26 August 2012

Crinkle Crinkle little star what a naughty step you are!

My first trip into the Lake District as a walker and not a tourist had all the makings of an eventful and fantastic day and I can tell you it was certainly eventful and lived up to its fantastic billing.  The weather was the only slightly negative aspect of the day as the forecast was showery and we really knew from the off that we wouldnt get the well known spectacular views that are part of the Lake Districts charm.  Instead we got angry skies, low cloud, poor visibility and rain, soft and drizzly at first turning to more persistant in the afternoon.
So we set off up the path leading from the campsite and followed a mapped out route that would take us to Pike of Blisco.  My very first Wainwright and it was a well deserved Wainwright as the climb to the top of this baby was a hard slog up boggy grass and stones.  Every time we thought we'd reached the summit or could see the summit a dark looming shadow could be seen through the cloud and mist so we kept plodding on upwards until there were no dark and looming shadows in the near distance and the altimeter told us we were infact on the summit.  Yay, my first Wainwright and I spared a thought for the lovely little man and his journeys through the Lakes.  Thanks Alfred! 

My first Wainwright - Pike of Blisco. 

The views were - out there somewhere ! 

I loved the wooly sheep around here.  So cute and fluffy and not at all like their countrymen in other parts who always look a bit scruffy.  These little ones looked like they'd been hand knitted - so cute.  Apart from their cousins, the black ones who looked very spooky with their weird skull like faces (shame I didnt get a picture) 
Down the other side of Pike of Blisco was Red Tarn which signified the start of the ascent of Cold Pike.  Again we had the tough and arduous climb through grass, bog and rocks and its probably wise to mention that these rocks were slippy.  Some covered in slimy moss made the going even harder as you had no confidence in your footfall not knowing if they were slippy or not and since I'd already had 1 tumble today which resulted in a bruised elbow I really didnt want to go down again (little did I know then what was to come later yikes!) 

Cold pike summit was a bit like the previous one in that each time we thought we were there we saw the dark looming shape ahead which told us we had a bit to go yet but finally we reached it and were awarded with the same mind blowing views as before.  360 degrees of nothingness.  We could only imagine the sights that lay beyond the bleakness and we'll just have to go back on a clear day to get the rewards for the climb.

After the delights of Cold Pike it was on over to the Crinkles.  A part of the day I'd been looking forward to all week.  5 Crinkles in all and each of them with their own characteristics.  The weather had not improved and with the help of the map and compass we navigated ourselves easliy off Cold Pike and over to the path that would lead us up to the first Crinkle.  Having found the path it was the first time today we'd come across other people.  A couple sitting at the side of the path looking quite bored and another couple forging ahead in the same direction we were heading. 
The first Crinkle was found and the path lead us up to the top and over quite easily.  The wind by this time had taken hold and it was cold, cold enough for me to put my gloves on.  I was also aware at this point that I hadnt really eaten much this morning (or was it afternoon by now?) and a stop would need to happen soon to eat more for energy sakes than anything else.  4 more Crinkles and the rest of the days planned peaks meant I needed to fuel up.  I hadnt had the luxury of the manly protein shake lol! So it was decided that we'd stop for 1st lunch under the bad step.  Much chuckling was done about the step staying in place and not falling on us but it was a damp and dreary lunch stop surrounded by walls of wet stone that would have to be surmounted at some point.
 The story of the naughty step by Lynne Watson, age 45 (nearly didnt make it to 46)

