Afternoon up Binsey!

We recently had a week in a lovely lodge at Keswick Reach Lodge Retreat in The Lake District, just along the A591 near Bewaldeth.  The location has many walks from the door and one of these is a small fell called Binsey.  Binsey is a detached fell in the northern lakes near Bassenthwaite.

We set off walking up a farm track from the main road (A591) which cut across some boggy sections of the track, throw in some sheep shite and it makes for some cracking smelling boot polish!

The track ends at a gate and then its up the moorland all the way to the summit, which you can’t see from the bottom the way we went up.  There’s a cairn and a trig point at the top, even though it is one of the smaller fells, the views are amazing.  If you have a walk about the top, Bassenthwaite is in full view and if you look the other way, Scotland and the Solway Firth, you can also see over to Overwater.

Sometimes the smaller fells offer better views than the larger mountains, and they’re easily accessible in an afternoon walk.

Wether Hill via Steel Knotts.

A second day of great weather and we’d said if the cloud stayed high we would crack off a decent hill, so we looked at Wether Hill with a stop off at Steel Knotts on route.

Old church of St Martin.
Old church of St Martin.

We parked up on the grass outside St Martin’s Church and got our boots on.  Due to Alfie’s love of chasing sheep we took it in turns in holding his lead preventing our boisterous Springer Spaniel from being shot by the nearest farmer.  Kel put her boots and rucksack on and grabbed the lead.  I was bending over tying my bootsIMG_6801 and heard Kel let out a very vocal ‘NOOOO!’, just in time to see Alfie emptying his bladder on my rucksack.  Great Start!

If you’re going to do this route check the map, because it says there’s a path connecting the one that hugs the wall behind the church and the one slightly higher.  It int’ theea!  Save time and a shed load of energy and take the higher route straight away, don’t take the bottom path and have to climb about 200 metres in the same distance.

IMG_6802Anyway after our slight detour we were on the path we should be and at the junction above Nettlehowe Crag were we slung in a left and it wasn’t long before we were at the top of Steel Knotts and the great view it had.

We went back down the same accent route and hit the path which went over Brownthwaite Crag and through the battalions of sheep watching us cross the wall, which has seen better days, at the base of Gowk Hill and theIMG_6803 start of the accent up the long route up to the Roman Road onto Wether Hill.

By this time the sun was beating down and we decided we’d follow the same route (ish) down to safe getting burnt by the by now baking sun.

The route down was very nice, relatively sheep free (they must have been in the shade somewhere) and a nice smooth steady decent.

We got back to the car and a large family had just finished their day out in the hills and were looking in the church and chatting.  I pulled out of the car park over a boulder hitting the front of the car, all heads turned as Kel went bright red with embarrassment.

So I sped out of the tranquil spot with knackered body work and the stench of stale dog pee buzzing through my nostrils, cheers Alfie!

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Little Mell Fell

First walk of the week and with the weather looking very wet, Little Mell Fell looked like a good idea, and not too taxing to warm our legs up for the week planned ahead.IMG_6788

Looking at the map, parking wasn’t in abundance and after consulting Alfred WAINWRIGHT we decided to park at Thackthwaite to the north and have a nice leisurely  stroll (sheep pending) to the summit and hope we didn’t get too wet.  So, we drove west on the back road past Sparket and looked for a parking space.  We looked, and looked and looked again.  There was nowhere to park, well we couldn’t find it if there was, near Thackthwaite.  IMG_6789

We drove anti clockwise around Little Mell Fell and found a nice space on the southern side and parked up.  From this car park we could see the path to the top so donned the boots and got stuck straight into a climb which didn’t level, until we hit the Trig Point at the summit.

IMG_6790Not the highest hill but the views were amazing and we were scratching our heads when the blue sky burst out of the clouds after being promised rain.  Alfie had fun jumping on and off the Trig Point and we took some pics.  IMG_6791

The walk down was a bit slippy at times but we arrived back at the car about an hour after we’d left.

Great little dog walk and a good start to the week.

 

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A Great Day Up Grasmoor!

The previous day we’d had a slow leisurely walk up Great Mell Fell in nice sunny weather, the day we’d planned to venture up Grasmoor the forecast was over cast but the rain was supposed to stay off, it did and we had a cracking day!IMG_5358

We were staying in the Eden Valley, although it’s an amazing place and only 20 minutes outside the National Park, some places in the Lake District take some getting to and can hack a large chunk off your planning to take in a fell or two. After packing the car we headed for Buttermere via Honister, I always like driving the Honister Pass, without sounding too big headed, it reminds me how much better I am at driving than most of the halfwits that find their way onto the road. The weather was improving with every mile and as we negotiated the sheep and cyclists Buttermere glistened in the sun as we skirted passed and joined the banks of Crummcock Water and slipped into a cheeky little parking spot at the foot of Rannerdale Knotts.

IMG_5359 (1)Due to my Aygo’s boot locking itself and not allowing any access, we’ve had to pack and unpack the walking kit via the back seats making things very awkward and testing my patience. Boots on, daysacks checked and on our backs, we headed north the main road to the footpath just past Rannerdale Bridge at the foot of Cinderdale Common. The map is correct, the terrain shows a few different paths littering the base of the Common but the path is on the east side of Cinderdale Beck. It’s disguised by a forest of Fern but it’s there and it takes you straight up Lad Hows as the climb goes up fast revealing more and more Crummock Water. At this point, if you have a dog, beware, as the Ferns are so thick that sheep are hard to see as they hide in the deep undergrowth.IMG_5360

