Lying just off the A591 between Ambleside and Grasmere, Loughrigg Fell is one of the Wainwrights I had been looking forward to climbing with Rowan for a long time. It’s a busy little fell though, so we waited till mid-week in a school holiday to make a day trip for a mountain adventure.
We parked at White Moss car park, (postcode LA22 9SE), visited the toilets and after calling at the information board, we set off on our way.
There are a number walks that start from White Moss, but we were heading towards Loughrigg Terrace. We soon arrived at a bridge which crossed the stream that links Rydal Water and Grasmere. It was a hot day and the over-hanging trees and cool shallow water looked perfect for paddling but we resisted the temptation and pressed on – after a quick rendition of Billy Goats Gruff of course. (Rowan’s Big Billy Goat Gruff head butt to my troll belly is getting pretty hard these days – I really need to brace myself).
Across the bridge we came to a sign which gave Rowan the opportunity to practise his reading. We were taking the woodland walk to Loughrigg Terrace.
The path through the trees climbed steadily, the floor lovely and springy underfoot. We came alongside a wall, and peering over, we caught a glimpse of Rydal Water – the mist belying the heat of the day.
We eventually reached a gate and after passing through we turned right. The grassy slopes were covered with bracken and high above the crags, a bird (buzzard maybe?) hunted for its dinner.
After a very short, steep climb, we found ourselves on the level path of Loughrigg Terrace. It had taken very little effort to reach here, but it was beautiful to walk along. By now, Rowan was Peter Rabbit, hopping from rock to rock or looking out for Mr Todd lurking in the bracken covered slopes that led down to Grasmere lake. However, the increasing mist obscured the views of the fells beyond.
We continued along this path, passing an eroded path up the side of the slope, until we reached a dry stone wall which climbed up the fell side. Here, we found a stone pitched path that would begin the steep ascent to the top of Loughrigg Fell and the boy took no time to get started.
Part way up, we stopped for a breather and admired the views of Grasmere and its island. Helm Crag behind was completely hidden by fog. Stevie Wayne of KAB Antonio Bay would have been warning us to stay away from it and fortunately for us, Loughrigg Fell remained with good visibility. Rowan found the perfect “Pride Rock” to pose as Simba but maybe ended up looking a bit more Little Mermaid-esque.
After a rest and a drink, we continued along our path, which alternated between rocky sections for Rowan to clamber over, and more level grassy sections where we were able to get our breath back.
Soon, we were able to see our objective – the trig point at the top of the fell, surrounded by the silhouettes of people who had made it up before us. This gave Rowan a renewed vigour and as we got closer, he broke into a run across the broad top, eager to get there before me.
The views from the top were obscured by cloud, but it was lovely and warm, so after our summit photo, we found a spot to sit and enjoy our dinner.
We also took the chance to do some of Rowan’s “homework”. His school had sent home a list of things to try over the holidays, one being extreme reading – reading a book somewhere unusual. I had brought along one of his books so he could tick it off his list and he really enjoyed getting stuck in. Almost as much as scrambling over the summit rocks.
There are a multitude of paths leading away from the top of Loughrigg Fell so when it was time to make a move, I decided to have a go at taking a compass bearing to make sure we were heading in the right direction (and to give me some practise). It was also a good opportunity to get Rowan involved with looking at the map and using a compass. I got there eventually, but it really took some time (though not as much as the attempt on my Cold Pike walk). I showed Rowan how to line up the needle with the red arrow and he proudly pointed us in the right direction. As we left the people congregated at summit, we could see an amazing hummocky landscape with Ambleside in the background and a path which led through the bracken.
Before long, we could see Rydal Water – the path winding down to it through the green knolls enticingly. In places, it was quite steep and stony, so Rowan practised landing on his bum if he felt like he was going to fall.
There were plenty of things to take in on the way down, including a huge slate column, rocky outcrops and intriguing paths through the greenery.
The remains of slate buildings overlooked by the undulating landscape of this pretty fell.
Bluebells and butterflies
And with the skies becoming clearer, the gorgeous views top it all off.
Eventually, the path descended steeply then disappeared behind some trees. We could hear lots of people and I knew that Rydal Cave was round the corner. However, I hadn’t told Rowan, so when he spotted it, he was beside himself with excitement.
Rydal Cave is a man-made cavern – a result of past slate quarrying. Now, it is a brilliant place to explore. I had brought Rowan’s head torch so we ventured inside. It was cool and much bigger than I thought. Rowan found scratches on the rock, obviously made by dinosaurs.
He splashed in the water that covered the cave floor and ticked off another thing from his school list of things to do – splash through water and get wet.
And tried the stepping stones at the entrance to the cave. Further inside, the stones were a bit too far apart for Rowan’s little legs, but at the entrance, we were able to watch the fish and ducks come and go, un-phased by the visitors to their home.
All in all, Rydal Cave was brilliant.
After spending nearly an hour mooching around, we decided to begin the short walk back to the car. This was when Rowan discovered his hands were mucky from the silt in the cave – and he wasn’t bothered. When we first started out on our adventures, Rowan didn’t like getting mucky. In my second blog post, during a visit to Dove Stone Reservoir, he had a mini meltdown when his boots and trousers got dirt on them, so this was a huge surprise.
Strolling along an easy level path, we spotted a beautiful tree. Getting closer, Rowan spotted a stream running alongside it, so he decided that he would wash his hands before continuing down the path towards the woods where we started our walk
On our way back to the car, we found a slate sign showing the way to Grasmere, High Close and Langdale and a rock with a gorilla face – the last of our brilliant finds of the day. Alfred Wainwright said in his guide book that “everyone likes Loughrigg”. We’d walked around 3 and a half miles (route here) and had a brilliant day. We definitely like Loughrigg.