Bushwalking: Mt Wellington, Hobart, Tasmania

[singlepic=288,540,540]

Mt Wellington provides an impressive backdrop to the city of Hobart, and also provides for some excellent walking in an alpine environment and tremendous views. Although you can drive right to the top, walking up at least part of the way is more enjoyable and provides a better introduction to the mountain. This circular walk commences from ‘The Springs’, located on the main road to the summit. It takes in the summit as well as a walk across the plateau. Because this is an alpine area, you should be well equipped for poor weather.

The walk commences from either the main car park at The Springs, or from the minor road that leaves the main road to the left and climbs briefly. The first part of the walk is the Pinnacle Track which is well signposted and easy to follow. After a series of steps the path becomes a well trodden bush track that climbs steadily to the north with occasional views to the east. After about 1.5kms a junction is reached; turn left up the accurately named Zig-Zag track which soon starts to climb steeply and provides superb views if the weather allows.

The track eventually reaches the plateau and a track junction, ignore the track to the left for the moment (this is the path for the return journey) and instead stay on the well formed track as it passes  to the left of the transmission tower on its way to the summit which is in the middle of a road loop so take care to watch out for traffic. After visiting the summit you could also drop down to the visitor centre or take in a viewpoint just to the west of the summit. In fine weather, the views are superb and extensive.

The return journey follows the path back to the above mentioned track junction and then follows a much rougher track, marked at regular intervals with poles fitted with orange markers. This track, the South Wellington Track, traverses the summit plateau before dropping briefly but steeply into bushland and ultimately reaching a signposted track junction with the Ice House Track. Take the Icehouse Track which is generally easy to follow as it descends through forest and eventually reaches the Miles Track. Turn left here back to the carpark.

Overall, a terrific walk featuring great views and a varied and interesting alpine and sub-alpine landscape, and all less then 30 minutes out of Hobart, a beautiful city in itself.

Walk date: 11th May, 2010
Time/Distance: Around 3.5 hrs
Grade: Moderate day walk
Map: TASMAP Wellington Park Recreation Map (1:20,000)
My rating: A+

 

Bushwalking: Mt Field West, Tasmania

[singlepic=265,540,540]

Another great walk in Mt Field National Park, which is an hour or so west of Hobart. This is a fairly demanding one with some strenuous climbs and rock scrambling and is recommended for more experienced walkers. An out-and-back walk, the target is Mt Field West – the highest point in the park – and it took me a little under seven hours.

The walk commences at the Lake Dobson car park and initially follows a boardwalk and path by the side of Lake Dobson before branching off and climbing to a vehicular track that also climbs steeply to some ski huts. From here the walk proper begins along a well defined path and boardwalks, with great views of the Tarn Shelf and Lake Seal to the north.

Eventually the track reaches a junction. Take the uphill path signposted to Mt Field West. This track soon leads to a large field of boulders and the next part requires traversing this by following the occasional track marker and red painted marks on the rocks themselves. The way climbs upwards towards the ridge line (the Rodway Range) and once reached becomes a visible path again before descending another rock field down to K. Col.

From K.Col it’s a short walk to Peterson Memorial Hut, which makes for a nice rest spot. From here the path continues to climb, passing Clemes Tarn and looking towards the impressive Naturalist Peak which is passed to the left. From here the path traverses a somewhat boggy plateau (which looks like it would be fairly hard going in wet weather) before a final rock scramble to the summit of Mt Field West from where there are excellent views.

From here it’s the same way back – take care when climbing up from K. Col to the Rodway Range to carefully follow the marked trail so you end up in the right place to pick up the track down the other side.

Notes: There is no marked trail to Naturalist Peak but it’s worth a short side trip, I found leaving the main trail to the south-west of the summit provided reasonably easy access. The summit itself is clearly marked with a trig point.

I wouldn’t recommend this walk in mist or bad weather, you won’t get any views and route finding, particularly over the boulder fields, would be difficult.

Walk Date: 7th March 2010
Time/Distance: Around 7 hours / 17km
Grade: Hard day walk
Map: TASMAP Mount Field National Park (1:50,000)
My rating: A

More walks in Switzerland: Grindelwald to Kleine Scheidegg

Kleine Scheidegg

Walk notes by DWP

This walk starts at Grindelwald railway station from where you follow the lane leading down past the Grand Regina Hotel then the well-marked path to Grindelwald -Grund railway station. Trains to Kleine Scheidegg and the Jungfraujoch leave from here. After crossing the road bridge follow the signs up the lane leading towards Brandegg – Alpiglen and Kleine Scheidegg (Route 34 on Jungfraubahnen Hiking Map).

