Date - 10th February 2009 Distance - 8 miles
Map - OL5
Start point - Parking at end of unenclosed road (NY 521 142)


Summits Achieved

Name Height (ft) Height (m) Grid Ref
Nabs Moor 1613 491 NY 5033 1110
Howes 1903 580 NY 4982 1038



Looking out one morning Allen called out, "look pals it has snowed overnight."

"It's not very deep though, unlike large areas of the country having heavy falls", replied Grizzly.

Tetley said, "Dad has lived here in Morecambe for nearly 30 years, and I have heard him say to Uncle Brian that he can count the number of days there has been snow here on the fingers of two hands."

"I bet it will have melted away by this afternoon", commented Shaun as he trotted into the room. He was right too. Then he said, "Dad has been talking to Uncle Eric. They have planned a walk for next Tuesday. We are going to Swindale to climb Howes and Nabs Moor. They are two summits that Uncle Eric has still to climb."

"We climbed them in 2006", said Tetley. "That was a summer day, so the repeat will be a completely different experience."

"That was before I was adopted", piped up Little Eric. "So I will bag two more Wainwright Outlyers."

"The Lake District fells will be deeply covered in snow, so it will be quite an adventure", said Allen. "Probably be the last time this winter that we get to walk in snow."

"Roll on Tuesday", cheered Little Eric.


The Walk

On the day we made sure to be up early so as not to delay Dad. "I guess we are driving to Uncle Eric's first?", said Tetley.

"Yes lad, then Uncle Eric will drive us to the lonely, little known and unfrequented valley of Swindale a few miles from the village of Shap."

Shaun said, "we are following the route described by Alfred Wainwright in his Outlying Fells book. However, since he wrote the book, parking is no longer allowed in the valley at Swindale Head Farm. Instead parking is just before the enclosed section of road up the valley."

This meant we had an extra distance to walk of nearly a mile and a half to Swindale Head Farm, from the new parking area.

They got their boots and we snuggled down in the rucksack. The day was beautiful with mostly blue skies, but cold nevertheless.

So all ready off we went along the road that had snow and ice on it in places, so Uncle Eric and Dad trod carefully. There are only about three dwellings in the valley, one being the farm called Truss Gap.

Just before Little Eric said, "wow, what a fantastic view of the head of the valley. A must picture Dad."

Soon we reached Swindale Head Farm. "This is where to road ends", said Shaun. "It becomes a track and then just a footpath, that begins to climb steeply out of the valley." In relation to the above picture this is on the left.

"The snow is getting deeper", commented Allen. "There are no footprints either, so no one has been along here recently."

The snow was soft, so making for rather hard going. Here Uncle Eric climbs steadily with the valley spread out behind. Swindale Head Farm is in the centre.

"Look", called out Little Eric, "another walker." He was descending into the valley and was the only other person we saw all day. Uncle Eric and Dad had a chat with him.

Tetley pointed right, "that's Nabs Crags towering over us."

"Right", called out Shaun. "This is where we have to leave the path and climb that steep slope in the foreground."

The snow was soft, and even when Dad kicked his boots into it, it gave way at times, causing him to slip back, such that he had to put his hands out to stop falling flat on his face.

"Ooh", said Little Eric. "This seems like real mountaineering to me. Glad that I am in the rucksack as my little legs would never had got me up here."

Eventually, the gradient levelled off and it became easier to make progress and so reach the the first summit Nabs Moor.

"Time for our picture", called out Grizzly, as he scrambled out of the rucksack with the rest of us. "That bare rock is perfect so we won't get wet."

Looking about, Allen said, "what superb views all round, both down into the valley and also to the hills." Pointing he said, "that's Selside Pike. Take a picture Dad. It will be good with the cloud effects against the bright blue sky."

Settled again, Shaun said, "the route is south across the level ground to the fence that runs all the way from the top of Selside Pike down into the valley."

Reaching this, Shaun then told us, "climb the fence and then continue towards that outcrop with a cairn, where swing left to make the ascent to the summit of Howes."

The snow was generally firmer here so making for easier going. We reached the summit first, and looking back Dad took this shot of Uncle Eric following his footprints as he made the final climb.

"Picture time again", called out Little Eric. "Two more of my Outlyers done."

We were now high above the valley of Mosedale. "We have to descend to the valley and walk through it for the return route", advised Shaun.

The snow was very soft and Dad and Uncle Eric made deep footprints. "Makes me think of the Yeti", said Grizzly. "Thankfully it is only Uncle Eric who has made them."

How deep are they?", asked Tetley.

Measuring the depth against his stick, Dad said, "nearly 2ft!"

"Heck", said Little Eric, "if I fell in there, I would need your rope Allen to help me climb out."

After about 15 minutes we paused to look back at the steep slope we had descended from Howes.

A little later Tetley said, "that is Mosedale Cottage, the only building in the valley."

"It is a bothy", said Grizzly. "The word means hut or cottage. It was once used by shepherds, but is now used by walkers, campers, etc."

Finally down in the valley we followed the cart track left through Mosedale that Wainwright describes as 'desolation profound'. It is certainly very lonely and little visited, and as we stood the silence was quite deafening.

Soon after fording a tiny stream the main path dropped right towards a bridge in the distance. Shaun instructed, "we ignore that and keep forward and then incline left to avoid wet ground. This will then bring us alongside a broken wall."

"Wow", called out Allen. "There's a superb and extensive view back along Mosedale."

Lost in the covering of snow the path was hard to follow and we just had to plough along, blazing a trail by the remains of the wall. The fence we had climbed earlier had to be crossed again, but this time there was a gate. "Now we climb up out of Mosedale, before we will drop down again and arrive at the point where we had ascended the steep slope to Nabs Moor", advised Shaun.

In the sunshine the snow had clearly begun to melt, as we could no longer see the footprints we had made climbing the slope this morning.

Here Uncle Eric makes his way down into Swindale.

"In that ravine are The Forces waterfalls", commented Tetley.

"There was not enough time to visit these today", replied Dad.

However we include the photograph Dad took of these, when we did this walk summer of 2006.

A few minutes later, the full extent of Swindale was revealed, and Dad paused to line up the camera again.

As we reached Swindale Head Farm again it was late afternoon. The sun had dropped behind the hills at the head of the valley so all was in shadow. "Brr", shivered Allen. "I'm glad we are down in the valley again."

So now just the repeat of the mile and half along the road to the car. Easier going than this morning as the snow and ice had mostly melted.

As Uncle Eric drove us to his house we reflected on what had been an exciting adventure.

"Wow I really have had a terrific day", said Little Eric. "That is certainly a walk I will remember for a long time."

"Yes pal", agreed Tetley. "It has truly been a grand day out."


shopify analytics