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!

Hike up High Rigg

High Rigg isn’t the biggest fell AW climbed and wrote about, however the views are quite amazing in good weather, however this fell was chosen by Kel and I because the weather was poor with low cloud and also it was our first climb since injury had blighted our Wainwright conquering quest.IMG_4250

We’d planned two weeks of Wainwright bagging as our holiday and we were both excited as we’d not put ‘boot on fell’ for more than a year.  We landed at the caravan with all our routes planned and full of energy to start our marathon fortnight.  The weather forecast wasn’t too great so a small fell and short route was the best plan of action.  High Rigg is fairly isolated in relation to adjacent fells so a quick up and down was ideal for us.

We packed the car in the pouring rain but hoped it would ease off before we hit St. John in the Vale for the start of the walk.  Parking in the church car park we put on our boots in a fine drizzle.  I don’t really mind the rain, we’ve got used to it, it’s the wind and rain mixture that makes a day in the hills very testing, and this day we would be tested.  The church of St. John’s in the Vale is quite remote with only a youth centre as neighbours.  It’s a gorgeous little building that’s well-kept and has a very handy car park to boot.  Wet weather kit already donned we walked up the right hand side of the church straight into a steep climb up a grass ascent.  Before long, the church was below us and the views should’ve been cracking…. Should have!!IMG_4255

The rain had picked up dramatically and the wind was blowing it sideways from right to left and before long we were both dripping with water.  Now when you look at map OL 5 at High Rigg, you’ll notice that there is a severe lack of footpaths on this hill.  If you do plan to walk it, have a look at AW’s routes as they are very accurate and way better than the OS map.  The path, luckily, is very clear and it wasn’t long before we’d topped this fell and didn’t want to go back down the way we came up as that would’ve ended the day.  Instead, we decided to head south east to stretch the day out even though the wind was blowing the rain up every orifice.  The path still clear but the marshy land around Paper Moss and Moss Crag was getting fuller and fuller as the rain hammered down to a point where visibility started to become more and more limited as even the sheep were hiding in the crags laughing at us.  At the bottom of Moss Crag the wall is crossed by an almighty, well used wooden style.  The rain had made this very slippery, but watching Kel negotiate it made me smile, it was like watching a cross between Bambi on ice and an old woman learning to use a Zimmer frame for the first time.  Once Ena Sharpels was safely back on Terra Firma I hopped across the obstacle and we had five minutes break while Kel snorted a Snickers bar and said her water proof trousers may not be doing their job, or in her own words, “Me knickers are wet!”IMG_4262

We carried on and passed a lovely mini tarn which had no name, there looked to be a few places that would be nice for a wild camp around it, ill bear it in mind.  It had gained in volume due to the rain, so we had a little paddle to get around the east side of the water.  I thought this may be the start of the decent but it seemed to be up and down and Kel’s chin seemed to have dropped for reasons she’d explain later.  Eventually we hit Wren Crag and the decent was upon us.  This was typical, the rain stopped and we had a clear view of Thirlmere and surrounding fells.  The decent was semi covered with a mixture of evergreens and Oak trees.  The midges had made an appearance and the rain had nicely lubricated the exposed tree roots, happy days!!  I’d gone in front as Kel still is very cautious about her ankle and I occasionally have to hold out a helping hand for support.  But I felt dry and in good spirits and had a spring in my step.  Now regular hikers will know what I mean when you see a small rock and think it’s a good footing, however you place your foot on it and it didn’t have the friction you’d expected.  This happened and I thought I was ok and regained my balance, but the correction didn’t exactly go to plan, my right boot gets stuck in the bottom of the left leg water proof bottom and I braced myself for a nose dive into the ferns and a quick route down the last few hundred yards.  But with a pretty nifty two step I managed to regain my balance and re-joined the path, just!

The path joined another path that is actually marked on the map and we started our return leg north back along the side of the hill.  The sun had started to shine and St. John’s beck was a welcome companion as we walked in the wooded area up to the tractor grave yard IMG_4260that is Low Bridge End Farm.  This cheered Kel up as she’s a bit of a tractor freak.  She takes the mick out of me for liking birds and butterflies, but at the end of the day, she likes tractors!!  After dragging her away from virtually climbing on a Fordson Major we carried on up the path to Sosgill Bridge and a field full of cows and a bull.  The path showed a route through the field but seeing as there were calves present we decided to back track and creep up the fence line.   I wasn’t in the mood for running from a one ton beef burger blowing bull snot all over Cumbria, so a quick, but careful walk saw us out of the field incident free.

Safely behind the dry stone wall we stopped for a break.  Kel decided to inspect her under clothing and by dropping her water proof trousers she revealed the result of the driving rain on the summit.  She was soaked to the bone, the water proof bottoms I got her for Xmas two years ago had finally thrown in the towel.  Bless her, she was dripping wet, her trousers looked as if she hadn’t even bothered with waterproofs, but had not said a word.  She removed the bottoms and in an attempt to dry off we carried on the last two kilometres back to the car.

The last hundred metres were midge ridden but were made better by watching my ‘squelching’ wife trudge up the last incline to the car.  Our timing wasn’t great, as we arrived at my trusty Aygo a bus load of kids were making their way to the youth centre.  They were very unimpressed as the driver had dropped them a ¼ mile down the hill and there they had to carry their belongings up the steady hill ha ha.IMG_4269

IMG_4270It was not the best day weather wise but the sun had appeared at the later stages revealing Blencathra, which AW stated was one of the highlights of the walk.  I enjoyed the day and I thought it was an ‘interesting’ return to Wainwright bagging.  Made more interesting as I nearly put the car in a ditch when Kel told me she didn’t want to go the pub afterwards!!