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. 

10 December 2017

That there Nab.......

With Chris getting so close to finishing the 214 Wainwrights there are only a few single ones he has to complete and The Nab was one of those.  So on Saturday with the prospect of a clear sunny but cold day we set of early up the M6 and over a very wintery Kirkstone Pass to park at the start of the walk.  There wasn't any snow at low levels but the surrounding fells were sprinkled with the white stuff and with the temperature well below freezing we hoped that the ground would be solid and provide us with a great walk.
We started up the track that took us past the little house with the green grassy and mossy roof.  Grey Crags was to our right and the further up the path we got the icier it became.  In some parts the path was just like a solid sheet of ice and we had to precariously pick our way round the sides on to any sort of gravelly or grassy bit to save from slipping.
Turning off the path up to the left, over the bridge that would lead us ultimately up and over Rest Dodd the ground, had it not been frozen, would have been a boggy affair I would imagine.  In fact most of this walk is billed as a bogfest so we were thankful that the temperatures were low enough that in only a few places did the ground give way underfoot just enough to send a little shudder through your body in the expectation of your foot or leg disappearing down into the murky world of damp and peaty bogginess.

But enough of bogs this walk was proving to be quite something with the views that were starting to come into view the higher we got.  To the left we could see the Helvellyn and the surrounding peaks and behind us was the high street range and its neighbours.   The air was crisp and clear and plenty of blue sky to keep the views in view.
The walk itself over Rest Dodd was easy enough and before long we were down onto the final path that would take us over to The Nab.   As it was a linear walk today once we'd reached the summit we turned and headed back the same way, remembering that we only had till mid afternoon before we'd lose the light so we didn't loiter around but kept a steady pace back up and over Rest Dodd and then down to the icy path that we tackled earlier in the day.

There were some young folks coming down on the path also but other than them we'd saw no other people all day.  Shame as the weather was beautiful and the views a delight on the eyes.

Before we knew it we were back at the car.  Boots, hats, gloves, outer layers off and the heater on and we could successfully tick another Wainwright off the list.  With Chris only having a few more to do I don't think it will be long before we're celebrating :-) Roll on 2018 and all the good walking next year will bring.

12 November 2017

A windy wander up to Great Calva.....Knott

I've got 28 more Wainwrights to conquer before I can happily say I've completed all 214.  Chris has only 7 so off we went, up to the lakes to tick a couple more off our lists.   Knott & Great Calva were the targets and we had a glorious day for it.  Just like it should be at this time of the year with blue skies, a distinct chill in the air and no rain forecast with only the stiffest of breezes, no gusts, well not gusts yet.

I love it when it gets a bit frosty as the ground underfoot is a bit firmer and those fells which are the boggiest of fells are a little bit more manageable when the ground is harder.  Hopefully as we gained some height today we'd find that firmness, fingers crossed.

We set off up the side of a river which lead us up through a wide valley which opened up behind us the further into it we got.  The route up was on a path that quite frequently disappeared and wasn't the best marked path I'd ever seen but we managed fine.  The trickle of the little waterfalls trundling down the river was the only sound and as we walked up next to the river we surprised a large buzzard who had either stopped by the river to grab a bit of prey or had just spotted something and we startled it before it could grab it.  Either way it swooped up next to me and flew away down the valley.  Had I been quicker or spied it sooner I may have got a shot but it was too fast and was gone before my jaw hit the floor.

As predicted earlier the higher we got the frostier it became and the ground was indeed a little bit firmer which made the going a bit easier.  Gloves and hats on the wind started to whip up a little bit and I was struggling with a runny nose which isn't fun at the best of times but the views and the exhilaration of being out and about made up for that.
After stopping at the summit for the obligatory picture we were off down the back towards the path that would take us to Great Calva.  The views were beautiful.  We could see behind us Blencathra, to the left of us was up the valley towards Thirlmere and Helvellyn and then the tops of Causey Pike and Catbells were also in view.  Clouds were starting to drift overhead but there didn't seem to be any sign of rain.

Both Knott and Great Calva are really the most boring of fells.  The path up to Knott being somewhat interesting due to the little river and disappearing path but then the path over to Great Calva is just a sweeping gouge in the hillside with the final ascent up at the side of a fence.

At the top the cairn was over the fence but I didn't climb over, just touched it from this side and then we nipped down to the shelter stones to have a bite to eat.  We had bought some scotch eggs for lunch but at our coffee stop this morning Chris had secretly bought some mince pies (I know its still November) but these were delicious and we could save our Scotch Eggs for later.
Time to head down and this was easier said than done.  The path wasn't all that clear and it was pretty steep and slippy so I chose to hug the fence as we descended grabbing the posts as I moved past them and using them to keep me upright however the metal parts of the fence were a little tricky and I caught my gloves on them a couple of times leaving me with gloves that looked like some mice had eaten them but then I snagged my coat and caused a little tear which wasn't good so for the rest of the downward part I tried to stay away from the fence, grrrrrrrr!

