Sallows & Sour Howes

Date: 02-Mar-2010

Map: Landranger 90, OL7

Weather: Sunshine all day.


From the road near Howtown, contour around Hallin Fell to Sandwick. Then along the shore of Ullswater contouring around the fell. Across to Howtown returning to the car via the base of Steel Fell, then up and down to the summit of Hallin Fell : a gentle 6 miles as measured on memory map.

Some of my acquaintances decided to do the Kentmere Horseshoe today, but I had already been up there and to be honest didn't fancy 14 miles in the snow - the others did and it went very well for them. So I got together with Paul and decided to go to Kentmere but veer off the Garburn Pass to the left instead of the right. Todays route knocked off another two Wainwrights in a very leisurely manner. I arranged to meet at the second lay-by on the A591 after J36 of the M6 - 'by the big white butty van'. By the fourth lay-by I knew my bacon sandwich was just a fantasy, never mind. So I pulled into the side of the road just before the railway crossing at Staveley. The next car along pulled over and out popped three of the guys doing the horseshoe today - they tried to mug me into walking the horseshoe, but despite the temptation I stuck to our plan. Paul turned up shortly afterwards and we drove through Staveley and off and up a very icy and frosty lane to Kentmere.


 todays playground - Sour Howes on the left, Sallows on the right


 looking over to Caudale Moor and Red Screes

It was treacherous to say the least and when we got to the church at Kentmere we were greeted with the sight of ten cars parked tightly in the lane - not much room if the local farmer decided to come out. We managed to squeeze in by the church, the last spaces available here thankfully. The church is a strange looking building, badly rendered but distinct, almost shabby in appearance. As we got booted up more cars were arriving with their occupants ' dohh'. Sallows and Sour Howes were not looking too snowy, just a fresh dusting on top, whereas the horseshoe looked completely covered. The initial route followed the Kentmere Horseshoe route up the lane between stone walls. The walls around here make me smile and were built over whatever got in the way - usually big boulders. The forecast was great again and we had clear blue skies all around, a fantastic start to my walking year. It was the first time I'd used a polarising filter on the camera and it was a while before I'd properly orientated the thing. So I got 50% overexposed pictures. But as they are shot in RAW format it's not so bad and I'm gradually learning from my mistakes.


 Paul with Sour Howes in the background


 the route around to Sour Howes

The walled lane took us up a gentle ascent before passing through a 5 bar gate onto a rubbly track, there were good views of today's objectives ahead. We passed by some big erratics - Badger Rock which must have been named on a moonlit night after being in the pub - nothing like a badger. Sallows and Sour Howes are lumpy bumpy hills reflecting the underlying geology of shale. The old track must have been for traffic between Kentmere and Troutbeck, initially walled then open fellside. The bright sunlight gave the landscape a bleached look with the snow and bare bones of the trees looking brittle, but I could appreciate their form against the sky. As usual Paul was champing at the bit, but at least he waited for me and my camera today, and he promised treasure at the end of the walk - a pie and a pint at the Staveley brewery. As we got higher up the staedy ascent Yoke came into view on our right and we saw the others making their way up the snow covered slopes. As we got to the top of the Garburn Pass the parth zigzags across the slope taking the worst of the sting from the steeper hillside. Behind and below us the landscape glistened in the sprinkled snow, the Kentmere Horseshoe shuffles off to the north to collect many Wainwrights. It must have been very hard work up there today, though it did look very inviting. We didn't have any mishaps today (apart from the camera), just a gentle meander around the hills. We started to get views from further afield and after I'd followed in Pauls footsteps up the snowy slope, some of the big boys hove into view. We watched a jet fly up Troutbeck looking like it was on a collision course for Stoney Cove Pike - and it does fly by very close to the summit there. As we were on the southern edge of the lakes we had views down to the coast at Heysham and Morecambe Bay, over to the Coniston Fells, Scafells, Helvellyn, Red Screes and the Kentmere Horseshoe, with the Pennines beyond. A grand vista once more - I always say that but it's true. I phoned the others to see how they were doing in the snow - very well but very tiring was the reply.


 looking back to Sallows, with Thorntwaite Crag at the head of the Kentmere Horseshoe


 on our way down from Sour Howes


 an old lane near to Croft Head

Sallows is an indistinct blob, with lots of tussocky grass and a well defined route over to Sour Howes. I looked down on Troutbeck Tongue - another of those annoying little hills on Wainwrights list, but sitting in a great amphitheatre of hills.. We crossed over a wall and I got a lovely picture of of the top casting jagged shadows on crisp snow. It was a very easy stroll over to Sour Howes, with the best views behind us, but it's not a good idea to walk backwards generally. So we stopped often and I decided to come back soon and walk up to Caudale Moor at the head of the Troutbeck Valley. We found a nice sheltered spot at the edge of a pine plantation, sat down and had a nice relaxed lunch. We had plenty of time today, and it was good not to get frozen fingers without my gloves on.  From here we generally wandered to the east over lumpy ground that drops down to the valley - signs of old mine working here, and in the distance even the Pennines weren't too shabby today. We dropped down to Park Beck and crossed over to a track, avoiding any wet bits. I finally figured how to use the polarizing filter - derr, and suddenly everything started to look a bit more colourful. - of course it helps if I take my polarising sunglasses off, then I don't get cross wired. It was a good track to follow down to the Kentmere valley and we crossed over a couple of becks with big stepping stones - they must run fast from time to time. A lot of the hillside is covered in bracken, still red but very crumbly and will soon fall to bits.


 zoomed in on Kentmere Church basking in the sunlight


 and a longer shot with the eastern side of the Kentmere Horseshoe behind

The track came down alongside some woods and we turned north to make our way back towards Kentmere Hall. It was really pleasant walking in the cold air and sunshine, and we passed by a craft shop and tea rooms - unfortunately shut. Next along the valley was a small factory producing air conditioning gear - they had painted a yellow line for walkers to follow through the yard. They had a big space behind it and don't know why they don't use it as a car park for the summertime - they'd make a bob or two. Further up the track was an unusual tree, formerly trained as a hedgerow many years ago, it now has many trunks and has grown around an old piece of pipe. Around the corner the Kentmere Horseshoe came into view, with the church sitting on the side of a very distinct dome of land. The views again are great if you ignore the overhead power  lines. Up ahead we passed through a small wood and took the lower path to emerge at Kentmere Hall. It's on the map as an old manor house, the side of which is a Pele tower - a defensive tower with an entrance high off the floor, designed to keep out the maurading Reivers from the north. It looks in good nick as it sits beneath steep crags.


 Ken and his Pele Tower


 the beautiful Kentmere valley

As we were passing by the farm, a well fed farmer called Ken emerged from the hall (Ken of Kentmere no doubt) - a Scot would say ' d'ya no ken Ken of Kentmere....probably...... I nipped over for a chat with Ken -

Me 'Is that a Pele Tower?'

Ken ' a what tower? They used it to keep the Scots out'

Me - 'How old is it'

Ken - Either it's 1340 or 1430....'

Me - 'Is it a listed building?'

Ken - 'Well it tilts a little bit'

After that we had a short walk back up an icy lane to the church at Kentmere. We dumped the bags and took the camera for a quick walk to shoot some pictures further up the valley.. But we couldn't see the full horseshoe, so repaired to the brewery in Staveley where we had a delicious pint, but they'd sold out of pies. But while I went to photograph the falls, Paul nipped next door and when I got back to the car there was a pie on my windscreen - brilliant day, brilliant area, and ooh us northern boys love pies.

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