Saturday, 2 March 2013

The Bells, the bells.
The Hindscarth of Newlands Round. March 1st
   Some of the Lake District Hills have old and beautiful names; Glaramara, Old Scandinavian meaning "place, headland or temporary shelter", Blencathra, Old Celtic for " points of Arthur" and my own favourite Helvellyn, Old Celtic for "yellow moor". So today we are off to Robinson, etymology unknown perhaps a certain Saxon outlaw brought his girlfriend Marion here for a weekend's walking and carved their initials on a boulder.
  There are six of us out today, pm ,bm ,rm ,vm ,hm and mm and the walk starts at a small car park on the side of the road near Hawes End.  There are limited spaces so get there early. From Newcastle take the A69, M6, A66 turn into Braithwaite and follow signs for Newlands, turning off at Swinside.
The whole of the walk is covered onOL4, The English Lakes North Western Area and the car park is at GR  NY246211.
Of course we stopped for breakfast at the Coffee Lounge in Keswick, winner of last years's GABBAS award. Big Eric has retired and the new owner Nina has continued to produce a first class bacon butty, served on her first working day by Lauren. Personally I thought the sandwich of a slightly lower standard than last year but I was outvoted: five flitches Nina.
Booted up we took the posted path up the first hill of the day, Cat Bells, etymology unknown but first recorded in the 18th century. Maybe, but unlikely Cat rang her bells here to help husband home from the pub in Swinside just as Jenny shone her lantern.  (See Jenny's Lantern , November 2011)
                                                   Car parking is limited.
Described by Wainwright* as ""a family fell where grandmothers and infants can climb the heights together" it is a poular walk but is very steep, especially as there is no walk in from the car park. Out of the car and up you go!
The views from the top are worth the effort for everybody, young and old, especially on a bright clear day like today.
                                                 Derwent water from Cat Bells
 From the summit, which is 1481 feet high the path led us over Maiden Moor, rather bleak at this time of year. A few seasons ago as we lunched  on a rocky outcrop I spotted a peregrine perched on a boulder nearby. With years of experience in wild bird photography, Herbie, cat like, crept towards it and took an excellent photograph which if I ever find, I will add to the blog. No peregrines today and we walked on in a generally southern direction towards High Spy at 2143 feet where we stopped for a team photograph.
From the left:              Harry  (rm) John (mm)  Ben (hm) Dave (vm) Me (bm) Brian (pm)
((Photo courtesy of Harry who lugged a tripod with him and managed to run to join the group before the shutter shuttered )
We watched a raven performing his aerobatics to impress his lady friend and after a performance of tumbles he flew off to join her on a nearby rock. Spring is in the air after all. They were two of the few birds spotted on the walk and are awarded the title " Bird of the blog".
 From High Spy the footpath  continued taking us south and descending quite steeply after Eel Crags until we reached Dale Head Tarn, Herbie Spot for the day and at NY230152. A  sheepfold offers some protection on bad days but today the valley was a sun trap and we ate lunch leaning against the wall. The usual, sandwiches, pies, ginger biscuits and ALDI chocolate!

                                           Lunch time at Dale Head Tarn.

Pointless chatter was about world changing inventions. Somebody informed us that the Babylonians had invented TV, somebody else quipped they had also come up wth Ur Tube. I thought that was pretty good myself, speaking personally at that particular moment in time.
It was twenty years ago, but not necessarily today, that I was voted Senior Wobbly Belly at this very spot. The Wobbly Bellies were our  first attempt to form a walking group, and successful it was too. We had T shirts, badges and certificates for invited guests.
Lunch over we continued the walk, climbing in a westerly direction up Dale Head, there was still some snow around on the summit crags. We continued along Littledale Edge, looking down on Buttermere until we came to a junction and a decision. We could continue on as planned to Robinson or turn north along Hindscarth and down into the Newlands Valley. Time was getting on and it had been quite a stiff walk so we opted for the latter, first enjoying the views.

                                         The views on this walk are apectacular. Mountains to admire on all sides.

                   We headed north over Hindscarth, etymology unknown but  2385 feet high. The descent at Scope End is steep, rocky and slippy in places but at its foot a road leads through the farm at Low Snab and crosses a field to the Newlands Church. This pretty whitewashed church dates back to the 16th century. William Wordsworth was inspired to mention it in one of his poems and in 1905 the vicar's daughter was the inspiration for the character of Lucie in Beatirx Potter's Tale of Mrs Tiggy Winkle.

                     The church at Newlands. The smaller building on the left was built as a school but is now a place to sit and contemplate the serenity of the valley as Dave appears to be doing in  the right foreground.

                                                       Plaque on the old school
From here we continued for a short way along the road before turning off on the right to follow the path across fields  to Skelgill and the car park.
The length of this walk is open to dispute. Outdoor GPS claimed 13.7 miles and it felt like it. Brian's GPS claimed 13.1 miles.
For reasons I won't go into I deleted the route from Outdoors Gps and when I reconstructed it on the website it came out as 10 miles. Plotting a route does not take into account the many wiggles on the paths or possibly the extra distance taken going up and down and I think 10 miles is seriously out!
                                                             steps                              miles
Dave's Asdaslim                                  28684                            12.04   27" step
LIDLUSB                                            27527                            11.73   27" step

ASDAPED                                          29454                            13.84    30" step   (12.5 at 27")
HiGear                                                 27232                            12.88    30" step  (11.6 at 27")
I have measured it with my trust German map wheel and get 10 miles

On the way home we stopped at the Horse and Farrier in Threlkeld. More of a hotel and restaurant than a pub it keeps its Jennings Bitter, Snecklifter and Cumberland beers very well, so I had two.
WSe agreed this had been the best walk for some time, one to be repeated.

                                     The route.Mr Google is still playing silly beggars and I can't enlarge it.  

                                                                                                   DD   Harry, Brian   

* Alfred Wainwright, author of the definitive books on walking in the Lake District. Written with a dry sense of humour, beautifully illustrated with maps and drwings and descriptions of walks up every bump in the Lakes.