A common man marvels at uncommon things. A wise man marvels at the commonplace. CONFUCIUS

Wednesday, 12 March 2014



We've just returned from Kendal in the Lake District. It wasn't a holiday — we were there to help Carmen's mum recover from surgery. But on Saturday I did manage a five-and-a-half hour walk in and around the Kentmere valley. It was windy and misty on the tops, but the valley itself was clear.

Kentmere church.

Barn at Stile End.

The curiosity of sheep.

The cart track from Kentmere to Sadgill.

Halfway along this track I branched left onto the fell, climbing steeply up to Wray Crag and Shipman Knotts (1926 ft). The path followed first a wall and then a fence. Which was lucky. Visibility was very poor, and a navigational error could have been serious. The wind roared at my back, but I was wearing my merino wool base layer, long-sleeved technical shirt, fleece, rainshell and waterproof gloves, so I kept quite warm and dry.

The whole area was turning into a huge peat bog, and I had to skirt countless boggy pools and sucking quagmires, often by clinging precariously to the wall or fence. After what seemed ages I reached the summit of Kentmere Pike (2397 ft), and after another age the cairn at the top of Harter Fell (2539 ft). Some patches of snow nestled in the hollows, and a much larger snowfield covered the fell's northern slopes above Mardale.

I ate my sandwiches with freezing fingers in the lee of the cairn. I didn't stay long. It was time to descend and find some better weather. Thankfully I quickly located west of the cairn the zig-zag path which led precipitously to Nan Bield Pass (I'd been worried about finding it in the mist). Three other walkers were taking refuge in the stone shelter there. But it was no place to linger. The wind screamed through the gap. I headed steeply back down into the Kentmere valley. Gradually the incline eased, the wind dropped and the mist cleared.   

Old quarry on the western slopes of Kentmere Pike.

Unmistakeable Lake District mountain scenery. It doesn't get much better than this.

A burst of sunlight lights up a sward of tussocky grass. 

The Kentmere valley looking north.

The Kentmere valley looking south.

A simple bridge — both practical and beautiful.

The long and winding road:  mossed stone walls line the way.


The Weaver of Grass said...

Lovely photographs of a part I don't know at all Robert - although we live so near.
Do send me an e mail to let me know how Rhoda is progressing please.

Loren said...

Wow, I've never hiked country anything like that. Beautiful in an austere way.

The Solitary Walker said...

This beautiful part of eastern Lakeland is mainly frequented by the hardier walkers, Pat, as it's quite wild and remote. Will email later.

It's a wonderful part of England, Loren. One of my favourite places anywhere.

Ruth Mowry said...

Robert, these scenes and your photographs are utterly gorgeous! I can't stop staring.

It sounds quite hazardous though! Glad you made it through all right. I imagine you feel it was worth the risk.

Rubye Jack said...

It's such gorgeous country, and the bridge is unique and beautiful and obviously useful.

Howellsey said...

One of my favourite areas, snow covered last time I went up there. The wind certainly does whip through the Nan Bield pass, usually quiet as well! Lovely colours in the pics.

George said...

Magnificent photos of a magnificent place in the world. Oh how it brings back memories of my C2C walk. One of the things I remember most, and brought to mind by your own experience, is how the weather can change so dramatically with what seems to be small changes in elevation. In the Lake District, as you well know, it is always wise to be prepared for any kind of weather, regardless of the season.

dritanje said...

The scenery goes from fearsome (to me!) to homely, with the mossy stones and the little stone bridge. You are courageous and intrepid. The weather sounds horrendous - and to think I complained of a little rain! I hope C's mum makes a good recovery.

Suman said...

Stunning pictures, Robert! I could look at them all day; there's just so much poetry in each one of them. The mossy path is my favourite - takes me right back to Seattle and it's moss-embossed evergreens.

Hilary said...

I have never been to that part of the country, you've made me want to go.

The Solitary Walker said...

Thanks, everyone, for your comments, and thanks for your best wishes for Carmen's mum, Dritanje. She's recovering from a lumpectomy, but she won't be out of the woods until the result of a lymph node biopsy next week.

Goat said...

Beautiful. Great to see all that rich-green grass.

The Solitary Walker said...

It's a lovely part of England, Goat.