TROUTBECK VALLEY, SCOT RAKE, FROSWICK, ILL BELL, YOKE & GARBURN PASS from TROUTBECK

 


Summary

Date - 2nd September 2010 Distance - 10.5 miles
Ascent -
2480ft
Map - OL7 Start point - Church Bridge, Troutbeck (NY 412027)

 

Summits Achieved

Name Height (ft) Height (m) Grid Ref
Froswick 2360 720 NY 4352 0852
Ill Bell 2484 757 NY 4366 0772
Yoke 2316 706 NY 4377 0673

 

Preface

Tetley & Grizzly, strolled in to find Shaun, Little Eric and Allen were sitting in front of Dad's laptop.

"What are you on with"?, asked Grizzly.

"We are looking back at the photographs of recent walks with Uncle Eric", replied Shaun.

"I cannot thank Uncle Eric enough, for agreeing to do those Wainwrights, so that I could complete the challenge to climb all 214", said Allen earnestly. "Dad's pictures provide a great record, and I will cherish that one of Dad and I together on Grisedale Pike, my last Wainwright", he went on excitedly.

"It's over a week ago now, and you still don't seem to have quite come down to earth", replied Tetley laughingly.

"It's a case of which we are going to do next, as I have told Dad, that he is definitely not doing all my outstanding ones", said Little Eric.

"Well Uncle Eric did mention to Dad, if he had been up the Roman Road from Troutbeck, replied Shaun. "The route would lead along the valley then up Scot Rake to the ridge of the Kentmere Horseshoe. I know for a fact that we haven't been up that path, so that may well be our next expedition.

As he had been talking, Little Eric had grabbed Dad's copy of Wainwright's Book 2 Far Eastern Fells, and was furiously leafing through it. "Although not often climbed directly, Wainwright suggests this is a route to Froswick, which alone I have not climbed before", he enthused.

Shaun replied, "that will indeed be the start of our return route, then on over Ill Bell and Yoke to the Garburn Pass, descending this to Troutbeck."

"Even better", cried Little Eric excitedly, "as that would be three tops I have never visited before."

Tetley interjected, "we have always climbed these fells the usual way north, up from the Garburn Pass, but this way we will be walking south, so in a way it will be a new route for us."

"I really hope we do the walk, but it is up to Uncle Eric after all, as Dad said he should choose the next one", said Little Eric.

"Cocking an ear, Shaun said, "well that's a coincidence, as Dad has just answered the phone, and it is Uncle Eric, who is ringing."

Off you go Allen", laughed Tetley, "I know you can't wait to find out."

A few minutes later he returned, with a broad smile across his face. "The walk we have been discussing is on for Thursday."

"Hooray", we all cheered in unison.

 

The Walk

Thursday dawned and for once, we were to enjoy a lovely late summer day with warm sunny periods and little wind even on the summits.

We all helped to get the picnic ready and safely stowed in Allen's rucksack.

"We all appreciate that you always carry the picnic, pal, said Tetley, giving Allen a hug.

"No problem pals", he replied. "After all we need to keep our strength up."

"That's the boot of the car being slammed shut, so Dad must be about ready for off", called out Grizzly.

So we dashed out and settled in the car, for the drive to Uncle Eric's. There, we decamped to Uncle Eric's car, for the short drive along the A591 to Ings, where we took the narrow road right via Moor Howe to Troutbeck, parking by Church Bridge. Soon ready, off we went to pass through the gate into the churchyard. In the early morning the building looks dark in the shadow, in contrast to the shot you will see, taken at the end of the walk. Bearing the unusual name of Jesus Church, it dates from 1736, and was restored in 1861. It stands on the site of an earlier 15th century chapel.

Exiting by another gate, we turned left, then further on right through another gate to cross fields in the direction of High Green. At a road we turned right, to shortly come to the main A592. Crossing with care, we walked on along the bridleway, Ing Lane, directly opposite. The track was rough and descended, then levelling rounded a corner, where the trees formed a tunnel, Uncle Eric posing, before we walked on.

