Ullscarf from Grasmere
In his Central Fells book, Wainwright describes Ullscarf as having 'The makings of a great mountain.....however, the top of the fell is the dullest imaginable'!
So not a great start. I can see what is meant too, for Ullscarf is no more than a big lump of tussocky grass and heather. This I suspect is why it has taken so long for me to make a visit. But is this summary fair? Well I'm no longer so sure it is. Looking at it on a map, the routes seems to cross swathes of quite featureless terrain that offer little more than bog to keep ones mind active!
I can confirm there is indeed much bog to be encountered on the route I took. But boring or dull it most certainly was not. I'd say this covers some of the finest landscape the district has to offer and with a wild & remote feel from very early on in the walk. What I would add though, is this route should only be attempted after a prolonged period of dry weather.
I set out from home in Ambleside and cycled the 10km or thereabouts to Far Easedale. Following the bridleways alongside Rydal Water and through White Moss for starters, then road sections through Grasmere village to reach the Coast to Coast route leading into Far Easedale. It has been a few years since I visited Far Easedale, I'd forgotten how long a valley it is. I managed to cycle as far as the wooden bridge crossing Far Easedale Gill, there was a good hiding spot for my bike nearby too. I was already finding the track very difficult on a bike, so was glad to put it to rest and continue on foot.
The plan from here was to run / walk the rest of the way. Soon I passed under Deer Field Crag and my mind was cast back to recent readings of my newly acquired copy of 'Hard Rock' and the Deer Bield route that collapsed! After a long climb I arrived at a col, a short descent led to Mere Beck and 'The Bog'!
Thankfully the long dry spell means the terrain is all very passable at present, even managed to keep feet dry, which is pretty amazing on this type of terrain. A further ascent next to Flour Gill brought me onto the plateau that would lead more easily up to Ullscarf summit.
I was using the Harveys map and no paths were marked on it, I didn't expect any either, and for most of the way didn't get any. It is wonderful to roam off-path from time to time and although the terrain was rough and tussocky, it was still a delight to be using some navigational skills with map & compass in hand to forge on to the summit. After a while I did notice a vague path, this along with the remains of a fence would prove useful should the mist roll in on the unprepared.
There were 2 other walkers and their 2 Border Collies on the summit, social distancing was incredibly easy on such a vast plateau, so no issues with that. They were soon on their way and after a couple of snaps so was I.
But hold on a moment, the summit of this mountain may be rather flat and devoid of rocky outcrops, it more than makes up for this with outstanding views in all directions. Being in the middle of the Lake District does seem to have this advantage. Had there not been a chilly northerly wind blowing and no shelter, I would have been staying up here quite a while.
To stay with the off-path theme, I chose to descend via a prominent spur next to Green Coomb. This proved to be a pleasant and quick route back to 'The Bog'. An easy jump across the With Burn and onto Brownrigg Moss before rejoining my ascent route along Far Easedale.
From Ambleside this route is about 32km in total with 20km rideable (for someone new to mtb like me) and 12km on foot.
The Lakeland fells are now open and travel here is permitted. However, almost all car parks, shops, cafes and services remain closed. All accommodation also remains closed. So if you are planning to visit, please be completely self sufficient.
Ullscarf from Grasmere - in summary is a walk well worth doing. There is more information about our Guided Walks here.
Thanks for reading