Dockray: High Force and Watermillock Common

As my blister isn’t getting any better or worse, I thought I’d take it easy today and break the day into two small walks, one on either side of the village.

In the morning I climbed halfway up Gowbarrow Fell and would’ve gone higher but I wasn’t keen on trying to climb a drystone wall.

I walked up to that tiny dark clump in the middle then down again. I really should’ve checked the map properly to see if there was a way to the top.

Then I walked down the valley to the first few sections of High Force and was then told by some people that the main section was closed due to a fallen tree.

Close to Dockray
Further down.

It was another stunningly beautiful day, so I had a sandwich and cider in the sun. The sandwich was so good I order a packed lunch for my walk onward to Troutbeck tomorrow. Curried chicken – I’ve never eaten a sandwich quite this brightly coloured!

The photo doesn’t really do it justice, I feel like it was almost glow-in-the-dark yellow.

After lunch I rested my feet for a bit and had a phone call with Luke and his parents. Lea and Pete have just arrived in Lille, so they are much closer to my time zone. They are travelling around with friends of theirs and then meeting Luke and I halfway through May when we come back to the Lake District.

Next was a walk up the hill behind the pub. It looked like a Goldilocks level for me – not too steep, not too gravelly, not too busy! In fact, I didn’t see a single person between leaving the pub and getting back.

First I headed for the nearest small hill and made it to the top quite easily. The ground was mostly sphagnum moss and lumps of dry grass.

I hadn’t taken any water so I didn’t want to go too far, but I decided to head up to the next rise, then the next rise, until I realised I was up very high!

High enough to see Helvellyn in the distance. Helvellyn isn’t the highest fell, but it’s where Striding Edge is. Mum had to walk it when she was a kid because grandpa was a mountain climber and thought it was totally fine for a small child. I’ll find a photo from the internet to show you what it’s like.

Thanks but no thanks. I know my limits!

Anyhow, it was exciting to see it from a distance. But then I saw something even more exciting, a fighter jet! I saw one on my last trip, whooshing down over Coniston. This time I saw one almost skim Ullswater, it was much lower than where I was standing. It was going too fast for me to get my camera out but here’s a photo with the level it was flying.

Am I too excited about this? It seemed very thrilling at the time but maybe it was just really loud.

Anyhow, I thought it was cool, then I did manage to get a photo of a much larger airforce plane going overhead.

Also fairly low but not quite as impressive.

The whole while I was climbing the wind was getting stronger and stronger. Despite the sun it was quite cold.

In hindsight the scarf was a mistake.

But I just kept going up and up. The tufts of grass made good footholds and not carrying a bag made it all easier. In the end I made it to the top of the disappointingly-named Common Fell. Literally the worst name of all the fells. There’s fells named Dollywagon Pike, Stang, Swineside Knot, High Spy and Crinkle Crags. I manage to have my best day yet on Common Fell. Oh well. Maybe the reason no one else was there was the unassuming name?

One day I will lose a shoe. But not today!

Maybe it was because half the surface of the fell was ankle deep bog. At one point I started singing that Annie Lennox song ‘Walking On Broken Glass’ but I changed the words to ‘walking on spagnum moss’ and thought… maybe I’ve spent too much time on my own today.

The moss was a lot better than loose shale though, and I don’t mind wet feet. The softness under foot was probably quite good for my joints and I didn’t feel very tired when I got back to the hotel.

The village green.

I washed my hair then went out to sit in the sun in the beer garden. Earlier in the morning I’d had a chat to a lady from Montreal and her partner and then they (and their son) asked me if I’d like to join their table in the beer garden as I was sitting alone.

Well, you know me. I sat with them outside for an hour or so then we all went in for dinner and sat together. We talked about our journeys – the man’s father had died (at 103!) of Covid and they were taking his ashes from Scotland to Dorset, where he had wanted them buried. They had stopped in Cumbria for two nights on the way and had visited Wordsworth’s cottage this morning. A perfect time of year for celebrating the life of the man who single handedly made daffodils synonymous with the Lake District.

The man had been an artist and they showed me photographs they had taken of many of his artworks. They were all very beautiful and many were of the English countryside.

We also talked about books. Their son’s favourite genre was science fiction so we swapped authors and talked about our favourites.

All in all another delightful day spent doing things I love!

I finally got a photo of people I’ve met!

One thought on “Dockray: High Force and Watermillock Common

  1. I make up songs like this all the time! I only need half a phrase to make its way to my inner monologue and it becomes a song. Seems we are the same in this! I’ll message you the next lyric changed song I invent!

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