Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Newlands Horseshoe

Catbells on the ascent

Catbells and Derwentwater fro Maiden Moor

Vale of Newlands from Maiden Moor

High Spy and Great Gable

Newlands from Dale Head

Fleetwith Pike and the Buttermere Fells

Robinson summit

Descent from Robinson

Hindscarh and Robinson from Newlands

Newlands Church and former school

Hindscarth and Robinson

Ascent:     1250 metres
Distance:   17 kilometres
Time:         4 hours  53mins
w   Catbells              451m            32mins
w   Maiden Moor     576m      1hr    7mins
w   High Spy           653m       1hr  36mins
w   Dale Head         753m       2hrs 22mins
w   Hindscarth         727m       2hrs 44mins
w   Robinson           737m       3hrs 18mins

Despite the fact that the vale of Newlands in the Lake District is one of my favourite places, I had never walked the complete skyline of the Newlands Horseshoe before. There had been dozens of trips up Catbells carrying or towing children and a few excursions up Dale Head, Hindscarth and Robinson from Buttermere. Gregor still had four of the hills to complete as part of his Wainwright round so it was an obvious outing.

It was grey as we set out but with the prospect of sun later. Within minutes of leaving Skelgill the rain started and was on and off for the first hour. The lower part of the path had been improved and was a superb feature, almost park-like with the slate gravel path perfectly laid in the short grass which was trimmed by sheep We passed about 25 walkers on the ascent of Catbells, it seemed to go on longer than I remembered. There were the usual crowds at the summit, mainly teenagers on school trips but with a smattering of families with young children and older couples with dogs and walking poles.

We didn't stop at the summit but dropped down before the less frequented climb to Maiden Moor. The summit is off to the right from the main path that continues to High Spy. It is worth the diversion for the views into the Vale of Newlands although there was no sunlight lighting up this corner of paradise. As it was still raining we continued on the easy saunter across the ridge on a well defined path to High Spy. We passed a couple of large groups of walkers coming up from Grange in Borrowdale, all heavily booted and wearing waterproofs and walking poles.

It is a longish descent to the lovely setting of Dale Head tarn. From here there is a staircase most of the way up to Dale Head. The weather was improving and on the descent from here the views over the Buttermere fells opened up and the austere screes of Fleetwith Pike draped the Honistor pass. It is an enticing and open landscape across to Hindscarth. We stopped at the summit to eat and enjoy the peaceful surroundings.

The sun was shining and as we set off to retrace our steps we found a path cutting down to the col below Robinson. On the climb we met a group of girls who wanted to know where they were and how to get to Grange? On Robinson we met an older lady eating her lunch with her sheep dog. We took a photo of the dog and she said she had never seen it pose before. We said we would send the photo on but she replied that we would have a job as she did not have a computer, she had been a Maths teacher and had to teach IT.She spent too much time playing games so considered computers an unnecessary appliance.

From Robinson we descended down some grassy slopes, a fine rocky ridge and then into the valley to walk down to Low Snab and then to Newlands. At Little Town we passed the farm where Lucy lived in the Beartrix Potter tale of Mrs Tiggywinkle. Then a pleasant trek across fields full of lambs and cattle before reaching Skelgill. As I opened a gate I was hollered by two immaculately dressed ladies to keep the gate open for them. We had a conversation about Newlands, it was their favourite place as well. They were sisters and had been born and brought up in the Wigton but now lived in the Welsh Border country, one owned a bookshop in Hey on Wye. They had just walked around the Newlands valley and told me that afternoon teas were available at Little town, I was unsure whether this was an invitation or not as by this time we seemed to be old friends. I excused myself and returned to the car park at Skelgill where a distraught motorist was waiting for an empty parking space.

Four days later the conditions were perfect and we returned to Catbells to kickstart Tova's hill list.

On Catbells: Tova's first hill at 3 months with Eva,

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