Four More Wainwright’s

Another Sunday and another adventure with my lovely wife, Helen, although this particular adventure was back in February. I haven’t found the time to write about it, even though it was bordering on epic.

We drove over the top of Kirkstone Pass and parked in the small hamlet of Hartsop. Our walk headed almost directly up as we climbed towards the summit of Hartsop Dodd. We climbed 400m in the space of less than a mile. Even Nelly thought that the first climb went on a bit too long.

From the summit there was a small downhill section before a long gentle climb into the clouds to reach the top of Caudale Moor, which is also known as Stony Cove Pike, depending on which guide book or map you’re looking at.

From there we had a short steep scramble down before a short steep climb up to the top of Thornthwaite Crag. We bumped into three hikers who were doing exactly the same route as us, but in the other direction. (We all walked into the carpark at the end at the same time.)

By this time the clouds were really low, with visibility down to not very much, although it was easy to know when we’d reached the top.

It was an easy and gentle slope down as we walked towards our fourth and final Wainwright of the day, Gray Crag. As we descended we left the clouds behind, giving us a stunning view through the valley and across the southern tip of Ullswater.

The final descent was almost as steep as our first climb, but this time the wind had picked up, nearly blowing us over a couple of times. A little lower down the path became quite wet and I managed to slip onto my bum, sliding a few meters down the hill dragging Nelly with me, much to the amusement of Helen. With my back, bum and legs covered in mud we made our way back to the car with Helen chuckling most of the way. I even went into Tesco on the way home looking like that to buy a chicken and some roast potatoes.

The full route took us four hours, even though it was only a little bit over six miles. In better conditions it is probably one of the best walks in the Lakes, and one where there probably won’t be too many other people. The carpark isn’t very large so I would suggest getting there early.

Raven Crag, High Tove and Armboth Fell

Our adventuring has been lacking in the past few weeks. Both me and my lovely wife, Helen, needed a day out. Wainwright bagging it is then.

I looked at our Wainwright map while Helen opened Wikiloc. A suitable route was found starting from Thirlmere Reservoir. There is currently work being carried out on the dam, which means that it isn’t open to vehicular traffic. I ignored the warning sign and we parked in a small layby close to the dam.

It really is amazing that it was built so many years ago simply to supply water to Manchester.

The original water pipe passes close by Lancaster at the base of Clougha Pike.

We crossed over the dam and found the footpath that would take us up to our first of three Wainwrights. It was a steep path, twisting and turning, finishing at a deer fence. There followed a short out and back section to the top of Raven Crag. It is difficult to put into words how extraordinary the top of the crag was. A wooden platform had been built with views across Thirlmere and to the larger forbidding Helvellyn range of fells.

Early in the morning on a fairly bleak day there were still at least a dozen other walkers making their way either up or down the flight of steps to the summit. I expect that it is one of the more popular fells in the summer.

We made our way around the back of the fell along a forrestry track, before turning off towards High Seat, a Wainwright that we’d climbed back in December. With High Seat looking down on us we tramped across some very boggy fell to reach High Tove. It was a little disappointing, mostly because the clouds were blocking most of the view. I bet on a clear day it is amazing.

We dropped down and across more boggy fell towards our final Wainwright of the day, Armboth Fell. It was another fairly low lying fell.

From here the route, as expected, headed down, slowly dropping below the clouds.

The last mile of the route was along the banks of the reservoir, which allowed us to let Nelly off the lead for a scamper. We can’t risk letting her off on the fells as we don’t know where she might go. It is the way of the Pointer.

Back at the car and my feet were soaked. I definitely need to purchase a new pair of walking boots.

Another fantastic little adventure with my adventure family. Love my life,

Garmin Expeditions

I like challenges. I like Strava challenges and I like the ones contained within Garmin Connect. Very recently, Garmin have added Expeditions to their challenges. Each one is worth a different number of points, from one up to eight, depending on how tough the expedition is to complete. There are two types, hiking and climbing, both can be completed walking/hiking or running. No cycling ones yet.

So far I have managed to complete four of the shortest hiking challenges, but I am only 24% of the way through my first climbing challenge. However, I joined one of the tougher challenges with almost 7,000m of ascent required.

To note, you can only do two challenges at the same time, one hiking and one climbing. If you end a challenge before completing it, you lose everything you’ve done so far. However, if you complete a challenge and then start a new one the same day, anything that you’ve already done that day gets added to the new challenge, hence why I’ve managed to complete a few of the shorter ones so quickly.

