04 February 2018

213 down, 1 to go - Hurrah!

Well we're almost there.  Ullscarf, Chris's 213th Wainwright was in our sights.  After leaving the car park we walked a little bit along the road until we came to the gap in the wall that would take us right and onto the path up the side of Steel Fell and up to the base of Ullscarf.  By all accounts it was to be a boggy walk but fingers crossed the ground would be a little bit frozen so we wouldn't have as much wetness as we'd read in other peoples accounts of this particular walk.

Once we were on the path through the valley the scenery was brilliant as always and the sun in the sky and lack of clouds meant that the walking, so far, was quite pleasant.

Up through the valley we eventually reached a small tarn.  Behind us was the Helvellyn range with its magnificent snowy tops with big fluffy clouds starting to move in and to the left of us was the route over towards the Langdales with white hills as far as you could see.  We'd been in this valley before, on another epic day, but our target now was to the right of us and up, what seemed to be, a non existent path.  Oh the joys !

Let me explain my joy, being off piste or having no visible path is my least favourite part of any walk.  It does weird things to my head and all I can ever think of is "We're doomed"when of course we're nothing of the sort but every time it just gets me that way.  In this case there was nothing else for it but to make our way up.

So off we went up the steep, wet, rocky, slippy, relentless and energy zapping side of the hill.  It took absolutely ages and seemed like it was 2 steps forward 3 steps back most of the way.  Chris motored on and was up at the top plateau way before me but I just dug in and kept trying to move forward and upwards and soon enough I was at the top.  Not the top of the hill, just the top of this part of the walk but at least it was easier going underfoot.

That climb up was exhausting and took me a few mins to get my breath back but off we went along a now more visible path towards the trig point which marked the summit of Ullscarf.  It was still a good 20 mins walk but not as steep and the ground was pretty decent so the walking was good.

Finally at the summit we met another man out for the day who'd come the other way who was, like us, enjoying the views.  We only had few mins to eat a bit of our sandwiches before heading down off the summit.  Although the days are getting a little bit longer we still had no idea how boggy it would be going down and getting off the hill in daylight was the plan.

The initial path down to the woods was decent enough and we soon turned right again into a wooded area.  This is where things became a little bit trickier.  The path through the woods was rocky, steep in parts and incredibly wet with very little available to get a good grip on and quite a lot to slip on so we had to concentrate and pay attention to where we put our feet.  Most of my way through the initial part of this forest was clutching to anything at the side of me, branches, trees, ferns just to keep my balance and not go head over heels.  Precarious was a good way to describe it and after going for what felt like hrs, Chris checked the map and said, Oh we're only about a 1/4 way through the forest.......another joyful moment!
Luckily the rough bit was short lived and we found ourselves on a much better path further through the trees and it didn't take long before we could see the road ahead of us and soon we were back at the car. Another Wainwright ticked for me and the penultimate one for Chris.  Rannerdale Knott is the final Wainwright for Chris as the plan is to have friends join us on the final Wainwright so Chris picked this one with the thought of it being accessible for all.  What a great day that will be !

After getting back to the car we decided to take a quick trip to The Dog & Gun in Keswick.  And so ends another great day - roll on the better weather and more wonderful trips into the hills !

27 January 2018

Robin Hoods Bay - Splodge Splodge Splodge !

Sitting at home on Friday, checking the weather, everywhere was forecast rain and wind for the coming weekend apart from a small window of opportunity on the East Coast around Whitby so after work on Friday we packed up Bob (our lovely little camper van) and headed East.  A spot of wild camping on Friday night was just the ticket close to where the planned walk started and all would be good.

The walk we had planned was a section of the Cleveland Way from Robin Hoods Bay down to Scarborough.  We would set out to walk the whole section but cut it short if time or the weather held us back and if we made it the whole way we'd get the bus back after some seaside fish and chips of course.

We arrived finally at Robin Hoods Bay around 10pm and we didn't fancy waiting 45 mins for the moussaka I had bought for dinner to cook so we just nibbled on some crackers on cheese, popped the roof and settled down for the night.  We stayed in the Old Station Car Park, free in the winter and an ideal spot for tomorrows walk.

