25 – A snowy day up Fairfield

DSC_2753Blog Post 25 –

 

Date: Monday 18th January

Distance: 6.5 miles

Wainwright Count: 4

Wainwrights: Nab Scar, Heron Pike, Great Rigg and Fairfield

Who with: My best mate Susie, the Patterdale Terrier (of course)!

 

After a lovely weekend of blue skies and lovely fresh snow, it was just my luck that my planned Monday walk would be in rain and blustery winds, but that wasn’t the case. After a 6 am start from my home, I parked up at Rydal Mount at about 8.15am and set off walking at 8.30am, on what was a cold, icy but dry morning.

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We headed up to the top of the road, passing a family heading sledging to make the most of the weekend’s snow. We continued past some lovely cottages and through the gate, where the path proceeded onto the fell side. It climbs relatively steeply, but the path is a good firm one, albeit extremely icy on the day in question. Susie was dancing off in her usual fashion, excited about her walk in the fells (as always), but even more so, when there was snow everywhere for her to roll in!

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We followed the path, which zig-zags up, gaining height up this little fell. Whilst small, Nab Scar offers fantastic views down the valley towards Windermere and down to Rydal water, which looked stunning and so still on this occasion. Not a breath of wind, and what you would call a typical British winter day (or not so, following the last 60 days of rain!). Although Susie was keen to press on to the deeper snow, I took the opportunity to watch the sun rising over the top of Wansfell Pike, which dominates the Ambleside skyline. It was stunning, with the sun slowly burning off the cloud inversion which sat above the Lakeland town, all the way South to the big lake.

 

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Susie quickly let me know that enough was enough and that she thought we had spent long enough here by heading off on her own up the winding path. The depth of the snow soon started increasing from that at the valley floor level and provided the true winter experience. I am someone who always likes to be on the go, doing something, but I could have quite happily sat there and watched the sun rising for a good while, but we continued, and after doing so, we saw there were three chaps and a couple of Springer Spaniels following us up the path.

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We walked a bit further, where the views opened out over Rydal and towards Grasmere, which whilst a touch misty, were still magnificent in their stillness. It was pleasant walking with these views as we continued to make progress up Lord Crag, although the wind slowly started to pick up at this point and the views disappeared into complete whiteout, which is quite an experience, if you have never been in complete whiteness. I had been up this route a few times however, so knew which way the path headed, which is a good job, as there were no orientation points with all the snow, and due to being the first on the fell, there were no previous footprints, due to the previous night’s snow fall.

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Susie was happy enough though skipping along and jumping in as many mounds of snow, as possible. So, we pressed on, hoping to eventually walk through the cloud, or for it to lift, but this wasn’t to be. It was still a nice change to being in the lashing down rain though, which we had been receiving for the last couple of months, so I wouldn’t be complaining. We continued on in complete blindness, until we had reached Heron Pike, where we stopped for a quick brew, and a minute’s rest. It was after a few moments however, that we heard the voices of the party of walkers behind us, who had nearly caught us up, so we pressed on, after Susie had finished her toast! (Spoilt dog)

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We carried on up towards Great Rigg and then to Fairfield, with little view but high spirits, and whilst we couldn’t see much, it was still enjoyable conditions, and always nice to test your navigational skills. Every so often, we heard the echoes of the voices of the following walking group, when the wind blew right, although this became less so, as the force of the wind increased as we progressed. We headed up Fairfield, by which time Susie was drowning in snow in parts, and had got some lovely new white eye lashes from the spindrift on the fell side, so we decided to turn back, and head back the way we came, as we had to be back down for just after lunch.

Susie, now knowing exactly where we were heading sprinted off into the distance, and out of sight, before returning back to me, and doing the same again….which continued for the 3-3.5 miles back to the car. A few minutes after starting to retrace our steps, we met the party that had been following us, who were three seemingly nice blokes, who were going to do the full round, a walk I had enjoyed a few times previously. We stopped for a minute, and exchanged pleasantries before continuing our separate ways (literally). The walk back was similar to heading up, in terms of the conditions and it wasn’t until we had passed Heron Pike that we began to descend out of the clouds, which didn’t lift all day from what I saw.

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At this time, we got chatting to a lovely couple who were out for a wander, and looked rather relieved not to be alone on the fells. We had a chat and then they continued on, although they were disappointed that the mist had been present throughout my entire walk. We continued down to Nab Scar again, where the spectacular view towards Rydal and Windermere greeted me, a view that I don’t think you could ever tire of.

