Monday 10 October. Day 10 on the hills out of 11, and I have company! Duncan and Emma Metcalf (and their wee dog Koshma) will join me for the first time on a pleasant (hopefully!) round of five Dunnerdale fells, west of Coniston.
Some people might consider the starting point to be almost inaccessible – the road past Carter Ground, Jackson Ground and Stephenson Ground is narrow, twisty, undulating, gated… I remember it as a classic night rally section on events like the R L Brown, that demanded the utmost concentration. Today the main focus of concentration was to make sure you didn’t encounter someone coming the other way.
We parked at Stephenson Ground – a few cottages and farm buildings – and headed north along a bridleway which looks down across a small valley to a parallel forest road alongside the delightfully-named River Lickle.
After about a mile and a half we headed west, away from the track, and climbed over grass and rocks to the summit of Pikes (1,539′, 469 m). The morning was clear and the views towards the Scafells and Bowfell quite stunning.
The highest top was next – Caw, at 1,735′ (529 m), with a proper OS trigpoint. The way forward to Brock Barrow seemed clear, but as we made our way down towards it, the crags became less easy to negotiate than they appeared from further up. This made for an interesting interlude with a few ‘hands on’ moments, and a feeling of satisfaction as we looked back up once it was over!
A track ran up parallel to a big stone wall as we approached Brock Barrow, and I decided to follow the track to its highest point and then traverse across. A good plan except that there was no stile in the wall – but being built on top of the odd huge boulder, it proved to be relatively easy to cross without danger or damage. The dog was reluctant to follow Emma, despite coaxing, and she explained that this was because it understands Spanish better than English (I can’t quite remember why!) – so I shouted “Venga perro” and it came to me straight away! ¡Bueno!
The rocky top, at 1,125′ (343 m) was a bit breezy, but once again the views on this lovely clear day were worth waiting for.
The next two fells involved crossing undulating ground, where, just when you thought you were near the top, you came across another dip followed by another rise… and so on. Fox Haw (1,263′, 385 m) was first, with a top comprising a long rock mini-ridge, followed (eventually) by Raven’s Crag (1,184′, 361 m) which enjoyed another lovely view over rugged little fells amongst a patchwork of rusty-coloured bracken.
To get back to our starting point we had to aim for Jackson Ground. I opted for an innocent looking route directe and we ended up thrashing through a fair bit of tall, brown bracken. At this time of the year it still presents quite a barrier to progress, with the added problem that your boots fill up with small pieces of dead fronds and twigs.
We finished before 2 pm. Emma had to be at work for 7 pm and so she and Duncan decided to head back. Although I also had an engagement at 7, I felt more confident of being able to get back (just) in time, so we said our goodbyes after a most enjoyable walk. I headed for two fells on the SE side of Windermere…
… which I’ll tell you about in the next post, and bring you up to date with some statistics.