The temperature started to rise as the sun showed more and more through previously thick cloud and we were down to base layers in no time. To the north Grasmoor was like an attentive teacher always watching you but didn’t appear to get closer. On Lad Hows the approach up the 20th highest Wainwright becomes a reality and time to take on some liquid for the big push up its shale spur. A family were taking the same route as us and they looked like ‘THE Borrowers’ as they trudged up our chosen path not more than 200 metres ahead of us. Alfie had his eye on the sheep on the steep ascent to our left and kept edging his way closer to the woolly teasers as we closed in on the summit. It wasn’t long before temptation got the better of him IMG_5361and he went for it! Again, I blame the sheep, he’d come across a lonely sheep on Lad Hows which stood its ground and he just turned his back and didn’t bother it. But when they run he loves the chase, he wouldn’t even bother if they’d stand still. Anyway, he vanished over the edge and all we heard was a shale avalanche and my Spaniel was left in the hands of the mountain gods. I ran over to the last place is saw him take the leap and prayed I wasn’t going to see a lifeless Springer metres below. I couldn’t see him but saw a couple of breathless sheep about 150 metres below. Near the start of our ascent I saw a black and white blob wandering about aimlessly. I whistled and shouted and the blob started the climb all over again as he’d realised where we were and caught up panting his little heart out.IMG_5365 (1)

The summit was a great sight and we walked over to one of two shelters to eat our butties and give Alfie some water. The top reminded me of the summit of Skiddaw, flat and spacious! The family we were following were in the bigger shelter and we could hear them chat and laugh in the breeze as we tucked into our corned beef sarnies. An inspection of Alfie revealed a couple of scrapes on his legs, he’s like a Bairn who goes out to play and comes back in with bloody shins and grazed knees. I had a half laugh and half serious thought, ‘If he’s (Alfie) gonna go, it’s gonna be off a mountain!’

IMG_5369 (1)We packed our daysacks and headed east towards the dip between Grasmoor and Crag Hill and the junction bang on the ‘722m’ on the map. Here we came across a very well-spoken gent who had climbed from Coledale Hause. He enquired in a softly spoken voice about the ‘Honister Rambler’ bus service from Buttermere, unfortunately we had nothing to offer as an answer. I could’ve offered an anecdote about our recent encounter with the Lakes bus service and Dick Turpin driving the number 55 into Grasmere but I don’t think this lad would’ve appreciated it. In fact, I hope he didn’t catch any of our usual repertoire on the fells, a mixture of Yorkshire/Pit yacker that can get colourful when things aren’t going well. Anyway we left him at the junction and headed south towards Wandhope, he did appear to spend a lot of time sorting kit out as I glanced back on a couple of occasions, maybe he had heard us coming off the top of Grasmoor!IMG_5375

The decent down Wandhope Moss and Whiteless Edge was very pleasant and one of those Lakeland moments which you want to treasure. To our right we had Crummock Water reflecting Mellbreak and further on Loweswater shimmering in the sun.

We’d decided that Rannerdale Knotts was optional extra Wainwright for the day and as we walked over Whiteless Pike and dropped off towards the sheepfold above Whiteless Breast we decided we’d save it for another day so we could take in the ‘garden’ along Squat Beck and the area where the Bluebells compliment the view in the Spring. This decent was one of the most pleasant in all the Wainwrights and this was testified by the amount of ‘tourists’ crossing us near the end.

IMG_5381We walked the last few hundred metres back to the car and I felt really relaxed and calm, until I remembered the bloody car boot was broken!! Nice post walk pint in the Bridge Inn and the sunny beer garden.IMG_5383

This was one of my favourite Wainwrights, the view, the weather and not too tedious decent made the day great. Could’ve done without the puppy playing ‘chase the sheep’ off sheer edges but that’s my dog, as mental as me!

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A tough day out up Seat Sandel and Helvellyn!

As usual, the words “I’ve planned a route!” coming from Kel’s mouth usually meant a good thrashing with plenty of thick orange chunks of contour lines to start with. I looked at the map and the Smörgåsbord of summits my beloved wife had set out for me and Alfie the Spaniel. “The weather is meant to be OK and we don’t even have to get up early cos it doesn’t go dark till late!” she stood with a smile on her face. Looking at OL5 I grinned and thought “Not too orange then!?”IMG_5209

“All we need to do is catch a bus from the end where we’ll park the car and get off at the start then finish at the Kings Head, simples!” she carried on excitedly.

“Bus!!?? Bus!!??” I said in amazement. I hadn’t been on a bus for about 20 years and the thought of having to depend on ‘others’ for a route plan made me cringe a bit (I’m weird like that). We had a look at the timings and decided to give it a shot and the route was sorted. Mill Bridge, Grasmere to the King’s Head via Seat Sandal, Dollywaggon Pike, Nethermost Pike, Helvellyn and White Side. A full day!

Sunshine greeted us as we packed the car and headed for Grasmere and grabbed a parking space at the King’s Head. They have an agreement that walkers can park in their car park if you pay £5 for an initial ticket which gets you that amount of drinks if you have a post walk pint at the end of your route. Canny!

IMG_5210So there we were, stood at a bus stop with our daysacks waiting for a bus to Grasmere, which was approx 5-6 miles down a straight road. The sun was blazing down on us and we had a giggle about the fact we’d not researched if dogs were allowed on the bus and thinking of a plan B if the driver wouldn’t let Alfie on. 3 minutes after the due time the bus came rolling from St. John’s in the Vale and things were looking good. I put my hand out, just like 1979 when I used to catch the bus to school, and just like 1979 it stopped and I stepped onto the bus while Kel and Alfie sat down on the closest seat to the front.IMG_5212

“Two adults and a dog please mate” I said searching in my pocket for some change expecting a couple of quid each and half a nicker for the hound.

“£10.60 please!” Dick Turpin replied without even looking at me! You know that feeling where the ‘bus’ spins and you’re grinning to yourself but actually paying. There was some thought that Alfie had cost me even more money the little tinker. I paid up and the driver stopped pointing his musket in my face. Kel budged up so we could all fit on the two seater and I awaited the hostess with the Champers and Caviar which were obviously on route for the fee.

