25 April 2015

Raven Crag and Armboth Fell

The weather forecast was dreadful and didn't bode well for the day at all, showers, gusty wind up to 55miles per hour and other nasties were predicted for the morning but never the less we headed north, stopping, as always at Tebay services for our welcome morning cup of coffee.

We'd decided to tackle Raven Crag and Armboth Fell, if the weather gods allowed that is.  A nice circular walk, taking in the 2 hills and finishing along the banks of Thirlmere.  The whole way up in the car the rain battered against the windscreen and there was much talk of us not even getting out the car once we arrived but we carried on regardless.

On finding a parking space the rain was still drizzling however it was not as thunderous as it had been on the trip up the motorway.  There was a breeze but it wasn't nearly as windy as predicted.  It was bleak and misty but walkable so off we went.

Raven crag was lovely as we walked up through the trees on quite a steep path.  A path littered with emerging wild flowers and the odd fungi!.  Before long we were up on a plateau area and saw a sign that said, Castle Crag, Hill Fort so we figured while we were there we'd have a peek.
Castle Crag (not THE Castle Crag) was just a rocky mound with what seemed to be a trench like cut out round the sides.  No further information was offered but it was a nice enough place.

The rain was easing off a bit and just a very light drizzle now as we headed up through the last bit of steep forest towards the summit of Raven Crag.  As we reached the summit the drizzly rain turned to snow which was a bit of a surprise and the views over Thirlmere were lovely.  We saw 2 ducks flying below, round and round and finally fleeing off to the other side of the lake.  A few moments later we saw what we thought was a Kestrel but it was too far away to get a picture and even to see through the binoculars but we watched it soar round the side of the hill.

Time to head back down and out of the snowy, wet weather, back into the forested area to find the path to Armboth Fell.  We took the track round to the left and it brought us to a style which led us onto to a marshy boggy moorland type path.  The rain by this time was a bit more persistent and the ground underfoot was boggy and a bit yuk!

Initial thoughts were to turn back but we were almost there and we'd missed this fell before when we did High Tove and High Seat so it was best we bagged it now, even though the going was tough.  Rain and bog, Brilliant !

Before we reached the summit the rain started to ease off and the cloud lifted from the surrounding hills showing the flanks of Helvellyn and Brown Crags peppered with snow and slowly revealing themselves from the mist.
Armboth Fell was ahead of us and not a very high peak at all, I think Wainwright was having a laugh when he included this in his lists.
We stopped on the top for a few mins to finish off what lunch we had brought and soon were heading for the path down.  It was a straightforward path and one that would take us back to the banks of Thirlmere.   Littered with a few waterfalls, some visible, some not it didn't take us long at all to reach the bottom and then follow the path along the side of the lake.
We saw the giant tree and Chris spotted a Red squirrel and soon found ourselves back at the car after another adventure in the lakes.  Nothing perilous today but definitely a walk that we didn't think would happen.  The weather gods were somewhat kind to us in that we didn't get the big gusts of wind that were predicted and a little bit of rain never hurt anyone, did it?

11 April 2015

Latrigg & Lonscale Fell

After a whole month of not being near a fell because of weather, holidays and other commitments we woke to the sound of rain and wind lashing against the bedroom window......Noooooooo, please not another day where we'd not make it up to the Lakes???  We decided to go nonetheless as our weather forecast was that the day would be mostly dry with scattered showers and we had our waterproofs so off we went.

On the journey up the rain was quite persistent however by the time we reached Tebay services to purchase a couple of very tasty scotch eggs for our lunch later in the day the sun was trying to come out.

Keswick and the sun was really trying its best to force its way through the clouds however the wind was fierce and it was cold, bitterly cold.  Soon we were parked and ready to venture up the small path towards the top of Latrigg.  Another box ticked and we quickly made our way over to the path that would take us up the larger challenge of Lonscale.

The path was fairly clear and after a gentle slope upwards round and across the face of the hill we the turned sharp left at the gate to find ourselves on a steep path going directly upwards.   On the path we saw a hoverer on the crest of the hill and it seemed to have the characteristics of a buzzard but it was really too far away to be sure.  I did snap its picture but again too far away to be confident on what it was.  It definitely acted like a buzzard with its hovering and hunting action and Chris was sure it was so we'll call it our buzzard sighting of the day.  The path was a slog and in places the wind took your breath away but whilst it was hard work it was great to be out.

About half way up we stopped for a first nibble of our scotch eggs and while were were stopped we saw a lovely little kestrel fly by with the sun just glinting on its wings but alas I wasn't quick enough to get its picture as my hands were full of scotch egg.  Shame. 

Soon we were at the summit and the wind had really gathered strength.  Cold and blustery was the order of the day and we didn't stick around on the top long but ventured further northwards on the path that would take us a good bit further on to swing round and meet the lower level path that would take us back round the lower flanks of the hill.