The path continues steadily upwards initially making its way through pastures dotted with numerous holiday homes and farmlets and eventually passing through forest then climbing up close to the train lines before reaching the Berghaus Alpiglen 1615 m, 2 – 2 1/2 hours after leaving Grindelwald.

Benefiting from another glorious September day the scenery throughout the walk was magnificent with views down to Grindelwald and across the valley to the Faulhorn mentioned elsewhere. From Alpiglen the proximity of the Eiger North Wall and the imposing three peaks of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau dominate the route. Underfoot the route is easy going, despite being uphill all the way, along graded paths and roadways requiring little if any route finding ability. After leaving Alpiglen the path crosses the rail line climbing gently upwards until Kleine Scheidegg 2061 m, eventually comes into view. At this stage of the walk the relative peace and tranquility enjoyed earlier in the day sadly comes to an end by the presence of the sheer numbers of tourists who visit this magnificent natural lookout, mostly by train. On the other hand it does mean that a cold beer and something to eat after an ascent of approximately 1000m on a warm day is readily to hand.

From Kleine Scheidegg walkers can choose either to continue on to Wengen and Lauterbrunnen and thus complete the seventh leg of the Alpine Pass Route or return to Grindelwald on foot or by train.

A classic if not particularly demanding walk and one of the most scenic in the Bernese Oberland. Well worth the effort despite the hordes of tourists and ideal for stretching ones legs before moving on to more challenging routes.

Start: Grindelwald
Finish: Kleine Scheidegg
Duration: 3 – 3.5 Hrs

More walks in Switzerland: Faulhornweg

Faulhournweg

Walk notes by DWP

The start of this suggested walk is Schynige Platte. Staying in Grindelwald meant catching the train down to Wilderswil, on the Grindelwald – Interlaken rail line and then transferring to the historic narrow-gauge cog railway that winds its way upwards to Schynige Platte (1987m). A walkers combined ticket can be arranged at the Station in Grindelwald to include the rail journey, cog- rail, and the First-Bahn back to Grindelwald.

As the period of operation of the cog-rail and First-Bahn varies depending on the time of year it is highly recommended that you check the time of the last gondola from First and allow sufficient time for your hike or you may be faced with an unwelcome long walk back to Grindelwald after a rather tiring day.

The cog railway takes around 45 minutes to haul its way up to Schynige Platte station from where one can get the first glimpse of the superb views of the Jungfrau region.

Not far from the station I located the signpost for ‘Panoramaweg’ (Route 61 on Jungfraubahnen Hiking Map) and decided to follow this route, which is a variant to and slightly longer than the normal path (Route 62). The path is well marked with the traditional white/red/white striped markers and signposted at various intervals: Oberberghorn – Laucheren – Faulhorn – First. Narrow in places the path follows the ridgeline via the rocky peaks of the Oberberghorn and Laucherhorn giving fantastic views down to Interlaken and Brienzersee.

The ‘Panoramaweg’ doubles back by a lower route to Schynige Platte at Laucheren (Map shows Lauchern) whilst the path to the Faulhorn (Route 62) meanders along the side of scree slopes, over grassy terrain and through gaps in the rocky spurs before reaching Egg. From Egg the path eventually opens up and passes into a small enclosed valley with interesting stratified rocky terrain above a small lake ‘Sägistalsee’ before it ascends the southern slopes of the Sägistal before veering south west and eventually climbing up through an interesting rock gully to reach ‘Berghaus Männdlenen Weberhütte at 2344m, offering a welcome break for a leisurely lunch if time permits.

Bearing left after leaving the ‘Berghaus’ the path continues upwards to gain the ridge of the Winteregg and eventually to the final exhilarating steep section leading to the summit of the Faulhorn at 2681m where you are rewarded with spectacular views in all directions and the opportunity to sit and enjoy the vista with refreshment readily available from the ‘Berghotel Faulhorn’.

Leaving the summit down towards the small col at Gassenboden the path to First leads downhill, in an easterly direction, to the tranquil lake of ‘Bachsee’. The path follows the left hand side of the lake and then drops steadily towards First 2168m where hopefully the First Bahn is still operating giving you a relaxing ride down to Grindelwald and a well deserved beer.

The walk was undertaken In late September 2009 in slightly misty conditions at the start but gradually improving to a warm and sunny day. Route finding under the prevailing conditions was not a problem at any stage. Leaving the station at Schynige Platte around 10.15 am I arrived at the Faulhorn summit around 13.45 and First by about 15.30 with minimal breaks. On the first stage of the route from Schynige Platte to the Faulhorn summit I met very few other walkers, no more than a dozen coming from the direction of the Faulhorn. From the Faulhorn onwards the numbers increased substantially with the most popular section, not surprisingly, being the well-worn path between First and Bachsee.