Saturday dawned with the sound of the wind whipping up outside and the rain gently pattering against the windows. The forecast was wrong, no dry calm weather here!  Never the less we got dressed in our waterproof coats, walking boots and ventured out.  It actually wasn't too bad once we got outside and made the decision to give it a go, weather or not.  So off we set.

Robin Hoods Bay is a lovely little village with views out to the sea and quirky little shops and cafes.  No time to stop this morning as we feared the weather would turn worse so we set off along the Cleveland Way towards Ravenscar and then perhaps onto Scarborough.  Scarborough was about 17 miles so even at this early hour we knew that would be a big ask today but we'd see how far we could get.
The Cleveland Way is a fantastic path and we'd walked several sections of it before but today it was what can only be described as a mud bath.  At first we danced precariously round the worse sections of the mud but a few miles in we couldn't avoid it any more and just plodded through.
Passing walkers coming the other way warned us of the mud up ahead and we in turn could warn them of the mud behind.

When we reached Ravenscar we decided that this was our limit for the day.  We'd gone 5 miles or so and had the choice of walking further in a decidedly unsettled day with the prospect of more mud or we could walk back along the Cinder Track which was the old railway line.  This seemed the better option so after a quick cuppa in the National Trust shop we headed back.
It was a great walk back, we saw a few of those fellow walkers we'd passed on the lower path through the mud earlier in the day and there were plenty of photo opportunities with all the lovely little bridges that we walked under.

5 miles later we were back at Bob, caked in mud but happy to have had a good brisk even if incredibly muddy walk.  Deciding not to stay another night and the prospect of a good shower had us heading for home mid afternoon.  The delight on the drive home was the sunset.  A display of magnificent reds and purples deepening by the minute till all was black.  Beautiful.
I love the Cleveland Way with the path running right on the coastline by the sea and that neck of the woods is an area I really love so of course, we'll be back and perhaps the next time we'll get that 17 miles covered all the way to Scarborough.

07 January 2018

Rosthwaite Fell - A puzzler of a hill !

After spending the night just outside Keswick we headed back to Seatoller for our second hill of the weekend which would bring Chris's total of wainwrights to 212 and I'd be on 191.  Rosthwaite Fell was our intended target and we parked in the Stonethwaite Farm campsite near the Glaramara Activity Centre and not too far from the start of the walk.

The forecast for today was cold, frosty, clear skies and not much wind and that suited us fine as the hope was to get some great pictures and tick another wainwright off the list.

The path leading from the farm was pretty clear to start with and then it all got a bit muddled.  There wasn't exactly a clear path but we knew from the map which direction we should have been heading so kept on that heading.

Chris said on the way up, over slippery rocky, grassy, frosty and quite steep ground that this would be fun on the way down as neither of us had brought our poles with us today but we had a few hrs before we had to contemplate that.

The path up was confusing.  There was an older couple ahead of us and they seemed to find their own route which is what we did in the end.  It wasn't a bad route up it was just confusing as we knew that on top there were 2 summits and we wanted to claim them both, just to make sure we'd actually done the Wainwright.

So onwards we plodded over slippy rocks and at some point beside a little stream running down.  The weather was lovely and with all fells in fine weather, the higher you got the more the surrounding landscape opened up to you.  Stonethwaite & Borrowdale behind us was just lovely.  Thornythwaite Fell in front of us reminded us of the day we did Bowfell - Thornythwaite leaving a car over at Langdale and one at Seatoller which turned out to be a belter of a day.
Finally reaching for the Tarn at Leaves at the top we turned left to make our way up Bessyboot.  It was a rocky affair reaching the summit cairn but extremely pleasant as the conditions of the day meant we could take our time and really enjoy the views stretching out before us.
After a quick drink we were off again back down to the tarn to make our way up to Rosthwaite Cam. Whilst on Bessyboot we spoke to the older couple that had reached the top before us and he assured us that Bessyboot was indeed the true Wainwright and that our tick had already been completed so the wander up Rosthwaite Cam would be for pleasure only and I did wonder if it was worth doing as I was a little bit tired from yesterday's walk and wasn't sure I had the energy but boy oh boy I'm so glad I did.
Starting out on the path from the tarn up to what seemed like an extremely rocky top of Rosthwaite Cam got me just a little bit excited as I do like a bit of a scramble and looking up it was just possible that we had a little treat in store.