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The path had become very icy during my walk and coming down the path was a slow step at a time, and I was thankful for my walking poles, which help my dodgy knee! I was even considering donning the crampons, which I hadn’t required throughout the entire walk, but contemplated in the last 500 metres, which is rather amusing. I soldiered on though and slowly made progress down, past the cottages, which I could quite happily live in given the choice! I returned to my old Land Rover, which was now surrounded in workers cones, much to my dismay. These cones had been present all the way up the road by Rydal Mount on my arrival, but stopped near the top, where I parked, but obviously they hadn’t gone far enough the night before. Anyway, after a quick brew and a biscuit, and further manoeuvring around the cones, we were on our way back home, where real life would no doubt continue to get in the way of my fun.

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A lovely walk out with Susie, who was now well and truly goosed, after all her running in the snow….she probably covered twice the distance that I did!

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24 – My first mountain venture of 2016!

Blog Post 24 –

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Date: Saturday 9th January 2016

Wainwright count: 2

Wainwrights: Coniston and Swirl How

Who with: JP, but NO Susie, the Patterdale Terrier L

 

I had checked the weather and it looked to be a rather poor day for the Lake District, but when you wear the right gear, there is no such thing as bad weather….didn’t someone say?

Anyway, my alarm went off at 6am and I collected my friend, JP at 7am, for the journey from near Preston to Coniston. Unfortunately, due to the poor weather forecast, I decided to leave Susie, my Patterdale Terrier at home, much to her annoyance. She saw me sorting my gear the night before, and as usual was about 18 inches from me at any one time (hence her nick-name ‘my shadow’). Whenever I start sorting my gear, she knows that we are off somewhere, and as soon as my alarm went off she got out of her bed and was ready. When I said bye to her on my way out, she was not impressed to say the least! (She also ignored me for well over an hour upon my return later in the night!!)

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We arrived at Coniston at around 8.30am, and parked up at the top of the steep road heading up from Coniston, to the Walna Scar Road. As we got ourselves ready to set off, the overcast conditions changed to that of rain, albeit light. I went to my new Sat Map Active 12 GPS, which I had charged last night to find that the battery was on red, at which point I realised that I had charged it, but left it switched on, which meant that the battery had been on 18 hours +. Schoolboy error! Anyway, I know the Old Man of Coniston very well, so this did not worry me, but it is always nice to have some stats to review during and post walk.

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Coniston, and in particular the Old Man, is a special place, and hill for me, as I used to come here quite often with my parents when I was younger and was probably the fell that made me realise how much I enjoyed being in the great outdoors. My late mum, used to love Coniston and so became a place where we spent many a happy day/ weekend. I must have been up it six or eight times in my life and never tire of it, or the views that you enjoy from it (on a clear day!).

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We left the car at around 8.45am, after getting ourselves ‘organised’, and proceeded up the Walna Scar Road for around 1.5 miles. This rough track is a busy highway for walkers, cyclists and the occasional 4×4 enthusiast, and provides wide open views across towards Coniston water, Grizedale and down towards Torver. We had reached the path heading up towards Goat’s water, when the rain started to get heavier, as per the forecast, but JP and I had been chatting away, so you don’t really notice the weather downturn. We started to climb up to Goat’s water which is another 1-1.5 miles up the path, which as you ascend, provides views of the Walna Scar Road, which snakes off further up the fell side.

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The weather closing in forced the mist to drop, so as we approached Goat’s water, there was not much of a view to be enjoyed, although there was a short break in the mist, which provided views across the tarn and Dow Crag that surround it. Snow started to fall, which was adding to the patches that already surrounded Goat’s Water. The path runs parallel to the tarn and weaves its way through the boulders at the water’s edge. After reaching the Northern edge of the tarn, the path climbs relatively steeply (around 200 metres) up to Goat’s Hawse.

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We had a minute here, as the clouds partially lifted for a couple of minutes. The snow was a good few inches deep at this point and was falling quite heavily now, with visibility decreasing quite rapidly. We followed where the path should be under the snow, and continued to climb the path for about 1km, before reaching the summit of the Old Man. We stopped here for a bit of an early lunch, as I hadn’t had ‘brekkie’ stupidly and JP is always hungry. We stopped for around 15 minutes, by which time my hands were well and truly frozen (not literally, but very, very cold) and I struggled to get my gloves back on. We met a nice lady and a couple of blokes who reached the summit around the same time, and all had the same idea re: a spot of lunch.

