Standing at 290 metres, Castle Crag is the smallest fell in Alfred Wainwright’s pictorial guides. However, what it lacks in height, it more than makes up for in character. I’ve walked up Castle Crag a few times, and know how lovely yet interesting it is, so when my Mum decided to join me and Rowan for her first Lakeland hill walk, it seemed like the perfect choice. And given that the route I’d planned took us to, what Alfred Wainwright described as, the loveliest square mile in Lakeland, we were in for a brilliant day out.
Standing at 2,866 feet, Goat Fell is the highest mountain on Arran. On our first visit to the island, we decided against trying to reach the summit. It would have been by far the furthest and highest Rowan had walked, so we didn’t want to over-do it and potentially put him off days out in the mountains. But for our latest visit, and with Birkhouse Moor under his belt, we decided he would probably be ok. We just needed a decent mountain forecast during the week – and we were in luck.
I love it when someone goes hill walking for the first time and gets the bug. After walking the Langdale Pikes and the Old Man of Coniston, I was out with Beth again, this time to tackle Bowfell on another hot day. Nigel also joined us as we set off early from Manchester to arrive at the National Trust car park by the Old Dungeon Ghyll pub (LA22 9JY) by about 10 am. After toilet stop and a check to ensure plentiful supplies of suntan lotion, we set off towards Stool End (snigger) farm. Our route would take us along both the valleys we could see, but whilst the tops of Mickleden were clear, clouds shrouded Crinkle Crags at the head of Oxendale.
You may remember from my first Wainwright walk post, Cold Pike and Pike o’Blisco, we used to get around the Lakes in Old Peg, our brilliant old campervan. We’ve missed having a van so last year, after much scrolling through eBay, we bought Tormund the Transit. And our first trip (after the back garden) – the Lake District. Travelling up on Friday night, we stayed at Sykeside Camping Park and after tea in the pub and a wander down the lane at the back of the site, we settled in for the night.
Earlier this year, we were in the Lake District, walking the Wainwrights again. Returning to Great Langdale, we decided to revisit Lingmoor Fell. Rick and I had walked here with the mutts one snowy day eight years ago. We decided it would be the perfect fell for a walk with Rowan, especially given the shorter days.
After having such a fab day out in the Langdales, me, Angela and Beth decided another day out in the Lakes was long overdue. The October weather forecast was pretty changeable, with some strong winds and rain forecast. We decided that we would go ahead – we’ve got waterproofs! Given the forecast, we were careful with our choice of walk, opting for Coniston Old Man for a clear route and relatively short day.
Most of my previous walking has been done in the Lake District. When I open the OS map to plan a walk, it is criss-crossed with green and black dashed lines indicating footpaths and right of ways. This was not the case when I opened a map of Arran. Contours and streams were there, and lots of other symbols, lines and colours that make maps so brilliant to look at – but not too many footpaths. I guess the Scottish Outdoor Access Code means that much of the landscape is one big right of way (within reason). But it came as a bit of a shock when I was trying to plan a day in the hills for us. After consulting my guide book, I decided that Coire Fhionn Lochan would be the walk for us.
After listening to me harping on about walking in the Lakes, my friend Beth decided she would like to go hill walking. As it would be her first walk, we wanted something with not too many miles, but at the same time, managing to satisfy Beth’s motto of “go big or go home”. The Langdale Pikes with their stunning scenery and little bits of scrambling opportunity were hopefully, going to be the perfect walk. So, joined by Angela, we set off early one Saturday morning in July.
You may have noticed from some of my blog posts that, occasionally, I get a little confused with my navigation. From taking a bearing with the direction of travel arrow pointing in the opposite direction and squinting to try and find paths I can see in the real world but not on the map, to just generally doubting my map reading and decisions – I decided it was time to do something about it and booked myself on not one, but two navigation courses.