For years I’ve admired the graceful ridge leading from the Lune Gap at Hause Bridge, up to above the Great Coum, clearly seen from the M6. So on a filthy December day decided to explore it, and do the whole skyline of Borrowdale, to the A6 that is. Adding a little to cross the Borrow Beck on the A6 bridge, as the stepping stones were well under water, this comes to 11.5miles and over 3200ft of ascent, an interesting and harder expedition than you might think. Park at the view point on the A685 and wander up the road to the second gate.This is probably not open access land but the first gate leads either to beck crossings and mud plus, or a steeper climb by the beck. Head back right up the slope to a gate and then (now on access land) head up to the ridge where a definite path leads up, and probably to the right of, the steep shoulder, but I headed for this to view the Coum head cliffs, and on to a cairned summit at 478m. I’m sure this should be a good viewpoint: I got my compass out to head for the trig point at 494m. (It is a good viewpoint when clear) A non b-wire fence has to be crossed just after a wall-gap.
A path now leads to the first telecommunication tower, although a wall has to be crossed first by a poor wall stile. Note there are no other barriers to walking after this. A track then leads to the second tower, where leave the track to traverse a low hummocky area to a gate and past that a track turns left for Whinfell Beacon. Aim for the wall junction to the SW of spot height 404m, then either ascend the steep Castle Fell, or keep near the wall and follow the path down to the plantation. Trees! Unfortunately the sterile Norway Spruce type. The “path” now ascends to the right of Mabbin Crag, initially alongside, sometimes as, a stream. (Note, on doing this the other way round, when at the top of a plantation to the right, take the right path, not the one straight on which leads down to a thick plantation and horror: keep right) The good path now leads you to three more summits then down, better on the left branch, to a Byway track near the A6: the right branch descends through what I thought was a large patch of dead Spruces, but the picture below seems to indicate they were larches, (I took the left branch in summer). If wet, and the large stepping stones under water, it might be easier here to take to the road, although it is straightforward , and legal, to go upstream to the road then join a bridleway leading back to the Byway, which Desmond has cut into in one spot. Note, it took me an hour less from this point home than to get here.
The Byway track takes you easily up to the ridge, and at the highest point a good, if squelchy, quad track leads along the northern ridge, which it has to be said, if you can’t see the valley, lacks much of interest, not even a wall or fence. In a small defile after a boggy flat pass, the bridleway to Roundthwaite is a marker, as after the second definite summit from here (careful about this), a grassy descent from the col to a wall and a traversing path, bracken choked in summer, is much easier than a steeper descent through bracken off Jeffrey’s Mount. This leads to a track and the A685, although an (illegal) shortcut through a white disked marked gate leads to a good gate lower down. The road is depressing after this lonely but satisfying outing, only the yellow figures painted on the road indicate in metres or yards how far to go, keep you company.