- The Watendlath Fells  -

Date & Time: Wednesday 12th Sept 2007. 10.45 am start. ( NY 276 163 )

Location of Start : The National Trust car park, Watendlath, Cumbria, Uk.

Places visited : Blea Tarn, Low Saddle, High Saddle (Coldbarrow Fell), Ullscarf, Standing Crag, Bell Crag, Armboth Fell, High Tove, Watendlath.

Walk details : 8.1 mls, 2150 ft of ascent, 6 hrs 15 mins.

Highest point : Ullscarf 2381 ft ( 726m )

Walked with : Jo and John, Ann and all the dogs.

Weather : A fine day which got better as the day continued. A few clouds returned later.


Walking companions pause on the way to Blea Tarn.


Today's walk would start at Watendlath which is a delightful hamlet and valley high on the eastern side of the main Borrowdale Valley.

To reach it we drove past Derwent Water, choosing the Catbells side rather than drive through Keswick and take the lakeside road.

On a day like today we could certainly be accused of being "spoilt for choice".

Derwent Water in the sunlight

with Skiddaw, Blencathra, and to the right Walla Crag.

A slight delay as one, two, tree fellas were cutting back the trees !
Start of the walk - the stile at Watendlath.

Eager to get going, and fighting each other to be first over the stile.

Watendlath Farm, very much a working sheep farm but also"literary home" for Judith Paris of the Herries Chronicle books.

Today the valley is owned by the National Trust and it was their car park we used at the start of the walk.

Two boats fish for trout on Watendlath Tarn below

and beyond, the high central fells start to appear as we begin our climb up from the valley.

Great Gable, Honister, High Stile and Dale Head form the backdrop to this photo.

Great Crag is the heather covered purple-ish fell in the middle distance, as we pause briefly whilst passing Brimming Knott.

Ahead lay Ullscarf, hidden behind the darker peak of Low Saddle.

We would need to pass Blea Tarn and climb this minor peak first before reaching the first of today's major fells.

Blea Tarn as we approach from the north.

A small outlet stream flows past us towards Watendlath.

I'm not sure of the historic meaning of the name Blea Tarn but it would certainly be a bleak place on a cold winter's day.

Fortunately today was the very opposite of winter as the sunshine warmed the landscape.

Harry and Bethan pose on one of the boulders overlooking the tarn.

Dog training . . . . . STAY !!!

Well they stayed for a short while, long enough for the photo, but it was time to continue on our way.

Looking east now as we climb we get our first views of the Helvellyn Range.

The true meaning of Blea Tarn is "The Blue Tarn", as revealed by this small panorama.

Low Saddle, the darker minor summit in a previous photo was in bright sunshine as we arrived.

We could walk around the side of it's rocky summit, but you could also enjoy a short scramble up the front if you wished.

From the top - fine views of Fairfield, with Dollywagon Pike to the left and Seat Sandal to the right.

As we had traversed below the ridge most of the way up

our eyes had constantly been drawn to the Watendlath Valley.


Now from this elevated position

the lake was once again in view, but this time with Derwent Water

and Bassenthwaite Lake

disappearing away into the distance.

Bass Lake, and Low Saddle from the minor cairn on High Saddle, just a little further on.

Smiling faces as Jo, and ourselves, reach Ullscarf summit. This is her 209th summit of 214.

For us it is third time lucky . . . both previous times that we have been up here we have been shrouded in thick mist, so today is the first time we have been rewarded with a great view.

Click here or on the photo for an annotated 360 panorama . . . to celebrate our success.

This is the western view again as we return along the old fence line towards High Saddle.

A passing high cloud casts a shadow on us but not on the distant fells.

Sunshine on a very distant window of the National Park Blencathra Centre reflects like a searchlight

as both John and I stop to capture the unusual event.

All this walking has made us hungry, so we find a sheltered spot on Standing Crag where we can enjoy lunch without adding an extra layer of clothing.

Inverted posts are tied to the old iron uprights as the fence crosses the crag.

Beyond is High Tove, High Seat, Bleaberry Fell and the distant Skiddaw.

Lunch with a view . . . of Clough Head and St Johns in the Vale.

Helvellyn above and Thirlmere below.

The felling of the roadside trees has improved the view for the motorist, but makes the road stand out more when viewed from this side of the lake.

Our route has effectively circumnavigated Blea Tarn, albeit at a distance.

We look down on the major tarn, and two un-named minor tarns below, that we aim to pass as soon as we leave the crag.

This minor tarn is on the boundary of two sections of fell, so the fence line crosses straight through, undeterred by the deep water.

An Otter ?

No it's just Polly, struggling out of the steep side of this small tarn.

Harry has been in for a swim too - stand clear.
Standing Crag and calm waters again as we leave the pool behind.

A slight diversion from the ridge-top route takes Jo and ourselves over to Bell Crags.

Armboth, our next objective, is temporarily in shadow above this rather fine sheepfold.

Perhaps the reason for the abundance of good stone was the adjacent old quarry shown on the OS Map.

An old but very small quarry working . . .
. . . and an old building utilising quarried stone and natural rock.

The disused quarry on Bell Crags appeared very small and very abandoned, but had recently provided the local shepherd with a useful supply of stone.

There was no sign of major production here, nor a trackway in or out of the small quarry workings.

On the way across, John reminded us of the time he climbed the Lauchy Gill Waterfalls from the Thirlmere road below.

This is the top if Lauchy Gill. If you look very carefully in the centre you can see the minute Lauchy Tarn as a brief widening in the small stream !

Ah . . . Armboth Fell, a rock outcrop on the heather covered rise, on this side of the fell.

This is another of Wainwright's less auspicious fells - not a major summit but a minor bump on the side of an otherwise featureless hillside. It is the fell summit associated with the old village of Armboth below, but perhaps it is not a great favourite of some due to its boggy surroundings. For us though it is a great little fell and one of the many good reasons to climb the 214 . . . it gets you to some places that you wouldn't otherwise think of going . . . and along the way introduces you to all the delights and the many aspects that contribute to the charm that makes the Cumbrian Fells special.

Now to tackle that slightly notorious boggy ground.

Our route starts clearly enough as it makes it's way from the lower right to the centre, then across to the summit of High Tove opposite.

A windy sky and some thick high cloud adds drama above, but shadow below, as we cross the marshy ground.

The recent weather has meant the surface is reasonably dry, but the long grass is still a problem.

These dramatic skies are building towering, high clouds above the fells

as we reach the flat ground and cairn of High Tove summit.

A short walk down now, back to Watendlath, using the well restored path from High Tove.

Contrast the hazy shadows of late afternoon with the bright sunlight in the earlier photos.

After a fine walk there has to be a refreshment stop !

Watendlath Tea Rooms had closed early so we made it over to Grange village

where we sat out in the late afternoon sunshine and enjoyed a rather nice cream tea to end our day's walk.

- - - o o o - - -

Technical note: Pictures taken with a Canon Ixus Digital camera.

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

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Previous walk - 8th September 2007 Knott Rigg, Ard Crags at sunset

A previous time up here - 4th March 2006 Eagle Crag, Sergeants Crag and High Raise in the snow

Next walk - 13th September 2007 Dove Crag and Priest's Hole Cave