30 November 2014

Striding on an edge !

9.5 miles of walking, 4 peaks and reduced daylight meant only 1 thing, a very early start.  So, at 5am the alarm went off and by 5.30 we were out the door and heading north in the darkness.

We arrived at Glenridding at approx 7am and it was still a wee bit too dark to set off so I had another 10 mins snooze and before long the light was starting to appear over the hills.  Boots on, bags packed we headed out in the dim light towards the path that would take us up to Helvellyn.  I swear on the first part of the path up I was still half asleep and it took me a few mins to come-to!

It was a path we'd followed before and as we ventured up it got lighter and over to the left and it wouldnt be long before the sun popped behind the high street range and sure enough very soon we were witness to a glorious sight as the sun illuminated the surrounding hills and cast a deep orange glow all around.  On the last day of November having such a mild day with full sun was just brilliant.

Our first peak of the day was Birkhouse Moor which was a top we'd missed on previous visits.  Funnily enough the summit was only about 50yds from the path but as we'd never been up there on a clear day like this we'd missed it previously, not today though.  We happily skipped over the moor to touch its cairn.
 The views over to Helvellyn and Catseyecam were amazing with both ridges Striding and Swirral looking jaggidy and precarious in the morning sun.  Today we'd be going up over Striding Edge but couldnt help looking over towards Swirral edge and remembering our wintery day, full white out, ice, snow and a tricky ascent and decent over the spiky rock.  All good fun !
Biscuits consumed - choc chip maple for me and ginger and rhubarb for Chris (both acquired from a recent hotel visit) we headed towards Striding Edge.  The conditions today were perfect.  Hardly any wind and bright.  The only issue seemed to be that some of the rocks were a bit slippy from the morning dew which meant we had to be careful.

Striding Edge is glorious, a thin path of spiky rock with a steep rocky climb at the end to the summit.  Words cant really describe it so here's a couple of pics which help get a sense of the task in hand.  Brill stuff!

Looking back towards Catseyecam was a treat for the eyes too as the sun just bore down on its flank before the mist and cloud grew over the summit of Helvellyn and rolled towards on us.
 I've never been on the summit of Helvellyn when its been truly clear and today was no exception.  On reaching the trig point at the summit the cloud was down all around us.  Never mind, this wasn't a target for us today and we followed the path to the left which would take us up and over Whiteside and then onto Raise which was the hill we were missing.

The walk was lovely and cloud swirled in and out.  There weren't that many people around but today there seemed to be more mountain bikers than anything else.  I just cant see the point of carrying a bike to the summit of a hill only to ride it down again.  I enjoy being out on my bike but this seemed a lot of effort for a few moments of wheeeeeeeeeeeeee.

So there it was the last top in front of us and the cloud had moved away leaving us again with a clear bright day.

We chatted to a nice couple at the top of Raise who were, yes you guessed it, on their mountain bikes and just as we were leaving the summit we turned round and caught a glimpse of a Brocken Spectre an absolutely glorious sight and not one I've ever seen before.  I tried my best to catch it but I think it was fading a bit when we saw it so just got the tail end of it.  Awe inspiring none the less.
So feeling quite giddy from our encounter with the Brocken Spectre we headed off down the hillside to catch the path that would take us home.  Ahead of us was Stybarrow that we'd done a few weeks before and at the crossroads we turned right and headed down the path.

One of the perils of walking at this time of the year, especially when its so mild is that the conditions underfoot, in some areas, can be damp so when we came across a particularly boggy bit and I was looking for a place to cross Chris, in his wisdom (and believe me he's usually right!) said, just run across.  So I did and was promptly halted when my foot and leg sunk deep into the bog, propelling me forward and leaving me very wet and dirty indeed.  Drat!  this was not good, I wasn't hurt but I was wet, muddy and uncomfortable.  It took me a few mins to recover my composure and actually see the funny side of it.  You never see Julia Bradbury covered head to toe in mud, do you?

Drama over we continued downward and as the sun started to slip behind the hills we remarked on what a good walk that had been.  It was only 3pm but already we were losing some light.  We'd not seen any wildlife to speak of today, apart from a distant buzzard in the morning and a little mushroom that I accidentally stamped on but the juniper bushes on the path towards Glenridding were a wee bit picturesque, so here's my contribution to flora and fauna today.
Another great day x

16 November 2014

High Rigg with a few fungi (s) !

