Bowscale Fell – A Sombre Wander

About a month ago, Callum and I had to say the hardest goodbye to our beloved Quinn. That old boxer of ours was 33% of our little family, not a single decision in the last 10 and a half years had been made without her being a part of it.

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Happy sundog up a fell

For the last year or so our pup had been suffering from quite a serious heart condition, we were at the stage where walks were short and slow, any over-excitement would result in her collapsing and a very stressful 10 minutes where we would have no idea if she would come round or not. Towards the end we tried her on heart medication, but this seemed to have no impact at all as she was still collapsing – the thought of her having to endure the possible side effects at her age made the minimal (if any) gain from the meds just not worth it for us.

She lived a relaxed life, snoozing while we worked and getting attention all evening, she had a permanently reserved spot at the end of our bed and treats every day without question – she was happy! Then suddenly her time had come, she had dinner and walked up the stairs and that was that, her poor old heart had had enough. Our puppy was in our arms until her last breath; she was at home with us and well fed, and we definitely take solace in that.

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Our beautiful girl!

Losing Quinn has been one of the hardest things we have ever had to go through – life will not be same without her. Our adventures will probably become more frequent and more adventurous but there will always be something missing for us… our best friend!

Family photo!

We took the weekend off work to come to terms with our new situation, and decided we needed to get out and enjoy some nature. We decided to pick out a fell in one of the quieter corners of the national park; Bowscale in the northern fells is quiet, offers great views and is a Wainwright we hadn’t ticked off yet.

The walk starts in the small village of Mungrisdale, through a gate and out onto what looks like open moorland, the surrounding peaks loom up ahead of you and you can hear the noise of the beck as it winds through the valley. The floods a few years ago have completely washed away a section of the path and the bridge it once lead to is no longer attached to the ground at one end. After crossing this you follow a well-made track around the base of the The Tongue before starting the climb up its side, towards Bowscale and Bannerdale Crags. At the top of this climb, the path splits – left to Bannerdale and right to Bowscale. Grassy tracks lead you across the plateau, past Bowscale Tarn which sits below, nestled into the hillside and surrounded by steep crags. After climbing a little further you reach the peak – it is a wide flat top, hard to know exactly where the highest point is without the aid of the usual stone-built markers.

The day was nice, the sun was never out for long but it was bright when it was. The views were hazy and subdued; much like our mood and the breeze was nice in the sun and cool in the shade. We made our way over the landslide area, the surrounding grassland was boggy and we didn’t fancy getting wet feet, some careful footing and a few leaps of faith and we were across, the stream was the same except with slimy stones added into the mix. The climb was easy enough, a few steeper sections but plenty of reason to stop and enjoy the calm view (and rest a little!) We pretty much spent the entire walk reminiscing about our pup, all the funny and cute things we could remember from the last decade, and there were plenty to keep us entertained!

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Waiting for the slow coach to catch up!

At the split in the path, where the ground levels out a bit, the views either side are impressive. Blencathra sits proudly above the rest of its companions in the area, over one edge you look down onto Bowscale Tarn which was an unusually deep blue colour, standing out vividly against the hues of the hazy surroundings. And once at the top, the vast and green Eden Valley lies in front stretching to the Pennines, with the shadows of rolling clouds moving across it silently.

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Bowscale Tarn

The way down is a much steeper affair – the path drops down the front of the fell, winding from left to right in order to find the most gradual route possible. With every step you can see the farm building getting a wee bit closer and the valley bottom looking a little less distant. The path is well trodden, but not well made; loose stones shift and move under each step and muddy patches create a few slip-slide moments but it is easy to follow and definitely not the worst we have encountered! The bottom half of the descent twists and turns through a huge patch of gorse bushes, not offering much room to navigate past those threatening looking thorns before you finally reach the bottom, past the farm buildings and out onto the little country road. The last small stretch is through the village itself until you make a full circle from where you headed off.

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Looking back down on the path we were on earlier

After lunch at the top, taking in the views we started our descent, the first part was much like the previous bit – open and grassy. The sky was blue over the Eden Valley and the hills ahead of us were glowing green in the sunlight. These hills are the last before the long far reaching valley floor between the Cumbrian Mountains and the Pennines and they appear to just come up out of the ground, almost rather awkwardly, but they appear more impressive for it. Very quickly our route got steeper and steeper, winding this way and that – we kept up a good speed but to do so it was imperative to watch our feet in order to not start skating down the hill on the loose stones. Trying not to hop, skip and jump right into the gorse bushes was the real fun bit!

We reached the bottom and made our way back to the starting point, watching the ewes and lambs in the fields we passed on our way through the village. It was a beautiful walk, which did lift our spirits, yet it was fittingly peaceful during what has been a rather sombre time.

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