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The Old Crown Round, Northern Lakes, 24 July

View up Blackhazel Beck to Blencathra

During the runner’s 2 day recce of this 22 mile, 7000 feet of climbing challenge I did two walks. We stayed at the pub in Mungrisdale and the walks were from Bowscale, the next village.

The first walk was to Bowscale Tarn. The path started near where I left the car. It was level at the start, but then, once I had crossed a beck, it rose uphill. It was early, it was a weekday and it was raining so I had no company on my slow walk but flighty wheatears and curious, somewhat judgemental sheep “Can’t you go faster, Two Legs?” As I looked down to the valley bottom I could see the bubbling river Caldew and the narrow single track road from Mosedale which joined up with the Cumbria Way where the tarmac ran out. Across the valley was the bulk of Carrock Fell, the first summit of the race, with its forbidding cliffs dropping to the valley floor. 

After a final few steep yards I reached the hidden tarn tucked under crags. The shallow waters near the path at the edge of the tarn were clear, the deeper waters reflected the grey looming sky. In the splattering rain I sat getting my breath back, listening to the sheep and the silence. 

Bowscale Tarn

I followed the path around the tarn which led me over and down the grassy col at the far end of the tarn to rejoin the outward path and I headed downhill.

Once back at the car I drove up the road from Mosedale I had seen from above, past Swineside, parked on a grassy verge and waited for the runner to return along the Cumbria Way. 

On the next day which was warmer and drier I did a level circular walk from Bowscale that I had found in a leaflet on the internet. It took me through fields, farmyards and quiet lanes to Mosedale Moss. There were a couple of birders out who told me they had seen some stonechats but my closest encounter with nature was getting bitten by a horsefly in the sheep filled fields.

The tearoom at the Friends’ Meeting House in Mosedale was open when I passed it towards the end of my walk. I had a cup of tea and a sandwich in the cool shady garden, letting the conversation from neighbouring tables waft past me. Then I collected the car and headed back up the narrow road  for another pick up from the Cumbria Way.

On the day of the race I dropped the runner at the Old Crown pub in Hesket Newmarket and returned to Mosedale and then up the road to the Cumbria Way again. It was a hot Saturday in the school holidays and markedly busier than on the last visit. I found a parking spot, walked along the road, crossed the bridge over Grainsgill Beck and turned in the direction of Skiddaw House. 

There was no shade on the Cumbria Way and the sun was strong on the wide stony path.  I envied the families splashing and shouting in the river Caldew. I walked until I saw the marshalls at Blackhazel Beck, the final river crossing for the runners before they headed up Blencathra. I was feeling warm now so I scrambled up the bracken and sat in the shade of a lone tree with my binoculars to watch the race. Once I had seen my runner I retraced my steps, ate my picnic and read by the river while the runners crested further peaks: Skiddaw, Knott and High Pike before finishing the day on the green at Hesket Newmarket.  

Cumbria Way looking towards Carrock Fell


Bowscale Tarn walk: I downloaded a description of the walk from (£1). Easy navigation

Mosedale Moss walk: The Mill Inn, Mungrisdale Cumbria

There is no phone signal at the top of the road from Mosedale as it approaches its junction with the Cumbria Way so we made rendezvous arrangements in advance.

Tea Room at the Friends Meeting House at Mosedale is advertised as open Wednesday – Saturday and Sunday afternoons

Rating TTT (facilities at Mosedale Tearoom) or T (if tearoom not open)

RR (if tearoom open) or 0

WWW lots of choice in this area if you have a car

Chapelfell Top Fell Race

River Wear at Ireshopeburn

13 July 2021

We parked by the Mart in St John’s Chapel. My husband, the race photographer, headed off up the lane behind the Golden Lion. The evening sun was still warm as I walked west along the road out of the village passing a driveway and a sign for a Bed and Breakfast with a fierce looking alpaca on it. In Ireshopeburn there was a plaque in a shady garden commemorating John Wesley, who often visited this area. Perhaps he had preached under these very trees on a balmy July evening like this surrounded by the local lead miners after their long hot day of work. The fire of his words must have both revived and inspired those weary souls as the local High House Chapel had a congregation of over 250 members by 1772.

I crossed the River Wear on the side road here looking down at the pattern of the clear shallow water running over rocks and stones with sunlight bouncing off its surface. The trees were in their summer glory, green goddesses of the riverbank. I turned down the steps to the riverside path, much drier than when I had last walked here before the long winter lockdown. As I walked along the Weardale Way there were splurges of wild flowers: vetch, cow parsley, red campion, purple cranesbill. Birds called but they were playing hide and seek with me along the tree lined path and I couldn’t see them.

Wild flowers

By the time I reached a road I had gained a little height. Across the valley through my binoculars I could see the fell runners on a steep enclosed path heading towards a white farmhouse, the marshalls waiting at the fell gate and the photographer beyond them at a wall corner. The runners’ vests were a moving paintbox of bright colours. Those at the front of the field were going strong, those at the back were moving more slowly bent forward with their hands on their knees to assist their climb. Once out on the open fell it was every runner for themselves, choosing their own path over the uneven grassy slope to the summit before descending to the finish.

Walking on I had a choice of footbridge or stepping stones at a ford. I took the bridge just as a farmer on his tractor splashed through the ford giving me a wave as he passed. I turned left and headed to Daddry Shield the path running between the river and fields of pungent, moaning sheep. A juvenile grey wagtail posed on a rock in the river, its feathers fluffed up after a quick dip.

Cross the Wear by stepping stones or bridge

I returned to St John’s Chapel via the road. At the finish small groups of runners stood talking, some with pints of beer from the Golden Lion, others with hot drinks from Chatterbox Cafe.

The photographer returned with the marshalls and sweepers. We bought spicy soup, sweet cakes and cups of tea from Chatterbox. Then we sat on a bench by the church eating and drinking our feast as the crescent moon rose in the sky and the whirling and calling swifts became darting shadows against the sunset.

Chatterbox Cafe

Walk length: Just over 3 miles