When: 14 May 2015
Who: just me (plus the mountaineering minion)
Why: glorious evening
Mid walk drink: Shiraz
Post walk drink: Malbec (yay!)
Well, it had to happen sooner or later! A walk where relatively little went wrong… and a lot went right. Mind you, how much could really go wrong with a walk as short and straightforward as Latrigg?
The premise for this one was a little different from the usual. I was travelling up to attend the Keswick Mountain Festival and was planning a reasonably long walk on the Friday taking in some of the Helvellyn range and/or the Dodds (report to follow). However, rather unexpectedly, the forecast for the Thursday was lovely. I was getting a train in the afternoon, and hatched a plan to pop up a small hill in the evening if the weather held. After a surprisingly smooth journey via Virgin Trains and a taxi from Penrith, I was in my hotel by 5.30, and in my walking gear and out of the door by 6pm – certainly the latest time I’ve ever started a walk! I had a relatively minimal amount of water with me, plus, given the absence of my husband (who wasn’t able to come up until Friday night due to work) my little minion toy clipped to my rucksack. I also had a small plastic bottle of Shiraz as I’d hatched a plan to actually have a glass of wine at the top of the hill rather than wait until I got back down. Note ‘a’ glass – this is certainly not a recommendation of alcohol as ideal hill walking refreshment!
Often I find that the trickiest bit of a walk is finding the start point and this walk (and indeed the subsequent walk on Friday) was no different. I made an unnecessary detour in Keswick not realising I could simply cut up past the leisure centre and then to Briar Rigg. However once that little navigational embarrassment was sorted out and I had located the start of Spooney Green Lane the whole thing was plain sailing up a great track with the views really starting to open out behind. It was also nice to be on what I’m sure must be a very popular little hill and – apart from two fell runners and one mountain bike – have it more or less to myself. Given it’s only a short walk (5 miles), there was no time pressure, and even though I was tired from a fairly busy few days at work (and reading a new accounting standard on the train!) the going was pretty easy. The views once out of the trees were good and it was lovely and warm in the evening sunlight.
Eventually, the path starts to bend round towards the Gale Road end, where the ‘tourist track’ to Skiddaw starts, which I had ascended on a dry but utterly fogged-in day several years previously. Before that is reached though a path cuts off to the right and zig-zags easily up the side of the fell where it joins onto an all-access track from the road end. This was serious no-effort hill walking and before too long I was at the bench below the summit, which I hadn’t realised existed. Aha, the perfect place to drink my wine and watch the views! Before that, there was the simple matter of a short toddle up to the summit of Latrigg, which the bench quite clearly isn’t at.
Of course, being a sad bagger it wasn’t that simple, and I wandered between a couple of rocky outcrops and a couple of patches of grass trying to work out which was the highest point, as there was no cairn. Of course, the minute you are on one bump another looks higher and when you go over there the first one now looks higher! After a few minutes of this, being watched by some thoroughly bemused sheep, I decided that one way or the other I had reached the top of the thing and headed off to the bench where I opened my wine and luxuriated in the views back over Keswick and Derwentwater. An excellent view to effort ratio!
It was pretty windy at the top, though, so I didn’t hang about but once I had finished my drink headed back down via the same route and back into Keswick to take the tough decision between going and listening to Leo Houlding speak at the Festival or grabbing another drink and a curry. I didn’t have time for both food and the talk so in the interests of good sense food won (the Lakeland Indian Restaurant for a good curry, preceded by a glass of Malbec at the Golden Lion).
A lovely walk for a nice evening and would be a cracking place to watch the sun go down. I don’t think I’ll be making a habit of mid walk drinks though!