IMG_5219Grasmere came and we grabbed our kit and shuffled off the bus with our daysacks, puppy and a massive hole in my pocket. We’d travelled less than the distance we were about to walk (without the accent)! I sorted my cam and we made our way up through the little cottages at Mill Bridge feeling violated, but at least I felt a bit lighter. We’d decided to take the route up Little Tongue, west of Great Tongue through herds of sheep and the sun burning down on us. Hause Riggs was a short but welcome break as we sat for 5 minutes to absorb the stunning view of Grasmere and the surrounding fells. The going was quite steep but significant height was gained quite quickly before we levelled out at Hause Moss and a small pile of stones with ‘Julian’s’ black baseball cap secured on the top.IMG_5221

The hiking/hill walking community are a canny bunch, if any lost kit is found in the fells it’s put on social media to find the owner. Hence my tweet with the a picture of the afore mentioned cap!

With Grisedale Tarn in view we turned left up a shaily accent up Seat Sandal and the mother of all thigh burners. Slate Shale doesn’t have the ‘gripability’ of any other shale, its one step forward and 4 steps back. The descent was decent and bait welcome looking over Grisedale Tarn and a chance for Kel to do her usual ‘Peak assessment’ of our surrounding view.

IMG_5225We saw people coming down the wall south side of Dollywaggon Pike but we opted to take the Zig Zag route up the South East side of the peak which brought much amusement as we were about to see. We skirted the Tarn and slung a left in and up the windy route up to the summit. About two thirds of the way up we made space for a group of mountain bikers who were making their way down. The first section stopped because they were finding the going too dangerous to stay on their machines. One had gone face first into the stone of ‘Dolly’ and was playing it safe. Further up we bumped into the rear echelon of the daring mountain bikers, one who had a thick ‘Pit Yacker’ accent who stated he’d never seen such a “Mental” descent and had decided to ‘push’ his bike down, putting the blame on videos on YouTube for not fully showing the scale of the best part of a 300m decent in the space of 500m, which to me works out at…… well a canny drop in anyone’s money! Probably the reason why the path is Zig Zagged up the side. Anyway in the 5 minutes we had with the mountain bikers two fell off, I’ll stick to walking!IMG_5226

At the top the sun was beating down and the wind had dropped making the going pleasant, plus a lack of sheep making way for a clear run for Alfie.

Looking west the Wythburn Fells were clear and we worked out exactly where we’d ‘lunched’ with the Dicko’s days before on in slightly less windier weather. From here the path was set and Nethermost Pike looking slightly higher but with Helvellyn peaking over its right shoulder we knew the highest peak in our quest, was in sight.

The top of Dollywaggon was a welcome sight as we’d passed the ‘post’ taking the right to the cairns. The view east was breath taking with a clear view of St. Sunday Crag making a good view stop. We headed north down slightly and then back up onto top of High Crag and sheep. Alfie did well heading up Nethermost Pike to keep his eye off the ‘Herdies’, while I spotted Striding Edge and thoughts went back to that blistering hot April day in 2011 when we’d foolishly climbed Helvellyn after a crate of Fosters and a meat only BBQ the night before, took me ages to get the smell of lager out of my ‘Buff’.

IMG_5228I digress, I liked the sight of the top of Helvellyn as I, as always, like being one of the highest in England at a particularly time, even for a few minutes. As we make our way up to the summit and the robustly built ‘X’ shelter and the ‘dump’ left that was used to build it, we spotted the memorial Stone placed to point out the spot where the first plane ever to land on a mountain was. There was a steady but not too chaotic stream off people coming up the different routes to take in one of the greatest views in the area. I love the sights, the feel and the sense of achievement when we hit a high peak, the feeling of another well planned trek. What I don’t like is idiots that are stood taking selfies dressed in high tops, ¾ length trousers and no safety equipment. Ok it was a sunny day, but it’s cretins like them that call MRT when they get cold, get lost, feel tired or just can’t be bothered to walk down. I’m sure I’ve said this before, but I pride myself that I carry enough kit to survive at least one night on a fell if ever we need to. Plus I plan even the simplest of routes over a certain height and ALWAYS carry safety kit, if not for me, for others.

Rant over and back to one of the best views in the district and my quest to find the snow we saw from Ullswater a couple of IMG_5230days before. Bingo, just passed Water Crag I find a patch of crusty musky snow about ten metre’s north east off the path. A couple of pics later of a 48 year old kid playing in snow for his 9 year old son then we’re back on track down onto Lower Man and a long decent down. If you look east into the valley you can see the dam at Brown Cove, it’s an unusual sight and it looks like it was built to store water for the mining in the area. My feet were aching and the balls of my feet were sore, feeling like I’d trekked 50 mile not the measly few we had. As we dropped down to the ‘pile of stones’ to take the left North West onto White Side, I could see down the valley to Thirlmere, but even though the it was downhill, the going was painful skirting the side of Whiteside Bank leaving me wishing we’d gone up to the cairn and straight down, instead of side footing down the side negotiating rabbit warrens and land slips kicking the s**t out of my knee and Kel’s ankle, God we’re getting old. Eventually we joined the path that ran down Brund Gill and down the North East side of Brown crag and a cracking view of the ultra-green grass around Dalehead Hall on the banks of Thirlmere. I hate descents like this, I’d rather climb miles up and a gradual way down, the new plantation was quite steep, or seemed like it and the crossing at the un-named gill near the back of Thirlspot Farm was such a relief to hit level ground. Alfie drank about half the water content of Brown Crag and we entered the grounds of the farm, passed the sheep and a Lama, or Alpaca, I was too goosed to care.

The cider at The Kings Head bit into the throat like a welcome friend and the £10.60 bus fare into Grasmere 7 hours earlier was a distant memory, but next time I’ll order a taxi!

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100th Wainwright just had to be Sheffield Pike!

IMG_4800I realise there are 214 Wainwrights so you’d probably argue that fell 107 is a milestone, being halfway, when we reached 99 on Raven Crag we, sorry I, wanted to make the 100th be something special. Being from God’s county I picked Sheffield Pike!IMG_4798

IMG_4799A sunny but chilly day met us as we left the caravan site followed by family Dicko and headed for Ullswater and the road down the west side of the massive water that seems to take forever to drive down to Glenridding. The A592 offers twists and surprises at every turn on a sunny day, trying to find a space in the small free car parks that litter the road is an adventure in itself. We eventually settled for a small ‘pull in’ just prior to Glencoyne and met the Dicko’s at the NT car park to start our walk.

