Thursday, 24 November 2011

Outriggers and Outliers

Following on from last week's short walk I was up for some more. A perusal of the map and the appropriate Wainright guide identified two possible circuits in the Eastern Fells suitable for ticking off some more minor fells. I'd a choice between a circuit based on Fairfield or one further north around Glencoyne, both would take in three tops. In the end I decided on the latter as it was an area I didn't know as well as that to the south.

A 6AM start in very thick fog got me to Ullswater for around 8AM with little let up in the fog. After a chat to the farmer at Glencoyne farm it was onward and upward, the initial ascent being interrupted by a fox running past, the first I've seen in the Lakes away from the family farm. Originally I was going to do the circuit anti-clockwise but as I was climbing I figured that the opposite direction might be better. So Glenridding Dodd became the first top, quite a nice top and I'm sure that the view is also very nice, except there wasn't one!

Getting on to Sheffield Pike was just a steady climb with the occasional rock step and boggy section. I pulled out of the fog about 200m before the summit and in to the sun. A runner appeared at the top just before I got there - the only person I saw on this walk. A quick chat and we went our separate ways. As I dropped down to the col and back in to the fog I noticed a Brocken Spectre with Glory (the rainbow).

Brocken Spectre and Glory on Sheffield Pike

Something I'd not seen before was a white ring much further out than the glory, I'm not sure if this is an artefact of the phenomenon or not. The post in the photo is an old boundary marker from the Marshall estate. Brocken Spectres are much more common than most people realise, basically it's your shadow cast on to clouds usually from the sun low in the sky. The rest is simple physics.

On the other side of the col was a short steep pull then it was just a grassy stroll round to the last top - Hart Side - all of 20 metres above the surrounding ground. Getting back to the car was done by the simple fell runner's tactic of straight down hill to join the outward path.

Looking south from Hart Side to Fairfield and Helvellyn. The cloudy col is where I saw the Brocken Spectre.

To the North West of Ullswater are three isolated fells: Gowbarrow, Little Mell and Great Mell, none of which I'd ever set foot on. Getting these done was a simple matter of driving to park the car somewhere suitable and a quick up and down. In the case of Little Mell Fell this took all of twenty minutes, possibly the easiest fell in all the books to achieve. There were quite a few walkers out on these tops also getting the ticks done.

With the day's objectives done it was time to head home.

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