The wind streaming down this northern side was incredible, fierce and bitterly cold.  It almost knocked you off your feet and it was a welcome relief when we were far enough down to get a little bit of shelter.   The way down this path was steep.  Luckily there was a fence and the posts helped us on our way down and we gingerly ventured post to post down the steep side of the hill.

We could see the path below and after another quick nibble of our eggs were on the level path below.  Out of the wind it was a lovely path and after a mile or so skirting round the side of the mountain we were back at the spot where we'd taken the sharp left earlier.

It was just a quick hop and a jump before we were back in the car park after a thoroughly enjoyable walk.  Lonsdale Fell was a nice one and gave our legs a brilliant work out.   Lets hope its not too long before we're back ticking another few fells off our list.

06 April 2015

Haar comes Holy Island

The last day or our Northumberland adventure and we went up to Holy Island.  We parked at Beal and got onto our bikes to cycle over the causeway to the island.  We'd checked the tide times and knew we'd be safe from 8.30am until about 14.54 pm which gave us plenty time to explore.

I wasnt counting on it being so bleak and the Haar which had come in early morning was sticking around like glue.  Cold and damp in the mist made things a bit miserable so after a quick visit to the castle we were back over the causeway to the sunshine again.  Here are a few pictures from our quick trip to Holy Island.

05 April 2015

Seahouses, Seals, Puffins, Beach & Castles

Easter Sunday started out with an early morning (10.30am) boat trip out to the Farne Islands to see the seals and seabirds.

The weather was perfect, blue sky, only a touch of a breeze and it was quite mild.  So off we went on the boat with 60+ other people eager to see the wildlife that the boat trip had in store for us.

The first thing we came across was cliffs full of seabirds, Gullimots and seaguls.  They were everywhere and it was a lovely sight to see.

On leaving the bird cliffs and heading to the islands where the seals are we saw loads of puffins in the sea.  They only come onto the cliffs when they're ready to mate and live on the sea until that time.  They were swooping and darting all over the place with their little wings flapping but I managed to capture these 2 just having a bit of a sit down, on the water.
We passed the lighthouse where Grace Darling and her family lived.  Grace became famous for assisting in the rescue of people from a shipwreck on nearby rocks and we planned to visit her museum in the RNLI base in Bamburgh later in the day.
Finally we came to the islands where the seals live and they were a sedate bunch indeed.  Only a couple of them lifted their heads to see us.  I guess they're so used to the boats coming past and know that we're not a source of food for them that they're just not interested.  They looked healthy enough and the boat man said there was a colony of 3400 on the islands.  Wow, that's impressive.
Safely back on shore we decided to walk along the beach in the direction of Bamburgh as it was a beautiful day and we were in no rush at all.  The thought of a cream tea in a little cafe was an additional incentive.

Before we set off we noticed a crowd gathering at the path before you head down to the beach and a woman informed us that there had been an accident on the rocks, a girl had broken her leg and they were waiting on the air ambulance to arrive so we waited for a bit too, until it arrived, which was pretty spectacular then we went on our way again.

At last the castle came into view and it was only a short walk up in to the village where yes, we dove into a small cafe and had the most delicious cream tea.  Afterwards we walked up to the Grace Darling exhibition in the RNLI museum and then just sat in the sun for the rest of the day.

Fantastic day filled with adventure and lovely things.  A great Easter Sunday however it was one without a Choc egg........hmmmmmm I'm sure I'll make up for that !

04 April 2015

High Force & Kielder Water & Forest Park

Good Friday took us up to Northumberland via High Force in Yorkshire for an Easter weekend of walking, biking and boating (out to see the seals).

First stop on Friday was High Force waterfall and what a spectacular sight that was.  I'd never seen it before and it practically took my breath away when we turned the corner and there it was at the end of the river.  Spectacular.

After this is it was back to the car to head further North to Alnwick where we were booked into a lovely B & B and then on Saturday we headed a little west over to Kielder Water & Forest park with the bikes.  The route round the park, taking in the Castle and other scenes was approx 27 miles so that would do us nicely.

The lady in the gift shop said when we arrived that it was quite hilly in places and she wasnt wrong.  The park certainly did hold a few surprises of the hilly kind but we coped quite well with them.

The first part of the path on the anti clockwise route took us round the East coast of the resevoir and followed an attractive path littered with trees and other curious things.  One of these was the Janus chairs where Chris went for a quick nap.....zzzzzzzzzzzzz.  In reality they werent the most comfy of chairs at all.
Another curio we found was this big wooden head in the forest, quirky but very cool.
Further round we were lucky enough to spot an Osprey and what we think is a Sparrowhawk and the Osprey had just caught a fish.  I wish I'd been closer and gotten a better pic but this is the best we can do an we watched it for ages climbing on the thermals higher and higher.

Further round the landscape opened up a bit as we headed towards the castle.
And after a quick bite to eat in the Castle cafe we were off on our travels again round the park.  It was hard work but such good fun.

A great day out and a beautiful park and we were lucky enough to spot an Osprey, Sparrowhawk and a Buzzard earlier in the day that we didn't get a pic of.