Alfred Wainwright would be shaking his head with displeasure if he knew that David and I sort of got lost as we ventured on an easy walk to Castle Crag.
Castle Crag from Derwentwater
Castle Crag is more of a hill than a mountain. Classified as a Wainwright even though he, himself states in his Pictorial Guides (book six), that the crag of 290m, ‘should be regarded, not as a separate fell but as a protuberance…of Low Scawdel.’ However he then goes on to praise Castle Crag’s merits. ‘Castle Crag is so magnificently independent, so ruggedly individual, so…unashamed of its lack of inches, that less than justice would be done by relegating it to a paragraph in the High Spy chapter.’ I have to agree, Castle Crag looks magnificent in the Jaws of Borrowdale, even if it is overshadowed by higher peaks.
David and I decided Castle Crag would be the destination of our most recent day out. We arrived at the the quiet village of Rosthwaite just before 10am. We managed to get a parking space at the small NT car park (where toilets are free but ask for a donation). We paid £6 for four hours parking.
However on the day, with poor intelligence and bad maps, David and I took a detour towards caves where ‘Professor of Adventure,’ Millican Dalton took summer residence before his death in 1947, aged 79. We saw melting icicles before we retraced our tracks and finally found a path that climbed steeply towards the views and quarry of Castle Crag.
Icicles on a cave
Towards the Scafells
Christine and Borrowdale
Summit Quarry Spoil Heap
We navigated through a slippery spoil heap to get to the summit, where there’s a WW1 memorial and beautiful views of Derwentwater. Buffeted by a chilling easterly wind, David and I managed to share a picnic with red kites chasing each other, while surveying the awesome scenery.
Derwentwater from Castle Crag
David and Christine at Castle Crag
I simply love this area of the Lake District and keep coming back to explore more and more of its facets. Eagle Crag looked enticing (Wainwright’s Route A looked doable), and we have yet to venture towards Latrigg. Which fell do you think David and I should explore next?
With Christmas done and dusted for another year and both having the week off work, David and I decided to travel to North Wales for a day trip.
Llyn Gwynant at sunset
We returned to Llyn Gwynant and the surrounding area. I found a moderate walk on the National Trust website that overlooked Llyn Dinas.
It was a beautiful winters day. The rugged Snowdonian landscape looked like Martian terrain in the golden light.
It was pretty evident that many people had also decided on visiting Snowdonia National Park, rows upon rows of parked cars lined the verges. Luckily we managed to find parking ourselves (outside Caffi Gwynant Café) before we embarked on our walk.
The first part of the walk began on the Watkin Path, deemed by some to be the hardest path towards Snowdon, due to loss of defined path and loose scree near the top.
The Watkin Path
Afon Cwm Llan waterfalls
The walk meanders through ancient oak woodland, before approaching Cwm Llan, with well defined paths that follow the fast flowing Afon Cwm Llan waterfalls.
Somehow we missed a turning, (there weren’t many way-markers,) so we continued along the path in front of us which wound through the valley. We past a commemoration plaque stating the opening of the route in 1892 by the then Prime Minister, William Gladstone, then on towards the old ruins of a slate quarry before the path drew steadily upwards.
Ruined quarry buildings
By this time we knew we had taken the wrong path, and had walked further than we ought, but as the path was not too steep we decided to keep going.
David on the path to Snowdon
On our walk we saw many other people traipsing the same path towards Snowdon, and drawing higher, we heard the whooo of a train from the Snowdon Mountain Railway (even though they say on their website that they are closed!) Perhaps it was a phantom train? As the summit of Snowdon came into view, I could see the train station and visitor centre. It was quite exciting being on a walk we had not planned.
View from Watkin Path
At some 800m above sea level, David and I sat down to have lunch. We pondered on how much further it was to the top and would we get there before sunset. We also had to consider our ability. I am not the best walker/climber. So we decided not to aim for the summit but to go to the ridge and see what was on the other side.
We found Llyn Llydaw on the other side, stretching out far below us. I was ecstatic. Llydaw is one of the llyn’s I want to swim in 2017!
From the ridge we turned back and started our descent. It took us another good two hours to walk back to the car park. We were both buoyed by the walk, amazed that we had managed to get 3/4 of the way up the tallest mountain in England and Wales. Today however, we are stiff and sore.
Accidentally taking the path towards Snowdon has made me realise that maybe some tarns in the Lake District are not so unachievable as I believed. Roll on spring/summer 2017!
Have you managed to climb Snowdon? If so what path did you chose, apparently there at six paths?
Before journeying home, I planned to stay a little bit longer in the Lake District. Even though the day dawned grey and showery, we stuck with the itinerary and headed towards Aira Forceand Ullswater. Neither we had visited before, so we were in new charted territory!
We parked the car at High Cascades car park. I thought it was reasonably priced for the day at £6.50, other car parks in the area charged a lot more!
The path took us along well designed paths that lead towards the viewing platform and steps to Aira Force. The whole area felt like a Victorian park, and after some online research I found that the area was indeed landscaped, though earlier than expected, by the Howard family in the 1780’s.
The woodland walk was pleasant and the area seemed very popular with other tourists.
We spent a good hour walking the meandering paths, following bubbling streams and watching fast flowing rapids.
Above the shade of trees the clouds broke and an unseasonably hot sun glared down.
After visiting Aira Force, a walk along the Gowbarrow trailwas planned. We took the route anti clockwise. I don’t know whether this was a good thing or not, though come our descent we were faced with very steep steps, so going up would have been a struggle!
We walked a narrow path, with wonderful views of Ullswater below. The destination for lunch was the Memorial Seat and cairn.
