Hello!

Welcome to my website 🙂  I’ve started this blog to chronicle my somewhat erratic and mishap prone hill walking.. Not to mention the inevitable post walk drinks! Some nice views and hopefully amusing anecdotes will be thrown in for good measure..

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The A to Z of Mountains and Malbec

No walking planned for a few weeks, so with a bit of a tail off in blog posts as a result, I thought I would nick an idea from a friend’s blog and do an A to Z of Mountains and Malbec. Though mine is a little less serious than theirs was!

A is for arse crampon. Well it has to be really doesn’t it. Otherwise known as five points of contact which I am well aware is not a recommended scrambling technique. But although he didn’t use the term Wainwright himself commented that a sturdy posterior was an excellent tool for a hill walker indeed only second to a good pair of feet. The downside to use of the arse crampon can be looking stupid but I would far rather look stupid than fall over.

B is for bad back. . As regular readers will know I suffered a spinal injury some years ago (broke a vertebra in my lower back) and my back still plays up from time to time. Often it doesn’t affect my hill walking but sometimes it does and I have to listen to what my body is trying to tell me and plan accordingly. Also B is for beer (a good thing) and bog (not a good thing, unless it’s frozen or by some miracle has dried out). Continue reading

Wainwright Walks 46: A rather short walk – and a rather long drive

Hills: Great Mell Fell
Classification: Wainwright – no.95
When: Saturday 21st April
Weather: Still lovely.
Time: 1 ½ hours including a long break at the top
Conditions underfoot: Clear path, quite squishy in parts but not too bad
Who: me and the mountaineering minion
Uses of the arse crampon: Still none. Hard to see how it could be needed on this one unless something goes seriously pear shaped.
Post walk drink: Prosecco
Post walk watering hole: The Star and Garter, Bromley (after the long drive home)
Mishaps: Insomnia (again). Otherwise nowt. Unless a 6 hour drive home afterwards can be defined as a mishap.

Deciding whether or not to do a walk on the day you travel home is always a bit of a tough one. It generally depends on a number of factors; weather obviously being one but luggage issues sometimes another. For instance if I am using public transport for a break then this only works if you are staying somewhere that can store the luggage for you – most hotels will but some hostels will and some won’t, and B&Bs again a bit of an it depends. I tend to over pack which doesn’t help and am certainly not one of those people who could just lug all my stuff up the hill.

Length of journey – and when you need to start it – also plays a factor. If driving then the fact that even without traffic issues on the M6/ M25 my journey takes about 6 hours once factoring in rest and petrol stops is a bit of a factor against walking. If using public transport then (assuming luggage storage is not a problem) coordinating bus times and luggage pick up with being able to get to an appropriate train station in time to get back to Euston can be a bit of a logistical nightmare. Generally therefore I don’t tend to end up walking on the day I travel home, and when it has happened in the past it has tended to be in Scotland with the transport home either being the 9.30pm Easyjet out of Glasgow, or the sleeper train, combined with a late hire car drop off. Sleeper not being an option for the Lakes I’ve rarely walked on the last day of a Lakes trip – I think it has happened once, and that was when I was sharing the driving with a friend. Continue reading

Wainwright Walks 45: Dale Head, a bad back, and insomnia (again)

Hills: Dale Head
Classification: Wainwright – no.94
When: Friday 20th April
Weather: Absolutely glorious again! Not as windy either so quite warm.
Time: 3 hours including two lengthy breaks
Conditions underfoot: Clear path, relatively little bog
Who: me and the mountaineering minion
Post walk drink: Wainwright, then a truly appalling Tempranillo, followed by a somewhat better Rioja
Post walk watering hole: The Patterdale Hotel (again) then the White Lion
Mishaps: Insomnia (again) therefore general level of knackeredness was high

After the absolutely cracking walk in glorious weather on the Thursday, the forecast was once again set to be good, and with less wind than had been the case the day before. I hadn’t got a fixed plan for the day, so after a few post walk drinks I headed to bed reasonably early, with a backstop alarm set. I was conscious I was quite tired having done the longest walk, with the most ascent, I had done for some time, also my back was not great – one of the downsides of staying in a youth hostel is the lack of a bath to soak away those post walk aches and pains. What happened on Friday would therefore very much depend on what I was up to but hopefully a good nights sleep would help matters.

