Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Sheffield Pike, Ullswater

Ullswater from Sheffield Pike

Monday, 3 July 2017

Ascent:         753 metres
Distance:     9 kilometres
Time:           2 hours 36 minutes

Glenridding Dodd     434m          24mins
Sheffield Pike            680m          59mins
Hartside                     756m   1hr 39mins

The joy of walking in the Lake District after long hard days in the Scottish hills is always appreciated. We had visitors for the first two days of Langdale so walks were on the flat but Monday morning brought a chance to escape to the fells. It was raining as we left at 9am but the forecast promised that it would be dry later in the day. We had more visitors arriving at 1pm so we had decided to drive to Glenridding for a short outing to climb its Dodd and Sheffield Pike. These two were part of Gregor's remaining Wainwrights, he has only a couple of larger groups of hills and they are in the nether regions so it is an exercise of tidying up hills one by one.

We parked on the Greenside road to the former lead mine and found the narrow steep path that begins just before a row of slate cottages. It is a relentless incline up the rake on a grassy path though the deep bracken but we were feeling fresh and soon standing on the summit admiring the long view of Ullswater to the north east. Apparently this was a favourite viewpoint of the Victorians. The path has languished since then and is unusually untrampled for the Lake District.

We returned to the top of the rake and began the longer climb up the craggy ridge towards Sheffield Pike. There is a flatter section over boggy ground before the final rise to the summit. We met a couple of older walkers at the untidy cairn and exchanged banter before Gregor sauntered off to get a better photo of Ullswater. He provided the focus for me to get an even better shot of Ullswater from the summit. We had made excellent time so I suggested that we attempt Hartside, another of Gregor's remaining hills. Although it would add an extra 4 kilometres and 200 metres of climbing we could still make it back for 1pm.

There is a hundred metre to drop to a col before a steady climb to Glencoyne Head and then a traverse along a boggy path to the distant ridge of Hartside. It would not rank in the top 200 of Wainwright's  list of 214 hills that he had defined without any guiding rules about the minimum cent between hills. We wasted no time at the mere bump of a summit and returned to the col from where we took the route down to the former lead mines through bog, rock bands and disused tips. We passed a second group of teenage girls who were labouring up the path with packs that would demoralise them for future walking. We reached the lead mine cottages and buildings before noon.

I was reminded of reading a book by the late Brian Redhead, the presenter of the Today programme until 1992. He had been evacuated from Newcastle to here during the war and wrote about his love of the Lake District. He described his role as chair of the friends of national parks as being "not ours but ours to look after" for the benefit of future generations; a fine sentiment that should be enshrined in other public appointments.

He would have been pleased at the refurbishment of the buildings of the lead mine and the nearby Youth Hostel. Walkers of all ages and nationalities were sampling the delights of Greenside as shafts of midday sun began to light the skies and green the hills. We were back at the car by 12:15pm and in Langdale 10 minutes ahead of our deadline. A good morning's walk to sustain us for an afternoon stroll in the valley.

On Glenridding Dodd towards Ullswater


Lead Mines



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