When short of time or there is inclement weather on the higher peaks the south east corner of the Lakes provides some wonderful days out. So when the weather was too good to pack for my imminent ski holiday I set off for Kentmere.
Walk 44 of South Lakeland is a comfortable walk along one side of the Kentmere valley, taking in the Ullstone and dropping down to Kentmere head reservoir. The day we walked the sun shone and there were clear views of the horseshoe ahead and back down the valley to the village. But be warned. It was very wet. The recently reported winter drought in the south certainly hasn’t reached Cumbria. Water pouring down the road into the valley from Staveley was a hint of what was to come. The first stretch of bridleway and ‘green path’ was fine and the only distraction was the necessity to stop and photograph the hills across the valley. Once onto the fell I was amused to read we had to ‘hop over’ a stream! Jump, wade, paddle maybe, but certainly not hop. The water resistance of our boots was well and truly put to the test. The hillside was leaking water in quite spectacular fashion and what were perhaps, in summer, gentle trickles had become quite spectacular torrents. On occasions the paths themselves had become streams and we have to pay tribute to all those who work to keep the access to the fells safe and the paths in good repair as winters like this wash so many of them away.
The rain though does encourage growth and at this time year, when not much else is green, the moss and lichen provide a green hue to the rocks and walls. In Kentmere it was reminiscent of school poster paint, does it still exist? Rather as though it had been mixed with too little water and daubed on rather than painted.
If you are not too keen on climbing hills then there is only once steep stretch, just before the Ullstone. Do make that extra bit of time to go up to the Ullstone too, as from a distance it really is ‘nothing to write home about’ only when you sit under it do you realise how immense it really is and appreciate fully the force of the glacier which put it there.
The Ullstone was a handy shelter for a lunch stop and while there we were treated to a display from five or six skylarks.
Other hardy residents were a small group of fell ponies. Not for them stables and rugs. They were perched on the most exposed slope but exuded health with thick, shiny black coats and manes.
Once round Smallthewaite Knott the wind hit and the mountains suddenly became quite bleak and foreboding. The angular reservoir adding to the effect. The noise of the stream going into the reservoir and Kent leaving it misguidedly led us to think there was a vehicle in the valley by the dam, but it was just the sheer force of water as the river began its journey in a far more raucous way than I am used to seeing it in the Kent Estuary.
The return track is slightly lower in the valley and follows the river for a short way. Hence it was also wet. Thankfully mainly water and not too much mud. There were a few sheep feeding stations along the way, but we were just ignored and the sheep got on with their main interest in life – eating. Enjoy this post – visit here for more.