Monday 2 January 2012

Holme Fell & Black Crag

Cairn on Holme Fell

Trig on Black Crag
Todays footwear:- Goretex XCR lined trail shoes, I can't remember
the name of these, about 4 years old still waterproof but the soles
are worn out!
Quite a change in the weather today, a lot colder. It was a bitter wind that met me when I got out of the car at Oxen Fell, on the high point of the A593 between Ambleside and Coniston. My father lived here at "Larch Grove" between 1947 and 1955, so I always feel a bit of an affinity with the hills hereabouts. I walked up the steep minor road to High Oxen Fell, there was a light scattering of hail and snow above about 600 metres, and another shower of hail blew in as I reached the farm. Waterproof trousers on, I carried on the byway (from this point unsurfaced) towards Hodge Close. I decided to branch left on the bridleway behind the quarries of Parrock and Hodge Close saving a bit of distance and tarmac. The southern end of this bridleway gives a superb view of the huge hole left by the quarry workers, it then meets another bridleway, which gives access to the open fell. The muddy path climbs first past an attractive little reservoir before striking out over steeper ground which becomes heathery. The highest point is crowned by a cairn with a grand view in all directions, Coniston Water prominent to the south. Descending to the grassy col , I then followed the well worn path down into Yewdale, seeing a number of Belted Galloway Cattle on the way. The National Trust are encouraging farmers to rear these hardy breeds which seem more than happy outside the intake walls. Next on the agenda was Tom Gill, this path takes you past the waterfall of the same name and brings you out at the tourist hotspot of Tarn Hows. I took the eastern path which has a superb surface, many families were out all well wrapped up against the wind. A permissive path cuts across a field from Rose Castle plantation to Arnside Intake. This old track is deteriorating quite quickly, a left turn followed by a right took me into Iron Keld, this was a dense plantation but was all felled a couple of years ago, so Wetherlam can be seen as you climb gently on the broad track. Leaving the bridleway at the gate the undulating path manages to choose fairly firm ground and steepens for the last few metres to reach the trig point on Black Crag. It was blowing an absolute hoolie up here today compounded by a terrific hail shower. I sheltered behind the wall for my lunch. he photos must be a bit blurred I'm sure. I dropped off to the west over broken ground, pathless at first and soon reached the bridleway near Low Arnside. The footpath leaves the bridleway at this point and drops down to the road. Its only a short way back from here to the car. This is a great trip for times when the higher fells are blanketed in cloud or as today when the wind would have made things wild to say the least. Well the year's 2 days old and that's 3 hills climbed, things won't continue for long in this vein as it's work tomorrow!

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