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Monday Jun 7, 2021

The North Central Fells... and a hell of a walk it was

Posted in Our Fundraising Journey by Peter Hall
Ready to Start North Central Fells

Alarms were set for 7am..... and we slept through them.. Oops.

We got up, ate breakfast and left the campsite at about 10am. Heading out of Castlerigg Hall and turning right we started a walk we are familiar with, the ascent up Walla Crag.

Walla Crag was the first fell we did together as a team, and as it is the first on the route for today, we found the MICA heart on the silver birch tree, and shortly after saw some people in a gyrocopter, who waved as us as we were plodding up the hill.

This time round we walked up around the crag rather than through the forest path we did last time, we got to the top within an hour of starting to have a look to see if MICA Stone 1 was still up there, unfortunately we didn't find it, hopefully its being buried in the cairn or someone has taken it home rather than thrown it away.

We got a quick picture at the summit as we had already been on this fell, but you can see Dad (Mike), Jaz and I in the picture below, fresh faced and raring to go.

Walla Crag Summer Edition

Next stop Bleaberry Fell.

"I can see the top it doesn't look that far!" Famous last words... The walk up to Bleaberry fell is definitely tougher than it looks; its ascent starts with a descent from Walla Crag, never a good start to go down a hill before you make your way up. About a third of the way up is a rock fondly known as "cop a strop" rock, a few years ago Mum (Carol) and Dad walked up to Bleaberry Fell and part way up Mum decided enough was enough and that she wasn't going to go any further (she did and finish the fell in the end). Dad captured this on his camera, so we decided to recreate the photo with Jaz, the end result can be seen below:

Cop A Strop

Just after we finished this photo shoot, we heard a low rumble in the valley, turned around and saw a Hercules flying banking into the valley and heading over Bathenswaite Lake, for such a large cumbersome plane it certainly moved quickly.

Snapping back to the mission at hand we pushed forward, the approach to Bleaberry Fell (589m) is preceded by a stone stair case, as you get to the top you see a cairn, and sigh, until you realise that this isn't the top, you have a little bit further to go yet and you end up in a horseshoe shaped cairn that acts like a brilliant shelter from the wind, and a great support for our banner that Stylise provided us with.

Bleaberry Fell Banner

We decided to recreate another photo of Mum and Dad here too, which worked well as our MICA stone placement too, if you go up Bleaberry please feel free to scan the code, but please do place the stone back so we can spread our mission.

Bleaberry Merge

We had a little food break and met a lovely couple who turned out to be staying at Castlerigg Hall too like us, we spent some time talking to them about our mission and why we were doing the fells, and handed out one of our new business cards, hopefully they have found their way here and are reading this post now (in which case Hello fellow campers!).

We left the cairn under the safe keeping of our fellow campers, got our gear together and set our sights onto High Seat (608m) a mere 19m difference in height, which started by going downhill.......Again!

This part was a little boggy in places, Wainwright does mention this in his book, it has been dry and warm for a few days now, however it's still boggy, with a wet floor it took us around 2 hours to complete this part, I'm sure if the ground was dry it would be quicker, but no point rushing and causing an injury!

High Seats Triangulation point and Cairn are pretty exposed, it was very windy, paused for a brief photo and was looking for our next destination Raven Crag (461m), we started heading in the direction our SatMap Active 20 pointed us in, only to be greeted with a massive bog and spongy ground, we decided that we could bag Raven Crag another day from the Dam at Thirlmere. So we backtracked and readjusted our target to High Tove (515m).

High Seat Fell
High Seat Stone

This section is mainly downhill, partially paved, partially soft ground, partially bog. We pressed on but started taking on a little bit of water, we pressed on to get to High Tove. At this point our stomachs were rumbling, the decision was made to shelter from the wind behind the small cairn and have some food. While we were eating another friendly couple greeted us, and listened to our story, another card handed out (if you are reading this then hello!) They helped us located our next target Armboth Fell (479m), which I have to say is pretty hard to pick out from the potential targets, there are several peaks that look like it could be the right one.

