An amble down Great Langdale16th February 2009
It’s amazing how pondering ground conditions during periods of cold weather can be a harbinger for foreboding. You get to thinking of iced-up roads and pavements that’s even before you consider how it might be at greater heights. As it turned out, there seemed to be even less snow (saying that there was no snow at all wouldn’t be such an inaccurate description) lying about at lower levels on my visit to Cumbria the Saturday before last than I encountered on a previous one in December when I went exploring the Howgill Fells. However, I didn’t have to look very far to find the white stuff with many a fell coated in it. Following various warnings and some fatalities, I stayed low to follow the Cumbria Way on a hike from the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel to Ambleside. Even though I was hopeful for some sun, grey clouds blocked out the sun for most of the time that I was on my hike; ironically, the sun had stayed out while I was awaiting a bus at Windermere.
To get to Langdale, I needed to run the gauntlet of some roadworks but any delays proved not to be disruptive to my scheme. In fact, when I got to Old Dungeon Ghyll, I pottered a little north-east to look up along Mickleden to gaze upon those snow-covered summits. I soon turned around to the task of passing one hotel to make progress on the way towards another. Because parts of the track along which I was going take the form of a watercourse, there were stretches of ice that commanded care and attention as I passed. Still, I was on a quiet stretch with a good few folk heading down Mickleden and others heading for the Pikes.
After getting to the New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel, a crossing of the B5453 and Great Langdale Beck took me on a journey along the other side of the valley. There were enough people around for me to wonder if I was going to stuck in a hiking convoy but that was to melt away to leave me some space within which I could enjoy my surroundings as I journeyed along the lower slopes of Lingmoor Fell. That took me a little higher for a while but terrain was to level out when I returned to the banks of the beck again. In a field near Baysbrown farm, a tractor was out muck-spreading and the loading of the spreader forced me to divert from the track that it had obstructed. It was so easily avoided that there was no point in fuming over “wilful” obstruction of a public right of way. After passing an empty campsite, I skirted Chapel Style and my surroundings took on a less rural feel until the village of Elterwater was left after me.
Once past that village, it was a case of reaching the shores of Elter Water and following them around. My first sights of the lake in question were through trees but the woodland was soon exited to reveal a very idyllic setting. It’s being accessible meant that many were out and about on often muddy paths but their presence was no perturbation to me and I didn’t begrudge their presence at all. Even in the greyness, the beauty of the spot was without question with the Langdale Pikes and other fells forming a pleasing backdrop to the lake. Even with the gloom, the setting was sufficiently wondrous as to cause me to make a mental note of the idea of returning when skies are clearer, should that kind of opportunity arise.
Skelwith Bridge was the next point passed though trees obscured any view of it. As it happened, I inadvertently continued a little further along the Cumbria Way than I had intended before leaving it for the day. After shadowing the Coniston road for a little while I ventured onto it and made my way towards Skelwith Fold and Clappersgate on a mixture of minor roads and public footpaths while a spout of sunlight momentarily lit up Loughrigg Fell. From there, I made good progress along roadside footways into Ambleside to catch a bus to Windemere from where a railway journey home. It goes without saying that the outing had been a good one though it looks like a return is needed if I am to come away with the sort of pleasing photos that I would enjoy sharing with others. Hopefully, I can make the journey there on a quieter day too.
Return train journey to Windermere, 555 to Ambleside, 516 to Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel and 599 from Ambleside to Windermere.