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" Gowbarrow with the Boys "


Date & start time: Thursday  2nd April 2015, midday start.

Location of Start : The Aira Force NT Car park, Cumbria, Uk ( NY 401 201 )

Places visited : Aira Force, High Force, Gowbarrow, Yew Crag viewpoint and back.

Walk details :   5 mls, 1300 feet of ascent, 3 hour 30 mins.

Highest point : Gowbarrow Fell    1,579ft - 481m.

Walked with : Cathy, Matt, Sam and Alexander, Ann and the dogs, Boris, Harry and Dylan.

Weather : Sunshine and blue skies.


© Crown copyright. All rights reserved. License number PU 100034184.


We picked Gowbarrow today for our walk due to the nice round walk nature of the fell

plus the fact that it would leave time to visit the Herdwick Exhibition at Rheged afterwards.

The National Trust has upgraded the facilities at Aira Force, so chance to go and see what they have done as well.

Welcome to the upgraded car park and visitor's centre at Aira Force.

For those that have visited previously, the gate by the side of the stone shelter has gone, replaced by an extended dry stone wall.

Concentrate and don't bash your nose on the stonework, the gate and new path are alongside the shop !

It is a full outing again today.

Sam, Boris, Ann and Harry, Matthew, Cathy, Alexander and, who seems to be raring to go.

The daffs are out in the park and make a lovely sight as we walk up towards the falls.

There are also new signs highlighting major trees in the park.
A slight optical illusion looking down on the bottom bridge.

The more usual viewpoint of the two bridges and the falls from the re-opened path.

These steep steps collapsed last year and a new viewing platform is incorporated into the strengthened walkway.

It provides a great vantage point for the falls.
Looking up at the top bridge.

Re-tracing our steps and walking round to the top bridge, we see the view in reverse.

The bridge was erected in memory of Mr Stephen Rice and re-dedicated later to include his brother's memory.

It is a warm day and time to shed a layer or two as we all re-gather above the falls.

Leaving some of the crowds behind we take the path up the right hand (eastern) side of the river.

The Trust have been busy here too and have improved some of the culverts and bridges.

" Work in Progress "

The main waterfall area sorted, the 'path-fairies' are working their way up the valley towards the upper falls.

The top falls known as High Force.

The river is reasonably full and cascades over the falls, only to be confined in the narrow gorge as it leaves.

There's a slight rainbow effect as the spray catches the light where the water enters the pool below.

What looks like a new footbridge offers the visitor a circular route up to these top waterfalls and back down the other side of the river. 

For anyone not wanting a long walk, it makes a fine extension to the basic Aira Force round walk from the car park.

- - - o o o - - -

However we have chosen the longer option to give the boys, the dogs and ourselves slightly more exercise

and to allow us to appreciate the area to the full.

We head on up the Aira Beck valley and leave the woods at the fell gate.

A good path on through the valley brings us to the small patch of woodland

that is the landmark we need to find the path up onto Gowbarrow Fell.

Climbing up out of the valley and the views improve as we go.

We're looking across at the top end of Ullswater and to the houses and hotels at Glenridding.

The motor vessel Lady Wakefield as she cruises up the lake.

Into the sun so the colours suffer slightly,

but as we climb we can start to see the extent of the pre-Easter snow that still lies on the high fells.

This is Dove Crag, Hart Crag, St Sunday Crag and Fairfield over the back.

There's still snow on Skiddaw and Blencathra today, but it is probably melting fast in this warm sunshine.

We cross the snow line ourselves, in slightly less dramatic fashion . . .
. . . on the man-made path that crosses the soft ground towards the summit

Soft ground alongside the path often turns to standing water and pools,  some of which have large amounts of frogs spawn.

Alexander on top of the world . . . or at least the top of Gowbarrow.

With his brothers . . . or with the expression on Matt's face . . . his "minders".

Cathy relaxes on some old 'path-fairy' bags of stone chippings.

The path up here is still to be completed . . . but I think they've forgotten it in the rush to get the  parkland paths in order.

Ann sits and enjoys the sunshine too.

