Hike up High Seat

So, the last walk of our week in the Lakes. We’d planned for a nice long ‘easy’ stroll up St. Sunday’s Crag to Fairfield and Dollywagon Pike.  However, the night before, as you’d expect from an ex military man and a female with OCD, a plan ‘B’ had to be made, especially as the weather was looking decidedly more grim than the start of our week, Oooh the start of the week, Friday evening in the sun and a pint at the Coledale with the ‘Happy Hiker’ Mr. Dickinson. The weather now resembled an early November, than late Spring.

Anyway, Wednesday morning shows its misty head and the Pennines were covered with low cloud and no doubt a few drops of rain. But, we were a good few miles away from our goal but we’d made an alternative route, keeping lower but still taking in a couple of Wainwrights.

We’d planned a route over High Seat, Bleaberry Knott taking in Walla Crag, starting and finishing at Ashness Bridge.  But we still had hope and planned to use the Blencathra-o-meter to decide our quest.

Breakfast was a slow affair as we awaited the much wanted clear cloud that the Met App had promised, and to be honest, the Pennines were starting to stick their feet out from under the cloud and the Deer at the bottom of the caravan site were basking in the odd ray of sunlight squeezing itself through the otherwise grey day.

We got ready at a leisurely pace, picking at fruit and finishing coffee. It had been decided, seeing as it was probably going to be a low level walk, I would carry everything leaving Kel only burdened by her Pinot Flu and her iPhone with the Betty Ford clinic’s number on speed dial.

We set off down the A66 once again to our latest quest. The road works seemed a little bit too frequent and a little bit unplanned for a jubilee week, half term and a horse fair….oh yes… the horse fair. I have no problems with the traditional horse drawn trailers, but how many white transits and scrap laden flat beds can you fit in one county?!?!

As Saddle Back came into view, or rather didn’t, we realised plan B was a goer!

The rain sprinkled Keswick and the low cloud burdened most of the high peaks as I bustled through a still packed Keswick into the Barrowdale Valley.

The turning for Ashness was soon upon us as we rattled the cattle grid. The famous climb up to the car park was choked with hikers but an unusual amount of spaces at the car park.

We parked and looked at the sky and the droplets on the windscreen. I’d conditioned myself to starting the walk in waterproofs and Kel the same. But the day wouldn’t start itself and lunchtime was fast approaching accompanied by the usual dramas if Kel didn’t eat, made worse by a drop too much wine the night before.  Kel sat in the car and put her boots on, I braved the rain and got ready. A few more cars pulled into the car park with the occupants staring through the trees at the grey sky. My passenger door opened and Out popped a few fumes of Pinot followed by Kel looking a bit rough.

The route we planned was to walk up the footpath up the side of Barrow Beck, however, the path vanishes and he walked up the fence line to the bottom of Dodd.  The path joins the original path near the top of the waterfall, which for the third time this visit was just a trickle. The rain was more like a heavy mist now as we climbed to the top of Dodd and the featureless Ashness Fell.  The sky was lowering and most of the surrounding fells had their heads in the clouds. For a change this week, we were totally alone. Our usual walking partners weren’t with us and the crowds had filtered off and we were left with the usual odd lonely hiker and the friendly smiles.

To be honest I had thought about food before Kel had mentioned it, but I knew she’d be hungry so I said we’d stop for bait. We found a sheltered rock and sat down to eat. A family steamed passed us, dad at the front closely followed by mum and trailing behind was the usual stroppy teenager who looked wet and not amused. After a swift greeting the trio plunged into the depths of borrowdale and we were once again alone. Kel tweeted our position and a piccy, someone tweeted straight back saying we were just above their house and to give a wave. Damn you Lakeland residents, I’m so jealous!

Lunch done and back to the search of High Seat in the low cloud. The top of this little range is very boggy, but the path has is clear and before long, High Seat was popping its head in and out of the mist.

The top had a trig point I’m sure would’ve had a lovely view, if only. A few more people were appearing out of the clouds trudging their way to the summit.  It was very eerie in the mist, the silence only broken by Kel demolishing half a Sig bottle of water, the sound not dissimilar to someone filling a water bowser.