Inevitably, of course, this did not happen. I was extremely tired and had a private room so in theory there should have been no barrier to drifting gently off. However I am one of those people who needs a really quiet environment in order to sleep – I don’t stay in dorms because I can only ever snatch a few hours sleep in them due to other people snoring or clattering around or whatever. My room was in between two bigger rooms and not to put too fine a point on it there was a lot of noise from both sides at different times. The room on one side obviously had small children in it who were screaming and running around until very late. It was probably midnight before it subsided and I was able to properly drop off and then I was woken shortly after 5 by loud coughing from the other side. It turned out I was in the middle of a huge family from great-grandparents down to great-grandchildren with the kids being small and excitable and at least one of the older family members obviously not very well. At 6.15 with the sound of throwing up from one of the rooms (I was too tired to work out which) I gave up and got up and sorted myself out, packed my rucksack and tried to decide what to do with the day.

Continue reading

Wainwright Walks 44: Knott much sleep before hitting the High Street

 Hills: The Knott, High Street, Rampsgill Head, Kidsty Pike, High Raise
Classification: Wainwrights – no.89 to 93
When: Thursday 19 April
Weather: Absolutely glorious! Windy at times.
Time: 6 ½ hours, including breaks
Conditions underfoot: Generally good paths, the odd bit of bog at times but not too bad
Who: me and the mountaineering minion
Post walk drink: Wainwright (again)
Post walk watering hole: The Patterdale Hotel (again)
Uses of the arse crampon: None (yet again. WTF!)
Mishaps: Unless you count insomnia, this walk was basically mishap free (again, WTF?!)

8.15am on Thursday 19th April and I’m just parking up the car at a relatively deserted Hartsop car park. The sky is blue, the birds are singing and the hills are bathed in sunshine. Hang on a minute – 8.15?! Whilst this may be considered a late starting time by many hill walkers, starts this early have not usually featured in Wainwright Walks – the Malbec way!

There were various factors underpinning this uncharacteristically early start. The previous evening’s beer/ Malbec intake had been decidedly restrained as having seen the glorious weather forecast it was obvious a good day’s walking was in prospect. Another factor was worry about the car parking situation as the last thing I wanted was to have a potentially excellent walking day derailed by a failure to park, which has happened before in the past (albeit not as early as 8.15). The major factor however was that I didn’t sleep very well, waking up about 5.30 – after tossing and turning for a bit I gave up in favour of an early shower, getting my gear sorted out and getting going. The plan, such as it was, was to head up to High Street, either via the Knott or via Gray Crag and Thornthwaite Crag. Both routes started from the same point so I could make my mind up at the time. On leaving the car the sky was virtually cloudless, but the wind was quite strong, which was potentially something to factor in to route choice. Continue reading

Wainwright walks 43: Bogs, crags and mishaps in Patterdale

Hills: Birks, Arnison Crag
Classification: Wainwrights (no. 87 and 88)
When: Wednesday 18 April
Weather: Cloudy with light rain to start with, then cleared up
Time: 4 hours including breaks
Conditions underfoot: Some decent paths, but a lot of bog in parts
Who: me and the mountaineering minion, plus two other walkers for most of it
Post walk drink: Wainwright
Post walk watering hole: The Patterdale Hotel
Uses of the arse crampon: None (again!)
Mishaps: minor navigational (mine); major navigational (someone else’s); car trouble before going (does that count?); traffic; gear (see below)

12.30 on Tuesday 18th April, and I’m just getting into the car in Bromley in order to head in the direction of Patterdale. Yes the car. I do most of my Lakes walking these days by public transport, and don’t generally take the car unless I am going for a whole week, not least because I find the long drive a lot more tiring than getting a train up from Euston. But this time I was going for 4 nights and staying somewhere that the bus connections were not as good as I am used to when based in Ambleside or Keswick, so it seemed sensible to use the car to give me flexibility for my walk options. My car was due for its MOT, so was booked in… what could possibly go wrong? Continue reading

Gone to pot on Stone(d)? Arthur – or when to turn back, v2

Disclaimer: this blog post contains no illegal substances whatsoever. Beer and Malbec are as far as I know still totally legal and long may that continue!