As always on meeting our favourite hiking buddies, Kel and Sue check out new kit and colour match and me and Dicko just take the mick. I was sporting my new body cam as I got for a birthday present with which I was experimenting videoing our walks. Sue’s first reaction was to ask if it records audio, I said no but I was lying, she doesn’t want anyone to know she’s a potty mouth. We set off up the straight track to the cluster of buildings which I guess is Glencoyne, the site of Sheffield Pike standing in front of us asking to be climbed. The path goes through the back garden of the buildings which always seems a bit weird to me, tramping through someone’s back garden. Through the very small wooden gate and eventually placed boot of grassy fell as we started the climb up the sheep infested hillside to a quaintly placed terrace of cottages which, looking at the map, is called Seldom Seen. The grass bank up to the stone wall and a gate through gave everyone a welcome early break to vent or remove clothing that was causing an early sweat.IMG_4801

Richard (Dicko’s son) was off up front hop, skiping and jumping his way through the heather and rocks while we straggled behind giving Alfie (our Springer) his excuse to do his hill reps between us and him. I was feeling it, even at this early stage, the medication I was on takes its toll in all shapes and form and early fatigue was one. The climb wasn’t particularly hard but getting to Bleabank side seemed like Everest to me and the sight of Nick Head and the designated sweet stop was more than welcome. I joined the group and plonked myself on a Peat shelf and tucked into Dicko’s jelly babies, my body craved sugar. Alfie was on a peat soaked water fest and doing ’doughnuts’ in the sodden ground was an ideal way of covering everyone in black water. Thanks mate! IMG_4807

We rested and contemplated the summit which wasn’t too far away, approx. 75 metre climb to the 675m summit. Halfway to the top I saw group resting with a few kids running about while the adults rested. As we got closer I recognised my work mate Louise tending a small child and then remembered she was in the area with her family and had obviously also chosen Sheffield Pike as their ‘summit of the day’. We had a bit of craic and arranged to meet at the ‘Rambler’s Bar’ later for a post walk pint. We headed east towards the summit and at last about 500m of level (ish) ground reached the summit fairly quickly and with a cracking view. Ullswater was as clear as a bell and we even got a view of people skiing down Raise. Helvellyn looked amazing, the snow had given it a wonderful coat that had a good few people climbing to the top.IMG_4806

At this point I’d given up on my cam, I hadn’t attached it correctly to my day sack and it kept slipping forward and all I had was cracking footage of the ground and my size 11’s. We headed south east towards Heron Pike struggling to find a definite path. We stopped at the iron post as the ‘path’ had come to drop, a 50m drop! Luckily we could see Louise and the rest of her party nearly at the bottom heading towards the stone wall. Her hubby pointed to our left, I thought it was an indication to the path we needed to take so we headed left and found a small well-trodden area of grass heading down hill towards the wall. It seemed to take an age to get to the wall and ‘The hills were alive, with the sound of Sue screams!’ There were a few scares on the slippery grass, even I had a few ‘Hip jolters!’

IMG_4809Eventually we met the dry stone wall heading north to south and walked in the direction of the ‘Rake’ and crossed the junction with the wall dropping off Glenridding Dodd. We did plan to top Glenridding Dodd but I felt very tired and had slight chest pains, again a result of the medication floating around my body.

I told Kel I didn’t want to go any higher so we decided to take a left then left again to briefly head north east to Mossdale Beck and follow the beck down to the road. If you chose this path be wary that it’s not very well maintained, we had to run the gauntlet of falling trees and collapsed paths. Which meant us getting ‘hands on’ in some parts, which I don’t mind but Sue didn’t look too impressed. Finally we hit the road and a short walk back up to the parking spot just passed Glencoyne Bridge.IMG_4810

We met Louise and her family at the Ramblers Bar for a well-deserved pint of cider and a chat in the sun. A great peak for our 100th Wainwright and a lovely sunny day to do it!

An uphill push up Ullock Pike and Skiddaw

It was a well-deserved week away and as usual we were heading to the Lake District, fingers crossed the weather would hold out as we had a good few walks planned. It looked decent for Monday so we thought we’d get straight into it by taking a different route up Skiddaw from last time, this time was via Ullock Pike.IMG_4250

We arrived at the caravan Sunday night after finishing work at 4pm and throwing everything into the car. Our well-tuned routine means we are sorted and route planning with a cheeky snifter in no time.  We were attempting to finish the Northern Fells this visit so Ullock Pike and Bakestall were to be done; standing between the two is the fourth highest mountain in England so we had to negotiate that too.  I was secretly buzzing with that, the higher I am means the happier I am.IMG_4252

As we drove along the A66 we inspected the peaks and the amount of covering they had, Blencathra had her head in the clouds but it seemed to be blowing off and on with sunny spells in between so we kept to the plan and found a parking spot at OL 4, 236310 just off the A591 at High Side and parked on the road just after the turning. The spot was quite popular with three blokes also pulling up to don their daysacks and boots, one commented on how it would be slightly mad to attempt Skiddaw with the low cloud which seemed to have hidden the summit, hey ho, we’re slightly mad then.IMG_4254

We walked up the road to a farm gate and entered the fell, after two wall crossings a sharp right turn took us onto the ‘Allerdale Ramble’, which was the route up Ullock Pike and the start of a canny uphill push which hardly let up until we hit Longside Edge. All the way, we could see Skiddaw clearing and covering every time we looked, it was going to be a matter of timing, not ours but natures.  Ullock Pike gave great views of Bassenthwaite Lake and Derwentwater, which made a nice change from the face on the miserable bloke who appeared to take exception to my playful Springer trying to play with his two dogs.  To me, hillwalking is a community were most people say “Hi” and sometimes pass the time of day, and a part of that community is dogs, they play and get excited and communicate too.  Enough said!

