Friday, November 1, 2013

Mopping up the Far Eastern Fells (nearly)

Date: 1st November 2013
Route : From Troutbeck along the old Roman Road to Thornthwaite Crag, then along to Gray Crags, back to Stony Cove Pike, along to Hartsopp Dodd and back via the Troutbeck valley.
Wainwrights: Troutbeck Tongue, Thornthwaite Crag, Gray Crag, Caudale Moor (Stony Cove Pike), Hartsop Dodd
Distance: 14.8 miles (23.8km)
Height Gained: 4349 feet (1325m)

The Route

 The intention of this hike was to try and mop up a few of the remaining 5 far eastern fells I have yet to complete; Troutbeck Tongue, Caudale Moor (Stony Cove Pike), Hartsop Dodd, Gray Crag and Steel Knotts. I had a free day but there was clearly no possible route to climb them all without a lot of unsatisfactory driving between them. Steel Knotts was going to have be left for another day, but what route to climb the other 4? I didn't want to park high up on the Kirkstone pass to gain access to these fells as that also seems somewhat unsatisfactory to me. The best route therefore would be to park at Troutbeck, walk along the valley to Troutbeck Tongue and then climb the old Roman Road up to Thornthwaite Crag from where I could access the other fells. This would mean I would need to walk back and forth along the same ridges to Gray Crag and Hartsop Dodd but that was a small price to pay to climb the full heights of these fells properly. 

The path to Troutbeck Park - Troutbeck Tongue dead ahead

Left = Trout Beck & Threshthwaite.  Right = the Roman Road to High Street.   Ahead = Troutbeck Tongue

 I set off at first light along the access road to Troutbeck Park. At the signpost above I headed right along the old Roman Road path. There is no marked path to the summit of Troutbeck Tongue on the OS map but after a short while a bracken strewn track appears on the left which climbs steeply up to the summit.

Sun rising slowly over Bonscale Pike

Troutbeck Tongue summit looking south towards Windermere

Sun rising over the shoulder of Yoke

Summit Panorama Video

The northern panorama from Troutbeck Tongue
 From the summit a good path then continues northwards along level ground until the main roman road path is rejoined.

At the 'back' of the Tongue looking north to Threshthwaite Mouth

 The grassy path then climbs steeply up the flanks of Froswick and Thornthwaite Crag before emerging onto the ridge. Its then a short walk to the impressive Thornthwaite Beacon which marks its summit.

A great view of the 'Tongue' from the roman road

Kentmere Reservoir appears once on the Ill Bell ridge

The impressive 14 foot high Thornthwaite Beacon

 Summit Panorama Video

 A good path then continues northwards towards Gray Crag along a ridge giving fine views east over the Hayeswater valley to High Street and west over the Pasture Beck valley towards Hartsopp Dodd and the Fairfield / Helvellyn range beyond.

The ridge path to Gray Crag

Rest Dodd and The Knott over Hayeswater

Gray Crag summit looking west over Hartsop Dodd to the Helvellyn range

Gray Crag summit panorama west

Gray Crag summit panorama east

 Summit Panorama Video

 Having found Gray Crag neither grey nor craggy I retraced my steps back along the ridge before veering off right towards Stony Cove Pike.

Stony Cove Pike and the Threshthwaite Mouth col

Looking back southwards towards Troutbeck Tongue from Threshthwaite Mouth

Looking north towards Ullswater from Threshthwaite Mouth

The steep path up Stony Cove Pike from Threshthwaite Mouth

 A bit of scrambling is required to negotiate the steep path up onto Stony Cove Pike summit. Only then did I see the first other people since leaving the car 4 hours ago.

Thornthwaite Crag (the Beacon just visible) from Stony Cove Pike

Stony Cove Pike summit view towards the Ill Bell ridge

Stony Cove Pike summit panorama east

Stony Cove Pike western summit cairn panorama west

Looking over Red Screes from Stony Cove Pike western summit cairn

 Summit Panorama Video

 A 30 min walk along the ridge to Hartsop Dodd completes the fell for the day. This little fell occupies a grand position with great views towards Ullswater and over the valley to the high peaks of Fairfield, Helvellyn et al. 

Hartsopp Dodd summit view north towards Ullswater

Hartsop Dodd summit view east to the Helvellyn range

Looking back to Stony Cove Pike from Hartsop Dodd  

 Summit Panorama Video

 I then wandered back along the ridge to Stony Cove Pike before heading along the Doup Crag ridge and then back down to the Troutbeck valley.

Place Fell from the Hartsop Dodd ridge

Yoke, Ill Bell and Froswick from near Doup Crag

Zoomed in from the Troutbeck valley a Red Deer stag stands proudly up on Hart Crag ...

... and is then joined by a Hind

The pack horse bridge crossing Trout Beck

Looking back along the route trod from near the start of the walk

So that's 110 Wainwrights completed and 104 yet to go. I'm finally past the half way mark. Its all downhill from now on - so to speak.

Conditions and Kit

There was bitingly cold wind today which was strong enough to make standing still difficult on the summits. I wore a Rab Vapour rise jacket over a short sleeved base layer which is normally enough to keep me warm in most conditions including winter but today, the windchill had me reaching for an insulating layer over the top. I wore a Montane Prism jacket which kept me warm all day. My legs rarely feel cold and I usually hike in shorts over 3 seasons but today I wore Sprayway Challenger softshell trousers which did the job well. It didn't rain so the hard shell stayed stowed. Woolly beanie and gloves were most definitely required. Having been fed up of taking off gloves to use the screen on my phone, I recently bought a pair of The North Face apex E-tip gloves which use a conductive material in the tips of the thumb and index fingers so they work with the capacitative screens used on most smart phones. They worked a treat, providing enough dexterity for texting etc while having a fairly grippy palm for grasping stuff and most importantly, keeping my hands warm. I was very impressed. Of course they aren't going to win any prizes for durability and I'm sure that excessive contact with abrasive rocks will cause them problems. They aren't waterproof either but I don't tend to use gloves with membranes as my hands sweat too much in them. I prefer to use dexterous fabric gloves and then Extremities Tuff bags paclite shell mitts over the top in wet weather. So for these E-tip gloves, on the basis of one very cold and windy day, they worked well and I didn't need to take them off for anything all day.      

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