Birkhouse Moor in Snow

Name of walk Birkhouse Moor in Snow
Date of walk 2016-01-16
Distance walked (miles) 8
Duration of walk 5 hours 30 minutes
Weather Blue skies then snow
Peaks on walk Birkhouse Moor
Walked with Ged
Parking Glenridding car park

On Saturday Ged and I drove to Glenridding to walk up to Birkhouse Moor and hopefully Catstycam too. We left Kas behind because of the possibility of deep snow. We have done this walk before, but not in snow. The forecast was for blue skies and sunshine, but the weather would deteriorate later in the afternoon with snow showers.

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Sunrise over the mountains. We made a brief stop in the car to look over Windermere at the pink mountains.

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Zooming in on the Langdale Pikes.

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We stopped again on the Kirkstone Pass road looking up to Stony Cove Pike, Thornthwaite Crag, Froswick and Ill Bell.

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Looking back at the sunrise behind Yoke.

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View down the Kirkstone Pass towards Place Fell

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We parked in the Glenridding car park, which is currently free. The car park is a skating rink, so we put on our Microspikes from the very start. The car park is already full of walkers, climbers and skiers making the most of the snow. The flood damage to the Hotels and Guest Houses is still apparent. The Glenridding Hotel is cordoned off.

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We head up.

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Ullswater.

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Sheffield Pike and Glenridding Dodd. Hopefully we will do those again soon while the car park is free.

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We take the route up beside Mires Beck.

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It has the best views out over the surrounding hills.

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The higher we go the deeper the snow gets and the effort increases, but at least we are now in sunshine and blue skies!

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The powder snow is now about mid calf level.

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The views are a great excuse to have a break. Place Fell on the right.

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To successfully walk in the footprints of a previous walker you have to employ a combination of goosestepping and something from The Ministry of Silly Walks.

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Looking over to the Far Eastern Fells.

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We make it over to the path by the wall for some more sensible walking styles.

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The light is constantly changing.

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The route by the wall is now in deep snow so we head up via an alternate route which takes us up to where those two young men are.

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Ged takes a breather.

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It is as steep as it looks, but it is not too far now until the summit comes into view.

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Looking behind us are the world and his wife. Thankfully they are not interested in the delights of Birkhouse Moor having eyes only for Striding Edge.

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Our first view out to Striding Edge, Helvellyn, Swirral Edge and Catstycam. Behind the blue skies are approaching snow clouds. It has taken two and a half hours to reach this point.

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Me on Birkhouse Moor. Still no need for hat and gloves, walking up is hot work.

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Heading for Birkhouse Moor summit cairn we pass these blown snow formations. The snow is very deep here, knee height. We pass a couple of guys with their two terrier sized dogs who disappear into each footprint in the snow and have to jump from one to the other!

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Another view to include Helvellyn and Catstycam.

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Birkhouse Moor summit (2,356ft).

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Ged catching me up.

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View from the summit towards Ullswater.

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View to all the Far Eastern Fells.

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We return to the wall, the snow clouds are nearly upon us.

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Snow drifts on the other side of the wall. To the left is St. Sunday Crag and Fairfield, then to the right Dollywaggon Pike.

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The Hole in the Wall, the start of the route up to Striding Edge. We now head right for Red Tarn.

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The snow is deep and it is awkward and tiring walking.

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As we approach Red Tarn I am watching the hordes heading up to Swirral Edge. We have to go this way if we are then to head right up to Catstycam. The people are moving very slowly. It would take us another hour or more to get up. Ged is still happy to continue, but with the snow rapidly approaching and I'm not really warming to another slog up another mountain and then having no view when we get there, we agree to head down after Red Tarn.

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Walkers on Striding Edge.

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Red Tarn with Helvellyn above it.

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The hordes on Swirral Edge.

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It is difficult to tell where the land finishes and the ice starts, so this is as close as I go.

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Two photo shot of the tarn. Click to enlarge, re-click to return.

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We begin our descent through yet more deep snow.

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It is now snowing.

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Skis? Damn, I knew there was an easier way down!

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View back to the north side of Catstycam. There is another skier skiing down the central groove.

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Ged ahead, visibility is deteriorating. We made the correct decision not to continue on.

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Approaching valley level and the two bridges.

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At the second bridge we were overtaken by Jon Bennett, the Fell Assessor, who goes up Helvellyn seven days a week. I have met him on Helvellyn a couple of times. He was surprised to be recognised. We chatted for a while and talked about his appearance on 'Countryfile', for which he got a lot of stick. Apparently the presenter never joined him on his ascent of Helvellyn, they filmed her bit in the car park! Which is why they got complaints that Ellie was wearing fashion gear and not proper walking attire. This is Jon heading off back to Glenridding to file his weather and snow condition report. On Helvellyn it was -3C with a windchill of -13. It wasn't much better at Red Tarn! Jon said the snow had come in earlier than forecast. I always use his Weatherline Forecasts, before a walk.

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Ged approaching the Youth Hostel. We did have the offer of a lift back to Glenridding, but we are walkers, that would be cheating! It was tempting though!

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Greenside Road is long and it is now snowing quite hard. No views to surrounding mountains. We decide to go past the pub, missing out on our customary drink. It is important that we make it over the Kirkstone Pass before it becomes impassable.

A good walk, but tiring in deep snow. We will have to go back and climb Catstycam on another day. The walk was eight miles and took us five and a half hours.

Jo.

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