The top of Rosthwaite Cam was just that.  A short but nice little scramble up through the rocks to the summit where the wind blew and left you feeling quite exposed which was tremendous.   This is one of the reasons I love walking so much.  That thrill of standing on a stone on top of a rocky hill with the elements whipping around you - exhilarating.

Not much time was spent on the top and we quickly made our way back to the path that would lead us down hoping we'd find a much clearer path for the descent.
The path was patchy in places but we made it down and back in good time and enjoyed the lovely golden light bathing Borrowdale and the surrounding hills with the faint warmth of the afternoon.
So there we have it.  2 more Wainwrights achieved this weekend and just a few to go before we can claim to have ticked them all.   Chris is already talking about his next challenge (could be Corbetts).......watch this space !

06 January 2018

Seathwaite Fell - A Winters Tale

Hurrying home from work on Friday night I was super excited as we had a weekend in the lakes planned and I couldn't wait to get up there.  So off we went in Bob, our camper van and found a great little spot near Blencathra to settle down for the night with the prospect of a wintery walk over Seathwaite Fell in the morning.  

We heat up some chilli and were soon in the land of zzzzzzzz's with the alarm set for 7 so we could make the most of our day.  We woke to misty, skies but the forecast was that it may start off a bit murky but would brighten up later.  There would be a bit of wind on the tops and it would be cold with the odd snow flurry which didn't bother us a jot so after breakfast we drove round to the start of the walk at Seathwaite Farm. 

It was a bit breezy and really cold but we were soon wrapped up and off on the walk.  We could see bits of blue sky and as we walked along the path from the farm little white tipped peaks were poking out from behind the hills surrounding us.  
As we  started up the base of Seathwaite Fell the sky was really beginning to clear and sunlight shone down on the valley behind us and started to illuminate the landscape around us.  The wind however was getting stronger and the higher we got the colder it got but it was so much better than what was forecast so we were happy. 

Half way up the initial path you take a left turn and take a more direct route up the side of the hill.  Its not the most clearly marked route but there was a faint outline of a path so off we trotted.  The path tended to follow up the side of a little stream and with most walks the higher you got the more impressive the views and with each step a little bit more was revealed and the surrounding fells were just breathtaking.    Base Brown opened up to Green Gable with Great Gable emerging from behind.   It was magnificent. 

The funny thing about Seathwaite Fell is that there  are a few points on top which could be considered the summit.  There's a nice big cairn on the first hump you come to then realise that just a bit over ahead there is another lumpy bit which seems a bit higher and then begins the ups and downs touching every bit of elevation on the summit just to make sure you've actually hit the top. 

The wind by this time was really starting to whip up and the clouds had gathered once again and were looking an ominous grey.   Coming down of the last top tiny ice pellets started to fall and in the wind they were a wee bit stingy on the face.  Muff's and hoods up we found the path that would take us downwards into the valley and then round to the right back to the farm. 

It was a path we'd been on many times before as we started downwards off Seathwaite Fell we could see the crossroads which joined paths from Great Gable, Scafell and other surrounding peaks.  The Mountain Rescue box was just over the other side of the paths and we swung right down to meet the path we'd originally come up on earlier in the day.   

Walking into the wind with the icy bits hitting your face wasn't the best fun but thankfully that only lasted 10 mins or so. The sky was still laden with clouds but ahead, down into the valley and beyond we could see sunshine so hopefully the weather was on the turn.
By the time we'd reached the last leg of the path the weather had turned again and the sunshine had gone.  We could see cloud moving in over the tops behind us and we were thankful when we reached Bob and his heater.
A quick drive up into Keswick a change of boots and we were ready for some dinner.  The Wainwright in Keswick was our pub of choice tonight and very nice it was too.  Great meal and good value for money with the added benefit of a TV screen in the corner of the room showing all the great peaks and the various routes up them.

