We were a party of four for this trip - the husband and me, plus my parents. You may remember that my dad is also a walking fanatic (far more so than me, in fact), so we were set for a week with plenty of walking.
We couldn't have asked for a more beautiful setting to spend a week in. We were based in the lovely Wasdale Hall Lodge - a National Trust property with bags of character and plenty of comfort. Not to mention a fantastic location, right next to Wast Water, at the Nether Wasdale end. A step out of the front door brought us into the woods that surround the bottom end of the lake (I know it's not technically a lake, but for my purposes I'll refer to it as one!) and the stunning views up Wast Water to Great Gable, Kirk Fell, and Lingmell, were a one minute walk away.
Walk One: The WasT Water Screes
In a book we discovered at the cottage (Classic Walks in the Lake District, by Walt Unsworth), the walk is described as "not long, but fairly arduous". I'd probably have to agree with this, though I think Unsworth's descriptions were a little dramatic at times in other places, making the scree crossings sound a lot more difficult than they actually turned out to be. (Thankfully, as my mum was a bit scared after reading it!)
The winding path along the shore starts to follow a beck and we eventually came to a bridge and made the crossing, following the beck back to the lake on the other side.
I can imagine the crossing of the Screes in bad weather would be difficult and potentially dangerous. Picking out a path across the boulders on the first Scree was pretty much impossible. It's each man (or woman!) for themselves. Different people will no doubt find different paths easier or harder depending on their stature and sense of balance!
Although the distance isn't great (about 4.5 miles or so), balancing across the Screes meant that this lower level part of our walk took a considerable time, and if you think about doing it I'd recommend taking that into account.
Further towards Wasdale Head, however, the going gets considerably easier and the path is clearly picked out along the later Screes. The higher fells at the end of the lake start to loom large, with Great Gable looking particularly impressive.
(An aside: I've not previously owned a Buff, but they're brilliant. This one acted like a headband-cum-hat, keeping my ears toasty warm and stopping my hair from going everywhere in the wind, which any other walkers with long hair will appreciate the benefits of! In fact, I like it so much, I bought another one later in the week.)
As we came to the end of the Screes, we were faced with a decision. The eventual plan was to return along the top of the Screes, climbing Whin Rigg and Illgill Head, and we soon reached the path that led in that direction. However, we now weren't far from that most illustrious of pubs...the Wasdale Head Inn...and my dad, always a fan of a nice beer, suggested dropping in for a swift one (such a bad influence).
Well, we couldn't resist! So we detoured to the Wasdale Head, and then set out again a pint later. Our path now led up from the valley onto the ridge above the Screes.
The hills above the Screes aren't high, about 500-600m, but to unpracticed legs, which were already tired from the scrambling across the Screes, it was tough going. Particularly the last push up very grassy, boggy slopes. That said, despite the weather taking a bit of a turn, we got some great views.
Eventually we reached the point where a path branched right to take us back down the slope towards the cottage and a nice cup of tea.
Once we were all safely back at lake level, we quickly rejoined the path running back to the bridge, and we were soon back in the woods. A hop, step and a jump had us back at the cottage for hot showers, tea, and a beer or two. Having not done any hillwalking for a while, the husband and I were shattered, but happy, and hoping our legs would be up to more of the same the next day.
Speaking of the next day, look out for the next post which will cover our excursion to Irton Pike.