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Climbing Black Fell or is that Black Crag?

January 5, 2015

First walk of the year and in the Lake District!

Tarn Hows (c) John Bainbridge 2015

Tarn Hows (c) John Bainbridge 2015

A day of hard frost. Mist on the highest tops, but clear views over miles of countryside beneath the clouds.

Starting out from Tarn Hows, we set out for Black Fell.

Hawkhead to Oxenfell Track

Hawkhead to Oxenfell Track

Or actually Black Crag if you are going up to the summit, Black Fell being the name of much of the hill to the north of the summit. But Alfred Wainwright favoured Black Fell, even if the National Trust’s marked on the highest point says Crag. Let me know your thoughts.

The ground was iron hard. I know. I tripped on a patch of ice and landed backwards on to it.

There was ice on Tarn Hows, in the bays around the water.

Beyond we reached the old track leading from Hawkshead to Oxenfell. A beautiful old track where you walk in the steps of generations of travellers and workers in Lakeland.  One reason why I shudder when I hear that the Ramblers Association nods through 93% of path diversions – a ridiculous rationalisation of our quirky and historically important path network.

Out then up on to the open fell beyond Iron

Summit of Black Crag (c) John Bainbridge 2015

Summit of Black Crag (c) John Bainbridge 2015

Keld and out on to the summit of Black Crag or Fell. Many of the conifers that Wainwright would have seen here have thankfully been removed, with Belted Galloway cattle brought in to chomp the lanky yellow moor grass, helping to restore the landscape back to open moorland and traditional woodland.

This is an easy ascent with good views all around towards the Langdale Pikes, Wetherlam and Coniston Old Man. From the top we could see three lakes: Windermere, Esthwaite Water and Coniston Water. All clear yesterday under the clouds.

There is a grand National Trust marker on the summit and a huge cairn on the lower top.

View from Black Crag (c) John Bainbridge 2015

View from Black Crag (c) John Bainbridge 2015

To extend the walk we returned to the main track and walked to Oxenfell and then down to Yew Tree Tarn, with one last long climb up St Mary’s Glen and back to Tarn Hows.

Estwaite Water from Black Fell. (c) John Bainbridge 2015

Estwaite Water from Black Fell. (c) John Bainbridge 2015

Cairn on the lower top. (c) John Bainbridge 2015

Cairn on the lower top. (c) John Bainbridge 2015

A fairly easy walk of several miles and a couple of thousand feet in ascent. A good leg-stretcher for a winter’s day.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. January 5, 2015 8:54 pm

    Couldn’t think of a sweeter spot to start the new year walking than there.

  2. January 5, 2015 9:52 pm

    Stunning photos – have you indulged in a new camera? Hope you will be entering into the Open Spaces 150th anniversary photo competition

  3. January 6, 2015 2:28 am

    Richard and I did that last year in a ferocious gale so I’m afraid we didn’t really savour it much, just hurried round. It was nice to be back there again though as I’d only done it once before when I was Wainwrighting and it was nice to get back onto the fells I haven’t done since 🙂

  4. January 6, 2015 7:42 am

    We had a good day and got up before the crowds. No, still the old camera. It just seems to work better in certain lights.

  5. January 7, 2015 2:49 am

    Belted Galloways? I thought they had died out….I remember them on my grandfather’s farm when I was a child and am glad to know that they are still with us.
    What you say about nodding through pathway diversions is troubling, though.

  6. January 7, 2015 7:38 am

    Helen, I think Belted Galloways are quite often being used to help restore landscapes, mostly I think because they eat lanky and out of control vegetation. Always a delight to see them. Regards John

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