29 May 2013

A delightfully dippy day in the dales.....

Sunday 26th May 2013

The alarm went off at 5am and once bags were packed, water bottles filled and sandwiches made we headed out into the sunshine in the direction of Kettlewell which would be the start point for our walk today.  Great Wernside was the destination and although it wasn’t the heady heights of the Lakeland peaks it was the most stunning area in the countryside and with the weather holding it had all the makings of an excellent walk.
The car park was in the centre of the village and adjacent to a lovely little stream.  We headed off out the village to find the path that would take us initially up through the valley which was itself a lovely part of the walk.  Lucious and green with some really unusual trees.

There was no one around, once sheltered from the chilly wind the sun got warm and it wasn’t long before layers were off as we headed further and further into the valley.

Views behind us opening up as far as the eye could see and the path ahead of us winding through the hillside carving our route.  The river beside us offering the faint sound of trickling as it tumbled through the rocks.
The river came to fork and our map told us to take the left hand route further up the hillside and veering sharp left to take us up onto the plateau past Providence Pot and heading towards the path that would take us up the final hillside to the summit of Great Wernside.
It was at this point, it was noticed that something was missing.  Chris’s sunglasses.  They must have come off when we were having a “delayering” moment so Chris headed back down the hillside to see if he could see them.  I waited with all the gear, packs and cameras and took the opportunity to study the map, have a banana and enjoy, for a moment, the sunshine, hoping to see Chris re-appear over the crest with sunglasses back on his head.
After about 45 mins he still hadn’t returned so I gathered up our stuff and went off for a wander back down the hillside.  Too heavy to go very far and afraid I’d miss him if he came up another path I waited on a large flattish rock for his return.  No sunglasses L, he went almost as far back as the village and couldn’t see them.  Gutted!
Heading again back up the hillside it was getting hotter and was a bit of a slog.  It reminded us of Grisdale Pike although there was no fog, mist and wind today and the slog, although hard work, was actually quite pleasant.  Behind us we could see over to the 3 Yorkshire peaks of Pen y Ghent, Ingleborough with Wernside  hiding in the cloud.
Before long we arrived at a largish pointy cairn with the path clearly visible in front of us up onto Great Wernside so we chose to stop here for 1st lunch.  Cheese and piccalilli sandwiches on olive bread, fruit and nuts.  Delicious!

The final part of the path up onto the summit was quite boggy.  We darted in and out trying to avoid getting dirty/wet but before long we could see the trig point nestled in a large amount of boulders which was indeed quite pretty.  It was a bit windier up here so another layer was added and with the obligatory trig pictures taken we headed left over the top towards a grouping of rocks at the other end of the plateau ridge.  The rocks were an assemblment of cairns and a very large shelter, not needed today though.   The weather was beautiful and again it was a great feeling having the views that we had.
The path downwards was easy to spot and easy to navigate.  Not much in the way of loose rocks and a good solid path which made the going down easier than usual.
Arriving at the road that was taking cars and bikes back down into the village of Kettlewell we crossed it and continued on the path.  We hadn’t gone far along the path before we came to a small herd of cattle, all very curious as to what we were doing.  Chewing stopped and they all individually raised their heads and had a good old look at us…..extremely intimidating!  Escape routes over a nearby wall were mentally prepared and I desperately  tried not to make eye contact, even when taking their picture.  Beautiful beasts but a bit to close and curious for my liking.  We briskly moved forward and the fact is that they were probably not interested at all in us but they were big brutes and I was glad to be past them.
The path wound its way back down to the village and the sun was still shining.  We stopped for 2nd lunch on the path and were rewarded with even more views of the stunning countryside. Interesting walls, luscious green pastures and of course behind us where’d we’d been that day.  What an absolutely glorious sight.
Back in the village we popped into the shop for a drink and then had a lovely ice cream treat which we ate by the riverside where the car was parked.  Sitting on the wall, in the sunshine, watching Dippers in the river darting about was a perfect way to end a walk.  Who says we don’t get good weather in this country?  These folk must be sitting at home, on the couch, with the curtains shut!

11 May 2013

Grisdale Pike and the Rescue Rangers

Sunday 5th May and the weather is shockingly bad.  Drizzle and grey murky stuff is making today's walk seem like hard work.  I woke with a stinking cold, head blocked, fuzziness, no energy and a general lethargy which meant that I'd have to muster up all my gumption to make it through today's wander up Grisdale pike & Hopegill Head.

Unfortunately because of the weather there are no pictures on this post but I'll sum up the day quickly (that wont be hard) as a record of our day out.

After parking the car and having consulted the map (fingers not allowed!!!) we started up the path but not before taking the picture of a group of German students who were also heading towards the Pike.

The path was gentle but not feeling great I was struggling.  My nose was running and getting sore and the rain had started to  fall and coupled with the wind the day was matching my mood.

Before the start of the big climb the German students had passed us, as had another group of people but I didn't care.  I was going as fast as I could and with the weather closing in, cloud dropping, rain turning harder and wind picking up I just wanted to get to the top as quickly as I could, get the box ticked and get back to the warmth of the car.

Grisdale Pike is a series of false summits, something we're very used to, but with horrid weather you really do curse every pretend top.  We knew, from the map, that there was a shelter on top and I couldn't wait to get there so I could just sit and rest for a few mins and get something to eat of course.

About 50m from the summit we came across the German students who were struggling.  The girls of the group didn't seem too happy in the wind and driving rain.  They looked uncomfortable and told us that they were probably going to head back down.  A shame really as they were so close to the summit.

A little bit further on we happened across the other group that we'd met earlier in the day.  Mum, Dad and daughter who too were struggling and feeling a bit exposed in the wind and rain.  Mum was suggesting they go back but we persuaded them to go onwards (as it really was their best option) and they asked if they could walk with us.  So our little group of 2 became 5 with the addition of Gillian, Dave and their daughter.

