Glenridding, Lanty's Tarn, Red Tarn, Catstye Cam - Sunday 17th April 2016
The club’s weekend outings in the Lake District in April offered groups the opportunity to split into different activities over the 2 days.
John Adams volunteered to put together the blog for the Saturday Cam Crag RidgeGrade II/III scramble and I volunteered to pen a blog for one of the Sunday excursions.
My tale really begins on Saturday night when we retired to the pub well in advance of the appointed dining reservation time. Our climb up Helevellyn earlier in the day was accomplished in fine weather, little cloud and very light winds with no signs of the forecast snow, that was until we saw it from inside the pub on Saturday night, lucky we made it to the pub for cover eh ?
On Sunday we had intended splitting into 3 groups, one group set off to tackle Scafell Pike, another group intended taking a stroll to Catstye Cam via Lanty’s Tarn and Red Tarn whilst Jim had opted for a solo effort towards Helvellyn via Striding Edge.
Our accommodation at Gillside Farm at the beginning of a path up to Helvellyn allowed us to leave our cars in the Gillside bunkhouse car park on Saturday and Sunday. We had sole use of the Gillside bunkhouse so thanks to John Adams for organising that.
I’ve enlisted the services of the Internet to define some terms used in this blog.
A tarn (or corrie loch) is a mountain lake or pool, formed in a cirque excavated by a glacier. It is formed when either rain or river water fills the cirque. A moraine may form a natural dam below a tarn.
Lanty's Tarn was named in the 18th century after the owner Lancelot Dobson, Lanty being a lakeland diminutive of Lancelot. It was later owned by the Marshall family of Patterdale Hall, now an outdoor education centre, who enlarged the natural tarn by damming its outflow and used it for fishing. In winter ice was collected and stored in a nearby ice house for use in summer.
Red Tarn, a classic corrie tarn, is a high altitude tarn with low nutrient levels and poor in the number of species it supports. Characteristic vegetation zones include a water-starwort (Callitriche) in shallower areas and the alga Nitella flexilis in deeper water and around the inlet. Other species include a pondweed (Potamogeton) which grows in 2–3 m (6.6–9.8 ft) of water and the rush Juncus bulbosus. Brown trout and schelly, a species of whitefish, are found in the tarn.
An edge in mountain place-names is a steep escarpment, on either one side or (as here) on both sides. The first reference to Striding Edge was by Walter Scott in 1805 as Striden-edge. A map of 1823 called it Strathon Edge. It is possible that "Striding Edge" has replaced an earlier name, now lost.
Catstye Cam, or as Wainwright referred to it "Catstycam", is the imposing triangular termination of Swirral Edge and has a reputation for attracting lightning ( fortunately we didn’t attract any )
The earliest known record of the name dates from 1577, but early records are spelling variations of the modern name (such as Helvillon, Helvelon or Hell Belyn) rather than any help with the etymology. Various attempts to interpret the name have been made in the past. Some, misled by the present spelling, thought the final syllable was the Welsh word llyn, "lake". Richard Coates in 1988 proposed a Celtic derivation from the deduced Cumbric word hal, "moorland", and velin, the Cumbric equivalent of the Welsh word melyn meaning "yellow."
So now you know!
Jim, on his own, duly set off as did the Scafell 3 leaving 8 of us to head for Catstye Cam. We had only just cleared the boundary wall of the Gillside bunkhouse when a split developed in the ranks, four and four.
On a walk back from Glenridding village on Friday night I had spotted a finger post pointing to Lanty’s Tarn and decided to head back towards the village and follow that route. I was accompanied by 3 and the other 4 opted to proceed along the Helvellyn path as the maps showed that there was more than one route to Lanty’s Tarn.
Having gained Lanty’s Tarn it was our intention to head thereafter towards Birkhouse Moor and the Hole in the Wall before dropping down to Red Tarn.
Our route from Lanty’s Tarn had us trekking through Grisedale alongside Grisedale Beck in the shadow of St Sunday Crag. We sought out a path towards Birkhouse Moor but were unable to find a well-defined path in that direction so we continued along Grisedale as a well-made path continued to climb up towards the Hole in the Wall.
The views along Grisedale were pretty good and the views back down Grisedale towards Patterdale and Place Fell were equally as beautiful.
As we approached The Hole in the Wall we came upon a style over a dry stone wall which stretched back all the way to Birkhouse Moor. A familiar form was observed on the other side of the wall checking bearings, we had unintentionally rendezvoused with Jim Lindsay!
Despite the weather outlook being sunny and bright the Saturday night snow had left a wee dusting on Striding Edge and Jim was considering his options. The patches of snow still in existence around the shaded parts of the Hole in the Wall convinced Jim that Striding Edge was not for him this day thus our group of 4 became 5 as we doubled back slightly on the Birkside Moor path to the junction with the path down to Red Tarn. We continued down that path to Red Tarn to find a sheltered spot for a wee picnic. We were not the only picnickers there that day.
Dinner consumed we resumed our trek to the fringe of Swirral Edge where there was a choice of continuing onto Swirral Edge or taking the path to the summit of Catstye Cam. The day before, from the summit of Helvellyn, we had intended to descend via Swirral Edge however a rather tricky, steep, snow covered section separated the summit from the sharp arête so we chose an alternative route. On Sunday the section was still steep, was still tricky and was still snow covered so we elected not to venture very far along Swirral Edge, In addition had we continued along Swirral Edge to the summit of Helvellyn we didn’t fancy the long walk down again via White Side and Raise.
We strolled up the path to the summit of Catstye Cam in brilliant sunlight, as it had been all day in fact and were rewarded with some fantastic views over Striding Edge, Helvellyn, Swirral Edge and Red Tarn. We also had great views to the west towards Thirlmere and Derwent Water.
As we descended from the summit of Catstye Cam we met the remaining group, last seen at Gillside, coming up, so late in the day all 3 local groups had merged again for a wee while.
After exchanging a few pleasantries we continued to follow the path down towards Red Tarn and then continued down through Glenridding Common following the course of Red Tarn Beck and then Glenridding Beck back to Gillside.
Sorry to disappoint dear readers but there are no tales of mishaps such as me falling on my backside or getting stuck in the Glenridding Bawdeep Beck although I’m sure Jennifer had money with the bookies on me falling off Striding Edge.
It only remains for me to thank Jennifer, Julia, Davie, Jim and Caroline ( Saturday ) for helping to make it a cracking weekend and to say that I thoroughly enjoyed your company on the hills.