Winter Wainwrights afternoon – Barrow and Outerside plus Ard Crags and Knott Rigg – (inc snow posing tips)

Last Sunday involved an escape to the Lakes for the first time since mid November! Now thats a long time to be Lakeless, 18 weeks in fact or 126 days! This included three failed attempts this year which were cancelled at the last minute due to shite Sunday weather – the guy on the telly actually used the phrase ‘shite Sunday weather’, so it must be meteorological or something?

Forecasts the day before suggested yet more ‘shite Sunday weather’ so there was much discussion in the pub on Saturday evening over options.  My mate Alan had only seen the unreliably miserable gloom laden BBC national forecast which had promised incessant plagues of lemmings up north,  so he favoured the softer choice of a Hadrians Wall walk followed by late pub lunch. I’d seen the more reliable Met Office forecast which was a mixture of cloud, snow and cloud, slightly improving. That was good enough for me as I was desperate to get to the Lakes AND for once the forecast didn’t deteriorate on Sunday morning, so the Lakes were confirmed and off we drove from Hexham in no particular rush hoping for possible clear spells later.

Assuming there would be limited if any views we narrowed the route choices to picking off some less spectacular Wainwrights including Ullscarf & High Raise (Plan A), Ard Crags & Knott Rigg (Plan B), or the 4 tops north of Skiddaw inc Great Cockup (Plan C). As we drove westward on the A66 the Ullscarf Plan was soon discounted as the central mountains were pulling the cloud down, so we decided on the Gt Cockup ones (Plan C). Then as we neared Keswick a clearish patch over Grisedale Pike just became too inviting leading to a sudden complete change (Plan D) – and next minute we were parking in Braithwaite.

Plan D was to nip up new Wainwrights Barrow & Outerside, then if the weather was ok, carry on up Sail, Crag Hill, Eel Crag & possibly Grsisedale Pike (old Wainwrights), or if poor weather then just do the two Wainwrights then add another new one of either Binsey, Great or Little Meal Fell, (Plan E). We packed axes & crampons then started at 11.50am by heading straight for Outerside instead of up the Barrow ridge necessitating a quick reroute up the side then on to the pleasant little ridge.

Heading up Barrow 12.30pmiews over Braithwaite, Bassenthwaite & Skiddaw

Heading up Barrow 12.30pm, views over Braithwaite, Bassenthwaite & Skiddaw

Classic mountain posing (ruining a good view), over to Derwent Water

Classic mountain posing (ruining a good view), over to Derwent Water

The inviting clear weather patch soon began to disappear as we gained height amid mutterings from Alan of “that could’ve been the best weather”, then a snow shower came in causing further mutterings of “definitely getting worse”.

In snow shower on way to Outerside in the distance

Enjoying a snow shower on the way to Outerside (in the distance)

Alan asked me a couple of times why we weren’t on Hadrians Wall heading to a nice warm pub however I insisted this was fun, we were in the Lakes and gonna enjoy it. Alan didn’t look convinced but he can be a miserable bugger sometimes 🙂

Approaching Outerside looking back over Stile End & Braithwaite

Approaching Outerside looking back over Stile End & Braithwaite

Once on Outerside we had a pit stop and performed some fine mountain posing whilst staring at the wintry greyness ahead, trying to decide whether to go up or back down.

Sail & Eel Crag from Outerside - wondering whether to carry on up or retreat

Sail & Eel Crag from Outerside – wondering whether to carry on up or retreat

Grisedale Pike clear - for a minute at least

Grisedale Pike clear – for a minute at least

The weather improved slightly then came down again, it was looking like that sort of day. The photos flatter the conditions and as another snow shower closed in we both decided it wasn’t looking much fun up there in the snow clouds & probable ice, so we would retreat.  Back to Plan E, we would nip back then drive over to bag a new Wainwright somewhere.

Snowing again whilst Alan descends Outerside

Snowing again whilst Alan descends back down Outerside

After 15 minutes descent the clouds taunted us by suddenly lifting and Grisedale Pike reappeared causing loud mutterings from Alan of “bloody typical it’s the afternoon improvement”. I disagreed yet it did feel kind of anti-climax even though we had probably set a new record for the most over equipped expedition to Barrow & Outerside 🙂

Descending – with Causey Pike behind

Descending down to Brathwaite - look theres sun down there!!

Nearing Braithwaite – look there’s sun down there!!

There was briefly some sun down in the valleys with Binsey looking promising, but behind us the weather had closed in again and by the time we got to the car at 3pm it was raining.

