Kingdoms, turbines and wind

Offered a lift to the Furness peninsula last Friday, I couldn’t resist the chance to explore a part of the southern lakes I’d never visited before and take in Black Combe.

IMG_3936e This is energy landscape: 12 miles up the coast is Sellafield, while out in Morecambe Bay 30 giant wind turbines rise amid the spray and waves. For inmates at HMP Haverigg, near Millom – surely one of the most remote of the country’s prisons – eight more turbines tower above the low slung buildings (see bottom left photo).

Black Combe shrugs its shoulders to this coastal scene but the trees on its lower sections attest to the power of the prevailing south westerly winds (See photos above and below).

IMG_3941e The mountain’s 600 metre summit makes a good half day walk, which can be extended. It’s also the only ‘hundreder’ top over 500 m in the Lake District National Park. (There are no 700m, 800m or 900m tops). On Friday there were northward views of the Scafell and Coniston fells, while to the south the sea round Walney Island and off the Lancashire coast shimmered in dazzling sunlight.

Black Combe’s top has the distinction of being the only point in the UK where on a good day you can see five kingdoms – Scotland, Wales, England, Ireland and the Isle of Mann.

Make a note of the walk. It’s well worth the visit on a fine day and there’s an added bonus. Carlisle to Carnforth trains run along the coast stopping at Silecroft, near the start of the climb. It’s just one hour from Workington in the north and about two hours from Carnforth in the south. More details of the itinerary can be found on the Lake District Guide website.

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Blaeberry Fell’s blue run

IMG_3889I’d seen there had been people skiing recently at an elevation of 600 metre on Blencathra (KesMail February 2010). What I hadn’t anticipated to find last week was a 300m long ‘blue run’ on a wide gully below Blaeberry Fell (See Photo opposite), about two miles beyond Keswick and at a height of only 370 m.

It wasn’t up to the snow conditions in Italy’s Sauze d’Oulx where we were recently with the Ski Club of Manchester, but with a pair of skis there would have been a good run down. This is one of the great things about winter walking – finding the unexpected in the unknown known.

Having the right kit is the key thing for taking to the hills in winter in safety – though I wouldn’t take skis every time I saw snow! I’ll get a list of my favourite equipment for safe winter walking in my next post. In the meantime the photos below give an impression of some of the visual delights that came from a late lunch to dusk walk with the snow and ice last week.

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