Showing posts with label Helvellyn. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Helvellyn. Show all posts

17 October 2015

150 Nethermost and friends

A great wander up Nethermost Pike, Dollywagon Pike, Seatsandal with a pop over to Helvellyn just because it was there.  We were treated to the most spectacular views over striding edge and had we not had an alternative agenda today I'd have been tempted to nip down and back but it was not to be and even by the time we got to Seatsandal I was done in and with the weather closing in I wasn't even sure I'd go up but rather take the path to the right through the valley but I did and with a great deal of huffing and puffing we were up and down in no time.  Great day, great views and great light !

Looking back to Steel Fell
 Looking down to Thirlmere
 Dollywagon or Nethermost Pike summit (cant remember which oops!)
 My 150th Wainwright - Hurrah!
 The path up - always behind !

 Dark Striding Edge
 On route to Seatsandal
 Seatsandal Summit

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

11 January 2014

Helvellyn & Whiteside

Is winter finally here ?

Weather not quite sure yet what its doing!

Looking down over Brown Crags

As usual, the closer to the summit we get the heavier the weather gets....typical!

Heading over to Whiteside

A glimpse of the sun between Helvellyn and Whiteside
Looking back to Helvellyn
And then home

22 December 2012

Crampon capers, New Boots, Santa does Helvellyn and Ice Axxxxxxe

Fingers were well and truly crossed for the weather as the reports were mixed but not having walked for the past 2 weekends we were desperate for a bit of outdoor fun and fun in the snow if possible.....keen for a bit of practice in before winter truly set in upon us.

So it was up and out for 6am and pointing the car in a Northerly direction we headed for the lakes.  Helvellyn was our target with a few others to bag on the way there and back.

We stopped at services for some tissues and I picked up a hollow choc Santa who was going to accompany us on our travels today and also provide us with that much needed sugar rush at some point during the day.

So we arrived at Glenridding just after 8.  It was still dark and we parked up and changed into our boots.  I was trialling my new winter boots today and hoped that they’d not cause me any grief.  Crampons were packed and ice axes affixed to rucksacks and Santa stashed in my hood where he would stay until any suitable picture moment presented itself or we needed a sugar rush, whichever came soonest.
 We started up the path which hit us with sudden steepness.  There is no “walk in” to this walk, it hits you with full frontal mountain path taking you quite high in a very short time.  Having not walked for a few weeks and wearing new, inflexible, boots meant I definitely wasn’t going as fast as I would normally have been but before long we reached a sort of plateau where, under normal circumstances, we’d have seen Catstyecam in front of us with Red Tarn and Helvellyn behind but as the cloud was coming thick and fast now we couldn’t see about 20ft in front of us 360 degrees of whiteness, lovely!  We were following a recognized path and we had maps, compass, gps so there was nothing to worry about but I was quite disappointed that the views on offer were not to be seen.   Typical!
 Soon after came across the first patch of snow,  there was more and more dotted areas of snow and ice and we knew before long we’d have to resort to crampons to keep us safe and moving forward.  It was still pretty much a white out and we still couldn’t see very much on any side of us.

Crampons attached, first lunch consumed (oh dear, guess who brought the wrong fruit....not the nice new fruit I'd bought but the 3 bananas, apple and tangerine that had been in my bag since our aborted effort last weekend yuk!!!!) and we were on our way up to the top of Catstyecam.  At the top everyone had their picture taken, including Santa…..well there were no views to take, just whiteness all around.

We didn’t stick around long at the top and were keen to get off back down towards the start of Swirrel Edge (or as I like to call it, Squirrel) which would lead us up to Helvellyn.  Swirrel Edge is a nice ridge walk apparently on any day but today with the ice and snow it was particularly tasty.  As we stepped along the ridge we came upon a group of 3 men from Selby, Yorkshire who were heading in the same direction.  They too were all aware of the conditions and gingerly made their way along and up the ridge. 

For the most part the hardest bit was just not being able to see what was in front of you or what was to each side.  The side guessing was easy as we knew it was mostly a sheer drop down but not knowing what was in front was frustrating as you never knew how far you were from the top or what tricky bits you still have to overcome. This all changed in an instant when the cloud suddenly started to clear and we could see the vague shape of the mountain ahead of us and the sheer drops to the side becoming visible.   Behind us there were glimpses of blue sky and the ridge we’d just come across was now clear to see and finally we reached the summit and the sun was aching to come out and brighten up our day.