Visibility down to about 50 metres I took a bearing. It wasn’t too hard as Bleaberry Fell was exactly north. We dropped into a dip and the cloud dropped with us. The map shows the path following a fence line but it doesn’t, it takes in all the bogs to muddy your boots and loads of heather to clean them. The thing with these moorland fells is, without a view, they are a bit boring.

Bleaberry Fell came and went with only a crack in the cloud to break clear the view. Next stop Walla Crag and the big drop off Bleaberry. The sun was out, just not on Ashness Fell, the weather became very pleasant as we passed the big sheep fold on Low Moss. A few families were making their way up to Bleaberry, the cloud was still covering the peak, you’ve read my views on such matters so I’ll stop there.

Keswick was clear and Derwentwater was its usual picturesque self as we peered over Walla Crag. It wasn’t long before Kel’s iPhone was out and the Geocaches were pinging up, after scurrying around in the undergrowth for half an hour we were back on track and heading over the fall at Cat Gill. There are many views over Derwentwater that are photographed, but this one is a first for me and I’ve never seen any pics from this view.

The weather kept friendly and the views were excellent of the popular lake, Catbells hugged the sunshine and kept it to itself. The crowds had began to increase as we caught sight of Ashness Bridge. It was getting late but we had made the right choice of a later start, god bless the British summertime.

We returned to the car feeling refreshed, well I did, and had left it just in time to hit the Royal Oak for tea.

There’s no denying the lakes offer the best views that can be seen, the waters are astounding, the fells are on par to many in Scandinavia and the quaint little villages can not be matched. Kel doesn’t agree but I like the moorland, the Grouse, the smell (in summer) in the heather and the array of colour when it’s in colour. Some walks are without incident, which this was, apart from me going my length looking for a Geocache, but this is the Lake District and the weather tells you what to do, not the other way round!

A gallop up the Gables (and Base Brown)

With the Jubilee in full swing, we thought we’d celebrate by sweating all over Base Brown and the Gables. We planned to meet Dicko on the road into Seathwaite and setting off straight up the path that hugs the waterfall up Sour Milk Gill. We set off in good time as we were aware that the road into Seathwaite can be very problematic when it comes to parking. We weren’t disappointed as we pulled off the main road at Seatoller, the road was bumper to bumper and more walkers you can shake a ‘Leki’ stick at!  We had the advantage, my little Aygo may not be the beast of the road, but I can park it on a ten pence piece. We found a small space near a gate close to the farm at the bottom and stood enjoying the sun whilst we awaited the arrival of our hiking buddy. The traffic was constant and I amused myself watching Kel shouting at bad drivers getting too close to the Aygo. I looked up the road and thought the farmer must get frustrated with the chaos that lines his fields. More worryingly the RAF mountain rescue tried to edge their way down the road, having to turn back due to the volume of cars. Luckily on this occasion the vehicles weren’t showing blue lights otherwise I think Kel would be throwing chunks of dry stone wall at some of the cars.

Amidst the sea of cars the waving stick of Dicko could be seen as he walked down the road, I think he’d parked near the Scafell Hotel. So we set off down the road with me passing a couple of glances back at my trusty red cart horse, wondering if it would still be the same shape on our return.

The campsite at the bottom of our quest was heaving too with the smell of BBQs and the campers supping cans of lager, it was only half ten but I thought “that must be nice!”

We walked through the farmer’s gate and caught sight of our first bite at the hill. Kel had planned and set the routes for the week so I’d not really looked, but true to form, it was a steep start for which she is famous. Dicko glared up the route and announced,

“Hydey, get my buff out of my day sack, I think I’m gonna sweat!” I realised I could look forward to the stench of red wine oozing from his forehead as I follow him up the hill.

We had left most of the crowd at the farm, they were heading up Scafell, but there was still a good trickle of walkers clambering their way up the stony ascent to what I could see was a fairly level platform at the top. Before long we were hands on and hearts were pumping as the ‘car park’ at the bottom got smaller and smaller.