The way up the bad step looked hard mostly because I couldnt see anywhere to put my feet or hands.  The steps up through the rock just seemed too big for me to get my legs up onto.  Body pressed against the hard and wet rock I moved slowly up the side of the rockface and took a few steps up.  Reaching up and over the top bit to find somewhere to grip with my hands so I could pull myself up I just couldnt find any purchase at all.  My gloves were slipping on the wet stone.  My left foot was balanced on a small round knobbly bit of rock and my right leg was on a wet ledge.  My hands still found no solid crevice of rock to give me any stability and I simply couldnt see anyway I could get my foot onto the next ledge.  My legs simply werent long enough and I couldnt pull myself up because I could find no hand hold for my hands.  With one final bit of effort to get my leg up to the next ledge the other leg slipped off the crevice and I fell down the full length of the rock face.  Probably only about 10ft but as I fell I wasnt sure where or how I'd land and was terrified I'd bang my head.  As it was I landed at the bottom in a sort of roll and after the initial few moments of shock I realised that I hadnt hurt myself much at all.  My knee hurt but nothing else and I couldnt feel any broken bones or anything that hurt more than a bruise.  I was extremely thankful at that moment and thoughts of what could have happened make me feel unaturally vulnerable for a moment.  A lesson learned today.  Just because its there doesnt mean you have to do it.  Wet rock is dangerous and care and sense must come into this activity we love so much.  Today I was lucky.  I escaped with nothing more than a gash on my knee and a few bruises but it will make me more cautious in future.
After the drama of the bad step we continued on in our journey over the crinkles.  The weather lifted just a bit over crinkle 4 or was it crinkle 5......so many crinkles so little time.  In the mist all those darned crinkles looked the same and I cant wait to get back to them at some point in the fair weather and see those views.

The first and only bit of blue sky in the day!
The rest of the day's plans had to be amended as we would run out of time to do the whole circut planned.  The bad weather meant it would be darker earlier than usual and that meant that we only had a few hours of daylight left.  So sensibly we decided to head downwards before tackling Bowfell and headed down the path (where we paused for 2nd lunch) that would lead us back to the campsite.

 The route down gave us views of the peaks we'd been on earlier in the day.  We saw the routes we'd taken and were on the lookout for alternative routes for another day in the hills.

The view over to Red Tarn where we'd been that morning and the flanks of the mountains we'd climbed.

One final look back to the crinkles which look so splendid sitting there proudly in the valley we continued to venture down the rocky path.  One strange thing we noticed was a few people heading up the path at that time of the day.  The weather again was closing in and one man that passed us with his family had sandals on and his family had nothing more than trainers and kagools.  Madness, the light was fading and within an hour it would be nearly dark and there he was with his family heading up.  Cuckoo!
I enjoyed my first foray into the lakes very much and hope that I'm back there soon.   

19 August 2012

Carneddau + Yr Elen & Pen yr Helgi DU

Well it was a day of surprises and all of them good and one of those surprises was the weather. Forecast was heavy showers, thunder, lightning and all the good things that come with that but instead we got sunshine, humidity, showery rain, a rumble of thunder, wind and chilly temperatures at the top of Carnedd Llewelyn. A brilliant day of walking, taking in 2 more peaks than we'd planned and rounded off by an unplanned but thoughourly pleasurable descent.

From the car park at the campsite we headed along the road to Glen Dana where the walk would begin in ernest. I remember this initial slog as boggy and not the most attractive walking around but needs must and we must plough up and through it, crossing the river a few times, before reaching the more dry rocky path to the summit.

A quick detour to Cwm Loer and then it was off through the rocks to get us up onto the final path to the summit (after the little false summit that is). Just after the scramble the skies were clear and Snowdon towered in the distance distinct in its pyramid peak shape but by the time we'd reached the summit the cloud was closing in. That was going to be the way of the day, cloud in, cloud out, cloud up, cloud down, cloud all around.....
Carnedd Fach was the first lunch stop and a rumble of thunder could be heard. I jumped up out of the shelter like a meerkat, scanning the skies for any sign of lightning but that was it. 1 or 2 rumbles was all we were going to get today.
Heading over towards Carnedd Dafydd and then onto Carnedd Llewelyn was a rocky affair with the most spectacular views across the valley floor and the cliffs with some staggering sheer drops. It was a landscape I'd walked before but in conditions that were much worse than today so I'd never actually see it in all its glory. Today's visibility was far better than expected and it was great!