Have you started any of the Garmin Expedition Challenges?

Black Fell and Holme Fell

Sunday is adventure day, so my lovely wife, Helen, sorted out a route, which included two of the lowest Wainwrights, namely Black Fell and Holme Fell, located to the south west of Ambleside.

Amazingly, it took less than an hour to get to Tarn Hows car park from Lancaster. The car park is owned by the National Trust, and because I’m a life member, I can park for free all day. I like National Trust car parks. We pulled into the car park just after 8, and we were the only people there. I joked with Helen about how full it will be when we return.

Our route headed north around one side of the Tarn, which had a notice to say that swimming was prohibited so as not to damage the leeches. I’m guessing that would put off most people.

From the Tarn our route gently climbed, past a group of placid cows and onto a higher fell. We suddenly found ourselves at the top of Black Fell, which seemed very easy. Our starting point was quite high up. From Black Fell the plan was to follow a farm track onto the A593, which we would cross so that we could head up Holme Fell. Unfortunately, the farm track was for authorised access only, so we had to detour and walk along the A593 for a short while. It wasn’t too bad as most drivers were very courteous.

Off the main road we started to climb, summiting a number of smaller unnamed ridges all joined together, as we slowly made our way to Holme Fell. I have to say, that at only 315m high, it was proving to be quite a tough climb. When we did reach the top we stopped for a snack and some water, only to look across a small saddleback and realise that we were at the top of Ivy Crag.

Ten minutes later we were at the top of the correct fell.

We then dropped quite steeply down to Yew Tree Tarn and back across the A593. From here the route followed Tom Gill as we climbed up past the Tom Ghyll Waterfalls. It was quite a sting in the tail, and we were fairly worn out when we reached Tarn Hows again.

Back at the car park it was complete chaos. It was overflowing with people and cars, and was a little intimidating. We fed Nelly and as we did we were asked if we were leaving. Nelly doesn’t take long to eat and we were soon back on our way home, narrowly avoiding a complete tosser of a driver who overtook a number of cars at extreme speed as we drove past Ambleside. The vehicle must have been stolen, the driving was that dangerous.

Anyway, our route was 12.5km with 600m of climbing, and ticked off another two Wainwrights.

Sour Howes and Sallows

Friday morning the weather was icy cold but sunny. Me and my lovely wife decided to take our silly old pooch for a short walk in the lake district, ticking off two Wainrights, Sour Howes and Sallow.

Starting off from the village of Troutbeck we headed up an initially steep trail, which soon levelled out to a gentle slope up. We’d walked part of this route last year in the other direction. After a mile we turned off the track onto a very steep footpath, navigating a difficult ladder stile, difficult for Nelly, followed soon after by another tricky ladder stile. We were know up on the higher fells, enjoying great views over Windemere. We stopped for an obligatory selfie.

We continued up in the sun until we reached the summit of Sour Howe.

We then did a quick little detour to the summit of Cappel Howe, which isn’t a Wainright but it seemed a shame not to add in an extra mile.

We followed our trail back to the top of Sour Howe and continued in a circular route up the gentle slope of Sallows. At the top we again admired the views and had a snack. We then followed a steep path back down to a wider but very icy track.

We hadn’t seen another person all morning, until suddenly we were inundated. Two runners, chatting as they ran uphill, followed by a mountain biker and then loads more walkers.

We followed the track back into the village. Our six mile walk had taken exactly 3 hours with 500m of climbing. An excellent little walk where we were back home before 1pm, and two more Wainrights ticked off, only another 190 to go.

Helm Crag, Gibson Knott and Calf Crag

Wainwright bagging has begun. As I wrote last week, my lovely wife gave me a Wainwright Bagging book and map (read about it here), so we set off towards Grasmere to tick off three more fells.

Once again we were blessed with amazing weather. It was cold, but there was very little wind and no rain. Setting off early we parked in the main carpark in Grasmere and started walking in the same direction as when we’d walked to Easedale Tarn (read about it here). However this time we turned off our previous route and began climbing.

The next mile was a very steep climb with amazing views as we eventually reached the summit of Helm Crag, famous for an outcropping of rock at the top called The Lion and the Lamb.

