The route this time, a climb of Whiteside up onto Hopegill Head,
was requested by my daughter Paula who is coming to Loweswater
for a short visit.
Over the weekend before she and the family arrived, I also had
garden visits from this fine female pheasant,
taking advantage of the food that has fallen off the bird table.
I still had the zoom lens on the camera so had to stand back
to catch this photo,
which might have been fortuitous because if I stand too close
to the big window the larger birds and animals often get scared
When I looked out again there were also two youngsters closer
to the house.
So I waited and eventually a family of four all gathered together
under the feeder to enjoy the remains of the food fallen from
the table above.
You could say that made it a very phleasant weekend !!
- - - o o o - - -
Paula, husband Al and my grand daughter Abi, arrived
Monday and, despite the poor weather, they still fancied going
out for a walk.
One outing was locally to Scale Hill and Lanthwaite Woods.
Whilst down at the boathouse I tried to get all three to look
at the camera for a family photo.
However there was something distracting them . . . the reason
was obvious when I zoomed out.
- - - o o o - - -
On Tuesday Al, a keen road cyclist, chose to attempt
Whitton Cycle Challenge" around the Lakes,
a ride which includes all the five major road
passes during a 112 mile circuit of Cumbria.
The top guys do it in six or seven hours, but eleven hours is
not unusual or uncommon for the average sportive rider.
Al, who started and ended here in Loweswater, achieved a very
credible 9.5 hours door to door.
- - - o o o - - -
While Al was doing his cycle challenge Paula,
Abi and I, joined by my neighbour Martin, chose to aim in a more
Paula and Abi wanted to walk the two major local
summits of Whiteside and Hopegill Head.
Martin and I had climbed them in February in more winter conditions
so this would be a worthwhile repeat climb for us.
Then we had clear weather, but cold winter conditions caused
sheet ice on some paths within the Gasgale Valley.
Today it was low cloud, warm almost muggy air, the prospect of
limited views but dry useable paths, a very different prospect.
Walking from home included the bridle path through
Lanthwaite Woods, passing Jonty's Cave along the way.
We met up with the two fell ponies that normally
spend their days on Low Fell.
With the bracken so high at the moment, perhaps
their owner thought they would be better off down here in the
We crossed over the Buttermere Road and headed
for the start of the main climb.
I asked everyone to stop and pose for a nice photo
. . . not the most brilliant idea !
The weather down hear in the valley was fine,
but once we climb above the first summit of Whin Benn it would
be a different matter.
The top of Whiteside is lost in the mist.
It is turning out a good year for the heather
and the rich purple colour is quite vibrant in places.
Lower down it competes with the bracken.
Higher up the more alpine plant wins out.
The path ahead from Whin Benn dips briefly then
continues the climb up through more rich, knee deep heather.
As we climb the Scottish hills become more
and more obviously separated from ourselves by
the Solway Estuary.
Paula chat as they we all stop for a breather.
Behind us is the proposed
route back via the valley.
Above the next crag the colour and definition
starts to fade as we enter the clouds.
A warm breeze greets us as we top out on the first
summit of Whiteside.
Just a few photos along the ridge as visibility
Navigation along this, one of the finest upland
ridges of Lakeland is easy . . . stick close to the pointed bit
Don't be sheepish about enjoying your walk.
When you can climb no higher you've reached the
summit of Hopegill Head . . . yeah.
When Martin and I were up here in February the
Hopegill slabs were covered in ice so we couldn't safely appreciate
Today they were okay for walking but the view
was hidden, so we ventured down them a short way just to try and
enjoy the location.
the sharp escarpment leading to Ladyside.
Looking into the abyss
below the Hobcarton Crags
Returning to the top we found a nicely sheltered
spot below the summit for a bite to eat.
Under way again, the route starts close to the
Soon the path divides, the one left close to the
edge continues on towards Grisedale Pike, our one to the right
takes us toward Sand Hill.
I don't know of the true origins of the name,
but there's more gravel than sand on Sand Hill.
As we descend from the clouds the bright, almost
emerald green of the contrasting Loweswater valley floor appears
through the mist.
There must be some sunshine down there to make
it shine so vividly.
To the east there's a general overcast gloom over
Causey Pike, Outerside, Clough Head and the Dodds.
Lower still and the Loweswater Fells of Blake
and Burnbank are now seen below our low cloud level.
towards Ill Crag is easy now as visibility is restored.
Time to follow the infant
Liza Beck down Gasgale Valley.
descent produces a host of fine waterfalls.
Flood surges over the
years have eroded the path.
On the way down we crossed this very yellow outcrop of shale
. . . there must be some added mineral content to the rock at
Onward and downward . . . on paths that were ice covered in
We noticed a "dipper" flying down the
beck ahead of us.
It kept darting, forward close to the stream and
landing alongside many of the rock pools ahead of us.
Never really close enough to photograph,
it flew on to the next corner.
Paula's spotted it again !
As we neared the end of the steep part of the
descent it turned and flew back up the river, but I'm blowed if
I can see it in the photo !
I took a picture of an old sheepfold instead.
It was close to the river but suffered only minor
damage in the floods and so survives to tell of earlier days and
older farming practices.
The steep descent complete, there just remains
the deceptively long walk down the valley.
A fallen boulder and cold mountain pool are a
landmark of the next slight twist and turn of the valley.
The valley narrows once again as we approach Gasgale's
This is a very picturesque double waterfall, cascading
over a twenty foot rock barrier.
It comes complete with its own purple heather
and green tree . . . but sadly no bright sunshine today.
Paula and Abi check out
the falls . . .
. . . before carefully descending the
Those of a more nervous disposition could have
taken a higher path which branched off at the fallen boulder we
That path traverses above the rock step, staying
higher up on the lower slopes of Whin Ben.
I however do love these two waterfalls as a place
to visit in their own right.
The rocky mountain stream fills most of the base
of this narrow valley
as we head down to cross back over the 'new' bridge
that we used earlier.
As the day progressed the weather must have improved
'in our absence'.
Now we are down closer to those emerald green
fields, the sky is clearing and the cloud is lifting off the Buttermere
Looking back at Whin Benn from the road, the cloud
base is higher on Whiteside as well.
The long walk down the valley was extended somewhat
by the walk back through Lanthwaite Woods.
However the sun is out and the 'pure' nature of
the walk, not using the car, has been very satisfying despite
the extra length.
- - - o o o - - -
In the evening we relieved tired walking and cycling
muscles in a daft sort of way.
A recent purchase of coloured underwater lights
enhanced the rather extravagant purchase of a hot tub for the
You've got to enjoy yourselves if you can, and
no better way than having a complete day out with the family.