All in all a highly recommended exhilarating if somewhat tiring classic Alpine walk combining varied scenery and stunning views.

Start: Schynige Platte
Finish: First
Distance: Approx 15kms
Duration: 4.5 – 6 Hrs

Bushwalking: Tarn Shelf Circuit, Mt Field National Park

View from along the Tarn Shelf Circuit walk

A fantastic circuit walk in the Mt Field National Park, an hour or so west of Hobart. The walk takes in a series of alpine tarns as well as a couple of rustic huts and provides exhilarating walking and great views.

The walk commences at the Lake Dobson car park and if following it clockwise (recommended), initially follows a boardwalk and path by the side of Lake Dobson before branching off and climbing to a vehicular track that also climbs steeply to some ski huts. From here the walk proper begins along a well defined path and boardwalks, with great views of the Tarn Shelf and Lake Seal to the north.

The track then drops down past a ski tow and shelter to pass by a series of tarns, eventually reaching Lake Newdegate and an old ski hut. From here, the path branches to the north-east to pass Twisted Tarn and ultimately to reach the secluded Twilight Tarn where an appealing old ski hut is worth a quick visit. The path then continues past Lake Webster, turning south to pass by Lake Seal and Platypus Tarn (visiting both of these requires taking a detour off the main path), before returning to the car park.

This was a great walk and is highly recommended. The weather for me started a bit cold and grey, although this seemed to add to the atmosphere while walking along the Tarn Shelf. It eventually cleared up to a lovely sunny afternoon. Mt Field National Park has proved to be a little gem – close to Hobart, with plenty of variety and walks and yet not too busy – I was there on a Saturday in October and apart from a few people around Lake Dobson, did not see a soul along the walk. If you haven’t visited, it is well worth it.

Walk date: Oct 17, 2009
Time/level: Around 5 hours, moderate
Map: TASMAP Mount Field National Park (1:50,000)
My rating: A+

Full photo gallery here.

Wainwright’s Favourite Lakeland Mountains

View after ascending Red Gill on the way to Grasmoor
View after ascending Red Gill on the way to Grasmoor

“I love the mountains of Lakeland. They have been good friends to me over a long life, always there when wanted, always reliable, always welcoming. I have often sung their praises in an attempt to repay the debt I feel I owe them.”

So said Alfred Wainwright in the introduction to his book “Wainwright’s Favourite Lakeland Mountains” an illustrated book with photos by Derry Brabbs. In the book he describes his favourite 20 (at least at the time) lakeland peaks. It’s not a guidebook, rather it provides some evocative text and photos for each of the mountains along with suggestions for various ascent routes.

The twenty peaks are as follows:

1. Blencathra

2. Bowfell

3. Coniston Old Man

4. Crinkle Crags

5. Dale Head

6. Eel Crag

7. Fairfield

8. Glaramara

9. Grasmoor

10. Great Gable

11. Haystacks

12. Helvellyn

13. High Stile

14. High Street

15. Hopegill Head

16. Langdale Pikes

17. Pillar

18. Scafell

19. Scafell Pike

20. Skiddaw

Walks to all of these can be highly recommended for any keen walker; do all 20 and you will a gain a great overview of, as well as probably a great love for, the Lake District, certainly one of my favourite corners of the world.

Fellwalking: Skiddaw

p16-31

“Skiddaw is the fourth highest peak in Lakeland and geographically the most important. Completely isolated by the Vale of Keswick and surrounded by lesser supporters which form a close-knit family group, it rises proudly in their midst like an old hen with a brood of chicks.”

Wainwright’s Favourite Lakeland Mountains

Yet another walk from the archives – and this is the last of my brief descriptions of ascents of Wainwight’s favourite 20 lakeland peaks. An appealing walk close to Keswick, for this walk I used the Pathfinder “More Lake District Walks” guidebook (note: the Pathfinder Lake District walk guides have been completely re-written since this post was first published and this route is now in the new guide The High Fells of Lakeland (Pathfinder Guides)).

The walk commences at a car park at the end of the Gale Road from Applethwaite. It follows a well worn path north-westwards that in contrast to most ascents, starts steeply and then eases off.

The summit of Skiddaw is labelled Skiddaw Man on the OL map and is marked with an ordnance survey marker and a view indicator. After visiting the summit you can return via the same route or alternatively descend the screes towards Carl Side and then follow the path to Millbeck (the Allerdale Ramble). The latter route requires a 2 mile walk along the road back to the car park.

My rating: A
Map: OL4 – The English Lakes: North Western area (1:25,000)
Wainwright’s guides: The Northern Fells (Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells): Book 5