Yr Elen was another example of a mountain I'd stood on top of but never actually seen. I'd walked up it, following the path but shrouded in mist and fog so had no idea of its beauty until it stood there in front of us today. There was no question really that we wouldnt go up it as going up it was a doddle, climbing down off Llewelyn and back up Llewelyn again afterwards was energy sapping but it was worth it a hundred times over.
 Back on the summit of Llewelyn thoughts turned to perhaps our last unplanned act of the day. I'd been mentioning and pointing out Pen yr Helgi Du throughout the day from a distance and we'd decided that all being well we'd tackle that too. Its really great to have the freedom to just say, we're here, why not and there be no restrictions on what you can/cant do but before any thoughts of Pen yr Helgi Du there was the downward scramble off Llewelyn onto the link ridge to contend with first. 
Having done this so many times before I really find it a joy, finding footfalls and working your way mentally and physically through the rock although today it was a bit trickier as the rocks were damp/wet and a tad slippier than expected.
Finally at the bottom Pen yr Helgi Du faced us, impressive as ever and again there was no question that we'd continue forwards instead of heading down the zig zag path as I'd done so many times previously. So onwards and upwards and what a delight it was. Quite steep in places with a nice gully scramble before the summit and seeing view's I'd never seen before.

The summit was a little underwhelming with a small pile of stones with an upright stone in the middle but as unassuming as it was it stood impressively marking the spot and had a certain quaint charm about its character. The views to the North were as impressive as the ones seen from the Carneddau and the views back over the Carnedds was just breathtaking.

 The descent over the spine of Pen yr Helgi Du was again a different route and unlike the waterboard road provided softness underfoot instead of hard tarmac. The relentlessness of the descent was still arduous and long and the farm where the car was parked never seemed to get any closer.
 The sun was now dipping over to the East and Tryfan again looked spendant sitting there in the valley. No helicopter today which can only be a good thing and before long we'd met with the waterboard road after following a Leat for a few hundred yards and the day was coming to a close.
What a brilliant walk. The weather threw everything at us apart from hail and it only made the day more exciting. Thanks Ogwen Valley, you never fail to enchant me.

15 August 2012

A jolly good Fell-ow !

Location - Longridge Fell - somewhere north!
Time - 4hrs ish with lunch & pub stop
Distance - 8 miles ish
Conditions - Cloudy, some sun, breezy, very quick shower.

For a Sunday bimble this wasnt half bad. A nice meander up Longridge Fell with 8 miles of varying countryside to keep me entertained. Brill stuff!  The set of pictures I took didn't quite turn out as I'd hoped so I had a play with a few and still its a nice record of a lovely day.

About to set off from the car park

First part of the walk through a gloomy forested area.  Nicely starting to climb towards the top.

At the beginning of the heather carpet that sweeps over the summit of the fell and aparently Longridge Fell boasts the highest treeline in the UK with trees almost all the way to the summit.

Unfortunately the views over the surrounding landscape was a bit obscured.  Even waiting 15 mins or so didnt provide better results so onwards and upwards.

It was remarkable how green the pastures were and very pleasant to sit and take in the sights on offer today even though seeing further than the valley below was all that was going to be presented, shame!

The trig, prominent in its stature and very worthy of its place at the top of an interesting and pretty fell.

Probably my best picture of the day and as I've posted before, I don't do pictures of beasties and I don't do pictures of flowers so this was indeed a fluke but nice all the same.

Lunch stop on the way back down was an impressive view of Pendle Hill although most views of this baby are impressive.  Its still one of my fav local hills.

Treeeemendous part 2.

Back on low ground the last part of the walk took in the impressive Stonyhurst College and it truely was a magnificent building.  Gorgeous architecture.

The final part of the walk, down along the river.
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05 August 2012

Pen y Ghent - Again!

Location - Yorkshire Dales
Height - Pen y Ghent 2278ft
Time - 3 hrs on the dot!
Distance - 6.5 miles
Conditions - Sun, warm, breeze, perfect!

