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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Wainwright walks 39: A Borrowdale Bogfest!

Hills: Grange Fell, Great Crag
Wainwrights: 81 and 82
When: Saturday 11 November
Who: Me and the mountaineering minion
Weather: Fabulous. Cold though!
Bog factor: Megabog! Absolute quagmire at times
Hangover factor: didn’t have one (for the 4th walk running. I must be getting sensible in my old age)
Uses of the ar*e crampon: Several (both deliberate and accidental)
Post walk drink: Strands Brewery Gold Wing
Post walk watering hole: Riverside Bar, Scafell Hotel
Mishaps: Transport, trousers.. read on!

Friday 10 November 2017 17.20… I’m standing at Euston station. Stuart’s about to be en route to Scotland to watch rugby at Murrayfield; I’m booked on the 18.30 train to Windermere, changing at Oxenholme and trying to decide whether to make a run for the 17.30 train. I’d hoped to make this easily, a meeting at work having finished unexpectedly early, but had been collared to discuss something on my way out of the door leaving me pretty tight for the earlier train. I decide in a split second not to push for it as the last thing I want to do is end up having to stand all the way to Oxenholme having missed all the seats in the unreserved carriages. Instead I decide it is a good idea to go and get myself a glass of wine and relax, then get my booked train which after all will still get me in to Windermere at 21.30.

Bad move! I have my glass of wine and head for the concourse. The 18.30 train is delayed and, it becomes gradually obvious, badly so. By the time the train is finally called it is nearly 7pm and it will obviously take 10 minutes at least to stuff everyone on to it and for it to actually leave Euston. It’s already clear to me that my visions of getting to my hotel in Grasmere before last orders are not going to be fulfilled and I seriously consider whether to give the whole weekend up as a bad idea and head home. I decide this is daft given the weather forecast and a quick couple of phone calls to the hotel and to the taxi company that’s picking me up in Windermere are made to reschedule things. The train loses even more time as it goes North and I only make the last train to Windermere by less than 10 minutes. I finally get to Grasmere just after 11 and have no energy to do anything other than collapse in to bed. The only saving grace is that I didn’t have too many glasses of wine on the train. Continue reading

A weekend in the Lakes without the car: a Mountains and Malbec guide

As regular readers of my blog will know, I do a lot of my walking in the Lake District via public transport. This makes weekend jaunts possible without the need for a long and tiring drive – though some areas of the Lakes are a lot more difficult to get to without a car than others (Wasdale in particular springs to mind). However, doing things this way does require a fair bit of planning – with the inevitable possibility of things going hideously wrong! Which of course has happened on more than one occasion.  Continue reading

Wainwright walks 38: legging it in Langdale

Hills:Lingmoor Fell
Wainwright: No.80
When: Thursday 12th October
Who: Me and the mountaineering minion
Weather: Overcast but dry; very windy at times
Conditions underfoot: Good paths for most of it with only the odd bit of bog or scree
Hangover factor: Moderate (though could have been a lot worse!)
Post walk drink: Malbec
Post walk watering hole: The White Lion, Ambleside
Mishaps: None to speak of. WTF?

I think it is fair to say that after my last walk, up Whinlatter on the 10th, the post walk drinks were not particularly restrained. The weather forecast for the Wednesday 11th October was, to put it mildly, resembling Noah’s Flood with strong winds accompanied by torrential rain. On waking up that morning with a reasonably sore head I took one look out of the window to see that the forecast had been pretty accurate… and promptly went back to bed. It was a day for pottering about rather than attempting to go anywhere near any sort of hill and the amount of water in the beck was something to see.. and also a bit worrying. It was clear that any subsequent walk was going to have to be carefully planned as everywhere underfoot was likely to be awash.

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On the Wednesday evening we had booked to have a meal at Fellinis combined with seeing Coriolanus streamed live from the RSC – so some rather cultural evening entertainment! The (vegetarian) food was pretty good and we accompanied it by a nice bottle of white wine… at Fellinis you can also take wine into the cinema so needless to say more wine got bought and we did. Although we ended up going to bed at a reasonably restrained time the wine consumption had not exactly been that restrained so plans for the Thursday – where the forecast looked potentially walkable but windy – were left fluid. Continue reading

Wainwright Walks 37: windy Whinlatter and the wrong type of mint cake

Hills:Whinlatter
Wainwright: No.79
When: Tuesday 10th October
Who: Me and the mountaineering minion
Weather: Windy and overcast – a bit of light rain at times
Conditions underfoot: Forest track, then boggy paths
Hangover factor: Didn’t have one – again!
Post walk drink: Malbec followed by Kendal Mint Cake liqueur
Post walk watering hole: The Golden Rule, Ambleside
Mishaps: None to speak of. I know. Had to happen sometime!

