Hills: Loughrigg, Bowfell
Trail 100: ditto
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!
Unbelievably the forecast was still holding for Easter Sunday, although it was likely to be windier. The rest of the group decided to go for other options, but I was keen to do Bowfell it having got away from me twice, on the aborted walk the day before and also when we did Crinkle Crags a few years before and ran out of steam. However, I fancied a day of not driving, so decided to get the bus from Ambleside to the Old Dungeon Ghyll and walk from there. The bus is reasonably regular although there is a big gap in the afternoon, but it is designed for walkers. I was on the first bus leaving at 9.30, at the ODG just after 10 and starting the walk shortly after. It was a bit cloudier than before, and there was a noticeable haze in the air but still a really good day for a walk.
I took the obvious path to Stool End Farm and then started the steepish pull up The Band. At that point, the promised wind didn’t appear to be much in evidence and once again I was boiling away gently and down to my base layer before I’d done very much ascent. 😯 The compensation was the views to the Langdale Pikes and Crinkle Crags starting to open out all round. 😀
It was interesting noting different people’s walking techniques. Some people seem to go off much faster than me and take more frequent breaks. I tend to have quick photo stops but don’t often take lengthy breaks – I tend to just keep plodding slowly upwards and therefore swapped ‘lead’ with a number of people up the path to Three Tarns. I’d been intending to take a break there, but once I got there the promised wind was in evidence, so instead I decided to bung on my fleece and just keep going. The first bit of the path up from Three Tarns is a bit scree-ish (is that a word?) in parts but does what it needs to do and in some places is pitched, although it is mostly rubbly. There were good views back to Three Tarns, and also of the Great Slab, which still had a small snow patch hanging on.
Once above the Great Slab, the last bit of the ascent is quite bouldery, with marker cairns all over the place, and the final summit cone is basically a massive pile of boulders which looked a lot more intimidating than it was, as marker cairns point out the easiest way up and even for me there was barely any need to put hand to rock. Got to the summit at 1pm, to cracking, albeit hazy, views all round. Rather surprisingly there were only 2 other people there, so I decided to have my lunch at the top.. during that 15 minute break about 15 other people turned up, which didn’t leave a great deal of room! It was also getting quite cold and windy so I decided to get going reasonably quickly and dropped down the summit boulder heap to decide what to do.
Hmm! I’d originally thought about going on to Esk Pike then dropping down at Ore Gap via Angle Tarn to take a different route back. However, time was marching on and also the skies over towards Langdale had become rather grey and heavy, plus the wind was definitely picking up significantly. I decided to drop back to Three Tarns, and then decide whether to go back the way I had come or to go up Crinkle Crags; I was also conscious about timing, as I wanted to catch the 5pm bus so I had a bit of time before meeting the others for dinner at 7. In the end the weather made the decision for me as just before I got to Three Tarns it started to rain
The waterproofs went on and since I’d done Crinkle Crags before, I decided discretion was the better part of valour and to head back down the Band. This was a pretty slow descent as after 3 solid days of walking my feet were starting to hurt pretty badly. The rain cleared up about half way down though and I just plodded it back to the ODG where the inevitable post walk drinks were waiting. 5 ½ hours to do the walk didn’t seem too bad, and gave me just over an hour to enjoy some of the ODG’s finest Shiraz while I waited for the 5pm bus. And yes that is a coke next to the wine, some rehydration needed as well as dehydration!
In short, Bowfell is a cracking hill, and Loughrigg was a really nice plan B when the longer walk didn’t pan out the day before. It was a bit of a shame not to be able to extend the walk but it is not like Esk Pike is going anywhere. And nice to have a post walk drink at the end of the walk without needing to drive anywhere too – the bus service is so good that the Lakes seem to be very doable by public transport, something we are going to test out in the not too distant future! Still a lovely day on Monday, but I had the long drive back to Kent to do – and a husband to go home and see, who hadn’t just been at work but as it turned out, had got busy with the DIY. Result!! 😀