Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Cross Fell from Langwathby 25.3.11

''Cross Fell, Cumbria. The highest point in England outside of the Lake District.'' Well that sold me. I'd been hunting for a new peak to scale, and this seemed a good climb. I'd be going by train, of course, and the nearest station I could see was Langwathby. This would then be followed by a trek to the village of Kirkland, which seemed the usual start to the ascent. Langwathby I worked out to being about 5 miles from the foot of Cross Fell. So I did consider getting a taxi from the station to Kirkland, especially as the train would take 2 hours to get from Leeds! 
Section 1 
Langwathby - Kirkland
So the day came around. It was my last day of holiday, and the weather forecast was good! I bought my ticket at the station, £24, not bad considering the distance, and got the 08:59 Carlisle train. The train was packed with hikers, and the scenery was epic as the train snaked it's way through the Yorkshire Dales and up into Cumbria. The train slowly became more or less empty by the time we got past Kirkby Stephen, and I was beginning to think I really haven't planned this particularly well. Appleby went by, with some good views across the Eden Valley towards Dufton Pike, the High Cup Nick area, and up towards the flanks of Cross Fell.
 Eventually the train arrived at Langwathby at just after 11:00! On the platform, the view was obscured by a high field, so I walked out onto the edge of the A686. I turned right and walked up the steep road, which levelled out after about 200 yards revealing a very distant looking Cross Fell. The taxi instantly sprung to mind, it looked mileage!! But I thought at the end of the day, I'm here to walk, and train for the Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge I've applied for in July. At the most it can only be five mile's off, as I'd worked out on Google Earth! How long will it take to walk that, 2hrs? And the weather was amazing for March, pretty hot too. So I carried on walking up the A686, and came to the junction with some old signs, one indicating Kirkland, 4¾ mile!
 I turned right here and a distant Cross Fell came back into view...
The road goes ever on, but what a morning, beautiful...

Section 2
Kirkland - Cross Fell summit and return
Eventually making it to Kirkland at 12:30, I was pretty impressed with that! Time for a sit down, and drink of ice cold water out side St Lawrence's Church, which seemingly is the traditional start to the ascent of Cross Fell.
Now, according to my route, you walk up the steps of the church yard, and across towards the church door, not across the grave yard!!! So after getting to the church door, the route became confusing, or at least it did to a simple lad meself! Basically I made my way across a field behind the church, and then cut left towards a farm called Bank Hall.
Just after taking this pic, I found myself walking through a busy cow shed, this couldn't possibly be the correct way surely? I came out onto the yard of the farm, where the lane leading up to it was a public bridleway, which led from the road leading into Kirkland. This would have been a much more straight forward route!
Anyway heading across the farm yard, and past the house, the track leads up onto the higher pastures...
Carry on up onto the pasture, and follow the path, pretty much straight across the field...
Keep going and eventually the edge of Cross Fell comes into view...
After continuing over this area of boggy ground you come to a gate, before the main ascent starts. Turn right after you've passed through the gate... 
Make your way up the steep grassy slope, watching out for a well trodden path which juts up sharply to the left, as shown here...
Looking back at the route just taken, note the jut from the track...
Now the pathway cut across the edge of High Cap, see if you can spot the random wind sock...
Great view at this point of 'the Black Gates'...
Now the path becomes more rugged and gets pretty steep...
Continue on the main path which remains the steepest, there are other paths at this point. I took the steepest, which seen below curls around to the left...
Now the path levels out a little, but comes out onto the most boggy ground I've walked across yet. Be very careful across this! Note the cairn in the distance, at the top of the pic below. You now need to follow these cairns, which kind of act as way markers...
When you reach the cairn here, the 'cap' of Cross Fell comes into sight...
A large cairn is the next target on the path, this is where you branch slightly right...
Follow the now a little bit more distinctive path keeping the 'cap' on your right...
 In the above pic you can still see snow still clearly visible on the northern slopes of Cross Fell summit. You now come to another much more ornate cairn, turn right here up a pretty clear track, again watching out for the boggy ground!
Continue walking upwards, eventually onto the scree of the summit plateau...
As you scale this rocky area, some more cairns come into view up ahead, which stand on the edge of the summit plateau...
Cross Fell summit Trig Point 893 metres (2930ft)...
Stood on the x-shaped wind shelter, I got this shot looking towards Great Dunn Fell, with its tell tale 'Golf Ball' radar station on its summit...
Unfortunately it was a bit hazy, so you couldn't see to much from the summit. Here's a few shots...
Time for the descent, it's a long walk back to Langwathby! Is that a song?
On the Eden Valley side of Cross Fell the weather was great. On the opposite side, it was looking a bit dull..
Making a quick descent, looking towards Brown Hill/Muska Hill...
The weather gets a bit more dramatic above the Black Gates...
And returning back onto the lower pastures...
Looking back on 'High Cap' and 'Wild Boar Scar' with Cross Fell centre...
Cuns Fell...
Old Lime Kiln...
This time I cut through Bank Hall farmyard avoiding the cowshed, and walked down the lane towards the road that leads into Kirkland...
Now for the long road walk back to Langwathby!...
Looking back at Cross Fell...
Point proved as to why this can be a dangerous place, as the weather quickly starts to swamp the Fell. Cross Fell is prone to hill fog and fierce winds at any time of year...
And then gone.... yes it really is under that cloud...
If it was like this when I arrived, I'd probably have gone home in belief that the Fell is somewhere else! 
And finally back to Langwathby station...
Overall, a tough old slog at 18.7 miles. But I'll be back one day so I can scale Great Dunn Fell too!
Thanks for reading.
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