High Tove Fell

Wainwright describes the fell as such "It can be said of very few of the fells that they are not really worth climbing; Armboth Fell is one of the few." I'm not sure how much of this is true, as all bar a little boggy section the ascent was quite fun, the large flat peak had a lovely view of the other fells we had just conquered, if you are in the area, don't skip it, take a moment to visit it, and enjoy the peace and tranquillity, not many people come here, so it's quiet, you can reflect on life and your journey so far.

There's a stone hidden here. There's no cairn here, so you would have to go looking. Good luck hunting for it.

Armboth Fell

Right time for the return journey, which involves making our way back up the boggy section to High Tove, heading through the obvious gate at 6.5 hours in and 6.3 miles in, our bodies had started to tell us that we were getting tired. The rest of the trip was downhill, but downhill isn't always as easy as everyone thinks. We travelled through a field of heather, moss, grass and Herdies (the local breed of sheep) until we reached a set of stone "steps" which zigzagged down the hill with a view over Watendlath Tarn and the farm next door, if you were ever to describe something as a little toy town view or a chocolate box view, this would be it. There's a tea room at the bottom, which we hoped was still open, we trudged down, with the hope of a cup of tea, and a small rest break.

Watendlath Tarn/Farm

Unfortunately it was closed, 7.5 hours in, 7.25 miles in, our hope of a lovely cuppa shattered, we decide to push on and head towards Ashness Bridge the next milestone on our trek. This part of the journey is all completed on road, very small ups and downs, but that doesn't help a tired body, we cover the 2.5 miles in an hour, somehow mustering some strength up to pick the pace up, we arrived at Surprise View and Ashness Bridge and took some photos, beautiful views and a very special place for us all.

Surprise View

We sat for a moment and took in some time to get a breather; we decided to carry on into Keswick, without really knowing how far it would be on foot (we were off route here with the thought of getting some food). We headed down the road and then joint the Derwent water lake walk that we completed back in December and headed backwards towards Keswick.

Once you get to the Millenium stone you meet a bit of path and then a boarded section heading towards Friars Crag, the carrot was then dangled "Fancy a pint and some food". It's amazing what the incentive of some food when you are hungry and thirsty can be. We managed to hit a 14 minute mile pace! Sooner than we realise we see the Poets steps, Crow Park, The Rolly Fudge shop and then the Moot Hall, we made it. 3.5 miles in only 1 hour 10 minutes. How we don't know, but we sat down in the pub, ordered our food and drinks, every sip and every mouthful was bliss.

Thirsty Work
Hunger Stuck
Hunger Stuck

After we finished our food, we had a decision to make, do we head back via Taxi or do we walk back. Bodies screaming, shivering after the journey so far we were 50:50 on this....

Let's push on we all agree, gear back on, we trudge back up through the middle of Keswick out the top and follow the main road back up another hill, and another, and another, until we reach the main road before the last ascent to the campsite, heartrates were going up and down, showing we can recover quickly, but we do find that as we are tired the breaks are more regular, we see the petrified tree (it was hit by lightning) and know we aren't faraway now, turning right we head up the hill, we see the crag bar and finally the entrance to Castlerigg Hall, we plod the last few steps to the caravan (boy did that feel like a long way).... And Stop the tracker!

10 hours 39 minutes, 14.69 miles 5 fells covered and 3 incredibly tired walkers. This paired with the rest of the walking pre walk totalled 18.6 miles travelled in the course of this day (40040 steps)

North Central Fells Summary

We did it, this was the longest walk we have done to date, tired but really pleased with what we achieved we showered and got to bed, alarms off and ready for a well-deserved rest, not until we had our cup of tea though!

That's the story of the first walk of this tour, we have more planned, but tomorrow is a rest and investigative day for the next walk.

Keep your eyes peeled!

Thanks for reading.

Take Care

Pete, Mike and Jaz

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