A return to the familiar when other plans come to nought10th November 2008
The first day of November saw me make an overdue return to hill country, with Cumbria’s Lake District acting as my main destination. I had a few walking locations in mind by the time that I reached Windermere train station; the railways served as my way there and away again. However, my train was late (thanks to a little Saturday morning trespassing on the line near Deansgate) so any plans for a return to Great Langdale needed to be placed on a hold and a broken down bus meant that the Coniston fells still await my footfall. That left the option of an out and back hike from the train station to the top of Yoke, and my revisiting familiar terrain as I went.
Even so, I was far from disgruntled, and the sights from Orrest Head should have put paid to any sense of humbug anyway. It was its usual splendid self while I admired the views, even with a very noisy dog and her apologetic owners. The pooch had the misfortune of an aggressive appearance and an equally aggressive bark, but I soon learnt to ignore her enough to make a few photos. The fells by now have their autumn/winter clothes on them, and there’s an occasional dusting of snow to be seen in places too. Panoramic views were just the balm to soothe the soul after the noisy interruptions.
Having bobbed up to Orrest Head from Windermere’s train station, I bobbed back down the other side as I made for the road near The Causeway Farm. A very short eastbound piece of tarmac bashing later, I began to cross fields again to reach Moorhowe Road where I repeated the shuffle but reaching a gravel track called Dubbs Road. Shortly after passing Dubbs Reservoir, the views over Troutbeck opened out before me and northern vistas were packed full of gloriously humpy whalebacks of hills. All of this was familiar to me from a previous circular walk from Windermere to Kentmere and a linear wander from Windermere to Staveley by way of Kentmere.
Passing a wood to my left, I emerged onto the rougher track that is Garburn Road. In so doing, I left the dodging of puddles that took up near enough the width of the track behind me; these were there on my previous hikes too, so I was unsurprised by their size. In place of those puddles, I got steeper slopes and looser surface that tested the nimbleness of my ankles. Garburn Pass was reached soon enough and, rather than descending to Kentmere as I have done on those previous visits, I left the wide track for an initially boggier one taking me higher up the slopes.
That boggy bit was to turn into a very good gravel path, and it surprises me that there wasn’t a good track all the way, but I suppose that it keeps some in their place. As I went ever upward, views to my right opened out before me and the houses of Kentmere could be seen. Ever mindful of time, I continued to inch my way up Yoke with an appropriate number of photography stops. The summit wasn’t long coming, even if there was an extra cairn lurking to confuse the unwary. I was tempted by the prospect of Ill Bell, but consciousness of the remaining hours of daylight and the prospect of losing a lot of height before regaining it again made me see sense; the sight of an oncoming shower helped to wean me away too. That other hill can wait for another day.
I came down Yoke in the dampness, and I need to admit that having to pull on waterproofs did cost me some time. Given that the rain didn’t stay long, I am left wondering if it would have been better braving it, but you never know with these things, and it’s often better to be safe than sorry. The sun was lowering in the sky all the while as I retraced my steps, and I was happy to be making progress all the while. When I made Garburn Road, I decided to stick with that track rather than continuing along Dubbs Road because of the hour that it was. That meant descending on a lot of loose surface, and it did begin to take its toll on my patience, so it was not before time that I left it for the much smoother Longmire Road, another track in spite of the name.
My plan was to return to tarmac before the light dropped too much since I wasn’t wanting to have navigational nightmares in the dusk, let alone the dark; it was an objective that was easily achieved. As it happened, I did see someone else who was going to run that gauntlet of crossing fields at dusk, but I left him to it as I descended by minor roads to the A592 that would carry me onto the A591 for the final stretch back to Windermere train station. Even with failing light, the greatest challenge in all of this was one that I encountered earlier in the day: getting across the A591. Thankfully, a kind lady did me a favour for the second crossing.
It had been a great day to revisiting an old haunt but with an added twist. Ill Bell might not have been summited, but hills always last more than a day and Yoke did well what was asked of it. Other plans that fell by the wayside can be kept on file for future visits. What really matters is that I enjoyed the day out, and I remain hopeful of more like it.
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