A couple of months flew by again and after work cancelled my night shifts I jumped at the chance to get out and about in the Lakes. Destination, the Kentmere horseshoe at about 12.5 miles and 3500ft ascent with as it worked out a bit added on to bag another Wainwright, Grey Crag.
Weather was forecast as spectacular and it certainly didn’t disappoint with clear blue skies, very little wind and warm temperatures for most of the day. I stayed over at Mum’s again to avoid the very early start to get to the church at Kentmere for 8.30, and to catch up with them. Packed lunch sorted I set off at 7.30 for Kentmere.
The road into Kentmere was very icy and speed reduced to a crawl to avoid disaster before the day started. Instantly the views were spectacular and I parked up to grab an early view.
The approach to the church was up a steepish hill and the car ground to a halt near the top resulting in an embarrassing reverse to the bottom whilst being watched by a yokle with his 3 dogs. A re try at higher speed did the trick and I missed the yokle with at least a foot to spare, slid round the corner and slung it into the parking spot. Not the first there either at that time !!
Kentmere church is a bit grotty looking really, badly rendered and not as I expected, but the parking for the day only cost me a small donation to the local meeting hall. I waited about half an hour before the rest of the party arrived and we readied ourselves for the day ahead.
The path out of the village was steep and the sun warmed us all up quickly.
Once on the Garburn Pass leading upto Yoke, the views back to Kentmere were great with the dusting of snow. Much more snow lay ahead and as we climbed the snow lay deeper.
The sun was indeed warming us up and I was soon down to a t shirt, but that was nothing compared to Mark and Ian where shorts and a half strip were order of the day. Pearsey did put some clothes back on before the chest rug police turned up to take him away !!
As we rounded the corner near the top of the pass views over to Bowfell and Crinkle Crags covered in snow greeted us and a deeper snow lined path up to the first summit od the day Yoke. As we ascended the next peaks of Ill Bell and Foswick were visible all covered in snow under the lovely blue sky.
The summit of Yoke did not disappoint when we arrived there with far reaching views from Southern Scotland over to Pendle Hill it was that clear up there. We were caught up by another walker out for the day who took a group shot for us.
Onward to the next peak, Ill Bell, with the Kentmere reservoir frozen solid and Hater Fell in the background. I pushed on and stopped to take a shot of the others coming up Ill Bell at a pace.
Ill Bell had three cairns and I was snapped next to the largest of the three and took another with them in looking over to Windermere and the Irish sea beyond. Hardly a breath of wind but the fleece was back on as it was nippy when we kept stopping to admire the views.
Just had to keep stopping and Ian and Mark stopped infront of out route ahead so more pics taken. I didn’t have crampons as the route was one of wide ridges with gravel paths and as such I didn’t expect grip to be a problem but some of the descents were a case of digging heels in to get a steady footing to move. Ian decided that as it was Winter Olympic season he would ski down on his boots !!
Next was the climb up Foswick, another great snowy trudge made all the harder by deep snow every other step making us stop. Not a great summit but a Wainwright all the same and we pressed onto Thornthwaite Crag an it’s 14ft cairn.
Every peak so far had been an up and down experience and this one was no exception with us loosing a lot of height before making it back up and more. Micky brought up the rear on this one and the ice on the metal fence post showed just how cold it had been. Thornthwaite Crag was the High spot of the route and the views were superb as they had been the entire day so far.
Whilst we were on the top having a break for lunch Ian and Mark decided that Grey Crag was not too far and seeing as though conditions were sooo good we should go and bag it, so we did. It certainly looked closer than it was and it took us about 40 mins for the round trip.
The view back to Thornthwaite Crag showed the cornices on the edge of High Street, not big but dangerous all the same. Micky had stayed on Thornthwaite Crag while we wandered to Grey Crag and back, the climb back to the top was steep and icy and Micky could hear us all puffing away all the way back from a way away. He was a bit nippy when we did put in an appearance as 40 mins doing nothing in cold temps did cool him down.
The next leg up ti High Street sorted that out though !! The path was very wide and the snow has settled somewhat giving deep snow underfoot upto about 18” in places and as all went quiet we knew it was hard going. It was the single bit of the walk I was not enjoying so far as the half mile or so seemed to take for ever, but eventually the summit came into view.
We met two cross country skiers on top who were having a great day out as we were but they seemed to go faster down hill than us for some reason!! We moved on towards Harter Fell over the snow and I looked across to the starting peaks of the horseshoe over the frozen ground. The sky was starting to haze over by now, 3 ish, and the temperature dropped accordingly, still not time for gloves or hat though.
Once again we descended alot to get onto Nan Beigt Pass which led onto The climb to Harter Fell. The only dodgy bit of ground we came across was on this descent with the path frozen solid and full of sheet ice. Micky slid perilously close to the edge so we decided to find grass to walk on instead. So far the snow had been fine to walk on, grippy underfoot and only a few slips but we made it safely to the low point with bus stop shelter all the same.
The climb was deceptively steep, almost vertical in places but once again the snow helped by making steps to climb up, I bet it was easier that during the Summer on this section. We all reached the summit and had a 5 minute rest.
After the break the next Wainwright to tackle was Kentmere Pike, just a stroll scross a shallow dip and raise to get there but again there were no real drop offs to allow the snow to escape and the drifts were 4ft deep along the fence we followed to Kentmere Pike with some very deep sections for us to cross. With tired legs now this was slow going again.
As we descended we broke the snow line again and came across a little boggy ground before hitting the farmer’s track back to the road. Views back across the whole route were less brightly lit than before with the cloud coming over from the sea and the temperature dropped off causing the first use of the gloves for the day. My new beanie got an airing too !!
The road back to the church was only about a mile and so we were back to the church in no time, tired but very satisfied with our day’s outing. This has to go down in my books as the best day in the Lakes bar none and the views will stay with me for a long time to come if not forever.
Home for beer and football on the telly !!