Saturday, 30 May 2015

A Borrowdale Weekend Part 2: A Walk Up England's Highest Mountain. . .

One of the advantages of staying in a hostel over the weekend is getting an early start on the walks.  Normally when we go up to the Lake District on the coach, we don't actually get walking until around 11:30.  As such, it's difficult to plan a walk like Scafell Pike and make it back to the coach by 6pm unless you put on a very quick pace; as a result, only two out of the group of ten who tackled England's highest mountain last Saturday had actually done this climb before, even though many of them had been walking for decades.  This mountain was a first for me too and we couldn't have had a better day for it - brilliant sunshine throughout.

There are many ways up Scafell Pike but I think our leader chose a really scenic one.  Starting at Seathwaite Farm, we took the left hand valley, and followed Grains Gill up towards Great End which you can see in the back of this photo.

It starts out fairly flat on a good path.

Despite what at times can be a very dusty and stony type of walk, we kept encountering lots of streams and tarns full of varying colours - the water is always so clear and beautiful up here.

Waterfalls were everywhere as our path ran alongside various gorges cutting their way through the valley. Great End is getting closer.

You always have to take time on a walk to look back at where you've come from.  From this height, you can just see Derwent Water, a tiny patch of blue popping out in the distance.

On our right you pass the summit of Great Gable.

And here's Great End up close.   The path veers left at this point and you go around and behind Great End.  Still no sight of Scafell Pike.

Once on the other side of Great End, the path becomes stonier but aren't those clouds just fantastic.

As are the views.

The stones then become larger.

And even larger.  I wouldn't have fancied clambering over these in the rain. But once we're on this boulder field, you finally get your first glimpse of Scafell Pike in the distance.  Those are a crowd of people on the top; this is always a very popular climb on a Bank Holiday weekend.

The stones may look gray from a distance, but up close they are actually quite colourful.

Getting closer to Scafell Pike.

But there's one more surprise.  In order to get to the summit,  you have to sharply descend and then go up one last steep bit.

And here's the top.  I really enjoyed the route up as it provided lots of different terrain and views but this way is certainly longer than the route from Wasdale which is how most people make the ascent.  Once past the top, there were hundreds of people on the other side.

And here's the view looking north from the summit.

And the view looking south with Scafell (not to be confused with Scafell Pike) on the left and Wast Water below.

Time to knit a row of my Hap for Harriet so that I'll think of this day whenever I wear it.

But soon it was time for the rocky descent.  We took a route called the Corridor back to our starting point.

It affords a great view of that drop we did before the final push to the summit and you can just make out a line of tiny hikers going up.

But we're going down into this lovely scenery.

Travelling over more streams.

 And passing hidden tarns.

The route also goes past the much larger Styhead Tarn.

 And then follows this stream right through the valley back to Seathwaite Farm.

And back to our hostel for a hot shower, a well deserved dinner and a good night's sleep.

You do get a sense of achievement in climbing Scafell Pike and we were so lucky to get great visibility,  but as far as the walk goes, I'd say the first two thirds of the way up and the last two thirds of the way down are the best bits; the rest is just a bit of a slog.  It's not a mountain that would be high on my list of climbs I'd like to do again, but I'm still really glad to have done it.  In our group there was an amazing woman who had just turned 80; I'd love to be fit enough to make a return trip when I'm that age!

Thursday, 28 May 2015

A Borrowdale Weekend Part 1: A Walk to Castle Crag. . .

We spent a wonderful Bank Holiday weekend with our rambling group at the youth hostel in Borrowdale. I love the hosteling system in England and Europe and while basic, I've never been in one that had an uncomfortable bed or a lack of hot water for a shower.  This one was no exception and had very substantial breakfasts, although the dinner meals were quite ordinary.  They do offer a really good self-catering kitchen however, so that is another option if you want to stay in the area.


And who wouldn't?  Borrowdale is one of the most beautiful spots in the Lake District.  It is so, so peaceful; you immediately feel relaxed and on holiday.  Look at this great view that greeted me and my morning coffee on Saturday, just in front of the hostel.

But back to the first day. We arrived after noon on the Friday and so our group set out on a shortish walk of about six miles. We followed the river for a short while; the path leads straight out from the hostel.

Quickly we were in the heart of the valley with misty hills all around us.

Then we started climbing, but not terribly high (saving that for the next day).

The path was a lovely, ambling sort leading gently towards Castle Crag, one of the smaller hills in this district.

Looking back, you can see how green this valley is. Borrowdale is known for its annual rainfall.

Getting closer to Castle Crag (on the right), you get a splendid view of Derwent Water framed by these hills.

The path up Castle Crag doesn't take long and there's just one way up and down.

A lot of quarrying took place here in the past.

But the remnants give the place a very artsy, mysterious look.

And you get a lovely view of the area from the top.

There's also a memorial to the men from Borrowdale killed in the First World War.

Our way back was following the river path through a peaceful forest.  Aren't all these greens absolutely gorgeous?

And that was the warm-up for the main walk on Saturday - tackling Scafell Pike, England's highest mountain.

Monday, 25 May 2015

I Saw Three Ships Come Sailing In. . .

Well, not technically true.  By the time the Liverpud and I dashed down to the waterfront after getting back from a fabulous weekend in Borrowdale, the three ships had already sailed up the Mersey. But we did get there in time to see them begin their maneuvres in front of the Three Graces.  These Three Queens - The Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Victoria and The Queen Mary 2 - were in town to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the Cunard line.  They've never all been in dock before at the same time.

We first caught sight of the Queen Mary 2 turning around to salute the Cunard Building and the city of Liverpool.  Her sister ships were lined up to the left of her.

The Queen Mary 2 then turned around and you could see the full breadth of her.

The crowds were huge,  so I'm amazed that I was able to actually capture a shot of all three ships in the Mersey.

They then lined up again.

And the Red Arrows flew by in spectacular fashion.

Coloured smoke also went off the roof of the Cunard building.

The Queen Mary 2 then sailed away down the Mersey.

And the Queen Elizabeth docked in the port.  We left Queen Victoria still in the middle of the river but she's hanging around for the afternoon.

I love living in this city full of pride in its history.  This was a great way to cap off a lovely bank holiday weekend and I'm so glad we got to see it.