Oak Cottage - Loweswater

Retreat to the quiet of the Western Lakes

The Cottage, and  the view up the Buttermere Valley
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Date : Saturday 5th March 2005. 1pm start from Honister ( Map ref: NY 225 135) to Dale Head, possibly further.

Occasion : An afternoon walk in search of the snow at the head of Buttermere Valley in Cumbria, Uk.

Walk details : Barely 3 miles, with 1400 ft of ascent, almost 3hours, including a brief thermos stop.

Weather : Clear but grey, with a high cloud base at 3000 ft. but blustery snow showers increasing as the afternoon progressed. Stiff NE wind and freezing cold in the snow - which found us rather than the other way round!

photo: the snow line on Glaramara from above Honister with Allan Crags and Bowfell behind.


The Helvellyn Range from Clough head to Helvellyn's summit itself. High Raise middle distance to the right.

During this extended cold spell of weather the fell tops have been consistently white for several weeks. We haven't had the deep snows of the east coast but nevertheless what has fallen at high level has stayed.

Conditions underfoot were apparently difficult as the thin covering of snow often hid patches of ice, and the thaw and refreeze gave what small snowdrifts there were a crusty topping which was difficult to walk on. So much for the forecast, what of the reality ?

Leaving the green grass of the valley we climbed steadily up towards Dale Head and into the snow at about 1200 ft. The clouds were high but grey and full of "north-eastern promise". The colours were all shades of black and white with Ann's coat and rucksack providing a brief splash of colour.

Honister Crags, Pillar behind, and the High Stile Ridge grey under leaden skies.

Gaps in the cloud gave sunshine over the coast, but very little over the fells.

The north-easterly was sending blustery winds and swirls of snow across the fells as we climbed.

Sometimes we were caught in the gusts which brought the dogs scurrying back to us.

Sometimes, as here, they passed below us with impressive little vortices of spindrift in their wake.



A more consistent shower hid the valley below.


Dale Head summit, clear of the snow showers for a time.

The top was quite busy due to the predictable snow conditions and the fact it was a Saturday and hence a non-working day for many people.

Looking north west to the Solway.

Once the blustery showers passed over, the visibility improved and on occasions the sun shone through a gap in the clouds to illuminate the outlying fells.

Newlands Valley from Dale Head . . .

with another snow storm making its way up the valley.


Poor visibility towards Hindscarth and Robinson


Sunshine on Sail and Eel Crags

from a snow filled gully on Dale Head plateau.

Study in Black and White.

Hindscarth from Hindscarth Edge.

Rather than drop down the icy path and commit ourselves to a longer walk, we decided to turn at this point and make our way slowly back to the car at Honister.

The conditions under foot were as forecast, especially on the main pathways where the compacted snow had turned to ice.

Off the path the snow gave a reasonably good grip.



The view back as we turned to retrace our steps.

The Maiden Moor, High Spy ridge and Dale Head summit itself.


We cut the corner back towards Honister and so left the main route.

Rediscovering it lower down was made easier by watching for the boundary fence posts.


This was Harry and Bethan's first taste of a real snow storm.


Honister Crags on our way back down.

Dropping 600 feet was like changing seasons, the snow had gone, the blizzards had ended and everything was different.

A second change of seasons just half an hour later in Loweswater - blue sky and sunshine over Whiteside.

The head of the valley was still experiencing the blustery showers and snow but back home it was almost a case of sorting which gardening job to do next . . . or perhaps put the kettle on first !

- - - o o o - - -

Technical note: Pictures taken with a Canon IXUS 400 Digital camera.

Resized in Photoshop, and built up on a Dreamweaver web builder.

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