Martin in Gatineau Park

Martin in Gatineau Park

Monday, 20 March 2017

Rentahostel at Hawkshead – 17 to 19 March 2017

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This was our annual ‘rentahostel’ weekend with 24 or so assorted friends based on Sue’s old university hillwalking club.

This year we had use of part of Hawkshead Youth Hostel. The weather was wet and the road between Hawkshead and the Youth Hostel was flooded. So despite an inclination to walk, we drove to the Red Lion on Friday evening.

I’d planned a circuit based on Dow Crag for Saturday. Whilst most people preferred something a bit lower in the inclement weather, ten of us assembled for the drive up to the end of the Walna Scar Road.

Before setting off, two of that number suddenly changed their minds in favour of a low level walk from the hostel. So it was just eight of us who disembarked at the Walna Scar Road terminus.

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It was raining quite hard.

A search for Ken and Anne’s boots proved fruitless, so they were left with little option but to walk back to Hawkshead in their slippers. Bob and Judy, who had come for the day from their home in the Lakes, accompanied them.

So even before we had started, our group of ten had been reduced to me, Sue, Pam and Paul!

We made our way uneventfully up to Goat’s Water, which we could just about see through the mist.

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There were quite a few people coming down the path leading to the gap (Goat’s Hawse) between Dow Crag and The Old Man of Coniston, some sporting rather drenched pairs of jeans. They were the last people we saw before meeting a mountain rescue team several hours later on the Walna Scar Road. We stopped for a cuppa just below the col where it was calm and warm. If wet.

Having ignored one of our ‘back at base’ number’s suggestion that we take the ‘seriously exposed’ climbers’ route up Dow Crag (why would we even know that there was a climbers’ route?!) we encountered no difficulties other than a bit of clambering over slippery rocks on Dow Crag. Then it was an easy walk over Buck Pike and Brown Pike, with occasional views down to diminutive Blind Tarn.

En route, the next two pictures taken from the same spot (it wasn’t a good day for photography in the pouring rain) give an idea of the terrain.

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On reaching the Walna Scar Road, I pointed out the easy shortcut back to the start of the walk, but that option was rapidly discarded in favour of a further four summits.

Good paths led over Walna Scar to White Pike, from where there would normally be a good view, and back beside a wall to White Maiden.

A compass bearing then guided us towards our final summit – High Pike Haw, seen here from near our lunch spot after we’d established that the compass bearing had taken us in the right direction around a few steepish cliffs.

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High Pike Haw is a minor summit with character. From there we headed over Torver High Common in a roughly north east direction, keeping to the left of a boggy area, to eventually re-join the Walna Scar Road at its bridge over Torver Beck, which unlike Ash Gill, crossed en route and pictured top, would not have been an easy ‘hop’ today.

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We finished the walk around 3.30 – here’s the view to Crowberry Haws from the car park.

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Despite the weather, only Pam had wet feet, and we were otherwise nice and dry apart from having wet hands. Waterproof garments had all worked well apart from some of the gloves. In this weather (not too cold) I find that fairly lightweight gloves that can be wrung out frequently keep my hands warmer than my waterproof gloves (Terra Nova Extremities) which were hardly used today.

Here’s our route – about 15 km with 800 metres ascent, taking 5.3 hours.

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That left us plenty of time to relax back at base, where a sumptuous supper was served. There was an assortment of excellent menu items. My contribution of chardonnay chicken with artichoke hearts proved a good choice – it’s really easy to prepare, and went down well with Sue’s baked potatoes.

By Sunday morning the rain hadn’t abated, so most people went home via indoor attractions. Hawkshead hostel is shown below; we were in an annex behind me.

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Sue and I were joined by Andrew at Leighton Moss Bird Reserve, where we eventually escaped from the café. There’s a fairly new ‘Skytower’ that affords a view over the reserve. Can you spot it in the picture below?

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Here’s the view from the Skytower.

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Back down to earth, these Scarlet Elf Cups were abundant. Apparently they are very tasty, but we didn’t pick any.

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We visited several of the hides and got occasional glimpses of Marsh Harriers, as well as seeing the following:

Mute Swan
Greylag Geese
Mallard
Pintail
Teal
Tufted Duck
Pheasant
Cormorant
Little Egret
Great Egret
Coot
Curlew (Saturday)
Wren
Dunnock
Robin
Blackbird
Marsh or Willow Tit
Great Tit
Blue Tit
Carrion Crow
House Sparrow
Chaffinch

Had Ken and Anne been with us, we would no doubt have spotted much more.

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The reed beds have been cleared in places in order to prevent tree growth, and efforts are being made to provide suitable habitats for both Bittern, who like it wet, and Bearded Tits, who like it dry in the reed beds.

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The pheasants seemed pretty comfortable with our presence. This one wasn’t sure whether to regard my orange anorak as friend or foe. Gun shots could be heard in the distance.

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Here’s where we walked – a bit less than 7 km.

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Then we went home.

Thanks to Sue W for organising the weekend but not for providing her customary wet weather.

2 comments:

AlanR said...

Thats a nice walk you did around Dow, shame so many dropped away. I have done the climbers route twice. It isn't particularly difficult but it could be a bit dangerous on the wet rock for some. Better left for a dryer day when it is worth doing.
Never seen those red mushrooms before, magnificent, although red usually spells danger.

Phreerunner said...

Britishlocalfood says 'The edibility of scarlet elf cups is not clearly established, as some authors list the fungi as inedible, meanwhile some top chefs are serving them as gorgeous wild treats. I have tried these ruby gems several times and I have never encountered any problem.

Perhaps, they are not commonly regarded as edibles due to their slightly woody texture or small fruiting bodies. However, the main culinary value resides in the splash of colour they offer to the dish and the versatility to prepare stunning dishes.'

They feature in a number of 'fine dining' recipes and generally need to be cooked for a very short time, eg just stirred into any slow cooked dish at the last minute.