Catbells, Maiden Moor, High Spy


Forum » Walk Reports » Lake District

By Oli R C on 15/04/17 at 2:16pm

Date started:09/04/2017
Distance:16.3 km or 10.1 miles
Ascent:858m or 2815ft
Start OSGB:NY246211
Time taken:5:50
Naismith:4:41

Still not wanting to over do things as I reacquire my Lakes Legs, I perused the WalkLakes library of walks around the Keswick area. The previous weekend's walk was around Derwent Water, graded as easy. So I thought I'd take it up a notch, and settled on one of the longest routes graded as `serious'. Obviously!

Catbells, Maiden Moor, High Spy - https://www.walklakes.co.uk/walk_47.html

I put my faith in the

<img src="https://c1.staticflickr.com/4/3943/33808498321_ad81938d26_h.jpg" alt="as always] superb route guide, which didn't give me any indication of anything I wouldn't be comfortable with, so I decided to go with it.

I left home at 5.30am on Sunday morning. The early start, partly to beat the masses, and of course just because it's the best time of day (especially for photos). I was the third to park at the parking area at the foot of Skelgill Bank, and was on my way up the hill a few minutes before 7am, just as the sun was peeping over the fells to the east. Perfect timing!

No warm up on this route, you're straight onto a fairly steep incline. I took it steady and kept the positive thoughts, and was quite happy with my progress. Just a handful of other folk about. A photographer standing with tripod, camera pointed east. One walker coming down off the hill, and occasional glimpses of another ahead of me, maintaining a speed probably greater than mine. I would only pass a couple of others walkers before Catbells summit, and a couple packing up their tent, who had obviously enjoyed a night out up top.

Climbing into the sunlit hillside... [On the way up Skelgill Bank" title="as always] superb route guide, which didn't give me any indication of anything I wouldn't be comfortable with, so I decided to go with it.

I left home at 5.30am on Sunday morning. The early start, partly to beat the masses, and of course just because it's the best time of day (especially for photos). I was the third to park at the parking area at the foot of Skelgill Bank, and was on my way up the hill a few minutes before 7am, just as the sun was peeping over the fells to the east. Perfect timing!

No warm up on this route, you're straight onto a fairly steep incline. I took it steady and kept the positive thoughts, and was quite happy with my progress. Just a handful of other folk about. A photographer standing with tripod, camera pointed east. One walker coming down off the hill, and occasional glimpses of another ahead of me, maintaining a speed probably greater than mine. I would only pass a couple of others walkers before Catbells summit, and a couple packing up their tent, who had obviously enjoyed a night out up top.

Climbing into the sunlit hillside... [On the way up Skelgill Bank" class="photo forum-image" />

On the way up Skelgill Bank by Oliver Coats, on Flickr

Looking towards Catbells

Looking towards Catbells by Oliver Coats, on Flickr

Some nice little sections to clamber up. Happily within my comfort zone, and would have been fine if they were longer.

Nobody at the summit of Catbells, I look ahead to Maiden Moor...

Catbells to Maiden Moor

Catbells to Maiden Moor by Oliver Coats, on Flickr

Along the way I make a point of getting a photo of where I walked the previous weekend, having taken a photo of Maiden Moor, from the boardwalk at the southern end of Derwent Water.

Derwent Water

Derwent Water by Oliver Coats, on Flickr

I'm passed by a fell runner coming down from Maiden Moor with his dog. He wishes me a great day. It's already pretty damn good, I thought.

Getting near the top of Maiden Moor

Looking back to Catbells

Looking back to Catbells by Oliver Coats, on Flickr

The path splits in two up here, so I chose to peel right so I can peep over the crags as I go.

Low Snab in shadow

Low Snab in shadow by Oliver Coats, on Flickr

The path nicely laid out ahead. Starting to get some good views of Newlands Valley.

The path ahead to High Spy

The path ahead to High Spy by Oliver Coats, on Flickr

And over the other side into Borrowdale...

Looking down to Borrowdale, from Maiden Moor.

Looking down to Borrowdale, from Maiden Moor. by Oliver Coats, on Flickr

A quick visit to High Spy North Top to enjoy the views, the wind blowing strong here. Another walker, who passed me whilst I was at North Top, stops at the summit to get a selfie with the cairn, before heading back down. Upon reaching the summit myself, I sit down for a bite to eat, to speed read the race report from the Chinese GP, and rattle off a couple of picture text messages to family members. Enjoying the 4G while it was available!

