A day of peripatetic bagging in the eastern and central Lake District. This trip was a shameless one for bagging. Three Marilyns in this case.
The first was Grayrigg Forest, a hill at 494m (1,621ft) that stands just west of the M6 and Kirkby Stephen. The weather did not look too promising as I descended over the Pennines into thick fog. I drove parallel to the M6 south from Tebay and turned up a no through road at SD 607015 where there was parking just before a gate.
It was a pleasant enough start in the gloom as I went 500m along a narrow continuation of the road. Sheep loomed out of the grey. I then turned left (south) and commenced the climb first over close cropped grass and the later over rougher ground as the slope steepened. There was a wall to cross and the sheep were left behind.
As I continued up to the west of Birk Knott the atmosphere became lighter. Not too long later I was emerging above the fog with blue sky above. Eventually near the wall running from Birk Knott I found the faint trace of a vehicle track. I followed that for a short while and then broke to my right on to the plateau-like top where the trig stood proud at the far end.
Snow covered hills lined up along the western arc. The sea of mist swirled beneath with some communications masts popping through on nearby bumps. To the south east the Howgills were prominent. The air was still but still a little chilly.
I stayed perhaps 15 minutes and walked back down into the damp cloud.
Next on the agenda was Claife Heights, somewhat lower that Grayrigg Forest at 270m (886ft). This hill is located in a quieter part of the Lake District on the western side of Lake Windermere, more or less opposite the town of Windermere itself.
This required a drive around the north end of the Lake through Ambleside to a car park at Red Nab. There was still mist over the Lake when I left the car. A private road continued to Belle Grange from where a bridleway headed up west. This provided a pleasant wooded approach.
I then turned south at its junction with the footpath signed to Far Sawrey. From here there was quite a bit of forestry activity with trees fallen across the path and the path was quite wet. This was as a result of the storms that had hit the Lake District particularly hard. Eventually the path passed through a wall and there were some more trees to hurdle before a final short rise to the clearing in which the trig point and summit rocks.
Being surrounded by trees there is no real view from here. But it was pleasant sitting in the sun with the fog having by now lifted and broken up. This is a quiet hill, at least in its upper parts and I just saw one couple at the top. I returned by taking the footpath to the forestry road to the north. I followed this to its junction with the bridleway back down to Belle Grange. This was very wet for a while but it got a lot better as the gradient increased back down to the lake shore.
Finally there was a short hop west to Holme Fell. This is another diminutive hill at 317m (1,040ft) but it packs a punch in terms of views with the length of Coniston Water together with the Coniston Fells spread out to the south, the Langdale Pikes to the north west and Helvellyn and Fairfield to the north and east.
I started from Holme Ground, up to the bridleway and followed a path up just beyond a gate. This led, more or less, to the summit. I visited the three bumps in the summit area, the southern one (the true summit) with the best view along Coniston Water. I went back the same way – a 50 minute round trip. Not much effort for some superb views.