Having had an absolutely excellent walk in Borrowdale the previous day, which had yielded me only one new Wainwright but two really nice repeats, I was looking forward to more of the same the following day. The weather forecast had been a bit better for Friday than Thursday before I’d actually left London, and a lot of the snow was clearing away.. It was probably inevitable that normal service would be resumed and something would not go to plan! The weather forecast had gone to pot and was for heavy rain and strong winds, eventually clearing up too late to be of any use. Continue reading

Wainwright Walks 42: Borrowdale, buses and bogs

Hills: High Seat, Bleaberry Fell, Walla Crag
Classification: Wainwrights (High Seat – no.86; the others were repeats)
When: Thursday 22 March
Weather: Cloudy to start off with but above the summits, later sunny. Very windy at times
Time: 4 ½ hours including breaks
Conditions underfoot: Some bog – sadly not frozen; good paths for a fair bit of it
Who: Me and the mountaineering minion
Post walk drink: Jennings Copper Hop
Post walk watering hole: The Bank Tavern, Keswick
Uses of the arse crampon: None. WTF?!
Mishaps: A sort of transport malfunction thanks to Stagecoach website; phone getting stolen in London earlier in the week (does that count?)
Unnecessary gear carried: Ice axe and crampons

It was fair to say that the week I did this walk did not start off well. To be fair nor had the previous week. I had been flat out at work for several weeks with various things going on and was probably busier than I had been in ages; this was combined with feeling generally run down, tired and below par. Annoyingly it did not seem to matter how much sleep I actually got, I was tired anyway and my get up and go seemed to have got up and gone. I had to get into work on the 19th March stupidly early for work and was walking from the tube station to my office in the City. I was checking something on my phone when I felt a jolt; I then realised that a moped rider had snatched the phone out of my hand and ridden off with it. Cue several phone calls to the police, mobile phone company and insurance company to report the theft and try and sort out a new phone – which was easier said than done as the phone company refused to deliver it to my office and I had back to back meetings till close of play Tuesday, making working at home impossible. Fortunately Stuart was able to arrange to so I was able to get a new phone fairly quickly. Nonetheless it was a rotten start to the week, I felt quite shaken up and not exactly chuffed with some of the unfortunate realities of living and working in London.

Fortunately, I had a pre booked break to the Lakes arranged; I was due to travel up on Wednesday 21st and Stuart was to join me on the 23rd for a beer festival at Hawkshead Brewery. I was flat out again at work until about lunchtime on the 21st when my work load miraculously eased. I left work shortly before 4 and was lucky enough to just about catch the 4.30 train to Windermere; with a taxi pickup sorted I was at my hotel in Ambleside by 8 and able to have a relaxing evening with some good food and a fairly early night. The forecast for the day after was not brilliant but at least promised to be dry which was good enough for me as I was definitely in need of clearing out my brain. I hadn’t slept well since the incident either which had not helped anything.

I was up pretty early the following day and 8.15 saw me at the bus stop waiting for the bus to Keswick. The plan was to change in Keswick to the Borrowdale bus and do High Seat, with the option after that being either to go along to High Tove and then drop to Watendlath or return to Keswick over Bleaberry Fell and Walla Crag (which I had done before). I decided to take the winter kit just in case, though I thought it unlikely I would need it I did not want to find out the hard way! With the bus shortly to arrive I thought I should check there were no issues with the Borrowdale bus… and saw that Stagecoach said it was being diverted via Portinscale for some unspecified reason. Continue reading