The final push to the  summit was tough, slippy rock, driving cold rain and blustery wind.  The only thing keeping me going at that point was that I knew there was a shelter on top and I couldn't wait to get there.  Even when we reached the summit I think I practically ran down the path to the shelter, plopped myself down and tucked into a sandwich and chocolate.  I could have stayed there for ages but the daughter of the family that had joined us had jeans on, which were soaked through, and she was shivering a bit.  Time to keep moving.

Down off Grisdale Pike (grrrrrrrr!) and then up and over to Hopegill Head where we'd been on a previous walk although today there was no visibility whereas before the sun shone and there was snow underfoot.  Hopegill Head looked completely different today.

Once the path was found off the hill we knew that where we'd previously turned right to take us to Sail, today we'd turn left to take us down past the waterfalls to the valley floor.  Onto the old mining road back to Braithwaite where the pub awaited.

As we were descending the sky started to break up and we could see little glimpses of blue sky.  The rain stopped and the wind dropped and what was a horrid day weathewise turned into quite a pleasant afternoon.  Gillian and family were still with us and we'd had a lovely time chatting whilst coming down off the mountain.  We parted just before the pub and they were heading down to Lancaster for a Gourmet Burger which was their treat after a walk and we headed to the pub for a drink before heading home.

Grisdale Pike was a beast to tackle and I've been up and down many a beast but this one was tough.  I really felt I had to fight it all the way to the top and yet it didn't beat me.  Another tick in the box and a hill I'd like to go back and do again in calmer conditions as I'm sure its a stunner when visible.

Our weekend in the Lakes over with and some great walking was had.  Until the next time.............

04 May 2013

Hindscarth, Dale Head & Robinson

Saturday 4th May

A weekends camping in the Lakes would give us 2 days walking without that long drive home at the end of day 1 so on the Saturday morning we opted for a wander over to Hindscarth, Dale Head and Robinson starting off from Little Town.

Little Town had a little car park which was empty and as we headed up the path the sky was dullish and grey.  I wondered at that point whether I'd need my sunglasses today and decided not to take the 2 min walk back to the car to get them as I'd probably not need them.  The forecast for the weekend was bright but the sky wasnt showing any signs of that as yet.

The walk up Hindscarth was really pleasant.  A few rocky scrambly areas to contend with but all in all a nice path that lead you up the hill.  There were a few false summits but that is only to be expected and the further we got the more the cloud seemed to lift from the summits giving us a little bit of hope that the conditions would clear and we'd get the views we wanted.

The views back down the valley were stunning.  Every now and again the clouds would open up and a ray of light would illuminate one part of the valley or surrounding hills.

The shelter at the summit of Hindscarth was a good place to stop for first lunch.  The teeniest tiniest sandwiches ever but they were delicious, m & m's and some nuts finished off with some water.  Exactly what was needed to set us up for the next part of our journey.

The clouds were really opening up now and we could see our path over to Dale Head clearly now.  a narrow snakey path winding its way up and over the hill to the left after which it would be back down and then up and over the hill to the right, Robinson but first Dale Head.
We started to see more people on this route.  A couple we'd met on the way over Hindscarth were now on their way up Dale Head and there seemed to be loads of people on Dale Head making their way down.  A popular route by all accounts.

On the summit of Dale Head there was a tower like cairn.  Probably one of the nicest most well put together cairns I have ever seen on a walk and luckily for us the clouds have really started to shift now offering views right left and centre with the best of the views coming down the valley with Blencathra and the Skiddaw Range at the bottom, now fully visible.  I had to wait to get my picture of the cairn because there was a couple there having their picture taken by some other walkers.  Imagine that, having your picture taken together at the summit !!!! (lol)

Down off Dale Head it was time to take the path up Robinson for the final peak of the day and second lunch.  Robinson is a big lump of a hill and has no hidden surprises.  What you see is what you get and what you get is a fairly steep walk up its flanks and a nice plateau top.  The shelter at the top was a small circle of stones and only really room for 2.  It was vacant when we arrived so we sat and had our sandwiches and chuckled at the other walkers who turned up being buffetted by the wind only to realise that there was no shelter on the summit apart from where we were sitting.  One group did tuck down behind a wall until we got up to move then darted into the shelter themselves.  

Time to get down off the mountain.  Thoughts were turning to the pub dinner and a nice big glass of red wine that was waiting back at the campsite.  We'd seen the route down earlier in the day and knew that we had a bit of scrambling before a nice gentle plateau descent.  This was probably my favorite descent off a hill and had a mixture of dangerous rocky bits with a nice descent that was kind to my knees.  Lovely stuff!
Late afternoon and the sky was almost fully blue.  There was a bit of warmth in the sun and the walk off the hill was beautiful.  Soon we were back at ground level and following the road back round to where the car was parked.  As we walked along a path that followed the river there was a horse penned between 2 gates about half a mile apart.  As we approached the horse it came to us but not knowing it or its temprement we chose to walk up on the embankment to avoid it.  It sort of fancied Chris's banana as it came up onto the embankment with us and started gathering speed to catch up with us.  Dont make eye contact and keep moving we finally outwalked it and it seemed to give up.  It seemed a poor lonely horse and I'm wishing now I'd given it my spare apple.
Just before where the car was parked we passed a Church that was previous a school and served now as a place for quiet and meditation and was a lovely little building and soon enough we were back at the car reminiscing over a great days walking.  The best bit is that we didn't have to drive home, back to the tent for a few cheeses and wine then a wander to the pub was all on the cards and then tomorrow, another adventure up a hill..........Happy Days !