|Cats Bell across Derwent Water|
We got up early on Sunday and packed for a full winters day as discussions the night before were of doing Helvellyn via Striding Edge which was still in full winter conditions. Rather stupidly we didn't pack any other gear just in case of a change of plans. We had a fairly easy drive up to the Lakes until we met Mr Slow doing 22mph for several miles over the Kirkstone Pass and ended up getting to Patterdale twenty minutes late. We found Elaina at the car park in Patterdale which to be honest really wasn't too hard as she was wearing her yellow Haglofs jacket! Which is rather nice btw and despite the mickey taking she got all day from wearing the rather bright garment it is a really nice yellow, it is slightly dark to take the edge off it and a very very comfy wear. We started to talk plans and had to change plans as Steve needed to be somewhere he could get a mobile phone signal as he was waiting for someone to call him. To be honest I was still aching from the weekend before and we were just happy to be in the Lakes and with Steve and Elaina. One easy yet satisfying walk I know near Keswick is Walla Crag from Great Wood, as no one else had done this before we decided it was a good plan.
After being annoyingly diverted round the road closures in Keswick we drove to the ridiculously over priced National "ripoff" Trust car park at Great Wood. The forest there is beautiful, especially on a day like this with blue skies and sun beams shooting through the branches of the huge trees. As we got geared up and filled bags with yummy food Elaina had made, a tiny Robin appeared and was soon fed by Steve, the Robin appreciated Elaina's culinary delights as much as we did later in the day. A lovely little Nuthatch decided to show its face too. Of course we had taken only our four season winter boots and had bags containing winter gear like crampons so we had to more or less half empty our bags before we set off. We set off and took the path that heads along a contour to Ashness Bridge. This path has fabulous views across Derwent Water towards Cats Bell. Half way along the path thinking Steve was still behind me I turned and asked "did you like the comparison I made of you and one of the hairy bikers?", to my horror a female walker with her dog had overtaken Steve and just looked at me confused and most probably offended! This tickled everyone of course, the lady had the cutest Jack Russell with her which was one of many cute furry animals that day to be harrassed by Elaina!
|Sparrow Hawk near Ashness Bridge|
We got to Ashness Bridge and the weather couldn't have been better, it was like summer. I was so hot that I had to remove my Ron Hills which were under my Montane Terra pants as I wear that toasty and versitile combo when going high in winter. We switched back through the gate from Ashness Bridge then ascended the path passing under Brown Knotts. As we approached Falcon Crag we spotted a bird of prey on top of a tree to our left. We took several photos and could only guess that it was either a Sparrow Hawk, Kestrel or possibly a Peregrine Falcon. We can confirm now after seeing the photo on the laptop that it was in fact a Sparrow Hawk. We continued the easy ascent, passed the rocky top of Falcon Crag and then rounded the top of Cat Gill before reaching the stile in the wall to Lady's Rake the summit of Walla Crag. The views from this crag are truly awesome especially on a day like this, you could sit for hours just gazing out over Derwent Water. We all sat and ate lunch enjoying these views in the warm sunshine. Elaina had made some yummy muffins which were greatly received!
|Elaina, Steve and Nicky on Walla Crag looking over Derwent Water|
We descended from Walla Crag the back way to Rakefoot crossing Brockle Beck, this descent gives great views across to Blencathra. We then took the lovely river side woodland walk through Springs Wood. Sadly it was too early for the usual spectacle that the spring brings to Springs Wood, this wood looks incredible in spring as the floor gets covered in Bluebells. A few more animals were harassed by Elaina on the small road section between Springs Wood and Castlehead Wood including a very cute black cat and a Retriever / Poodle cross. We crossed the field and entered the enchanting Castlehead Wood which unfortunately we couldn't really explore or enjoy as the laid back style we'd taken the walk in meant we didn't have much time left on our rip off pay and display parking tickets.
It is a very sad world when you can't enjoy the Lakes because you are being rushed so you don't pay extortionate parking fees! Absolute disgrace, especially when the car park is just a forest clearing and we plan to go spend money in the local areas after the walk. Castlehead Wood is a beautiful nice wood with a viewing point looking out from its high point on a crag. We needed to get back to the car park, did I mention that it is a rip off?, so took the road path back to Great Wood. As we were heading along the path under big trees I heard a tapping noise above me and wondered if it could be a Wood Pecker, we looked up and found it was a small Tree Creeper banging away at the bark, it stealthily moved its way round the trunk pecking at the bark for insects.
|Sunset as we head home down the M6|
We finished off the day with a lovely hot chocolate and cake at the cafe in the roof of George Fisher in Keswick, oh and we had to pay to park... again! We had an interesting moment in George Fisher when Nicky thought she had lost her purse or had it stolen, with frantic staff running around Nicky returned to the place she had lost it by the guide books and found it underneath the shelf where she must have dropped it then accidentally pushed it under. We left Steve and Elaina at George Fisher, Elaina pointing inquisitively then heading in the direction of a Haglofs display while Steve shook his head and the staff who were closing up sighed. The day was topped off with a stunning sunset on the way home.
I have uploaded the photos from the day here.