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We decided to get moving again, in what were now full winter conditions, and retraced our path for around 400 metres, down the way we ascended, before taking a path veering off slightly to the right, which headed towards Great How Crags, then onto Swirl How, by which point we were in full whiteout conditions. The winds eased by this point, having been rather strong on the final stretch from Goat’s Water to the top of the Old Man, which made the going a bit more pleasant.

We began to descend down Prison Band before taking the path down towards High Fell and on along Levers Water, which was still in the cloud surprisingly. We followed the path and crossed Raven Tor before starting to head over some slightly more rough terrain, before dropping down to the path above The Bell. From here, we continued until we reached the track that lead back to my old Land Rover at the bottom of the Walna Scar Road, which finished off a wild and blustery day in the fells, which lacked the views, but more than made up for this with the elements!

JP and I, had a good chat throughout the day, and it was good to get back into the hills for the first time in 2016, albeit without our usual walking companion, Susie, who had probably spent the day in front of the wood-burner with the wife keeping nice and warm! We drove home through what turned out to be awful weather, which was coming in, as per the weather forecast!

I arrived home hungry and still rather damp, so a nice hot shower and an evening sorting through wet gear and drying it in front of the fire lay ahead. The only thing that was missing was a nice pint, which was my usual routine, but due to Dry January, this would have to wait. JP and I have another couple of walks planned over the next few weeks, before we head back to Glencoe for the second year in succession, in early February, so I am sure we will make up for it having more than a few whiskeys in the Clachaig Inn, when we get there!

Another good day in the great outdoors!

23 -Another New Year, but what are my outdoor goals?

Blog Post 23

 

Date: Saturday 2nd January 2016!

 

Well that was 2015…went a bit quickly for my liking, but for me it was a better year than 2014, which couldn’t have been much worse for me on a personal note losing my mum. Last year brought lots of positives which included moving house with my wife and dog, which was nice, although left me with less time than I would have liked doing the outdoor things that I so love. However, I still managed to undertake a fantastic Winter Mountaineering Skills Course in Glencoe, courtesy of Mountain Magic, which was fantastic. I also completed my first round of all 214 Wainwrights, which is something that was very enjoyable, whilst making a start walking a few Munros so a more positive year all-round.

 

There were some things that I didn’t manage to do as I had hoped this time last year, which was to walk the Lakeland 3000ers in 24 hours, a challenge that I will hopefully do this year. This was planned for about the time that we moved house, which as always, has led to a hundred new jobs that needed completing! I’d get far more walking done if real-life didn’t get in the way! I got back into my cycling in 2014, when I did some charity challenges, including a 100 mile ride with my sister in law, but this also suffered last year, and I got out of the routine of getting out on my bike. I also want to write a book, which I have started, but has also suffered from a lack of time. So these are three things that I will kick off my New Year’s ‘things to achieve in 2016’ list with.

 

I think it is really important to set yourself personal challenges in life, and it helps to try and make sure that you still do things you want to do, instead of real-life consuming all your time. It is difficult when you have a professional career, which can soon start eating into your personal time, and then all the endless jobs that need to be done, can leave you losing weeks and months if you let them. This is why I have found it helps to set mini goals and challenges for the year. It works for me anyway!

 

What else do I want to achieve in 2016?

 

As I have said above, my first three things are from last year’s list that I never achieved, so they can be rolled over to kick-start this year’s list.

 

  1. Lakeland 3000ers walking challenge (in under 24 hours)
  2. Mountain biking and road cycling again
  3. Progress my outdoors book writing and start writing magazine feature articles
  4. Munros – continue the start that I made last year in walking these beautiful hills, which gives me an excuse to explore all over Scotland, as I did with the Wainwrights in the Lake District.
  5. Do my Mountain Leader training and qualifications – this is something that I have wanted to do for a while now and hopefully 2016 will be the year!
  6. Continue winter walking – booked a week in Glencoe in February to do just this, with my mate, JP.
  7. Generally, allocate more time to doing the outdoor activities that I love, and have neglected in 2015.

 

2016 will hopefully be another positive year, which will see me achieve some more of my personal challenges. I will of course be keeping my blog and Twitter up to date with what I get up to.

 

What do you want to achieve this year? Get in touch and let me know via my blog, or Twitter! Whatever it is, I hope you have an excellent, healthy and happy year.

