Wainwright Walks 4: One shade of grey on Skiddaw

Hills: Skiddaw, Skiddaw Little Man
Wainwrights (hills listed in AW’s Lakeland Fells guides): Ditto
Hewitts (hills in England and Wales in excess of 2000ft): Ditto
Furth Munros [/b](Hills over 3000ft in the UK outside Scotland): Skiddaw
Date: 22 July 2010
Weather: Pea soup fog. Oh dear!
Who: Just me

I realised after posting my last Wainwright walk that I’d actually got muddled. Crinkle Crags was not actually my 3rd foray into the Lake District.. it was the 4th. I had forgotten about a rather foggy ascent of Skiddaw I had done in July of that year, en route to Scotland for a friend’s Munro compleation. So although this is Wainwright walks 4, it was actually 3….

What would most people describe as ideal preparation for an ascent of Ben Nevis via the CMD arete? I’m fairly sure it would involve a reasonable fitness regime involving (a) climbing smaller hills, (b) going to the gym, (c ) not stuffing your face for a few weeks beforehand , and (d) trying to get a bit of a rest beforehand. Well, I tried to manage a few of these… I did seriously hit the gym for a few weeks before the Ben Nevis walk, not that it did me any good as no gym machine known to Virgin Active involves clinging onto a narrow bit of rain slicked rock whilst trying not to look down or worry about exactly how much one would go ‘splat’ if falling off. Having failed miserably to get a rest though, I opted for plan b… get up a smaller hill. The plan, such as it was, was to ascend a Lake District hill en route up to Scotland. I was very conscious that it had been a long time since I had gone up a 3000ft hill so Skiddaw seemed like a plan.

I left work in London at 6pm on the Wednesday night (the Ben Nevis walk was on the Saturday) and drove to my parents house in Birmingham. Got up at 7am and was on the M6 shortly after 8. So far so good.. until the inevitable M6 accident. A lorry had jacknifed in the Southern Lakes and – of all things – spilled soft drink all over the motorway according to the radio. 2 lanes were closed and the tailback was horrible. On getting to the accident site the imagined lake of coke proved to be not a lake of coke but bottle upon bottle of Irn-Bru spilled all over the place.. if only I had been able to stop (and not had any integrity) I could have stocked Stuart (who as a true Scotsman of course loves the stuff) up for life.

Tailback eventually passed I was parked up and ready for the off at the base of the Skiddaw footpath at 12.45 ready to tackle my first non-Scottish ‘Munro’ and indeed my first 3000’er without Stuart. 😦 Visibility was less than wonderful, but it was extremely obvious where I needed to go. Not just the sign but the total motorway of a path heading upwards.

Some halfway decent views as I climbed, looking back to Keswick. The initial ascent was actually a bit of a grunt, much steeper than it looked and quite hard work.

Once I got to this point it was plain sailing. At this point the path splits with the left branch going to Skiddaw Little Man (my return route) and the right branch heading for the proper summit. Both were however heading into the inevitable pea soup. No real chance of getting lost though as the path was so obvious. Took a quick break shortly after the fence to stuff in a roll and a banana, then it was a case of onwards and upwards…. into the fog. Grrr!

Didn’t take too long until I was at the summit, about 2 hours after leaving the car including my break. Nothing much to see though other than the trig, a viewfinder which would have been helpful if I had been able to see anything….. and a couple of other walkers one of whom helpfully took a pic – not my finest summit photo! 😦 Had another break at the top and phoned Stuart to let him know that views from English 3000ers are not that different from a lot of those from Munros being generally the same shade of grey (Stuart refers to it as Dulux Foggy Hillside)

I’d decided to make a bit of a circuit of it, and the paths were clear enough I decided to go for it despite the visibility. Skiddaw Little Man is listed both as a separate Hewitt and Wainwright although the extra ascent must be less than 100m. Probably nice views in clear weather but in the clag all I could see was that someone had got creative with the addition of metalwork to the cairns (of which there were 2). Over the top and back down to the main path with the minimum of fuss, dropping out of the cloud at about the 600m mark. Catbells and Maiden Moor, which we had climbed in March, looked absolutely mini though the views from there had been great.

Back at the car before 4.30 and popped into Keswick for a quick break before heading off North..and a quick post walk drink – which since I was driving on to Scotland had to be coke!!

Always odd having a post walk coke and also doing a hill without Stuart – at risk of sounding soppy, just not the same without him 😦 . To be honest not the most exciting walk in clag either, though I’m sure the views are terrific when they are visible – the glimpses I got were certainly good. A nice warm up and a decent enough walk though. At the time I thought that Blencathra looked like a good walk, still does as I still haven’t got round to it!


2 thoughts on “Wainwright Walks 4: One shade of grey on Skiddaw

  1. Your best preparation for the CMD arete in the Lakes is Striding and Swirral Edges as they’re similar.

    I don’t remember but I didn’t think Skiddaw Little Man was a Wainwright? I know he talks about it but I don’t think it gets its own chapter. It’s well worth doing anyway as it’s a lovely peak.

    Have you done the Ullock Pike route? If not, I’m probably going to do it on the Lakes meet you’re organising on Scothills… It’s by far the best route up Skiddaw – I only use the Jenkin Hill route in snow in winter – the only conditions which make it interesting!


  2. Hi,

    I did manage the CMD a couple of days after this, in unpleasant weather – to be honest didn’t enjoy it much. Striding Edge definitely easier.

    I thought Little Man was a Wainwright, my hill logger app seems to think so anyway!

    I haven’t done that route.. have designs on Blencathra for the meet, though will depend on conditions underfoot as we are bringing some mates who haven’t done much walking but want to have a go.


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