Wainwright Walks 18: Helm Crag to Calf Crag – weird rocks, waterfalls and too many false summits

Hills: Helm Crag, Gibson Knott, Calf Crag
When: 22 September 2015
Who: self and the mountaineering minion
Weather: Sun!
Distance: 8 miles approx
Bog factor: fine until Calf Crag, then pretty awful
Path factor: Great path on Helm Crag, okay on Gibson Knott; boggy after that until the descent through the valley (steep in parts)
Post walk drink: Shiraz
Post walk watering hole: The Lamb Inn, Grasmere

After an uninspiring weather forecast on Monday 21st – which was borne out by the actual weather and therefore we decided to go see the Everest movie at the cinema in Ambleside rather than attempt a walk (this has killed any residual desire I might have ever had to try anything at higher altitude than Scotland!) the forecast for Tuesday was unexpectedly good. However, we both felt rather tired (not due to any excess intake of wine, just generally not a brilliant night’s sleep) so decided a relatively short and lower level walk was in order. The loop over Helm Crag from Grasmere seemed a good bet, with decent paths at least some of the way and also the option of taking the bus which would enable us (a) to avoid the extortionate parking charges in Grasmere and (b) sample one of the local hostelries after the walk. We were off the bus in Grasmere shortly before 11, and ambled past the Sam Read bookshop towards the Easdale road which would lead us to the path up Helm Crag, the summit rocks of which we could already see from the village. The sky was blue, the birds were singing and the route was clear – what could possibly go wrong? Continue reading

Wainwright Walks 17: An expensive little hill!

Hills: Silver Howe
Wainwrights: ditto
When: Sunday 20 September 2015
Who: self and the mountaineering minion
Also present: too many false summits: horrendous car park charges
Bog factor: Overall okay, a bit squishy on the way up to the summit
Path factor: mainly great, except for a bit between false summits
Post walk drink: Shiraz
Post walk watering hole: The Ambleside Tavern

An expensive little hill this one. In fact the small (if not perfectly formed) Silver Howe ended up costing me more than the pair of silver earrings I bought for myself later in the week. How come? Read on…

It was day one of our Lake District holiday, which saw us spending a week in an absolutely gorgeous cottage in Ambleside. The weather forecast was also unexpectedly good, or at least decent, which is something of a rarity for us. Indeed, the journey to the Lakes had been conducted in glorious sunshine, and I had seriously thought about doing a short walk on the Saturday. However, due to a tough couple of weeks at work, I was completely knackered, so the idea of a short smash and grab got binned in favour of us getting in our shopping for the week, getting ourselves organised in the cottage and testing a couple of Ambleside watering holes we hadn’t previously (The Unicorn – pretty good and the Golden Rule – not so convinced) as well as our inevitable visit to the Ambleside Tavern which is our favourite pub in the town. Needless to say this meant that an early start was not an option and after a few more libations during our dinner (pasta with king prawns and brandy, excellently cooked by Stuart) any sort of start before midday wasn’t an option either. Fortunately (given the circumstances) the weather on opening the curtains was a bit pants and not as forecast with clag down to about 500m. Well we were on holiday after all so nothing wrong with a few drinks and a lie in.

The weather did get a bit better over the course of the morning and at 12 I decided that it was good enough to warrant a short walk. Stuart decided to stay put and chill out in the cottage so I geared up, clipped the mountaineering minion onto the rucksack and headed off for Grasmere. I wanted a short walk on a small hill where I would get some decent views and Silver Howe seemed to fit the bill; I was parked up in Grasmere and ready for the off shortly before 1. I had managed to forget how extortionate Lake District parking charges can be though – nearly £6 to park for 4 hours – and also how difficult it can be to actually find a parking space sometimes! However I did eventually manage to and to get myself sorted out and walking along the minor road to Red Bank before picking up a clear path angling gently up the hillside. I’d decided on a short circuit going up the side of the fell then over the top and back down to Grasmere a slightly different route.

Continue reading

Great day on Great Whernside!

Hills: Great Whernside
Hewitts: Ditto
Ydiotts: (Yorkshire Dales ‘ills Over Two Thousand) ditto
When: 13 September 2015
Who: self, the mountaineering minion, and Ibex Mountaineering Club
Weather: lovely!
Distance & time: 8 miles, 4 ½ hours
Bog Factor: mostly okay, though pretty glutinous in parts

It’s been a long lay off from the hills, with us deciding – given the foul weather we usually get in Scotland in August – to dispense with our normal 2 weeks holiday to the Highlands in favour of two weeks in Egypt, snorkelling, looking at tropical fish, drinking cocktails and generally chilling out. However, before too long the mountains were calling; I’d arranged to go to Yorkshire with my London walking club (www.ibexmc.org.uk) and hopefully tackle a couple of the hills there. We were staying near Kettlewell in Wharfedale, a place I hadn’t been to in years but which I had been to many times on family holidays when I was younger.

Inevitably there is a transport debacle of some sort to contend with on my walks and this was no exception. The traffic on Friday night heading out of London was spectacularly bad and it was midnight before we got to the bunkhouse we were staying in. After a companionable couple of glasses of wine with club members it was nearly 1am before I actually got to bed. I then slept appallingly – I often do when Stuart’s not there and also when in dormitory accommodation. I can’t even blame it on snoring as nobody was! On Saturday morning, we awoke to torrential rain and although the forecast was for it to clear up late morning the idea of going up a hill did not inspire. I settled for an 8 mile flat walk with another member of the club, which was a nice walk with a pub stop en route and a good waterfall. It chucked it down until about 2.30pm at which point it finally did clear up, but we were soaking wet by that point and I was delighted the bunkhouse had a half decent drying room which was more than necessary! Continue reading