The Winter Mountaineering in Chapter 22 of ‘My Cup Runneth Over’

A winter walk in the Lakeland Fells

. Looking west across Haweswater before the start of the walk, to Riggindale Crags on the north side of Long Stile and Caspel Gate (the descent route).  Copyright photograph; all rights reserved.

Some of the nicest compliments I have received for my first book in the Cumbria Police Novels series have been for the description of a circular, mid-winter fell walk, starting and finishing at the south end of Haweswater.

2. Small Water (tarn), part way up Nan Bield pass. The path here crosses the outflowing beck (stream) and works its way around the far side. This tarn can be seen again, from the top of the pass, in photograph number 4.  Copyright photograph; all rights reserved.

Richard Wallace, retired senior lecturer in classics at Keele University, in a review of My Cup Runneth Over, kindly wrote: “…One of the most attractive features of the novel is the lively and evocative scenes of Cumbria, its people, and its landscape. I particularly enjoyed a marvellous description of a winter walk over High Street. You could feel the crunch of the snow under your boots, the cold wind on your face, and the exhilaration of getting to the top and just looking at the views. I wanted to be there!…”  (See more readers’ opinions)

3. Ill Bell (a different fell to Mardale Ill Bell) and Froswick (the more pointed summit), above Kentmere Reservoir, from Nan Bield pass.  Copyright photograph; all rights reserved.

The route, that day, went from Haweswater up past Small Water (photo 2) to the top of Nan Bield Pass.  After a look over ‘the other side’, down into Kentmere (photo 3) and shortly afterwards getting an exciting shock-of-our lives from the jet, we continued up towards the top (photo 4) of the beautifully-named Mardale Ill Bell.

4. Looking down Nan Bield pass from the flanks of Mardale Bell. Part way down the fell is Small Water – mostly frozen over – then down in the valley is Haweswater. In the far distance are the Pennines. Copyright photograph; all rights reserved.

The photograph (number 4) of the snow, beautifully sculpted into drifts against a dry stone wall, of which only the top ‘cam’ stones are visible, was taken on Racecourse Hill (read Chapter 22 for an accurate description of how a mountain got such a name!), and I believe I was standing on the top of the trig’ point (i.e. a mapmakers’ triangulation pillar) to get the necessary high viewpoint.

5. Snow drifts sculpted by wind and ice along the west side of a dry stone wall on Racecourse Hill and High Street – a former Roman Road. The fell tops at the far left are, L-to-R, Yoke, Ill Bell and Froswick. In the central far background are gleams off the water of Windermere and then the distant Morecambe Bay (Irish Sea).  Copyright photograph; all rights reserved.

Coming back down via Long Stile and Caspel Gate was interesting due to the fact that in places the snow had frozen extremely hard and in places there were large areas of sheet ice.  Attempting it without crampons could potentially have proved lethal (photo 5).

6. Eddie Wren — whose author’s pen-name is Steve Shearwater — descending Long Stile.       Copyright photograph; all rights reserved.

Steve Shearwater

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