High Spy summit.

High Spy summit. by Oliver Coats, on Flickr

Time to pop a jacket on for the descent to Dalehead Tarn. The wind is strong. I stay right, above Red Crag, for one of my favourite photos of the day. One of those nice shots with barely a trace of humankind. It could be a different planet. It almost feels like it.

View from Red Crag.  First glipmse of Dalehead Tarn.

View from Red Crag. First glipmse of Dalehead Tarn. by Oliver Coats, on Flickr

A common viewpoint, a shot looking back, you can see the path coming down from High Spy, and the path I'm about to take, down into Newlands Valley.

Looking back to High Spy

Looking back to High Spy by Oliver Coats, on Flickr

While at Dalehead Tarn, I noticed a geocache on the GPS screen. I don't really do geocaching, but I do like the challenge of finding them if nearby. Gotta say, this one wasn't hard to find. It remained untouched.

Hidden treasures

Hidden treasures by Oliver Coats, on Flickr

Time to head down, the Newlands Beck presents itself very nicely...

Newlands Beck

Newlands Beck by Oliver Coats, on Flickr

The path into Newlands Valley is a little vague a times. There's some nice clambering to do, and with rocks strewn all over, you've got to be careful with your footing, to avoid a twisted ankle.

This rock sticks out into the path at a little steep section. I liked it enough to get a photo.

Nice rock

Nice rock by Oliver Coats, on Flickr

Dalehead Crags loom overhead...

Dalehead Crags

Dalehead Crags by Oliver Coats, on Flickr

As I continued downwards, I could see two distinct paths ahead. High or low. I remembered the guide recommended the low path, although couldn't remember why. Good enough for me, I stayed low, although the path is a lot less distinct here.

Although never far from the beck, I gradually became more aware of the sound of water. Descending further, it suddenly got much louder. I was reminded why the lower path is recommended...

Waterfall

Waterfall by Oliver Coats, on Flickr

This is the largest in a succession of waterfalls. I've gotta say, my photo doesn't do it justice. It's a stunning scene. The water is crystal clear, and the cobalt colours coming from below the surface of the sunlit beck are fabulous.

This photo also from the waterfall, but looking back whence I came.

Red Crag from the big waterfall

Red Crag from the big waterfall by Oliver Coats, on Flickr

Getting lower now, I hear the occasional voices of a couple of walkers behind me. They didn't catch up. Emerging from the rock fields I take a look back...

Looking back

Looking back by Oliver Coats, on Flickr

Approaching the mountain hut, I see quite a few vehicles. Caravans and camper vans. As I walk past, there's a body in a sleeping bag by the track. A few folk milling about. A dog gallops around. A half full pint glass of ale rests in the top of a gas cylinder, rocking in the breeze. Once round the other side I see quite a congregation at the tables out the back. Looks like they had a good night.

Party site

Party site by Oliver Coats, on Flickr

Having passed Low Snab, another look back. It's a nice scene.

Looking back up Newlands Valley

Looking back up Newlands Valley by Oliver Coats, on Flickr

A little navigational error, the same as reported by SheepFarmer in his recent write up of the fuller version of this route, I too missed picking up the bypass around Little Town. I actually noticed the grassy track peeling off to the right, so I stopped to check my route. My mistake was to only look at the screen of my GPS, containing 50k mapping. My 25k paper counterpart was now in my backpack, having been 'stood down'. Well I had done the difficult stuff, hadn't I? Lesson learnt. I quickly realised my error, but gave myself a short steep grassy ascent back to the route as punishment. I could have done without it at this stage!

Seeing Catbells again, I get a visual reminder of why I'd got out of bed so early. I think there must have been at least 15 people on just the summit itself.

Catbells

Catbells by Oliver Coats, on Flickr

It's getting busier down at my level, too...

Herdys

Herdys by Oliver Coats, on Flickr

One final look back as I get near the end of my walk, it's nice to take a moment to see where I've been.

Many valleys

Many valleys by Oliver Coats, on Flickr

Not much dirt on the boots, but I use the last few puddles to give them a bit of a wash. Although not the puddle that's full of tadpoles which spans across the main thoroughfare!

A bit of booty to finish off...

Lowas

Lowas by Oliver Coats, on Flickr

Hope you've enjoyed reading. Big thanks if you got this far.

And thanks to the website folk that put the guide together. It gave me enough detail for me to know this was a good route for me, even though it was in the `serious' category.

Looking forward to the next one!

Oliver



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