IMG_4256Longside Edge gave our legs a rest before the attack at the scree path up to the top of the Skiddaw plateau, not before Alfie could have a play in Carlside Tarn. At this point I saw the 3 blokes who we spoke to in the car park, we’d lost them then and didn’t see them up Ullock Pike so I couldn’t get my head around their route.  They were walking up the scree path, they couldn’t have come up Carlside and didn’t see them on Ullock, confusing.

The scree path up from Carlside Tarn north east towards the southern end of the Skiddaw table top is a great thigh burner, we met a couple having bait half way up. Alfie quickly smelt the food, he sniffs the air, then makes a quick run towards his target but appears to run past not paying attention, it’s his second fly past where he stops and puts on the puppy eyes.  Luckily id caught up to hush him on before the unsuspecting hikers had their bait TWOC’d. IMG_4262

We reached the top of the slippery loose shingly path with legs burning and lungs gasping to be met by high winds and thrice the amount of hill walkers than were scraping up the scree path. It was very windy and the cold was nipping slightly but no need for the amount of kit some people were wearing as we neared the summit.  A few of the hikers coming back down from the top were dressed like they’d just topped K2, must have been southerners (just kidding).

IMG_4261The summit came and went with Alfie making friends with a 6 month old Rottweiler in the cloud and a selfie of Kel and me, that’s a first. We made our way north to Gibraltar Crag and a quick drop down into the sunshine and a reconnection with our 3 parking buddies who were having their bait.  Eh!!??

We hugged the fence down to Bakestall and a pretty eventless summit of Wainwright’s 100 highest, then a right turn took us down a joint bashing Birkett Edge down to the Cumbria Way.  We left the ‘Way’ at Peters House Farm and followed the road back to the car and he starting point, I was glad to see the car.

Alfie is still a puppy and gets excited about everything, I’m afraid to say a couple of sheep on Ullock Pike may have been the target of his curiosity but nothing malicious and came back on recall…..ish!

It was another great walk in good weather with low cloud at the summit , wish I could say the same about the pub near the end……IMG_4265photo 6

Hop around High Hartsop Dodd

The last time we placed boot on fell in the Lake District was New Year’s Day when we got a good old drenching on Place Fell.  We teamed up with Dicko and Sue, and also the new ‘Team Hyde’ member, Alfie the Springer to get back into the swing of Wainwright bagging and set our sights on a quadruple quest starting with High Hartsop Dodd. IMG_6112

We all met the night before at the caravan site in Morland due to the Dicko’s becoming new residents at the site, route planned and we were set, although it did take us  4 bottles of red to sort it, we did it.  The next day we packed the Aygo with four days sacks, four lots of boots and Dicko was sat in front trying to keep Alfie in the foot well but failing miserably as we headed for Ullswater and Brothers Water to find the car park at Cow Bridge and the start of a day of bagging.  The route we had planned would take in High Hartsop Dodd, Little Hart Crag, Red Screes and Middle Dodd, which looking at the map looked a nice leg stretch and not too far.

IMG_6113The car park at Cow Bridge was quite full but I managed to squeeze the car into a nice little spot and we got ready.  Getting ready took slightly longer than normal, due to puppy pinching socks.  The moths from Sues daysack didn’t help either.  Anyway, the happy bunch strolled off down the side of Brothers Water and even though the cloud was low, a few bits of blue sky were making an appearance as I felt for my Sig Bottle only to discover it wasn’t in my side pouch on my daysack and a quick run back to the car find it in the boot of the Aygo, followed by a quick run back to the others, who by the way didn’t wait so the return leg of my run was slightly longer than the first leg.IMG_6121

Heading south we took in the sights of Brothers Water and Low Wood then came out into open land and the farm track to Hartsop Hall and a sea of sheep waiting to be sheered, and an angry farmer doing a ‘Fenton’ impression as his trusty sheep dog wasn’t being so trusty and not paying a blind bit of notice of his instructions.  We took a quick left at the farm over a meadow with the most randomly placed boulders and Dovedale Beck to lay eyes on the start of our accent.  The map does show quite a steep start to our route but as soon as you see it up close and personal you don’t quite get the full affect.  It reminded me of Fleetwith, a steep slope that needed to be climbed, and when you see sheep in harnesses you know you’re in forIMG_6122 a decent thigh burner.  There’s no getting around these sort of starts, it’s gotta be done to enjoy the experience.  Alfie was bouncing around like a ‘gud un’ and I was keeping an eye out for sheep.  Dicko set the pace and we were soon working our way up and Brothers Water was getting lower and lower, further and further away.  Chins were still up when we hit the little bit of a scramble near the top, Alfie had no fear jumping from rock to rock as he kept us all in check.  The cloud appeared to be getting lower and the tops of Hart and Dove Crag were disappearing to our right. Apparently at the start Kel had asked me if she could tie one of Alfie’s poo bags to my daysack, I can’t remember agreeing to this and only found out as I reached around my daysack looking for my water bottle, only to find something soft and squidgy in hanging for off the front, luckily my nails had been cut and I realised what the foreign object was, I wasn’t happy but the rest of the group said I’d agreed, I beg to differ.

IMG_6138The summit came quick and Alfie had acquired a bone from somewhere, we had come across a sheep that had gone to sheep heaven about 20 metres back so that’s got to have been the source.  The summit brought a heavy mist enough to wet you so water proofs came out as we entered the misty cloud as we plodded on to Little Hart Crag.  We found the summit ok, the cloud had cleared again and this was as good as place as any for bait.  The temperature dropped slightly with the wind so we all sat huddled, a bit unusual for July but that’s the mountains for you.  Alfie was doing the rounds looking for scraps of ham buttie but his luck wasn’t in so he went off to explore, probably looking for his new love, sheep droppings and wool.

