Date - 14th December 2008 Distance - 6.5 miles
Map - OL7 Start point - Rydal Road car park Ambleside (NY 376046)


Summits Achieved

Name Height (ft) Height (m) Grid Ref
Red Screes 2546 776 NY 3964 0876


The Walk

Whilst Dad and us had done a few walks on weekdays with Uncle Eric recently, this was the first Sunday walk we had had for a few weeks. We eagerly jumped into the car and we set off early for Ambleside in the Lake District.

Paying to park is a necessary evil and Ambleside being one of the tourist honey pots is expensive, but as it was near to Christmas, Sunday was free, so saving Dad £6. Well it would go towards his tea and cake later! We did however remember that last time this happened due to a power cut in Grasmere, Dad suffered a fall, so we hoped that this was not an omen for today.

He was soon ready and we snuggled down in his rucksack and off we went about 9.15. The first ¾ mile is along the road that climbs steeply up to the Kirkstone Pass. Dad has still not fully regained his hill fitness after his enforced lay off, so he was puffing a bit and was very glad to get to the gate that led on to the open fell where the path climbed up between two walls. The sky was heavy with cloud, and the mountains and valleys were obscured. As we ascended the mist began to lift and wonderful views unfolded of the mountains with the clouds hanging in the valleys. Here looking NW…

And below towards the Coniston Fells.

The weather recently had been very wintry and today was no exception. At lower altitudes the snow had gone, but the thaw had left the ground very wet and soft making for harder going. Ever upwards we went stopping again to admire the view down to Rydal Water. Note the perfect reflections in the water, and we thought the cloud added further atmosphere to the shot…

A gate and stiles allowed progress through cross walls and then a steeper section skirted round some crags before the gradient eased off a little. Suddenly two things then happened. The landscape changed from green to white as we reached the snow line, and the visibility dropped to 50 yards. The path had disappeared and the visibility meant we could not see in which direction the summit lay. There were no tracks as we were the first walkers up here today, but Dad picked his way carefully along and the wall away to the right gave guidance for a time. He checked the map and knew that a wall had to be crossed, and to our relief this came into view. We knew now that we were about 300 yards from the summit. Two large cairns now guided us on, and then we saw the small tarn in a dip. It was just yards now before the summit cairn and trig point was reached. Up here there was a stiff breeze and it was bitterly cold, but nevertheless we hopped out and sat in the snow to have our photo taken.

We had to be very careful as just behind the trig point the mountain drops away almost vertically. Because of the cold, for once we were very glad to be back in the rucksack.

Dad had planned to take us to three further summits, but with cloud and the snow route finding would have been very difficult, and he thought that it was not wise to do this. We agreed too, and being sensible and safe we returned by our outward route. It was easier now of course because he could just follow his footprints. Soon the wall descending the fell came into view again. It was encrusted in snow, which had drifted up to it too.

We were not the only walkers on the mountain however, and we met a few including this party of four who add some colour to an otherwise white landscape. At least they could follow Dad’s trail.

We continued down and as if by magic the views returned as we dropped below the cloud layer. Distantly south beyond Windermere, we could see that the sun was shining on Morecambe Bay. The large building is Heysham Nuclear Power Station.

Not long after this was taken we dropped below the snow line, and Dad found some convenient rocks where we could sit and have our sandwiches. Before setting off again we posed for our photo.

We do tell Dad that people will get fed up with seeing pictures of sheep. Dad however reminded us that without the lovely Herdwicks that roam the fells, the landscape would soon return to scrub and the enjoyment of roaming around would be diminished. The hill farmers are having a very hard time and it is worrying that some are giving up. The sheep are what is known as "hefted". That is they range only in a specific area, and this knowledge is passed on to the lambs. The farmer thus knows exactly where to find his sheep. These posed for Dad, with Shaun’s help of course.

As we continued down we enjoyed the view again of Rydal Water, but now there were not any reflections as the breeze was disturbing the surface. The cloud had lifted and this wonderful view to the Coniston Fells was a joy to behold. In the centre is Wetherlam the mountain we climbed in a previous story. To the left is Coniston Old Man, and to the right Little and Great Carrs approached by the ridge of Wet Side Edge, enclosing the Greenburn Valley.

The road was reached soon afterwards and then it was just a gentle stroll down to Ambleside. We settled in the car and had the rest of our picnic. Dad of course went to a nearby café for tea and chocolate cake (anyone would think he liked chocolate). They sold all sorts of local beers here and Dad bought two bottles of one called Tag Lag, which he and Uncle Brian had with their evening meal. It had been a great day out.


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