Soon this path joined a narrow surfaced road and as we approached an old stone barn, there was a grand view ahead.

"That's Troutbeck Tongue, in the centre of the valley", called out Little Eric", who was showing off the knowledge he had gained in the two and a half years since he joined the group.

"Yes, we last climbed it in November 2008", added Tetley.

Shaun said, "our objectives today are those higher fells to the right". He adds now having seen the picture - "actually in view, are distantly Thornthwaite Crag, running right to Froswick, then rising to Ill Bell, these last two being on our itinerary today."

Strolling on we crossed the Ing Bridge over the Trout Beck, then on to cross the Hagg Beck by Hagg Bridge, just yards from its confluence with the Trout Beck. We were now almost under the slopes of Troutbeck Tongue, and we could see some buildings ahead to its left side.

"What are those buildings", asked Grizzly.

"Troutbeck Park Farm", replied Uncle Eric. "It was one of the farms bought by Beatrix Potter, to save it from development. After she had bought it she introduced Herdwick sheep."

"Dad's and our favourites", we all chorused in reply!

I bet if he sees some, he won't be able to resist taking pictures", cried Tetley, laughingly.

Our route now lay up Hall Hill, diagonally right heading towards the right side of Troutbeck Tongue. This was clearly signed by this stile now redundant, as the enclosing fence had been removed. Nevertheless Dad just had to climb it. What is he like?

A gate at the top, led to a track, which we followed for about a mile along the valley to the foot of Scot Rake.

To reach this we had to walk to the most distant wall corner, in the centre of the picture. It is then just possible to make out the narrow track rising diagonally up the fellside. Strolling on the path was level for a while, before it started to climb, the dramatic view of Blue Gill opening out to the right. The start of the ascent of Scot Rake, is where the walkers are standing, adjacent to the wall. The sheep on the fell side to the left are Herdwicks, and we speculated that they belonged to the tenant of Troutbeck Park Farm.

The ascent of Scot Rake started in earnest, the narrow path contouring its way steadily upwards to the ridge between Froswick and Thornthwaite Crag.

"Doesn't look much like a Roman Road", remarked Allen.

"Well that was centuries ago", replied Grizzly.

"Nevertheless, it is hard to see how such a road could have been made", persisted Allen.

"Well we will have to have a look at that book of Dad's called 'Road and Trackways of The Lake District' by Brian Paul Hindle, and see what he has to say", replied Tetley.

We have mentioned the High Street Roman Road in some of our previous stories, and we have to say now that perhaps that information is not entirely correct, although much of what follows is open to conjecture, as little actual physical evidence has been found.

There is no doubt about the central section of this road as it crosses the summit of High Street and then down into the Straits of Riggindale, on to High Raise and northwards along the ridge to Loadpot Hill and down to Heughscar Hill. It is the route south, however that is relevant to the walk today, and from the summit of High Street, it skirts Thornthwaite Crag. It could then have descended into Hagg Gill, via Scot Rake, (our ascent route). R. G. Collingwood described its route continuing for four miles as far south as Allen Knott, once thought to have been a Roman Fort. There is indeed a track along this route, but there is little real indication that it is of Roman origin, as it is rarely straight and the terrain and vegetation would have made it a difficult route in Roman times. Scot Rake was used by peat carriers taking peat to Windermere, in the days before the arrival of the railway provided cheaper supplies of coal. Thus it is entirely possible that Scot Rake is not Roman in origin. It also seems to be unlikely that having built a road along a high ridge, the Romans should leave it so soon.

What is most important is the road's destination. Early researchers suggested it must have been heading for the fort at Ambleside, but such a direct connection is not far short of physically impossible, and in fact no link has been found. So, suppose the road did in fact continue along the ridge, skirting the summits of Froswick, Ill Bell then descending to Yoke and on to the Garburn Pass (our onward route once we reached the ridge). A Corn Rent map of 1838 marks two short lengths of track on Yoke as Roman Road, thus indicating the track had been built and was then regarded as ancient. Then continuing on the high ground rounding the headwaters of Park Beck, the Roman engineers might have reverted to their normal practice of a straight alignment. A parish boundary runs on such an alignment, with just one slight change of direction, to the small hill of Grandsire (just south of Windermere). This is itself very close to a line drawn directly between the forts at Ambleside and Watercrook near Kendal, a route mentioned in the Antonine Itinerary, but most of its length has not been traced on the ground.

