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" Dale Head down to Buttermere "
Date & start time: 24th March 2021. 11.30 am start. ( A linear, two-car walk )
Location of Start : NT Car Park, Honister Slate Mine, Cumbria, Uk. ( NY 225 136 )
Places visited : Dale Head, Hindscarth, Robinson, High Snockrigg, Buttermere.
Walk details : 6.6 mls, 2451ft of ascent, 3160ft of decent, 4 hours 15 mins.
Highest point : Dale Head, 2,473ft - 753m..
Walked with : Martin, myself and just one dog, Dougal.
Weather : The weather was colder and windier and the rain earlier than forecasted.
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The forecast for today was better than the last few days - reasonably high cloud, lighter winds, drier and warmer than of late.
In the event, the altitude of the high fells reduced all the positives downward
but we still ended up with a good walk despite the strong wind, the sharp finger-numbing cold and yes, some rain at the end !
A bright morning and a classic picture of the Buttermere Pines but this time with two added extras.
Apparently, clocking in and buying a ticket makes an internal financial transfer at the Nation Trust head office
so that the Cumbrian region gets slightly more allocation of central funds, thereby reflecting the number of extra members visiting the area.
We're heading up the fence line from the mine buildings, on a straight route to the top of Dale Head, hopefully the first of three summits today.
My fellow climber today is once again my neighbour Martin from Loweswater.
Still quiet as the mine is closed to the general public for just a little while longer,
but the previously furloughed mine workers have already returned to work and are mining slate once again.
At the end of the middle roadway there are two small yellow dots which are vehicles at the main entrance to the mine.
A steady climb brings warmer internal temperatures to our bodies and increasingly wide views to our eyes,
but the outside wind is getting colder and stronger as we climb.
Sculpture or history . . . I think it is the former. [ Photo by Martin ]
A short stroll east from the summit and we can look down on the green fields of Upper Borrowdale.
Raising our sights, we look over Watendlath's Grange Fell, High Tove and Armboth, to the Helvellyn summit some 7.5 miles away.
A couple of fellow walkers have stopped for their lunch slightly down the slope and out of the wind.
The Maiden Moor and High Spy ridge . . . Martin walked these himself recently
so was intrigued to see them from a different perspective this time.
The wider view from the summit . . . the eighteenth Wainwright top of his recent walking career !
Catching the distant sunlight is the conical summit of Grisedale Pike.
Below us is the remains of the Dale Head mine workings and the zig zag path leading to them from below.
The path does continue on up past the old mine and enables you to climb of Dale Head direct from the valley.
While we are talking about mines, the sunshine is just about to shine
on the old grey mine tailings of the Goldscope Mine at the foot of the Scope End ridge. This was an important Cumbrian mine
and was renowned for producing good measures of Gold in addition to lead and other metal ores which it extracted from underground.
It's cold so we don't stay long. Instead we head out for our next objective, the summit of Hindscarth.
The high level path drops down from Dale Head and at the junction ahead ahead of us we'll take a right towards our next top.
Where the path approaches closest to the edge we can get a fine view down into Gatesgarthdale. [ Photo by Martin ]
The road and river from Honister share the valley floor, both heading for Buttermere, one for the village the other for the lake.
The path takes us above the snow line . . . well what's left of it !
It is not over-large but you just have to divert for the photo don't you,
especially as I can't show you the wind-chill temperature on screen.
Looking back as we approach Hindscarth summit.
That path that climbs up past the old Dale Head Mine can be seen more clearly as it crosses the face of the Dale Head.
It joins the skyline about half way up the ridge from Dale Head Tarn (out of sight to the left) and the summit.
We touched the summit stones, but walked further on to the rather larger wind shelter, a few hundred yards down the slope of Scope End.
It provides better views and a more efficient respite from today's cold winds for our lunchtime stop. [ Photo by Martin ]
As we sit and enjoy our lunch, the dappled sunshine moves across the valley illuminating each of the Newlands Valley ridges in turn.
Zooming in onto Catbells which stands out out above the darker flanks of Maiden Moor.
Lunch over we face the walk back to the summit of Hindscarth with the cold breeze in our faces once again.