Well it was one of those days where a piddley little hill just wouldnt do and with time short, there wasnt the option of Snowdonia so off I set in the direction of Yorkshire with only 1 hill on my mind - Pen y Ghent. I did this earlier in the year and have since been up Ingleborough and Whernside a few times so today was Pen y Ghents turn as long as I didnt get distracted by the wonderful Ingleborough on the way (which knowing me was very likely!)

I arrived in Horton in Ribblesdale just after 10am with my change all ready for the parking meter in the car park only to find the car park closed which meant a wee drive around the village looking for a spot. I found one on a verge, near some cottages and couldnt see a sign that said private so I parked up and set off out on the path. It did cross my mind a few times throughout the day that I may find my car clamped or a big horrid sticker on it when I returned but hoped not.

So on we go:

My first proper view of her as I head up the path.  The billowing clouds signifying that there could be a change in the weather today as thunder was forecast as were a few showers, fingers crossed it stays dry.

One of the things I love about walking (upwards) is the spectacular views it provides and as ordered today's views are nothing short of spectacular.  The skies do provide a certain extra drama to any picture and its one of the things I love that as you climb the views change and unfold before your eyes.  Love it! 

So its onwards and upwards as my mother used to say (she probably still does to be honest!) Legs starting to feel heavy as they've not yet realised what they're required to do today but I know that feeling will pass.  C'mon mountain legs, I know you're in there somewhere!

Over to the East the skies are changing with more darker clouds making an appearance.  Nice to have a bit of drama in a picture however I'm only 1/3 of the way up this baby and do not fancy a soaking however a bit of thunder and lightning might be something special (if I can find some sheltered spot to view from).  How exciting would that be eeeeeeeeeeek!

I love paths, this must tie into some strange subconscious OCD that I have as I love their order, their symmatry and their purpose.  Any path that leads you to a great big lump of gorgeous rock is ok in my book!

The side view of Pen y Ghent and not its most attractive view (to me personally) but certainly shows its rocky and cragginess........Geography teachers would be drooling over this pic probably :D

 Nearly at the top and one of my fav views from Pen y Ghent.  As far as the eye can see with a bit of drama in the sky to add extra effect.  I really have been lucky with the weather so far today and as I mention this to some walkers making the last push for the top they now say I've jinxed the weather and scowl at me......oh well lol!

Finally at the top and sat down to have some lunch and have just a moment or two to reflect on previous visits here and to just bask in that sense of euphoria that greets you when you reach a summit.  A mix of pride and happiness and most of all peace.  Peace is what I felt as I sat there looking at all around me and thought how bloomin lucky I was to be able to do this, enjoy this, experience this!


This is the first sign that the weather is closing in and there is now a bite to the air.  Its been t shirt weather the whole way up but I suspect my fleece or indeed my coat may be on before long.  Time to get up and get moving.

But not before the obligatory trig shot! 

Nearly down and the weather is still being kind and no rain has emerged.  Its noticably cooler but I've only needed the addition of a light fleece.  I didnt take the detour to Hull Pot today as when you've seen it once, you've seen it and I found out there was no water rushing down it so passed it by. 

One of the things I've noticed on my "summer" walking trips is that thistles are all over the place.  Being a wee Scottish lassie it always puts a smile on my face to see them.  Beautiful wee purple flowers.............oh flower of Scotland, when will we see, yer likes again.......all together now! 


And before I know it, I'm back at the car, which thankfully has not been clamped or towed away however as soon as I reach for the drivers door I see a rather large sign that says " No Parking, this is for the cottages only "....oops so my excuse of not seeing a sign wouldnt have worked, yikes, quick getaway but not before one last look at this little beauty.

The weather was perfect today.  No rain, a nice breeze and a bit of sun to pop a bit of colour on my face.  Thank you Pen y Ghent, as always you never fail to delight and surprise me.
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