Bait was a quick affair and we were back on track in no time, we dropped off the top and IMG_6141the path to Scandale Pass and looked at the ascent up to Red Screes, there were a few other walkers coming off Red Screes looking a bit damp, the top was covered in cloud but I was hopeful the small piece of blue sky which had appeared over Dove Crag would shuffle over to the top.  We set off up and I did a bit of a Bambi on ice impression landing with a thud on the wet peat.  Kel was happy with that as it’s usually her back side that spends its time on the floor.  The weather gods were definitely on our side as we climbed the steady ascent to the top of Red Screes and we were met by blue sky and sunshine at the top.  The view down to Brothers Water was very good and we had a bird’s eye view of our route down, well, we could see the direction we were going but not the actual path.  Looking down the valley the Kirkstone Pass looked like a Scalextric set and cars minute .  Red Screes isn’t the biggest fell but it’s a canny drop down when you peek over the edge.  The summit is a good spot for a wild camp as well, apart from the water; the mini tarn is smelly and peaty.  Sue perked up a bit as we were now going down, if she’d only knew what the ‘down’ would be like I think she’d have called mountain rescue.IMG_6143

We set of down and the first bit of the decent was good going, we still had to ‘top’ Middle Dodd which we did quickly and set off down.  The going became steep and footings were precarious and I felt my ankle cracked a couple of times.  Everyone’s joints were being tested, the only one of us who looked comfortable was Alfie who had been hopping around as Springer’s do.  A bit of advice if doing this route is to turn right at the wall (399102) and walk to the permissible path and take that.  We didn’t, if you look at the map (OL5) there is a small black line about (400103), it’s not a small black line in reality, it’s a sheer drop which creeps right up on you, if it’s foggy there’s a good chance you wouldn’t see it and take a 50 feet nose dive into the ferns.  We took a left at the cliff and walked to the straight wall to follow IMG_6168down to join the permissible path lower down.  As we approached the wall, I spotted a herd of cows near Caiston Beck, they were a good 200 meters away and we weren’t going anywhere near them but Kel told me to put Alfie on his lead.  We are quite good with him and always put him on when anywhere near sheep etc, but these cows were some distance away and we were walking away from them so I just kept an eye on him.  She said, “Ok it’s your call, but if they stampede and eat him it’s your fault!”  The first few seconds were like an old Western film when the town is deserted and the brush wood blows though.  I looked at Dicko whose face was just as confused as mine.  “Eat!?” I said to my worried wife.  “You don’t know what they’ll do!” she replied.  “Well I do know they won’t eat him!” I said laughingly as she stared at the happy herd chomping on the Lakeland grass.  That was it for a good quarter of an hour, all sorts of jokes fired at my embarrassed missus ranging from me singing the theme tune to ‘Rawhide’ to Dicko telling everyone to watch out for the dog eating wildebeest stampeding across the Glen.

We approached the small footbridge across the beck and I saw some killer sheep in the next field, prompting me to put the lead on Alfie in case the woolly canine cannibals attacked my defenceless pooch.  The jokes did eventually die off as we joined the footpath that we walked along to start hours before.  We got to the car and took off wet kit and heated boots, plus I IMG_6156finished of Dicko’s jelly babies.

Sat in the beer garden of the Brotherswater Inn the banter was good, even though I was slightly fuming at the £1 for an hours Wi-Fi that I wouldn’t pay.  We’d had a good day and even though we were not hitting the highest peaks we had worked fairly hard, and for the first time back on the fells it was a canny leg stretch.  Just watch out for the flesh eating Friesians!

 

 

A New Year Plod up Place Fell

New Year is either a full on experience for some or it’s just the other annoyance after Christmas for the ‘bar humbug’ brigade.  So, Kel and I hadIMG_3214 a look at the weather forecast after the big fat lad in red had squeezed down the Combi boiler and made a decision.  It looked rainy-check, windy-check, and snow on the peaks-double check!  We’d missed a Wainwright on our last visit due to unforeseen circumstances so we decided our quest should be Place Fell.

We decided we’d see the New Year in at the caravan in the Eden Valley, which is only a short drive from Ullswater which was ideal for our chosen fell hugging the bottom of the massive water.  We had mentioned it to Kel’s sister (whose caravan it is anyway) and she and her hubby Stu where up for bringing 2014 in the lakes.  But after a couple of texts, the party that would be heading up Place Fell was hitting 9 humans and a German shepherd.  Thankfully not all staying in the caravan!

We arrived at Pooley Bridge for lunch Tuesday and a taste of what was to come, Ullswater was like the North Sea as its waves licked its shores splashing the A592.   Snow had capped Helvellyn and its surrounding peaks and I had a fuzzy feeling in my stomach as I love ‘good weather’ when we’re hitting the fells.  Kel doesn’t join me in my like for inclement weather on hills but she would prefer to be battered with nature than walking around the shops with the endless ‘sale’ signs.  We joined Ali, Stu and Bruce at the caravan late afternoon and started to bring in the New Year with finger food and wine, lots of wine!!  We were joined by one of our friends Michelle who managed to find the caravan after a few loops around the Eden Valley and churning up the campsite in her ‘Beemer’ looking for a parking space.

IMG_3215Due to the planned route not taking us that far and only 4 hours on the hills at most, a half ten meet at Pooley Bridge was organised to meet the rest of the party.  So, after leaving Pooley Bridge we drove down the flooded A592 to park at the school house in Patterdale to start our attack of Place Fell.  Quick head count:  Me, Kel, Ali, Stu, Michelle, Dicko, Sue, David (Dicko’s brother), Yvette (David’s wife), Richard (Dicko’s son) and of course the big German Shepherd Bruce.  New Year greetings complete we joined the footpath sneaking between the school house buildings heading across marsh land towards Side Farm to start our ascent up Patterdale Common.  The stream that enters Ullswater down this valley was slightly high and the couple of hundred metres to the farm was ankle deep in water which prompted a few ‘girly’ giggles from the female element of the party.  Us blokes just cracked on as usual!  A testament to recent weather was soon upon us as we saw a caravan in the farmland on its roof at the adjacent campsite.  We all found it amusing but I guess some poor soul has had their world turned on its roof quite literally, oh well.

