My room of sky; clouds reflected from Alcock Tarn.
Taken at 2:13pm.

21 January 2021 | EAST ABOVE GRASMERE

Another great day emerges from the winter gloom. So heading for the heights took me up beside Swan Intake Wood. Snow showers and big clouds all around but somehow I managed to avoid them and stay in the sunshine. Much of interest around here from exotic trees to a puzzling array of little structures and water features – now virtually buried beneath the undergrowth. Another great day emerges from the winter gloom. So heading for the heights took me up beside Swan Intake Wood. Snow showers and big clouds all around but somehow I managed to avoid them and stay in the sunshine. Much of interest around here from exotic trees to a puzzling array of little structures and water features – now virtually buried beneath the undergrowth.

The most impressive ruins though are still highly visible: trackways, a  ruined complex building which local Grasmerians call the ‘hoghoss’ (hog house), an iron-fenced lined pond, large potash kilns – the most impressive in The Lake District. All this in addition to the Thirlmere Aqueduct which passes through here and leaves its mark in the form of Lancashire sandstone gate stoops and cast-iron gates.

If some of the secrets could be unlocked from these visible clues that remain on this fellside I’m sure an intriguing picture could be formed of times-past. An intriguing story that would probably date back to Grasmere’s important wool industry of medieval times.  For now a few pics of the changing light on yet another wonderful, wild, winter’s day in Grasmere.

A view of the Langdale peaks; Harrison Stickle, Loft Crag and pyramidal topped Bowfell. Taken at 2:24pm.

A view of the Langdale peaks; Harrison Stickle, Loft Crag and pyramidal topped Bowfell.
Taken at 2:24pm.

Beast from the west, dark clouds emanate from Wetherlam. Taken at 2:07pm.

Beast from the west, dark clouds emanate from Wetherlam.
Taken at 2:07pm.

Looking to Steel Fell. Taken at 1:27pm.

Looking to Steel Fell.
Taken at 1:27pm.

It’s snowing in Greenburn between dark Helm Crag and sunlit Steel fell. Taken at 1:40pm.

It’s snowing in Greenburn between dark Helm Crag and sunlit Steel fell.
Taken at 1:40pm.

Stairway to heaven: path below Butter Crags. Taken at 2:47pm.

Stairway to heaven: path below Butter Crags.
Taken at 2:47pm.

The smallest stone arch bridge in Cumbria; see my “The Grasmere Yearbook” for musings an identification. Taken at 2:53pm.

The smallest stone arch bridge in Cumbria; see my “The Grasmere Yearbook” for musings and identification.
Taken at 2:53pm.

Over Crummock Water with a lick of sun on Red Pike and High Stile. Taken at 4:55pm

Over Crummock Water with a lick of sun on Red Pike and High Stile.
Taken at 4:55 pm

5/2/20 THREE LAKES

Another quick trip around on mi Triumph. No ice but occasional large piles of snow beside the road here and there – in places where it looked a snowplough had once been shunting. Skies lightened just before the sun disappeared over the western rim of fells. I wonder if it will be out tomorrow?

Down Derwentwater with the light dimming fast. Taken at 5:29pm.

Down Derwentwater with the light dimming fast.
Taken at 5:29pm.

Reflections in the eye of Buttermere with High Stile black and dominant. Taken at 5:07pm.

Reflections in the eye of Buttermere with High Stile black and dominant.
Taken at 5:07pm.

Helvellyn Massif clears temporarily.
Taken at 1:49pm.

9/2/21 STEEL FELL

I’d done the Steel Fell to Helm Crag Horseshoe, with Joyce,  only a few days ago. It has been an excellent icy trip around this classic outing above Grasmere. But again the cold-snap weather  looked promising and I wanted to look  north along the summit shoulder to take some images over Thirlmere. In truth I’m still worried that the ‘zip wire boys’, with their development, cafes, car parks and commercialisation ,  will get their hands on this special place. I’d done the Steel Fell to Helm Crag Horseshoe, with Joyce,  only a few days ago. It has been an excellent icy trip around this classic outing above Grasmere. But again the cold-snap weather  looked promising and I wanted to look  north along the summit shoulder to take some images over Thirlmere. In truth I’m still worried that the ‘zip wire boys’, with their development, cafes, car parks and commercialisation ,  will get their hands on this special place.