Again the waterfall was a mere trickle as the rain fall of late had been minimal. A couple of lads were Gill scrambling and again I thought I’d like to do a bit of that. I take scrambles in my stride and love the feel of the rock; it feels closer than just walking. We reached the top of the initial climb and stopped for a breather at the stone wall near the top.

At the caravan Id ‘ummed and arrd’ about putting a belt on my shorts in the end I’d decided they seem to be staying up ok without, so decided against it. Bad decision, my shorts were now hanging down my backside and were bugging me to death. I mentioned it to Dicko who freely gave up his own belt as his size 38 shorts were tight enough (just kidding mate).

So, with my JLS impressions done, we pressed on up the fairly eventless route to the saddle at Blackmoor Pols and my shorts were firmly in place. As Dicko wasn’t too bothered about bagging the Wainwright of Base Brown, he’d agreed to do ‘bag watch’ as we raced to the summit of the boggy peak. I was thinking this may be another Thunacar Knott but at the top, the view is amazing.

A quick few piccys and we were heading back to Dicko who was taking in the sun. The subject of bait, as usual, reared its head with Kel probably hoping we would eat here but the decision was made that the top of Green Gable would be lunchtime.

If there’s one way to get Kel up a mountain it’s telling her food is there waiting. Another eventless skip to the top of Green Gable was littered with the occasional spin round to take in the view as it became greater as we got higher.

The cloud was fairly high giving up the fells stretching north south east and west. I was ready for my well-earned sandwich when we arrived at the summit and a nice little stone built shelter was empty, considering the amount of people at the top, it was a good breeze break.

Bags unpacked and my ham, cheese and coleslaw sarnies were going down well as we watched the endless stream of people going up and down. A friendly black Spaniel entertained us as he sniffed out my tasty buttie. A quick whisper in the curious mutts ear saved him a scalding from Kel as not to get too close to her feast.

After a leisurely (ish) bite and my phone going mad with emails as this was the first signal in ages, I had a little look at Gable Crag. What an awesome sight the sheer face offered, I was even treated to a party of climbers edging their way up the tempting wall, what great way to conquer Great Gable.

Anyway, back to the scree decent of GG to Windy Gap before the final ascent of Great Gable. It looked a very good climb and I was again amazed by the amount of ill equipped hikers.  Why spend about £130 on your own boots, then let your 8 year old wander around the highest peaks in ‘Dora the Explorer’ trainers…..maybe it’s just me!

The ascent of the ‘Great’ had looked a bit of a climb and before long the terrain was reminiscent of Scafell with its boulders and dust, a scramble was in order. I have climbed quite a few peaks in my time I’ve never heard the sound as I did today, it sounded squeaky.   The Wheatears where few and far between, but that’s not their call, what was this mysterious sound?? As I stared up towards another false summit I realised the source of this curious call, it was the nervous squeak of the lesser twaddled Geordie, it makes this sound when faced with a cheeky scramble. Dicko doesn’t like scrambles, especially when there’s a party of school kids coming down causing mini avalanches as they descend.


The route levelled as and the summit loomed and the clouds were getting higher. As we approached the rocky peak I immediately noticed memorial plaque at the top. I had thought Kel had been preoccupied on route to the top of this magnificent place, it was the anniversary of her dad’s untimely death and this would be hard day for her. Gordon, her dad, was very instrumental in the growth and maintenance of the Church Lads’ Brigade in the area where she was brought up. In those days anything like the Brigade, Scouts and Girl Guides would bring communities together and gave the kids an outlet. He was a true pillar of the village and his legacy his famous there. I could see this to be a memorable moment which we both shared.


It was heaving with people and I could see why, I could see the Isle Of Man and Scotland plus most of the Wainwrights we had climbed or we were due to climb. The route down was steep but fairly painless, I hate the descents. Dicko was still singing the 70’s classic ‘Yes Sir, I can boogie’, a song I intentionally inject into his head at the start of a walk, with a mere text or whistle just to annoy everyone else, I myself was enjoying a bit of Spandau Ballet…….”Gold, always believe in your………”

The lovely level ground near Sty Head Tarn was a relief from the pounding descent and I got first view of Dicko’s lowering shorts, which he’d been shinfing on about since he’d loaned me his belt, and there it was – Y fronts!?!?

