Saturday, March 16, 2013

Wansfell, Sour Howes & Sallows

Date : 16th March 2013
Route : 1) from Troutbeck to Wansfell   2) from troutbeck to Sour Howes & Sallows
Wainwrights : Wansfell (Baystones), Sour Howes, Sallows
Distance : Total = 14.87 km (9.24.miles)
Height Gained : Total = 800 m (2357 feet)


There had been some further snow fall in the lakes over the last few days but the lower fells seemed clear. I had some free time today and wanted to tick off some of the less well known fells in the far south eastern region; namely Sour Howes and Sallows. Wainwright, in book two (far eastern fells) describes these fells as being "not strictly walkers territory" and of Sour Howes in particular he says "it is a fell with no obvious appeal to walkers, and few other than conscientious guide-book writers will visit its summit". Little was he to know that his future popularity would enthuse the 'Wainwright Bagger' to follow in his footsteps over these fells, despite his obvious lack of enthusiasm regarding their virtues. Having been somewhat less than inspired by AW's descriptions, I also intended to climb Wansfell, for which he was far more complimentary. It was therefore 2 walks today, both from the Troutbeck area. The first from High Green up to Wansfell and the second from Limefitt Park up to Sour Howes and Sallows. 

The 2 routes, both anti-clockwise

 Now regarding Wansfell, there seems to be some confusion as to exactly which peak is the official Wainwright. Most folk who climb Wansfell, particularly from Ambleside, will climb 'Wansfell Pike' and be perfectly happy to admire the view before returning, but apparently having never climbed 'Wansfell' as Wainwright described it. Because further along the ridge to the northeast from Wansfell Pike is another peak identified as 'Baystones' on the OS map, but called 'Wansfell' in Wainwright's book. This is the higher fell and looking at his pictorial map, and the altitudes he refers to, there can be no doubt that Baystones is in fact the true Wansfell according to Wainwright and therefore the fell of interest to me. To further confuse matters an area called 'Wansfell' is also indicated on the OS Map a little to the northwest of Wansfell Pike. This 'Wansfell' is not illustrated on the Wainwright map and is, according to OS, of lower altitude than both Wansfell Pike and Baystones. Like I said - some confusion. 

 The Nanny Lane Track is the main route from Troutbeck to the Wansfell region and is an easy going ascent along a good path. About halfway along its trajectory towards Wansfell Pike the path forks and I bared right towards Baystones. At this point the cloud base dropped and it started snowing.

Baystones summit (487 meters) in cloud

The ridge walk between Baystones and Wansfell Pike in low cloud and snow

Wansfell Pike summit (482 meters)
 No views today, so both peaks bagged (in case of any doubt) I headed back down along the Nanny Lane track back to the car. A short drive later I found a parking place in a lay-by near Limefitt Park holiday village. My route took me through the park to join a path which turns south to join the Garburn Pass. Shortly after joining the pass I noticed a stile in the wall on my right from which arose a vague path that seemed to head steeply in the direction of Sour Howes. I followed it upwards to a craggy area identified as 'Backstone Barrow' on the map.

The Garburn Road

Views over Windermere from Backstone Barrow

Sour Howes is up there somewhere
 An indistinct path continues upwards towards the grassy mound of Sour Howes. I was soon back in cloud. The region is largely featureless and in the absence of views today, I trudged on. From leaving the Garburn Road I didn't see anyone until I rejoined it at the end of the walk. This is clearly not a popular walkers territory.

Sour Howes summit in the mist
 On to Sallows next which is northeast from Sour Howes. I decided to take a direct route across the valley between the two fells rather than follow the wall which skirts a ridge to the western side. I couldn't see much due the low cloud but had visibility been better I would most likely have followed the ridge because I soon found myself labouring over an awkward terrain of grassy tussocks.
Sallows from somewhere between it and Sour Howes
  Having finally negotiated the 'terrible tussocks' I gained the ridge to the west of Sallows and was rewarded with a view over the Kentmere Fells, the cloud having lifted a little.

Sallows summit panorama East

Sallow summit panorama West

looking South over Sour Howes towards Windermere from Sallows

The Langdale Pikes 'zoomed in'  from Sallows
  I then followed a path northwards to rejoin the Garburn Pass. The clouds had finally broken giving teasing glimpses of higher fells on the walk back down. By this time Wansfell had also broken free of the cloud. Perhaps I should have done these walks the other way round.

Kirkstone Pass from the Garburn Road

Glimpses of Windermere from near the Garburn Road

Yoke and Ill Bell  from the Garburn Road

Wansfell from the Garburn Road
 The impressive looking summits of Yoke and Ill Bell, glimpsed from Sallows and the Garburn Road, convinced me that these would be the objectives for my next hike.

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