Walla Crag, Bleaberry Fell and High Seat
28 November 2010
Having made a detailed plan for yesterday which
didn't work out, I deliberately avoided much of a plan for today,
particularly as the weather forecast was uncertain as to whether a deep
low pressure system would bring snow and high winds to the Lake District
or track further north. The morning dawned fine with only a further
light fall of snow overnight, and I travelled to Ambleside where I got
myself a set of Kahtoola Microspikes - a "small, lightweight and
economical traction system for use on slippery winter terrain that will
fit anything from running shoes to walking boots". Although the chap in
the shop was very keen to point out that the gold standard was winter
boots with crampons and an ice-axe, I took the view that anything had to
be an improvement on just walking boots. I decided to take them for an
exploratory walk up Walla Crag from Borrowdale, and see how I got on.
So, having parked in the snowy Great Wood car park, after a gentle ascent
through the wood, the path then takes me more steeply up alongside Cat Gill. The
spikes were hardly noticeable as an encumbrance, and seemed to give me excellent
grip on this mixture of snow and ice.
Even when the way got steep with pitched steps, the spikes took it all in their
stride and enabled me to move with confidence.
Approaching the open fell
The summit of Walla Crag (379 metres / 1243 feet)
The views were wonderful, across Derwentwater to the north-western fells
Looking down on the launch on Derwentwater
But what really caught my eye, and continued to catch it for the rest of the
walk, were the snow covered Skiddaw and Blencathra
To the east, the northern end of the Helvellyn range
Along Borrowdale to the Scafells and Great Gable
Having got on so well with the spikes, I set my next objective to the south -
The gentle ascent across Low Moss, with a steep final ascent onto Bleaberry Fell
And Blencathra from the top of Bleaberry Fell (590 metres / 1936 feet)
Looking across the northern end of Derwentwater to Bassenthwaite Lake
A panoramic view from Bleaberry Fell
As I'd got up here, it seemed a shame to descend too quickly on a fabulous day,
and so I continued south, next stop High Seat. En route I passed this old marker
On one of High Seat's twin summits (608 metres / 1995 feet)
A clearer view than earlier of the flat valley of Borrowdale seen centre
extending towards the Scafells (centre left) and Great Gable (centre right)
A prominent cairn on the descent parallel to Ashness Gill. A route which
appeared to descend steeply northwest from here led me astray for a while, and
when it became too steep I climbed back up and found the easier route to the
north-east almost down to the level of the stream before heading back west
across the fellside.
Continuing the descent towards Ashness Bridge
Ashness Bridge - an endlessly photographed scene, though difficult to do justice
today because of the huge disparity in light between the deep shadows here and
the bright sunshine on Skiddaw.
A track then contours along the fellside back to Great Wood and soon to the car.
So, after 11.3 km wearing my new Microspikes, I am ready to wholeheartedly
endorse them. The purists may say they're not as good as crampons, but they did
very well for me, and despite a good deal of compacted snow and ice, I was
surer-footed than I am on a summer walk.
Those little spikes made a huge difference, and though it wasn't necessary
today, I could remove them very easily if, for instance, I needed to walk on
Zoom in for more detail, or click to view larger map in new window
A day without a plan, and one which worked out wonderfully with a great walk on
a great day, significantly assisted by my new purchase.
Total distance 11.3 km and 757 metres of ascent in 4 hours 44 mins