Wainwright Walks 11: On the Edge! Helvellyn

Hills: Birkhouse Moor, Helvellyn
Wainwrights: ditto
Hewitts: Helvellyn
‘Furth’ Munros: Helvellyn
Trail 100: Helvellyn. Triple BOGOF (and then some!)
Who: Me (and various other members of guided group)
When: Saturday 17 May 2014
Weather: absolutely stunning!
Time: who cares on a day like that.
Sadly absent: Stuart 😦
Thankfully absent: bog
Sadly present: the inevitable transport issues 😦

A lot of the last few blog posts have been an attempt to catch up my walking in the Lake District to the present day. Well, I’m nearly there, as this was (rather bizarrely given only May) my last Lakes walk of last year. A couple more have been done this year though on which posts will be coming soon – honest!

Just like my report on the Fairfield Horseshoe, no adjustment of computer screen for realism is required. The sky really was that shade of blue and no camera trickery was required. Quite frankly I couldn’t have asked for a better day to take in what might be England’s best classic ridge walk.

Inevitably however some of the usual elements of one of my reports are present i.e. if nothing goes wrong with the weather something else usually will – in this case a transport issue to contend with. One of the other usual elements of walk reports was in theory present, and in fact physically present in the Lake District but not actually present on the walk. 😦 I am also still resisting any pressure to go the full Julia Bradbury route and buy some embroidered combat trousers! 😀 There are some steps which are just too far when doing Wainwright walks and this is one of them. I also massively breached trip report protocol with the post walk drink which was not either Rioja or Malbec but enough of that until later! 😯 😯
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Wainwright Walks 10: Loughrigg by accident, Bowfell by bus

Hills: Loughrigg, Bowfell
Wainwrights: ditto
Trail 100: ditto
Hewitts: Bowfell
Therefore total ticks: 5
Therefore total ticks for the weekend: 17!!! 😯 😯
When: Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th April 2014
Time: 3 ½ hours for Loughrigg, 5 ½ for Bowfell
Sadly absent: Stuart
Sadly present: sore feet, a transport debacle 😦
Thankfully present: great weather. Again! 😯 Although it turned a bit on Bowfell.
Post walk drink: Coke for rehydration, Shiraz for dehydration!

After the Good Friday walk on the Fairfield Horseshoe, for once the consumption of post walk drinks had been surprisingly restrained. 😯 Quite frankly, the weather forecast was just too good to want to mess up an early start with a hangover, and equally frankly, the good weather was likely to have people arriving in the Lake District in droves, so finding a parking space was likely to also require an early start. Plans were laid by some of the walking group I was in the Lakes with for a reasonable length walk taking in Bowfell with 2 cars involved, one of which was mine.

Those of you that read my walk reports know that if something does not go wrong with the weather then something else will usually go pear shaped. On Good Friday, nothing had and therefore normal service obviously had to be resumed somehow or other! We were halfway to the start point when we got a phone call saying that the other car had failed to start. We waited for a while but a follow up call revealed a dead car and the rest of our group waiting for the man from the AA. 😦 There was nothing really for it but to go for a plan B, so we drove back and instead decided (once the AA were sorted) to do a short walk up and around Loughrigg Fell. This was actually a really nice short walk, with great views from the top, although I don’t think I had quite realised how bumpy a little hill it was – even the false summits had false summits! FFS far too many FFS! (See ‘terminology’). We had a late lunch on the top, then went off in different directions with the others doing a longer walk round through Grasmere, I doubled back as there were some things I wanted to get in Ambleside. Nice views of Grasmere itself and there were even some people swimming. Tempting, but I didn’t have my swimming costume!
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Wainwright Walks 9: Fizz on Fairfield!!

Hills: Nab Scar, Heron Pike, Great Rigg, Fairfield, Hart Crag, Dove Crag, High Pike
Wainwrights: ditto
Hewitts (and therefore BOGOFs): Great Rigg, Fairfield, Hart Crag, Dove Crag
Trail 100s: (and therefore double BOGOF) Fairfield
Total hill ticks therefore: 12!! 😯
When: Friday 18 April 2014
Who: me (plus walking club)
Weather: Stunning! 😯 😀
Sadly absent: Stuart 😦
Sadly present: sunburn!
Thankfully absent: bog, clag, snow, rain.. the usual elements of one of my walks
Time: who cares – too good a day to rush it.

Warning – do not adjust your computer screen! 😯 This is not one of my average walk reports.

Some of the usual elements of my trips to the hills are present. There is inevitably a transport issue of some sort and at various points in the weekend sore feet were most definitely present. However some of the usual elements were sadly absent of which the most important of these was Stuart who due to a tight deadline was going to have to work over the Easter weekend, or at least some of it. 😦

He suggested I hook up with the walking group we have gone away with a few times who were planning a Lake District extravaganza; this was duly arranged and as I sat at my desk on Thursday 17th April with my mouth open looking at the weather forecast in disbelief, it was obvious some of the other less welcome factors that usually accompany our walks would be very much absent – namely anything even remotely resembling inclement weather. In particular my packing of the microspikes was going to be somewhat superfluous and my failing to pack sunscreen to be something of a mistake!