Comment was passed at lunchtime as to how the summit vegetation still looks wintery, in these cold winds I'm not surprised !
From the top we turn and past the 'Hackney Holes' landslip on the left (behind the fence).
The flat platforms set down below the ridge line are a result of glacial undermining and subsequent destabilisation of the soil.
To our right as we leave Hindscarth is Little Dale Valley, its narrow exit beautifully illuminated by the sun.
Behind it is the iconic undulating summit of Causey Pike, recognisable from so many places in The Lakes.
Moving forward, looking back.
The slope is steeper than it looks and during a break for a photo of Honister and the mine there's also chance to catch an extra breath.
A large cairn on the path, but it just denoted the turning point for our third summit of the day, Robinson.
The smallest of summit shelters sits upon Robinson's summit. [ Photo by Martin ]
Then the smallest of summit cairns sits upon the top wall of the small shelter.
A summit photo is delayed so as to get Dougal in the picture.
[ Dylan is back home with Shelagh in Loweswater finishing his final few days of "light walking" following a skin tag removal.]
Rannerdale Knotts ahead with Mellbreak and the Loweswater Fells away to the left.
There's no distinct path here so we'll follow the fence down for a while then branch off to High Snockrigg.
Many walkers leaving Robinson have used a different path to cut the corner and so walk directly to High Snockrigg via Buttermere Moss.
We've followed the path that keeps closer to the edge of the Buttermere Valley.
That way we have a drier path and better views.
Such as this one over Goat Crag and down the Hassness Valley ravine to Buttermere below.
The stream opposite is Combe Beck flowing out of Burtness Comb from under the High Stile/High Crag Ridge.
The wider view over Buttermere Village as Crummock Water comes back into view.
An altogether smaller dimension for the scattering of tarns on High Snockrigg plateau.
Once again there is a profusion of frog spawn,
with literally thousands of clumps of eggs covering about quarter of the tarn - amazing !
The frogs up here have got so carried away
that one has laid eggs on a patch of damp sphagnum moss next to the path just a little further on.
We reach the flattish summit of High Snockrigg and look down on the village
The Mill Beck has cut a deep valley between ourselves and Rannerdale Knotts,
a fact not obvious from my earlier photo from the Robinson fence line.
Making our way down the 'peat track' that joins the Buttermere Moss to the village below.
The track would have been used in the old days to transport peat from the top Moss to use as fuel for cooking and heating.
Sadly the visibility is getting poorer as the early evening precipitation has arrived sooner than forecasted.
The track zig-zags its way down just above the top of a gully that drains the side of the fells.
This is the the only difficult bit of the descent, as the stream has eroded the surface from the track adjacent to the steep drop.
Just a little further down the green path regains its stature . . . much more suitable for man and peat-carrying beast.
In passing I point out the only grave in Buttermere to Martin.
Special dispensation was gained by Mr Nicholas Size of the Victoria Inn (now the Bridge Hotel) to be buried in the valley he loved.
He was the hotel proprietor and a famous local historian. His book "The Secret Valley" all about the area is well worth searching out to read.
[ I have a copy in the Loweswatercam Lending Library, available to borrow at very reasonable terms !]
The peat track path ends next to the tarmac of the Buttermere Newlands Pass road.
The grey road is looking rather darker than earlier, due to the light rain that shared the valley
as we walked the final two hundred yards to Martin's car at the end of the walk.
- - - o o o - - -
Dougal was a bit perplexed at getting into a strange car with no estate back for him to jump into.
Still, when dad sat in the front seat and we were underway his understanding improved and a smile returned.
All was right with the world !
It just remains to take a picture of the Buttermere Pines
as I get chauffeured back up to Honister Pass to fetch the car we left there at the start of the walk.
- - - o o o - - -
Technical note: Pictures generally taken with my Panasonic Lumix Gx8 Camera.
Resized in Photoshop, and built up on a Dreamweaver web builder.
This site best viewed with . . . a raincoat packed for virtually every trip.
Previous walk - 17th March - The Matterhorn and the Pine
A previous time up here - 28th August 2013 - Dale Head to Buttermere Walk
Next walk - 26th March - Spring, down by the Riverside