Plans were afoot in my mind! The usual obsession with the forecast was as present as ever. I was looking at the Pennines. I love this area as it is relatively quiet compared to the Lakes. It has great bird life and lots of frogs as a rule!!
Jude and I met at Penrith – she was walking in with me. We parked at the Cattle grid past Knock half way up the Dun Fell road and shuttled another car up to the Silverband mine turn off. You are not meant to park here but Jude would be back in a few hours.
It was warm and the skylarks were keeping us entertained. We chatted about lots of stuff as we always do. She really is my dearest friend. We are incredibly relaxed in each other’s company.
Soon we were at Silverband. A derelict lead mine. The area is steeped in mining history which is another reason for my love for the area.
We pottered around for a short while listening to the frog chorus in the old settling ponds. They were funny. Desperate for pictures we tiptoed around trying to get close but each time we were outsmarted and our vibration soon made the little buggers dive for cover!
Jude’s eyes were fixed downwards as always looking for baryte and galena samples. There is a lot of mineral just lying around up here and the trained eye can find some nice bits! (I have turned Jude into a magpie!)I found some nice bits by smashing rocks open…Jude’s eyes were lit up by the shiny galena…She filled her pockets as per usual! I was carrying too much weight as it was so I let her have it all 🙂
The breeze was nice but it was really warm as yomped over the pathless section to the Pennine Way paving slabs. We met a solo walker here, a lady, she was lovely! Really chatty and very like Jude and I.
We were now on the Pennine way path that goes over Little Dun Fell towards Cross Fell. The walking is a little easier here. We were soon surveying the path ahead to our high point. Snow still capped the escarpment around the front of the fell-good for water for later I thought! We made the descent to Crowdundle Head-Yes! What a name for a spot. Jude was looking at her phone as there is a Geocache up here. It was a good 300m off our path so we saved oi for next time.. We came across a ton of spawn here and loads of frogs. Fascinating little critters. We stayed a while and watched them swimming. Jude took some pictures whilst I stood looking up to the cairn that marks the escarpment. They are huge obelisks; pretty necessary up here as it’s a fearsome place in bad weather or winter. We passed the marker stone that crosses the path running East to West.
It’s very beautiful.Soon we were at the Plateau and heading for the summit. Curlews and Golden Plovers joined the chorus with the Skylarks in the late afternoon sun.. It was beautiful to hear; this would be mu company for the evening. It was hazy but very calm when we approached the shelter and there wasn’t a soul about. Perfect.
I sat my pack down and we went Geocache hunting-after a quick bite to eat and drink! (we had stopped for cake at Kirkby Thore village shop!) Very nice it was too-though Jude managed to inhale ginger sugar off hers and nearly choked…. very funny for me!
We soon found the cache and J signed her name in the book. I looked for snow to melt. It was within easy distance for later. Soon we were heading back to the summit as Jude needed to go. L We had a big hug and she turned toward big cairn and headed off. I felt sad watching her go but I was content, we’d had a good day. She turned and waved and then disappeared over the edge and on her way.
For me it was quiet time. I set up my kitchen and started thinking about dinner. I had a nip of Baileys to make a coffee….mmmmm! Soon the Jetboil was fired up and I was busying myself with dinner. I had opted to bivvy right by the trig point. The ground was flat and there were loads of flat gritstone slabs for cooking on. The coffee was nice; I love Baileys!! It was warm! I was sitting in a vest top. Fantastic, no wind and n midges as it’s too early. It was brilliant. It felt super exposed. The winds were due to remain very light so I had no reason to tuck in. It was really hazy which was a shame as the fells were barely visible, still, it was very beautiful and the sunset was looking promising. Soon I was sitting with my back against the trig point, having made a little seat, wine was in hand and the sun was dropping. There wasn’t a sound but for the haunting whistle if the Plovers. Such a lovely sound. I was feeling very relaxed….
I took a few shots on the iPhone and git the camera out. I had a bit of fun taking shots on top of the summit shelter and trig (for the record, I didn’t dislodge any rocks from the shelter and was very careful not to do ant damage!). I also found a large pile of snow that has never been exposed to the sun. Loads of brews for me!
I wandered around with my wine and camera waiting for the sun to finally drop. The colours were incredible.
As the sun disappeared the moon was already high in the sky. It was stunning. I found a heart shaped rock too 🙂
Soon it was hot chocolate time… As the light faded I fired up the Jetboil for the last time and sat listening to the last sorrowful piping of the birds. I rested my back against the trig and started up at the night sky. The stars started to appear and the moon illuminated the ground around me. It has to be the quietest place I have ever bivvied. It was eerily silent. I shivered as the cold started to creep in; my bag already had a light sheen on it, it was promising to be a chilly night. Soon I was engulfed in down. Bringing the winter bag was a good call! I lay gazing at the stars, 2 shooting stars split the night sky and countless satellites wheeled overhead as my eyes closed…
I woke after sunrise!!! I’m rubbish. I sleep far too well on the hill. The absence of the wind makes for such quiet that it’s hard not to sleep well!
My bag was well frosted and the air was cold. I sat up and looked around, reluctant to go for a wee J needs must though. Soon breakfast was on and coffee was being served. The weather was perfect again. It was warm in the sun and I was looking forward to hike back to the car.
The birds were in good voice again and I sat listening to them hugging my Sea to Summit mug! I laid out my kit in the sun as there was a bit of condensation on my bag. The prototype Xero is a great bit of kit and when it goes to production will be a great winter bag. A few more pictures and it was time to pack up. I did my usual ‘ram everything in and sort it out at home pack!’ J
Soon I was treading the same path as Jude the precious night. It really is a stunning spot. The views were incredible. Miles of unspoilt moorland. I know that the ‘Golfball’ is a bit of a blot on the landscape but it actually doesn’t bother me!
I would choose a different route back as my car was further down the fell. I picked out the old mine track from Crowdundle head that circumnavigates Little Dun Fell and heads straight for Silverband Mine. It was tough going. It’s not really a track as I soon found out. It was pretty much 2 km on boggy tussock grass-good training though!!!! As I cursed my way along I took a few pics of the mosses etc. The sheltered side of the fell was still very frosty and really pretty. Luckily the ground was fairly frozen or wet feet may have been served up!!
I was soon at the shake holes under the mine and on better ground. I chose to descend via the old aerial ropeway as oppose the service road for the comms station (Golf Ball), I figured it would be better on the knees! It was steep and difficult ground but held lots of interest with me due to the history. There were also lots of polls to check for frogs and spawn!! I was soon at the beck crossing and then the last steep pull to the car… I was tired and the last bit was slow. I was at the car at last. It had been a quality trip and I never saw a soul!!!