Wednesday, 26th October 2011 We parked up at the small car park just outside Little Town near Chapel Bridge. As we put on our boots my focus was on the clouds gathering above Dale Head and wondering whether to put my waterproofs on straight away or chance it. Kel was deciding which ‘Rab’ product to wear today and would her purple body warmer clash with heather on Hindscarth.
Sunday 23rd October 2011 and we were awake in the Eden Valley once more with clouds covering the Pennies. It wasn’t raining yet but you could see it was in the post, but the weather forecast had said it was going to be a fine(ish) day so the car was packed and we headed to the south east corner of Buttermere Water (which i’ll refer it too as to distinguish it from the village) with the intention of setting off up Fleetwith Edge towards Haystacks.
It didn’t look good, the entire journey was slowed down by driving rain and travelling down Honnister Pass revealed peak after peak of cloud covered fells. We caught our first glimpse of Buttermere and decided to drive into the the town of Bittermere to see if the rain would ease at least. We did see the pub we would have a swift pint in at the end of which ever walk we did, the Fish Inn. But we turned around and headed back towards Gatesgarth Farm to park up and commence our walk. The rain still bouncing down we found a spot in the car park and thought we’d have to change our route. Then, and by the grace of AW himself I swear, the rain miraculously stopped and there was a even a opening in the clouds with light blue sky peaking through. So with massive smiles and eager anticipation to get up a mountain, we jumped out of the car and quickly put on our waterproofs and headed up Fleetwith Edge. First to catch your eye is a brilliant white cross about hundred metres up. It’s a good twenty metres off the route and off course, it was my job to see why it was there. A quick but slippery scoot across revealed it was of in the cause Cockermouth mountain rescue.
We headed south east across what can only be described as ‘bog land’ heading towards Hopper Quarry. The route is littered with small off shoots were previous hikers have thought ” where’s the route? Sod it, I’m going this way” paths but we managed to stick to the map and stumbled upon the working quarry with all it’s heavy plant. Again there appeared to be quite a few routes to the path to Haystacks but we headed off to the Dismantled Tramway and turned right towards Little Round How. You have to cross a bit of a stream which is ideal to clean all the peat off your boots picked up from the bogs ready to tackle the rock on Haystacks.
So, my last shift done and what a long old slog?! 1700hrs just never seemed to arrive and it seemed more like 24hrs rather than just eleven. Anyway, quickly saw Kelly at work as she started at 1400hrs but I managed to get to ASDA before I came home. To my delight, Smirnoff litre bottles on offer for £13 so I got a couple, plus Kelly’s normal vat of Pinot and headed home. I had two jobs when I got in, clean rabbit and fish tank. Both jobs executed in text book fashion then time to chill and #FF on Twitter and read up on the Gadaffi carry on.
OK we’re setting off tomorrow (saturday) and get to the static about teatime and chill, plan a route up Haystacks, most probably with X factor as noise in the background. We’ve decided for Haystacks on Sunday as Kelly’s been going on about it for ages and it will be a nice leg stretcher for the week ahead. We still haven’t confirmed the next few walks but we will be visiting Ingleton Water Falls for some photo’s for Kelly (Just realised our boots are upside down) but I also think we’ll be in the Dog & Gun more than once.
As I said just a quicky and if you see us in the next week be it on a Fell or in a pub, give us a wave. Signing off now to find my Smirnoff!
Friday comes and it’s time to pack the Aygo and head off to Kel’s sisters static caravan in Morland with an intention of putting Blencathra in the slow filling Wainwright bag on Saturday. Heading down the A66 the clouds were looking pretty grim. The North Pennines were cloud covered which generally means our first sight of Blencathra will be even more grim and the prospect of scaling it impossible. Detours to Keswick and Pooley Bridge were also a disappointment as they were grey and miserable on both the photo side of life and culinary options. We had a quick sarnie in the Oddfellows and sped off back to our accommodation. With the words ” if you think I’m going up Sharp Edge in this weather you’ve got no chance marra” jingling round in my head, I settled down to an earlish night, with a little prayer for sunshine the next day. Kel’s sister and brother in law had by then joined us at the caravan with Bruce, the largest German Shepherd known to man.
A day off and Kelly at work so I thought I’d venture out for a little walk. Kelly had tried to explain to me how her Lumix works but in the end she set it for an idiot to operate and said, “Just point and press!” So I ventured out in the Autumn sunshine and wind and headed to a few spots to see what I could shoot. There’s a back lane called Fillpoke Lane at a tiny village called High Hesleden on the way to the east Durham coast. As you can see (right), it’s a fairly wooded area and as you get about half way down there’s a clearing where I think a Hen Harrier hangs out in the Autumn and Winter. At least I think it’s a Hen Harrier but can never get close enough to 100% identify it, but it looks like one?! Anyway, I parked up at the top of the lane and walked about half mile down to the clearing hoping to see the ‘Hen Harrier’. I couldn’t see it so had a look about and thought I’d practice with the camera. So lined up a nice shot of a tree with some pretty good cloud behind it, pressed the button and “NO MEMORY CARD INSTALLED” flashed up on the screen. My thoughts went back to the other night when Kelly turned the lap top off and said, “damn I’ve left the memory card in the lappy”. So I walked back to the car and went back home to get the card. Text Kelly about what had happened and she text back saying “I did tell you!” Not quite a consolation as I trudged back up the lane.
I returned to the spot about half hour later but didn’t get a sighting of my Harrier. I’m so frustrated because a work colleague thinks it’s a Red Kite but you cannot get close enough to tell before it flies off. I know there’s a difference but it’s a tough call. It seems to be looking for prey, which isn’t really a Kite characteristic. I need a good telescopic lens and a good hide for the day, armed with a flask and some butties for the best shot.
A rare weekend off together, Kelly and I head off to The Lakes, well I say The Lakes but we have now become quite attached to Kel’s sister’s static home which is just outside Penrith so technically, it’s the Eden Valley but it’s still only a stones throw from the lake district national park. Anyway we landed too late to really go out but we had some tea with Alison (Kel’s sister) and Stuart her husband. We were met by a still very hyper puppy, Bruce. Now, when I say the word ‘puppy’, you picture a cute little bundle of fluff that you can pick up and sit on your lap to watch the TV. Nope, this puppy is about 7 stone and has teeth like a shark. His greeting is to be welcomed with joy, and a certain degree of caution as he, like a puppy, communicates with his mouth with is full of skin piercing teeth. But he’s growing up and learning not to ‘tickle’ you with his teeth.