I’d looked at the map and the route wasn’t that complicated, we’d take a right behind the farm and just IMG_3217climb south east towards Boredale Hause.  There were a couple of other hikers heading up and smiles and New Year greetings were exchanged.  It wasn’t long before the hills gave way to the sound of pounding paws and Bruce’s relentless quest to keep his ‘flock’ in order.  The rain was pleasant and cloud cover high(ish) but the wind was getting up.  As we passed Rooking Gill the breeze got a bit more lively and the drops of rain where getting a bit bigger.  Ullswater was clear and the snow on the Helvellyn range looked very inviting making me wish we’d headed up the western side of the valley, hey ho, Place Fell was the goal and we were well on route.

We arrived at Boredale Hause and were met by another group of hikers chewing the fat.  Stu had found a dubious footpath up the fell which was immediately ‘Poo Poo’d’ by our new friends.  It looked good to me but I could see the top of the fell and it looked bleak, I knew the well-established path was clear and wanted a drama less ascent so we headed to the path that Kel and I had abandoned a few weeks before.  As we trudged up the well-worn path the wind increased and the chunks of rain got bigger.  Just before Steel Edge the weather had got quite bad, we’d stopped for a breather but the party had become stretched.  Communication was hard between the group and chins were hitting the floor.  After a brief chat, Dicko, Sue, Yvette, David and Richard decided to turn back.  There’s no point getting higher into IMG_3220worse weather if all you’re doing is looking down and not enjoying it.  There are certain things that people get from the hills, views, exercise, but I like the thrill! I know it’s not Everest and there’s always a way down but I’ve always loved the mountains and hills not matter what the weather, bad weather just adds to it for me.  I carry enough kit to make my ‘stay’ overnight comfortable!

With a good chunk of the party gone we cracked on leaving just the caravan dwellers heading summit wise and the weather getting worse.  Bruce the Shepherd wasn’t happy, he’d lost half this flock and it was doing his head right in.  However, at the top we managed to shelter slightly but we were greeted with a small scattering of the fluffy white stuff.  A ‘re-group’ as I like to call it was in session.  Did everyone like to carry on? Yes.  Was everyone dry? No but ok.  Where the fek had my daysack cover gone? Hanging near my arse.

Happy days and we cracked on after hoying down a Snickers and a reassessment of kit.  The snow was now driving into my unzipped pockets but I was warm and dry.  Vision was very good considering and every one was chipper.  Bruce had got over the fact he had only 5 humans to watch and cracked on negotiating the crags and the driving snow which, even he was struggling to contend with.

‘The Knight and Mortar Crags’ were negotiated extremely well, mainly down to a good path, nowt to do with navigation.  There were a good few IMG_3223moments where Kel had a couple of slips but nothing to write home about.  My daysack cover decided to make another bid for escape on Mortar Crag but luckily moorland to the west of us saved it from joining the waves of Ullswater.  The wind was very strong making all the snow and rain a little bit more extreme.  Michelle had grabbed my attention as we headed to the massive Sheepfold at Low Moss, she pointed out a left turn just before High Dodd which looked good.  Things were starting to be blown about, my daysack cover included plus my underpants were soaked, don’t ask me how but they were.  We banged in a left turn at the junction and headed down the path parallel with Low Moss Gill.  Immediately the wind reduced and we stopped at the disused quarry about a quarter of the way down to have a break.  Kel popped on her white bonnet and Bruce tried to eat Michelle’s sarnies, I found a lovely slate water fall and we headed off down the route.  The surface was slippery under foot and there was a couple of ‘Hip jammers’ as people slipped but recovered without hitting the deck.  We had the joy of Scalehow Force roaring away to our left as we joined another well-worn path just before Scalehow wood and a left turn south west along the side of the lake.

IMG_3224We were still not half way but as the wind, rain and snow were not with us chins were up and conversation was ongoing.  Well between Ali and Michelle it was, very much so, what do lasses find to talk about?!  With the steep crags to our left and the swirls on Ullswater to our right, the pace picked up and jelly babies made an appearance.  Kel was proud to produce a packet of ‘Spogs’ (liquorice with hundreds and thousands on) and smiles were on all involved.  Silver Bay went by with the water a bit closer than usual and it wasn’t long before the end of Ullswater was in sight.  The cloud was dropping and twinkles of Glennridding were inviting us from across the water.  A text from Dicko stating the rest of the party were in the ‘Ramblers Bar’  made the sight of Side Farm and the caravan on its roof very welcome and a pint to make the day perfect.  However, remember the path from the school to the farm at the start being ankle deep, it had now been replaced by a few more inches of water and a prospect of wet feet for the shorter people in the party.  Sod it, we just trudged through what the hell.  We came out the other side laughing and commenting the fact we’d just seen a black Labrador chase a swan in about two feet of water on the path, and Bruce had just stood and watched, probably in amazement. IMG_3227

I came out the other side with dry feet, so did Stu.  The girls were soaked but the car was in sight and the start of the great ‘De-kit’ IMG_3233and a chance to steam Stu’s car up on the short ride to the ‘Ramblers Bar’ and a welcome from the rest of the starting party.  Stories exchanged and pints downed as Bruce left a dog shaped wet print on the wooden flooring.  The mystery of my wet underpants was solved by realising I’d left the zips on my waterproof over trousers open to the driving rain/snow on the summit.

AW states “Few Fells are so well favoured as Place Fell for praising neighbouring heights!”  This is true; Helvellyn graced us with its white cap the whole way almost inviting us over as if to capture souls.  Even though the weather was ‘wintery’ I wouldn’t have had it any other way!IMG_3236

Beda Fell

Whenever you put boot on fell, you have to take all sorts of factors into consideration; weather, terrain, route, gear and your party’s ability.  There are plenty of benefits of walking in the mountains and hills, but there are also things that could go wrong.  Our walk up Beda Head luckily didn’t need outside help but it goes to show, even seasoned hikers have problems.1

It’s Friday and Kel and me were on dayshift, I was set to finish at 5pm and Kel at 4pm, so it was up to her to get home first, pack my car and get all sorted for a quick blast down the A66 for when I pull up on the drive in her shed, I mean car.  We had a passenger just for the journey; one of my mates had set his family off to Center Parcs in the morning, arranging for us to drop him off on the night so we had a slight detour before settling in the caravan.  We were on the road for roughly half five so things looked good as it only usually took us just short of 1 ½ hours to get to Morland, and the detour wouldn’t add much, so we should be settled for 8pm planning our route for the next day.  The rain was pounding down but, hey ho that’s to be expected.  Process was good until Bowes and the road cone fest, can anyone tell me why the road works are there!?  Bang to a halt and an hour later we managed to come out of the other end and back on our journey.  We drove up the long road to Center Parcs and dropping 2our mate off to tackle the resorts fierce security while we made our way to our own peaceful, quiet resort, Aaahhhhhh!

