Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Lake District Trip. Patterdale Hut. Grasmoor Horseshoe. 852 metres.

                                             ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN
Day one of a club weekend trip to the English Lake District saw us driving down early on Friday morning to Keswick where Alex decided to bag the lower peaks around Buttermere as that looked the best area to visit with the weather forecast predicting dull weather and showers most of the day.
Our first sight of Cumbria was not too encouraging, buried as it appeared under heavy cloud from overnight rain but it soon smartened itself up into a dry if dull day. Personally, I always enjoy coming down here for the difference but I have met many hill-walkers over the years that dismiss the Lake District as too twee, tourist ridden, or lesser in some way compared to Scotland. A view even held by many English folk I've met. As you can see from the first photo Cumbria has many fine ridges that I think compare with anything in mainland Scotland but it also has other attractions, like civilized villages everywhere, cracking little towns, decent pubs and chip shops and more life about it in general.
 Keswick, Ambleside, Penrith and Cockermouth all have interesting histories attached and a more vibrant buzz about them, day or night, within a short distance of each other and only the likes of Pitlochry, Oban or Ullapool can match them up north in a mountain setting- but all the Scottish towns are spaced far apart so no pick and mix alternative destinations available over a normal weekend.
Always plenty to do in wet weather down here but fortunately it stayed dry so we went up the hills, picking the Grasmoor horseshoe and it proved a good choice. Two free car parks at the bottom of Lad Hows with no one else around soon had us climbing lovely grass paths towards a clearing summit ridge line.
It definitely felt like October with a cutting wind at times but not a bad day overall. Looking back towards the car park through golden bracken. Is it just my imagination or are the Lakeland Hills more colourful year round, scenery wise, than the Scottish equivalent? It's something I've always noticed since the first visit in my teens.
A view of Crummock Water and Loweswater.
Atmospheric lighting and clouds over the higher Lakeland peaks in the direction of Great Gable and Ska Fell. This area bore the brunt of any passing showers and rain while we stayed dry on the margins.
Higher up and still few folk around. It did feel as wild and remote as any of our other trips with around five people seen all day.
The scenery down here always impresses with its grandeur and elegant ridge lines. Still to do a dull hill down here- climbed plenty of boring doorknobs in Scotland.
And low level views are not too shabby either. This is the village of Hartsop in Patterdale near where we were staying in a climbing hut. Great low level walks around this area yet it is one of the least path friendly districts in the Lakes being in a steep sided valley with mountains all around.
Another view of Patterdale and its lush green meadows. Here again it's a small but lovely area enclosed by the hills. Herdwick sheep.
I've never considered adult Scottish sheep pretty in any way but down here many are. Sexy even! I need help :o) But its true. This one is adorable and that's not often a word I use for animals or people.
Certain breeds of Lakeland sheep have a way of relaxing on hillsides like supermodels gathered around a pool that you never see exhibited in sheep further north. There they just grimly graze on their allotted rain soaked acres without looking up much until they keel over and die but down here they seem to pay attention to everything and watch your progress up the hill not only without concern but with a friendly smile of welcome.They seem to have a lot more time at their disposal somehow and can indulge in sightseeing and sunbathing on a regular basis.
 Patterdale is not the best or most obvious place for a low level walk network as it only possesses a small strip of flat land but even here the few walks that do exist are stunning examples through picture postcard scenery. Highland Scotland just can't compete with this lush texture being far wilder, more barren and open plus its a country stripped long ago of its people, trees and inland villages- something you only really notice when you visit here or Ireland and compare the difference in the landscape and similar populations living in mountain districts.
Enjoyed our first day but it would get even better....
Driving under a  rainbow heading for the hut.
Moss Force waterfall and the high road pass through the Derwent Fells between Buttermere and Keswick from Grasmoor. Despite a potentially fatal drop into the gorge below, this minor road was completely devoid of safety barriers to stop you going over the edge- just a thin ribbon of tarmac then a few feet of smooth flat grass. Something I can't remember seeing in Scotland and the minor road passes here really do climb over mountains to a surprisingly high level. Yep. It's a tame place alright. I would not fancy travelling this minor road in winter or in the dark during heavy rain. A real eye opener.

A cracking film, in German (subtitled) about the last days of the Third Reich and Hitler's growing paranoia and insanity. I'm not a particular fan of war films but this is a gripping depiction of a period that up until it came out had not been covered by the west or Hollywood.


Linda W. said...

Oh you are right, this is lovely country!

Neil said...

