Cumbria is open

Walker on top of a high fell in the Lake District

by Graham Uney, Friday 11 December 2015

At last the winter seems to be making a start in the Lake District. A light dusting of snow covered many of the higher fells today, and with more snow and colder conditions forecast for over the weekend, it’s a great time to be heading to Cumbria.

Of course, there are parts of Cumbria that have been affected by the floods caused by Storm Desmond. Some villages and towns are without power, roads are still flooded in a few places, and some bridges are closed. However, one of the best ways you can help the people of Cumbria recover from the floods is to visit those areas that are still ‘open’ (and that is a large part of the county!), and to keep coming back as more and more villages and valleys become accessible again.

As you may know, the Fell Top Assessor job involves Jon and me in climbing Helvellyn daily throughout the winter season to take weather readings from the summit, and to assess the snow conditions on paths all over the mountain. Well, you may have noticed that we’ve not been able to access Helvellyn since the floods. Things are already improving in Glenridding, and we hope to resume our reports from Helvellyn very soon. In the meantime, we’re enjoying getting out onto some of the other great fells of the District.

During Jon’s days on the job he climbed Red Screes, and on the actual day of the storm he even managed to get up Wansfell Pike! Since I took over on Wednesday I’ve been up Blencathra, and Skiddaw today, and am thinking of ‘doing the Dodds’ tomorrow, with possibly a walk up Grasmoor on Sunday as it looked very snowy today!

There are simply loads of great fells for you to climb, both high and low, but the Fell Top Assessor team ask that you do it responsibly, and that you check a few access points before you head off. Here are our guidelines to visiting Cumbria as we recover from the floods:

  • Check the Lake District Weatherline forecast and ground conditions report on www.lakedistrictweatherline.co.uk
  • Check the Cumbria Floods website at www.lakedistrict.gov.uk/cumbriafloods to find out about road closures, and bridges to avoid. There is a lot of other useful information on this site too.
  • Please do not drive through ‘Road Closed’ barriers. They are closed for a very good reason.
  • The Lake District National Park rangers have placed cordons on some paths where they have identified a safety issue. Please take these seriously and do not cross the cordons.
  • Be particularly careful when crossing footbridges that may not have been inspected, and look out for damaged footpaths. You can report these on 01539 724555 over the weekend.
  • Allow extra time to get here. You may need to travel a bit further to get around to some of the valleys you want to visit, but you know it’ll be well worth it!
  • Go properly equipped. Even on the lower fells it is very cold at the moment, and snow is forecast down to 300m. Take full waterproofs, hat and gloves, warm clothing, a packed lunch, sturdy boots, a torch, and a map and compass. If you’re going into the higher fells, or anywhere above the snowline, you will also need an ice axe and crampons, snow goggles, and spare warmth layers and extra snacks can be good too.
  • Stay in the Lake District! Even if it’s just for one night. Businesses are really struggling, and having visitors here paying for self catering cottages, B&Bs or hotels, whilst nipping down the pub for a beer and meal will help boost the local economy. Visit shops during the day, and have lunch in café. Hire a local mountain guide to take you on a walk, or learn winter skills for the hills from your very own Fell Top Assessor team! It’s all going to help get Cumbria back on its feet.
  • Have a great time while you’re here, and when you go home, tell all your friends that Cumbria is Open, and that they should visit soon!

Blencathra and Skiddaw