KNOCKING ON CROSS FELL'S DOOR - 16.4.16

LEAVING GREG'S HUT

A blustery rendezvous above Knock village, saw our group of seven donning full bad weather kit, as a hail shower swept through.  Six members and guest, Wendy, formerly of Kent LDWA, set off up the service road to the ‘golf ball’ on Great Dun Fell.  The golf ball and indeed our target, Cross Fell, eluded us, due to the swirling cloud, which was to come and go throughout the day.   A wintry scene lay before us; the fells were liberally dusted with snow and the road became increasingly icy as we climbed.  Pausing to regroup, we turned to take in the view west, towards the fells of Lakeland, which appeared to be bathed in sunlight.  The ‘golf ball’ revealed itself at close quarters and we passed around its perimeter fence, on the Pennine Way path, heading towards Little Dun Fell, the central fell of the trio.  The icy shelter on Little Dun Fell offered little protection from the wind.  Pressing onto the plateau summit of Cross Fell, the recently reconstructed shelter there was no more inviting.  The biting wind prevented any lingering to admire this structure, rebuilt to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Pennine Way.

 

From Cross Fell summit, our next objective was Greg’s Hut, the former shepherd’s bothy.  It lies to the north east of the fell, on the Pennine Way route, beside the ancient corpse road, leading up from Garrigill, 7 miles to the east.  Easier said than done!  Following the cairns from the summit, we emerged from the cloud and a snowy panorama spread out before us.  Greg’s Hut could be seen huddled on the flanks of the fell and negotiating the snowy slopes was tricky at times (certainly for some of our number).  The hut offered a welcome break; those of us bringing up the rear were hoping to find the kettle on and the stove lit!

 

At this point we discussed options for our onward route.  The original plan to include Bullman and Round Hills was not pursued, due to the conditions being unsuitable for attempting this kind of terrain.  Instead, we decided to follow the corpse road down to Kirkland and from there, to take field paths back to our starting point above Knock.  As we skirted Cross Fell summit, the cloud had lifted, offering extensive views of the Lakeland Fells.  A grassy track took us down almost to the village of Kirkland on the western side of the fell.  Towards the end of the track we encountered a party of three heading up the fell on their way to an overnight stay at Greg’s Hut.  From here, a footpath took us south, on the route of Wainwright’s solitary ‘Pennine Journey’ of 1938.  Cloud free fell tops formed the backdrop to our brief afternoon stop, with the ‘golf ball’ clearly in view.  As we reflected upon the changeable nature of the day, a hail shower soon had us on the move again!  Our route continued across farmland to the village of Milburn, from which further field paths (and many stiles!) took us to back to Knock and the service road.  A final section of road walking returned us to the cars.