Tuesday, 15 April 2014
7.70 miles/12.4km
3380ft/1030m ascent
Trail 100 #30
Wainwright #136

I love the names of these hills, Wetherlam (2,503ft/763m), Swirl How (2,631ft/802m), Grey Friar (2,536ft/773m); makes me wonder who named them and why.


Starting at the foot of the Wrynose Pass we forded the River Brathay and crossed to the track running to the disused mine near Greenburn Beck.  The path shown on the map turned out to be a series of sheep tracks running across the rocky fell-side, and as we climbed the views of Pike O’Blisco (2,313ft/705m), Cold Pike (2,300ft/701m) and Crinkle Crags (2,818ft/859m) opened up; and the sun got hotter.


Once we reached the col we joined the obvious path over the crags to the top of Wetherlam. Despite the sunshine there was a strong breeze blowing and the air was cold.  Here you can see Lake Windermere, the Helvellyn range across the Langdale valley and the black cliffs of Swirl How, Brim Fell (2,612ft/796m) and The Old Man of Coniston (2,635ft/803m).

Wetherlam SummitSwirl How from Wetherlam

Our second climb of the day is the ascent of the craggy Prison Band to the summit of Swirl How, and the view changes to reveal Levers Water nestling at the foot of Brim Fell with Coniston Water and Morecambe Bay beyond.

Prison BandLevers Water, Coniston and Morecambe BaySwirl How

From Swirl How an expanse of grass drops away and then rises to the rock covered top of Grey Friar.  The view of Scafell (3163ft/964m), Scafell Pike (3,209ft/978m) and Dow Crag (2,552ft/778m), and down into Eskdale and Dunnerdale is spectacular and one of the best in the Lake District.

Scafell Pikes from Grey Friar We paused at the memorial for the crew of a Halifax bomber who died in a crash on Great Carrs (2,575ft/785m) during World War II, and then followed the ridge down, before the steep decent to the Wrynose Pass.

Plane Crash MemorialCloud

We sat in the warm sunshine and ate some food, watching a film crew recording a small part of a hill walking documentary film, the two presenters wearing full winter gear (for continuity) in the glorious afternoon sunshine.  We walked back down the road, stopping to photograph the Three Shires Stone, an old boundary marker showing where Lancashire used to extend far North before the county lines were re-drawn in the 1970s.

Three Shires Stone


From the Wrynose Pass outside Little Langdale (NY292032)

Wetherlam Route



Monday, 14 April 2014
11.4 miles/18.3km
2730ft/831m ascent
Wainwright #131, #132, #133, #134 & #135

A rounded grass covered hill in the Lake District is called a Dodd, and the Northern end of the Helvellyn range is a series of this type of hill.  The start of the walk follows a track with views of Great Mell Fell (2,480ft/756m) and the huge sculpted mass of Blencathra (2,848ft/868m).

Great Mell FellBlencathra

The Northern-most hill of the ridge is Clough Head (2,382ft/726m) which has a stunning view of the Northern, Central and North Western fells, from the top it is possible to see Bassenthwaite Lake, Derwent Water and Thirlmere, and the distant Coniston fells and Scafell Pikes, while to the North, Blencathra and Skiddaw (3,054ft/931m) dominate.

SkiddawBlencathra 2

The most amazing view is the stacked tiers of mountains to the West.

Clough Head Summit

From Clough Head we followed the ridge South across Great Dodd (2,812ft/857m), Watson’s Dodd (2,589ft/789m) and Stybarrow Dodd (2,766ft/843m) before turning East to Hart Side (2,480ft/756m).

Great Dodd

DoddsHart Side

There is a distinctly different feeling to the rounded gentle grass covered slopes of the Dodds, compared to the craggy ridges of Helvellyn where we were walking yesterday.


The final stretch of the route is a decent through increasingly wet and boggy ground and then a disheartening uphill walk along the road back to the car.


From the car park at High Row (NY380219)

Great Dodd Route

Y Garn & Elidir Fawr

Sunday, 30 March 2014
4130ft/1260m ascent
Trail 100 #28
3000ft #17 & #18

Y Garn - Llyn IdwalDespite losing an hours sleep to the clock change we arrived bright and early at the Ogwen Cottage car park just after nine. The Vistor’s Centre has been rebuilt since our last visit.