It’s a thoroughly horrible feeling when the leadership of the National Park are not to be trusted with the guardianship of the Park. Like living in a third world environment were corrupt politicians are lining their own pockets at the people’s expense. But that’s how it is I’m afraid.  Proven by their support of commercial development. Notably   their approval of the  use of  diesel guzzling 4×4’s on Little Langdale’s green lanes and the selling off  publicly owned National Park land into  private ownership. Why they can’t they see the worth of this unique and special place I just don’t know. But I do know that the Lake District National Park is  fragile, easy to break, and once broken, will be broken forever.

On this day all looked good in the valley bottom but I knew cold, snowy weather, may well blow in from the east. On the early slopes of Cotra Breast, even before the three  craggy bumps,  it struck. A lashing of tiny hailstones, like shotgun pellets,  drumming on the hood of the  cagoule. If Jet had been with me her black, border collie,  coat would have been white, like her forepaws, in no time.

On the middle bump  a dozen or so Herdwicks came down the path from the heights. It suggested  conditions above were not good. I paused and thought a bit about retreating but the wind seemed to be easing so I resumed  climbing. Sure enough on top of the craggy middle  bump the sun broke through, the wind and hail stopped, and it became a different world.

I was a bit concerned  about the ice on the path up the  steeper utmost craggy bump. Particularly because it was  now partially camouflaged  by the accumulated hail and I hadn’t brought any crampons. No excuses; those rubber framed, fit most boots crampons are light to carry, easy to put on, and are a godsend on non-too steep ice and mixed ground.  Well at least I had my pointed stick (sorry I mean walking pole). So onwards.
The summit cairn, built on a rocky knoll beside  the highest old County Boundary iron fence post, glowed iron stained purple red in a burst of sunshine. A momentary instant of magical light which I knew was to rapidly disappear as flakes of snow whizzed  frantically by on a  bitter east wind. And so it was, in less than a minute, a blizzard blasted   down from the heights of the Helvellyn Massif opposite.  I pressed on and looked over the troubled grey waters of Thirlmere but I knew prizewinning blue water photography was now beyond the bounds of possibility.

In retreat I was tempted to crash straight down, the steep Bob Graham Round route,  to the summit of  Dunmail Raise. It seemed only a short while ago   I waited  here for Will to appear on his first attempt, in the crazy heat of summer. Today though, I thought I would head back for Cotra Breast, despite the conditions, and make lonely descent. My fear was that, though the blizzard may rapidly blow through,  the ice on the steep path was now going to be completely obscured by the new whiting of snow. That indeed   was the case and I was mighty pleased  to reach the fell-gate without a mishap. No wonder my dad always swore by his trusty nailed boots. He never had a good word to say about rubber soles. Even long after he had abandoned his nails for rubber!  But that’s an old climbing argument, of which  none today have the faintest knowledge.

The lane towards Town Head and Steel Fell. Taken at 12:55pm

The lane towards Town Head and Steel Fell.
Taken at 12:55pm

A buzzard looks down. Taken at 1:01pm.

A buzzard looks down.
Taken at 1:01pm.

Hail pelted like shotgun pellets. Taken at 1:49pm.

Hail pelted like shotgun pellets.
Taken at 1:49pm.01pm.

Helvellyn Massif clears temporarily. Taken at 1:49pm.

Helvellyn Massif clears temporarily.
Taken at 1:49pm.

Down a lightened Cotra Brow towards Grasmere. Taken at 1:59pm.

Down a lightened Cotra Brow towards Grasmere.
Taken at 1:59pm..

Summit cairn  Steel Fell with purple iron staining seen in the rocks.Taken at 2:09 pm.

Summit cairn Steel Fell with purple iron staining seen in the rocks.
Taken at 2:09 pm. 

hirlmere seen through the wintery  blast. Still precious. Taken at 2:26 pm.

Thirlmere seen through the wintery blast. Still precious.
Taken at 2:26 pm.

Fresh snow masks ice below. Taken at 3:02 pm.

Fresh snow masks ice below.
Taken at 3:02 pm.

Relief to be back at the fell-gate with an easing in grade and less hidden ice to deal with. Taken at 3:16 pm.

Relief to be back at the fell-gate with an easing in grade and less hidden ice to deal with.
Taken at 3:16 pm.

Hailstones like crushed polystyrene on the ice. Taken at 2:06 pm.

Hailstones like crushed polystyrene on the ice.
Taken at 2:06 pm.

Verglas shines on the Tonguegill Stepping Stones. Taken at 3:4 pm.

Verglas shines on the Tonguegill Stepping Stones.
Taken at 3:4 pm.

The north-south shoulder of Steel Fell seen from Raise Beck. Taken 10th February 2021 at 1:04 pm.

The north-south shoulder of Steel Fell seen from Raise Beck.
Taken 10th February 2021 at 1:04 pm.