Styhead Gill is an excellent sight and the bridge is a warm welcome to the last ‘click’ to the car.  The brief walk back to Seathwaite was uncomfortable as Dicko had prayed on my guilt so much on the descent I’d returned his belt at the bridge. I’d had to fold my shorts over three times to deter their own descent as we approached the farm we’d exited hours before. At this point I’d like to pass on some countryside information, when opening a gate, please keep your ‘bits’ away from the oncoming swing gate, Dicko is a testament.

The walk back to the car was as nervous as Dicko on the scramble, in my mind I pictured a little red mess where my Aygo once stood – subject to ignored shunts with no details exchanged. Luckily all was ok!

A pint in the Scafell Hotel finished the day. 

“God save you Lillibet!!”


Langdale leg stretch

Jubilee weekend and it’s a well deserved week holiday at the caravan. We decided to make the most of it and throw a couple more days in and make it a week. As you’ve read before, the caravan is just outside the Lakes National Park in a lovely little village called Morland in the Eden Valley, but a change of plan on our journey there with a text from our happy walking buddy Dicko, we carried on into Keswick and had a pint in the Coledale before driving back to Morland and unpacking.

I must say, being a fanatical Royalist, the Keswickian’s had pulled out all the stops with bunting and Union Flags at every corner and I was looking forward to a maybe catching a few of the celebrations, and of course, the free parking on Sunday.

Anyway back to the main reason for being here, bagging some of Alfred’s babies!

Saturday reared it’s sunny(ish) head and we were on route to Great Langdale to meet up with Dicko, Sue and Richard (their son). Also joining us were Dicko’s brother and his missus, David and Yvette. We parked in the grassed area behind Dungeon Ghyll pub and were amazed by the amount of people camping in the field opposite.

Today our sights were set on the Langdales, taking in Loft Crag, Pike of Stickle, Harrison Stickle,Thunacar Knott and Pavey Arc. The route starts from the back of the Barn Tavern and the mountain gives you no warm up, it’s straight into the climb!

Sue had her usual invisible day sack on which would account for her initial spring in her step and bouncing around like a Spaniel. But we set off all in good spirits as the weather was being kind and I was pumped up with Brufen with my knee being its achy normal self. The first marker was Mark Gate, which could be seen from the route below, but appeared very high up.  We were taking the route keeping Dungeon Ghyll on our right, missing the crowds going up via Pike Howe. The going was a bit tough and the lungs were working with the steepness of the first climb. The dryness of the last few weeks had taken its toll on the waterfall at Dungeon Ghyll Force, the ‘Force’ was a mere trickle and could barely be seen from the path.   With the heat bouncing on our necks (or backs if you have no day sack- Sue!), we cracked on up passed Mark Gate and stopped for a breather. The view was now opening itself up, Windermere was glistening and the route we took down Lingmoor Fell was very clear, we could even see the bum prints left by Kel and Sue near the bottom. Richard, who’s a Geography student, said it had something to do with Glazier movement, but I knew it was arse prints. Anyway, breather done and on with the climb. We were getting battered by the little flying beetles that were out on mass, lovely little creatures with their bottle green heads and golden bodies, but they were bloody irritating and tasted horrible, well the one that unfortunately chose my mouth as its flight path did.

In the gorgeous sunshine I heard a rumble from the hills on the other side of the Langdale Valley. I looked at Dicko and said, “Air Ambulance?”

“Sounds like it” he said staring upwards.  We both scanned the fells with a view of catching a glimpse of the under funded cart horse, but in the hazing sunshine we drew a blank. Kel, who had dropped back slightly gassing to Sue came trooping around one of the rocky outcrops and announced, “When are we stopping for bait?”. I then thought the roar I’d heard was obviously Kel’s stomach, but just then the helicopter came passed on route to hopefully a genuine call, not some idiot in flip flops and shorts getting tired on Scafell.