Anyway, on with the report.. and the transport issues. I was presenting a training course at work on theThursday morning and therefore this necessitated an even earlier start to get the car round to Stanmore than usual. I was awake at 5am, on the road at half past and irritatingly missed getting the Dartford Tunnel free by about 30 seconds (charging starts at 6am). 😦 I was at Stanmore for 7, and at my desk at 7.45 mainlining coffee as I knew the day was going to be tiring. A manic day at work ensued with back to back meetings until 3, I did manage to leave slightly early and was on the road at Stanmore again by 5.30.. and straight into the traffic queues. Continue reading

Wainwright Walks 8: BOGOF ticking on the Coniston Fells

When: 20 April 2013
Present: Self, Stuart, Sacha
Also present: sunshine, blue sky, great views
Wainwrights: Coniston Old Man, Brim Fell, Swirl How
Hewitts: Coniston Old Man, Swirl How
Historic County Tops: Coniston Old Man
Trail 100s: Coniston Old Man (yes, 4 ticks for the price of one. Bargain!)
Conditions underfoot: mainly dry: some awkward snow patches (fortunately circumventable)
Time: 5 ¾ hours including a couple of fairly lengthy breaks
Absent: transportation foul-ups (for once) microspikes (might have been handy at a couple of points)
Dull hill quotient: Can’t see why Brim Fell is classed as a separate hill, but not going to argue.

Welcome to Wainwright Walks, the Malbec way, instalment 8: The Coniston Fells, or should that be titled, two young men, one young (ish) woman and an Old Man? It was time for another instalment, as usual with far fewer embroidered combat trousers than the Julia Bradbury version (bog-standard Craghoppers throughout ) rather more Merlot (no Malbec in the pub 😦 ) usually more curse words and considerably less art.

When we hit the Lakes it usually consists of the two of us with our mates Sacha (who for the benefit of the doubt I should point out is a bloke) and Liam. Liam was unfortunately busy the weekend we had earmarked but Sacha was keen for a return to the hills having last been hillwalking on a trip to Ullapool in August when he picked up his first Munros. On that trip he had debuted a day-glo orange breathable top so eye-wateringly bright we needed sunglasses, but this had fortunately been replaced by a slightly less eye-watering blue one.

The hard part of the weekend is probably the drive up. In order to get to the Lakes after work on a Friday night, it requires me to get up at 5.30am, 😯 drive round from Kent to a tube or train station in the North of London that has a car park, drop the car, get the tube/ train into the City, then after work reverse the process, pick up the guys and hit the motorway, usually taking about 4 ½ hours to get to the southern end of the Lakes. We’d got a cheap deal at a Travelodge just south of the Lakes on the Friday night – 19 quid a room which was a bit of a bargain and only 30 minutes drive from Ambleside. The problem was that having done this a lot of B&B/ hotels in the main tourist hotspots wouldn’t take us for just one night as they have a 2 night minimum policy. Grrr! So for the Saturday night we ended up in a hotel in Cockermouth, the loose plan being we would do something in the Southern Fells on Saturday, drive north and then do something in the Northern fells on Sunday. This sort of worked as it turned out, well for Saturday anyhow.

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Mountains, Malbec and Mishaps!

I started this blog to ‘chronicle my somewhat erratic and mishap prone hill walking’ as well as the inevitable post walk drinks. Musing about the mishaps over a glass of wine last night, I came to the conclusion there have been rather a lot.. and the vast majority have nothing whatsoever to do with Malbec. I’m not really sure what I can blame the others on, other than bad luck.. but for your general amusement, here is a selection of the mishaps so far.. which will no doubt be added to at some point!!

Transport related

Exhaust fell off car in Dundee on way to Mount Keen. Hill abandoned.
Missed flight due to meltdown on the Underground.
Severe delays on Virgin Trains meant being too knackered to go up a hill.
Cattle class conditions on Megabus overnight service meant dragged self up one hill but too knackered to do any more.
Sleeper train broke down on way home – 2 hours late in to work wandering in to office foyer in crumpled walking gear.
Drove into a ditch in Snowdonia and barely managed to get out.

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Wainwright Walks 7: All over the Place (Fell) in Patterdale

Hills: Place Fell
Wainwrights: ditto
Hewitts: ditto
Who: just me
Time: just under 3 hours
Pre walk drink: Too many glasses of merlot
Weather: urrgh, don’t ask.

The occasion was a walking forum meet, which I had attempted to organise for the last weekend in June. It was a momentous event because it was the first ever meet up for this group which was organised outside of Scotland…. and unfortunately this seemed to put a number of people off despite my entreaties that there is plenty of good walking to be found South of the border! It was ultimately a select group, which was no bad thing as at least we could easily all find a table in the pub. The location was Patterdale, which I had never been to before but I understood was nice with a good selection of hills within easy reach. My target for the weekend – in an ideal world – was to do Helvellyn, but going by the weather forecast, it looked as though that would probably not be an option. To be frank, after doing the CMD Arete in crap weather for a friend’s compleation I did not want to do one of the classic ridges of the Lake District in similar weather not to mention risk getting blown off. This decision was vindicated nearly two years later by doing said ridge in stunning blue sky! Report to follow in due course :)

We had taken the day off to travel North which was probably just as well as it seemed to take an unfeasible amount of time to actually get there – the joys of the M6! We picked our fellow blogger Mountaincoward up in Carnforth at about 3.30 and were in Patterdale about an hour later to check into Patterdale YHA or as it shall henceforth be referred to, Stalag Patterdale. Good points: you can get a beer, a cooked breakfast and for that matter an evening meal if you particularly want to 🙂 Bad points: a small breeze block green painted room with bunk beds that were less than comfortable… and no lock on the ladies loo. 😯 And a bloke in the ladies shower the following morning! 😯 A bit of a shame really as the place is in a good location, it just clearly needs some work. On a bit of a digression I do think that youth hostels have lost the plot a bit re pricing – Patterdale was £46 per night for a 2 person private room and on looking at Glencoe for a potential weekend later in the year it was £56 for a twin – it is even worse now at £59 for a twin in Ambleside. 😯 Okay, dorm beds are still cheap but you do start to wonder whether it is worth just paying extra for a hotel or B&B which at least usually has the benefit of being en suite. Still, at least we weren’t camping, given the general sogginess of the conditions.

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