After my initial walk of our week in Ambleside – a somewhat boggy traverse of Troutbeck Tongue accompanied by a trouser malfunction due to losing weight and my walking trousers therefore being a bit on the big side –the forecast for Monday wasn’t too good and we ended up having various post walk drinks on Sunday night. On surfacing from bed on Monday morning the weather was actually rather nice however I didn’t get up until pretty late and whilst the weather looked walkable I was really tired and a long lie in seemed a good idea. I think after a pretty busy time recently I was running on empty a bit and just needed a bit of a rest so Monday turned into a pottering about day near Hawkshead doing Beatrix Potter stuff. The decision not to walk was vindicated by it starting to rain in the afternoon and Tuesday’s forecast was okay so no harm having a day off followed by a chilled out evening cooking and relaxing in the cottage

Got up at a reasonable hour on the Tuesday with a clear head – the weather however whilst dry was overcast so not exactly playing ball. Having spent a couple of days in Ambleside we decided to head North – I would drop Stuart in Keswick and go and do a short walk somewhere then we would catch up with each other in the afternoon. I’d had a really nice short walk at Whinlatter in January on a glorious winter day when I had done Lord’s Seat and Broom Fell, so I decided to head off there and pick off Whinlatter itself which I reckoned would only take me a couple of hours; the other obvious possibility was Barf but I am keeping that vaguely in mind as my last Wainwright in the event I ever do decide to do the lot, on the grounds of the silly name factor if nothing else! Continue reading

Wainwright Walks 36: Yet more bog and the wrong trousers (again!)

Hills:Troutbeck Tongue
Wainwright: No.78
When: Sunday 8th October
Who: Me and the mountaineering minion
Weather: Generally pretty good
Conditions underfoot: Good track then megabog
Hangover factor: Didn’t have one
Post walk drink: Shandy, then Loweswater Gold
Post walk watering hole: The Lily Bar, Ambleside
Mishaps: Read on…

I struggled with the title for this one. Given the name of the hill a number of alternatives came to mind but all of them were slightly rude and although this blog – given it sometimes seems to focus as much on alcohol as walking – is not exactly PG rated there are limits. Yes honestly there are!

I am sure I have said before that the faffing with transportation that can often accompany my walking trips is a mishap in itself. Or certainly brings with it the potential for mishaps and this one was to be no different. The occasion was a week staying in a lovely 16th century cottage in Ambleside which we have stayed in before and whilst I normally use the train for shorter visits it seemed silly not to take the car with us this time which gives a bit more flexibility in terms of walk options – not to mention in terms of what gear gets taken. The flipside to this is that getting away at a sensible time on a Friday night involves getting up shortly after 5am to drive the car round to north London, dump it in Stanmore tube station car park, get the tube into the office and then drive up from there after work, hoping to leave at a sensible time. The first part of this should have worked fairly well having got up at what I always think of as ‘silly o’clock’ but I hit heavy traffic on the M25 and was slightly late into work, with early departure already starting to seem unlikely. I am never great after not enough sleep either and although I probably got about 5 hours this is not really enough for me any more. Continue reading

Wainwright Walks 35: Steel-ing myself in the Central Fells

Hills: Steel Fell
Wainwrights: No.77
Who: Me and the mountaineering minion
When: 23 September
Weather: Low cloud but stayed mostly dry until nearly at the top… then rain and wind. Ugh!
Conditions underfoot: Wet grass and wet rock
Bog Factor: Not that much actual bog, but see above
Uses of the Ar*e Crampon: 2 (due to slippy wet rock)
Post walk watering hole: The Unicorn Inn, Ambleside
Post walk drink: Unicorn Ale (seemed appropriate)
Mishaps: Read on….

18.30, Friday 22nd September and once again we were on the Virgin Train service to Glasgow Central, heading due North. It sometimes feels as though I spend half my life on this train as I usually catch this whenever I am going off to do some walking. Only the getting off point really seems to vary as depending on where my ultimate destination is it will either be Oxenholme (2 ½ hours from Euston) Penrith (3 hours) or Glasgow Central (4 ½). It’s also the first train I can get which doesn’t involve having to leave the office rather earlier than would be ideal. On a Friday night it’s always packed as well, which isn’t necessarily a transport malfunction in itself unless I’ve forgotten to reserve a seat (which has happened before necessitating an Usain Bolt type sprint to the unreserved carriages the minute the train was announced). What the heck, it’s still less tiring than driving, and the public transport in the Lakes means that having the use of a car isn’t strictly necessary… well up to a point which I was about to find out. Continue reading

They have hills in the South East too, sort of.. Part 2

Hills: Leith Hill
Designation: Marilyn, County Top (Surrey)
Who: Just me
When: Sunday 27th August
Time in car to time on hill ratio: about 2:1
Time walking vs faffing ratio: about 1:1
Post walk drink: A rather nice shiraz
Post walk watering hole: My living room (does that count?!)
Why: see below…

They have hills in the South of England too. Well allegedly. My first attempt to see if this was actually true involved the undistinguished Botley Hill (highest point within the M25) on the way home from a trip to one of our offices near Gatwick. That was also a Marilyn and demonstrated pretty well what Marilyn baggers have to put up with and the lows of that pursuit compared with the highs (say Ben Nevis or Scafell Pike) or the OMG (the St Kilda sea stacks). I can’t help wondering if as many potential Marilyn baggers have been deterred by the boredom factor of climbing stuff such as that as much as the technicalities of the stuff at the other end of the British Isles.

So what was I doing on Leith Hill, a Marilyn and the highest point of Surrey (and therefore a county top tick and a BOGOF)? Well, for the first time ever I had actually climbed a classified hill of some sort in every month of this year so far, starting with 3 new Wainwrights in glorious winter conditions in the first week of January. I had then somehow managed to get a hill of some sort in every subsequent month with my best being 6 Wainwrights in June. This had involved a number of mad dashes of various sorts and unfeasible amounts of time on either public transport or in the car/ stuck on the M25, M6, etc as well as having to be slightly creative in July when an Outlying Wainwright, Orrest Head, was squashed in on the day of a beer festival in a fairly ropey weather weekend. Continue reading