We landed on Loft Crag and not before time, bait boxes were opened and we all commented on how the initial climb had been a bit of a cobweb clearer. Dicko unpacked his lunch, and Sue’s, and we sat down whilst Yvette unloaded a multi family sized bag of crisps, that’s why her day sack looked so big!  It’s a nice place to stop here, you can see both Stickles and watch the people roller coasting up and the down the pair, it’s also a very acoustical place where all accents could be heard. There were Americans, Japanese and a dialect which always  blows my mind every time I hear it, Dicko’s -Thick Geordie B@$*@rd, as those at work say!!

Anyway, at this point we’d arranged to separate from the rest leaving Kel, Dicko and me so scoot across to Pike of Stickle and up to Harrison meeting back up at Stickle Tarn. We packed what was left of our bait boxes away, in Kel’s case nothing, and headed off up the Pike. The contour lines had graced us with a little more space between each other so the going was good.

I like a nice little scramble, and the last bit up to the Pike was different.  Loads of Americans coming down as we clambered up. The top was awesome, so many peaks could be seen and Kel was creating a panoramic. To be honest the top was also like Kings Cross but that’s to be expected on a Double Bank Holiday weekend.

Photos taken and a ‘bum shuffle’ back down to the saddle before a steady climb up to Harrison. As we crossed the boggy path we could see the others wandering up towards the decent to Pavey Ark and Stickle Tarn.

The route was still quite busy and not what I usually like but at least it puts money in the pockets of the locals which can’t be bad. Harrison was a less hands on climb but the views were as impressive. These two peaks have got to be in the top ten for views at the top, this wasn’t even the clearest of days but most of the surrounding fells were stood to attention and saying “Climb me!”

We dropped off Harrison and Thunacar Knott was in hands reach. Dicko questioned our quest (philistine) but we headed over the boggy, featureless terrain to the summit. Albeit for me to question the great AW but WTF mate, sorry!!

Heading east over more boggy conundrums we and met an American couple who seem to have been shadowing us since the start. They seemed pleasant as most Americans are. They followed us over crag and bog, they will have certainly learned a few more words of the ‘English’ as they traced our steps over our AW last quest of the day. Over rock and spongy grass our colonial cousins followed until we hit a well trodden path off the peak.

The decent wasn’t easy going but my knackered knee (thanks training regt RE) wasn’t coping well. Finally we levelled out on the path around Stickle Tarn, Dicko had raced off as we’d seen the rest of our party on the first part of our decent sat near the tarn. Kel and me eased our way down the NE side of the Ark and crossed Bright Beck with the intention of joining the rest sat yapping at the Dam. It had been in the books, Kel had been tripping over every rock, Heath, cow dung and Spaniel since we started so what was next to happen wasn’t expected.  Now, from my previous blogs it’s been mentioned that’s she has enough metal in her ankle to build a Triangia cooking set. But on the fairly level section of path around the Tarn I experienced a feat of body mechanics that amazed me.  Negotiating a tricky, but not a hard drop of about 6 feet she plunged head face into rocky crop awaiting at the bottom. Her landing position was that of a pissed toad but ankles were both at an odd ankle. I initially looked skyward for the faithful sky ambulance thinking the fall may have dislodged the Meccano set hidden in her fragile joint.

I looked… I waited… Then came a quiet giggle from my prostrate fiancée who’s nose had just missed a small rock by about 2 inch, well it could’ve been 6 inch but shes good at lying. Anyway, she’d approved my request for laughter after seeing the fracture likely escapade and we both cracked on to meet the awaiting party at the dam and the rendition of our latest incident.

We set off and looking at the map, the decent would not be in favour of our aching joints. First of all, we had to negotiate George and Mildred sporting Wellies and a bag of medication. I appreciate the need to enjoy the outdoor life but FFS some of these people should not be allowed on the mountains, half of of them look like they’re on ‘day release’, near mind tackling a mountain. With a stare from Kel pretty much reflecting my thoughts we dropped back down Stickle Ghyll and watched in amazement at a group of Gill Scrambling kids, about eight of them were being supervised by a Susan Boyle lookalike who was ignoring the cries of her following brood as they fell face first into rock pool after rock pool.

The end was in sight, the gate in which we had bounced through 5 hours earlier was in grasping distance. Sue looked fresh as a daisy, don’t know how, but hands were shaken after a good hike out.

The falls had left little in my memory but the views had been fantastic.