 

Take care and enjoy the outdoors in 2016!

 

22 – A Christmas wander above Langdale

Blog Post 22

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Date: Wednesday 23rd December

Wainwright count: 2

Wainwrights: Pike of Stickle and Harrison Stickle

Who with: Susie, the Patterdale Terrier!

Distance: 6-7 miles (approx.) – forgot to turn my GPS when I got in the car, so my distance was 60 miles, and my average speed was about 70mph when I got home….D’Oh!

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A belated blog on my behalf, but I have been busy eating and drinking plenty over the Christmas period. This day was actually one of the few over the festive period that was not very wet and blowing a hooley, so I decided to take advantage and head for the Lakes. We hosted 10 family members on Christmas Day and this being the day before Christmas Eve, my wife decided that I would be better out of her way as she prepared for the big day, which suited me perfectly! J

 

So, what with the terrible floods that have hit Cumbria over the last few weeks, I decided that Langdale was the safest place to head to, as there were still flood warnings in place in North Lakeland and Glenridding for this day. I had been to Glenridding a few days prior for a walk with my wife, Hannah, and it was devastating to see some of the shops in the village recovering from the devastation that the terrible flooding had caused. They were trying to clean up, knowing full-well that there was forecast for more flooding to be on the way, which is a frightening thought. Shops such as Catstycam, which are situated metres from the Glenridding Beck still had the dirty water marks, which showed the level that the flood water had reached. A sad time and my thoughts were with them, but the best thing for them and the rest of Cumbria hit by the floods was for people like me, to safely visit these areas and start spending money again, not avoiding the areas completely, as this doesn’t nothing to help local businesses. It was a wild day in Glenridding that day, and unfortunately the area was deserted, so no one was around spending money! The Cumbrian Spirit is being well and truly tested at this time, that’s for sure.

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Back to the walking. So, I headed for Langdale on what was forecast to be a dry, bright, but windy day, which was fine by me. I parked at the Old Dungeon Gill, not on the National Trust Car Park at £7 for the day, but instead at the hotel’s parking where they ask for a £3 donation which goes to the North West Air Ambulance and Mountain Rescue, which were two charities that have been well unbelievable in supporting Cambrian’s in need, throughout the recent floods in the area. So, having parked up and got my gear on and the dog out, I proceeded behind the pub on the path above Middle Fell Farm, keeping Susie on a short lead, whilst we negotiated past the sheep!

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I followed this path, which is part of the Cumbrian Way to the end of the valley. It is a lovely flat walk with stunning views in every direction, and runs adjacent to what was a very fast-flowing Mickleden Beck after all the rain that has hit the area over the last month. Susie was running wild and free now the sheep had been passed, much to her disappointment, but it wasn’t too long before she was jumping in the many new streams that washed across the path and into the Beck!

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We proceeded to the head of the valley, where the path splits, with one way heading parallel to Rossett Gill, and the second way, which we were heading up the distinctive path alongside Stake Gill and over the distinctive Langdale Combe. This popular path is excellent and upon gaining a bit more height, the force of the wind became all apparent, not that you mind when you are wrapped up in all the gear and have spectacular views such as across Lakeland.

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I quite enjoy walking alone (although you never feel alone with a man’s best friend as a walking companion), as it gives you time to think when you have no other modern day distractions to contend with, and when you are far removed from the pressures of working life, or the real world as I call it. Nothing beats clearing your head than a walk in such a stunning area, in my opinion. While I said that no modern-day distractions were present on the walk, I was actually using my new GPS system, my Satmap Active 12 for the first time! To say that I was impressed with it is an understatement. I’m not one for relying on technology, but I have adopted using it as a complementary means of navigation, but NOT my primary means. I enjoy the added information that it provides me on my walks and is something that I have now come to enjoy. There is a place for modern-day technology in the outdoors, but it worries me that many will believe that this removes their need to be able to practice navigational skills. It only takes a battery to go flat, and without the necessary skills in your portfolio, it can leave you in a vulnerable situation, resulting in unnecessary calls to Mountain Rescue teams, or worse.

