Another chance to savour the special beauty of the Lake District fells in snowy conditions (cf. previous outing). In addition, this walk took place on a fell which yields marvellous views in almost any conditions of visibility, so the sights were therefore all the more spectacular.
Ascent was up Skelgill Bank from the small car-park near its base, then on, along the lengthy and gradually-rising spine of the fell towards the foot of the summit ‘cone’. At this stage, in gradually-improving weather, there were ever-finer views all the while back across Derwenwater to Bassenthwaite Lake, Skiddaw and Blencathra, west towards the Coledale fells and south-west towards the other Newlands ones.
The ascent to the summit was not without drama, my ice-axe having to be unsheathed at one stage, much to my companion Jim Mercer’s amusement. He, however, had the benefit of his brand new whizzy climbing boots, otherwise, minus an ice-axe of his own (and my not being prepared to lend him mine, given his mockery!), it might have been much more touch-and-go!
Anyway, safely at last at the top, we walked on a little further to have lunch with views of Hindscarth and Robinson framing the scene, while both a hungry Sooty and then also one or two sheep competed with us for their share of the spoils.
Descent was from Hause Gate, down the well-paved path to just above Hugh Walpole’s erstwhile abode (Brackenburn) overlooking Manesty Park, and then back to the start via the ‘Alledrdale Ramble’ path that runs for most of the way a little above the Grange-Portinscale road. Towards the end of this stretch, in addition to distant views back to the Jaws of Borrowdale and once again across Derwentwater to the north, a splendid snowman was encountered, complete with a clod of turf hat, whom Jim introduced a suspicious Sooty to at the cost of a further granola bar ration!
Thus was another great day out enjoyed by one and all!
Highest point (Catbells): 1480 ft./451 m. Distance: 3.5 miles/5.6 km. Ascent: 1749 ft./ 533 m.

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