As the rain bounced down on the tin roof of our, errgh hum, Kel’s sisters caravan we cast our eye over OL5 map and tried to marry it up with the go4awalk.com route which we’re using to get all the peaks in to accomplish our Wainwright goal before I’m 50!  Route sorted and after a couple of night caps, it was bed time.

Next day driving down the side of Ullswater the weather looked good and as we drove through Howtown there were a few cars parked at the bottom of Hallin Fell so a lot of people were already on the fells.   We parked at Garth Heads (427186) near where the footpath crosses the small road up Boredale.3

We planned to take the footpath east up Beda Fell to the ‘head’ then  drop down to Boredale Hause then up onto Place Fell and heading north to High Dodd then back to the car.  This was taking in two Wainwrights and a good few views, plus a post walk pint in the Pooley Bridge Inn and Kel’s favourite cider.  Boots on and straight into a steep climb up to Howsteadbrow and Winter Crag, the temperature was that awkward type of temperature where it’s slightly too warm for a fleece but just too chilly for just a base layer.  We trooped up to the crag and turned right heading to the top and the ground levelled and as we got closer to the top Ullswater revealed itself and with the clear skies every fell in the west could be scene.  Unless it’s driving rain or blowing a hooly I normally like a good little chin wag and it never seems to amaze me that Kel can name most of the fells from every angle.  Our ‘view stops’ are usually a feast of Kel turning a full 360 degrees pointing and saying, “Helvellyn, Sheffield Pike, Gowbarrow 4etc etc!”  But today seemed very quiet on the stops with Kel just appearing to look down and breath heavily, more than usual.  My concerned questions were met with “Aye I’m alright!” and “just tired, maybe too much Pinot last night!”  Too much Pinot!!??  I was concerned; it’d take a lot of Pinot for her to say it’s affected her the next day.  I remember when we went up Helvellyn the day after a good sesh.  We’d stopped at Parkfoot, which isn’t really our place but we were with camping friends.  Our mates weren’t hill walkers but like a good BBQ and the alcohol that went with a good pile of meat and buns.  Anyway needless to say our attack at Helvellyn was a bit ropey and we were sweating 14% but Kel was still chipper and we still made good pace.

But today was different, her chin was down for her not to be talking, this was a 5concern.  I knew that if she didn’t perk up on the flat on the summit I’d have to monitor her without making a fuss.  The summit came and went, she’d smashed a ‘Snickers’ in and we’d started looking for the path down to Boredale Hause.  We’d been blessed with cracking weather today and I was taking in the surrounding peaks, but the guided tour of their names was still missing and I was getting a bit worried about my weary wife.

As we dropped off the top over Freeze Beck and to a possible bait stop, I noticed a slight spring in Kel’s step, she’d said on the top that if she felt this rough at the ‘hause’ we’d be cutting short which I’d whole heartedly agreed.  Now, this ‘spring in her step’ didn’t mean all was good.  During my time in the forces I’d had many times where I’d had to monitor individuals who’d just been poorly.  Nothing to do with fitness as I’ve 6known the ‘Racing snakes’ who ran the fells be taken down by stomach bugs during exercises in the mountains of Wales.  The art is to watch faces and mannerisms; fatigue comes in three stages as far as I’m concerned.  Initially quiet and getting quite tired with more than frequent stops and not saying much.  Then, a second wind where there’s about half hour of “yeah I’m ok now” and picking up the pace.  This second stage is where you have to wait and rest, sit down and have bait.  If you’re walking bud is knackered and has fatigue caused by whatever, they’ll fail whilst resting.  If you don’t clock this this second stage and crack on, it may get serious about an hour later.  I’ve seen the third stage and many people have collapsed and CASEVAC’D (casualty evacuation) off a hill because someone failed to recognised the second stage.  The casualty won’t know and will think life’s good and try to crack on, that’s why it’s important to have a monitor buddy to call the shots.  You might get “What ya goin on about I’m fine!” but take the grief cos if they’d gone up and collapsed you’d be feeling worse.

We sat and started to have bait, it was a busy crossing with walkers coming up from all directions, Patterdale, Boredale and a few 7coming from Angle Tarn direction.  We perched on a rock and tucked into our butties; Kel just nibbled and nibbled then stopped eating.  I refer back to my previous paragraph where I mentioned mannerisms.  Kel had settled by the side of a small boulder, about shoulder height, and had lent against it.  Next thing I knew her eyes closed for a brief moment and there you go, stage two.  She’s never done that before ever, so with a slightly concerned grin, I told her we were getting off the hills.  She said OK!

The journey down Boredale confirmed my prognosis as Kel admitted she did not feel herself.  She perked up slightly again but I had no concerns as we were dropping down to farm land and a flooded path and watch a big black cloud covering Beda and Place fells ready to bolster Boredale Beck on its way into Ullswater.

8I wasn’t concerned that Place Fell hadn’t been bagged, to be fair, it’s not going anyway.  I was just glad I got my wife off the hills before anything bad.  It’s mainly a man thing too, no way am I gonna phone mountain rescue unless necessary, I would carry Kel, her daysack and mine off a fell before I used a much unfunded and overworked resource like mountain rescue.

We reached the car dry and in good spirits for a change and for once, I drove to the pub with my boots on instead of ditching them for sandals for a ‘breather’.9

I hope people that read this blog don’t think I’m a ‘know it all’ and a total knob.  I have had past encounters with all sorts of stuff and while passing on my experience, I’m not the font of all, just know some stuff!

PS, my new boots are the dog’s swingers!!