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Anyway, down off the soap box. Having crossed Langdale Combe, and reached the Pile of Stones, where we would head off to the right, up towards Martcrag Moor, before Pike O’Stickle. It was hear that the path disappeared slightly and the recent rain was apparent having left the stone path, now heading across a boggy area for a short distance. The wind was now blowing right in our faces, with the clouds moving quickly high above us. Heading over the featureless Martcrag Moor, we continued on to the Pike, a dominant feature of the Langdale skyline, and a rather distinctive peak for the Lakeland fells. After scrambling our way to the top, the wind was such that it was best not to hang around too long, even though the chance of blowing a 14.5stone Nick off the top was slim-to-none!

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We continued down, across Harrison Combe, above Loft Crag, which was also very moist underfoot to say the least, leaving me with sodden boots, and Susie with sodden paws! Upon reaching the top of Harrison Combe, I decided against continuing on across Pavey Arc and round Stickle Tarn, as I suspected it would be sodden with the hundreds of inches of rain we have been hit with recently. Instead, I decided to retrace my steps back towards Loft Crag and take the path heading down towards Mark Gate. Dropping down the fell-side a few hundred yards really eased the wind somewhat and provided extensive views down the valley. It wasn’t until I reached Mark Gate that I met others enjoying the fells, which I wasn’t sure was as a result of the media coverage on Cumbria, or whether it was simply the time of year, being so close to Christmas Day…

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Anyway, being grateful to my wife for allowing me to get out of her hair, so she could do the important stuff, I decided not to push my luck and to get back home for a reasonable time, so that I could ‘offer my assistance,’ so I pressed on. Although I would much rather have carried on over Pavey Arc and extended the walk somewhat. I took the path to double back on myself towards the back of Old Dungeon Gill, where I was parked up, getting back to the car for around 12.30pm, just as the rain was starting to come in, despite the forecast suggesting the first rain-free day for some time.

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It was a lovely morning stretch out in the fells, and such was my excitement at being extremely pleased with my new GPS, I forgot to switch it off, so upon reaching home, my walk’s details were somewhat distorted to say the least.

 

I just want to finish reminding people to get themselves back into Lakeland, whether you are a fell bunny, or a shop lover, the local economy needs people to visit, not stay away. So, why not plan your next trip, whether it is next week or next month, but make sure it is next year! It is a stunning area and I would have missed out on a great day in the fells had I been put off by the media’s coverage of the recent disasters, which is the exact opposite of what the area needs currently!

 

 

21 – My last four Wainwrights!

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Blog Post 21

Date: Saturday 19th September

Wainwright count: 4

Wainwrights: Lingmell, Scafell Pike, Scafell and Slight Side

Who with: Susie, the Patterdale Terrier! J

Distance: 11.5 miles

So, today’s the day…the last four of my 214 Wainwrights! My good friend and walking companion, JP, was supposed to be joining me for this walk, but had to work at the last minute, so I was left to decide whether to wait till he was free to join me, or to do it solo. I saw that the weather forecast was for a glorious day, so I decided to go it alone, well with Susie, who always loves a good fell walk!

So, it was an early start from Skelwith Bridge for Susie and I, which helped us to try and avoid the traffic over the passes towards Wasdale. We reached the first pass, Wrynose that we had to cross at 6.30am and this proved perfect timing, so we could enjoy the sun rise, which was spectacular. I thought I would have the vantage point to myself, but some keen photographers had their tri-pods at the ready waiting for their shot of the sun rise!

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Insert photo of sunrise

After an enjoyable drive over the passes, and not having seen another car, I arrived in Wasdale, where I parked on the village green, before setting off on the footpath towards the foot of Lingmell Fell. Setting off from the car, I had mixed emotions, in that I was looking forward to the walk ahead, but having lost my mum last year, I was sad that she wasn’t around to see me finally finish my Wainwright project, as it was my parents who had brought me up walking and where my passion stemmed from. But, I knew she would be looking down on Susie and I, which was a comforting consolation.

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Upon reaching the foot of Lingmell, we began the arduous climbing of the grassy slope, following the path steeply for around a mile, which was tough going on the legs for first thing in the morning! It reminded me of my ascent up the South side of Kirk Fell, which was only around a mile from my current position. That was even steeper and a route that I vowed I would not do again for a very long time.

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We followed the path to the summit of Lingmell, which was crowned with a summit cairn and masses of exposed rock, which was coated in the start of the morning mist which still clung to the higher fells in this area. After a few minutes, to soak in the scenery and catch my breath, we continued Eastwards off the summit, onto the path leading up Scafell Pike. This path was clear and the numerous piles of rock on its route did their job in the dense mist, acting as markers towards the top of this overly popular mountain.