There were a number of other walkers and runners enjoying a rare day without rain as we continued over the top and across a saddleback towards our second Wainwright, Gibson Knott. Before we reached it we past a second outcropping of rock called The Howitzer, as it vaguely resembles a large shell stuck in the ground. There was a man who had climbed up to the top. We waved and declined to join him.

There’s not a great deal to say about Gibson Knott, except that we stopped to eat a ham sandwich before making our way towards our final Wainwright, Calf Crag.

At the summit of Calf Crag we patiently waited for another pair of walkers to vacate it so that we could take our turn taking photos. Looking back we could see both of the previous summits and the valley for our return route.

Off the top we turned sharply and steeply down into the valley. If we’d continued we would have eventually reached a number of other Wainwrights, including High Raise, Ullscarf and Sergeant Man. We were now out of the sun and it was colder as we continued down, picking our way over icy sections until we reached the valley floor for the last few miles back into Grasmere.

Grasmere was busy, and despite wanted to find a cafe for a brew and cake, none of them felt particularly welcoming. A number of cafes had signs saying No Dogs, so we continued back to our car. The car park was chaos as it was overflowing with visitors, so we quickly headed on home.

Our walk had taken a few hours even though it was only 9 miles, mostly because of how steep the main ascent and descent had been. However, we ticked off another three Wainwrights, leaving only 196 remaining. It might take a while.


There are 214 Wainwrights in the lake district, named after the famous walker and guide book writer, Alfred Wainwright. These are the hill tops or fell summits that are included in his series of books covering the lakes. I will ignore that towards the end of his life he wasn’t a particularly nice person, and instead concentrate on the fells.

Me and my lovely wife like to go walking or running in the area as often as we can, but quite often we chose low level routes. When we pick higher routes we don’t worry about if the hill is a Wainwright or not, or even if we reach the summit.

However, this Christmas Helen gave me a Wainwright Bagging book and a map.

My wife knows me very well, and knows that I like to tick off items. A few years ago she gave me a Stobbart spotting book which lives in the car. You can imagine my disappointment when we overtake a Stobbart lorry on the motorway only to find that the cab isn’t a Stobbart.

Anyway, first job was to check Strava to see which of the Wainwrights I’ve already climbed and tick them off the book, as well as any that I’d done before Strava (if a thing even exists). One problem was that I couldn’t find Coniston Old Man. We’d walked that a couple of years ago but it didn’t appear to be in the book. I looked under C, and then I looked under O. I found it eventually under T, for The Old Man of Coniston.

After all that, I could tick off the huge amount of 15 Wainwrights. That is all I have summited. 199 to go, which should keep us busy for a few years.

High Cup Nick

When the weather is as unseasonably warm as it has been, the only option is to go on a mini adventure. My lovely wife, Helen, had bought me the latest edition of Trail magazine. There was an article all about staying in Ravenstonedale for four days and completing a walk in the Howgills one day, the next day in the lakes, another day in the Yorkshire Dales and the last day in the Pennines. The walk in the Pennines was up High Cup Nick, which is part of the Pennine Way.

We drove out to the small village of Dufton and found the Pennine Way without any trouble. The first mile was on tarmac, but as we went through a gate, we began climbing up on a well-trodden path. The views going up were amazing, and we hardly saw another person all day, although we did hear a lot of shooting across the valley.

About halfway up we encountered an older man walking his dogs, one of which was remarkable. Apparently, it was a Russian Wolf Hound and was very distinctive.

We went through a couple more gates and allowed Nelly off her lead as there weren’t any sheep. And then suddenly we could see High Cup Nick.

The photos don’t do this amazing feature justice as the three sides of the steep valley drop away.

We sat down on a handy rock to enjoy the panoramic view.

We then ambled our way back down to the car. It might have been only an eight-mile walk, but it was one of the most stunning walks we had ever been on. It also made us realise just how amazing the Pennine Way is, and while we might not want to walk it, there are plenty of long-distance footpaths that do appeal to us. One possibility that does appeal to us is the West Highland Way.

Anyway, if you’re ever in the north Pennines, we can recommend the walk up to High Cup Nick from the village of Dufton.

Troutbeck Round

Friday evening my brilliant wife Helen stated that on Sunday she needed hills. Saturday evening, we perused our collection of walking and running guides and opted for the longest route in Helen Mort’s excellent Lake District Trail Running book. We’ve done a number of her routes and they have all been excellent. I created a route for my Garmin, and we made sandwiches, bought additional snacks, loaded up a rucksack and prepped for an early start on Sunday morning.

