One of the waterfalls on Aira Beck that Patty, Mary, and Andreas visited.
Another stream joins Aira Beck.
At some point, Patty just became distraught with concern for my safety. (Not!)
So, here’s the route I took up to Blencathra, going left to right. The total hike took me 4 hours.
This was my view to the southwest looking back down my 300 ft climb from the parking lot at the Blencathra Field Study Center where Mary, Andreas, and Patty dropped me off. Although my trail app showed this path up from the parking lot, the easier way up to this point would have been to start on the trail that I just reached, which splits off from Blease Road 2000 ft to the east and about 50 ft lower. The town at the distant right is Keswick, and the body of water is Derwent Water, about 3 miles away. The mountains at left are Great Dodd (2812 ft), Watson’s Dodd (2589 ft), Raise (2897 ft), and the others that run along the east side of Thirlmere. Notice the clouds at the tops of those mountains. As I would continue my climb, I would encounter a couple, and then a gentleman returning from the peak. They all said that it was socked in with clouds, and they couldn’t see anything. With the improving weather, I would get very lucky.
This is the GPS map showing that I had climbed 1525 ft to Blease Fell in 1 hour and 10 minutes – a distance of only 1.27 miles. I texted a couple of these photos to Patty along the way, so she could track my progress. You can see from the top icon that cell phone reception wasn’t bad!
And here was the view from Blease Fell (2641 ft) looking back to the southwest, towards Keswick and Derwent Water. The lowland to the right leads north to Bassenthwaite Lake. The mountain beyond that (far right) is Grisedale Pike (2595 ft), which Patty and I hiked on Day 10. It is so cool to see it from here. The weather turned very windy at this point, with gusts of at least 40 mph.
This was the view looking south from the peak of Blencathra (2848 ft). That thing embedded in the rock at left-center is the ordnance marker for the peak. At the distant right you can see just a little piece of the lake called Thirlmere. You can also see by the haziness at left that at this point the clouds had just cleared. It took me 2 hours to get to the top. Luckily, by this time the clouds had cleared out and the wind had died down. So, I was left with spectacular views!
This was the view west from the peak at Blencathra (2848 ft), looking back along the trail from Blease Fell (2641 ft). The peak in the distant right is Skiddaw, about 4 miles away. At 3054 ft, Skiddaw is the sixth highest peak in England.
This is looking north from Blencathra towards Atkinson Pike (2772 ft). I descended stage right.
This was the view looking east from Blencathra. From this point, I really wanted to know how I should get down, since there are multiple trails going east-southeast, and some I had heard were much trickier than others. A few other hikers made it to the top while I was there, so I asked them, but unfortunately, they were newbies like me. Judging from the topographic maps, I picked the path running along the descending ridge at center. As it turns out, it was the right call. Somewhere out in the distance is the town of Penrith, and the mountains beyond it are the Pennines, which run down the center of Great Britain.
Here I’m getting ready to start my descent down the trail that you see over my right shoulder, which is the same trail that you see far below on the right.
This view is on the way down, looking south and down towards the next ridge over, which is known as Halls Fell. From this point, Halls Fell is about 400 ft below, but still 1500 ft above the valley floor.
Here, after having just descended about 200 ft of switch-backs, I’m looking east. The smaller path that is leading off to the left avoids going out to the ridge at center right (where you see a hiker), and the subsequent switch-backs (out of sight) that run along that ridge. But wherever possible I tried to say on the main path, because as you’ll see below, these shortcuts are creating a serious erosion problem. Hikers are encouraged to stay on the main path.
This is a view looking northwest, back across the trail I was taking, and back towards Atkinson Pike (2772 ft) at left. The rock formation at center is called Sharp Edge (A view looking along it would tell you why.). With frequent strong crosswinds, and footing that is slippery when wet, Sharp Edge is one of the reasons why, with over 600 mountain rescues per year, the Lake District is considered the most dangerous area in Britain. The white vertical line at center right is actually a path that leads up from Scales Tarn (small lake, out of sight) to Sharp Edge. Watching people climb that path was amazing. It looked like they were hiking straight up!
This was the view looking back up towards Blencathra. I took the path with the switch-backs along the ridge at left (The center path is the shortcut.). I considered taking the path at center-right, which leads down to Scales Tarn (small lake), and then following the Scales Beck (stream) gully down to Scales, but this would have been a little bit longer, and I was trying to meet my schedule for getting picked up at the bottom. Besides, this way I would get views from the ridge.
Here’s a view looking west, showing the path I took at top right, and with Derwent Water in the distance.
This is looking more to the southwest, again with Derwent Water in the distance.
Again, looking back up the trail, you see Blaease Fell (2641 ft) peeking out behind Blencathra (2848 ft), with the path coming down (showing the erosion), and Atkinson Pike (2772 ft) with Sharp Edge at right.
This view is from Scales Fell, looking back west toward Blencathra. I wish I would have taken a time-lapse video of this shot, showing how the shadows of the clouds moved across the mountain. The white streaks at center-left is a spring of water escaping down the mountain.
Here is just another gorgeous view looking southwest, with Derwent Water in the distance.
Who photo-bombed this photo, me or Blencathra?
I thought this was so cool, staring down at this railroad bridge crossing Mosedale Beck, from 1000 ft above and over a mile away. But I’m glad I didn’t wait to see a train, because on GoogleEarth it appears that the tracks have been pulled up and now the right-of-way is used either for hiking/biking or for farm access. The small settlement just near and left of the bridge is called Wallthwaite. Regardless, this view was like I was looking at life in miniature.
I made it down to meet Patty, Andreas, and Mary at the White Horse Inn in 4 hours. The adjustable chest rig I’m wearing let me navigate using my iPhone while keeping my hands free. It also held my iPhone using a magnetic mount, so I could pull it off in an instant to take photos. It could also hold the iPhone in position to capture video as I walked (Rig is described in Day 13 post.). This was a great hike!
After having a cider at the White Horse Inn, Mary drove us to the village of Grasmere, just northwest of Ambleside, where we strolled among the small shops that sell coffee, crafts, outdoor gear, and world-famous Grasmere Gingerbread (a local delicacy since the mid 1800’s).
When in Grasmere, you gotta go!
Leaving Grasmere, Patty and I decided to walk the 3.8-mile “Coffin Road” back to Ambleside, so called because for some time the only consecrated ground in the area was the cemetery at St. Oswald’s Church in Grasmere, parts of which date back to Norman times. So, the coffins of people who died in Ambleside would have to be carried all the way to Grasmere for burial.
This is the foundation of a home that once stood along the Coffin Road.
A tree that once provided shade along the Coffin Road.
This was one of the stunning views along the Coffin Road. The road below is A591, which runs between Ambleside and Grasmere. The body of water is Rydal Water. The trail that runs along the water and down the hill on the far side is the trail we took from Ambleside up and around Loughrigg Fell and back on Day 4. Rydal Cave is in that tree-covered gully just to the right of center.
This view looks further to the west from the Coffin Road, on the southern slope of Nab Scar (1493 ft). In the far distance you can barely make out the path we took on Day 4 along the northwest slope of Loughrigg Fell (the mountain to left of center). This was the path that gave us great views of the next lake to the west, Grasmere.
I couldn’t have said it better myself.
Finally, after dinner at Zeffirelli’s on a long day, Patty and I took a stroll around Ambleside. This is a view looking south on Rydal Road, toward the Bridge House. The Bridge House was originally a place to store apples for nearby Ambleside Hall. It was built over Stock Beck in order to avoid the requirement to pay land tax. It is said that the house was once the home of a family with 6 children.
Well, this was quite a day!