Wainwright Walks 24: 3 hours on the hill, 6 hours on the motorway!

Hills: Caudale Moor aka Stony Cove Pike
Wainwrights: no. 60
Who: just me and the mountaineering minion
When: Saturday 18 June
Weather: clear summits after early cloud cleared
MWIS accuracy: not as good as forecast – but more accurate than the day before
Bog factor: OK as was dry. Would probably be pretty bad otherwise.
Post walk drink: coke. Yes really. No red wine till after the 6 1/2 hour drive home.
Post walk watering hole: Kirkstone Pass Inn for the coke; my living room for the red wine (does that count?!)

The day after my smash and grab raid on Scafell Pike and Lingmell, I had a dilemma. Normally the day after a big walk I just potter around gear shops particularly if a long journey is required. However I’m not sure yet when I’ll be next be in the Lakes and the forecast was again really good.. Plus having flopped info bed at 9.30 the day before after a celebratory huge steak and a few glasses of Merlot I was up, if not with the lark or as stupidly early as the previous day, reasonably early (for me) and had availed myself of a huge cooked breakfast before 9. I figured if I went for a short walk I would still be able to take advantage of the forecast and get home at a vaguely non-stupid time.

An obvious possibility presented itself in Caudale Moor (otherwise known as Stony Cove Pike) which a friend had recommended as a short blast. It had the clear advantage of a high start point and promised some good views. The only minus was a slightly scrambly approach towards St Raven’s Edge but it looked doable (even given my dislike of scrambling) so at 9.30, after the inevitable faffing about I was on my way up the steep haul up from the pass. The advantage of steep is it gets you up higher quickly of course! Continue reading

Wainwright Walks 23: Sleepless on Scafell Pike

Hills:Scafell Pike, Lingmell
Wainwrights: 58 and 59
Time: ugh, don’t ask.
Weather: okay, though clag at the summit
Conditions underfoot: dry. Good paths throughout except for the descent off Lingmell. Stony/ bouldery terrain in part.
Who: me and the mountaineering minion
MWIS accuracy: medium. 80% cloud free and dry in the west translated to very light rain and some clag which blew in and out
Post walk watering hole: The Unicorn, Ambleside
Post walk drink: Merlot

What would make the ideal training regime for climbing England’s highest mountain? Probably something involving trips to the gym, shorter walks, etc… the sort of thing a sensible person would do. However, my training regime for this one was pretty much every bit as haphazard as my preparation for climbing the highest mountains in Scotland (Ben Nevis in 2010) and Wales (Snowdon in 2011).

My preparation for Ben Nevis went as follows: have a hectic week at work, trying to cram 5 days work into 4. Drive from London to my parents in Birmingham on the Thursday night. Drive from Birmingham to the Lake District on the Friday morning. Belt up Skiddaw in record time (for me) on the Friday afternoon. Drive to Scotland. Pick up Stuart from delayed plane at 11pm. Drive back to his parents. Get about 4 hours sleep at best getting up at 4am in order to get to the Torlundy car park for 9am for a friend’s compleation. Do Ben Nevis via the CMD arête in dodgy weather and see nothing from the top.. Snowdon was at least slightly better in that I managed about 5 hours sleep rather than 4 after a hellish drive to where my walking club was staying and I ended up plodding up the Pyg track on adrenalin and seeing nothing from the top apart from hordes of people – busiest summit I have ever seen by a mile.

As to Scafell Pike. I had booked a Friday off work at last minute to take advantage of a supposed weather window. I did not particularly want to do Scafell Pike on a weekend due to the crowds that might involve and with June also being the peak month (pun not intentional) for Three Peaks attempts a weekday blast seemed sensible. I had booked myself into a Travelodge on the Thursday night on the motorway just south of Kendal and B&B in a pub in Ambleside on the Friday night. For once there was no transport debacle as I had a pretty clear run up the motorway (although driving through a thunderstorm was not something I can say I particularly enjoyed). So what could possibly go wrong? Continue reading

Boiling hot on Sgiath Chuil!

Hills: Sgiath Chuil
When: Sunday 29th May 2016
Who: self, melancton
Weather: absolutely glorious!
Conditions underfoot: dry bog and tussocks (mostly)
Path factor: largely non-existent
Sadly absent: sunscreen
Sadly present: sunburn, the usual transport debacle
Post walk drink: shandy, chardonnay, Isle of Jura Superstition (no not in the same glass!)

After we finally hit the big 100 on Beinn Bhreac back in October, there hasn’t really been much Scottish walking from the English Regiment. This has been down to a variety of factors, including needing a bit of a break, work, and getting side tracked by Wainwrights. Plus, my back hasn’t been great recently; from time to time it does like to remind me that I have a (thankfully fixed) spinal injury which whilst it doesn’t preclude me getting out and about, isn’t ever going to be 100% better. We did manage a nice walk to Sandwood Bay over Christmas, which was also a nice reminder that there is more to walking in Scotland than just hills.

On looking at the weather forecast at Luton Airport on Friday 27th May I couldn’t quite believe what I was seeing. Settled high pressure in Scotland? With it being better to be in the West than the East? Unbelievable! The last time I can remember that sort of thing had been 8 years previously, when the late May bank holiday had seen us do our first Munro, 4 years to the day since the operation to stabilise my back (and insert metal screws into it, which created issues with me triggering security alarms at airports for several years. It doesn’t seem to any more, not really sure if I should be worried about that). I always like to try and get up a hill around the anniversary, as it reminds me how far I’ve come, and that I’ve a lot to be grateful for that I can climb hills at all. We were staying in the always excellent Coach House in Killin, and still have a fair few hills to do in that area despite having stayed there quite a lot over the years. Continue reading