Ill Bell and Yoke

At last, although very cold, a wonderfully cloudless and clear day, after too many recent very overcast and/or rainy ones!  Given the shortness of the days at this time of year, I decided to make the most of the opportunity by heading for nearby Kentmere (where the River Kent rises, and from which Kendal gets it name, as does, of course, the nearby Kent Estuary between Arnside and Grange-over-Sands) ...

Anyway, to keep to the point(!), having on two previous occasions done the somewhat dull trudge up to Yoke (the 'first' of the western Kentmere fells) via the Garburn Pass route, I decided this time to try to my luck by going along the valley floor and then ascending by the north-east ridge of Ill Bell (Ill Bell being the middle of the trio of the fells in question, the third being Froswick).  A lucky choice it turned out to be, as the very fine sights along the western side and towards the northern end of the Kentmere dale, such as Rainsborrow Crag (by far the most scenic part of Yoke) and Mardale Ill Bell fell (not to be confused with nearby Ill Bell!) from across Kentmere reservoir were very much in evidence, bathed in pinkish early morning December sunshine and capped with recent accumulations of snow. 

The trackless and snowy pull up Ill Bell was rather taxing (and cold!), but amply compensated by the fine views back down to Kentmere and across to Kentmere Pike, Harter Fell and Nan Bield Pass to the east, as well as north over to Froswick and eventualy beyond, to Threshthwaite Mouth (near Hartstop), with even a distant glimpse of far-off Ullswater.

Having reached Ill Bell summit, the original plan was to also take in Froswick and then double back to Ill Bell again before going on to Yoke, but the cold and the 'no fun' option of having to retrace my steps made me change my mind, and so the remainder of the outing consisted of a meander along to Yoke and thence back to Kentmere village via the ancient 'turnpike' road leading down from Garburn Pass. 

All in all, a wonderful farewell to the 2014 season of walks (one which couldn't have started more differently for me!), and here's to many more such fine outings in 2015 and as long as possible beyond!

(Distance:  7.8 miles/12.6 km.  Ascent:  2378 ft./724 m.  Highest point (Ill Bell):  2404 ft./757m.)

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