|Outline Map →||Route file →|
Date: 23 Jan 2005
Start / Finish: Seathwaite in Borrowdale. Good roadside parking.
Maps: Explorer OL4 & OL6: English Lakes North West & South West.
|Day 1||Great End & Allen Crags||6 miles / 3380 feet (9.7km / 1030m)|
|Day 2||The Glaramara ridge||6 miles / 970 feet (9.7km / 295m)|
Another fine circuit of the South Borrowdale mountains, with a profusion of delightful small tarns to add to the interest.
From the road end at Seathwaite the farm track leads S to Stockley Bridge, where we crossed Grains Gill and followed the well worn path to the footbridge and the path that climbs alongside the gorge of Ruddy Gill. Although most of the path was dry, there were a few delicate manoeuvres around the icy cascades that punctuated progress. Arriving at the towering crags of Great End, we turned R down the main highway to Sprinkling Tarn where we were first exposed to the biting northerly wind, but it had cleared the air very effectively, rendering the tarn a deep blue.
At the col we turned L to follow the corridor route, crossing the chasm of Skew Gill where a party of apparently inexperienced walkers were being encouraged up the partly ice-encrusted climb out on the far side. The first objective was the rarely visited tarn of Lambfoot Dub, and the trick is judging where to leave the path and take to the slopes (220087). A shallow rocky rib slants up towards the L side of a prominent rounded knoll and the tarn is at the top of this, with Broad Crag towering beyond. Further up past the stream head and to the R is the first mountain top of the day, Round How, which is gained by a short climb and gives a fine view of the surrounding higher mountains.
Returning to the stream head, we climbed E following Greta Gill, collecting water en route, to the col where the sudden icy wind nearly blew us over. After a brief ascent we tacked along the stony plateau to the summit of Great End and a grand mountain vista. Descending to Esk Hause and the cross-shaped windshelter, the leeward side was half filled with snow but it afforded enough shelter to put on our down jackets in comfort before the final short ascent to Allen Crags. The pitch we chose last time was well blasted by the wind, but we found another good spot just below the summit which was sheltered from most of it. In the decreasing temperatures, clouds were gathering on the highest tops, illuminated in greys and oranges by the sinking sun.
When we were here a few weeks ago, we had a snowstorm and thick mist, and it was disheartening to hear snow on the tent again in the night. However when we opened the frost encrusted door, it was one of those great moments that define what pitching in the mountains is all about:- a thin fresh covering of snow, a mainly clear sky and a silvery amber full moon bathing the dark snow-flecked mountain shapes in a pale light. After breakfast we lingered here a while, watching the evolving dawn light and changing appearance of the landscape. The wind had eased down considerably in the night.
The first of a string of summits on the Glaramara ridge is the slabby tor of High House Tarn Top, where the most exquisite tarn lies at the foot of the cliffs above the main path and made all the more picturesque by the icy patterns, as were the many tarns on the ridge inviting closer exploration. The ridge path descends to the larger High House Tarn and we then climbed steeply up over icy rock at the base and then more easily to the next summit Red Beck Top. Another steep descent and climb gains the rockpile of Looking Steads, where there are fine views from the large rock at the summit.
The two tops of Glaramara lie ahead, where the West top is the true summit. The steep rocky staircase from the East summit was a river of ice, so we descended the easier slopes northwards from the tarn between the summits and curved eastwards to another set of lovely frozen tarns and the next top Combe Head. There is a grand view from the edge of the cliffs, which we followed eastwards a short way then dropped down R to a thin path through a rake of rock and grass. This descends to Combe Door, where there is another tarn that makes a perfect foreground to the view northwards between the rocks.
From the tarn, the higher top on the L is the next summit, Combe Door Top. Picking our way down E, we joined a thin path that meanders along the ridge and passes close to the penultimate rocky summit of Dovenest top which lies to the L, where there are fine views of the North-Western fells and ahead to the imposing rock tower on the last summit Rosthwaite Fell. The path curves around to the base of the rocks, where an easy ascent can be found after some exploration!. Tarn at Leaves can be seen below to the NE.
Descending towards the tarn and before reaching the shore, a path heads W around the base of the slopes and slants down steeply NW to Combe Gill, which is easily forded on boulders. Joining the path on the far side, we turned R through the gate to the farm track that leads to the road. The Allerdale Ramble route leads directly back to Seathwaite.