Claife Heights, 13th April 2006

The first day of the Easter break of 2006 saw the weather dawn cold, breezy and showery. I decided to tackle a relatively unambitious walk in an area I'd pretty much neglected up to now, and decided to climb Claife Heights on the western shore of Windermere. Much of the walk is in woodland and I reasoned that the tree cover would provide some shelter from the occasional outbreaks of rain that were expected. I caught a bus from Kendal to Bowness and had to wait some 45 minutes for the next passenger ferry crossing to Bowness Point. I was dispirited by the fact that it started raining directly I disembarked from the ferry on the western shore, but after a wait of some ten minutes the rain stopped and I set off along the footpaths towards Far Sawrey.

Once I reached Far Sawrey I turned off right onto the fell path. The sun had appeared, albeit very briefly, and it felt good to be out on the fells for the first time this year.

About half a mile out from Far Sawrey the route to Claife Heights turns right onto another track, heading north

The track approaches woodland, an outlier of the extensive Grizedale plantations between Windermere and Coniston.

The track is a long one and alternates between patches of forest and open pasture.

A sighting of the distant Ill Bell ridge. It's a pity that the trees are not yet in leaf. This scene will be beautiful in four weeks' time.

Further into the forest. Not far ahead is the limestone outcrop of Low Pate Crag and the path slants up to the right. There were good views of Windermere from the top of the crag but unfortunately the skies chose that moment to open and I had to seek shelter from the rain in the forest. Once the rain cleared up twenty minutes later I discoverd that the forest track beyond the crag runs through an area of extensive bog, and proved to be impossible to follow in the current conditions. Instead I chose a side path running west through the forest, approaching Claife Heights from the south.

The rain came down again and this time I had to wait for half an hour. There was nobody else about and the path was poorly defined and not easy to follow. In addition the terrain didn't seem to correspond with the map and I began to wonder if I'd gone astray. Eventually I came to this limestone crag which I first thought must be the summit of Claife Heights, but then I noticed there was no Ordnance Survey trig pillar. I later discovered that this was High Pate Crag but at the time I didn't have a clue where I was.

Ten minutes further on, the path has dropped and risen again and passed this outcrop. Once again I wondered whether it was the summit of Claife Heights but it was only later I found out it was a nameless crag at grid ref 380971 (for those of you following the route on a map).

It was only when I happened upon this forest road turning circle a few minutes later that I finally realised where I was. The true summit lay 250 metres to the northeast and I was able to follow the woodland path to the right with renewed confidence.

The path misses the summit crag so it's necessary to climb up to the right to find it. As the treetops surround the crag there's not really much of a view, but it's a pleasant little place to be and I settled down in the lee of the wind for some lunch.

Back down to the path, and not a hundred metres further on I found a sign saying "viewpoint" pointing up to the right. And, would you believe, it came out just a few paces north of the trig point.

Beyoond the summit I reached a path junction, and suddenly there were other walkers around again. Rather than flounder around in the juicy patches again I decided to find another way back via forest tracks to the west. I turned left, and after a few minutes I came out onto the forest road I'd first seen three pictures ago. I followed it past the Windermere TV mast and then took a side track to the left. When the track petered out I followed a path to the northwest, turning left again at Hollin Band Plantation for a route directly back to Far Sawrey.

The route passes three tarns; Highs Moss, then Wise Een Tarn (seen here), then Moss Eccles Tarn, which is partially surrounded by woods. I'm sure that is's equally as beautiful as the celebrated Tarn Hows near Coniston when the sun shines. Someday I must come back and check this theory out.

The weather closed in again on the way back. I hesitated about whether to patronise the cafe at Far Sawrey but I figured I was a little tight for the ferry and walked straight back. In the event I made it with a good twenty minutes to spare. A rainbow appeared as the ferry approached the landing stage, providing me with the day's final photo opportunity.

Back to Windermere index page

This page last updated 25th April 2006