The second of Striding Edge's Lake District Walk DVDs includes three relatively strenuous circuits and features native lad (fellwalker, author, and photographer) Bill Birkett and Scottish broadcaster and author Cameron McNeish. The three walks include Crinkle Crags and Bowfell, the Fairfield Horeshoe, and Great Gable. All feature stunning views of the high fells, lakes, rivers, valleys, and waterfalls of the Lake District. Each of the routes is traced at the outset on the relevant Ordnance Survey Touring Map, and details provided of the number of miles, number of feet of ascent, and number of hours involved.
The first walk begins at Cockley Beck, and besides the Crinkles, includes views of Bow Fell, Esk Pike, Scafell Pike, and Mosedale. Despite the popularity of the Lakeland walks since Wainwright, McNeish and Birkett, who sometimes bypass the "main drags," encounter almost no other walkers during this first route. They observe a couple trying to decide whether or not to attempt the "Bad Step" (the couple decides not to), but our two hosts successfully make the awkward climb. McNeish does admit that on such steep climbs, his trekking poles become "a wee bit of a pest." Passing Crinkle Crags, they discuss the knotty question of just how many crinkles there are--five or six? Birkett recalls walking and climbing this area with his father when he was a lad and explains why he never gets tired of the ever-changing views.
The second walk, the Fairfield Horseshoe, begins and ends at an Ambleside inn and passes by Low Pike, High Pike, Dove Crag, Hart Crag, Fairfield, Great Rigg, Nab Scar, and Rydal Park. A former civil engineer, Birkett stops to admire an old gravity-feed aqueduct that channels water from this part of the Lake District to Manchester; and they later marvel at the wall-builders' art that allows a centuries'-old wall (stretching straight as a rule miles into the distance) to remain standing, while a modern concrete equivalent would have cracked within a year from changing climate and shifting ground. The two stop at a man-made cave and examine entries written by previous travelers into log books kept in a metal chest.
The third walk begins and ends at the Seatewaite farm and includes Styhead Tarn, Climber's Traverse, Little Hell Gate, Great Gable, Green Gable, and the spectacular falls of Taylorgill Force. Along the way, we enjoy views of the Wasdale Valley below and craggy rock-sides above, on which we see a pair of climbers maneuvering with their ropes toward the needle-sharp peak. Near Great Gable Birkett points out a cairn built in 1879; McNeish, no fan of cairns, declares that as far as he's concerned it spoils the view, and he could do without them. Near the end of the walk, Birkett relates some of the ghost stories connected to the area--encounters with the spirits of walkers and climbers past that still haunt the high fells.
Larry B | Ventura, California | October 2018