehensive slideshow here.
And here’s a plug for Ghyll Head, which in these times of recession is having to become more commercial to survive. The bungalow is an excellent self-catering venue for up to 16 people housed in small dormitories. It’s eminently suitable for a birthday gathering, or just for a group of people wanting a few days away. It currently costs £22-25 pppn so long as there are at least 10 people in the group. As well as the many paths for walking, this is a good mountain biking area, and instructors are available at extra cost should anyone need them – kayaking, climbing, etc are on offer.
Finally, my apologies for the lateness of this posting – there are numerous competing priorities at this time of year – I hope the wait was worth it!