So the southern route of High Street is virtually lost in the mists of time, but, we did walk along part of both the 'possible' routes, so maybe, just maybe, we did walk in the footsteps of the legionnaires.

So, getting back to the adventure, it was south along the ridge, to get down to the matter of bagging summits, well, as far as Uncle Eric and Little Eric were concerned. Level at first, the path soon steepened, winding its way to Froswick's small, neat summit and cairn.

Jumping out of Dad's rucksack, we scrambled on to the cairn, Little Eric calling out "please take our picture Dad."

Behind to the left, can be seen Thornthwaite Crag (2572ft), its tall cairn just in view. The Roman Road would have run along the ridge on the left, skirting right of Thornthwaite Crag, and on to the distant top just to the right of the cairn on Froswick. This is High Street (2718ft), from which the road gets its name.

Ahead the steep side of Ill Bell plunges into the Kentmere Valley. The clear path descended to a col from which it climbed above this edge for 400ft, its wide summit, topped with three cairns. The middle one and largest being at the highest point. We could not resist climbing up for our picture.

"Ooh", said Little Eric, "it's awfully high, and I don't know whether I can manage."

"Don't worry pal", replied Allen, "I'll get my rope and we can haul you safely up."

"Thanks pal, that's very kind", he replied.

Here looking north is the main summit cairn and the smaller one, that we reached first on our ascent today.

With most of the climbing done, it was decided to have lunch, and Uncle Eric found a short way on from the summit, some convenient rocks to sit on.

"This is the 'Yoke View' terrace, I presume", said Dad to Uncle Eric.

"Quite right", he replied.

Well there was a fine view to Yoke, our final summit today.

We had a separate table.

"Very Noel Coward", said Grizzly!

As we munched our sandwiches we reflected on the walk so far, thinking yet again how lucky we are to have a Dad who takes us on such great adventures. So, lunch over we set off again in the footsteps of the walker in the picture above, down to the col and on up to Yoke. Before we started the climb to Yoke, we paused to look down to the Kentmere Reservoir, shining blue, with the slopes behind rising to the ridge of the Nan Bield Pass, that links Mardale Ill Bell with Harter Fell. We recalled the misty day in June when we had descended from Harter Fell, to the pass.

The reverie over, it was best foot forward once again, on the gentle climb to Yoke, the summit marked by a cairn on a small rocky outcrop. We posed, and Dad took our picture, during which we heard Uncle Eric remark

"I didn't know you had brought us to the Yoke sculpture trail, Gerry."

We all looked at him rather quizzically, but looking behind the summit, realised what he meant. No, there is not a sculpture trail, but nevertheless some artistic person had taken the trouble to arrange these discarded bits of metal. Maybe it should be entered for the Turner Prize?

There was still about 3 miles to walk, so it was time to get going again. First the long descent dropping about 850 feet to the Garburn Pass, that links Troutbeck with Kentmere. At the pass we turned right to descend the, at times, rough rutted and stoney path. Technically it is a road, but not surfaced, that has at times been open for use by 4 x 4 vehicles, resulting in the uneven and rough surface. The pass led all the way to the A592, where it was just a short walk to the car. The late afternoon sun was shining on Troutbeck Church, giving the stone a much lighter colour, compared to the picture at the beginning of the story.

As you can see at was 17:40, so for once there was no stop for tea and cake, rather Uncle Eric just drove us to his house, where we jumped into Dad's car for the drive to Morecambe.

Another grand day, and we all say thanks to Uncle Eric and Dad for taking us on the adventure. Little Eric was pleased to advance his total of Wainwright Fells climbed, too.

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