Alas that was not to be as after 5-10 mins on the summit the cloud quickly descended again and we were once more in pea soup before we'd even reached the small cairn that marks the top.  Obligatory pictures taken at the summit and at the trig point including ones with Santa in we decided to make our exit pretty sharply.  The wind was blowing up here just a little and making Santa rock back and forth which made it look like he was laughing, ho ho ho!

Our original plan of heading off to the north to bag a few more summits was rewritten as the time taken to get to the top of Helvellyn with the current conditions meant that because it was the shortest day and it would be dark roughly about 4pm that we had to change our plans.

We decided to descend via striding edge as some guys had just come up it and said it wasn’t too bad at all.  We had all the gear, the experience (Chris has been on striding edge before), and the will to be safe so we said, lets go for it.  Unfortunately because of the lack of visibility we couldn’t actually find the path that would lead us there.  Yes we found the memorial which signifies the start of the path but there was nothing in the gloom that suggested there was a path, no footsteps of previous walkers, no rocks, nothing and as we knew the only alternative to a path would have been a sheer drop we decided to retrace our steps and head back to Swirrel Edge where we’d just been which would get us down at least on a familiar route, safety first at all times.
Cameras away this journey down was easier said than done.  Coming up through ice and rock on quite a narrow ridge was tricky enough, going down was near suicidal.  I have never had to take so much care in my life, in any situation before as I was taking coming down that ridge.  Chris went first and carefully made his way, backwards in some cases, though the rock.  I followed and tried as much as I could to follow his footsteps.  My gloves were now soaking and it was getting cold and I could feel myself shivering with the now chill in the air or was it because I was just a tad scared…..not sure but this was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done in my life.  1 false move and you were away down off the edge.  I did slip.  I’m not sure how or what cause it but I skidded down the path and luckily stopped right in front of Chris who was saying “use your ice axe” over and over again, mainly because I’d landed on his head and he was afraid he’d go as well and if that had happened then it would have most likely been the end of the world for both of us regardless of the Mayan predictions.  Luckily I struck my ice axe in, got a bit of leverage and found some footfalls that held and we were able to continued the slow and steady journey down albeit with even more caution. 

A little bit further down as I was reaching forward to grab a bit of rock that would help me keep my balance down the next section, Santa who was stashed in my hood, broke free and slid down the path, down the side of Chris and kept traveling, picking up speed as he went.  Down and down the ridge until he was out of sight.  Poor Santa, there was no rescuing him as he was long gone so we just continued on without him.  Santa bagged 2 wainwrights today but alas that’s all he’d be bagging.  We enjoyed having him with us and the only regret about losing him was that we didn’t get to eat him…….

Back to our descent, every footstep was taken with the utmost of care and not only were we keen to get down through the snow and ice safely we were conscious of the time and knew that as soon as 4pm came around it would be dark and walking in the dark after an exhausting day with tired legs and minds was not a pleasing thought.  So we tried to quicken our pace as much as we could and as soon as we were back at the base end of Swirrel Edge and the base of Catstyecam we removed our crampons, packed away the ice axes and tried as much as we could to quicken the pace downwards.

The moon was already up and the rocky path was slippy.  Knees were tired, ankles and feet sore, head mashed because of all the concentrating earlier we just kept going as fast as we could propel ourselves forward and downwards with constant reminders of the time and the fact that darkness was just around the corner.
Before long we could see the pub in the village below with its lights twinkling however the moon was now shining brightly above us and darkness was setting in.  Luckily Chris had his headtorch with him (I’d forgotten mine!!!!!) and it helped us the last 30 mins or so to see where we were putting our feet and it was a very welcome moment when we reached the road and found our way round to the pub.

An amazing day filled with fun, fear, frolics in the snow and a good practice session in winter conditions.  Helvellyn will be visited again because I’d love to see it without the snow and ice but oh my goodness what a wonderful day to see it for the first time.  Helvellyn you may well become my fav mountain in the Lakes, overtaking the beautiful Bowfell………we’ll see ;-) ......Poor Santa!