The camera makes this looks nice in the rain :-)

The camera makes this looks nice in the rain 🙂

Decision time again, pub, Binsey, pub, Meal Fell, pub? Well as we were in the area we decided on the Newlands two, Ard Crags & Knott Rigg, both awkward ones to fit in with other hills so it would be a good chance to tick them off.  Actually the Met Office forecast had been spot on, rain showers in the valleys falling as snow in the hills, we wouldn’t get wet, just snowy, so let’s do it. We drove a short distance & parked at the layby at Rigg Beck quarry, leaving the car at 3.50pm heading along the path by the stream then realising that a better line would’ve been crossing the bridge at the quarry then straight up.

Ard Crags ahead, still raining

Ard Crags ahead, still raining however I do  think that hill looks a nice inviting shape!!

Ascending again

It’s an Ard ascent 🙂 Robinson behind

Very nice view back down the ascent route - with Cat Bells above

Very nice view back down the ascent route – with Cat Bells above – and there’s some sun!!

And then, just as we approached the ridge; it happened…..a patch of clear weather that started spreading, with blue skies behind…..oh yeah this was gonna be fun!!

Robinson and blue sky, repeat blue sky!!

Robinson and blue sky, repeat after me – blue sky!!

Nearly up Ard Crags, looking back with Cat Bells & Derwent Water above

Nearly up Ard Crags, looking back with Cat Bells & Derwent Water above

Top of Ard Crags looking back down the ascent route, Causey Pike left

Top of Ard Crags looking back down the ascent route, Causey Pike left

Ard Crags amidst improving weather

Ard Crags in improving weather and that lovely ridge snaking to Knott Rigg

Walking the ridge to Knott Rigg, now this was nice, very nice!

Walking the ridge to Knott Rigg, now this was nice, very nice!

High Stile & Red Pike in the distance, this really is pure fun

A little classic ridge walk

There were smiles all round with occasional excited yelping noises as we walked that ridge, it was bloody good and quite a surprise, we both really weren’t expecting much up here but it’s a cracking fun hill and despite being surrounded either side by higher stuff the views are extremely pleasant.

Top of Knott Rigg with an unexpected panorama

Top of Knott Rigg with an unexpected panorama

High Stile & Red Pike in the distance

High Stile & Red Pike in the distance

No point looking at the view when you can play with your phone :-)

No point looking at the view when you can play with your phone 🙂

Last lingerings on top

Last lingerings on top

Setting off from Knott Rigg back up to Ard Crags then down to the stream below Causey Pike

Setting off from Knott Rigg back to Ard Crags then down to the stream below Causey Pike

Last look back to Ard Crags at 6.50pm

Last look back to Ard Crags at 6.50pm

Interesting trip, it had started at home with me discovering my daysack didn’t have a decent axe attachment so out came the 40ltr Karimoor Hot Earth, last used 13yrs ago up Ben Nevis. I’d forgotten what a great sack this is and might take more stuff with me on day walks just as an excuse to use it 🙂 The day finished stupendously up on that wonderful ridge in dramatically improving weather, it also highlighted the beauty of doing Wainwrights is in taking you places you wouldn’t normally go; even Alan agreed it had been fun, well mostly:-)

  • The tops can be done from higher up on Newlands Hause, but surely this is better
  • Due to late planning we didn’t realise the usual descent is east down to the road
  • By doing lower hills for once, we had a completely different experience on Sunday
  • Despite conditions I never got the waterproof out, just my trusty Paramo Wind top
  • Beer & food after at Blacksmiths Arms, Talkin; great pint (& cheap) of Brampton ale!
  • This post achieved a new world record for use of the word ‘weather’
  • Apologies for me being in most of the photos this time, shameless posing 🙂

Click on the route map below to view, (needs amending), thanks for reading.

Social Hiking Route Map

Barrow and Outerside plus Ard Crags and Knott Rigg Route Maps – click to view

 

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About MART IN THE HILLS

Hillwalker with dodgy knees and dodgier sense of humour. Lover of the outdoors, Lakes, Highlands, Cheviots, nature, good food, real ale and leaf tea.
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2 Responses to Winter Wainwrights afternoon – Barrow and Outerside plus Ard Crags and Knott Rigg – (inc snow posing tips)

  1. Ray Greenhow says:

    Nice to see you put the time to good use & carried on for Ard Crags and Knott Rigg. Although safe, small fells the views are brilliant. That route up and/or Aikin Knott before Ard Crags is a tough little blighter in wet or icy weather.

    • Mart Lawton says:

      Thanks Ray, we nearly went to the pub instead for a moment sat in the car in the rain. That ascent was very sticky, mix of mud & snow with no escape on the heather either side. Assume better in drier weather?

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