Ann's shot including me this time.

Time for a quick panorama from the top.

Click here or on the photo above for a Loweswatercam 360 degree annotated panorama.

With a change of lens . . . a close up of snowy High Raise, Rampsgill Head and High Street.

Further west and the reports of arctic conditions on Helvellyn this week prove to be correct.

March brought quite a lot of new snow to the highest fells and the Helvellyn range seemed to gather its fair share.

The Helvellyn Rangers were advising full winter gear and crampons for anyone attempting 'The Edges' this week.

Here on Gowbarrow the colour could not be more different.

The heather still has its brown winter hue and the grasses lack the new green shoots of Spring.

We set off down the opposite side of the fell, aiming to get down onto the new path below.

Dylan walks ahead . . . but not too far . . . and returns to make sure we are all following.

Round at the old Shooting Lodge and we have a view of Ullswater once more.

This gully used to have a bridge but in recent years the top has been back-filled and now supports a normal path.

[ A picture of the old bridge can be found on the link at the end of the report.]

Time for Cathy, Alexander and Harry, and for that matter, everyone else to sit and enjoy the view.

Looking over Pooley Bridge at the distant Pennines and the 'golf ball' radar dome on snowy Cross Fell.

Below us the Lady Wakefield makes its return trip down the lake towards Howtown.

Coming the other way and passing Birkett Crags, The Raven

the steamer's second oldest boat launched in 1889.

Catching the moment as they pass each other, the bow-waves breaking the reflections on the otherwise still lake.

Round the final corner and looking west again up the lake towards St Sunday Crag and Sheffield Pike.

Myself on the Yew Crag view point.

Not the best colour into the sun but certainly a great view

with Dylan and the cairn adding foreground to the picture.

"Oops" . . . don't look down !

Onward and downward now as we start the descent back to the cars in the car park below.

The view down the lake including the rear side of Lyulph's Tower

A close-up to show the white painted house behind, backing on to the castellated stone facade that faces the lake.

In the park there is a huge Sitka Spruce . . .
it stands beside the main path . . .
and appears to climb forever into the sky.

Back over the river and our walk is nearly over.

There's just time to call into the re-furbished Aira Force Cafe for some light refreshments

. . . after all lunch was just a biscuit and a drink on the summit.

- - - o o o - - -

Time to load up the cars and make our way to Rheged to see the new display that people are talking about.

After all, Prince Charles called there yesterday to view "Herdwick: A Portrait of Lakeland " exhibition by Ian Lawson,

. . . so why shouldn't we go and see it too ?

Just a few pictures to tempt you to visit . . .

Ian has taken some lovely shots in his five year study of the Lakeland farmers and their classic Herdwick sheep.

Also on show were Herdwick products . . .

Coats made from Herdy wool . . .
. . . and bags from The Shepherdess range.

You can stand and admire Ian's skill as a photographer and as an artist.

Many of the photos have been heavily colour-enhanced using computer technology but despite that, his skill as a photographer shows through.

His exhibition is also about the Lakeland people met along the way.

Check the opening times before you visit as we arrived at 4.30 just as the exhibition was about to close its doors to late visitors.

- - - o o o - - -

In the evening . . . well we were entertained by other photos . . .

this one an old view of our own cottage (plus the old Smithy) on the wall in the Kirkstile Inn.

They also have a stuffed fox in a glass display cabinet,

a throw back to the old days. 

Like the old Smithy, this fox has a history too.

Maybe he was slightly lighter in colour which attracted attention.

Maybe he has just faded . . . he is over 130 years old after all.


The other reason for visiting the pub was to enjoy a nice family meal in classic surroundings.

Who was for the goat's cheese on a bed of sweet potato and pesto ?

- - - o o o - - -


Technical note: Pictures taken with either Ann's Canon Sureshot SX220, or my Nikon P520 digital camera.

Resized in Photoshop, and built up on a Dreamweaver web builder.

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Previous walk - 31st March 2015 - Crummock with the Boys

A previous time up here - 14th June 2006 Gowbarrow and Aira

Next walk - 5th April 2015 - Morning has Broken