Time and place : A short Buttermere Round.
Occasion : New Year's Eve 2003, and a walk with Ann and the dogs, starting from Gatesgarth car park.
Walk details : In the end . . . 5.4 miles, and nearly 1900 feet of ascent. Time 4.5 hours.
Weather : Cold and dry but occasionally very windy. A south westerly blizzard was forecast anytime from midday onward. (severe weather warning)
After two days of snow on the hills and blue sky dawn to dusk, we woke on New Years Eve to a fine winter sunrise and a hard frost in the valley.
The snowy white ducks at Gatesgarth didn't seem to mind the cool waters.
Due to a dodgy forecast we may only get a couple of hours walking. The weather was grey and overcast, with the cloud base occasionally brushing the tops with such speed that it was going to be cold with a high wind chill factor if nothing else !!
Haystacks, with the trees in Warnscale Bottom below and storm clouds gathering above.
It was hat and gloves from the start as we crossed the open fields towards Peggy's Bridge.
As we climbed several of the powerful gusts drove white horses across the lake.
This was not going to be a summer T-shirt day by any stroke of the imagination
Two thirds of the way up the Scarth Gap path the stream from High Crag crosses underneath the path.
The ice formations were picturesque yet the water was still running.
Yes - another picturesque ice formation !!
High Crag with a consistent if not extensive snow cover.
The western fells received less snow than the eastern but the winter conditions had brought a heavy frost leading to plenty of ice on the paths and on the rocks in the areas above 1000 feet.
Gable and Kirk Fell, from Scarth Gap.
The big problem at Scarth Gap was camera shake. Even simply walking in the extreme wind was extreemely difficult.
The high ground obviously funnelled the wind causing us to seek shelter to capture this view.
An icy ascent up the pitched path from Scarth Gap brought us to the top of Haystacks.
Here Ann passes one of the smaller tarns near the top. Crummock is the lake in the distance.
Pillar Fell looking cold and wild above the summit tarn of Haystacks.
A party of four were ahead of us and gave a brief splash of colour to this grey scene.
A view from the top.
Grasmoor and Hopegill Head also had the same degree of snow as we had on Haystacks.
High Crag, dramatic as ever, as we zig-zag around the frozen paths on top of Haystacks.
There was too little ice for crampons but without any form of anti-slip protection life was exciting at times to say the least. Several large frozen areas caused continual diversions off the path and into the heather.
The classic Gable panorama.
Below and to the left is Innominate Tarn.
In the foreground, but unseen, my fleece hat that had just blown off in the wind !
The three islands of Innominate blend into the far shore in the poor light.
Naturally the tarn was frozen across its whole surface.
Deep ice giving slight reflections of Pillar beyond.
Strong enough to walk on but I'm not going to test it. Even the dogs stayed off the slippery ice.
Blackbeck Tarn - Holly's coat colour-matching the last of the dead bracken on the far shore.
With our backs to the wind, and fortified by a flapjack or two we headed on towards Dubbs.
Buttermere and Crummock from Green Crag.
About 2.30 pm the light was very grey but at least the bad weather was holding off .
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A side gully of Dubbs beck was a riot of icicles as the water cascaded over the cliff to join the main stream below.
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We started the walk soon after eleven and hoped to make the pass at Scarth Gap at least. As it happened, the bad weather held off, and despite some strong looking storm clouds over the highest fells, we were able to extend the walk to achieve the full round.
It would have been nice to have taken lunch (or at least a thermos of soup) for this four hour plus walk but it would have been difficult to find many places to have sheltered that would have been enjoyable to stop and take in the view.
It was good to see the valley in a totally wintery mantle for a change but the icy paths certainly caused problems that deep snow wouldn't have.
Trekking poles and a good windproof fleece were a great help today.
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The walk out from Dubbs took us down the old miner's track into Warnscale Bottom itself. The well built path was in places rougher than I remember, and very slippery where the ground water had frozen.
Ahead of us views of the lake, the path back to the car, and home.
P.s. Anyone fancy New Year's Eve at the Fish in Buttermere ?
Technical note: Pictures taken with a Canon IXUS 400 Digital camera.
Resized in Photoshop, and built up on a Dreamweaver web builder.
This site best viewed . . . with a good pair of warm gloves.
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