Tuesday, 1 November 2011

On Fleetwith Pike with the Good Captain.

The last time me and Capt Dave were on Fleetwith Pike it was bloody miserable. The cloud was low, we could only see a few feet in front of us and there was a cold dampness in the air. I told him that day how beautiful the view over Buttermere was and that I would bring him back up in fine weather.

At least the weather was better today albeit not perfect.  We parked up in the YHA car park at the top of Honister Pass and set off up the old tramway path as far as Drum House which is where Moses Trod leads off to the left. We took the right hand fork which went over boggy grassland to the old slate mine working on Fleetwith Pike.

Buttermere and Crummock Water

The Moses Trod path got it's nickname  from a man called Moses Rigg, a Honister quarry man. He distilled whisky, conveying the illicit liquor down to Wasdale Head in loads of slate. Whether this was in pony panniers or a sledge is not known. His ‘still’ must have ranked as the highest building in England for it was located quite incredibly at the top of Gable Crag which is high up on Great Gable!

Close up of Buttermere and Crummock Water

The path winds its way through the old quarry workings with its many slag heaps and mining relics and is never difficult anywhere. At one point you get a direct view down between the crags to the Honister Pass over a 1000 feet below which is quite an airy position. Shortly after that, the path gives you it's first view over Buttermere (above). The day was overcast but there was just a bit of sunlight on Mellbreak so I stopped at took a couple of photos.

The Good Captain on the sumit

The path then makes it's way gently up to the top of the fell. The cloud was just touching the tops of the high fells but the view was still pretty spectacular. Looking North you have Buttermere, Crummock Water and the tip of Loweswater below and to the right of Buttermere are High Pike, High Stile and Red Pike.

Shaft of light on Windy Gap

Then to the west is mighty Pillar. Unfortunately the light was so bad that we couldn't make out Pillar Rock or any great detail. Then it's round to Kirk Fell and the unmistakable top of Great Gable with Haystacks in front (above). I was lucky enough to get a shaft of sunlight beaming down between the two high fells which looked just like a spotlight on a stage. I suppose that is what it really was but the stage was Nature's stage. Moments like that always have me scampering for my camera. Usually they have disappeared before I can get it out of my rucksack but today I was lucky.

Great Gable from the summit

We were joined on the summit by a family who had climbed the Fell via the ridge from Gatescarth which is much too steep and exposed for me these days; give me the gentler routes anytime. They disappeared along Fleetwith Pike on the path we came up on which was a bit of a strange way back as they would have to walk down the Honister Pass road to get back to their original starting point. They seemed young and fit enough so we left them to it.

Sunlight on Robinson and Hindscarth.

The sun then made a guest appearance on Robinson and Hindscarth which was only a fleeting one but it did stay there long enough for me to take a photo (above). You can just see Causey Pike in the gap with Skiddaw behind it.

Fleetwith Pike summit

We sat down to take in the summit view and to share a coffee plus have a quick snack before setting off back along the path we came up on. Dave always brings me a bag of Mini Chedders and shares his Mars Bar and coffee bless him. I usually just provide the navigational skills!

Honister Pass

At the old quarry works we decided to take the old, steep mine road which zig-zags back down to the pass which you can just make it out in the top left hand corner of the photo (above). For a road it is bloody steep but it gets you back down without incident. One more shot of the pass and it was back to the car.

Of course we could have done the walk via the Via Ferrata  which means 'Iron Way' in English. It is literally a series of exposed scrambles amongst the crags linked by metal ladders leading to the summit of Fleetwith Pike which starts off in the old mine workings high above the pass.

...........or maybe not.

A journey of two halves.

It was one of those all too frequent occasions when the weather forecast had a big wad of thick cloud and rain hanging over Cumbria whilst ...