Back on flatter ground the path was more pronounced and made for much better walking.  Over the little wooden bridge we only had about a mile to go along the track till we were back at the car.  The sun was still out but as we walked we watched a patch of cloud over on Blencathra that was turning the top of the hill white second by second with snow.
We didn't see as much as a spit of rain/snow all day and that was fine by me.  So another 2 hills ticked off our list bringing my total to 188 and Chris's total to 209.   Not long to go till we're celebrating on Chris's final hill.  I wonder if it will be 2017 or 2018 !

04 November 2017

Walla Walla Ding Dong on Bleaberry Fell

Here we are again in our beloved playground with a trip up Walla Crag and Bleaberry Fell planned for today.  Different forecasts saying different things meant we were equipped for all weather and with waterproofs packed along with the cheese and piccalilli sandwiches we set off up the path with the plan to venture up and over Walla Crag and then over to Bleaberry Fell, back over to Walla Crag and then down to the waters edge through the woods and if we were lucky the sun would come out and give us some light to take some nice pics (famous last words !)

The path up to Walla Crag is fairly straightforward and gave us some lovely views of the emerging town of Keswick and backwards over to Blencathra.  The sun was trying to make an appearance and give it its due it had a good go.

With Keswick and Bassenthwaite Lake and Blencathra opening up to behind us to the left we had Causy Pike and a whole host of other wonderful Fells to feast our eyes on.  The clouds were opening every few moments and letting streams of light fall to the ground.  The light changed minute by minute and constantly changed the picture before us.
 After a quick stop at the top of Walla Crag we headed down the path that would take us over to Bleaberry Fell and out came the wine gums.  We'd have our sandwiches on top of the next hill but I needed a bit of a sugar hit so dove into the bag of wine gums.

Bleaberry Fell is a lovely little hill with the added benefit of having a nice shelter at the top.  On the way up we were hit by a rain shower that we watched come all the way down the valley finally hovering over us before moving away Eastwards.  This was the first of many showers in the afternoon that would lead to more persistent rain later in the day.
After coming down from Blueberry we headed back towards Walla Crag where we'd take a left turn before reaching the summit again which would take us back down through the woods towards the edge of Derwent Water.   With the weather constantly changing it was touch and go whether we'd make it down before the next rain shower but we were lucky, the showers stayed either side of us moving over adjoining fells keeping us dry for a bit longer.
On reaching the shores of Derwent Water we could see the rain on the other side of the lake.  We were headed towards Keswick and hoped we'd make it before the showers hit us on the other side.  We were almost lucky and just had time to duck into the Dog and Gun when the heavens opened once again.
Great walk out today.  No more ticks with Chris only having a few more to go before hitting that magic 214 we need to get our act together and get those boxed off sooner rather than later.

22 October 2017

Mam Tor and other lumps and bumps

The forecast for the Lakes, our usual playground was forecast to be particularly nasty this weekend so South we went and headed for a lovely route that would take us up and over Mam Tor and the surrounding lumps ending on Lose Hill.

The first thing I noticed when I got out of the car was how cold it was.  I was layered up but jings there was a nippy bite in the air and it took me a few mins to get going and get some warmth into my body.

Luckily as the walk progressed out from the village of Castleton the air temperature grew and soon a layer was shed as we walked up past the Blue John caves and up past Windy Knoll over to the right to the path that would take us backwards up onto onto Mam Tor.

As we approached the little steep short path that goes from the road up onto Mam Tor it was like several coaches had turned up and suddenly there was hoards of people milling about. Families, people with dogs, runners, dawdlers, all sorts of folks, out for the day, enjoying the countryside.

From the road its a pretty short walk up to the Trig Point of Mam Tor and the views are pretty stunning.  To the left over to the Kinder Range and to the left sights of the little villages and industries dot the landscape.

Surprisingly most of the hoards that had accompanied us up to the trig point seemed to disappear as we ventured forward along the path towards the other lumps.   The mist that had dogged us at the beginning of the day was lifting and the sun was trying to make an appearance.  The temperature was continuing to rise and there was a lovely little breeze billowing up from Hope Valley below.

The scenery around here really is quite stunning and the light was just perfect to capture the rolls and waves of the landscape.  The path lead us up and over a couple of bumps before leading us on to the round cylindrical marker of the trig point on Lose Hill.

Unfortunately we didn't have enough time to continue our walk down and over to Win Hill but we'll save that for another day.  Following the path down into Castleton we had the pleasure of seeing a Harrier hunting on the edge of the woods.  Unfortunately I didn't have my telephoto lens with me that day and as we got a bit close to her we could see she was spooked.  I'm calling her she but I have no idea if she was female but my instincts were that she was.
A lovely walk and a great day out and about 12 miles covered over these lovely bumps.  A quick pop into the Cheshire Cheese Pub for a well deserved drink and then we made our escape as Castleton was absolutely jam packed with folks out for the day.  Beautiful little village which I'm sure we'll be back to at some point. 

