BB1418 : Uchder Yr Wyddfa

Wednesday 21st May 2014

A number of northern English place names have Welsh sounding names, the consequence of a one-time Celtic population.  Perhaps the best known such hill is Pen-y-Ghent.

What brought this to mind was a combination of two factors.

Firstly, noticing a signpost to another place beginning with Pen and secondly, an unexpected link to Snowdon. or perhaps I should say Yr Wddfa

However, neither Yr Wddfa nor Pen-y-Ghent was our target for today.

Wales in Lakeland?

The Pen name we saw was Penruddock which was en-route to our start point of Aira Force.

This was not the real objective but was an interesting start to a three hill triangle.  Neither John nor I had visited the falls for several years. Naturally we had not expected the waterfall itself to have changed very much but we were a little surprised to find one of the paths blocked off by a well known Kendal-based building firm.  It transpired that a tree had fallen to block the path to the lower bridge over two years ago and the relevant authority had just got round to authorising the repairs. Although we asked if we might have a look at the damage, we were not allowed access so had to go to the higher bridge then round the other way to the lower bridge.  No great hardship and the falls remain a spectacular sight.

The blocked steps down

Aira Force (click picture for movie)

The bridges were erected in memory of Cecil Spring Rice, a distinguished diplomat and the writer of "I Vow To Thee My Country."

Our first real objective was Gowbarrow.  The traverse around the Ullswater side of the hill provides spectacular views over the lake to the hills beyond.

Looking over Ullswater to Place Fell

Comitibus :  Admiring Ullswater

However, unlike on BB0736 there was no vanishing huntsman to be seen, possibly because the cloud had cleared and a beautiful day was in prospect.

The summit itself was reached by a short sharp climb with the return being by the same route.

This would proved to be something of a feature of the day.

What followed was somewhat unexpected, although had I looked more attentively at the map, perhaps it ought not be a surprise.

Great and Little Mell from Gowbarrow

It was a long section through a pleasantly wooded area, emerging eventually close by Watermillock Church.

We thought a detour to visit the church, All Saints, would be worthwhile- it has an interesting octagonal spire on top of a rather squat base.  We asked an emerging lady to tell us a little about the church but she told us to speak to the man inside who would tell us ALL about it.  

On entering, we met him emerging from the vestry so, forewarned, I asked him for the three most interesting things about the church.  We soon understood what the lady had meant.  Half way through his life story we realised that we would have to make an excuse and leave else we would be there until closing time- I mean the pub's not the church's!

All Saints Church, Watermillock

The 16th century chest

I did get chance to look at a window that I thought looked rather pre-Raphaelite Burne-Jonesish.  Good deduction; it is by Harry Powell of Whitefriars, a firm that had a close association with BJ. It is called the Spring Rice window after the above mentioned family.

There was also a sixteenth century chest with three locks, one for the vicar and one for each church warden.  Sounds like they didn't trust each other!

Objective number two was Little Mell, the access to which was only a short distance away.  Another up and down (although by a  different route to the same path) but again with fine panoramic views.

Looking back from Little Mell to Place Fell and the Kirkstone Pass

Time was ticking away and John was getting hungry.  He didn't do a Tony- there was no sit down protest- but by the time we had rounded the base of Little Mell and found a convenient bench by a derelict farm, I relented and allowed him to have half his lunch.  Well, we still had another hill to climb and it's not good to be going up on a full stomach.

Juniper coated Little Mell

Lightly wooded Great Mell

Once across the valley, Great Mell awaited us, lightly wooded on the lower slopes and offering, from the summit, a prospectus for the imminent sale of Blancathra.  

Wind swept upper Great Mell

For sale, one hill

As we didn't want to take Stan's vertical descent as per BB0805, it was the same pattern as before.  Reminiscent of the Grand Old Duke of York.

We were now some distance from the car and John was wondering when he would be allowed the second part of his lunch.  The answer was at Matterdale church at which we arrived to find a bench in the sun at 5:30 p.m.!  This is a simple small church which was presumably built around 1573 as that date is carved into a beam along which the initials of several now unknown people.

Matterdale Church

Inside Matterdale Church

1573 initials

The road-side path

The kind folk of Dockray have provided an attractive footpath that accompanies the road down to the village but thereafter was to be a tarmac slog back to the car.

It was a rather later finish than usual but rounded off in the traditional way at the Brackenrigg Inn where they had a variety of drinks by different brewers of which I had never heard.

Collectively they appear to be marketed under the Independent Lakeland Breweries banner. Sensibly, the pub has bats for three one-third of a pint taster glasses.

Hang on, a minute, I hear you thinking.  What was all that about Yr Wddfa or Snowdon?

Quite simply, the total footage climbed today was Uchder Y Wddfa.
The height of Snowdon:  3,560 feet.

Hywl a iechyd da!

Don, 22nd May 2014




Wednesday 21st May 2014

Distance in miles


Height climbed in feet



Gowbarrow, Little Mell, Great Mell


Don, John Hn


BOOTboys routes are put online in gpx format which should work with most mapping software. You can follow our route in detail by downloading bb1418  .

To discover which Wainwright top was visited on which BB outing - although it may not be that up to date - see: Which Wainwright When?

For the latest totals of the mileages and heights (ditto) see: BB Log.


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