The relatively pleasant weather for early December resulted in 12 (8 Cumbria LDWA and 4 visitors) on the walk, which started at Aira Force National Trust Car Park (Grid Reference NY 400200).  This was very much a mixed terrain route - incorporating two Wainwright summits (Gowbarrow Fell and Little Mell Fell), open access land, tarmac bashing and a stretch on the Ullswater Way.

The group headed off on the path next to Aira Force for 2 km before turning right and encountering the first cardiovascular stretch of the day to reach the trig point at the summit of Gowbarrow Fell, nestled in the mist.  It was on the west side of the fell in 1802 that Dorothy Wordsworth noticed wild daffodils growing.  Her observations later inspired her brother William to write his famous poem, Daffodils.  Two routes off the summit were offered: (i) the machismo way straight over the rocks; and (ii) a dog-leg option for wimps.  Interestingly the 8 wimps, which included the leader, reached the point of confluence before the 4 machismos!

It was then down over the fellside to Ulcat Row to begin a significant stretch of tarmac to Nabend and then the mighty metropolis of Lowthwaite!  A right turn put the team on a path to the start of the second cardiovascular stretch of the walk which would lead to the summit of Little Mell Fell.  Both Great and Little Mell Fells are unique among the fells of the Lake District by being composed of the Mell Fell Conglomerate, a sedimentary rock formed from deposits of sand and gravel in alluvial fans and braided river channels in a desert environment.  The rock contains no fossils.

A descent and a bridleway took the group to a luxury lunch perched on the grass banks of a T junction with a tarmac road.  From there more tarmac bashing took the dozen to Sparket and then Bennethead, where the Ullswater Way was joined to return to Aira Force Car Park - passing the magnificent Priest’s Crag, through the enchanted Swinburn’s Park and along Gowbarrow Terrace, where the views of Ullswater were sublime.  A splendid day out enjoyed by all involved.  The vital statistics were 23.8 km (14.8 miles), 982 metres (3,220 feet) of ascent and a total time of just under seven hours.