Gowbarrow Walk – Memorial Seat
After a well earned rest, where we were either too hot or too cold, we continued on an exhausting two hour hike around Gowbarrow. At 481m it was 100m taller than Walla Crag, and boy did it feel it! We kept walking and walking. The map I had didn’t correlate to anything in front of us. There were times when I thought we were lost, and then the weather turned and the cloud came rolling in!
However we managed to find the summit of Gowbarrow and though we stumbled on our descent, we could see the car park and David’s shiny red car awaiting us in the distance. It was a welcome sight!
I have never felt so utterly spent after a walk as I did after Gowbarrow. Perhaps is was due to the fact that I hadn’t rested after a hectic day around Derwentwater, the day before. Whatever it was, when we found free parking alongside a grey Ullswater, I was in two minds as to whether to embark on my final swim or leave the total for 2016 at 9! All along the walk to Gowbarrow I had been imagining the swim in Ullswater. I felt apprehensive. The swims in Bassenthwaite and Loweswater had made me worry about how cold the water would be and would I enjoy the experience. I know I hadn’t enjoyed Loweswater!
Though my mind debated and my body felt tired, I knew in my heart that if I didn’t take a dip in Ullswater, (a new lake to add to the tally), then I would feel I had cheated myself. I had come this far, a few minutes of discomfort would be worth the exhilaration afterwards! So David and I headed towards the shore. The choice of entrance was not the greatest. I had intended on swimming from Glencoyne Bay but we had parked a little further up the road and the entrance was rocky and very shallow. It took me a while to waddle into water deep enough for me to submerge my body.
Though the water was cold, it did not feel as icy as Derwentwater. Indeed after a few strokes I felt warm. I began to enjoy myself. I took Wilson (waterproof camera) with me and snapped a few shots. I was later astonished to find that I had shared my swim with hundreds of little fish. I had not felt them swimming through my fingers like I had at Easedale.
What happened next was due to my own laziness at not wanting to stumble across bricks and rocks to hand Wilson back to David on shore. I have discovered that I can’t breaststroke while holding the camera, so I placed Wilson on a stone that protruded above the water. The water was relatively calm, so I left Wilson while I continued to swim back and forth along the shore. On the other side of the lake a ferry chugged along.
Before I knew it, David was shouting ‘wave,’ in alarm and I was buffeted by a huge swell churned up from the ferry. I watched in horror as Wilson was knocked off his rock and I kicked stones and bruised my legs scrambling towards shore to find him. David directed me as to which direction he thought Wilson had been swept in. I waded in panic, shivering in the cold. I was about to give up when I saw Wilson bobbing in the shallows. I was so relieved. I did not want to lose my new camera. It was a lesson well learned!
The event had upset me almost to tears. Cold to the bone, I cut short my swim and returned, mightily relieved to the shore. David and I were thankful I had not lost my new camera. David joked that it reminded him of the film Castaway, hence the name Wilson.
Up until the incident, I had been enjoying my swim in Ullswater. It makes me determined to return in the future. I will just have to find a way of fixing Wilson to my body so I can swim unhindered.
I hope you have enjoyed my short, but full excursion to the Lake District? Have you been to Aira Force, walked Gowbarrow or around Ullswater? Let me know what lakes/walks you think I should visit next.
A while back I read a blog post by Isobel in which she remembered her long lost animals by lighting a candle.
I thought about doing the same.
I have lost many pets down the years. Recently I said goodbye to the gentle Lady Gouldian finch, Aura.
The purpose of this post will be to celebrate the life and 10 years I shared with my ‘boy’ Mac. I have had many cats during my lifetime but none were like Mac. He took a piece of my heart with him when he left me in 2007.
I can still remember the day, (like it was yesterday), when I first set eyes on Mac. It was a warm August day in 1997. My 20 year old self, had been to town to get a Sarah Brightman album. Unbeknown to me, my mum and brother, Stephen had been to a computer shop and on their way home had come across a house with kittens playing in the gated area. My mum being a cat lover too, commented how adorable the feisty kittens were and the owner, an elderly woman asked if she would like to take one home. So, come the time I came in through the front door, cassette in hand, a tuxedo kitten had been chosen and was waiting for me.
It was love at first sight! Then began a decade-long love affair!
It’s hard to put into words just what a loving cat Mac was. He was always by my side. He was ‘my’ cat, and would follow me about the house. We used to have fun, playing hide and seek together and he loved his roast dinners, of potatoes and peas. We were inseparable! Mac was there when I was lonely, and I poured my wishes and dreams into him while he sat purring patiently.
One anecdote was when Mac went missing for a week! Seven days of missing my ‘boy.’ It was hell! Of a day I walked about dazed, come the night I cried myself into a fitful sleep.
One Sunday, I was lounging in bed when a neighbour called. She said she thought Mac was in her house. Mum went to look and low and behold there he was! He had been holed up in the neighbour’s back bedroom scared and probably wondering where I was. Luckily the neighbour had a cat herself and of a night, Mac would tiptoe downstairs, help himself to the dried food on offer and relieve himself in the cat tray. He was such a good boy! I was amazed that the neighbour’s cat did not sniff Mac out, or if he did, he was equally scared! I was just thankful to have my Mac back. He seemed unfazed by his vacation. I never let him out the house again!
Sadly Mac never reached old age. He contracted bowel cancer and became a shadow of his former self. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done… saying goodbye. So on the 10th of October 2007, I said farewell to my ‘boy.’ In Mac’s place I received a dark wooden box with a bag inside, tied with a blue ribbon, full of sharp bone fragments…