The Lakes are excellent outwith high summer. Still got some hills to do there. Looking forward to another visit.

Rosemary said...

I love the Lake District, but do not feel the necessity to compare it to Scottish mountains - both have their own distinctive beauty - photo number 4 is fabulous with the foreground of golden bracken and and the backdrop of mauves and pinks showing in the distant hills.

Carol said...

"The scenery down here always impresses with its grandeur and elegant ridge lines. Still to do a dull hill down here- climbed plenty of boring doorknobs in Scotland."

Spot on! There are a few boring doorknobs but they're few and far between in the Lakes. Loved that post - echoed absolutely all my views of the Lakes - they're extremely underrated by some in some people in a sort of misguided attempt at elitism just because they're not quite as dangerous, hard or high as some Scottish stuff.

Me and Richard were also in the same spot that weekend - shame we didn't know you were there. I crawled through Hartsop on Saturday evening coming off the fells as my leg suddenly decided not to work - think it's the steroids I had to take for my chest last week - they really weaken my bones. It was like the lower part of my fibula was crumbling :-(

Anabel Marsh said...

Cracking photos! I love the Lake District -.though I prefer a more comfortable billet than a mountain hut :-)

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Linda W.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Neil,
You must know them as well as I do now yet I'm still finding new corners to enjoy. Amazing how much variety they can pack into one small area.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Rosemary,
I don't normally compare areas but in this instance, having reacquainted myself thoroughly with the area again, geologically and in a historical sense, I'm fascinated by what Highland Scotland must have looked like with communities still living in the glens before the Highland Clearances. It's only visiting here or in Ireland that you get a real sense of what that means as many people, including my younger self, hear the term H. C. but can't really visualize a populated Highlands inland and just think it's always been wild,treeless, empty and desolate. Also the Highland image of the flamboyant clans that tourists love is a completely modern construct in Victorian times in many ways that is so strongly fixed now it's almost impossible to know what everyday real clan life, attire, and general thinking was like pre 18th century. It's like its been wiped from the map and a Disney theme park version put down its place but it's taken me years to fully realise this.
Over the last five visits I've been casually noting the differences between both areas as I've been hill walking and the Lake District is totally unique in the UK for scenery and geology.
Also coming from a walking club background it's amazing the number of folk I meet who just dismiss the Lake District as not worth visiting so that's also the theme of this post- that it is extremely special. In my own mind I'm still attempting to work out why as I'm completely facinated by the place :o)

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Carol,
as you know I love coming down here and this weekend was an absolute cracker weather wise so the best photos are still to come.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Anabel,
it was a very comfy hut with soft beds, wood burning stove, large sofas and a fully equipped kitchen. Far better than my normal sleep overs in bothies.

Mike@Bit About Britain said...

Well, Bob, you certainly seemed to get around a bit! Wonderful shots, as usual. I've loved the Lakes since heading there, an innocent southern lad, on a geography field trip; couldn't believe how beautiful it was. The present Mrs Britain and I used to walk there most weekends. Comparisons with other places are inevitable, though. I have far less experience of walking in Scotland than you (or the present Mrs Britain, for that matter), but I have always thought that Scotland is simply bigger, grander and wilder. I see where you're coming from on the people angle - I have never forgotten deserted settlements on Skye and elsewhere... The Lakes is, VERY generally, more neaterer and possibly prettier - but, as you suggest, should never be underestimated, on wheels or foot. Ever done the drive to Hardnott? One downside, though, is its popularity - sometimes even places like Striding Edge are as crowded as Ikea on a wet Saturday. Pubs are better further south, though... :-)

Anonymous said...

I agree completely with your views here. Whilst there are one or two outbreaks of tweeness in the Lakes, the mountains are superb. Not better or worse than any other area of the UK, just different. They do possess that mix of the wild mountain and green farmland that Scotland sometimes lacks, but then again some of the best of Scottish Glens (Affric being my Favourite) have a remote majesty that the Lakes can't match. Best idea is if course to explore both! 😀

Robert Craig said...

You're obviously getting auld if you prefer the Lakes to the bleak windswept wastes of Scotland ;)

The big difference scenery-wise is the green fields in the dale bottoms. If you stand on top of Skiddaw the view north to Blencathra and Knott is very Scottish - moorland all the way down one hill and back up the side of the other (you can see a photo at http://loveofscotland.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/the-english-3000ers-skiddaw.html) - no lush green fields below head-dykes as in the rest of the Lakes. I think it is this that gives them their variety and is quite cheering to see.

Also the pubs are better.