Archive for June, 2010

Amongst the Daffodils

It’s the time and place that inspired one of the nation’s favourite poems, which may be why a spring visit to lakeland is such a fixture in the group programme. Be that as it may, this year’s jocund company of expectant walkers gathered at Elterwater youth hostel for two days of mountain walking.

Saturday dawned bright and sunny, full of promise for the day ahead. We decamped to the Old Dungeon Ghyll car park near the head of the valley, and were soon striding out towards Stool End farm and the beginning of the walk proper. Ahead of us loomed The Band – a rugged promontory bearing a steep path to the col between Crinkle Crags and Bowfell.

Before long, our own rugged band were labouring their way to the top, making frequent pauses to look over their shoulders at the fine view of Langdale in the hazy sunshine (and not to take a breather, honest!). Progress was steady, interrupted only by the customary elevenses break, and we soon reached the three small tarns which mark the top of The Band.

It was too windy to spend much time resting – once the group were gathered we turned right to climb towards the summit of Bowfell. After a lunch break in a sheltering outcrop of rocks, we reached the top and were able to take in the view. Bowfell is a wonderful vantage point – in the dead centre of the Lake District it commands great views in all directions. Sadly it was too hazy to see any great distance, but still ample reward for our efforts to get there.

Taking our leave from the summit, we picked our way across the rocky landscape towards our next objective. In places, patches of snow lay as a reminder of the winter. Seasoned by our experience on Cader Idris, we were able to cross them without incident – dropping down to Ore Gap before climbing once more to the top of Esk Pike.

Finally we reached Esk Hause, a crossroads high in the hills where paths meet from Borrowdale, Wasdale, Eskdale and Langdale. Ahead of us stood Scafell, Scafell Pike and Great Gable, but they would have to wait for another day – it was time to head for home. Bearing right, we took the path down to Angle Tarn. Mickleden valley was bathed in evening sunshine as we descended alongside Rossett Gill and followed the Cumbria Way back to the car park – the completion of a splendid (if demanding) day’s walking.

Sunday was distinctly less promising in terms of weather, but still good enough to entice us back into the hills. This time the walk started at the hostel gate, following Langdale Beck towards Chapel Stile. The church bells rang out as we approached the village. I don’t think they were warning the inhabitants of our arrival, but in any case we were soon through and into the country beyond.

A brisk climb brought us to Dow Bank, in the middle of a line of high ground separating Elterwater from Grasmere. Turning eastwards we followed this “gently undulating” ridge to the beginning of Loughrigg Terrace.

The second climb of the day took us to the top of Loughrigg Fell. We passed a large party of Chinese students coming down, who were apparently on some kind of exchange trip. They seemed to be enjoying the experience, though some of them weren’t exactly dressed for it. On reaching the trig point we sat down to rest, and to enjoy both the view and a well-earned lunch.

Rested and refreshed, we began our descent back into the valley. Picking our way around the lumps and bumps which grace the top of Loughrigg, we were soon dropping towards Skelwith Bridge. A break for further refreshment in that village’s well-stocked tea shop was followed by a final mile along the shore of Elter Water back to the cars.

Another excellent group weekend, my thanks go to the drivers and everybody else who made it so enjoyable.