At 85 Wainwrights, Chris's target was to complete his 100 this year and 8 were planned over the weekend which would make him closer to his target. My tally so far was 25 which isnt bad considering I only stepped on my first Wainwright back at the end of August. There was cold conditions forecast for Saturday and we hoped we'd see some snow or at least a good hard frost signifying winter was on its way.
So Day 1 the walk started from the village of Braithwaite and once parked we headed towards the start of the walk but not before stopping off at the village store for a bacon buttie and a trip to the loo and what a scrumptious bacon butty it was and just the right start for the day as we felt the cold air on faces walking up and out the village.
Even now, without any height, the views were spectacular. We could see back towards Skiddaw and Blencathra and ahead the Lakeland views spread out before us with cloud nestled in every crevice. Soft fluffy marshmallow like clouds with the sun's brighness filtered by the haze of the day made that initial climb quite exiting indeed.
Over to the right of us we could see the dominating peaks that would be part of our walk for the day and each of them had a smattering of frost on the top making them look like they'd been sprinked with icing sugar.
After Barrow it was down and then up to the middle hill of Outerside before heading up the impressive Sail and onto Eel Crag. It was a lovely winding path up and down the contours of the valley with Sail sitting right in front of us just waiting patiently for us to arrive. The path up to Sail had been carved out of the hillside in a snake like fashion and although not everyone's cup of tea it served its purpose in taking your gently up the exposed hillside. We didnt have the protection of the valley any more and the higher we got the stronger the wind was although it was still fairly mild just accented by the exposed side of the hill.
Once there, the top was frozen solid and the little cairn in the middle of a teansy weansy tarn was just not impressive enough for such a lovely hill but it was a fine picture opportunity with views stretching over to the Scafells white on top but not free of cloud and in the other direction the Helvellyn Range looking impressive with their white caps.
Onwards and upwards we step onto the path that takes us to the next high point, Eel Crag. Its about now that we're met with other walkers all heading in the same direction. Groups of people all following the same path to the top. I stopped a few times to let some past as the path was quite narrow but it wasnt a long climb up and soon we were standing in front of the trig point, hungry for lunch but a vast plateau with no shelter so it was off back down towards Sail to hopefully nestle in the valley between the 2 hills for a stop.
Off we went and instead of heading back up Sail we skirted round the side, avoiding the snake path and made our way down a more gentle path through frozen heather. We found a spot against the bank within the valley between Sail and Scar Crags and tucked into our sandwiches and flapjacks. Today would have been a good day for a flask of soup (something to remember for frosty adventures going forward) and we didnt hang around long as the temperature was still quite low.
Up onto Scar Crags and it was another nice little rocky hill for us to get a grip of. Still frosty on top the most visible sight on the horizon was not only Causey Pike ahead but the Helvellyn range in front looking even more magnificent in the snow. The route down to Causey Pike had a nice little bit of exposed ridge to it and I do love an exposed ridge so was looking forward to getting down there. Oodles of picture opportunities but as we approached Causey Pike there were 2 figures on top which gave a sense of scale and although I have no idea who they are they now feature in this blog.
Up and onto Causey Pike we were met with a couple of women who seemed to appear from nowhere and had 2 dogs. One was a little skittish sausage dog type thing who took a liking to me (jeez!!!) however when I asked its owner to put it on a leash before heading down the scrambly bit she obliged which I thought was nice.
Down the scrambly descent of Causey Pike gave us an option. We could head off left down the path to the bottom and ultimately the end of the walk or we could continue ahead to Howling End................listen??? To go down that way to the road that would take us back to the path homewards. No contest really as Howling End sounded too good to pass up.
A few more bits of scramble, a bit of boggyness but not too much and before we knew it we were back on the road and a short walk up behind the trees towards Braithwaite again where we'd started the walk. Full circle and a day of beautiful views, excellent hills and a well rewarded drink at the Royal Oak which was indeed a lovely little pub and one we could have sat quite happily all night in. There were other walkers in there who we'd met on the paths today and it had a lovely warm and cosy atmosphere which was as near perfect as you could get. We'll be back there for sure one day.