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I like Scafell Pike as a mountain, but I struggle with the masses of people, many ill-equipped, who walk it, so that they can say that they have reached the top of England. I am all for encouraging people onto the fells, but many underestimate the conditions on the tops, as ‘because it is sunny in the valley, doesn’t mean it is the same on the tops…’! An example from this walk was after I had dropped down from the rather misty summit of Scafell Pike towards Mickledore, where a group of rather ill-equipped ‘walkers’ (if I can use this term loosely) wearing jeans, trainers and a t-shirt, with no bag, map or water reached the top, after scrambling up the gully. They looked rather nervous and a bit shook up, and when asked if they were ok, they responded ‘we weren’t expecting that’.

After chatting with the chaps, they had just decided to have a ‘wander up’ to the top, and admitted they were nervous scrambling up a few minutes ago, adding that they didn’t think they needed a map, as there were lots of people heading up. I took a deep breath, and highlighted to them that they were about to head up into the mist, and even up Scafell Pike, it was easy to head off the path and lose your bearings, if they had them in the first place, especially in the mist! They said ‘ahh…don’t worry, we will be ok’. This wound me up, but it just highlighted to me that this is what the Mountain Rescue team in Wasdale must face on an almost daily basis….to me a complete disregard of theirs and others’ safety.

Anyway, I wasn’t up here to get stressed, I have enough of that Monday – Friday, so I headed down the path towards Eskdale, before taking a sharp right a few hundred metres along the path, heading steeply up towards Foxes Tarn. I had Susie with me, so opted away from heading up Lord’s Rake, and I hadn’t been up this route before, so exploring new areas is always enjoyable. Enjoyable though is not what I would call the steep climb up towards the tarn, which was a bit of a lung burster for me, Susie skipped up though!

Upon reaching the ‘tarn’, which was mostly dried up, we continued up the steep path up from the South of Scafell towards the top, which provided me with a breather, as compared to earlier segments of this walk, it was pretty much flat. This offered a chance to get some much needed air into my system, before reaching my penultimate Wainwright top. The mist lifted to just above Scafell’s altitude, my current location, and provided a view towards my final Wainwright, Slight Side. This got me a little more excited now!

Over the next mile towards Slight Side, I had time to reflect on my previous 213 Wainwrights, which had provided me the opportunity to explore an area that I loved and see all of its wonderful valleys and the majority of its fells. I have met hundreds of new people, all of whom have a similar passion and shared time on the hills with the people that I care most about; in my wife, my dad, friends, and last but not least the dogs, Sally and Susie. It has been a project that although I have enjoyed working through, it is one that I didn’t really want to end, but me being me, there will be another project soon enough.

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The walk to Slight Side was a lovely pleasant stroll in the sun, before I reached the large rock that is its summit. It was here that we saw the RAF rescue helicopter flying overhead, hopefully training, rather than rescuing! Susie and I perched on the sun drenched rocks, with views out over Eskdale and beyond, which were unreal. It was a lovely few minutes where I thought a bit more about the walks I have done, and what my mum would have said was she here. I could have remained sat there all day and never tired of looking at the Lakeland vista. Truly stunning.

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I still had three miles or so back to the car, so I headed West from the summit of Slight Side, towards the Northern head of Burnmoor Tarn, which was a boggy and pathless mile and a half it has to be said, and slow going as a result of this. After crossing the stream, I picked up a sheep track, which led through thick ferns towards the path heading back into the Wasdale Valley towards the back of the National Trust campsite. The sun was blazing now and once back on the path, the walk became a great deal more enjoyable, and provided a rest-bite for my achy limbs.

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Upon reaching the campsite, which was extremely busy, it became clear that the masses were here for the fell running race, which was taking place up Lingmell, my first summit. Dozens of wirey bodies were making their way ant-like up and down this brutal hill. I’d found it hard enough walking, never mind running! After a few minutes of spectating, I made my way back towards my car, on the green, which was one of only a handful of cars early in the morning, but was now lost in the masses of vehicles that had invaded this beautiful valley.

Wasdale is an extremely special place, especially on a nice day and the grandeur of the surrounding fells is quite overwhelming and really puts you in perspective to this wonderful landscape. It is a place that I have always loved and having enjoyed many a day and weekend here, will remain one of my favourite Lakeland locations…especially when the crowds disperse, and the snow arrives!

