Fellwalking – Glaramara

On the path down from Glaramara

“Glaramara is more than a pretty name. It is a mountain of distinction, not amongst the highest or more exciting in Lakeland and lacking a shapely outline, yet having so many features of interest that fellwalkers always look forward to a visit with anticipation. There is never a dull moment on Glaramara.”

Wainwright’s Favourite Lakeland Mountains

There certainly weren’t any dull moments on this walk, the weather gods had decided to produce one of those days that tests the willpower of even the most determined fellwalker, with a strong wind and pelting rain that barely let up for the whole day. Of course you musn’t grumble (too much). I met an older chap coming down the path as I was on my way up; he remarked that it was “a bit damp”.

I started the walk at Seathwaite, parking at the end of the road close to the barns, there being no competition for parking slots on this day. I followed the bridleway south to Stockley Bridge, crossed over and then immediately continued south along the footpath by the side of Grains Gill. This climbs consistently and eventually reaches a bridleway. Turning south-east I continued on the bridleway for a kilometre or so before turning NNE onto the path that traverses the Glaramara ridge, passing over Allen Crags and by High House Tarn before reaching the summit of Glaramara. After a quick tea break at the summit, I continued along the ridge past Thorneythwaite Fell (the initial descent from Glaramara summit requires negotiation of a rather steep rock section) before descending to a farm track just south of Mountain View and turning south west onto this track, which eventually becomes a path (all part of what is called the “Allerdale Ramble”) that leads back to Seathwaite.

My rating: B+
Maps: OL4 – The English Lakes: North Western area (1:25,000); the route as described also requires a very small section of OL6 – The English Lakes: South Western Area (1:25,000)
Wainwright’s guides: The Southern Fells (50th Anniversary Edition): Book Four (A Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells)

Fellwalking – Hopegill Head

Looking towards Braithwaite from Grisedale Pike

“A high mountain ridge leaps like a rainbow from the woods and fields of Brackenthwaite and arcs through the sky for five miles to the east, where the descending curve comes down to the village of Braithwaite. This ridge has three main summits, of which the central one (and the finest, but not the highest) is known locally as Hobcarton Pike and to mapmakers as Hopegill Head”

The Northwestern Fells (Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells)

I started this walk from Braithwaite, parking in the village and then walking up the road (the B5292) to where a well worn vehicular track leaves on the left to begin the journey south-west alongside Coledale Beck. After passing Force Crag Mine on the right, the track ascends steeply to the east to Coledale Hause before turning north for the final pull up to the summit of Hopegill Head (via Sand Hill). Wainwright’s original guide (North Western Fells) describes there being no path on this final section, but thousands of boots since means there is certainly one now. From Hopegill Head I took the path eastwards that skirts the edge of Hobcarton Crag and then proceeds to Grisedale Pike. From here there is a well trodden path along the ridge back to Braithwaite.

The previous day I had climbed Glaramara, and it had rained all day, almost without respite – when I returned to my car at Seathwaite I had to literally pour the water out of my (Goretex lined) boots. Suffice to say that when it started to rain on the morning of this walk to Hopegill Head, I started to get rather grumpy and occupied myself on the haul up to Coledale Hause muttering to myself about the ****** English weather. Indeed I almost gave up on the final ascent when the clouds drew in and an icy wind started to blow, but in the end decided to persevere – and a good job I did. Just as I reached the summit, the rain stopped, and in the space of five minutes I went from a “view” of about 40 metres to a magnificent vista out to the coast, as the cloud dispersed as fast as it had appeared.

My rating: A.
Map: OL4 – The English Lakes: North Western area (1:25,000)
Wainwright’s guides: The North Western Fells (50th Anniversary Edition): Book Six (A Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells)

Hopegill Head panorama (from Grisedale Pike)

Bushwalking – Mt. Feathertop (via Champion and Bungalow Spurs)

Emerging onto the Razorback from Champion Spur

This route provides a bit more variety, especially for walkers who have already been up and down the Bungalow Spur, while still remaining a circuit walk and thus avoiding a car shuffle.

The route could be done in either direction – we did the walk up Champion Spur and down Bungalow Spur. Either way, the route starts and ends in Harrietville. The track up Champion Spur starts in the same place as the Bon Accord Spur, before splitting and heading south-east while the Bon Accord Spur track continues south. Following an initially well formed fire track, the track slowly deteriorates before disappearing completely about 1km or so shy of the Razorback ridge. The 2003 bushfires swept through this whole area, and their effects are still apparent; the scrub had started to grow back strongly when we did this walk however, so that last km or so before the ridge was rather hard going. Then, as we reached the Razorback, we experienced a brief summer snow shower – a reminder that the weather in this region can change fast.

Once the Razorback ridge is joined, a distinct track continues north, passing the track down Diamantina Spur to the right, and then about 1.5km further on, the Bungalow Spur track to the left. This marks the start of the descent, but the summit is still another 1.5km north-east along the razorback (passing the north-west spur to the left on its way to the summit).

This walk can be done as either a hard one-day walk (at around 25km it’s a tough day) or as a moderate overnight walk, with camp at the (excellent) Federation Hut site on the Bungalow Spur just down from the junction with the Razorback. If you’re doing this as an overnight walk then note that the first day is still pretty tough if you ascend via Champion Spur (easier if you go clockwise – ie. up Bungalow and down Champion). If you’re not sure about walking in untracked bush, then an easier option is up and down the Bungalow Spur, or if you can organise a car shuffle, along the Razorback from Mt Hotham, and then down the Bungalow Spur (a superb walk).

