Sunday, 17 April 2016

Great Calva, Knott, Great Sca Fell, Meal Fell & Great Cockup

Open Space Web-Map builder Code

Route: Peter House Farm, Cumbria Way, Whitewater Dash, Candleseaves Bog, Dead Beck, Great Calva, Knott, Great Sca Fell, Meal Fell, Trusmadoor, Great Cockup, Orthwaite Bank, Horsemoor Hills, Peter House Farm

Date: 17/04/2016
From: Peter House Farm

Parking: Peter House Farm - Cumbria Way
Start Point: Cumbria Way
Region: North Western Fells

Route length: 9.5 miles (15.3 km)
Time taken : 04:20
Average speed: 2.2 mph
Ascent: 854m
Descent: 866m

Wainwrights on this walk:
Great Calva (690m), Knott (710m), Great Sca Fell (651m), Meal Fell (550m), Great Cockup (526m)

Additional summits: Orthwaite Bank (348m)

Other points of interest: Trusmadoor

I've been neglecting the writing for a little bit to try and perfect the new presenting of maps like the one above. Hopefully if it has worked you'll see an embedded OS map with you can zoom in and out from and scroll around. It looks much better than the screen grabs I was using previously. If all goes well, I'll be spending the next few weeks updating older posts to feature the same map.

Anyway, HTML wrangling aside, we have a walk to discuss, this time in the quiet Back O'Skiddaw area of the Northern Fells. You may remember a few months ago I abandoned a trip to Great Calva on the basis of having boot troubles so I was back to final get its first ascent in the bag. With the additions of Meal Fell and Great Cockup, that would complete the bulk of the Northern Fells leaving just two more walks to complete before reaching the magic 214 but that's getting a bit ahead of myself.

We started from Peter House Farm where I had discovered a small lay-by during a previous walk. The parking spot sits at a point where the Cumbria Way crosses the road and the Cumbria Way would be our route right into the heart of the Northern Fells. It was a bright, sunny morning but there was still a chilly wind blowing - not quite time to think about shorts just yet.
A bright morning as we started our climb up the Cumbria Way
Meal Fell (centre) and Great Cockup (left)
The Cumbria Way would encompass nearly a third of the walk
Here, the Cumbria Way crosses fields parallel to Dash Beck, bound for Whitewater Dash, a fine waterfall that cascades down Black Nettle Hause. Were it not for it's location, it would surely be much popular - that's what Wainwright thought anyway, and I tend to agree. The Cumbria Way passes beneath Dead Crags, the defining feature of Bakestall and I was looking forward to seeing it in all its glory later in the day.
Black Nettle Hause from the Cumbria Way
Whitewater Dash
Looking up to Dead Crags
Dash Beck
Dead Crags
Dash Beck prior to its tumble down the falls
After some easy climbing, the Cumbria Way stays level for a mile or so as it negotiates the edge of Candleseaves Bog beneath the slopes of Little Calva. Despite being only a few miles from Keswick, this area of the Northern Fells feels remote and distant. It was very wet underfoot as we climbed, this was definitely not a path used often, though the gradient is fairly gentle along its length. It steepens slightly towards the summit before reaching a cairn at the corner of a fence. Despite initial appearances, this cairn merely marks the southern viewpoint of the fell with the actual summit standing proud a few metres away.
Dash Beck with Binsey beyond
Skiddaw over Candleseaves Bog
Bright skies over Blencathra
Lonscale Fell
The route to Great Calva
Skiddaw Little Man and Skiddaw
Mungrisdale Common
Great Calva has a quite remarkable view, not craggy or mountainous but surprisingly extensive. That is thanks the to great geological fault that runs between Keswick and Grasmere (the Brathay fault). From the lonely vantage point of Great Calva, it is possible to peer towards Loughrigg Fell a number of miles away.
Great Calva's remarkable view which includes High Rigg, Helvellyn, Steel Fell and Loughrigg Fell
The southern cairn looking to Blencathra
Great Calva's summit
Lonscale Fell from Great Calva
Knott presents the next challenge
Knott would be our next destination, the highest point of the Back O'Skiddaw area though there is nothing striking about the domed fell. Reaching it required a few bog hops and a descent down to followed by a steep slog up the south western flank.
The damp route between Great Calva and Knott
The grassy slopes of Knott
A steep climb awaits
The conical Great Calva
The summit is uninspiring given its broad grassiness and we didn't hang around for long. It's an easy stroll from Knott to Great Sca Fell which stands a short distance to the North. As with Knott, Great Sca Fell is not an impressive fell but the sun make a brief appearance as we were loitering around the summit.
The summit of Knott
Great Sca Fell
A sea of grass
Great Sca Fell's summit
From Great Sca Fell, the path drops steeply down into a depression from which Great Sca Fell suddenly looks much larger and more impressive. This nameless depression separates Great Sca Fell from small but shapely Meal Fell.
Meal Fell with Great Cockup beyond
Longlands Fell
The complex Burntod Gill
Meal Fell
Little Sca Fell and Great Sca Fell
A rarity among the Northern Fells, Meal Fell has a few small patches of scree and and interesting little summit area, topped off my a substantial stone shelter. It has been speculated that the fell was home to a small hill fort, the ground having appeared to have been quarried away around the summit.
The summit of Meal Fell
Shelter cairn on Meal Fell
Burntod Gill
Another steep descent beckons as you leave Meal Fell, this time into the odd pass of Trusmadoor. Its name actually makes much more sense considering that the word 'trus' is old Cumbric for pass or door. After a short climb we reached the summit of Great Cockup which, for me, leaves only the one Northern Fell left - Blencathra which I have been stoically saving for last.
The pass of Trusmadoor
Frozen Fell over Burntod Gill
Great Cockup's summit
Great Cockup has a fine view of Bakestall, the view I mentioned earlier and, though a little hazy, it can be argued that Bakestall looks a worthwhile inclusion in Wainwright's books. We plodded on, it was all downhill from here, an found ourselves at the quiet, narrow road that leads to Orthwaite. Other walks may chose to use the paths through the fields to return to Peter House Farm but we opted to remain on the road, reaching our start point after a few minutes.
Bakestall
Bakestall and Skiddaw
Grassy slopes of Great Cockup
Binsey
These grassy Northern Fells are very reminiscent of the Howgill Fells of North Yorkshire, of which I am very fond. These however, tend not to live up the the drama that the Howgills offer but they offer some very pleasant walking none the less. The Wainwright goal is creeping closer and closer now, Loweswater will be my next stop followed by the legendary Blencathra, which I will be saving for a nice day. Lets hope we get one or two other those this summer.