Black, White or Grey Combe?
19th June 2008
are some unkind folk who say that Barrow isnít the end of the
world but you can see it from there. Cruel Barrovians
agree and add that it is at Millom. One thing
you couldnít see today from Barrow, or anywhere else
for that matter, was Black Combe, the hill that
dominates the skyline behind Millom. It was under
clag. Which made it a strange choice of destination
for todayís outing, especially when you bear in mind
that the views are supposed to be exceptional, extending
from Wales to Scotland via the Isle of Man and Ireland.
that is where Bryan and I decided to go, influenced
as much as anything by the MWIS forecast that said the
best of the weather would be in the west. And
they were not wrong! Indeed, it was a pleasant
sunny drive to Millom but you could see the clag was
down on the tops.
parked at Beckside and headed north up Whitecross Beck.
Bryanís original idea was to cross the footbridge
and then go direttisimo west up the fell. However
the bracken had grown somewhat since he was last there
so we opted for the much gentler valley approach. For
a hundred yards at least. And then he realised
that the bracken was not growing on the nose of Sty
Knotts so direttisimo it was after all.
on green leaves
disturbed a frog on the climb (good breath-catching
opportunity) and wondered what the vegetation was under
foot, short springy plant with green leaves tinged with
red. Quite easy walking and another breath-catching
opportunity to examine it.
view back to Millom and the Duddon Estuary
must have hit the clag at around 1,500 feet, perhaps
a little higher. Visibility was very poor but
at first it was not a problem. However, as we
reached the higher parts we began to get concerned that
we could not see the cairn. By this time Bryan
had both map and compass out, always a worrying sign.
He took one look and concluded we were going in
quite the wrong direction for the trig point. Then
he lost confidence in his compass and asked for mine,
which told him the same tale. Meanwhile I was
looking at my gps which told me that we were very close
to the trig point. The trouble was that I had
misread my map and (not for the first time) mistaken
the cairn sign for a trig point sign- only about 400
subsequently wrote: When we reached the top of the
escarpment (near Eller Peatpot) I started following
what I thought was the edge of the steep ground, keeping
it on my right. The mist, however, makes all ground
look much steeper than it is and we drifted away from
the edge as we climbed. It's a classic mistake and shows
that the time to get the compass out is when you know
where you are! Good relocation skills though!
heads into the clag
photo in Black Combe shelter
so; he directed us straight to the trig point where
there was a very welcome wall shelter- it was blowing
a gale by now and there was a considerable wind chill
factor. I still had my trousers in shorts mode
so I took off my boots, put on the trouser bottoms and
redressed my feet. This untying, zipping and
retying meant that I had lost virtually all feeling
in my fingers. I had a pair of hand-warmers in
my sac and I very nearly decided to open them. Hand-warmers
in June, for heavenís sake! I opted instead to
put on gloves plus my emergency anorak and have first
lunch. It was, after all, nearly twelve oíclock!
next objective in the continuing gloom was Whitecombe
Moss and it was essential to take and follow a bearing
which we did successfully. We got occasional glimpses
of the valley down to our right to encourage us that
we were on the right path.
Combe and Whitestone Beck Valley
As we dropped to Whitecombe
Head we came out of the clag and could see our way to
the Moss summit (such as it is) and then along to a
stone nest of a shelter on the summit of White Combe where we stopped
for second lunch.
back to Black Combe
in the stone nest on White Combe
the descent, we took the essential detour along the
intriguing narrow ridge of White Hall Knott- one way
in and out but a splendid viewpoint up to Blackcombe
and Whitecombe Screes and also over Millom to the Duddon
Estuary. We also had a good view of our direttisimo!
made an interesting discovery. Remember the comment
earlier about bracken not growing on the nose of Sty
Knotts? Well, it became clear that the bracken
only grew on the south facing slopes, north facing slopes
lifting amidst the foxgloves
there it was an easy trot back to the car although we
had to negotiate some old trails rather
overgrown with nettles and foxgloves.
our gps satellite signals proved something strange and
a little worrying- the two machines were interfering
with each other. If we held them close together
we lost signal strength and some satellites. Correspondingly
the reported accuracy deteriorated and recovered as
we separated them.
drive home in lovely June sunshine confirmed that whilst
it was delightful along the coast, most of the Lake
District was in cloud and possibly rain. So it
hadn't been such a bad choice after all, although grey was
the predominant colour, not black.
19 June 2008
of the consequences of the increasing readership of
these blogs is
a corresponding increase in feedback about aspects of
our walks. Last week for example, the review was
read by the sister of the farmer in Bannisdale across
whose land (and walls and fences) we had crossed. It
seems that the reason that AW's wish for stiles did
not come true was that he shouldn't have been there
in the first place! In those day, he was trespassing.
Nowadays, with Right to Roam, we think we were there
legitimately (indeed the CROW Open
Access map seems to show a footpath) and we were
acting responsibly regarding walls and fences. Nevertheless,
stiles would have been welcome!
Combe, White Combe
you have Memory Map on your computer, you can follow
our route in detail by downloading BB0821.
For the latest totals
of the mileages, heights and Lakeland Fells Books Wainwrights see: Wainwrights.
If anyone wants to claim other peaks, please let
me know and I will submit them to the adjudication committee!
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- BB0801 :
Avoiding the Graupel;
- BB0802 :
Lyth in the Old Dogs;
Tuesday 22 January
: That's Lyth;
Sunday 27 January 2008
: Tony's Memory Lane;
Wednesday 30th January
: Fell's Belles! Thank You Mells?
: The Langdale Skyline and a Fell Race!
An Outbreak of Common Sense;
Thursday 21st February
Askham Fell and the Lowther Estate;
: Thanks to the MWIS
Wednesday 19th March 2008
: High Street and Kidsty Pike but no Fairy
: Prelude to Spring
Wednesday 2nd April 2008
: Spring in Lakeland
6th April 2008
Wet, Wet Sleddale to Mosedale Cottage
10th April 2008
: What's It All About, Tony?
17th April 2008
: The Hidden Mountain
22nd April 2008
: The Bowland CROW
1st May 2008
: High Cup Nick:
The Gurt La'al Canyon
7th May 2008
: Travelling Light
14th May 2008
22nd May 2008
: The Northern Tip
29th May 2008
: The Bannisdale Horseshoe
Black, White or Grey Combe?
19th June 2008
: Thunder on the 555
3rd July 2008
: We'll Give It Five
Thursday 10th July
: Shelters from the Storm
17th July 2008
- BskiB08 : Bootski Boys in the Sella Ronda
23rd February - 1st March
Click on the photos for an enlargement or related large
has kindly produced a log of which Wainwrights have
been done by which BOOTboy
in the "modern" era, i.e. since the advent
download the Excel file click on Wainwrights.
anyone wants to claim other peaks, please let me know
and I will submit them to the adjudication committee!
This page describes an adventure of BOOTboys, a loose group of friends of mature
years who enjoy defying the aging process by getting out into the hills as
often as possible!
As most live in South Lakeland, it is no surprise that
our focus is on the Lakeland fells and the Yorkshire Dales.
As for the name, BOOTboys, it does not primarily derive from an
item of footwear but is in memory of Big
Josie, the erstwhile landlady of
the erstwhile Burnmoor Inn at Boot in Eskdale, who enlivened Saint Patrick's Day
1973 and other odd evenings many years ago!
If you want to contact us, click on