Sunday, 14 June 2015

Longlands Fell, Great Sca Fell & Brae Fell

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Route: Longlands, Cumbria Way, Lodness, Longlands Fell, Lowthwaite Fell, Broad Moss, Little Sca Fell, Great Sca Fell, Brae Fell, Charleton Wath, Cumbria Way, Longlands

Date: 14/06/2015
From: Longlands

Parking: Longlands
Start Point: Longlands
Region: Northern Fells

Route length: 5.9 miles (9.5 km)
Time taken: 2:15
Average speed: 2.6 mph
Ascent: 545m
Descent: 547m

Wainwrights on this walk:
Longlands Fell (483m), Great Sca Fell (651m), Brae Fell (586m)

Other Summits: Lowthwaite Fell (509m), Little Sca Fell (624m)

Other points of interest: None

A largely disappointing walk on a dispiriting day - not because the scenery was bad, simply because we couldn't see any of it. What had started out as a promising morning quickly changed as soon as we arrived to start a walk around the Uldale Fells north of Skiddaw. Broken clouds and blue sky changed to curtain of grey and a persistent drizzle and, I admit, I underestimated just how cold the wind was - in the middle of June! Not many photos from this one either.

The plan had been to visit as many of the Uldale Fells as possible but we quickly came to the conclusion that one bit of grass in the gloom looked like every other it of grass in the gloom so cut it short after a few hours, but I'm getting ahead of myself a bit. Let's start from the beginning.

Uldale is an area the north of the Lake District, right on the boundary in fact and comprises a number of quiet hamlets and rolling fells. The grouping of fells known as the Uldale Fells comprises of Longlands Fell, the twin-headed Great Sca Fell, Brae Fell, Meal Fell and best named of all the fells, Great Cockup.

We left the cars in a small layby just outside of the tiny hamlet of Longlands, so small in fact that we missed it as we drove through and had to double back to find the correct spot. As I mentioned a moment ago, this was the time when the weather looked fairly fine with a few low clouds gathered on the tops of the high fells. As we made our way along the Cumbria Way, the weather began to get drearier and colder and, while starting our climb up to Longlands Fell, a light drizzle had started to fall, all in the space of around half an hour.
Looking up the slopes of Longlands Fell
Looking back towards Longlands
The benefit of climbing these northern fells is a higher starting elevation - around 200m in the case of Longlands Fell and, with the summit at over 480m, a proportion of the climb is completed before you even start. The route up Longlands Fell has an even gradient and is straightforward, even in the bad weather. At the top sits a small cairn.
Longlands Fell summit - much windier than it appears
We were already considering turning back at this point but, admittedly, that would have been a bit rash so we trudged on over the summit of Lowthwaite Fell and on to a broad track that is obviously used by the local farms to race quad bikes on. This track led us through the greyness to the summit of Little Sca Fell and subsequently to Great Sca Fell, not to be confused with its higher and more prestigious namesake.

The original plan after Longlands Fell had been to make for Brae Fell then Great Sca Fell before continuing to the rest of the Uldale Fells but, with poor weather over us we decided to make Great Sca Fell the focal point and return over Brae Fell, saving the others for another day.
Little Sca Fell
Great Sca Fell
We turned around and headed down the slope towards Brae Fell, following the track marked on the map which turned out to be little more than a shallow groove in the wet grass. Time for some proper navigation with a compass and everything. That's the main problem with being up in the northern fells in bad weather, everything looks the same.
Brae Fell summit cairn
We splashed and slipped down the sodden hillside to the large cairn that marks Brae Fell's summit and viewpoint - nothing of note today but a clear day reveals an expansive view of the north Cumbrian coast. A cup of tea was beckoning and the plan was to make our way straight down Brae Fell's northern slopes, a long but shallow descent back to Cumbria Way in the valley below.
Longlands Fell
The Cumbria Way crosses Longlands Beck
Typically, as we eventually reached the footings of the hill, the weather began to break up and clear but the clouds still lingered on the summits so I can't imagine it was much more appealing than when we'd been up there. The Cumbria Way rounds the toe of Longlands Fell and took us back to the car in Longlands, giving us the chance to change out of wet clothes and rid ourselves of waterproof jackets and trousers. As a first trip out into the wild fells north of Skiddaw, I'll leave you with my one recommendation - save these for a nice day. There's no fun looking at and endless sea of grass.
Looking west
Latrigg and Binsey
Longlands Fell