A packed day out over Wolf Crags
Readily accessible by car on the A66, Threlkeld lies twelve miles from Penrith and three miles from Keswick. Conveniently, the half-hourly Cumbrian Connexion bus service stops outside the Horse & Farrier. The village is the home of the Blencathra Foxhounds; dy’a ken the hunt’s memorial just inside the churchyard. Above the village is the Blencathra Centre, a former scarlet fever isolation hospital, now the northern base for the National Park Ranger Service. I’m notorious for my fascination in place-names. Just can’t stop scratching under the surface to get a sense of what they originally may have meant. Threlkeld has me enthralled, well therein lies its spell, for it meant ‘the slave’s spring’... now there’s a thing!
By normal convention I admit to a preference of walking alone, but on a clear frosty Thursday morning this January I met up with my old friend Rod Busby from Shipley. We met outside the Horse & Farrier and spent the day in good conversation on a wonderful fell walk. By ‘old friend’ I have to admit we have known one another since the age of five, so old in this case does mean old!
Another of my pleasures on a day’s walk is the impromptu encounter with fellow fellwanderers. We met just two. An outwardly frail lady, consumed in a cag, sheltering on the lee of an icy breeze on Calfhow Pike, she said ‘Can’t get anyone mad enough to join me’. She looked in her late sixties, one might have deduced from this that all her normal circle of friends were snuggled up by a fire supping cocoa!
The summit of Clough Head
On Clough Head, we met John Stratton from Silsden - which is quite near Rod’s home in West Yorkshire. He was on a personal mission. Years of loving the fells had seen him make the journey hundreds of times, but he had not ‘done’ all the fells, returning to favourite haunts and heights time after time as they always seem a different countenance each visit. Retirement from the coal industry, (a surface job, not exposed to the debilitating effects of coal dust) he now has the time to take the fells by the scruff of the neck. He was clutching a little guide defining thirty-six round trips that accumulated all the fells described in AW’s Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells. That’s three day-walks a month for a year, he was already on his third outing and loving every minute of it. He’d never been up this end of the Helvellyn range before.
And so to walk
Either, stride out along the tree-shaded old railway trackbed passing the Blencathra Business Centre, once the concrete flagstone works, breaking out onto the Threlkeld to Newsham byway just short of the bridge at a gate on the left.
Alternatively, starting from the large car park behind the sports pavilion. Follow the footway beside the A66, a matter of yards, to go left along the minor road signed to Newsham, beside the concrete channelled beck. Look back over the pavilion to the soaring heather-clad slopes of Blencathra: this great brown wall of fell will dominate attention for much of the early walk as we cross the Glenderamakin Gap.
The road leads over the willow-fringed Glenderamakin Beck, a main feeder of the River Greta and thus the Derwent. The romantic name just might intrigue. As is so often the case we witness a watercourse bearing a really old name, in fact pre-Viking, it means the ‘valley where swine forage’ - from the Celtic ‘glyn’ and ‘moch’.
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© Mark Richards 2006