A great end to a fantatstic day.

Chris is now on 211 wainwrights and myself, we'll I'm just hitting 190 so a few to go yet for me but we're nearly at the finishing line for Chris, woohoo ! 

01 January 2018

New Years Day take 2

This years New Years Day walk is one that should have happened New Years Day 2017 but on that day the walk was cut short by the Keswick Mountain Rescue team having to helicopter Chris to hospital with a broken Femur and Tibia after slipping on a patch of grass on High Spy.  This year we planned the same route, up onto Catbells, over to Maiden Moor then onto High Spy and then down to the path that would lead us back round Catbells back to the car and thankfully all went to plan with no drama nor incident, phew !

The weather wasn't forecast to be great but we went anyways as after the disappointment of not being able to get in and amongst the hills in Glencoe earlier in the week we needed a good leg stretcher.  Rain, wind and cold were forecast and on the drive up we were hampered by all 3 causing once or twice to consider whether it would be worth it to continue.

When we got to the car park at the base of Catbells the wind had dropped a little bit and the rain had stopped so there was nothing really holding us back.  We had all our wet weather gear, gloves, hats and some sandwiches so off we went.
Up onto Catbells and although a little bit slippy the ground was good and the wind only caught you when slightly exposed to the valleys to either side.

The path over to Maiden Moor was a bit boggy in places but if you were careful you could avoid most of that.

The wind whipped up again on the route up to High Spy and at sometimes it felt like it would whisk you off your feet but a few sheltered spots gave some respite.
Sandwiches were quickly eaten at the top of High Spy and we could see behind us the weather closing in.  A few drops of hail started to fall and cameras were put in their little waterproof bags and coats and hoods shut tight.

Every time we looked back we could see the sky getting darker and the surrounding hills that had been illuminated that morning were now black and gloomy.

The rain was now persistent and the path downwards was a little bit slippy but not too bad.

Back at the car outer layers were soaked but we had smiles on our faces as there would be no helicopter today, no 2 hr drive to furness general hospital and no pain and discomfort for Chris.

There would be however a nice lunch and a pint (Chris), Gin (Lynne) at the Dog & Gun in Keswick to celebrate the start of a new year which will bring all sorts of new adventures and Fell Top Stories.

28 December 2017

A Glorious afternoon at Glen Etive

We decided to pop up to Glencoe in-between Christmas & New Year with the plan to bag a couple of Munro's and have a well deserved adventure in the Scottish hills and when we arrived we were greeted with the most stunning weather and that only fuelled the excitement of the prospect of having a good old yomp or 2 up and down some fabulous hills.  Although the air was crisp and the skies were clear we knew the forecast was set to change but we were equipped with all our winter gear and with me finally having a decent pair of waterproof trousers we were ready for whatever it threw at us.  That was apart from the wind.......the dreaded wind !

Upon arrival we took Bob our lovely little camper van down to Glen Etive, right to the end and with cameras at the ready we captured the gorgeous light of the day.  
 The Buachaille was looking splendid as were the surrounding peaks and the glow on the valleys rivers was just breathtaking.

Further down the valley Loch Etive was like a mirror reflecting in magnificent detail all its surroundings.

We met the deer basking in the afternoon sun and passed the little ramshackle hut with the bike outside which has been an iconic snap for many a photographer. 

All in all it was a glorious afternoon and a perfect way to spend a winters day in the Scottish hills. 

After a superb meal and a few drinks in the Clachaig we headed back to the Red Squirrel campsite to settle in for the night, which was to be the coldest night of the year, but our trusty Bob kept us warm all night long with only the wind whipping up outside giving a little bit of worry as to what the morning would bring. 

What a difference a day makes.  The next day we couldn't even see The Buachaille and with the gale force winds blowing a hoolie it made our visit a different prospect entirely.   Still, we had our glorious afternoon yesterday and those hills aren't going anywhere and will be visited again very soon.