So, what next? I have numerous things on my to-do list, over a longer time scale, I want to walk the Munros, and explore more of Scotland. I also want to walk the Cape Wrath Trail, and visit Loch Hourn and Knoydart. Logistics make this a longer term project for me with all other life’s commitments. I have a week in Glencoe to look forward to in February, with my good friend JP, to enjoy some winter mountaineering, which I am extremely excited about, but seeing that I am always up in the Lake District, nearer-term, I want to re-visit some of the fells and areas that I have really enjoyed walking in Lakeland and explore them even more, as I have only just scratched the surface.

I will keep you posted anyway….now for a pint, as I’ve worked up a thirst with all these walks!

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20 – Dogs, cattle, mist and hill skills!

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Blog post 20

Wainwright count:                 3

Wainwrights:                          Caw Fell, Haycock and Red Pike

Who with:                               Susie, my Patterdale Terrier & Sally, my father’s Boarder Terrier

Date:                                       19th August 2015

After a day off to do some jobs, we were back in the Lakes and this time Wasdale was our destination on what was looking a pretty miserable day ahead weather-wise. We parked the old Landy at Netherbeck Bridge, half way down Wast Water and took the path which runs parallel to Nether Beck, which starts off a little boggy, as expected, but establishes into a very good and obvious path.

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We continued on this path, with the weather currently dry (for now) until we reached Waver Beck, which is just past Great Lad Crag. At this point we noticed that there were a herd of cows with their young nestled all across the path, sheltering below Little Lad Crag. Bearing in mind that I had two dogs and only the week before a walker in Hartsop, Lake District, got seriously injured by cattle after walking through with her dog (see article below):

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cumbria-33878420

..and like any animals with young they are protective of them, and rightly so. This led me to decide to alter my planned route of continuing along the path past Little Lad Crag, and on up to the Eastern flank of Haycock. Instead, I decided to take the slightly more difficult route (pathless of course) of heading up to High Pikehow and then onto Caw Fell.

I don’t want to discuss the rights and wrongs of being a dog owner, but to me this is part of your responsibility when entering an area where cattle or sheep are rearing their young. In my experience, it just helps to avoid any unnecessary situations. Just to be 100% clear, although I have referenced the above article, it simply serves as an example that happened to be in my mind with it being recent and in the same area. I do not know the back ground of the above case and I am not calling on judgements of any kind regarding this example, it is just one of a number of potential examples that I could have used.

So, hopefully that is clear. Non-dog owners in many cases are quick to call dog-owners when there happens to be a dog involved even when the owner is being 100% responsible, which I think is unfair (in my opinion), but I respect the opinions of others, and it is like so many subjects that can cause debates! Getting back to the walk…having decided to leave the path, due to the dozens of cattle, I headed up High Pikehow and picked my way over long tussocky (if that is even a word) grass, which was tough going, but avoided any unnecessary issues with cattle, which made it the right thing to do at the time.

I then climbed steeply, up towards the Hanging Stone and the dry-stone wall, which runs between Haycock to Caw Fell’s summits (and further). After the exertion of the climb, I needed a minute, but I could see the weather front coming in, which was dark and wet looking! So, I continued on up towards the summit of Caw Fell, where the wind was now howling and it became very cold in the wet, feeling like autumn or early winter! It just goes to show that conditions in the valley may be warm, but you can easily get into difficulty and conditions soon turn dangerous. It pays to carry all the gear that you will need, so I donned my waterproofs and got my compass and map to hand, as I could see that dense mist and hill fog was ready to immerse us.

After reaching the summit of Caw Fell, I followed the wall back down to the bield and up towards Haycock summit, with the visibility now down to around 20 metres, due to the mist. Following summiting Haycock, I descended to try and find the path that drops back down towards Little Lad Crag, however in the conditions I missed this, and once I realised that I was beginning to climb again (towards Red Pike) I knew that I had missed the descent. I didn’t turn around to try and find the path, as I knew that the cows and their young would still be near Little Lad Crag, so instead decided to continue onto Red Pike.

However, I was following the path and keeping an eye on my altitude using my GPS, when the mist got even thicker. Now if you have ever had two dogs on leads, and tried reviewing your map in the wind and pouring rain, you will know that this isn’t the easiest thing in the world! I had now gone off the Northern top of my Ordinance Survey OL6 Map slightly, just before the summit of Red Pike, and upon going in my bag to get my OL4 map out (North West Lakes), I realised that I had made the school-boy mistake (or worse) of leaving this map in my car! This wasn’t a problem as I could always just follow a compass bearing back down towards Wast Water, but for the second time this week, it highlighted how a simple mistake, such as forgetting your map can lead to potential issues, in awful conditions in this instance.