Cwm IdwalY Garn - Idwal Slabs

We followed all the rock climbers up as far as the Idwal slabs and then had the path to ourselves as we climbed the Devil’s Kitchen. This is a gash in the cliff where a waterfall gushes down the mountain side to Llyn Idwal. The steep rocky scramble passes to the left of the cleft and climbs to Llyn y Cwn.

 Y- Garn - Devil's KitchenY Garn - Glyder Fawr

Y Garn - Llyn y CwnLlyn y Cwn is a small mountain lake nestled at the foot of the huge Glyder Fawr (3,283ft/1001m).

An ideal place for a breather, a snack, a photograph and watching the other walkers struggling up the scree towards the Glyders. Once replenished we set off for our first summit – Y Garn (3,107ft/947m).


Y Garn

The path can be clearly seen first crossing the grassy slope and then over the steeper rockier ground as you approach the top. The summit is very rocky, but easier than the top of Tryfan (3,010ft/918m) whose distinctive summit is just visible on the left.

Y GarnY Garn - Summit

Leaving the summit of Y Garn you can see the path as it passes over Foel Goch (2,641ft/831m) (the nearest pointed hill with the Menai Straits and Anglesey beyond) and along the ridge to Elidir Fawr (3,031ft/924m).

Y Garn - Ridge to Elidir Fawr

Foel Goch

The path to Foel Goch is easy and grass covered and comes to an abrupt end when you reach the cliff edge. The view from this smaller mountain is stunning – looking down into the Ogwen Valley (Nant Ffrancon), across to Elidir Fawr or back to Y Garn – there are 3,000ft mountains in every direction.

Foel Goch - Tryfan Foel Goch - Elidir FawrFoel Goch - Y Garn

Elidir Fawr

We stopped for lunch near the col before attempting the ridge to Elidir Fawr. Like all the Glyders the summit is rocky and you make your own path to the top. From the top we could see around Snowdon (3,560ft/1085m) and make out the distinct pyramid of Moel Hebog (2,569ft/783m).

Elidir Fawr - Summit Elidir Fawr

Looking East from the summit of Elidir Fawr this spectacular view shows the sheer scale of the mountains with the cut-off ridge at Foel Goch and the huge mountains beyond. The big black cliffs of Pen-yr Ole Wen (3,209ft/978m) are the same height as Scafell Pike. Behind are Carnedd Dafydd (3,425ft/1044m) and Carnedd Llewelyn (3,491ft/1064m). Our route takes us over Foel Goch and down to the foot of Pen-yr Ole Wen and the car park.Elidir Fawr - Foel Goch

We plunged down the steep scree covered slope into the cwm below. Then followed the contour around until we could see Llyn Idwal and the main path back to the car.

Elidir Fawr - Llyn Idwal


Starting at the Ogwen Cottage car park  (SH648604).


Y Garn & Elidir Fawr Route

Black Combe

Saturday, 8 March 2014
2470ft/750m ascent
Trail 100 #25

Black Combe (1969ft/600m) is the last big mountain in the South West Lakes District before the Irish Sea. It’s a long drive across the peninsulas past Barrow and Ulverston to reach Millom.

We decided to walk around the back of the hill and then walk back over the top. The walk starts with a gentle route along the Western edge of the hill which rises gradually and gets more rugged as you cross the streams.

The route took us through a pretty hidden rock strewn valley.

Black Combe - Rocky Valley 1Black Combe - Rocky Valley 3

Black Combe - Rocky Valley 2

After stopping for lunch we decided to leave the main path and just follow the stream up the valley to the top. Off the path the ground was a mix of bog and deep heather which made the ascent slow and arduous – it would probably have been quicker to stay on the path.

On a clear day the view from the summit would be spectacular. In the North the Scafell and Coniston groups of hills are prominent, while looking South or West the open expanse of Morecambe Bay and the Irish Sea beyond.

Black Combe - Irish Sea


Black Combe - Summit 2 Black Combe - Summit 1


Starting at the layby  (SD132822).


Black Combe Route