Our second day in the lakes started with a nice breakfast in the hotel and then the prospect of a small but long walk taking in High Rigg.  The sun was shining and we were both in good spirits.  Checking out of the hotel the start of the walk was again quite close by and before long we were on the path closely followed by a large group of men obviously making the most of the day too. High Rigg here we come.
The light was amazing and as the sun shone down making shadows that were just to delicious not to photograph we looked forward to better views than we'd had the day before.
 The path was clear and followed a zig zag route up the side of the hill.  It wasnt that steep but still a fair work out as it carved its way up the hillside.
The trees were amazing and although most are not indigenous the light and shapes were good for taking pictures.  We made our way through several tree lined areas before reaching a plateau area near the top.

Once through the trees we could see the hills on the other side of the road which were the Dodd's we'd climbed the day before.  Also apparent was the path we took downwards yesterday the zig zag and direct diagonal line through the ferns.
Beautiful day and beautiful scenery.  What more could we ask for.  The weather was so mild we were walking in T shirts and there was no breeze which made it brilliant walking weather.  The only thing missing was my sunglasses as I didn't expect the sun to be so bright but how lucky were we to get this glorious weather.

As we walked along the plateau that would take us up and down to the final summit we happened to spot a little fungi in the grassy area at the side of the path.  It was beautiful, red and yellow and quite a special sight.  It was quite close to the path and I'm so glad it had been left intact and that no one had trodden on it or some animal had nibbled away at it.  Not sure of its name but if anyone knows then please let me know. (more lovely mushrooms later on in the walk too but these ones are on trees, strange!)
 So finally we reach the summit and take the obligatory pictures.
The weather is holding and the downward journey is steep at first then once we hit the road its a lovely wander past an old church then down towards the river.  The path meanders below the route we'd taken in the morning and soon we were back at the start but not before spotting a few more fungi.

Great day, great walk, great company and a lot of laughs.  Time for our lakes weekend to come to an end and 4 more Wainwrights ticked off.  Hopefully, if the weather holds, we'll be back up very very soon.

15 November 2014

A day of Dodds and Milestones !

We headed off early doors to the Thirlmere area of the lakes and to the start of our walk for the day which conveniently was right next to the hotel we'd booked for the night.  The Lodge in the Vale.  The nice reception staff said it would be no bother to leave the car there for the day before we checked in so quickly we changed footwear and got our jackets and rucksacks on.

The initial climb up to Stybarrow Dodd was pretty steep and followed a meandering rocky path winding up the hill.  The weather wasnt that great with mist swirling all around.  Little patches of sunlight came and went over towards Blencathra but for us it was all a bit bleak.

Onwards and upwards we went and it was a fair old slog.  This peak, Stybarrow was to be Chris's 150th Wainwright and quite an achievement indeed. I'm some way behind at 110 which for me is fantastic.

So hurrah Chris and your 150th Wainwright - Congrats xx 
 Stybarrow Dodd was not much more than a collection of stones and with the mist there was no view to speak off so we didnt stick around long and made our way off to the path that would take us over to Watson's Dodd, my namesake.

The conditions were not ideal for picture taking but Watsons's Dodd was a nice hill to climb, a rolling and undulating path to the summit stretched the legs and although the mist was still swirling around every now and again we caught a glimpse of faraway peaks with the sun peeking through the clouds giving them a dappled effect.

After Watson's Dodd it was onto Great Dodd and again it was a good walk but nothing spectacular to write home about.  Dodds are all a bit boring really.  Big mounds of hill with very little character at all.  No rocky outcrops, no tricky terrain to conquer, just big grassy lumps.

Our timing was going well at it was just about 2pm when we started to make our way down from Great Dodd.  The mist was still swirling but as we decended it got a good bit clearer.
 We had the luxury of a nice waterfall on the way down and a steep bit clear zig zaggy path off the mountain then through some autumnal fern.  There isn't much in the way of autumn colours left but I did spot this tree which looked particularly beautiful against the hills.
 Down on flat land again it was a short walk along by the roadside to the hotel and a well deserved coffee.  Finishing the walk earlier than planned and not having the 2 hr drive home there was only 1 thing for it.  Keswick, pub and a large glass of red wine.  Perfect end to a great day !