As was the case earlier in the week, if I wasn’t competent in using navigational techniques, then I could have been in trouble, and if unprepared, can soon get wet, cold, disorientated, and this can lead to panic setting in. This, I am sure will have led to many people calling for the Mountain Rescue teams, over something that is simple to avoid, and really does illustrate the need for being prepared with the right equipment, and being able to use it, i.e. having the right skills (from a skills course, or self-taught and practiced). In the UK, we really can have 4 seasons in one day, and so the importance of being prepared is essential.

So, as luck would have it, although I could have taken a simple compass bearing and safely negotiated my way down, I bumped into a lovely couple of walkers, who leant me their map, and allowed me to follow the short distance to get me back on to my OL6 map. With extremely bruised pride, at my stupidity, I followed the path down to Dore Head, with the conditions now absolutely atrocious and the mist now down to Wast Water level as it turned out. From here I followed the distinct path down parallel to Yewbarrow, dropping back down to the car park at Overbeck Bridge, before the short walk back to my car.

A wet, misty day, but now I only have 1 more walk to do to finish my Wainwright round, which includes Lingmell, Scafell Pike, Scafell and Slight Side…so I am excited now! I have thoroughly enjoyed walking them and exploring the different parts of this wonderful district. That has been may main driver through this journey, so another days enjoyable walking for Nick and the dogs….who are once again filthy (but happy)!

19 – Mucky pups in the sun, over on the Western Fells

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Blog post 19

Wainwright count:                 3

Wainwrights:                          Grike, Lank Rigg and Crag Fell

Who with:                               Susie, my Patterdale Terrier & Sally, my father’s Boarder Terrier

Date:                                       17th August 2015

So, the fourth day of our walks and today’s weather was the best yet! Fantastic day ahead of us it appeared and Ennerdale was the destination. Ennerdale is one of the quieter of the Lakeland valleys, possibly due to its less accessible locations, but a stunning valley none the less.

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We parked at the car park at the Western end of the lake and from there walked past the farm, turning right, before taking a sharp left hand path, which climbed steeply up through the wooded area, before leading out onto the open fell side. From here, we followed the clear path, up to the stream before crossing the open fell side to the summit of Grike. The going was tough under foot, with the lack of path and steep slope combined, but the views from the top were definitely worth it. Scotland could be seen to the North, Buttermere fells to the East and towards Scafell Pike in the South.

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From the top of Grike, we dropped down to the fence line where we made our way to the forest track, which we followed towards and past the West side of Crag Fell, before taking a right hand turn towards Lank Rigg, through the deforested area. Upon crossing this extremely boggy area, we went through the gate and up the open hill side, which was also extremely boggy! With two little terriers caked up to their ginnels in mud, it became apparent that post-walk baths were going to be required.

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We followed the path parallel to the wall, until it took a sharp turn to the right heading further onto the open hill side. At this point, we took the right hand path towards Lank Rigg, via Whoap, where the path descended into a small valley, before climbing sharply to the summit of our second fell, Lank Rigg. The summit, which has a cairn on it, provides 360 degree views, which we spent a few minutes taking in (and an excuse to cool off)! After a bit of sustenance, we retraced our steps over Whoap and towards the boggy path by the wall, where we re-crossed the boggy deforested area with the dogs now looking like mud-sculptures of their respective breeds (but extremely happy about this).

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We made it back up to the forest track, which we had turned off, before crossing directly opposite towards the summit of Crag Fell, which stands dominantly over Ennerdale. The short kilometre to the summit of this Wainwright was on a clear path and at the cairn there was a family enjoying a picnic today, with spectacular views to enjoy with their sausage rolls! I continued ahead over the summit before dropping back down to the path, which we had left to ascend Grike. We retraced our original steps into the woodland and back towards Ennerdale lake, where the dogs had a first bath before they entered my Land Rover. Once home they had a full decontamination shower, and came out smelling rosy again!

The car park that I had left with just three cars on was now full, and there were lots of people milling around, enjoying the short walks to the lake side (I know it is not officially a lake by the way, but it doesn’t sound right saying water!). Another great day in the Lakeland fells, and the weather was glorious to match! Happy Nick, and two tired dogs….perfect!