Wainwright Walks 17: An expensive little hill!

Hills: Silver Howe
Wainwrights: ditto
When: Sunday 20 September 2015
Who: self and the mountaineering minion
Also present: too many false summits: horrendous car park charges
Bog factor: Overall okay, a bit squishy on the way up to the summit
Path factor: mainly great, except for a bit between false summits
Post walk drink: Shiraz
Post walk watering hole: The Ambleside Tavern

An expensive little hill this one. In fact the small (if not perfectly formed) Silver Howe ended up costing me more than the pair of silver earrings I bought for myself later in the week. How come? Read on…

It was day one of our Lake District holiday, which saw us spending a week in an absolutely gorgeous cottage in Ambleside. The weather forecast was also unexpectedly good, or at least decent, which is something of a rarity for us. Indeed, the journey to the Lakes had been conducted in glorious sunshine, and I had seriously thought about doing a short walk on the Saturday. However, due to a tough couple of weeks at work, I was completely knackered, so the idea of a short smash and grab got binned in favour of us getting in our shopping for the week, getting ourselves organised in the cottage and testing a couple of Ambleside watering holes we hadn’t previously (The Unicorn – pretty good and the Golden Rule – not so convinced) as well as our inevitable visit to the Ambleside Tavern which is our favourite pub in the town. Needless to say this meant that an early start was not an option and after a few more libations during our dinner (pasta with king prawns and brandy, excellently cooked by Stuart) any sort of start before midday wasn’t an option either. Fortunately (given the circumstances) the weather on opening the curtains was a bit pants and not as forecast with clag down to about 500m. Well we were on holiday after all so nothing wrong with a few drinks and a lie in.

The weather did get a bit better over the course of the morning and at 12 I decided that it was good enough to warrant a short walk. Stuart decided to stay put and chill out in the cottage so I geared up, clipped the mountaineering minion onto the rucksack and headed off for Grasmere. I wanted a short walk on a small hill where I would get some decent views and Silver Howe seemed to fit the bill; I was parked up in Grasmere and ready for the off shortly before 1. I had managed to forget how extortionate Lake District parking charges can be though – nearly £6 to park for 4 hours – and also how difficult it can be to actually find a parking space sometimes! However I did eventually manage to and to get myself sorted out and walking along the minor road to Red Bank before picking up a clear path angling gently up the hillside. I’d decided on a short circuit going up the side of the fell then over the top and back down to Grasmere a slightly different route.

To start off with this was easy. The path was brilliant and angled gently upward which given my no longer hungover but possibly slightly foggier than ideal state was a godsend. The views also started to open out and the clag had mostly lifted giving decent views over to the Fairfield Horseshoe and over towards Loughrigg (another good option for a short day). As I rounded the back of the fell, good views towards the Langdales also started to appear. This was serious no effort hill walking and a good choice for the day.

Inevitably at some point things had to go slightly wrong. The path bends round sharply on itself to angle up the back of the fell and then basically peters out in an area of bog and false summits. This was to set a bit of the tone for the week given the hills I picked – more details in upcoming posts! I faffed about a bit trying to decide where I was supposed to be going and then decided I had better actually look at the map rather than dithering about. The real summit was much closer to the edge of the fell than I’d originally thought and a path of sorts did materialise through the bog leading me to the true top of the fell at about 2.15.

Views were pretty good but quite moody and it was also pretty windy – I was glad I had decided to stay low and it was too cold to hang about, a sign that autumn is definitely here! I picked up a clear path which headed pretty steeply down towards Grasmere, at one point necessitating sliding down on my backside. Well I say necessitating – I could almost certainly have managed without and in hindsight wish I had as I ripped my trousers on a sharp rock, which meant a trip to Gaynors in Ambleside for replacements. So cost of hill £5.80 for parking and £34.99 for replacement Craghoppers – arrgh!

The path continues to be clear and at one point there is another rocky bit (not really a scramble) to cross a gully, which can probably be bypassed by crossing the stream higher up. After that the path becomes easy and drops down to Grasmere with excellent views of Helm Crag, which I was to climb a couple of days later, looking extremely steep (which it turned out it wasn’t). I was back in Grasmere and back at the car at about 3.30, and drove back to Ambleside to meet Stuart for the inevitable post walk drinks a little later on (after a mad dash to Gaynors for the aforementioned replacement trousers).

In short? A good short walk for a morning or afternoon or when you might be feeling a bit delicate. But a bit more expensive an afternoon than I’d had in mind!


5 thoughts on “Wainwright Walks 17: An expensive little hill!

  1. My walking clothes have to be almost falling off before I replace them – I have many trousers where my a*se is hanging out! 😉

    I have to admit to hating Silver How/Loughrigg and all those along that ridge until you reach the Langdales – mainly for the false summits.


  2. I think your feelings on false summits are same as mine!

    I didn’t mind Loughrigg. As to the trousers they may be repairable. Or I need to find some pants in Craghoppers grey so the hole is camouflaged 😀


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