Best laid plans and all that! Fireworks, and Nelly our silly old Pointer was completed stressed most of the night, meaning that no one managed much sleep. On top of that, the weather forecast was for rain, lots of rain.

We woke up Sunday morning not completely refreshed, the forecast hadn’t improved, and it would have been very easy to stay in bed for most of the morning. But no, we headed out and we were parked in a small layby near Jesus Church in Troutbeck before 8am. We had a plan B, in that if the weather turned really bad, we would double back as the first part of the route was fairly flat and low lying.

Out of the village the first footpath was quite steep before levelling out and heading north through the valley. It was warm, hardly any wind and incredibly peaceful. Nelly was also allowed off the lead to be gate monitor.

In the distance, the clouds looked ominous, with all of the hill tops obscured. We continued walking, making good progress and when the path started to climb, we stopped for a cherry scone and a drink. The first four miles had been a doddle.

Slowly we climbed higher and higher, the wind buffeting so strong that it blew my woolly hat off my head. Fortunately, I managed to retrieve it before it disappeared over the edge.

We continued up, expecting rain at any moment. The route carried on a little further north, but noticing another footpath, we cut off the tip of the route and started on the wide path back.

The route back goes over three different peaks; Froswick, Ill Bell and Yoke. Froswick at 720m high we skirted around, but Ill Bell at 757m high was a steep and tough little climb. There were two cairns at the top, and clouds, lots of clouds, and wind. We navigated to the correct path down and every now and again the cloud would lift enough for some amazing views.

After the summit of Yoke at 706m high we began the slow and steady descent back down to Troutbeck. Amazingly, it still hadn’t started to rain. There were also quite a few walkers and runners headed in the other direction. A few more miles later and we joined the track we had taken from the village, with Nelly leading the way again. At this point there was the first spots of rain, but it didn’t last too long and wasn’t very heavy.

Back in the village we passed the field holding the Pumpkin Fesitval, we passed the small carpark that we missed, past the chruch and back to the car.

Our full route was 17.4km (just under 11 miles) with 930m of climbing (lots of feet). As expected, the rain started to lash it down as we sat in the car eating a sandwich as we prepared ourselves for the long drive home. What we love about this area of the Lakes is that it is only a 45-minute drive, and less than an hour to Ambleside.

Anyway, an absolutely fantastic walk. The three of us have eight tired legs between us. I fully recommend Helen Mort’s book if you fancy a few interesting walks or runs in the area.

Next week will be a tough week for both me and Helen, so this was a much-needed day out.

My Strava route can be found here, if you wanted to give me Kudos or walk/run the route yourself.

Loughrigg Fell

Another Friday and another family outing to the Lake District. 50 minutes after we set off from home we were parking up in Ambleside. We were going to walk another one of Helen Mort’s excellent trail running routes, this one up and over Loughrigg Fell.

We’ve been to Loughrigg Tarn a few times this summer and had walked from there into Ambleside a couple of times, so we knew the first part of the route. We set off through Rothay Park and up the steep track onto the lower parts of the Fell. However, instead of then dropping down to the Tarn, we turned and went up and over the top of the Fell.

Mostly we had the place to ourselves, overtaking a group of people early on, and then watching a couple of low flying jets on maneuver’s. As we neared the top we spotted a runner with her dog. The dog wanted to say hello to Nelly, but was called away as the runner was going in a different direction. The views at the top were stunning. We were really lucky with the September sun.

And then, just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, Grasmere came into view. As you can see, Nelly was also suitably impressed.

The steep descent was a little taxing on our old knees, but at the bottom we turned back towards Ambleside, first passing Rydal Cave. We didn’t stop to have a look as there were loads of people.

We don’t like to let Nelly off her lead on the Fells, as she could easily get lost. There are always stories about lost dogs. But, along the path overlooking Rydal Water, we freed the old girl and she pottered about in front of us. She’s getting old so we’re very mindful about doing too much, although it does seem that going out with us for a walk is preferable to going out for a run. Even a short slow run is a little bit too much for her.

Soon the footpath became road, with the last mile a little less exciting. We made up for that by stopping in Ambleside for a coffees, scone and cake at the excellent Giggle Goose, before heading home. A well needed mini-adventure to improve our mental well-being.