Walk date: Champion Spur section Dec 27, 2004, Bungalow Spur and Summit section, numerous times, the last on April 7, 2007
Time/level: 1 day hard (allow 7-9 hours), about 25km, 2 days moderate
Map: Bogong Alpine Area, Outdoor Leisure Map (1:50,000)
My rating: A, a lesser used but worthwhile route

On Champion Spur Snow Gum on the The Razorback Summer snow on The Razorback Summit of Mt Feathertop

Bushwalking – Mt Roland and Mt Vandyke (Tasmania)

Mt Roland

“South of Devonport, the rolling farmlands and towns are dominated by the towering cliffs of Mt Roland.”

Day Walks Tasmania

We chose this walk primarily because it was on the way to our ultimate destination (we had flown in to Devonport and were travelling to Cradle Mountain). As a result, we were very pleased when it turned out to be a very enjoyable walk in its own right.

The nearest town is Sheffield; the start of the walk is accessed from the C136 road which turns off the B14 just outside Sheffield. We used the detailed route description in “Day Walks Tasmania” (a guide book that I can recommend).

Walk date: December 10, 2005
Time level: 1 day moderate/hard (allow around 7 hours), about 18km
Map: TASMAP Cethana (1:25,000), map in the guidebook
My rating: B+. Well worth a visit, especially if you are travelling down from Devonport to Cradle Mountain

Approaching Mt Roland View from Mt Roland View from Mt Roland 2 Heathlands near Mt Roland

Fellwalking – Crinkle Crags

Crinkle Crags 1

“Bowfell’s companion at the head of Great Langdale was given the name of Crinkle Crags by the dalesfolk of that valley because of the succession of abrupt undulations on its log summit ridge. Seen from a distance these seem minor and of little consequence but on closer acquaintance are found to be not merely crinkly but exceedingly rough…”

Wainwright’s Favourite Lakeland Mountains

Parking by the side of the Wrynose pass just east of Three Shire Stone, I walked briefly along the pass and then turned north, following the well-worn footpath past Red Tarn, and turning left at the crossroad of paths a little further on to follow the trail past Great Knott to the Crinkle Crags. There are five summits (although the track doesn’t traverse them all). A quick lunch was had at the last crag, before rapidly deteriorating weather forced a hasty retreat back to my car.

My rating: B+
Map: OL6 – The English Lakes: South Western Area (1:25,000)
Wainwright’s guides: Book four, The Southern Fells
Access: The track starts at the Wrynose path just west of Three Shire Stones.

Fellwalking – Helvellyn

Looking back over Striding Edge

“Legend and poetry, a lovely name and a lofty altitude combine to encompass Helvellyn in an aura of romance; and thousands of pilgrims, aided by its easy accessibility, are attracted to its summit each year”

The Eastern Fells (Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells)

On both my ascents of Helvellyn, I approached from Glenridding on the eastern side, walking towards Patterdale on the permissive path by the side of the road, crossing Grisedale Bridge and then turning right into a lane and then picking up a path to Hole-in-the-Wall and ultimately ascending via Striding Edge. Wainwright describes Striding Edge as the finest way of all to the top of Helvellyn, a judgment that few would disagree with. After lunch at the top, I descended via Red Tarn and Swirral Edge, making a particularly fine circuit walk. The Pathfinder Guide to Lake District Walks describes a good route that follows this basic idea.

My rating: A+. Justifiably one of the most popular walks in the Lake District.
Map: OL 5 – The English Lakes: North Eastern Area (1:25,000)
Wainwright’s guides: The Eastern Fells (Anniversary Edition): Book One (Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells)

Striding Edge from Swirral Edge Red Tarn On the track back to Glenridding

Walk of the Month: Werribee Gorge Circuit Walk

Pyramid Hill

A surprisingly rugged walk less than 70km from the Melbourne CBD, this circuit of Werribee Gorge provides an excellent day’s outing.

Werribee Gorge State Park is reached via the Western Freeway from Melbourne. To access the park, take the Pentland Hills Road exit, turning right under the freeway and then immediately left to follow the old alignment of the Western Highway (with the Western Freeway to your left). The road soon dips back under the freeway, turn left immediately thereafter onto Myers Road which leads to the park entrance. The walk can be commenced at either the Quarry Picnic area or down a rather steep gravel road (accessible by 2wd vehicles with care) to the Meikles Point Picnic Area (which is where I started).

I’d recommend travelling anti-clockwise to get the climb over with first. From Meikles Point Picnic Area, the track ascends a few steps to a toilet block and then follows an old vehicle track before dropping left and reaching Myers Road and then the Quarry Picnic Area. From here a signposted old vehicular track ascends through scrub to a junction with the short circuit walk, then passes a side track to Eastern viewpoint (worth a visit), passes Picnic Point before descending to Western viewpoint and then steeply descending to the bottom of the Gorge at Blackwood Pool. At this point the track turns sharply to the South following the edge of the Werribee River (note that the track always stays at the north side of the river, the line on the Parks Victoria parks notes that the track appears to cross is the old viaduct).

This section requires some rock scrambling; one rather tricky section of rocky bluff now has a wire rope attached to assist. On this part of the walk you will pass the attractive NeedlesBeach (a nice place for a break), Lions Head Beach (if you look at the rock opposite – see photo below – you can sort of make out a lion’s face) and Pyramid Rock (aptly named). Eventually, the track reaches the route of the old viaduct and becomes a well formed trail back to Meikles Point.

Note: Care needs to be taken on this walk as some rock scrambling is required. This walk is not one to do in the wet, rain will make the rocks slippery and the river could rise rapidly, leaving you stranded.

Walk date: Sept 16, 2007
Time/level: 1 day moderate (allow 3-4 hours), about 9km
Map: Parks Victoria Park Notes
My rating: B, a good day walk out of Melbourne

Eastern viewpoint Western viewpoint towards picnic point Lions Head