05 August 2017

The Langdale 5

After popping up to the Langdale area on Friday night in Bob and stopping over the pub car park the target for today was my missing local hills and perhaps an added Ullscarf which neither of us have ticked as yet but we'd see how the day went.

At 7am when we were up the skies were clear and the sun was shining and with fingers crossed we hoped this would last but then remembering we're in the Lake District we confidently packed our waterproofs, layers, gloves, sandwiches, water and left our sunblock and sunglasses in the van.
The path initially took us behind the pub and to the right and and followed a great and well trodden path until it swung left again and got us working our way up the side of Loft Crag towards our first summit of the day.  It was at this point the weather changed and we passed 2 climbers who were heading for Glimmer Crag but with the changing weather they stopped seemed to change their minds so as we pushed forward I could see behind me that they'd headed back.  At this point cameras went away in the waterproof pouches and raincoats and gloves went on.

So what we had now was driving rain, a few gusts of wind and a drop in temperature and even we considered whether we should call it a day and have an afternoon in the pub.   We decided to give it 30 mins and make a decision then.  I remembered I bought the little Nikon AW130 which was fully waterproof for days such as this so kept that out as we continued along the path and up the side of the hill.
30 mins gone and we were almost at the summit of Loft Crag, our first for the day and although the black clouds were looming in several directions it did seem a bit brighter and the rain had somewhat eased off so onwards we went.

The summit of Loft crag is a nice one with beautiful views over to Bowfell and the Crinkles and we met a couple of nice chaps on the top who were just as keen as us to be out.
Onwards now towards Pike o Stickle which is a lovely craggy little top.  Not far from Loft Crag but an absolute delight when you get to the base of the dome shaped summit and have to scramble your way through the rocks.
I love this part of walking and before long we were up on the top, pictures taken and could clearly see the route behind and Loft Crags lovely little shape.

It was quite boggy underfoot on the way over to our next peak.   Plodding through the wetness and hoping and praying that you didn't step on a hole and that each footstep however watery would meet with some firmness.  Luckily no such unfortunate scenario had met us today.

Thunacar Knotts is an unassuming little top with not a lot going for it but its spectacular views.  Hills all around from the Helvellyn Range back to Coniston over to Bowfell and further Great Gable and Fleetwith Pike north to Glaramara and we could even see Windemere glistening in the few shafts of sunlight that were trying to peek through the thick dense cloud.

Quickly moving on to peak number 4 of the day, High Raise.   This was more like it.  A top with a shelter and trig point and the same wonderful views to die for.  Time for some sandwiches and today it was cheese and piccalilli which were really tasty.   We met 2 girls in the shelter who we'd seen in the pub last night having sticky toffee pudding which looked really good so I said ohh its the sticky toffee pudding girls and we all had a giggle.

The girls were heading to Wastwater where they were camping for the night.  Quite a ways to go but they were young, fit, keen and had all the necessary equipment with them and seemed fairly confident with their map so after eating we wished them on their way and hoped that the weather was kind to them.

The weather had started to turn and although we still had the wind the clouds were clearing and blue sky was emerging which was an absolute pleasure after the heavy showers of the morning.

Time for a decision to be made.  Coming down off the path from High Raise we headed along the path that would take us to Ullscarf.  Should we head that way.  We estimated another 2 hrs to get over there and 2 hrs back would leave us little time to get down off the hills and although blue sky was appearing we weren't sure what the weather was going to do so instead we headed back towards High Raise and then over to Sergeant Man which was a tricky little top to find with a path that was making itself invisible from time to time but we found it. Chris had been up there a few times before so knew basically where he was going and I just trotted behind, through the bogs!
After Sergeant Man it was time to start making our way down and the direction we headed for was Stickle Tarn, a prominent spot in the landscape below.  We couldn't really see a direct path off the hill so we just made our way through the lumps and bumps following the occasional sheep track till we landed on what seemed to be a path that was heading in somewhat the right direction.

By the time we got to the Tarn the weather had done a complete full circle from earlier and the sun was warming our faces and the air was definitely warmer.  Stopping to eat the last of our sandwiches we watched people making their way up Pavey Ark.  Some choosing the path that wound behind the hill and some choosing the trickier Jakes Rake.

The rest of the walk was downhill on a well paved path.  The walk up from Langdale to Stickle Tarn is fairly easy so we met many families going both up and down on the path and saw groups of coasteerers in the waters flowing down the Gyhll.  

Before long we were back at the road and making our way back to Bob.  We'd grab a bite to eat at the pub and I was looking forward to sitting with a nice cool drink.

Great day out and another 5 ticked off my list bringing my total to 186 (28 to go) and thoughts wandering to what exactly will be my last Wainwright.   Hmmmm need to think about that one.  Chris has still 7 to go and I'm sure we'll be popping a cork on a hill quite soon when he reaches his target. Hurrah for us!