When I booked Fell End camping barn, I didn’t have any other options given the route I wanted to take. Nevertheless it was an ok choice as it had all the basics (shelter, something to sleep on, a toilet and drinking water) and was only £8.50. Also my knee seems to have recovered overnight but whether that was the ibuprofen, beer or a night’s rest I’m not sure.
The lovely hazy sunny day of yesterday had gone and been replaced by clouds down to about 300m in places. Luckily I wasn’t going as high as that today, but I missed out on a good view of the line of fells running up to the Old Man.
It was a slow start and even though I was first up and first to leave, it was 09:55 before I set off. I’d just gone through the gate at the barn when I had to stop again to put on waterproofs and raincover.
Opposite the end of the lane leading to Woodland Hall, I took a short cut through the bracken and joined the fell road higher up. But I was only on the road a couple of hundred metres before I struck up the side of Blawith Knott following a variety of sheep tracks up through the bracken.
The first hill of the day always feels the worst and I made slow going of it. Then arriving at the summit, and surveying the surrounding fells it was difficult to work out which was which – especially as the height differences between today’s fells was negligible. So I decided to take it one fell at a time and hope the pattern would become clearer as I went.
I descended pretty rapidly to Lang Tarn and it became obvious which one was Tottlebank Height, my next target. Considering the elephant on my back (at least that’s what it felt like to start with today) I positively steamed up to this next summit.
Then it started to go wrong as I tried to pick out a path from amongst the sheep tracks to take me around to Wool Knott without losing too much height. Not helped by several small hillocks dotted all around. Eventually I squelched my way to the bridleway that goes through the valley between the two fells and then I forged a path along more sheep tracks up onto Wool Knott.
Arriving at the summit, the best view of the day lay before me – below lay Beacon Tarn with Beacon Fell behind. I descended quickly to the tarn and took in the views from that level. At this point I saw my only people of the day.
Up a gradual rise onto Beacon Fell next, arriving at 1pm, 3 hours into the walk and 4 out of 5 fells done. But next was the problem one – Yew Bank – a big dogleg in the opposite direction to the rest of the walk and moreover the summit only came after having to go up, over and down a number of outcrops, all about the same height as the main one. And this involved a number of dodgy paths through heather. Even so, in my post lunch surge I reached the summit ahead of my estimate.
Now a problem. I didn’t fancy going back due east over the undulating route to get to Yew Bank, but in order to cut north east I’d have to negotiate a maze of small hillocks and indistinct sheep tracks. Nevertheless, that’s what I did – and it was long and tedious and all the time I was accompanied by a sense that I was going in the wrong direction. I wasn’t though and eventually made it to the Cumbria Way itself. Then, navigationally anyway, it was plain sailing and I got to the lake shore about 3:30.
In some ways the last stretch along the lakeside was the worst bit – I was tired and the path undulated and it seemed to go on forever. Emerging from the wooded part into Coniston Hall campsite (1 solitary billy-no-mates tent) I found myself in my familiar late in the day trudge and was relieved to emerge into Coniston ahead of schedule. I even had time to kill until the youth hostel opened so did some shopping and then walked along to Holly How.
I’m writing this having just got on the outside of spicy tomato and lentil soup, cumberland sausage and mash and raspberry pavlova. And it seems I have a room to myself. Even better.
Injuries: -0.5 (knee improvement)
Slips: miraculously 0
Highlight of the day: view from Wool Knott over Beacon Tarn and Beacon Fell.