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 we had done a few walks on weekdays with Uncle Eric recently, this was the first Sunday walk 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.

Seeing Dad come back without a ticket, Allen said, "why no ticket?"

"Because it is near Christmas, Sunday is free", replied Dad . "Saved me £6."

Well", laughed Tetley, "it will go towards your tea and cake later!"

Grizzly said, "the last time this happened due to a power cut in Grasmere, was the day you suffered the fall, so let's hope this was not an omen for today."

"All will be well, just you see", replied Dad confidently

He was soon ready and we snuggled down in his rucksack and off we went about 09:15. 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 on between two walls.

The sky was heavy with cloud, and the mountains and valleys were obscured. As we ascended the mist began to lift.

"Look", called out Tetley, "the views are unfolding of the mountains with the clouds hanging in the valleys."

"Time to get the camera out", called out Grizzly.

First looking north-west...

...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 Dad's progress being stopped when Grizzly, called out, "just look at that magnificent view down to Rydal Water. There are perfect reflections in the water."

"The cloud hanging over and partly obscuring Silver How, adds further atmosphere", added Shaun.

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.

"Oh dear", said Little Eric. "Will we be alright to continue."

Shaun said, "yes pal. We can use the wall away to the right as a guide for a while. Provided we keep parallel we will be on track."

Further on Shaun scrutinised the map. "We have to pass through a wall ahead, and then we will be about 300 yards from the summit."

There was relief amongst us all when this came into view.

Two large cairns now guided us on, and then we saw the small tarn in a dip. "Just yards to go now" said Shaun.

And sure enough almost immediately 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 said, "I planned to do three further summits, but with the low cloud and snow route finding is going to be very difficult. I think we should leave these for another day."

Speaking for us all, Tetley said "I agree. And after all those hills are not going anywhere."

So we just retraced our outwards route. "It will be easier too", said Little Eric, "as you can just follow your footprints."

Soon the wall descending the fell came into view again. It was encrusted in snow, which had drifted up to it too.

By now we were not the only walkers on the mountain, as we passed 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.

Allen pointed. "look the sun is shining at home and over Morecambe Bay. I can see a large building that is Heysham Nuclear Power Station."

A few minutes later Grizzly said, "in sharp contrast there is hardly any snow at all on Wansfell."

Not long after this was taken we dropped below the snow line. Pointing to some rocks Dad said, "there's a good place to sit and have our sandwiches,"

"Ooh yes", said Allen. "I'm hungry", as he slipped his rucksack off.

"No surprise there", laughed Tetley.

As we finished, Little Eric asked, "will you take our picture here?"

"Of course lads."

Grizzly is striking quite the pose don't you think?

Soon after setting off Dad lined the camera up to take this picture of two of the lovely Herdwick sheep that roam the fells. They posed for him with Shaun's help of course.

Allen said, "Dad, readers will get fed up of seeing pictures of sheep."

"Maybe so", he replied. "But remember 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.

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. "Take a picture Dad", called out Tetley.

"Shaun said, "that's Wetherlam in the centre. 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."

Soon now we arrived at the road again and it was just a gentle stroll down to Ambleside, passing this cottage.

Little Eric said, "it's called Penny Red Cottage. I suppose the name is from the fact that the postbox dating from the reign of Queen Victoria is embedded in the wall."

Grizzly checked when we got home, and found Little Eric was quite correct.

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.

As we drove home, Tetley said, "thanks Dad for a grand day out."

"You're welcome lads."


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