Loughrigg Tarn

Date: 12 Feb 2020 Weather: 4’C, cloudy, breezy
Height gain: 581 ft Distance: 3.6 miles
Time taken: 1 hours 25 mins Wainwrights: n/a

Route:  From layby at the top of the road to Little Loughrigg, walking round the side of Loughrigg Tarn and onto the road up to the top of High Close wood.  A short detour above Hammerscar Plantation to look down on Grasmere then back down through Low Wood to join the road around the Tarn’s other side and back to the car.

Storm Ciara arrived as forecast at the weekend and the high winds raged around us for four days, only dropping at around dawn this morning.  There is flooding in parts of Cumbria and Yorkshire but we’ve been lucky in our local area and avoided the worst of the damage.  Storm Dennis is forecast to arrive next weekend with similar wind and rain so we feel the need to get out while the winds are only 20 mph and sunny spells are forecast for the morning.

We decide on a short walk around Loughrigg Tarn followed by a pub lunch.  Although not a mountain or Coast to Coast section I decided to do a write up because (a) it’s a beautiful walk and (b) I don’t want you to get the impression we go for weeks without a walk.

The journey to Skelwith Bridge is uneventful with all roads now open – the A591 between Windermere and Ambleside had been closed in places due to localised flooding on Sunday.  We park up and put on our boots and head up the road and onto the footpath around Loughrigg Tarn.

I never tire of that first view over the tarn towards the Langdales:


We quickly cover the close to one mile on the path around the tarn and reach a gate out onto the road.  We’ve seen two couples ahead and behind us and passed a party of three chatty older gentleman all braving the weather with us.  One couple had large rucksacks on their backs and seemed to be heading up Loughrigg – the winds may not be gale force today but there is a fair old breeze making the air feel cold and I don’t envy them even a smaller mountain today.

We follow the road up with woodland on either side of us.  Once we reach the top of High Close wood we turn left to head along the top of it.  The views towards the snowy Langdales to our right and Lingmoor Fell to our left look beautiful even in the grey weather:


The rain we’ve had at valley level over the last few days obviously fell as snow above about 1,000ft and the mountains are whiter than we’ve seen them since the surprise snowfall in mid-December.

As we walk down the road towards Low Wood the terrain to our right looks very inviting and we work out that the many paths we can see working their way through it could take you to the top of Silver How:


We don’t fancy an ascent up there today, but we are tempted into a short detour up one of the paths because we reckon there will be good views down to Grasmere to be had without too much effort. A third of a mile and 150ft of ascent does indeed give us great views down to Grasmere:


We take our photos and test ourselves to make sure we can name Heam Crag (Lion & Lamb) and Steel fell on the left and Seat Sandal, Stone Arthur and part of the Fairfield Horseshoe on the right.  It always amazes me that the snow line really is a line – such an abrupt change from rain to snow at a certain altitude.

We make our way back to the road and carry on down it for a few hundred metres until we reach a gate into Low Wood.  We follow a path steeply down through the wood which is, surprisingly but much to our relief, not too muddy.  We reach the bottom of the wood and walk along its edge until we’re back to the road.

The road undulates up and down as it passes the other side of Loughrigg Tarn:


At this point a shower of light hail starts – what happened to our promised sunny spells?!

We get back to the car and head off for a good pub lunch in Ings – a place we’ve been wanting to try for a while.

Storm Dennis arrived the weekend after our walk as promised but didn’t seem as bad as Ciara had been.  It looks grim in Wales and the South West though as I write – fingers crossed that the river Severn doesn’t burst its banks and our friends near Tewkesbury stay above water.

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